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Flash: Berkeley Couple Victorious in Supreme Court

By Julia Cheever (BCN)
Wednesday June 26, 2013 - 01:07:00 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that the sponsors of Proposition 8 had no standing, or legal authority, to appeal a trial court ruling that struck down the statewide ban on same-sex marriage.

The 5-4 ruling has the effect of reinstating a 2010 decision in which now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco ruled in favor of two couples who challenged the 2008 voter initiative in a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The two couples who challenged the measure in a federal lawsuit in 2009 at Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier of Berkeley and Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo of Burbank.  

Walker said in that ruling that Proposition 8 violated the federal constitutional rights to equal treatment and due process. 

Gov. Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Kamala Harris, who were the original defendants in the couples' lawsuit, had refused to appeal, and the high court said today the initiative's sponsors, as a private group, didn't have the right to step in to defend it. 

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion, "We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to do so.  

"We decline to do so for the first time here," Roberts wrote. 

In another decision today, the court by a 5-4 vote struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which had prohibited the U.S. government granting federal benefits and tax advantages to same-sex couples who were legally married in their state. 

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has said that in the event the high court dismissed the Proposition 8 appeal for lack of standing, he expected same-sex weddings in California to resume when the decision becomes final in about a month. 

But there could be further litigation about the scope of Walker's ruling. 

Herrera and lawyers for the two couples say an injunction issued by Walker requires California officials to license and register same-sex marriages on a statewide basis. 

The sponsors of Proposition 8 have said in court filings, however, that they think Walker's injunction would only apply to the two individual couples who challenged Proposition 8.  

Herrera said today, "My office is prepared to litigate immediately against any effort to limit or delay the restoration of marriage equality for all Californians."  

Herrera also said, "I'm grateful for a decision that finally ends marriage discrimination against gay and lesbian couples, and that strikes down a law that has no place in 21st century California." 

However, Andy Pugno, a lawyer for Protect Marriage, the Proposition 8 sponsors' campaign committee, said the group will continue to try to enforce Proposition 8. 

"While it is unfortunate that the Court's ruling does not directly resolve questions about the scope of the trial court's order against Prop 8, we will continue to defend Prop 8 and seek its enforcement until such time as there is a binding statewide order that renders Prop 8 unenforceable," Pugno said. 

Proposition 8 amended the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid in the state. 

Today's Supreme Court ruling set aside a decision in which the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year upheld the couples' right to marry, although on narrow grounds that would apply only to California. 

Hundreds of people gathered inside San Francisco City Hall this morning in anticipation of today's rulings. The DOMA ruling was announced first, eliciting loud cheers.  

When the Proposition 8 ruling was released, there was initial confusion about what it meant, but the confusion quickly turned to jubilation when it became clear that same-sex marriages will likely resume in California.  

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee addressed the crowd, calling today a "historic, historic day for all of us." 

"It's been a long road ... but gosh, it feels good to have love triumph over ignorance," Lee said. 

Lee and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom walked down the steps under the City Hall Rotunda with Phyllis Lyon, one half of the first lesbian couple to wed in San Francisco when same-sex marriage was briefly legal in 2008. Her spouse, Del Martin, died later that year.  

"What a day, a special day," said Newsom, who started it all by unexpectedly allowing same-sex weddings in the city shortly after he became mayor in 2004.  

Newsom said it is the leadership of same-sex rights pioneers like Lyon and Martin that led to today's events.  

"It's people like Phyllis and Del that stepped up and stepped in half a century ago to these debates ... They didn't wait for someone to tap them on the shoulder, they didn't wait to ask for permission," Newsom said. 

He pointed out that the story is not yet finished.  

"Like any journey it's not linear -- it's messy, it's complex. There are good days and bad days, but it's a worthy journey that we're on," Newsom said.  



The Editor's Back Fence


Friday June 21, 2013 - 12:46:00 PM

No new editorial in this issue, at least not at the moment. Keep checking.

Updated: Now Read This

Friday June 21, 2013 - 07:54:00 AM

Whatever happened to local news? Where did the Bay Citizen go? Here's part of the story.

On today's the Patch site: Shake-up in Berkeley Lab Satellite Campus Plan

The decision to put a second campus of the Lawrence Berkeley Lab at the Richmond Field Station, announced with fanfare last year, has changed. A new campus is still planned in Richmond but with UC Berkeley joining as the lead partner.




