Southside Perps Get Royal Treatment

Posted in People's Park, Telegraph Avenue, The Berkeley Scene on May 7th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
May 6, 2016


Home-run head-dent averted. Photo by Ted Friedman.

The sentence “Southside perps get royal treatment” needs some treatment itself. Perps is a cheap shot, and royal treatment an exaggeration.

Yet, in scores of my photos of Southside arrests, there is a theme: our cops treat crime suspects kindly and with protectiveness to match their mottos, “Protect and Serve.” I can’t count the times they yelled at me, “get out of the street.”

Two recent Southside incidents make my case.
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Decline of Hip

Posted in The Berkeley Scene, The Global Scene Through Berkeleyan Eyes on April 27th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
April 26, 2016



A joint with Jesus. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Funky Nixons were smoking a joint with Jesus.*
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Sexually Harassed by Cal Clowns

Posted in The Berkeley Scene on April 22nd, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
April 21, 2016


Stephanie Nicolle Garcia, right, surviving. Photo by Ted Friedman.

As U.C. Berkeley belatedly curtails sexual harassment, with forced resignations, firings, and other sanctions, the radical group, “By Any Means Necessary, (BAMN)” could claim a victory, of sorts.

And BAMN claimed such a victory to me, this week in Sproul Plaza, where I ran into one its most effective spokespersons, Stephanie Nicole Garcia at the BAMN table.
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Cody’s Books Mad Comeback

Posted in Telegraph Avenue, The Berkeley Scene on April 14th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
April, 14, 2016

New sign blows smoke. Photo by Ted Friedman.


Cody’s Books is sort-of-back, after a nearly twenty year Rip-Van-Winkle.

Cody’s Books, deceased 2008, has stood empty ever since–a big chunk of a blighted block at Telegraph/Haste. With nearby Moe’s Books, and the Caffe Mediterraneum, Cody’s formed an historic triangle harking back to Berkeley in the fifties.

The Bally-hooed book and author-talks center could re-open (softly) by week’s end, as a used books and records store.

Whether the opening is timely depends on what the Cody Building owner Ken Sarachan’s staff call’s ‘Ken time,’ a timing system of starts,stops, and reversals. “I can do something Ken wanted only to have him change it,” says a staffer.
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Guide for the Pooplexed

Posted in People's Park, Telegraph Avenue, The Berkeley Scene on April 10th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Steed Dropout
April 9, 2016


Former Berkeley Art Museum. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Let’s say you’re Southside, seeking restrooms. Yelp is no help.

We have held off our restroom recommendations for decades, not wanting to cause a stampede at our favorite piss destination.
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America’s Asshole, Trump: a Literary Analysis

Posted in The Global Scene Through Berkeleyan Eyes on April 4th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
April 3, 2016


Trump’s Tower, by Ed Monroe.

America’s romance with assholes begins in the Bible (Cain) and ends with Donald Trump (Cain’s Kin).

Trump also owes Charlie Sheen, Dabney Coleman, Hulk Hogan, and Jack Nicholson, actors who burnished the asshole persona.

Novelist John Barth noted, a half-century ago, that it was impossible to depict a villain in the age of the anti-hero.

The lives of scores of actors and politicians have proven Barth right. (Yearly books on Hitler and John Wilkes Booth are in the hundreds). Now comes Trump, an anti-hero to end all anti-heroes.
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At UC Berkeley: He called Me A Fucking Cunt

Posted in The Berkeley Scene on March 25th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
March, 24, 2016

By Any Means Necessary. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Her face turned red, as we conferred on the Caffe Mediterraneum mezzanine, a few years ago.

She had been caressed, hugged, and pressed, without consent, by her professor, whom she assisted. Only I couldn’t write about it.

She said she didn’t want her name “dragged through the mud.”

I appealed to her altruism and argued she could do some good for others if she would come forward.

All the while, I was thinking what a big fish I had on the line—one of the all-time top men in his field.
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Art, Love, and Death on Berkeley’s Telegraph

Posted in Med Heads & Cafe Culture, The Berkeley Scene on March 4th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Mar. 3, 2016

The Med’s lordly flies [a fly infestation] have choked, but construction noise from a project next door is at a dull roar. The construction noise comes in like a low-flying B-29, or a base-note dentist’s drill.

Perhaps this is the price we pay for the new mural on the block. The mural, entitled, “Wired,” and named by Steed Dropout, replaced a bare pressboard construction barrier, which had acquired the usual tags that Telegraph is heir to.

Before. Photo by Ted Friedman.
After. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Before it was a mural, it was Shakeaspere’s books, a 50 year Telegraph landmark. Med owner Craig Becker says the mural is hurting his business.

