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Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin in Ecuador with two local mayors,  with toxic sludge from pools left by oil producers.
John Geluardi
Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin in Ecuador with two local mayors, with toxic sludge from pools left by oil producers.


Richmond Mayor Visits Chevron-contaminated Area in the Amazon Rainforest

By John Geluardi
Saturday September 21, 2013 - 09:48:00 AM
Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin in Ecuador with two local mayors,  with toxic sludge from pools left by oil producers.
John Geluardi
Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin in Ecuador with two local mayors, with toxic sludge from pools left by oil producers.
A poisoned pit
John Geluardi
A poisoned pit
Dog drinking from poison pit.
John Geluardi
Dog drinking from poison pit.
Correa and McLaughlin surrounded by reporters
John Geluardi
Correa and McLaughlin surrounded by reporters
Correa holds up a hand full of sludge.
John Geluardi
Correa holds up a hand full of sludge.
McLaughlin with sludge
John Geluardi
McLaughlin with sludge

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin visited a contaminated area of the Amazon Rainforest on Tuesday and experienced firsthand the extent of the oil and chemical befouled pools, or “piscinas,” Texaco left behind when it abruptly moved all of its assets out of Ecuador in in 1992. Chevron acquired Texaco, and its liabilities, in 2001.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa became aware of McLaughlin in August when she participated in a protest at Chevron’s Richmond refinery to mark the one-year anniversary of a massive fire that was caused by criminal neglect. Chevron plead guilty to six criminal charges and agreed to pay $2 million in fines for the incident that sent a miles long plume of toxic smoke into the air and resulted in 15,000 people going to the hospital, most complaining of respiratory problems. 

During her visit to the region of Lago Agrio, McLaughlin met with several indigenous tribe members and other locals who have been affected by Texaco’s dumping of 16 billion gallons of toxic sludge known as “produced water,” which contains a variety of toxins including a carcinogenic compound known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. According to coalition attorney Pablo Fajardo, there is evidence that cancer rates in the contaminated area are three times higher than in the rest of Ecuador. 

Followed by a gaggle of reporters and television cameras, McLaughlin walked carefully along a rough path that ringed a contaminated pool. The 10-foot deep dumping site was camouflaged on the forest floor by a thick layer of leaves and undergrowth. To save money, Texaco purposely did not line an estimated 1,000 similar pools with materials that would have prevented toxins leaching into the many nearby Amazon creeks and rivers that have sustained life for the region’s numerous indigenous tribes for thousands of years. 

At the pool’s edge, she reached a gloved hand into the oily muck and withdrew a handful of black, oozing sludge, which she held up for a bank of cameras. “This is a massive environmental disaster that Chevron is turning its back on,” McLaughlin said. “It is criminal that they have the audacity to leave this in place and say they’re not responsible.” 

The Amazon Defense Coalition, a group of six tribes indigenous to the Amazon Rainforest , sued Chevron in 2004. An Ecuadorian court ruled in their favor in 2011 and awarded them a settlement of $18 billion. Chevron has refused to pay and has since retaliated by filing racketeering charges against the attorneys who represented the coalition. The trial is set to begin in New York Federal Court on Oct. 15. Various aspects of the case are currently before six official forums, only some of which have the rule of law. 

Correa’s invitation to McLaughlin coincided with his kickoff of a massive media campaign called “Las Manos Negras di Chevron” (Chevron's Black Hands) to denounce the environmental damage the multinational company caused. Correa also took a tour of the contaminated pool and held up a clump of congealed toxic sludge for the press. “Not only did they cause this pollution to save a few dollars, but they did not remediate it,” Correa said. “They misled Ecuador and the world. They misled the residents and the Ecuadorian state.” 

Updated: Fair Campaign Practices Commission to Investigate Measure S Campaign

By Carol Denney
Friday September 20, 2013 - 09:05:00 AM

The Fair Campaign Practices Commission unanimously recommended an investigation into the 2012 Berkeley election’s Measure S’s electoral campaign at their September 19, 2013 meeting at the North Berkeley Senior Center.

David Wagoner, pro bono counsel for complainants Pattie Wall and Bob Offer-Westort, cited reporting violations, misleading slate cards, and cash payments handed out by Downtown Berkeley Association’s director Jon Caner on election day to people most likely to be targeted by Measure S,an attempt to regulate "problematic street behavior" which was placed on the ballot by the city council at Mayor Tom Bates' urging, as squarely within the jurisdiction of the Fair Campaign Practices Commission. 

Roland Peterson defended the Measure S campaign, arguing that the campaign “did not go after homeless people” but acknowledged that approximately 50 people were hired by the campaign to hand out literature on election day. 

Zoning Commissioner Igor Tregub spoke, saying he “came across the situation on campaign day,” and spoke with people handing out misleading fliers and slate cards who “thought they were working for the Obama campaign.” 

Asa Dodsworth, a Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner, spoke about how difficult it is to get people to participate in and contribute to political campaigns in Berkeley, saying “there’s legal sides, but there’s moral sides,” suggesting that there was a lack of respect for local process. 

Former Fair Campaign Practices commissioner Mary Eleazar added that the Berkeley Democratic Club’s “effort to manipulate the most vulnerable people in town is just plain wrong,” referring to the Berkeley Democratic Club’s spotty reporting of their financial involvement in the Measure S campaign. 

The commissioners also adjourned mid-meeting to re-convene as the Open Government Commission, which unanimously recommended further discussion of Brown Act violations regarding the current Berkeley City Council rules for public comment, and a unanimous recommendation that a Rent Stabilization Board Public Records Request be revisited.

A New Bracero Program Will Hurt Farm Workers

By David Bacon, New America Media
Thursday September 19, 2013 - 09:50:00 PM
David Bacon

Most media coverage of immigration today accepts as fact claims by growers that they can't get enough workers to harvest crops. Agribusiness wants a new guest worker program, and complaints of a labor shortage are their justification for it. But a little investigation of the actual unemployment rate in farm worker communities leads to a different picture.

There are always local variations in crops, and the number of workers needed to pick them. But the labor shortage picture is largely a fiction. I've spent over a decade traveling through California valleys and I have yet to see fruit rotting because of a lack of labor to pick it. I have seen some pretty miserable conditions for workers, though.

As the nation debates changes in our immigration laws, we need a reality check. There is no question that the demographics of farm labor are changing. Today many more workers migrate from small towns in southern Mexico and even Central America than ever before. In the grape rows and citrus trees, you're as likely to hear Mixtec or Purepecha or Triqui - indigenous languages that predate Columbus - as you are to hear Spanish.

