November 2003




Once a Cat and a Fox were traveling together. As they went along, picking up provisions on the way--a stray mouse here, a fat chicken there--they began an argument to while away the time between bites. And, as usually happens when comrades argue, the talk began to get personal.

"You think you are extremely clever, don't you?" said the Fox. "Do you pretend to know more than I? Why, I know a whole lot of tricks!" "Well," retorted the Cat. "I admit I know one trick only, but that one, let me tell you, is worth a thousand of yours!"

Just then, close by, they heard a hunter's horn and the yelping of a pack of hounds. In an instant the Cat was up a tree, hiding among the leaves.

"This is my trick," he called to the Fox. "Now let me see what yours are worth."

But the Fox had so many plans for escape he could not decide which one to try first. He dodged here and there with the hounds at his heels. He doubled on his tracks, he ran at top speed, he entered a dozen burrows, --but all in vain. The hounds caught him, and soon put an end to the boaster and all his tricks.

Common sense is always worth more than cunning.





"Berkeley's budget crisis was thrown into even more turmoil this week as the City Council voted not to seek voter approval of a parcel tax. Now the city must find a way to replace the $7 million per year the tax would have generated" writes Martin Snapp of the West County Times in "Berkeley Back to Square One After Tax Nixed."

And the San Francisco Chronicle's Meredith May offers "CD, movie donations benefit Berkeley schools. Donations to benefit music in Berkeley" in her "School Notes."












Friends' weekend-morning in Potter Creek







Today is Suriname Independence Day.

Duncan returned home Sunday.




Happy Thanksgiving!





Chris and Jim Randall's cat, Duncan, is missing. Have you seen him? Duncan is a year old long-haired tabby cat. Chris and Jim live in the live/work building at the corner of 9th and Pardee. Duncan is an indoor/outdoor cat, but did not come home on Friday,
November 21st. They think that he may have wondered into one of the local businesses in the 9th Street/Pardee area and got locked in for the weekend. Any information would be helpful. Their phone number is 510-644-9724 and their email




More thoughts from S.D. Alinsky.

. . . conventional community agency programs are predicated upon two major fallacies . . . the first is that they view each problem of the community as if it were independent of all other problems. . . . a real [organization] calmly accepts the overwhelming fact that all problems are related . . .


Caffe Trieste has applied for a permit to operate at 2500 San Pablo Avenue. The permit would allow operating a "quick service restaurant" of 1268 square feet, between 7:00 AM and 11:00 PM, with sidewalk seating, live entertainment on Friday and Saturday evening, and the sale of beer and wine. A hearing was held November 13, 2003 and no vote was taken at that hearing. But they received their permit last week and hope to open in February.


Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Daniel Williams of the Washington Post write "The U.S. military is using 2,000-pound bombs and precision-guided missiles in Iraq for the first time since April as part of a tactical shift designed in part to intimidate resistance fighters" in their story at





Today is National Day in Lebanon.


"At least two federal agencies were expected to probe Wells Fargo's procedures to control and protect the sensitive data of its customers; regulators said Friday. . . . it appears that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency . . . have primary oversight." writes George Avalos of the West County Times in "Stolen Computer Had IDs of Thousands."

"Wells is really scared" said a reliable source to me yesterday.

"EarthLink will begin collecting publicly available demographic information about our subscribers. We will use this information to help us better understand our subscribers, so we can provide new and improved products and services." Oh great!? You can read more about this here.

I'm reminded of something from Tocqueville's Democracy in America by these small yet continuous invasions of our privacy. "It must not be forgotten that it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life. . . . Subjugation in minor affairs breaks out every day, . . . till they are led to surrender the exercise of their will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated . . ."


Also in the West County Times is "Berkeley, UC Plan to Relocate Two Museums" by Martin Snapp.





Ok, . . . maybe I should see a priest or rabbi.

I had a dream last night about Potter Creek. Rick and I were in a coffee house discussing how best to find out about the feelings and needs of the citizens of Potter Creek. (Rick was accompanied by a person best described as a gorgeous and politically savvy but disinterested hippy-chick. ) Rick thought that if we listened to enough LPs we could get a sense of what our fellow citizens wanted. I agreed, since over the years the LP has been very good to me, and besides Rick had a large collection of Sixties Rock and Blues. We felt that maybe listening to Blues would be the best way to proceed. Then a figure at the next table--a cross between Pete Seeger and our own David S.--came over and said we were full of bleep and should simply ask our neighbors.

Naw, . . . there's no need to see a holy man. I feel better having written about it.

Whatever else--in your own neighborhood--Emeryville's Bay Street lets you dress up to browse and shop expensive stores just like downtown.


There' a wonderful new photo book about our music by Annie Leibovitz. It is American Music: Photographs published by Random House, ISBN 0375505075. The cover photo is an LP on a turntable which of course I love.


I have learned from a reliable source that sensitive consumer credit information has been stolen from one of our major banks. This information was on the computer--presumably off site--of a hired consultant. What the f&*k was this sensitive information doing on a consultant's computer?