Public Comment

Save the California Public Records Act from State Senate Attack

By Karen Joffe
Friday June 21, 2013 - 07:52:00 AM

I consider the attack on California's Public Records Act a stealth attack on a hard-won citizen right, as is the threat of amending the state constitution to weaken a citizen's ability to obtain public records in an easily accessible format and in a reasonable timeliness. I am an involved citizen who depends on the news media and on access to government records to make informed decisions. 

The issue of who pays for the release of public records, the state or the locality, should be resolved in a public debate not by a political back room maneuver. The same goes for any effort to weaken the CA Public Records Act provisions in the state constitution. 

The overly optimistic statement made by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg about local government compliance without this mandate does not reflect a knowledge of how cleverly evasive local governments can be and how much legal expense they are willing to incur when they do not want to comply with the existing CA Public Records Act , The First Amendment Coalition v. Santa Clara Cty. or Sierra Club v. Orange Cty. being just two recent examples. 

I want this trailer removed from the state budget bill immediately; and, as well, I want California’s state senators to cease efforts to eviscerate constitutional protections to citizen access CA public records.

Can We Do Something Now?

By Romila Khanna
Friday June 21, 2013 - 07:27:00 AM

Enough is enough. How long do we need to wait to see progress in solving national problems? It is one thing to say, “I don’t care!” when an issue impacts only oneself but it is morally wrong to delay solving urgent national problems. For the last couple of years our intelligent members of Congress have done very little to solve urgent problems related to job growth, national security, transportation, human development, and immigration reform.  

We, the people, have the same constitutional right to health, safety, and economic advancement as members of Congress. But the policy of Me First in Congress is setting aside the needs of ordinary citizens in the country. When will all citizens enjoy the health care and the pension plan that members of Congress enjoy? When will all citizens get the right to live without the fear of untimely death from gun violence or enjoy the right to vote fearlessly without political pressure? The USA can’t be a leader in world democracy without providing economic and political opportunity to the most ordinary of ordinary citizens.

Save the Food Stamp Program for the Poor

By Harry Brill,East Bay Tax the Rich Group,Harry Brill@sbcglobal.net
Friday June 21, 2013 - 07:36:00 AM

A shocking and very painful event in the US Senate has just occurred-- a bipartisan majority voted by 66 to 21 for a farm bill that benefits corporate agriculture but cuts billions of dollars from the food stamp program for poor individuals and families!!! Our two California Senators, Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer voted with the majority. 

Even worse, the bill supported by the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee voted even deeper cuts in Food stamps. More than 47 million poor people - the unemployed, low wage workers, disabled persons, veterans, and senior citizens - depend on food stamps to feed their hungry children and themselves. It seems that Congress has abolished empathy. 

We would like to do what we can to influence the House vote, and then we must contact both the House and Senate again when they will be voting on a compromised joint bill. Please contact your House Rep and both Senator Boxer and Feinstein. Of course, also let President Obama know how you feel. 

To reach: Your Congressional Rep & Senators Boxer & Feinstein you can make free calls to the Capitol Switchboard, then ask to be connected: 1-877-762-8762 or 1-800-826-3688. To reach President Obama: (202) 456-1414. 



THE PUBLIC EYE: America’s Second Civil War

By Bob Burnett
Friday June 21, 2013 - 07:12:00 AM

On April 12, 1861, Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, launching the first Civil War. Historians say that war actually began the previous November when Abraham Lincoln was elected President. America’s second Civil War will start in late September when conservatives block raising the debt-limit ceiling and the US goes into default. But our new Civil War actually began in November of 2010 when Tea-Party conservatives seized control of the Republican Party and many states. 

Racial slavery precipitated the first Civil War. Southerners viewed the use of black slaves as an essential component of their plantation economy. Northerners, living in more industrialized areas, saw slavery as immoral. Southerners believed “state’s rights” enabled them to live as they pleased, including slave ownership. Northerners felt that humane standards should be used throughout the US. 

Class slavery is causing the second Civil War. Conservative Republicans, including the founders of the Tea-Party movement, believe there are two classes of Americans: the rich and everyone else – the 1 percent and the 99 percent. Conservatives believe government should benefit of the rich. They dispute the notion that America should guarantee human rights for all Americans: for example, that everyone deserves healthcare and workers should receive a living wage. 