These families are making our country a richer place, in wealth and culture. For those who love spicy mole sauce, or the beautiful costumes and dance festivals like the guelaguetza, that's reason to celebrate. In the off-season winter months, when there's not much work in the fields, indigenous women weavers create brilliant rebozos, or shawls, in the styles of their hometowns in Oaxaca,

But the wages these families earn are barely enough to survive. As Abe Lincoln said, "labor creates all wealth," but farm workers get precious little of it. Farm workers are worse off today than they've been for over two decades.  

Twenty-five years ago, at the height of the influence of the United Farm Workers, union contracts guaranteed twice the minimum wage of the time. Today, the hourly wage in almost every farm job is the minimum wage -- $8.00 an hour in California, $7.25 elsewhere under the Federal law. If wages had kept up with that UFW base rate, farm workers today would be making $16.00 an hour. But they're not.

If there were a labor shortage so acute that growers were having a hard time finding workers, they would be raising wages to make jobs more attractive. But they aren't.

And despite claims of no workers, rural unemployment is high. Today's unemployment rate in Delano, birthplace of the United Farm Workers, is 30%. Last year in the Salinas Valley, the nation's salad bowl, it swung between 12% and 22%.

Yet growers want to be able to bring workers into the country on visas that say they have to work at minimum wage in order to stay, and must be deported if they are out of work longer than a brief time. The industry often claims that if it doesn't have a new contract labor program to supply workers at today's low wages, consumers will have to pay a lot more for fruit and vegetables. But low wages haven't kept prices low. The supermarket price of fruit has more than doubled in the last two decades.

Low wages have a human cost, however. In housing, it means that families live in cramped trailers, or packed like sardines in apartments and garages, with many people sleeping in a single room. Indigenous workers have worse conditions than most, along with workers who travel with the crops. Migrants often live in cars, sometimes even sleeping in the fields or under the trees.

Housing is in crisis in rural California. Over the last half-century, growers demolished most of the old labor camps for migrant workers. They were never great places to live, but having no place is worse.

In past years I've seen children working in fields in northern Mexico, but this year I saw them working here too. When families bring their kids to work, it's not because they don't value their education or future. It's because they can't make ends meet with the labor of adults alone.

What would make a difference?

Unions would. The UFW pushed wages up decades ago, getting the best standard of living California farm workers ever received. But growers have been implacably hostile to union organizing. For guest workers and undocumented workers alike, joining a union or demanding rights can mean risking not just firing, but deportation.

Enforcing the law would better workers' lives. California Rural Legal Assistance does a heroic job inspecting field conditions, and helping workers understand their rights. But that's an uphill struggle too. According to the Indigenous Farm Worker Survey, a third of the workers surveyed still get paid less than the minimum. Many are poisoned with pesticides, suffer from heat exhaustion, and work in illegal conditions.

Give workers real legal status. Farm workers need a permanent residence visa, not a guest worker visa conditioned on their work status. This would ensure their right to organize without risking deportation. Organization in turn would bring greater equality, stability and recognition of their important contribution. It would bring higher earnings.

But growers don't want to raise wages to attract labor. Instead, they want workers on temporary visas, not permanent ones - a steady supply of people who can work, but can't stay, or who get deported if they become unemployed. This is a repeat of the old, failed bracero program of the 1940s and 50s, or the current failures of today's H2A visa program that succeeded it.

With a temporary labor program, farm wages will not rise. Instead, farm workers will subsidize agribusiness with low wages, in the name of keeping agriculture "competitive." Strikes and unions that raise family income will be regarded as a threat.

We've seen this before. During the bracero program, when resident workers struck, growers brought in braceros. And if braceros struck, they were deported. That's why Cesar Chavez, Ernesto Galarza and Bert Corona finally convinced Congress to end the program in 1964. The UFW's first grape strike began the year after the bracero law was repealed.

Today immigrant workers who already live in the U.S., like those who recently went on strike at Washington State's Sakuma Berry Farms, are being pitted against modern-day braceros brought in under the H2A program. The H2A wage sets the limit on what growers will pay. Workers fear that if they protest, they won't get hired for next year's picking season, and others will take their places.

Farm workers perform valuable work and need better conditions and security, not an immigration reform that will keep them in poverty. Giving employers another bracero program is a failed idea, one we shouldn't repeat. Farm labor that can support families is a better one.

Books by David Bacon
THE RIGHT TO STAY HOME - How U.S. Policy Drives Mexican Migration
Just published by Beacon Press
Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press, 2008)
Recipient: C.L.R. James Award, best book of 2007-2008
Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)
The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004)
For more articles and images, see http://dbacon.igc.org

New: Doug Brown, 1939-2013

Tuesday September 24, 2013 - 12:53:00 PM

Doug Brown, machinist, musician, political activist, and member of a large and loving family died at home in Berkeley early in the morning of September 6, 2013, nearly six years after having been diagnosed with an astrocytoma. He was 73 years old. 

Doug, who lived in Berkeley for over 50 years, was a machinist by trade. Wherever he worked, at machine shops from San Francisco and Berkeley to the molecular biology department at UC Berkeley, Doug kept his political consciousness in the forefront. Early in his career Doug worked at a machine shop which was doing cutting edge work in liquid chromatography. Recalling those days, Doug’s friend and former coworker at the shop, Arthur Holden, remembers Doug’s leadership when the company received a work order from the then apartheid government in South Africa to use a device the shop had developed. Joining together the workers approached management to insist they reject the order. Holden says, “Management was more fearful of worker insubordination than appalled by the moral issue of apartheid.” A group of workers, including Doug, were fired. 

In the early 1970s Doug worked as a backyard car mechanic and was cofounder of the first van conversion shop at the Center for Independent Living (CIL) later in the 1970s . In the 1990s, Doug and a group of coworkers at Cal, founded the University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE) union. Doug served as president of Local 1 for many years. He also served on the first UPTE bargaining team, and was a shop steward representing dozens of employees in grievances and arbitrations. Reflecting on Doug’s work Libby Sayre, another of the cofounders, said, “Doug was a lifelong, dedicated union activist, and his contributions to the labor movement and to our Union are enduring. He fought tirelessly to make the world a better place for working people in the US, in Central America, and the world. His life is testimony to the ability of one person to make positive change happen. He was my friend and inspiration for 25 years. “ 

Doug’s political activism spanned many decades and movements. In the early 60’s Doug and his wife Gail worked with East Bay Friends of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), an organization which raised funds and supplies for the civil rights workers in the South. In the early 1970s he worked with disabled students at Cal in the formative days of the disability rights movement prior to the establishment of CIL. In 1976 Doug and Gail joined with others to collectively purchase the house where the Grassroots newspaper, the Berkeley Tenants Union and other community organizations had offices. Doug worked on Grassroots from its beginning to end. The Grassroots House is still operational and groups such as CopWatch continue to have offices there. 

