Who Am I Writing This For?

by Steed Dropout
Jan. 26, 2013


Who am I writing this for? Is it the Berkeley Daily Planet, where I call myself a reporter, Berkeley Reporter, my blog, Facebook, where I just teased this; it’s surely not for Berkeleyside, where I contribute — or for myself.

This is for myself, but I”ll share it with you, BR readers.

It all began with a piece reviewing trash-can food on Telegraph Ave. I got the idea from a conversation with Tanja Traber, who inspired that investigation.

So there I was sampling corn dogs, potato chips, chicken salad — and a real score, most of a ginger tea bun by a little Chinese bakery on Durant.

A full review of the trash bucket bonanzas and a complete history of dumpster diving in America, with an aside on Berkeley’s role in what is now being hailed as, a middle-class pursuit — freeganism! — may or may not be forthcoming.

Corn Dog score. Photo by Ted Friedman.

At my age, life shortens. I’m like a short-timer in the navy, who is within six-months of discharge. only discharge in my case will not hold much elation, as all feeling will cease.

Potato chip find. Photo by Ted Friedman.

I know it’s cold to say this. But there you have it.


As good as the dumpster story is, it pales compared to the bust I covered later that day. The perp was a very likable guy, who had just received a smoking infraction. You may marvel this quaint ordinance is still enforced.

Smoking bust. Photo by Ted Friedman.

It was once enforced, and now that street patrols have returned to Telegraph, there is hope that it will be enforced once more.

It was enforced Saturday. Police told me they just happened onto the offense but I wonder. They’ve seen many smokers; why did they “select” this one?

I asked the “perp,” if he had come to the attention of police. He said he had one prior. Perhaps that is enough.

Cops I talked to later said the bust was spontaneous. I believe them. It’s all too easy to see conspiracies in these busts. The perps say they are being selected. The cops say they see a crime in progress and just jump in.

Six of one and half a dozen of the other.

This is hardly a big story. Yet it leads to a bigger story of a pattern of law-enforcement which produces an endless enactment of the same story. Street kid is cited for a minor infraction (“I was cited for illegal vending even though my sign said these items are not for sale”), now he has a prior, and his next two bullshit citations are for similar offenses.

Eventually he does four days in County Jail. He has paid his debt to society, then the Ground Hog Day scenario starts all over again.

Two chicken salad sandwiches, a cartoon of chinese and some Med home fries (in far rear). Photo by Ted Friedman.

Cops say they are making inroads into street crime, while street drug deals flourish, and addicts shoot up at the Caffe Mediteranneum, a Telegraph Ave. crime scene.

Where does that leave us? It leaves us asking whether this a good deployment of police assets, as they call them. We’ll be running all this by Berkeley PD Chief Michael K. Meehan.

Surely BPD could be more effective if they were freed from the soap opera of

Dropout has been blessed with stories recently.

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