Posts Tagged ‘Mario Savio’

Where the free speech movement started

April 6, 2012

After the New Downtown Berkeley Launch Event was concluded on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, a reporter from KGO radio in San Francisco was walking on Adeline Street with John Caner, the Executive Director of the Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA), when one of the homeless people in front of John’s Ice Cream challenged her to talk to him and get both sides of the story.  She declined the invitation to get a balanced picture of the situation and scampered quickly to her Mercedes Benz and drove off informing him that she had all the information she needed.

In the current issue of the East Bay Express (April 4 – 10, 2012) on page 12 of the hardcopy edition, reporter Robert Gammon recaps the skepticism that Joe Debro faced when he criticized the deal which was utilized <a href =

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/raiders-deal-still-haunts-oakland/Content?oid=3167659> to bring the Oakland Raiders back toOakland</a> from their temporary rebel encampment in theLos Angeles area.  Debro was vastly outnumbered by sports fans, journalists and politicians who heartily endorsed the efforts to lure the absent rascals back to the Bay Area.

Debro’s objections seem more credible now that the city is in financial crisis mode and the football team might need to be reminded of the particulars of a loan that was instrumental in getting them to (like the prodigal son) return home because it is Debro’s continued position that no payments on the loan have been made and none are scheduled to be made.  If families can live paycheck to paycheck, can’t a $53.9 million dollar loan be forgotten if a team is living from season to season?

Time magazine’s Reagan era White House correspondent, Doug Brew, advised reporters to take the time to listen to what people were trying to tell them and not prejudge the quality of their information based on their appearances or apparent financial status.  How (you might ask) could the World’s Laziest Journalist possibly be the recipient of advice from such a highly qualified source for opinions on the art of Journalism?  We were coworkers on the staff of the weekly Santa Monica Independent Journal Newspapers in theLos Angelesarea.  That brings up the question:  “How well did you get to know him?”  When he was welcomed into this columnist’s humble abode in Marina del Rey, Brew expostulated:  “My God, Bob, this is a hovel!”

Could KGO’s gal reporter have possibly missed a goodBerkeleysidebar story in her haste to get . . . some place else?

On Tuesday afternoon, we were informed by some of the folks in People’s Park that (irony alert!) the beloved guy known as “hate man” had been issued a stay-a-way order from the public park that he calls “home.” 

The ten years that Mark Hawthorne (AKA Hate man) worked for the Metro Section of the New York Times were also known as “the Sixties” and we would pay good money to hear him tell his stories and just maybe get some advice on how to produce quality journalism. Hawthorne’s suggestions would probably be just as good as those provided by the fellow who worked for Time magazine. 

If UCB’sschoolofJournalismcan’t get hate man to teach there, perhaps they could getHawthorneto do one guest lecture per semester?  Hate man prefers to be outdoors and it is not unprecedented for some UCB classes to be held outside (like perhaps at People’s Park?). 

How is that fair and balance act working out for Rupert Murdoch?  Maybe if we learned how to do Journalism Fox style, we could wind up driving a Mercedes Benz?  Don’t they always put their best sly digs in the form of a question?

Is it true that Rupert Murdoch is trying to buy a major league baseball team and get the town fathers in FoxboroMassachusettsto build a stadium to serve as home for such an enterprise?   Could they call such a stadium “The Hen House”?

Could anyone convince the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors to build a brand new football stadium on county owned land in Marina del Rey and let a football team move in for little or no rent?  Isn’tLos Angelesthe biggest metropolitan area without a major football team?  Shouldn’t the board be happy to build a stadium and make loans that can then sit abandoned?  Where are the Brookly Dodgers Football team playing these days?

Whatever happened to the pro football teams that used to play in theLos Angelesarea?

Is there a C&W song titled “You’ve got a cash register heart”?   If not; why not?

Isn’t theUniversityofCalifornia Berkeleyrenovating their football stadium?  Aren’t college football games always played on Saturdays and aren’t pro football games always played on Sundays?