Doug was the embodiment of both the local and global activist. At home in Berkeley in the 1980s Doug served on the Public Works Commission as Maudelle Shirek’s appointee. Doug and Gail also worked with TecNica, a local support group which sent delegations and technical aid to the Sandanistas in their struggle to rebuild Nicaragua during the years of the contra attacks. In the 1985 they were part of a delegation that travelled to Nicaragua where Doug worked in a machine shop in the north repairing agricultural machinery. 

In addition to his machinist and political activities Doug was a talented and engaging musician, playing guitar and bass. Music was a lifelong passion. Doug was a member of the Coachmen – a touring folk group- right out of high school. For many years his Sunday mornings would be spent dressed in a tuxedo while playing with old time jazz musicians in a group known as the Mellotones. More recently, as Doug’s illness progressed, in addition to singing, he got pleasure from listening to music, tapping his foot to the beat. Up to the last days of his life Doug would join in singing songs with his family, friends, and caregivers, correcting the lyrics when necessary, 

Doug wove his family life around all of these activities. Doug lived with Gail, his wife of 53 years, and Gene Turitz and Louise Rosenkrantz housemates for 40 years. Together they raised four daughters, Alison and Jenifer Brown, Jeannette McNeil and Sarah Rosenkrantz. And, there are six grandchildren: Tivon and Jamir Anderson Brown, Ariana and Zoe Brown-Bankhead, and Damani and Iniko McNeil. Doug is also survived by three loving sisters, Susheela Farrell, Stephanie Brown, and Betsy Brown and many cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends. 

Out of respect for Doug’s wishes there will not be a public memorial. 



Redistricting, in Berkeley as in the Nation, Disenfranchises Voters

By Becky O'Malley
Friday September 20, 2013 - 01:46:00 PM

It’s becoming clearer and clearer that your vote counts for less and less. On the national level, clever Republicans (no, not an oxymoron, unfortunately) have gained control of state legislatures in poorly attended off-year elections and have used their power to re-draw national congressional districts for their own benefit. Elizabeth Drew had an excellent piece explaining how this worked in the last New York Review. Here’s the crux of the strategy as she describes it:

“Among other things, [the Republicans] made the House of Representatives unrepresentative. In 2012 Democrats won more than 1.7 million more votes for the House than the Republicans did, but they picked up only eight seats. (This was the largest discrepancy between votes and the division of House seats since 1950.)

“Thus, while Obama won 51.1 percent of the popular vote in 2012, as a result of the redistricting following 2010 the Republican House majority represents 47.5 percent as opposed to 48.8 percent for the Democrats, or a minority of the voters for the House in 2012. Take the example of the Ohio election: Obama won the state with 51 percent of the vote, but because of redistricting, its House delegation is 75 percent Republican and 25 percent Democratic.”
What many Berkeley voters probably don’t realize is that a similar redistricting process is now going on here. It’s a lot easier, too, because the current Council majority (socially liberal, but economically pro-wealth, funded mainly by commercial property owners and developers) is vested by the city charter with the right to control how their own district lines are drawn. Not surprisingly, they’re doing their damnedest to create a district map that ensures that their own seats (some incumbents have been in office for decades) are not at risk. They can effectively pick and choose what kinds of voters are in their districts. 

And just to make the status quo really secure, the charter also provides that no district can be drawn in such a way as to exclude an incumbent. This provision also benefits the two or three genuinely progressive incumbents, making them reluctant to rock the boat too much. 

There’s a new threat to two of the progressives now. Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguin, both consistently intelligent and well-informed, have been elected in districts where there’s a sizeable student vote—70% in Worthington’s District 7, he says. 

But now a red herring has been dragged across the path. A possibly innumerate faction of UC Berkeley student government activists has been lobbying for the creation of a district which is almost all (+85%) students. The problem with this strategy is that if all the students were lumped together in one district, they would go from being the controlling percentage in two or more districts to dominating just one with a supermajority. 

Needless to say, the clever Council majority (again, unfortunately not a complete oxymoron) has welcomed this proposal with open arms. They recognize that it would be much easier for their developer clients to seduce unsophisticated students with expensive mass mailings and beer parties if only one district were at risk. 

Not all students are alike, either. Traditionally the core southeastern campus area has been the stamping ground of younger students and those less interested in the world outside school. That’s the location of the big dorms, both UC-owned and private, as well as fraternities and sororities. 

Graduate students and undergraduates who are involved in the larger civic scene are more likely to look for apartments and houses to rent which are farther from campus and usually less expensive, not so proximate to student body activities. These students have traditionally provided a healthy leavening in areas of the city such as Northwest Berkeley which might otherwise be dominated by homogeneous homeowners. If most student voters were jammed into a single central campus district, their votes would count for less. 

The Council has until the end of this year to finish the job. They’ve been stretching it out as long as possible, but some decision has to be made by November 12, in order to get a finally proposed ordinance on the Council agenda in time to vote on it as prescribed in the city charter. Just before the Council started their long summer vacation, they endorsed a district-line map submitted by one student group, the Berkeley Student District Campaign (BSDC). 

Now, however, another student committee, the United Student District Amendment group (USDA), which works closely with Councilmember Worthington, has put forward an alternative. Proponents claim that their version would increase student representation in the new student district from 86% to 90%. 

Unspoken but even more important is the fact that the added students would come from the Northside co-ops and International House, which traditionally house the most progressive and independent elements among students housed on or near campus, as well as being more economically and ethnically diverse. These voters would be subtracted from the city’s wealthiest areas, Districts 6 and 8, where progressives have little chance of defeating entrenched conservative incumbents. In District 7 their votes would at least contribute toward electing a progressive student councilmember. 

At their September 10 meeting, the Council voted to continue considering both maps for a while, but it seems likely that the BSDC version will eventually be adopted. If this happens, there will probably be some sort of a ballot challenge, since the majority of city voters are still in the progressive camp, despite the City Charter’s gerrymandering provisions. 

This could take the form of a referendum to overturn the new district map, or a more interesting outcome would be a ballot initiative to reform the charter by amending it. Reform amendments might include adding a couple of at-large councilmembers to the current geographically-based districts. District elections were originally created by an initiative whose proponents hoped to make sure that councilmembers paid attention to neighborhood issues, but the result seems to be that city-wide problems get short shrift. Adding more at-large votes (currently only the mayor is elected city-wide) might create a better, more democratic balance on the Council. 



