Sunday, September 17, 2006

Eat your heart out, Texas: A typical Sunday in Berkeley

Because I've lived in Berkeley so long, I sometimes forget how many wonderful and exciting things there are to do here. And aside from our university, museums, concerts, gourmet restaurants, marina, bookstores and parks, there is also Berkeley's proximity to San Francisco, the wine country, Silicon Valley, the ocean, the bay, the redwood groves and historical locations such as the gold country, Chinatown, the missions, etc.

Plus there is all the ordinary stuff that you can do in Berkeley for very little cost -- or for free.

I was watching "Survivor" on TV the other night when the phone rang. "This is Reg from," said the guy on the phone. "We've opened a new office in Oakland. Please stop by and visit us. It's at 360 22nd Street, Suite 210, near Broadway." Good grief! MoveOn actually now has an office! "Actually, we have 35 of them," said Reg, "in cities all across the country. There's no way we can challenge the Republicans monetarily in the November election but we do have a LOT of volunteers...and could use more. Can you come down?"

Hummm.... "Do you have donuts?" He did.

So I popped onto the BART train, got off at the 19th Street station, visited the new MoveOn office -- and ended up offering to let one of their phone-bank people stay in my home until election time. She's really nice. She leaves at 7 am each morning and comes back after midnight each night -- seven days a week. The perfect houseguest. You moneybags neo-cons had better watch out. With devoted volunteers like this fighting against all your corporate-welfare programs, you are gonna have a run for your money this year. It's not going to be as easy to steal THIS election.

I was watching a DVD from the local library this morning when the phone rang. "Hi. It's Almira. Wanna go over to the Thai temple for breakfast with me this morning?" Sure. Why not? In a six-block radius around my house, there is a Zen Buddhist temple, a Thai Buddhist temple, a Catholic novitiate, two AME churches, a Tibetan Buddhist retreat center, a Hari Krishna temple, a Russian Orthodox church, a Presbyterian church, a mosque and a 7-11. Something for everyone!

I was amazed by the Thai temple breakfast. In Berkeley, we have a long tradition of going out for breakfast on Sunday morning. they used to eat pancakes, ham and eggs. But not any more. There were over 200 people sitting out in the back yard of the Thai temple, seated at trestle tables and consuming pad Thai. And 80 more people were standing in line waiting to buy food. Was half of Berkeley here eating Thai soup and drinking Thai tea for breakfast? Nope.

After ingesting more exotic cuisine than I was used to at 9:00 am in the morning, I walked home and started watching the morning news on TV. I was just getting AMAZED at all the lies Dick Cheney can fit into one sentence when the phone rang. "Hi. This is Nick. Want to go to the 'How Berkeley can You Be' parade with me?" Sure. I went -- but I was really disappointed. They only had ten naked guys this year. Humph. But they did have a rap band, a fire-spitting art car, a bunch of people on stilts, the fire department, a solar-driven skateboard, a bicycle brigade and someone dressed up as George Bush.

Hey, George! How come YOU never come to our parade? You are always talking about the "Clash of Civilizations". You should come here. We gots LOTS of civilizations here. But no clashes. Everybody in Berkeley gets along just fine.

Are we doing something wrong?

As I biked back home from the parade, I decided to stop and see a movie. Berkeley has all KINDS movies to chose from. Art films, foreign films, blockbusters, independent films, documentaries -- you name it. I had a choice between an Arab film festival, a women's film festival, a Jewish film festival, an animation film festival and Lassie.

When I got back home, I was sitting in front of my computer, watching the screen, when the phone rang again. "Hi. This is Toni from Texas. I'm bored." Hey, come to Berkeley! We got a TON of stuff going on.

But, despite everything that is happening in Berkeley these days, I'm still worried about George Bush -- that Berkeley just doesn't have enough "Clash of Civilizations" for him. Are he and Dick gonna be disappointed in us? Maybe George could come here and start up another war? That would be exciting. But I gotta stop wanting to hog all the fun. Let him start one in Texas instead. They need more excitement than us.