The Monster Stalking Telegraph Ave

Posted in Med Heads & Cafe Culture, Telegraph Avenue, The Berkeley Scene on August 30th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Aug. 29, 2014


Helen Bachinsky is a 93 year-old coffee house habitué, who is now confined to her apartment. “Our Berkeley professors warned us off Telegraph in the Fifties,” she told me years ago. “they saw the avenue as a bad influence.”

By design or not, Cal Berkeley seems to have tried various schemes to keep students safely on university property, offering a wide array of services competing with Telegraph stores and cafes.

One need only glimpse the scope of Cal’s lower Sproul development, as it now rises from demolition and assumes the outlines of completion, to see that a refurbished student union building catering to students’ 24 hour needs will impact Telegraph.

24-hr. student center; appetite for Telegraph. Photo byTed Friedman.

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Who Won The Latest Berkeley F the Police Demo

Posted in The Berkeley Scene on August 27th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Aug. 27, 2014


From Ferguson to Berkeley: Hands Up; Don't Shoot. Photo by Ted Friedman.

From Ferguson, Mo: “When protesters would try to follow police commands to leave an area, they’d be faced with another group of police pushing them back in the direction they’d come from.”–a Berkeley pastor’s report from Ferguson.

A UC Berkeley research study of 211 Occupy protests concluded demos: “tend to turn violent when officers use aggressive tactics, such as approaching demonstrators in riot gear or lining up in military-like formations.”
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Writing For The Berkeley Reporter Audience

Posted in The Berkeley Scene on August 25th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Aug. 25, 2014

'I'm no dummy,' a reader writes. Photo by Ted Friedman.


My first audience is a Google robot. I don’t know the bot’s name but I’ve psychoanalyzed her personality–an algorithm.

The bot doesn’t know me from Hemingway. To the bot, Hemingway and I are just two equal writers. Rank is decided by search results, not by quality. Whew!

I write headlines for the bot and the bot has been good to me, bringing me as many as 1,500 “unique visitors,” daily. Our CEO, an SEO (search engine optimizer) is a magic carpet delivering our content to your screen.

My readers are both palpable and not. I’ve met my Berkeley readers at demos/events, and at my office, the Caffe Med, on Telegraph.

One day, while I was on a hot BBQ story, a woman overheard the name I wrote under at the Berkeley Daily Planet, where I was something of a cut-up.

She plopped herself at a table where I was gnawing on a rib. “So you’re Ted Friedman,” she repeated, after pauses. I had to re-assure her. That was all she said. “So you’re Ted Friedman.”

After that, I met more and more of my readers around town. They all liked what I was doing, whatever that was.
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Blaming the Victim in Latest People’s Park Rape Charge

Posted in People's Park on August 21st, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Aug. 21, 2014

“Police are investigating a sexual assault that occurred in Berkeley Monday morning, according to the University of California Police Department. [from Berkeley Patch]

The female victim contacted police saying that she woke up to a man sexually assaulting her while she was asleep at People’s Park near the University of California at Berkeley campus.

The victim began screaming and the suspect, who is known by the victim as a person who frequents the park, fled the area.”


According to a reliable People’s Park source, the alleged victim was “Heather, who had been dancing topless in the park all day, giving a green light; she’d been drinking all day and passed out with some guy next to her. She woke up screaming and yelling rape and how she was pregnant.”
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Trapped in Demo by Cops on Telegraph Ave.

Posted in Telegraph Avenue, The Berkeley Scene on August 18th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
August 18, 2014


Somehow, a visiting Oakland demonstration blocked by a wall of cops on Telegraph Avenue Friday, managed to re-group in downtown Berkeley, although surrounded and seemingly out-numbered by police from four departments.

Protesters numbered no more than fifty when they re-grouped downtown.

From Shattuck, Avenue where Berkeley Reporter caught up to them, the demonstrators straggled up Haste Street to Telegraph for a celebration and pep rally to protest the killing by a cop in Ferguson, Mo of an unarmed 18-year-old black male.

Protesters chanted, “hands up, don’t shoot, and fuck the police…we are the 99 percent,” while giving the finger and the bras d’honneur in the direction of crawling police cars behind them.

Demo Motto. Photo by Ted Friedman.

