The Berkeley Scene

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:

Berkeley Fire Site Survives 2nd Burn

Posted in Telegraph Avenue, The Berkeley Scene on January 20th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Jan. 19, 2016


Fire on the site. Photo by Ted Friedman

November 2011, Sequoia Apartments was destroyed by fire, a major blow to Berkeley’s once vital intersection at Telegraph/Haste. Yesterday, the New Sequoia—nearing completion by year’s end—dodged flames to its rear while reconstruction continued up front.
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Berkeley Student Revolt Revives

Posted in The Berkeley Scene on January 9th, 2016 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Jan. 8, 2016


Protestors head for city council to protest latest homeless street regs, Dec.1.
Photo by Ted Friedman

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Berkeley Fair to Remember

Posted in Telegraph Avenue, The Berkeley Scene on December 30th, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Dec. 29, 2015

Hail Solar: hail hitting the tent. Photo by Ted Friedman

There’s something about Berkeley’s annual Holiday street fair. Our job is to finger that something.

You can assist. We’ll do a sing along. Follow the bouncing finger from C.B. deMile’s the Greatest Show on Earth.”

“…so take today and make it gay
For there are too many tears along the way….”

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Bad Luck Block

Posted in Telegraph Avenue, The Berkeley Scene on December 14th, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Dec. 13, 2015


Hard Luck Block hailed on, hit by 50 mph winds, at Holiday Fair.
Photo by Ted Friedman

A series of bad luck breaks makes Telegraph’s Block Four a hard luck block.

I’m talking about the block of which I often write, four blocks South of Bancroft. Or one block South from Haste to Dwight.

I write from the Dustin Hoffman table (beneath “the Graduate” photo of Hoffman at the Caffe Mediterraneum film shoot, 1967). A grey, wintry mood engulfs the avenue.

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Clowning Around at Cal

Posted in The Berkeley Scene on December 9th, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Dec. 7, 2015


Stoney Burke, Back @ U.C. Berkeley. Photo by Ted Friedman

They should make Steed Dropout emeritus at U.C. Berkeley. Dropout’s been on campus daily for 40 odd years, looking for odd.
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Bad Berkeley Fire Fails to Fell
Telegraph Ave. Apartments

Posted in Telegraph Avenue, The Berkeley Scene on November 25th, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Nov. 24, 2015


Photo by Ted Friedman.

“It could have been worse,” said Stu Baker, of a two-alarm fire at Berkeley’s Chandler Apts. Baker is the voice of Telegraph Avenue businessmen.

Ranked by Berkeley Fire a “full assignment” fire, the blaze brought four fire trucks, a command vehicle, seventeen firefighters, paramedic vans and hoses pumping 400 gallons per minute—a real blast.
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Of Columnists and Contests

Posted in Med Heads & Cafe Culture, The Berkeley Scene on November 21st, 2015 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Nov. 20, 2015

I’m posting from Berkeley’s
Caffe Mediterraneum

Dustin Hoffman is looking over my shoulder. I don’t need to turn around to verify that. But when I do, I see that he’s not looking at me at all. He’s looking at Moe’s books.

Hoffman is trapped in a picture frame at the Med in “the Graduate,” 1967.

Hoffmann seems riveted to his view of Telegraph, which is Westward, but the best window view is Northward—where a stream of converging Southsiders and weekend slum- tourists from the burbs stumbles steadily nearer, like characters from “Night of the Living Dead.”
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