Odd Bodkins: I'm going to be there.

By Dan O'Neill
Friday September 20, 2013 - 09:47:00 AM

..I'm going to be there.. of the five cartoonists in this show, I seem to be the only one vertical.. ..if you're in the neighborhood..? ..warn you.. the Museum is deep in the cluster of Education temples.. ..no parking on campus.. ..the place is about two blocks into the campus,,google map your only chance.. hopefully yours..Dan  

Dan O'Neill


Public Comment

New: URGENT: Save the Food Stamp Program

By Harry Brill
Saturday September 21, 2013 - 01:30:00 PM

The House of Representatives just passed a bill by a narrow margin (217 to 210) that substantially guts the food stamp program, which would be devastating to the poorest recipients. If it becomes law almost 4 million recipients will lose their benefits.  

The 47 million Americans who receive food stamps include millions of young children, the unemployed, low wage workers, seriously sick individuals, the disabled, veterans, and senior citizens. 

Many recipients either cannot work or are unable to obtain decent paying jobs. Specifically, 20% of food stamp households include an elderly family member and 25% include a disabled member. Over 36% of household recipients include children. 

The Republicans have claimed that many recipients have been cheating. But the evidence shows that the error rate is at an all time low. 

Yet these same Republicans continue to support subsidies to agribusiness even though the its profits are very high. Nor have any Republicans complained that the Department of Agriculture has given millions of dollars in subsidies to over a thousand deceased farmers. 

Please contact our senators immediately to tell them that in this dismal economic climate, the food stamp budget should certainly not be slashed and in fact should be increased. 

To reach Senators Boxer and Feinstein:(free calls): 1-877-762-8762 or 1-800-826-3688. 

East Bay Tax the Rich Group: contact harry.brill@sbcglobal.net

Sitting on a Chair Playing the Fiddle: A Crime? The PRC Hearing

By Carol Denney
Thursday September 19, 2013 - 09:37:00 PM
Sitting on a Chair Playing the Fiddle
Carol Denney
Sitting on a Chair Playing the Fiddle

Berkeley’s last election had a contest between anti-sitting law proponents and those who opposed making simply sitting down a crime. “Measure S”, the anti-sitting law, was defeated at the ballot. It was considered a civil rights victory. But who really won? 

It was the most expensive campaign in Berkeley history. It was funded by well-heeled real estate interests and supported by merchant associations, most of the Berkeley City Council, and the Chamber of Commerce. Criminalizing the simple act of sitting down was described by otherwise intelligent people as a humane response to human need, since living on the streets was so hard

So can you sit on the street and watch a cloud go by? The results are still not in. 

I worked on the campaign opposing the anti-sitting law. A large part of our work was simply educational. Misleading pro-anti-sitting law materials in expensive, shiny colors were everywhere. But once people found out the extremity of the anti-sitting law, they generally opposed it. Most people realized that the law would most probably be used against some people but not others; it’s hard to ignore the Cheeseboard pizza eaters sitting undisturbed by the “Don’t Sit on the Median” signs on Shattuck in North Berkeley. 

Two days before the election on Sunday, November 4, 2012, I put poetry opposed to the anti-sitting law from poets all over the Bay Area up on the fence near the corner of Haste and Telegraph and sat down with some musicians to play. We were trying to illustrate that simply sitting on a chair playing music, perfectly legal behavior under the law, would become a crime in two days if Measure S were to pass.  

I got a ticket. 

Artists were inside the fence perimeter touching up the mural facing Haste Street. People trickled by, enjoying a sunny day. We sat close to the fence, so there was seven feet of unobstructed nine-foot wide sidewalk in front of each of us, more than enough space for two wheelchairs to pass without issue. Our instrument cases were beside or under us, out of the way. 

A few people stopped and asked about the “This Is Legal” sign and its significance, but our demonstration was pretty unobtrusive until Berkeley Police Officer Heather Cole rode up on her bicycle. She accused us of obstructing an empty sidewalk, and since I had carefully researched both the ordinance and the best place on Telegraph to make sure to cause no hardship for merchants or passersby, I found it pretty funny. 

This wasn’t civil disobedience. This was carefully planned obedience to illustrate the absurd overreach of the proposed anti-sitting proposal. I had checked the law, checked with attorneys, planned every aspect of the demonstration so that no one and no one’s instruments would be jeopardized. 

Officer Cole continued to threaten us, arguing that we were in the way despite there being no complaining party. The muralists were amazed. News that someone was getting a ticket for sitting on a chair playing the fiddle traveled fast up and down Telegraph. A reporter snapped pictures for the local paper. A Channel Two news crew began filming. 

Officer Cole kept insisting that other people had no right to be on the sidewalk, either. She moved a nearby plein air painter to the curbside and hassled a guy about twenty feet away collecting signatures. 

I had heard about this police harassment from friends on the street and people who worked at the Homeless Action Center and the East Bay Community Law Center, but it never occurred to me that an obviously political demonstration would be targeted, especially with Channel Two News cameras running. 

We kept playing. Officer Heather Cole kept shouting “I’ll take you to jail if you don’t stop playing,” while we played Soldier’s Joy, a moment which made the news that night. But it was turning into a strange scene. People were shouting at the cops. Two attorneys showed up who tried to explain to Officer Cole that she was misapplying the law. Officer Cole’s supervisor showed up and argued with them. I finally said, fine; give me a ticket, hoping to get back to playing. 

But our effort to illustrate legal behavior was in ruins. I still don’t know what Officer Cole’s problem was that day. Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley dropped the case against me after a couple of court dates. 

I filed a complaint with the Police Review Commission which was not sustained. Can you sit on the sidewalk? The law is pretty clear about it, but no one else seems to be. A couple of the police review commissioners asked questions which implied that someone could be accused of obstructing the space one occupies with one’s body, a patent absurdity which, if true, would put us all in jail. 

You can’t accidentally block a sidewalk under Berkeley’s law as written and clarified by former Police Chief Meisner’s memos. People can’t be accused of blocking a sidewalk for just being there, or for having a backpack or other personal items beside them, the law makes clear. But the police either don’t realize that or realize it and don’t care what the law actually says or what it was intended to do. The Police Review Commission, the Police Department, the City Council all look the other way as people continue to get these absurd tickets which at some point, if unaddressed, turn into jail time and court costs for which the public picks up the bill. 