If the Berkeley Downtown Business Association really wants to bring shoppers and travelers to their town, why don’t they float a bond issue, take over management of the UCB football stadium and give the Raiders a better deal than a loan that doesn’t have to be paid back?  They could pay the Raiders gigantic bonus to move a few miles north and become the Berkeley Raiders!

If Monterey can be world famous as the town where one writer (John Steinbeck) use to live and if Key West Florida can hold an annual Hemingway Days series of events because just one writer used to live in their community, then why don’t book readers from all over the world flock to Berkeley where Ursula K. LeGuinn was born, and Philip K. Dick, Alan Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac used to live?

Since the Mediterraneum was open when Dick, Ginsberg, and Kerouac all lived in Berkeley, isn’t it natural to wonder if they ever had a brief chat there?

Charles Dickens, when he came to theUnited Statesto visit, made a particular point of going to visitLowellMassachusettsbecause of its literary heritage because a famous magazine had been published there.  That was years before Jack Kerouac’s father brought his family to that town.  Isn’t the Berkeley Barb mentioned repeatedly in “Smoking Typewriters,” which is about the history of underground newspapers in theUSA?

Last fall, when the high school finalists in the freedom of speech essay contest read their winning entries didn’t it get coverage on the TV networks by holding the event on the Mario Savio steps at theSproulPlazaarea of UCB?

Doesn’t the guy who runs the Daily Kos website for liberal online commentary live inBerkeley?

Is there a DBA suggestion box for ways to bring attention toBerkeley?

If the Journalism students at UCB were to produce a TV show all about Berkeley every day, wouldn’t it be quite likely that in this era of “low cost is no cost” broadcasting if they offered such a product to a cable TV company <I>gratis</I>, they would take it and offer it to viewers all over the world?  (Fox seems to be ubiquitous inAustralia.  Lottsa sports.)  Wouldn’t that be a career boost for the participating students and wouldn’t that win the DBA seal of approval?

Doesn’tKalgoorlie, inWestern Australia, lure visitors from all over the world with just one word?  Gold!  How far fromBerkeleyis Sutter’s Mill?

[Note:  It was a challenge to find a way to illustrate this column.  We used material from an abandoned photo project titled “On the road with a copy of ‘On the Road.’”  SinceBerkeleyis specifically mentioned in “The Dharma Bums,” that might have been a better choice, but the photo editor had to go with what was available.]

National columnists’ Day is rapidly approaching and the World’s Laziest Journalist intends to write a column for the occasion about a fellow who was born inBerkeley(about a hundred years ago) and became one of the Bay Area’s top contenders for the right to call himself “Mr. San Francisco.”  UCB has the Hearst School of Journalism and that particularBerkeleyrascal was personally fired by William Randolph Hearst . . . twice.  That notorious columnist might provide the basis for one installment of the aforementioned hypothetical student TV show “Berkeley Tonight” (or whatever).

Didn’t the Sixties officially start (in Berkeley) when Mario Savio said:  “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”  [Can you believe that that quote is not in Bartlett’s?] 

Now the disk jockey will play Janice Joplin’s “Oh, dear Lord,” Ry Cooder’s “Crazy ‘Bout an Automobile (Every Woman I Know),” and Woody Gutheris’s “Go For a Ride in the Car, car.”  Speaking of cars, we have to celebrate this weekend by watching “Rebel without a Cause” one more time.  Have a “See theUSAin your Chevrolet” type week.

The Return of “Street Fighting Man”?

September 6, 2011

As the ninth month of the year begins, here are a few items that the columnist considers important cultural tidbits:  an unpopular Democratic President is struggling to get renominated, a bumper sticker being sold on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley asks:  “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?,” there is an ongoing protest at People’s Park, the Freedom of Speech issue is spawning arrests, a new book by Shel Silverstein is due out this month, the Playboy Club (and “the bunny slouch”?) will be featured in a new TV series, and Pan Am will get tons of free publicity from a new fall TV series (perhaps based on the book “Coffee, Tea, or me?”?), so with out looking at a calendar can you please say what year is this?  British disk jockey Danny Baker recently proclaimed that this year is 1968 and he might be right.

