Downtown, Down-Beat Reporter Hits Bottom

by Steed Dropout
Dec. 15, 2011

I wondered around downtown feeling sorry for myself and wondering if my low mood would improve in time for me to get kicked out of the meeting, as I expected. The meeting, the Beer Committee, a seat-of-the-pants sub-committee of Occupy Berkeley, was billed as “closed” to the public. Reporters are the public.

A mild anxiety attack ensued when I realized I might have the time, place, or date wrong. Good thing I worked that out, because I was not carrying my anxiety med (Lorazapam). I missed two key meetings recently. I checked with the Jupiter’s manager, where I got some background on Jupiter’s wild popularity.

There seemed no good place to meet at Jupiter, but then I discovered, the super-pub had expanded in the rear for additional outdoor seating. I took some pics, and left to snoop around the neighborhood some more.

Bank of America Plaza, where Occupy Berkeley was born in early October, was freeze-dried empty. The twenty seat semi-circle next to a bus stop, was no longer filled with the likable homeless people, who had co-operated with OB. Even Sister Adriska, chained to her spot, had been frozen out. I hope she she found shelter.

Occupy Berkeley tent tramp. Photo by Ted Friedman.

I reflected on my three-month history with OB, which had left me empty, after early enthusiasm. I wrote a six-part series (covering each day). Here’s the first of six.


After the series ended I wrote quite a few more articles, under the protection of “News Analysis,” in which I teased readers with predictions of immanent doom, and irrelevancy for OB.

Back at the Illinois State Journal-Register in the fifties, I could never have conceived of writing a series, but OB gave me a first.

I was not liked by some of the occupiers for these stories, and their taunts sent me into another tailspin, which was only relieved when I consulted my 72 year old, homeless friend in People’s Park — “Hate Man.” Hate, as he is known by his followers in Camp Hate, published front page NYT stories on occupiers at Barnard in the sixties.

“Ever clash with your sources,” I asked?

At first Hate couldn’t recall, but he motioned me closer. “Yes, I remember a case, where occupiers of a dorm at Barnard didn’t like my NYT piece. I told them, like fuck you. My story, my spin.”

“Very inspiring,” I replied, and left renewed–ready to take on the world. My life, my spin, fuck you!

But at the beer committee, I expected a confrontation with people who had hassled me at general assemblies, as had Occupy Wall Street founder Micah M. White, of whom I wrote in my previous log.


The marijuana I had eaten earlier (one-half rice crispy square) seemed to kick in, and my dour mood shifted upward.

I met Tom Lord for the first time at the Jupiter outside seating extension. He had attacked my Planet “Occupy Yourself!” piece in a Planet commentary, referring to me as a reactionary–“Uncle Ted,”–and although he seemed glad to meet me, he warned that if I wrote a word about the meeting, he’d “shoot me.”

“I like the threat,” I said. “It’s a real motivator.”

Read my Berkeley Daily Planet commentary Occupy Yourself.

An organizer of the beer committee, who joined us, re-iterated, the “off-the-record” theme.

Next log will give my views on off-the record. Hint: it’s mindless bull-shit. Next log will also go on record with that meeting.

Ted Friedman, AKA Steed Dropout, is an off-beat, once homeless-in-a-park, reporter-at-large at the Berkeley Daily Planet.

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