My ticket cost me at least three days of work, about ten cumulative hours of police officers’ time both in and out of court, court time for several pre-trial dates, and baffled a boatload of reporters, students, and Channel Two News watchers who are probably as confused as I am about why Berkeley would conduct the most expensive campaign in its history against sitting down if it is already against the law. 

Is sitting down against the law? Maybe it depends on who you are. The Cheeseboard pizza eaters obviously get a pass. Maybe it depends on whether or not you are demonstrating against something like Measure S, a kind of content-based provision. Or maybe Officer Heather Cole hates traditional old-time music, a kind of fiddle-based objection.  

It’s an Alice in Wonderland world up there on Telegraph. The hookah smoking caterpillar can’t figure it out, and neither can I. The muralists painted me into the mural after that day, for which, I suppose, I should thank Officer Heather Cole. 


Open Letter to Sierra Club Re: Northern Alameda County Group

By Root Barrett
Thursday September 19, 2013 - 10:41:00 PM

Dear Sierra Club,

It has come to my attention that your Northern Alameda County Group is in violation of the Sierra Club´s Environmental Justice policy. The NAC Group has officially endorsed the forcible eviction of sixty-two of Alameda County´s poorest residents from their homes in order to turn their living space--a multi-use commons which hosts recreation, housing, wild space, and community art--into a recreation-only park.

The Environmental Justice policy clearly states that “no community should bear disproportionate risks of harm because of their demographic characteristics or economic condition.” The NAC Group has targeted the Albany Bulb, home to a community of people marginalized by economic condition and in many cases by disability. The Bulb presently offers stable housing to those unable to afford housing anywhere else in Albany.

By targeting the Bulb, this Sierra Club group is participating in taking away shelter as winter approaches. The NAC Group does this fully aware that no alternative housing exists in Albany, and actually advocated against the City giving people more time to find alternative housing. 

The Environmental Justice policy further states, “People have the right to participate in the development of rules, regulations, plans, and evaluation criteria and at every level of decision-making. . . . Barriers to participation (cultural, linguistic, geographic, economic, other) should be addressed.” 

No effort has been made by the Sierra Club or the City Council of Albany to involve Bulb residents in deciding what will happen to their home. When Bulb residents have attempted to make their voices heard, their concerns have been waved aside. 

The irony of excluding Bulb residents from decisions about their homes is heightened by their role as ecological stewards. They have cleaned up surface hazards left from the Bulb's days as a landfill. They have rescued birds during the Cosco Busan oil spill. They have built their homes from salvaged and local materials. In return for these efforts, they are being displaced. 

Mass displacement is a clear violation of human rights, and is of special concern now, when housing is such a critical issue. At the moment when the Sierra Club´s Executive Director is announcing the Club´s participation in the Democracy Initiative, seeking “justice for all Americans,” one would expect the Sierra Club to be opposing any action that will put people on the street. This is not a way forward for environmental justice. 

October 1st is the deadline. I hope the Sierra Club will help stop this mass displacement in time, and advocate for a reasonable delay that would allow Bulb residents to find alternative affordable housing. 

Sincerely, Root Barrett Share the Bulb


THE PUBLIC EYE: Obama’s Economy: 6 Truths

By Bob Burnett
Friday September 20, 2013 - 08:59:00 AM

President Obama’s September 16th speech on the economy was overshadowed by breaking news: the tragic shootings at the Washington Navy Yard. Nonetheless, it was an important address that contained six important truths.

The President reaffirmed the economy continues to be his “number one priority …making sure we recover from the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, and rebuilding our economy so it works for everybody who's willing to work hard.”

The first truth is the economy has recovered since Obama took office. In 2009, the economy was shrinking and “businesses were shedding 800,000 jobs each month.” Now the economy is growing. Since 2010, “our businesses have added 7.5 million new jobs [and] the unemployment rate has come down.” During the same period, each quarter but one has seen a positive GDP and the unemployment rate has lowered from 10.0 to 7.3 percent.

But that’s not the whole story. The second truth is the recovery has been unbalanced. The President acknowledged, 

Even though our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits, the top 1 percent of Americans took home 20 percent of the nation’s income last year, while the average worker isn’t seeing a raise at all. In fact… most of the gains have gone to the top one-tenth of 1 percent.
As a consequence, a recent AP survey found that 80 percent of American adults face unemployment and poverty. 

To his credit, the President has consistently spoken about the problem of economic inequality. On December 6, 2011, Obama observed, 

This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class. Because what's at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, [and] secure their retirement… I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share, when everyone plays by the same rules. These aren't Democratic values or Republican values… They're American values.
Since President Obama was inaugurated, Republicans have dogmatically moaned about the Federal deficit, but the third truth is the deficit is decreasing. “Our deficits are now falling at the fastest rate since the end of World War II. Most Americans don’t understand this, because the White House has done a terrible job of communicating this event. “By the end of this year, we will have cut our deficits by more than half since I took office.” 

Yet, despite this progress, the long-term deficit continues to be a problem. The Congressional Budget Office recently reported that 

because of government spending cuts and rising tax revenues from the recovering economy, annual deficits will fall in the short term — to a projected 2.1 percent of the economy’s output by the 2015 fiscal year, or about one-fifth of the peak shortfall at the height of the recession in 2009. But starting in 2016, the office projected that deficits will rise again as more aging baby boomers begin drawing from Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid’s long-term care benefits.
In 2011, President Obama proposed a “grand bargain” to deal with this looming reality but Speaker of the House John Boehner rejected it. 

The fifth truth is that Obamacare is driving down health care costs. “Health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in 50 years.” A recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation confirmed the President’s statement. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius elaborated, “The Affordable Care Act is working to increase transparency and competition among health insurance plans and drive premiums down." 

Unfortunately, the sixth and final truth is that while real economic progress has been made since Obama was first elected President, Republicans haven’t contributed to it. They haven’t been part of the solution but, rather, they’ve fought Obama at each step and, as a result, become part of the problem. Republicans don’t care about protecting the middle class, they are obsessed with defeating President Obama. The President observed, “Republicans in Congress don’t seem to be focused on how to grow the economy and build the middle class.” He continued, “It’s time for [the] Republicans to step up… if folks in this town want a grand bargain, how about a grand bargain for middle class jobs.” 

In July, President Obama proposed a grand bargain that would have traded lowering the corporate tax rate for additional spending to create middle-class jobs. Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell summarily rejected his proposal. 

It’s become Obama’s economy; he’s on his own. Republicans aren’t interested in working with the President. They are not interested in protecting the middle class. Republicans are not committed to growing an economy that works for all of us. They are only interested in defending the interests of the top 1 percent. 