David Lazarus of the San Francisco Chronicle elaborates in "A Simple Theft Nets Wells a World of Woe: Break-in Behind Bar Puts Clients' Data at Risk." Behind a f&*king sports bar? Save a few bucks by out-sourcing, did you Mr. Wells?

(I uploaded my post yesterday afternoon--scooped the Chron by half a day, I did.)




More thoughts from S.D. Alinsky.

. . . the real democratic program is a democratically minded program--a healthy, active, participating, interested, self-confident people, who through their participation and interest, become informed, educated, and above all develop a faith in themselves, their fellow man, and their future. The people themselves are the future. The people themselves will solve each problem that will arise out of a changing world. . . . The very character of (their) organization will be a social incarnation of that flaming call of the French Revolution, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity," or what the world's great religions describe as respect for "the dignity of man."





Scott Marshall of the West County Times offers his provocative "Lawmakers: Troops are Ill-Equiped." Also see my 10/30/03 post.


More thoughts from S.D. Alinsky.

The present power age defines and evaluates everything in terms of power. To this common and accepted view the field of organization has been no exception. . . . organization will generate power which will be controlled and applied for the attainment of a program [and] only through organization can a . . . program be developed. When people are brought together, or organized, they get to know each other's point of view; they reach compromises on many of their differences; they learn that many opinions which they entertain solely as their own are shared by others, and they discover that many problems which the had all thought of only as "their" problems are common to all. . . . Out of this social interplay emerges a common agreement, and that is the . . . program. Then the other function of the organization becomes important: the use of power in order to fulfill the program.


Calliopes-one of my all-time favorite instruments-always appeared at the end of a circus parade. This was not just to save the ears of the performers from its shrill sound but to save their lives as well: it seems that these steam powered music-instruments blew up now and then.



Today is Latvia National Day and Oman National Day.      


Bruce Herman would like to thank Ann Honigman and Steve Bretow of Westside Family Chiropractic for dropping off their card.

But Bruce assures me that after his extreme make-over he's really fine. Ann and Steve are at 2560 Ninth Street and their phone is 510-843-5700.




They've been in the neighborhood so long I'd forgotten about them until yesterday when I went to Yabusaki's Dwight Way Nursery and bought two Tobouchina plants. The Yabusaki family has owned Dwight Way Nursery for over 18 years but the nursery has been in that location for much longer--over one-hundred years. Dwight Way Nursery is located at 1001 Dwight Way. Their phone number is 510-845-6261. (They have a wonderful selection, are well informed, and are very helpful.)

And, Rick's camper-truck has been part of Potter Creek as long as I can remember. It's also of a Berkeley tradition. I'll upload Rick's photos of his vehicle soon.




A story about our Country Joe McDonald can be read in Meredith May's School Notes.

My memory is that Ms. May, by her reporting two years ago, was responsible for bringing attention to Emeryville's mismanaged School District. She seems to have made a difference. Read "School District's Back in the Black: Emeryville emerges from bankruptcy in 2-year turnaround."

More thoughts

In our modern urban civilization, multitudes of our people [live in] urban anonymity--living the kind of life where many of them neither know nor care about their own neighbors. . . . This course of urban anonymity, of individual divorce from the general social life, erodes the foundations of democracy. . . . More than an hundred years ago Tocqueville, in his Democracy in America, gravely warned the American people of a basic inconsistency of their democratic way of life. . . . "It must not be forgotten that it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life. . . . Subjugation in minor affairs breaks out every day, . . . till they are led to surrender the exercise of their will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated . . ."





More thoughts from S.D. Alinsky.

The Chinese write the word "crisis" with two characters. One means danger and the other means opportunity. Together they spell crisis.

The danger is the fear of the future. We face the unknown. The world we knew as recently as yesterday is as dead as though it had died a century ago. Many people nevertheless long for a return to what used to be. Fear of looking squarely ahead . . . is one of the most significant factors in creating [a] crisis. Unless we constantly peer into the future we will not see the many opportunities the future holds . . . . knowledge and foresight are among our most invaluable weapons.

We know from all about us that the democratic way of life is the most efficient instrument that man can use . . . . We know that to date most of our pain, frustration, defeat, and failure have come from using an imperfect instrument--a partial democracy. . . . the eternal truth of the democratic faith [is] that the solution always lies with the people.


"A Chocolate Lover's Dream; Could the forbidden passion be (gulp) good for us?" is at





"Is this Saddam's Counterattack? ask Vernon Loeb and Thomas E. Ricks of the Washington Post.

"A new government report claims that while the troops are fighting far from home, red tape is preventing many of them from being paid" reports Lisa Myers at



Today is

Armistice Day-Remembrance Day-Veterans Day.




And just what is it that Albert's smoking in that pipe?