In the first Civil War, Confederates were motivated by an elaborate belief system. They believed whites were the superior race, their agrarian-plantation lifestyle was what the founders intended for America, and the Constitution supported secession. 

In the new Civil War, conservatives have an ideology composed of Reaganomics and Ayn Rand’s , Objectivism, “The concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life.” Rand promoted laissez-faire capitalism as the only moral social system, because it fostered individualism. Reaganomics is based on three laissez-faire doctrines: helping the rich get richer will inevitably help everyone else; markets are inherently self correcting so there is no need for government regulation; and the US does not need an economic strategy because that is a natural consequence of the free market. 

Once again, conservatives believe their actions are justified by the Constitution. And some Tea-Party politicians, such as Texas Governor Rick Perry have called for secession. 

Although the first Civil War threatened to erupt as early as 1850, its roots extended back to the 1785 Philadelphia Constitutional Convention, where there was an acrimonious debate about slavery. 

The Tea-Party insurrection didn’t spontaneously emerge in 2010. As Al Gore pointed out, 

The Tea Party Movement was planned over a decade ago by groups with ties to the tobacco and fossil fuel industries. The movement was not a spontaneous populist uprising, but rather a long-term strategy to promote… a common agenda that advocated market fundamentalism over science and opposed any regulation or taxation of fossil fuels and tobacco products.
Since 2010, conservatives have taken control of more than half of state legislatures. Currently, there are 30 Republican governors, most of who identify with the Tea Party. The most notorious are in Florida (Scott), Maine (Le Page), Michigan (Snyder), North Carolina (Mc Crory), Texas (Perry), Virginia (McDonnell), and Wisconsin (Walker). (The most recent conservative outrages have been seen in North Carolina where conservatives have: “threatened to cut taxes for North Carolina’s wealthiest 5 percent while also raising taxes on the other 95 percent.”) 

Rather than open fire on a military installation, the conservative strategy in the current civil war is to first shut down Congress and then the federal government. That’s what happened with gun control background checks: 45 Senators, mostly conservatives, refused to let the legislation come up for a vote. The same intransigence will kill immigration reform in the House of Representatives. In the fall there will be a total shutdown when conservatives block raising the debt-limit ceiling. 

As Robert Reich recently pointed out, shutting down Congress moves the locus of legislative action to the states. 

This means many blue states are moving further left, while red states are heading rightward. In effect, America is splitting apart without going through all the trouble of a civil war.
There’s a huge cultural gap between Red and Blue states. Red states have a racist, misogynist bent; they’re down on women and people of color. If, as expected, the Supreme Court leaves the question of gay marriage to the states, look for Red states to continue to restrict LGBT rights. And, of course, Red states deny global climate change and avoid gun control. 

But the most glaring differences are on economic issues. Red states are pro-business to an extreme. (Texas governor, Rick Perry has been touring blue states trying to lure businesses to Texas with a low regulations, taxes, and wages spiel.) Typically, red states are hospitable to the rich and unfriendly to the poor and disadvantaged. Their ethos is from the gospel of Ayn Rand: “what’s in it for me” and “you’re on your own.” 

Conservatives have dragged America into a second civil war. A conflict that pits human rights versus corporate rights and democracy versus plutocracy. 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net 




ECLECTIC RANT:The Bradley Manning Matter

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday June 21, 2013 - 07:39:00 AM

Bradley Manning, a U.S. Army soldier, admitted sending 700,000 government documents to Wikileaks in 2010. It was the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history. Manning is now charged under Articles 92 and 134 of the "Uniform Code of Military Justice" (UCMJ) , which incorporates parts of the Espionage Act in Article 106a of the UCMJ. The Manning case is ongoing at Fort Meade, Maryland. 

On April 10, 2013 Colonel Denise Lind, the military judge handling Manning's case, imposed a demanding burden on the prosecution, ruling that prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he had reason to believe his actions would harm the U.S. or aid a foreign power. 

Basically the government is saying that leaking classified information to a publisher -- Wikileaks -- is the same as leaking to the enemy. Ironically, the publisher has a First Amendment right to publish the information, whereas Manning has no right to leak the information. 