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



By Helen Rippier Wheeler, pen136@dslextreme.com
Thursday September 19, 2013 - 09:38:00 PM

Health, housing and transportation are the three biggies for often-powerless senior citizens as well as for many boomers and disabled persons too. Many of the questions I receive involve housing. The problem isn't always getting a rental place or getting a voucher. Sometimes it’s getting peace and quiet and security while in that housing. Fear that activist response may lead to retaliation, losing one’s voucher and or to the landlord’s opting out of Section 8 inhibits some tenants’ attempts to cope with landlord, police, and BHA indifference to, or rejection of, dangerous conditions of harassment, theft, intrusion, contamination and noise.

Here are a few suggestions for coping with those dangerous conditions of harassment, theft, intrusion, contamination and noise, which are often “landlord problems.”  

A personal computer (PC) is helpful. Consult the public library and senior center about learning how-to. Log your experiences and prepare a document describing them. It’s depressing but essential. Keep a diary-like log. Back up your PC file. Keep a file copy of everything. 

Notify the landlord both by telephone and in writing of any problems and of repairs needed and provide her/him with a reasonable time to fix the problem. After you speak with the landlord, send a summary of your understanding of that conversation to her/him with clear copy to the relevant authorities, e.g. HUD, BHA. (‘cc’ is generally considered clear copy; ‘bc’ blind copy.

Consider filing an elder abuse charge. Abuse occurring anywhere other than a long-term care facility should be reported to Alameda County Adult Protective Services agency. 

Report illegal housing conditions (e.g. noise, harassment, apparent theft, break-in) to local police. Get a police report

Contact your City Council member. S/he may be willing and able to advise. If you don’t know in what numbered-Council district you live, call the City Clerk’s office and find out; also request the name of “your” Councilmember and her/his phone number and email address. A one-on-one conference by appointment with her/him is preferable to a phone call.  

If you are a Section 8 tenant, contact your BHA counselor. Again, a one-on-one consult, by appointment with her/him, is preferable to a phone call.  

The Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, known as “the rent board,” is at 2125 Milvia Street, northeast corner of Milvia and Center Streets, downtown Berkeley. (510) 981-7368. “The mission of the Rent Stabilization Board is to regulate residential rent increases in the City of Berkeley and to protect against unwarranted rent increases and evictions and to provide a fair return to property owners. The Board works to ensure compliance with legal obligations relating to rental housing; and to advance the housing policies of the City with regard to low and fixed income persons, minorities, students, disabled, and the aged.” Counselors provide information to tenants and landlords about their rights and responsibilities under the Berkeley Rent Ordinance and California Rental Housing Law. To contact a Housing Counselor by e-mail: rent@cityofberkeley.info. Drop-in counseling is available, or by phone at 510-981- 7368. But keep in mind that Section 8 housing is exempt from most provisions of Berkeley's rent control law.  

Founded in 1972, The Center for Independent Living, Inc. is a services and advocacy organization run by and for people with disabilities. 510-841-4776 Voice. 510-356-2662 Video Phone. 510-848-3101 TTY.  

The Berkeley Tenants Union, at 2022 Blake, has recently shown signs of revitalization. Mainly for eviction cases. http://berkeleytenants.org/ (510) 982-6696. 

It’s quite possible that these resources will respond “take it up with the landlord.” Do it. 



"Cost of caring for elderly, disabled Californians to rise," by Chris Megerian (Los Angeles Times, September 17, 2013).  

The Los Angeles Times reviews Last Tango in Halifax as the fall’s best new PBS show. It stars Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi as former flames, now a widow and widower with adult children, who reconnect. Sunday evenings. A bonus is the James Herriot-Yorkshire countryside. Halifax is a Minster town, within the Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale in West Yorkshire, England. It has an urban area population of 82,056 in the 2001 Census

Seventy-six year old Dustin Hoffman has been honored for taking the plunge into motion picture directing. His Quartet (not referring to Merchant-Ivory’s 1981 Quartet ) is one of the new films that target a 50+ age audience. Beecham House is a gossipy retirement home for musicians who won’t retire. The latest arrival is the former singing partner of the residents, played by 79 year old Maggie Smith. Hoffman’s Quartet is in the library’s DVD collection. Based on Ronald Harwood's stage play of the same title. 

After an early clip from the movie Set for Life was posted online, director Susan Sipprelle was invited to testify before the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in Washington, given 8 minutes to make her presentation, including a 2-minute video. No one paid much attention, she says. “The senators were walking in and out the whole time.” 

The 2012 documentary concerns one of the lasting effects of the Great Recession-- the economic spiral downward of the American middle class. It is not political, offers no solutions. Sipprelle contends that no group has been harder hit than the boomer generation, men and women in the prime of their working lives. Three Baby Boomers who believed they were set for life struggle to recover from the devastating impact of losing their jobs in the Great Recession. Now older than 50, they strive to hang onto their homes, health insurance and hope. (There’s no mention of all the middle-class American seniors who never owned homes, health insurance, or hope on which to hang!)  

Charlie Rose recently interviewed Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave on the subject of their Unfinished Song (not the 1983 biography of Chilean composer Victor Jara.) Grumpy pensioner Arthur honors his recently deceased wife's passion for performing by joining the unconventional local choir to which she belonged. The process helps him build bridges with his estranged son. Two popular themes are the surly older protagonist whose heart begins to thaw out, and the senior-citizens’ chorus belting out unlikely hits. 

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Reasonable Accommodation

By Jack Bragen
Thursday September 19, 2013 - 10:06:00 PM

What can be done to accommodate high-functioning mentally ill people in a work or other situation? What does "reasonable accommodation," under the Americans with Disabilities Act, look like? 

In the 1980's, I took an electronics training course. I then worked for several television repair shops--some of these jobs were more difficult than others. When I began my first television repair job, I was deemed an "apprentice." But I gained more skill and became a "trainer" of a trainee that had been hired. This first electronic repair job lasted about a year until the company went out of business. (A couple of years later I phoned the former owner of the shop to say "hi" and in the phone conversation I finally disclosed my mental health condition. She said that she had no idea.) 

Later, I worked for a television repair shop that was owned by people who knew a lot more about the TV repair industry. While I didn't disclose my psychiatric condition, the owner of the shop could tell that I was high strung, and took some steps to accommodate me. He was willing to do this, in part because he liked my work. I was pretty skilled in troubleshooting problems in analog television sets. 

Actually, there were three different television repair shops in which the owners made an effort to make it easier for me. In only one of those three did I disclose my disability. 