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Berkeley Progressives Dodge Bullet

Posted in The Berkeley Scene on August 12th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Aug. 11, 2014


Worthington Files to Run at Last Minute. Photo by Ted Friedman.

As he filed his application, Thursday, for a fourth run for South Side city councilman, Kriss Worthington told me no student candidate had filed to oppose him. Filing deadline was only minutes away as we spoke inside City Hall. Outside, his supporters were gathering on the steps of City Hall.
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Rage Behind Attack on Telegraph Ave.

Posted in Telegraph Avenue on August 7th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
Aug. 8, 2014


Crime Scene. Photo by Ted Friedman.

According to numerous eye-witnesses, he called attention to himself with his loud mutterings and admonitions, Tuesday, at Berkeley’s leading hot-spot, Caffe Mediterraneum. In addition to capsizing marble tables and several chairs, the troubling man caused $500 damage to Med windows and raised hackles.
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Who’s Cracking Down on Peoples in People’s Park

Posted in People's Park on July 29th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
July 28, 2014

Ankle-high Peoples Park Grass. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Crackdowns in People’s Park are part of its rhythm as well as its legacy.

The ankle-high grass of Berkeley’s People’s Park was recently mowed-down by university groundskeepers along with a bunch of people-park-people who got stay-away orders from university police. Park drug busts have burgeoned.

At Camp Hate, in People’s Park, Hate Man and some of his fellow campers got seven-day stay-aways. Ecclesiastes tells us: “…a time to keep and a time to throw away.” For the university it was time to throw away people’s belongings in and around Camp Hate, which over-flows to Hillegass/Dwight Way, across from two of Berkeley’s oldest churches. The churches turn its other cheeks to the campers.

Such are the seasons in People’s Park where there is a time for everything. A time for busted pot deals, a time to grow campsites, and a time for the university to throw them away.

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Strange War with Berkeley’s Telegraph Ave. Street Kids

Posted in Med Heads & Cafe Culture, Telegraph Avenue on July 24th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
July 24, 2014


Yesterday, hassle; Becker, right. Photo by Ted Friedman.

A typical day, yesterday, for Craig Becker, 62, who recently put Berkeley’s most famous (60 year-old) coffee house-cafe up for sale: first, he had to eject a psychotic, then he got into a brief hassle with street kids he was about to wash off the sidewalk with a power hose outside his Caffe Mediterraneum, on a seedy stretch of Telegraph Avenue.

“We don’t think it’s very nice of you,” protested a sprayed-out young newcomer to the Telegraph scene.
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Whatever Happened to Berkeley’s Iconic Hippy Coffee-House?

Posted in Med Heads & Cafe Culture, The Berkeley Scene on July 15th, 2014 by admin – Be the first to comment

by Steed Dropout
July 12, 2014

You never know when Berkeley’s, sixty year old Caffe Mediterraneum will explode with youth. College-youth from Cal…and today, eight-year-olds from the peninsula.

That You never know who will show may be why Berkeley’s oldest cafe and the first East-Bay baristas, is for sale. You could call the Caffe Mediterraneum a Berkeley coffee-house icon, or you could call it misspelled.

Youth was to have saved the Med.

When the Med doesn’t explode with youth or anyone else, it can be big, cold, and empty. At the moment there are ten customers (room for 100) beneath a 20 foot ceiling. The next moment could bring a rush of youth. Therein lies the rub.

The customer flow is flawed.

Erratic customer flow and a long list of missteps has brought the Med to yet another crisis. This would be its third crisis in 60 years.

In 1992, Roz Gordon, 83, convened a star-studded poetry reading on the Med mezzanine. It wasn’t a fundraiser, but rather a tribute. Everyone thought the Med was dead. In a way, it was dead, if you compare the Med’s successors to the original joint, which ran like a Swiss watch and payed off like a winning lottery ticket.

The ownership change in 1992 from the cafe’s founders to a couple of cooks was perhaps the beginning of the end for the Med.

Brad Cleveland, 83, was there for a local newspaper the day the Med opened in 1957. “Lines reached around the block, and they continued that way for many years,” said Cleveland, adding “it was a place to meet new people because you couldn’t find a seat to yourself.”

Med Heads as we call ourselves are now sitting here all by ourselves wondering what will become of us. Will we be swept aside for something stylish, that gleams, or stuffed and put on display? If swept aside, at least they’ll have to use a broom and that’s good.
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