Why These Trump Punks Have to Do It in Berkeley

Posted in People's Park, Telegraph Avenue, The Berkeley Scene on April 7th, 2017 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
April 6, 2017

Trump Punks’ Standing Up to Fall. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Why TrumpPunks have to do it in Berkeley may surprise you.

Trumpunks are Trump supporters with balls big enough to demonstrate in the very bowels of lefty Berkeley, like say, Berkeley Civic Center Park.

Civic Center is Berkeley’s core, nestled between old and new city halls, and host to a 1980s peace-wall, a 175 ft. long wall comprised of more than 5,000 hand-painted tiles, each with a plea for peace.

Peace Wall. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Perhaps not the best symbolic site to strut your Trump stuff. And you can be sure the Trumpsters (rimes with dumpsters) are not accepting the Berkeley Visitor’s Bureau’s invitation to out-of-towners: “Come for the Culture; Stay for the Food.”

The Trumpsters came for media attention…perhaps ready to be trounced. Some of them wrestled away the posters of anti-Trumpsters to protect themselves, while others just sucked up the attacks.

Some seemed to flaunt their battle wounds, like blood-red badges of courage.

Red Badge of Courage. Photo by Ted Friedman.

All manner of photographers, and reporters from Bay Area media swelled the crowds at last month’s beat-down in civic center.

All the better for TrumPunks to shame Berkeley into accepting them, at least as wackos, in a town of wackos.

It just may have worked.

As police kept watch, the Trumpsters were beaten with their own signs, maced, pelted, with eggs and lighted cigarette butts, and smoke-bombed.

Photo by Ted Friedman.

There were ten arrests of Black-bloq style masked marauders from around Northern California. This at a time when arrests in such protests declined, as police around the country stood down.

Some Trumpsters bore signs saying, “Blue Lives Matter,” the opposite side of the anarchist Black bloq credo, “off the pigs.”

The arrests were cleverly conceived to pluck-out the worst outside agitators, some say provocateurs, as they arrived—by bus or rapid transit—and as they tried, later, to escape police cordons.

Photo by Ted Friedman.

A re-staging of this force counter-force melee will play out later this month. Same plot; same characters; same peace wall.

Stay tuned.

This piece is dedicated to the memory of Mark Hawthorne, Berkeley’s beloved SouthSide homeless hero (aka Hate Man), and former New York Times reporter, who tried to improve my reporting.

Wide-array of pro/anti Trump demo shots at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/berkboy/

Intellectual Trickle-Down Berkeley

Posted in Telegraph Avenue, The Berkeley Scene on March 30th, 2017 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
March 29, 2017


Photo by Ted Friedman.

Cal Berkeley offers a Phd. in Rhetoric ruled by some of the best rhetors on the planet.

In the coffee houses of Berkeley the learned and the unlearned…use/misuse rhetorical strategies between espressos. You could say that the intellectual force of Cal had trickled down to the rest of us.

You just don’t expect to hear blatant, unabashed rhetoric in, what, ultimately, was a mental health case on the streets.

The entire incident was witnessed by a crowd of angry street-people/urban survivalists…and they became more and more agitated as events played out.
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Historic Caffe Mediterraneum Dead at 60; Berkeleyans Mourn, Struggle to Maintain Coffeehouse Ties

Posted in Med Heads & Cafe Culture, Telegraph Avenue, The Berkeley Scene on November 29th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Nov. 28, 2016

Photo by Ted Friedman.

By the time you read this in the papers, one of Berkeley’s links to the turbulent ’60s will be dead.

Death came, peacefully, with the dying Med surrounded by close family and friends.

Among the dead was a mob of dead
Medheads, who died before they had to say goodbye to their beloved hangout.

Founded in 1956 (for a year as the Piccolo), the Med was both a witness to its times and a participant. The Black Panthers regularly met in the mezzanine office of the Med owners. A lot of tear gas has gone down over the years, and recently during a demo two years ago, which mimicked the 1969 People’s Park riots on Telegraph Avenue. People’s Park organizers considered the Med their headquarters, as did the Free Speech Movement.

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Surrounded by Homeless, New Berkeley Mayor Maneuvers to Restore Berkeley Values

Posted in The Berkeley Scene on November 19th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Nov. 18, 2016

Photo by Ted Friedman.

Photo by Ted Friedman.

Photo by Ted Friedman.

Photo by Ted Friedman.

Photo by Ted Friedman.

Photo by Ted Friedman.



Two hundred Berkeley dreamers held hands near sunrise Friday, hugged, and hoped to survive Trump in Berkeley’s Civic Center Park. The park is nestled between Berkeley’s old and new city halls—near a homeless tent encampment around the corner. The encampment was recovering from yet another bust. The dreamers were encircled, as well, by disheveled homeless with bulging shopping carts and other accumulations.

Some dreamers may not have noticed the homeless among them, since they see them almost everywhere they go, except perhaps Berkeley’s upscale Fourth Street business district.

With an estimated 1,000 homeless in Berkeley, Newly elected Mayor Jesse Arrequin, 32, was holding a hastily arranged celebration of…of…of. It’s not clear, but the mood favored peace and Trump survival, and something about “Berkeley values.”