We asked Becker how the honkingly high artwork could hurt business. “Because one-fourth of the block is closed,” he told me. “It’s depressing,” to pass by this void,” Becker said.

Business, at the Med, has ground to a halt; the ear-shattering coffee grinding can still clench teeth. Becker blames the new student union late night hours for a slump at the Med, noting that student union campers once were frequent night flyers at the Med.

A community college student, who worked at the Med in kitchen prep, killed himself a few weeks ago, but he was not well known because he was out of sight at night and an introvert.

Owner Craig Becker learned of the death from the suicide’s father, who was trying to find his son.

From the Med’s resident philosopher, we learned that the dead Med head was one of our resident depressives. We recognize each other’s fears and tremblings.

Dropout’s last words from his psycho-therapist were, “do you own a gun (no)?” And “be sure to call 9-11.”

A Cal student jumped to her death from the third floor of the Carlton Hotel, recently.

Nothing by way of a motive has emerged for the jumper’s death, but the jumper inspired an unusually tasteful memorial of fresh flowers and a few encomiums, including notes attempting to explain. The notes tell us that although she was–like the dead Med head–unknown, she mattered somehow.

Missed. Photo by Ted Friedman.

For all its charm, the floral memorial is now tattered, and talk of the dead Med head has subsided. Dropout was the only one asking questions, anyway.

There is much to live for here, what with the openings within months of a books/records store where the famous Cody books earned its international chops, joined by whatever adventuresome retailers will occupy the gutted Shakeaspere’s.

A popular corner spot, burned down five years ago, is racing towards completion. This should provide more bodies for the new chairs at the Med and if Amoeba music, also at the corner gets permission to purvey pot, the corner at Haste/Telegraph will…will…go blooey.

Blooey trumps phooey.

More photos:

Flies on the Wall

Posted in Med Heads & Cafe Culture, The Berkeley Scene on February 13th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Feb. 13, 2016

Caffe Med Shoo Fly; if the fly won't shoo, wear it.
    [Editor’s Note: Awaiting the call from the SF Chronicle to fill columnist Jon Carroll’s vacant column-seat (our application was received by them in December), we have promoted our senior reporter, Steed Dropout, to columnist. After a meteoric five-year rise from obituarist to commentator to reporter at the Berkeley Daily Planet, and Southside tales at Berkeley Times — Dropout has written his way to the top. His debut column for Berkeley Reporter follows.]


Our Facebook contest to complete the phrase, a cappuccino at the Med is not__________ (whatever)–seems to have failed. The inspiration for this contest comes from a 70s poem, “A cappuccino at the Med is not a hot-tub in Marin,” whatever that means.

That free frosty class of ice water, courtesy of the Caffe Mediterraneum, has gone the way of lost amenities. Medheads are still trying to understand how come the free filtered, deliciously cold water could suddenly dry up, just as rain has brought some drought relief.

Those flies on the wall…turned out not to be CIA bugs, but real flies on the walls and in our faces. If you see a Medhead flagellating himself, he’s just whacking some fly. We spend our time singing, “Shoo fly don’t bother me,” while seeming to slap ourselves about the torso.

When the flies flew elsewhere the other day, Med Heads wondered why. “You complained about the flies, but now you miss them?” Med owner, Craig Becker ribbed, adding,”you just can’t please some people.”

“At least there were no charges for the flies. Some places might have charged,” Becker quipped.

Damage from the hole in the wall alongside the Dustin Hoffman chair, at the Hoffman alcove has been contained but not repaired. Hoffman, in a 1967 photograph posted on the Med wall, as he looked out the Med window (in “the Graduate,” 1967) across the street to Moe’s books, will remain only as long as the Med wall and the movie. Even if the Med crumbles, it will live on in film.

Meanwhile, Becker awaits an angel/investor (someone who eschews profit for the good of the show) to pay for the Med’s capital improvements, like ridding the flies and fixing the hole in the wall.

As Mead Heads drop dead waiting for Godot at the Med, they cannot be sure the Med will out last them.

And that contest mentioned above, “A cappuccino at the Med is not….(whatever). The winner is: A cappuccino at the Med is not forever.

Follow Berkeley in Berkeley Reporter’s photo stream: Bike bash in Willard, Wine-sip in Gourmet Ghetto:

Telegraph Avenue’s Desolation Row

Posted in Telegraph Avenue on January 29th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Jan. 28, 2016

Desolation Row. Photo by Ted Friedman

It’s been called lower Telegraph, the Fourth Block, and all around shit-hole.

While vacancies dot the length of Berkeley’s Telegraph, Avenue, the desolate
state of Block Four is ridickelis (sic.).

First, Shakespeare’s books, a Telegraph Ave. 55 year landmark closed, as the building hosting it was about to be renovated. The owner retired.
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