There was, as it turned out, just a trash-can fire in the École Bilingue playground Saturday evening. I called 911, and Berkeley F.D. was there literally in a few minutes. (The trash-can burned to the ground but nothing else was damaged. What I saw in the rain was a large burning puddle on the playground surface. Since it looked as if the ground itself was on fire, I had to choose between calling a priest or rabbi or Berkeley F. D.. I chose the latter. "Spontaneous combustion" remarked a very large accompanying Berkeley police officer.)




Here are some thoughts from S. D. Alinsky.

Thomas Jefferson wrote to Henry Lee in 1824 that "'Men by their constitution are naturally divided into two parties: Those who fear and distrust the people [and those] who identify themselves with the people, have confidence with them . . .'"

The first part of the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi is "'Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.'"

" . . . man is not just an economic man. The complete man is one who is making a definite contribution to the general social welfare and who is a vital part of that community of interests, values, and purposes that make life and people meaningful."

" . . . constant dissension and conflict is and has been the fire under the boiler of democracy."

"Liberals, in common with . . . conservatives, lay claim to the precious quality of impartiality, of cold objectivity, and to a sense of mystical impartial justice which enables them to view both sides of an issue. . . . Caught on the horns of this dilemma they are paralyzed into immobility."

" . . . nothing can be lifted or moved except through power."

And, Alinsky reminded me that during the American Revolution Thomas Paine wrote the pamphlet, Common Sense.




"What, me worry?"

"Me, . . . I'm worried!"




This will appear in the San Francisco Chronicle and other local papers and the New York Times will run an abbreviated version in the Sunday paper this weekend.

BRAVER, ALBERT ELIJAH - age 85, died at home in Berkeley on November 1, 2003.
Beloved husband of Agi (Veronica) Braver for thirty years; loving father of
Deborah Braver of Sacramento, Lisa Braver Moss (Mark Moss) of Piedmont, Erica
Braver Gleason of Oakland, and Margo Braver (Gerhard Engels) of San Francisco,
adoring grandfather of Bradley Gleason, Evan and Reuben Moss, and Jeremy
Engels; cherished uncle of Stephen Marmer, Elisabeth Schlessinger, and Richard
Marmer and their families; dear in-law of Clara Stroud and her wonderful family
and Peter and Teri Ashley; patriarch of the clan.

A native of Brooklyn and a sixty-year Berkeley resident, Albert owned Campus
Records and Campus Smoke Shop at Bancroft and Telegraph in the 50s and 60s,
and was a U.C. campus neighborhood fixture and raconteur who introduced many to
classical music. Later he opened Magnum Opus, an imported basket store on
College Avenue where he worked side by side with Agi. Wiry, witty and lively to
the end, Albert was passionate about music, books, succulents, polyhedra,
scientific breakthroughs, sculpting, the New York Times crossword (which he did in
ink), and most of all, his family. He will be greatly missed.

A celebration of Albert's life will be held at the Crowden School, 1475 Rose
Street, Berkeley 94702, on Sunday, November 23 at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers,
donations may be made to the Crowden Music Center, same address, attn: Albert
Braver Musical Instrument Fund.




There will be a celebration of Albert Braver's life on Sunday, November 23 at 2 PM at the Crowden School, 1475 Rose Street, Berkeley 94702 and Albert's family is establishing a fund for musical instruments for kids who can't afford them. This will be done thru the Crowden Music Center in Berkeley.


When Chris Strachwitz was recording Fred McDowell in the mid-Sixties, he used to stop by Campus Records on Telegraph Avenue. He would drop off records, schmooze with Albert, and check out sales and the Scene. I remember Chris talking excitedly about a blues singer he had just recorded. I didn't understand the significance of that discovery until recently when listening to some of these LPs from Richard Adelman's collection. A CD collection from these records is available on "The Best of Mississippi Fred McDowell" Arhoolie 501 (c2001).

Jim Marshall cover photo of the LP, Arhoolie F 1027, Fred McDowell Vol. 2


Though probably not its intent, Nicolas Boer's trendy "Don't Be Sheepish" can be read as a story about the inevitable consequence of eating meat. Yep, we slaughter and eat those cute little critters.



My mentor, Albert E. Braver, died Saturday, suddenly and peacefully in his wife's arms. He was 85. Albert was a music soul and the last time we met, he sang a good portion of the Sarabande from Bach's Suite for Cello in c to me. Stories about Albert can be read in "Back in the Day: Selling Records on Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue."



Newsweek editor, Evan Thomas, and staff offer an upsetting "A War in the Dark." If you don't know who the enemy is, you can't fight him/her.

Scrambled Eggs pages received 3124 visits in October. I don't have figures for the total Scrambled Eggs hits, but the site as a whole averages 7 hits per visit.




East elevation of Regan's new project on 8th and Pardee. It has the same simple elegance as his across-the-street building.

For information about this and other Regan projects email


This use of our elite combat units in Iraq as police is short-sighted, inefficient and wasteful--and most importantly, demoralizing and deadly.



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