The prosecution rejected Manning’s offer to plead guilty to several charges, like misusing classified material, which would have meant up to 20 years in jail. The government, instead, is playing hardball by treating Manning like a traitor rather than a leaker. This is the first time that someone is being charged with aiding the enemy simply for leaking information to the press. If he is found guilty of “aiding the enemy,” Manning could receive a sentence of life in prison or even the death penalty. 

Clearly, there is a need for some government secrecy. For example, military plans, intelligence sources, undercover agents, and the capabilities of weapon systems.  

Trouble is when an individual decides to release classified documents, it is often done indiscriminately. That is, information that is classified because its release will embarrass the government as well as information that probably should be kept classified.  

According to Manning testimony testimony, "Given all of the Department of State information that I read, the fact that most of the cables were unclassified, and that all the cables have a SIPDIS caption [messages intended for automatic Web publishing, according to the U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual], I believed that the public release of these cables would not damage the United States; however, I did believe that the cables might be embarrassing, since they represented very honest opinions and statements behind the backs of other nations and organizations."  

It is important to note that Manning testified that "most of the cables were unclassified” indicating that possibly some were not. 

Thus, the prosecutors will attempt to show that the release of some of the leaked information placed our servicemen in harm's way or exposed sensitive intelligence activities. For example, the prosecution has already presented evidence that code words and the name of at least one enemy target were revealed, and a leaked video of a U.S. Apache helicopter attack that ostensibly revealed sensitive information that could help enemies plan deadlier assaults. I expect the prosecution will present more such evidence. 

By his own admission, Manning broke the law by releasing classified information and for that, at the minimum, he probably will face a less than honorable discharge and some jail time. But even if it can show some of the leaked material may have aided the enemy, the prosecution will have to show beyond a reasonable doubt that Manning had reason to believe his actions would harm the U.S. or aid a foreign power. This is a difficult burden for the prosecution. 

Manning has been in jail since his arrest on May 29, 2010. He spent his first nine months in a Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia where he was reportedly held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, forced to sleep naked without pillows and sheets on his bed, and restricted from physical recreation or access to television or newspapers even during his one daily hour of freedom from his cell. This maltreatment was all under the pretense that the Manning was a suicide risk. His treatment caused a public outcry as his treatment was reminescent of the conditions of suspected terrorists held at Guantánamo Bay. 

The Manning case, Daniel Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers, and the recent case of Edward Snowden, the National Security Administration leaker, remind me of Henry David Thoreau's "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience," Thoreau argued that individuals should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice. Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery and the Mexican-American War. 

The government has the right and possibly the duty to prosecute Manning for leaking classified information. However, the government here has overreached by charging Manning with treason for an act that is criminal at most. 

If Manning is convicted of treason, will this deter others from engaging in similar acts of civil disobedience? I doubt it. There are about 1.5 million Americans with top secret clearances who work for the government or private contractors. That's a lot of potential leakers if the public's understandable distrust of government continues unabated.

SENIOR POWER Goin’ gray: Chlorophyl To Xanthophyl

By Helen Rippier Wheeler, pen136@dslextreme.com
Friday June 21, 2013 - 07:18:00 AM

American poet-playwright Edward Arlington Robinson (1869-1935) wrote, “The gods are growing old; The stars are singing Golden hair to gray. Green leaf to yellow leaf,—or chlorophyll To xanthophyl, to be more scientific.” Why is gray hair the quintessential old age indicator? Why not wrinkles, instead, for example? And it’s international. Grey in Great Britain. Agence France Presse recently described “Japan’s elderly not acting their age,” when Saitama Gold Theatre auditioned only people aged 55+, referring to a greying society.  

Even Solomon (iv.8,) "Wisdom is the gray hair unto men, and an unspotted life is old age.” What would he have said about the little old gray-haired lady’s contention that old age is not a disease—it is strength and survivorship, triumph over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illnesses? American activist Maggie Kuhn (1905-1995), the Gray Panthers movement founder, after the Presbyterian Church forced her into retirement, advised “Anyone growing older without enthusiasm has got to manufacture it, pretend it. Do it until it becomes like self-hypnosis. Manufacture enthusiasm as you go and grow.” 