In one position, the owner said that when I felt too much pressure, I could go "take a break and come back." Another shop put a fair amount of pressure on me but created a nonthreatening atmosphere. The positions that worked well for me were usually part-time, with eight hour shifts, three or four days per week. 

I have always been suited to working for small companies, of about a dozen or fewer employees, in which I am supervised by the business owner. In corporate scenarios I have rarely done well. 

In my twenties, I also had a job delivering pizza in which I was accommodated. The owner confronted me after my first two weeks of work, believing, due to my sedated appearance, that I was on illegal drugs. At that point, I had no choice but to disclose, unless I wanted to be fired on the spot. The owners of the pizza shop allowed me to deliver a smaller number of pizzas at a time. 

These employers believed my work was good, and were willing to adjust the work situation to make it less stressful. 

In another instance of accommodation, my landlord waived his "no dogs" policy so that my wife could own a service dog. The dog helps us both with anxiety and also serves as a watchdog. (It is a little, yappy, Chihuahua-Terrier mix--small dogs are popular in our neighborhood.) This is yet another example of how "reasonable accommodation" doesn't need to be systematized or given an institutional stamp. 

I have also tried my hand at self-employment. I believed that I could tailor the structure of the company to suit my strengths and weaknesses. However, I kept butting up against the fact that if I wanted to make money, I would need to deal with considerable discomfort. To make a profit in almost any company, someone needs to "push the envelope" or else they will not be competitive. 

The mental health treatment system doesn't teach people how to behave in a "normal" setting, and caregivers assume that we don't need that knowledge. Once institutionalized, and this includes outpatient institutionalization, we are expected to act as people who don't understand appropriateness. 

Work settings for me have been far less stigmatizing compared to the mental health treatment system. The exception to this has been jobs that were acquired in conjunction with the system. 

Nevertheless, in or near 2003, I worked for "Sapling Project" which was a one-of-a-kind, pilot program that provided supported, computer-related employment to selected mental health consumers. Since the program was administered by a former mental health consumer, I did not feel the same stigma that I might otherwise feel. The project, unfortunately, ended when the administrator became ill.

Arts & Events

Masquers “The Lieutenant of Inishmore”—gruesomely entertaining

By John A. McMullen II
Thursday September 19, 2013 - 09:22:00 PM
Padraic (Damien Seperi, center) searches for answers in the death of his beloved cat in the Masquers Playhouse production of “The Lieutenant of Inishmore.” (bottom Alan Coyne, Avi Jacobson; background Jesse MacKinnon, David Stein, and Dan Kurtz).
Jerry Telfer
Padraic (Damien Seperi, center) searches for answers in the death of his beloved cat in the Masquers Playhouse production of “The Lieutenant of Inishmore.” (bottom Alan Coyne, Avi Jacobson; background Jesse MacKinnon, David Stein, and Dan Kurtz).

“The Lieutenant of Inishmore” by Martin McDonagh sounds like an heroic Irish play. However, Martin McDonagh—master of gruesome violence and dark irony—wrote it.

Now playing at Masquers Playhouse in Point Richmond through September 28, the play is about the murderous violence since “The Troubles” began anew in 1969 and lasted almost 30 years.

This play was written in the late 90’s when the violence had become extreme and often turned away from its roots toward gangsterism while being supported in part through drug-trafficking.

It’s about the misplaced affection for a pet of a hardened revolutionary for whom assassination and torture were an everyday occurrence.

Throughout, it is extraordinarily funny in that tongue in cheek Irish manner.  

This production, directed by John Maio, does the violence convincingly and is not for the faint of heart or squeamish, and if you have a pronounced attachment to your feline pet, you perhaps should skip it. 

Gunshots and blood spatters are effective in a Grand Guignol fashion, then undone by obvious dummies being used for dismemberment (though it might be hard to cast it if method acting were used). 

The set by Mike Maio is a well-designed and depressing bachelor’s cottage in need of a coat of paint, a woman’s hand, and a trip to Home Depot. 

While the accents are much better than most community theatre productions, the subtext is too often lost while the actors immerse themselves in sounding Irish rather than immersing themselves in the nuances of “being” Irish (example of Irish humor: “They buried Paddy Farrell yesterday. Dead y’know.”) 

There are many hysterically funny moments in the dialogue which are passed over by not recognizing and playing their deadpan irony. There is a lot of hollering and chaos in this production which dispels the needed tension. Ironically, Avi Jacobson (a fine Irish name!) probably has the best accent, while one actor unfortunately employs a “Lucky Charms” dialect that rises to a jolting register that made me clench my teeth. 

The Lieutenant is played convincingly by Damien Seperi as a sociopath who can maim casually and murder without compunction, but dissolves into tears at the news that his cat, which is his only emotional tie, is doing poorly, and rushes home. In a cliché, he meets the now-grown up colleen Mairead (played by Cherie Girard-Brodigan), who was a child when he left to be a partisan in the Tuaisceart Éireann underground. She too is a cat lover and his distaff alter ego. With their love bred from a mutual fondness for insurrection and mayhem, McDonagh sets up the twisted denouement that shows the psychopathy that too often happens to revolutionaries. 

Nevertheless, it is entertaining and gives you another insight into McDonagh’s imagination. McDonagh is of Irish descent but was born and raised in London. He wrote The Pillowman (Tony nomination, Olivier Award) and The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Tony award for Best Play) among others, as well as the Oscar for Best Short Film—Six Shooter—and The Guard, Seven Psychopaths, and In Bruges. 

For those a little foggy about the Irish situation, the Rebellion of 1916 resulted in the Irish winning independence in all but the six northern counties which continued to be part of the UK. After 40 years of discrimination from the Protestant Ulster Unionists, non-violent civil resistance was initiated in 1967, but the response from the Ulster Volunteer Force and the British Army turned violent, and the IRA was reinvigorated. 

Mairead sings a refrain from the song “The Patriot Game” by Dominic Behan (brother of the famous Irish playwright Brendan): “Come all ye young rebels, and list while I sing /For the love of one's country is a terrible thing/ It banishes fear with the speed of a flame/ And it makes us all part of the patriot game. 

My name is O'Hanlon/ and I've just turned sixteen. My home is in Monaghan, where I was weaned/ 

I learned all my life cruel England to blame/ So now I am part of the patriot game.” 

