Recently, journalist and political activist Mike Zint and some of his associates were recounting some of the best anecdotes about the good old days when the Occupy Movement was getting started. Then they started lamenting the fact that some of the oral history of all the protest movements are in danger of becoming lost. Shouldn't someone (like those studying journalism or documentary film making at the University of California in Berkeley?) make a concerted effort to record some of the best stories on video while they still can? Simultaneously, some local merchants are busy trying to discourage and disavow Berkeley's world wide fame for being in the forefront of the anti-Vietnam war protests.
Do large numbers of tourists go to Oxford England to see where famous scholars taught and did research? Is North Beach, the San Francisco neighborhood made famous by the Beat Poets, a bigger and better known draw for world travelers?
Sure Berkeley is full to capacity on the fall Saturdays when the UCLA football team comes to town, but what can be done to draw crowds during the summer months?
If an entity called "the Hippie Hall of Fame" is ever to be built, why not in Berkeley?
The list of famous artists, musicians, writers, and political protesters who were at one time or another part of the Berkeley community, is astounding and that, in turn, causes us to postulate the premise that if the Berkeley business community wants to increase tourism, they might want to consider the possibility of building a home for the Hippie Hall of Fame.
Is there an audience wanting to hear about the trials and tribulations of the Vietnam war protesters? Shouldn't Berkeley be anxious to tell the world about various writers (such as Philip K. Dick, Ursula K. Le Guinn, Jack Kerouac, and Alan Ginsberg) who were Berkeley residents? The Hippie Hall of Fame might be a legitimate way to draw visitors to Berkeley. Isn't Wavy Gravy (wavygravy dot net) a Berkeley resident?
Doesn't a pioneer in the field of rock criticism call Berkeley his hometown?
Simultaneously while the business community's hopes to bring more tourists to the area, they are also anxious to see the local homeless people go elsewhere.
Thursday, January 22, 2015, was a warm day filled with California sunshine and so when we walked into downtown Berkeley CA
and noticed that the usual crew of homeless young folks was absent, we didn't
take much notice. The next morning KCBS
news radio reported that the day before had been the day devoted to taking an
annual census reading of the homeless.
Such an odd pair of facts might be connected, we mused, and so we
considered traveling to the secret location of the Amalgamated Conspiracy
Theory Factory located in the near-by foothills for an expert analysis of the
Then we realized that since one of the objectives we hope to achieve with our weekly exorcises in online punditry is to prod the audience into doing their own thinking and commentary we should just ask the readers if they see any possible connection.,
We asked Ninja Kitty on Friday where the kids were on Thursday. He said that the police had made a sweep of Shattuck on Thursday and chased many of the panhandlers away. Why would they do that on the day when the Homeless census was supposed to be conducted?
A Berkeley cynic noted that since the new semester at the University of California in Berkeley had just begun, it was traditional for the local authorities to do sweeps of the downtown area to remove the homeless so that parents delivering their daughter for the new semester would not become unduly alarmed by the sight of the panhandlers.
Could it be that politicians don't want to solve the homeless problem because the capitalists want homelessness to be a very unpalatable existence and thus provide disgruntle workers with a strong motivation for putting up with inconveniences just to keep their jobs?
We have asked several of Berkeley's homeless if they agreed with our contention that the problem of homelessness is not meant to be solved. Most concurred. If, during the Great Recession, workers could not be manipulated and intimidated by the possibility of becoming one of the panhandlers, then there would be no great fear of becoming a rolling stone. As it is, a married man with a wife, kids, car payments and a mortgage has enough to handle and the thought of coping with that menagerie while living in the car can be very effective sword of Damocles. Don't most of the homeless perceive the poor schmuck as being played as a sucker? What single young man doesn't fancy himself as the title character in a picaresque novel that tells the travels and adventures of the new Dean Moriarity?
Our fact-finding on the topic of homelessness has caused us to wonder why some top notch writer (think Tom Wolfe in the mid-sixties) doesn't collect the life stories of the best known Berkeley homeless and put those stories into a book length form.
It seems curious that the business owners are very reluctant to even consider one idea that would help remove some of the panhandlers from Shattuck Ave. If a place could be found where lockers could be installed, that would give some of the kids a chance to go look for a job or even just go for a hike in the nearby foothills but the idea draws a considerably hostile reaction. No way, Jose!