The Mayor said our housing crisis was an “emergency,” regurgitated the “more affordable housing” motif, and said he would talk to the city manager about the situation.

The city manager’s office has been busy chasing tented homeless all over town, clearing encampments, plucking up camper’s gear, the city says can be reclaimed, but campers deny.

What will the Mayor and the City Manager say about Berkeley’s emergency homeless situation?

I talked to Disability rights activist and playwright, Dan McMullan, about this at the
dream-in. McMullan thinks it is high time the city considered building housing for some of its 1,000 homeless. “I know an available city-owned lot, the city could start with,” he told me.

“We’re going to press this with [Mayor] Jesse,” McMullan said.

Mayor Arreguin has, throughout his career, aligned with what he calls “progressives,” which has put him an elbow’s length from various radicals, some of whom may have supported his mayoral bid.

Now these rads may lobby Arreguin on the alleged homeless crisis.

Arreguine didn’t stress his homeless task force during the election campaign, perhaps because it failed after more than a year of talk, to take a bite out of the homeless problem.

Now the new mayor wants to discuss the homeless situation with the city manager’s office.

Homeless advocates would like to get much more than this.

More photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/berkboy/

Berkeley Homeless Hopscotch

Posted in The Berkeley Scene on October 27th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Oct. 25, 2016


Photo by Ted Friedman.

The last time Berkeley supported an intentional homeless community thirty years ago—the experiment in city-tolerance ended in murder.

The failed community, “Rainbow Village,” a campground of vans and cars, where Cesar Chavez State Park is now located in the Berkeley Marina, may have murdered subsequent Berkeley encampments.

That’s what homeless activist, Michael Diehl, told Berkeley City Council, recently, adding that it was time to get over Rainbow village.
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Even Jesus Christ Couldn’t Rent in Berkeley

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

by Steed Dropout
Oct. 13, 2016

Photo by Ted Friedman.

Despite well-meaning intentions of Berkeley’s Task Force on Homelessness, and the full-force of Berkeley City government, it is still harder than a camel through a needle to be housed in Berkeley.

In fact, “Those seeking new housing are no longer able to a afford to live in Berkeley and must move elsewhere,” according to a blunt assessment from Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Board’s latest newsletter.

Even Jesus Christ couldn’t rent here. Christ may have been homeless, but he’d have to turn Berkeley’s fine wines into four walls and a cot to squat here.
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We Don’t Eat Our Dogs in Berkeley

Posted in The Berkeley Scene on October 5th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Oct. 4, 2016


Photo by Ted Friedman.

Dogs in China are skinned alive and eaten for an annual festival.

Ugly as that seems, this practice is “everywhere,” according to the Berkeley chapter of a national animal rights group, which has staged numerous local demonstrations—some to shame Berkeley meat-serving businesses and restaurants.

In their brochure, the vegans, Direct Action Everywhere, vie to make animals seem human. Indeed, that is the whole point, which is pithily put in the motto: “Pigs got to live, too.” Such appeals work better if the animal is cuddly-cute.
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Going Paparazzo

Posted in The Berkeley Scene, The Global Scene Through Berkeleyan Eyes on September 20th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Sept. 19, 2016

Micah M. White, center in white shirt, a founder of Occupy Wall Street movement, and a new Berkeley resident. Photo by Ted Friedman.

The co-founder of Occupy Wall Street was based in Berkeley where his wife took a post-doc in rhetoric.

During an Occupy General Assembly at Bank of America Civic center Plaza, Occupy’s wife was sitting on a popular homeless bench when I got off a shot from nearby. She saw me take the shot and demanded to know why.

“You’ve got a doctorate in Rhetoric, you ought to know,” I rhetored. Rhetoric, has nothing to do with this. Yet that’s what I said.

The rhetorician complained about me to her husband, Occupy co-founder, Micah M. White.
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More Fucked Up Than You

Posted in The Global Scene Through Berkeleyan Eyes on September 15th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Steed Dropout

Sept. 11, 2016

Photo by Ted Friedman


Members of “Trump Nation,” as they like to be called, know that they are fucked-up.

“Dude,” a nation member told me. “Everyone knows I’m fucked up. My mother and father and all my many aunts and uncles were fucked up. now we have a national leader who truly represents us.”

But “…is having a fucked-up leader a good thing? we asked.

“Yeah,” the nation-member confirmed. “Knowing that he[Trump] is fucked up and we are fucked up, too. We feel a special connection more intimate than with NFL football players, who are fucked-up over drugs and spousal abuse.”
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The Mindful Journalist

Posted in The Global Scene Through Berkeleyan Eyes on September 13th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

By Steed Dropout
Sept. 11, 2016

Photo by Ted Friedman


Any journalist worth his weight in dry-salami will tell you that “mindfulness” is over-rated.

This, an unavoidable conclusion, after a recent media-blitz recommending mindfulness for what ails the common man.

It is difficult to quarrel with the basic truths of mindfulness. Its opposites— distractedness, inattention—are unlikely to catch-on. Mindlessness would be a hard sell.

Mindfulness is here to stay. Like hearsay.
Like centeredness. Like the here and now.
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