The rest of the poignant lyrics can be found at http://www.metrolyrics.com/the-patriot-game-lyrics-clancy-brothers.html 

(Critic’s editorial and disclaimer

I’m perhaps not the least partisan critic to review this work. My great-grandfather fought in the rebellion of 1916-21. I was brought up with tales of the Bold Fenian Men, the tragic Battle of the Boyne and Cromwell’s cruelty, and, as a child, thought the accepted form of reference to the English was “bloody Johnny Bulls.” I remember my Da and I singing “The Wearing of the Green” at the Ancient Order of Hibernians mid-March—it’s a song about the English outlawing wearing the color green, written by the famous Irish actor Dion Boucicault.  

One time when the men from Ireland came through collecting for the Widows and Orphans fund, Jimmy Gleason rose to object that the money was going to guns for rebellion. My Da’ rose to say, “If it isn’t going for arms to fight the bloody British, I won’t give a feckin’ red cent!”  

In the wake of 9/11, the romanticism of the Irish Rebels fighting for their right to rule their own land has been revised. Tarred with today’s “terrorism” label, the IRA is often lumped in with all other organizations— stoked by religion and inequality—that fight for their sovereignty. Remember that the British complained about the terrorist tactics of the Sons of Liberty in the American Revolution. There is a cogent quotation, ironically by John Harington who was a commander of a regiment of the English forces sent by Queen Elizabeth to quell “Tyrone’s Rebellion” in 1599: "Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason." Noteworthy, perhaps, is that Harington is also credited as the inventor of the flush toilet.)

Vanessa in Berkeley This Weekend

Friday September 20, 2013 - 03:24:00 PM

West Edge Opera, formerly the Berkeley Opera, which most recently has been playing at El Cerrito High School, will present a semi-staged concert performance of Vanessa, with music by Samuel Barber and libretto by Gian-Carlo Menotti, on Berkeley Repertory Theatre's Thrust Stage.

Marie Plette will take the title role of Vanessa, and Jonathan Khuner will conduct. Nikola Printz (Erika)was previously seen in Berkeley in a Dazzling Divas production of Cosi Fan Tutte,at the Berkeley Piano Club. 

There will be two performances: Saturday night, Sept. 22, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, September 22, at 3 p.m., at 2025 Addison Street, Berkeley.

AROUND AND ABOUT MUSIC: Del Sol Quartet at Berkeley Chamber Performances, New Century Chamber Orchestra with Daugherty Perspectives

By Ken Bullock
Friday September 20, 2013 - 09:02:00 AM

Del Sol Quartet will play a world premiere of Gatar, Calligraphy Number 11, by Iranian composer Reza Vali, along with work by Robert Erickson, Lembit Beecher, Uzbekistani composer Elena Kats-Chemin, and Thunder by Irene Sazar, 8 p.m. Thursday, September 26, at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Avenue. A wine and cheese reception with the musicians follows, to which the audience is invited. $25, high school students free, post-high school students $12.50. 525-5211, berkeleychamberperform.org 

New Century Chamber Orchestra will perform Daugherty Perspectives, a program dedicated to the music of American composer Michael Daugherty, student of Pierre Boulez and of Gyorgy Ligeti, but whose style can't be pigeonholed, in Bay Area venues from next Wednesday morning through the following Sunday evening, including Berkeley's First Congregational Church next Friday at 8 ($29-$59) and a free performance at Zellerbach Hall, 11 a. m. Sunday the 29th, for Cal Performance's Fall Free For All, which will include some of the music from Daugherty Perspectives. The concert at First Congregational Church will feature Daugherty compositions from 1989 to 2012, including Viva for solo violin (played by NCCO music director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg); Elvis Everywhere for strings and tape; Viola Zombie for two violins; Regrets Only for violin, cello and piano; and Strut for chamber orchestra. Josef Sug's Serenade for string orchestra in E major opus 6 will also be performed. ncco.org

Clerestory Sings in Oakland on September 29

By Angela Arnold
Thursday September 19, 2013 - 10:02:00 PM


Clerestory, the Bay Area’s acclaimed 9-man vocal ensemble, has engaged the services of a promising lyricist. Check out his stuff on September 28 in San Francisco, September 29 in Oakland, and/or October 6 in Lodi.

OK, this fellow has a bit of a reputation already... William Shakespeare, a giant of drama and literature, also looms large in the world of music: his clever, innately lyrical words have enticed centuries of composers. With The Bard, Clerestory kicks off its eighth season by paying homage to this greatest of English wordsmiths in songs from the Renaissance through the modern day. Many of the pieces in our program bring to life songs Shakespeare wrote into his own plays—moments in which the drama pauses to elevate a few tender lines or to relish a moment of cheerful coarseness. Familiar favorites from Ralph Vaughan Williams, John Rutter, and Jaako Mäntyjärvi are joined by new treasures from Cory Johnson, Karen Siegel, and others. Are you ‘to be, or not to be’ in the audience? Verily, we hope so! 

Note: The concert will run just over an hour with no intermission. Tickets and other info: http://www.clerestory.org/the-bard-september-2013 

Past concert recordings are available for free listening or download at http://clerestory.org/music.php. - 

Saturday, September 28, 8:00pm SAN FRANCISCO St. Mark’s Lutheran Church 

Sunday, September 29, 4:00pm OAKLAND Chapel of the Chimes 

Sunday, October 6, 4:00pm LODI The Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist -----------------

Guidonian Hand Trombone Quartet at the Berkeley Arts Festival on Saturday

By Bonnie Hughes
Thursday September 19, 2013 - 09:43:00 PM

William Lang, Mark Broschinsky, Sebastian Vera, and James Rogers formed Guidonian Hand five years ago in New York City with a mission to to develop and commission repertoire as well as explore the vast possibilities for this unique instrumentation. They have been the recent recipients of major grants from Chamber Music America, the Barlow Foundation, the Jerome Fund and New Music USA (formerly Meet the Composer) and have worked exclusively with composers such as Eve Beglarian, Jeremy Howard Beck, J. Mark Stambaugh, Mary Ellen Childs and Jonathan Bepler. Recently they recorded the soundtrack for and acted in Matthew Barney's upcoming film, "River of Fundament" in collaboration with composer Jonathan Bepler as well as releasing their first commercial recording, "Awakening" by Jeremy Howard Beck, which they have performed all over the country. Other recent highlights were performing twice at last year's Bang on a Can Marathon and in this year's River to River Festival with choreographers Wally Cardona and Jennifer Lacey. 


Galen H. Brown - Grind 

Ingram Marshall - Fog Tropes 

Jeremy Howard Beck - Awakening 

Philip Glass - Saxophone Quartet 

Eve Beglarian - In and Out of the Game 

Saturday September 21, 8 pm 

Berkeley Arts Festival 

2133 University Avenue