At what point should graying be expected, considered normal? According to many “women’s books and magazines,” a possible consequence of hysterectomy is premature graying, or timing has something to do with menopause. Irene Renee Ange in her 1996 SFSU Gerontology M.A. thesis — Women, Aging, and Hair Color — concluded “… I see indications that reality, as it relates to graying and aging, hair coloring and personal appearance, has shifted significantly in the past thirty years.” She predicted that the following twenty years would see “an even greater shift, as the post-feminist baby boomers age, bringing with them into aging not only unprecedented numbers of potential gray heads, but a modern awareness of the sexist, ageist, and feminist issues which help form our collective reality. The willingness of women to disclose their use of coloring products alone can be viewed both as a significant step on the way to greater acceptance of gray hair, and as a step towards color decisions being made for reasons other than fear.” (For Berkeley Public Library card-holders, this excellent document can be borrowed via The Link.) 


A former Vogue magazine marketing director, in her Going Gray, Looking Great, acknowledges that “We see men as better-looking as they get older, but that’s because we are culturally attuned to it. Gray Hair means admitting to a certain age, and for men, that’s okay.” Perhaps someone someday somewhere will research Men, Aging, and Hair Color.  



The change in many people’s regard for dying their own hair may evidence a bright side. They – we — don’t care who knows! Doesn’t matter. “Stylists” prefer “coloring” or “tinting.” The main reasons for this practice are cosmetic— to cover gray hair, to change to a color regarded as more fashionable or desirable, or to restore the original hair color after it has been discolored by hairdressing processes or sun bleaching. Hair dyeing is an ancient art, involving treatment of the hair with various chemical compounds. Today, hair coloring is immensely popular, with over 75% of American women dyeing their hair (I use Nice N Easy #117) or having their hair dyed. And it’s big business.  

Scientists have found that people who are going gray build up hydrogen peroxide in the hair follicle, which causes hair to bleach itself from the inside out. This could be reversed by "an antioxidant" cocktail that allows "re-pigmentation" of the hair. Gray hair could become “a thing of the past,” they say! 

The discovery of what makes hair gray was actually made during investigation of the skin disease vitiligo, the condition Michael Jackson claimed to suffer from that causes loss of inherited skin and hair color. "Massive epidermal oxidative stress" leading to the build-up of hydrogen peroxide is blamed. For the study, the research team analyzed an international group of 2,411 vitiligo patients, who were treated with pseudocatalase activated via sunlight. Researchers noticed that skin and eyelashes pigment returned. The editor of the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, in which this was reported (Daily Telegraph, London May 6, 2013), says that the same treatment could be developed to allow "repigmentation" of grey hair or to stop its going grey in the first place. In the meantime the priority should be development of a treatment for vitiligo, which can cause serious social problems for patients. The improvement of quality of life after total and even partial successful repigmentation has been documented. 

Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number; Black Women Explore Midlife is a collection of 43 essays. Two concern hair. Brenda J. Allen contends that “Hair matters at midlife. Since I’ve stopped dyeing my hair, more people than ever are calling me ma’am. Salespeople even ask me if I’m eligible for a senior citizen discount.” Notably, however, she refers to her “silver” hair 

“Gray pussy hair” by Opan Palmer Adisa is the other essay.  

Enough said: The U.S. spends $2.8 trillion a year on health care, about 18% of the economy. Some spending is on Medicare-reimbursed eyelid lifts — a procedure that sometimes serves a medical need but often is for cosmetic enhancement. Most would agree Medicare should fund 

medical need, but not to make seniors look better, although looking better makes one feel better! Medicare has been at the center of this debate because it consumes tax dollars: about 16% of federal spending today and an estimated 18% by 2023. Over the past decade, the number of reimbursed eyelid-lift procedures has tripled while the cost to taxpayers has quadrupled, from $20 to $80 mil. Medicare traditionally avoids coverage for cosmetic procedures such as Botox or breast augmentation except after medically necessary breast removal. So why cover eyelid lifts? Isn’t it possible that more of the elderly are suffering real vision problems in need of corrective surgery to correct impaired peripheral vision? But it appears that a disproportionate number of these patients who want to look younger live in one state… In 2008 50+% of the 20 highest-billing physicians were in Florida, where one doctor submitted for 2,200 eyelid lifts. 





By Jack Bragen
Friday June 21, 2013 - 07:14:00 AM

Housing is a key issue for nonworking persons with mental illness, since often we can't afford to pay much rent on the public benefits we get. Simply renting a room is sometimes unaffordable. This means that many of us are forced for economic reasons to live in an institutional situation. Living in some kind of institutional housing is no life. 

