South Side, North Side, on Berkeley’s Independence Day

by Steed Dropout
July 8, 2014

Independence Day in Berkeley, as the contrarians of Berkeley conceive it, is one of largess, personal freedom, and L ‘chaim.

L ‘chaim? What does L’chaim, even with wine, have to do with the 4th of July? Baruch and Bud makes some sense.

Largess led off Berkeley’s July 4th in People’s Park, as Irven Goodwin, founder of a San Jose veteran’s outreach program, presented some good-looking barbecue. People are always feeding people in People’s Park, but this feed is personal.

Goodwin told me he was homeless in People’s Park in 1992 and this was his “give-back” to the park for being there for him.

Grateful Goodwin. Photo by Ted Friedman.


The flag is not popular in Berkeley, in any form. Berkeley is not one of those Red, White, and Blue places, like nearby towns where July 4th celebrates war-veterans and PTA.

Berkeley’s Fire Department had to fight for the right to display small flags on their fire trucks, year-round.

But here was a Berkeleyan flouting Berkeley’s Alternative Americanism.

I call her, Halo-Lady not because she deserves a halo, but because I insisted on shooting into the sun without a filter. She told me all about what she called the Jewish Olympics and I told her how Jewish Mike Tyson is.

Halo-Lady. Fourth right. Photo by Ted Friedman.


The crowd repeated “L’chaim” between what looked like wine. “I’d better check this out, I told my friends.” The last time I stumbled across Beyt Tikkun, a famous band of progressive Berkeley Jews led by Bill and Hilary Clinton’s personal Rabbi, the merry band was demonstrating for Occupy. One of their demands was for banks to end interest.

In one of the North Side’s most resplendent glades, the Tikkunians were…L’chaim, L’chaim, of course…but, between L’chaims they shared stories about acts of courage and independence but how we are all “interdependent.”

Between L'chaims. Fourth right. Photo by Ted Friedman.

So, L’chaim.

These views do not reflect those of publications who are foolish enough to publish my work and, of course, L’chaim. It grows on you.

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