The Adventures of Aged Men, and Other Tales From Berkeley’s Link With Its Freaky Past — the Whacky Caffe Mediterraneum

by Steed Dropout
January 23, 2012

Adventure #1: Med Beauty Queen of the Month.

My publisher and I here at the Berkeley Reporter, an on-line rag (, were convened at our spacious offices, here at the famous Caffe Mediterraneum, on Telegraph Avenue, a hop-skip-and-a-jump from People’s Park. Whew!

We were reviewing shots I had just snapped of a young femme fatale, whose shots I had botched previously.

I had serendipitously stumbled onto the femme, who was on the mezzanine with a male friend, and requested to shoot her again — with a different camera. But that was after we did a little coffee house conversation, in which I offered to tell the duo the story of how I had to suck the president’s dick, before being initiated into my college fraternity.

Contestant #1, Nicole, at the Med, inspired Berkeley Reporter's beauty queen contest. Photo by Ted Friedman.

“You were blindfolded, right?” said the male. He was a Sig Phi. Femme was an Indie. “I could never join a sorority, where I’d have to fit in to their culture,” she said. “I have my own culture, and besides, I like to be alone.”

“You’d be surprised how alone you could be in a fraternity,” I said; “the group-think you’re assuming, was not a feature in my fraternity.”

The femme said her male friend invited women to his historic fraternity house on Piedmont Ave., to show girls the famous architecture, all the while trying to seduce them.

Beauty Contestant #2, left, sponsored by Craig Becker, Caffe Med owner, who does not want to take sides in the contest, but to make the contest less sexist. BR would like to also nominate the sacred Med mural, 1960, seen here, center. Photo by Ted Friedman.

“We had a name for that, when I was your age,” I informed him — “hot-boxing. You get someone into a tight space, like during pledge week, and lock them in.”

“You don’t seem like the fraternity (material?) type, femme said, and here I offered to stake my fraternity creds on the dick-suck story.

Femme had to leave to read an article on Schopenhauer, and her friend left, too.

I was reviewing the shots when my publisher showed up.

Based on the shots, the publisher suggested we make the photos a series for the Berkeley Reporter. I’d like to claim I wondered what producer had been smoking, but I didn’t wonder at all.

“I can’t be an entire newspaper,” I protested, “too many beats to cover.”

“Yes, you can,” producer snapped.

I recalled how many types of stories I’ve done at the Berkeley Daily Planet, where I am a roaming reporter, who focuses on Berkeley’s South side, a hot-bed of drugs, debauchery, and public vandalism . . . and wondered if I could not actually do it.

I’ve done obits, breaking news, features, news analysis, first person, food and film pieces, crime, court-house, and city hall.

I’m now working on an “opening,” on Telegraph story for my next Berkeley Daily Planet yarn. Such are the perks of community journalism.

Hey, I did get some free food out of it.

Maybe we ARE a newspaper, I thought.

But could we run a Caffe Med beauty queen of the month series?

Publisher said the beauty contest could be a hit; he was a best-selling writer in the seventies. Maybe he had a point. “But wouldn’t our readers, just think we were dirty old men?” I asked.


Lets see what Craig thinks.

I’ll pitch the beauty queen contest idea to Craig Becker, the Med owner, I suggested. I’ll call him down from the mezzanine.

“We’d have a poster with the monthly winner prominently displayed in the cafe,” I promoted. “Sponsored by the Berkeley Reporter.”

I couldn’t think of the advantage to him . . . nor for that matter for us, but I was in there pitching. Craig tilted his skin-head, like a beagle, but I have also likened him to a penis. He’s even laughed at this. It’s like that here at the Med, where anything goes.

Cane up a blind man’s ass,” excepted. That was going too far.

Craig’s decision. “Well, the beauty queen contest is not a bad idea, but what about including men,” he reasoned. “We don’t want to be sexist,” he said.

In an attempt to broaden BRs beauty contest, we nominate, Char, left, Becker over Char's shoulder, Allison, at register, and C.P., a famous local music producer, seated.
Photo by Ted Friedman.

“But its a beauty contest,” I whined.

“The Med doesn’t want to take sides,” Becker ruled. “And besides there’s something….”

“Lecherous about it?” I completed the thought.

“You guys can put it on your blog-site,” Becker granted, “but I won’t promote it in the Caffe.”

Char, the Med's true sweetheart, is a strong contender in the unofficial Caffe Med's beauty queen of the month inaugural contest. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Our legal department at Berkeley Reporter was relieved, (now, we presumably won’t be sued), and our cracked staff of reporters, editors, and layout people went to work.

Now Berkeley Reporter proudly presents its first promotion — Berkeley’s Caffe Med, in conjunction with the Berkeley Reporter, presents Med Beauty-Queen of the Month. We’ll try to include a male or two, just in case, Becker will change his mind, and promote us in the Med.

Congratulations to those who finished reading this palaver. Steed Dropout continues his “serious work” at the Berkeley Daily Planet.

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