Eighteen years ago, I lived at a place called Riverhouse, which rents rooms to disabled people and seniors. Considering the alternatives, this was a pretty good compromise, and allowed living with a good amount of independence. Most of the rooms there don't have air conditioning, and in summer months, the rooms could get up to one hundred ten degrees. The rooms there are quite small, and lack amenities. However, this was a far better situation than living in a board and care, in which there are too many restrictions, and there is no privacy. 

"Board and care" and "room and board" housing entails giving the owner nearly all of one's income in return for a shared room, bad food, and maltreatment in general. 

After Riverhouse, my wife and I moved to a one bedroom apartment which we could pay for with a HUD voucher that we had acquired. However, this housing eventually turned bad, as the neighborhood changed for the worse. We were forced out by neighbors who didn't like us. 

We then moved to the place in which we live now. However, we will not be able to afford the current place indefinitely. HUD has suffered budget cuts, and is reducing the amount it will pay. The result of this is that we can not afford to live in most places. 

If someone is disabled, finding adequate, affordable housing is extremely difficult. The places that still accept section 8 tend to be in the very worst areas. Section 8 has acquired a bad name among landlords. This means that good tenants, who seem to be in the minority, are forced to live under difficult conditions. 

At this point, if someone is disabled and not wealthy, there are few choices for housing. Thus, persons with disabilities are forced into institutional situations. This is fine with people who don't want integration of people with disabilities. However, it leaves us at the short end. 

Society is asking persons with mental illness to cooperate with treatment, which can be a very painful enterprise, but nothing is being offered as far as decent living conditions. We are not being offered hope of something better. This is too much to ask. 

* * * As always, my books are for sale on Amazon, including, "Instructions for Dealing with Schizophrenia: A Self Help Manual," and other titles. I can still be reached with your comments at: bragenkjack@yahoo.com.

TELEY TALES: Stumbling Out My Door: Berkeley's Telegraph Puzzled by Major Cop-Op

By Ted Friedman
Friday June 21, 2013 - 07:35:00 AM

The man down was roaring like a mad man at Teley/Dwight. 

He was attended to by more than ten BPD and a supervisor or two. Nine cop cars blocked the busy intersection. A crowd of twenty grew at the edge of the spectacle. 

He was thin. No more than eighteen. He was wrapped in a black leg restraint and cuffed from behind. Sometimes he was quiet but then for no apparent reason he would roar gobbledygook. 

"It's Meth," said a spectator. "Heroin," said another.  

"They tazed him," someone said. "Berkeley Cops don't have tasers," someone corrected. 

Someone mentioned Kyla Moore, who died under similar cop conditions, recently--affected by drugs and mental illness. The street blamed tasers then, too. 

A Berkeley paramedic fire truck showed up to add to congestion. The crowd grew. Another paramedic truck showed up from Montclair. "They're going to take the kid to John George nuthouse," someone said. 

"Why does it take all these cops standing around?" 

"It shows they're being careful," said one.  

"They're just grab-assing," a cynic suggested. "First they call back-up and when all the other cops show up, there's a cop convention and social hour. I've seen it before," the cynic continued. 

"You have to identify yourself to me," a belligerent young woman shouted at a cop. He pointed to his shirt insignia, identifying himself. 

"Asshole, leave the cops alone," someone said to the girl. 

A clerk at Bows and Arrows on Teley, a trendy shoe store was no more than a few feet from the thin boy down. She had stepped out of her store. "He stopped in front of our store and had the dry heaves. When a passing cop tried to help him, he went off. 

When he was detained, he fought and the officer called for help," she said. 

Across the street at Berkeley Hats, "why does it take so many cops," the owner wondered. 

My mind returned to an old conversation with the chief. I told him that I had been stopped in front of the pol;ice station running a red light on my Schwinn in 1970. Five cop cars converged on my as I roared my indignation.  

"Why does it take five cars to give one bicycling ticket," I yelled. 

"You were being obstreperous," the officer said. 

When the chief stopped laughing and shaking his head over the word, obstreperous. "I've never heard that one," the chief said. 

"I remember the word," I said because I was surprised a cop would use such a great word rather than the word resisting, or "giving me a bad time." 

The thin kid was obstreperous, but he was mentally ill. What was my excuse? 

Cop-ops are the melodramas of our lives.