The longer Obama is President the easier it becomes for a pundit to make clever and perceptive comments; all that’s needed is a great memory.  A case in point would be pollution and global warming.  You don’t need to be a conspiracy theory scientist to have a major emotional reaction to a bit of popular American culture from 1970.  Who can watch the Iron Eyes Cody Public Service Announcement and not get the point?

Who can listen to “Man in Black,” Johnny Cash’s 1971 hit that covered just about all of today’s problems, and not find it moving?

For people living in Berkeley and facing the task of preparing to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Mario Savio’s speech from the top of a police car, the recent No Justice No BART protests and arrests about the Freedom of Speech issue has a distinct “been there done that” aspect.

People’s Park is back in the news.  Activists are staging a protest.  They assert that theUniversityofCaliforniainBerkeleyis using incremental limitations as a way of trying to end the use of the area known as People’s Park as a campsite for homeless people.  Activists inform journalists that efforts are being made to end the program to feed the homeless in the park.  Similar protests in 1969 were suspended after the Park and the protests, which resulted in the death of James Richter, became national news stories.

Peace is still the objective for Peaceniks only the name of the war has changed.

Mario Savio objected to high tuition fees in the Sixties and asserted that students had a right to express their opinions.  Two years ago students were holding demonstrations at UCB to draw attention to increases in tuition costs.

Over the Labor Day weekend, a march by the United Farm Workers reachedSacramentowhere they hoped to deliver their list of grievances and goals to the governor ofCalifornia.

For a columnist who made futile efforts to get to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, this year’s issues and protests have a strong <I>déjà vu</I> aspect to them.  One ingredient that is missing from attempts to photograph and write about this year’s events is an endless supply of energy and enthusiasm.

Scrambling around theSan FranciscoBayarea to get photos at a benefit for theNorthern California9/11 Truth Alliance, People’s Park and the various No Justice No BART protests, it is obvious that getting a by-line in the <I>Berkeley Barb</I> is a goal that will never be accomplished. 

In one day, can one reporter photographer cover a nine hour event at the Grand Lake Theater inOakland, a planned new No Justice No BART event inSan Francisco, and check in with the protest in People’s Park?  Obviously we’ll have to postpone plans to do a round-up column on the current spate of items concerned with the quality of the judicial branch of government in theUSAtoday.  We’re working on developing other columns such as one that compares the Republican philosophy to that of the Apaches and play with the irony that some famous Republicans have been accused of kidnapping Geronimo’s skull. 

We’ll try to cover the Sunday event at the Herbst Theater inSan Franciscoon September 11.  We’ll monitor the People’s Park protest.  We’ll do updates on the No Justice No BART protests.  Rather than struggling with the knack of loading Tri-X film on the Nikkor reels, we’ll be struggling to learn the new html skills to move our photojournalism into the digital era, but we will also be aware of certain other limitations on our efforts.

Back in 1968, the World’s Laziest Journalist used to annoy the snot out of some close friends by introducing cultural comments and insights with the phrase “Back in 1968.”  We don’t bug them with that shtick anymore because a two of the folks who were most upset with it, have “gone to the happy hunting grounds.”

In the April 1965 issue of Cavalier magazine, Paul Krassner wrote:  “There was, of course, oneBerkeleyadministration official who mustered up his oversimplification gland and labeled the protest there as not much more than a ‘civil rights panty raid.’”

Krassner also wrote:  “There is an Establishment (translate:  in-power) point of view about events such as these – usually predictable but nevertheless in a state of limited flux – and the mass media serve as vehicles for and reflections of the Establishment point of view.”  What if Rupert Murdoch is the Establishment?

Now the disk jockey will give someBerkeleymusicians a bit of exposure by playing the “Fixing to Die” rag, “Run through the Jungle,” and “Long as I can see the Light.”  We have to go and try to buy a copy of Eye magazine.  Have a “hella-groovy” type week.