Arts & Events

Masquers “Closer Than Ever”—winning performances of witty musical

By John A. McMullen II
Friday June 21, 2013 - 08:34:00 AM
Lamont Ridgell, Coley Grundman. J. Scott Stewart, Michelle Pond, Shay Oglesby-Smith, Jennifer Stark
Budinger & Scarpelli
Lamont Ridgell, Coley Grundman. J. Scott Stewart, Michelle Pond, Shay Oglesby-Smith, Jennifer Stark

Like the great Bette Davis said, “Getting old ain’t for sissies.” 

“Closer Than Ever” at the Masquers Playhouse in Point Richmond is a show that would probably not appeal to those under 40 since they may not appreciate the emotional underpinnings of the themes.  

Those over 40 should rush out and buy a ticket before it ends on July 6. You won’t be sorry. 

It’s all singing—and what wonderful and complicated singing, individual and ensemble.  

Malby and Shire’s music is mellifluous if not particularly memorable, but the message is in the lyrics. They are witty and cleverly rhymed, and the themes vary from very funny to heart-breaking—that drab temp in your office who is smoldering under her smock, or an honest rage against the boyfriend who tells you he wants to be “Friends", to the heartbreak when your father can’t play the music he taught you. 

The cast includes three mainstays of Masquers musicals: Coley Grundman. Shay Oglesby-Smith, and Michelle Pond who consistently give exemplary performances. The other three relative newcomers--Lamont Ridgell, Jennifer Stark, and J. Scott Stewart—are excellent additions to the company and add great voices and expression.  

Jennifer Stark has a particularly facile and dulcet voice backed by substantial acting ability, though her high notes, while impressive, tend toward the Wagnerian rather than blending into the song. 

It is directed by the team of Peter Budinger and DC Scarpelli who have brought new life and talent to the Masquers in recent years. Anjee Norgaard provides choreography that is invigorating if sometimes overdone.  

Rather than a flow of one number into another, there are pauses between numbers while the curtain is reset and the next singers set themselves. Ordinarily, this would annoy this critic, for it usually deflates energy, but in this instance it may be a good choice by allowing the audience to reset itself for the next theme. 

Pat King’s musical direction is award-worthy. These are complex arrangements that need great attention to vocal entrances (where to come in), with multi-part harmonies, many sung while dancing. The accompanying combo consists of first-class musicians who never seem to miss. The bassist gives a stage center duet with Michelle Pond’s seductive “Back on Base.” 

The stage band is set in the middle of the stage surrounded by a periphery of platforms, ramps, and stairs that allow many levels which provides interesting stage pictures and spatial—and thereby emotional—relationships (stage design DC Scarpelli). The costumes by Tammara Plankers and Jackie Medernach are charming and subtle with changes appropriate to the many changes in theme and mood. 

The Masquers excel at small cast musicals on nearly bare stages, and this is well-worth your while. 

Masquers Playhouse at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond, CA through July 6. 

More info at www.masquers.org 

Around & About Music: Cello Heaven 10-Cello Choir at St Albans

By Ken Bullock
Friday June 21, 2013 - 07:30:00 AM

Cello Heaven, a 10-cello choir led by cellist Burke Schuchmann will play a program featuring the music of Villa-Lobos (his Bachianas Brazilieres & Bach preludes & fugue arrangements for cello ensembles), Brahms and American choral composer Morton Lauridsen, 8 p. m. Thursday, June 27 at St. Albans Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington Avenue, Albany. Sponsored by Schuchmann's Palomarin Chamber Music Foundation, a donation of $20 for the St. Albans organ fund and Cello Heaven Scholarships is requested. 234-4502; burkepalomarin@gmail.com

Around & About Theater: 'The Signatories 1916' from Ireland, Sponsored in Berkeley by Wilde Irish

By Ken Bullock
Friday June 21, 2013 - 07:29:00 AM

After the success last weekend of their 10th annual Bloomsday celebration, including Marion McEvoy's solo show of James Joyce's mother, direct from Dublin, Wilde Irish Productions will sponsor the Berkeley performances of 'The Signatories 1916,' the Easter Rising in Dublin that year as told in music, story and song by Pat Waters & wally Desmond, touring the States after a successful tour of Ireland. Saturday at 7:30, Sunday at 2, Garden Gate Creative Center, 2911 Claremont Avenue at Ashby. $20. 644-9940; wildeirish.org