Comedian Harmonists

"The Comedian Harmonists were an internationally famous, all-male German close harmony ensemble that performed between 1928 and 1934 as one of the most successful musical groups in Europe before World War II. The group consisted of Harry Frommermann (tenor buffo), Asparuh 'Ari' Leschnikoff (first tenor), Erich Collin (second tenor), Roman Cycowski (baritone), Robert Biberti (bass), and Erwin Bootz (pianist).

The hallmark of the Comedian Harmonists was its members' ability to blend their voices together so that the individual singers could appear and disappear back into the vocal texture. Its repertoire was wide, ranging from the folk and classical songs arranged by Frommermann to appealing and witty popular songs of the day by writers such as Peter Igelhoff, Werner Richard Heymann and Paul Abraham (composer)."


In 1927, unemployed actor Harry Frommermann was inspired by The Revelers, a jazz-influenced popular vocal group from the United States, to create a German group of the same format. According to Douglas Friedman's book 'The Comedian Harmonists' in August 1929 both groups appeared on the same bill at the Scala in Berlin and became good friends. Frommermann held auditions in his flat on Stubenrauchstraße 47 in Berlin-Friedenau, and, once the group was assembled, it quickly began rehearsals. After some initial failures, the Harmonists soon found success, becoming popular throughout Europe, visiting the United States, and appearing in 21 films.


Comedian Harmonists singing "Wochenend Und Sonnenschein" here



The Harmonists (1997), a film

"Comedian Harmonists tells the story of a famous, German male sextet, five vocals and piano, the 'Comedian Harmonists', from the day they meet first in 1927 to the day in 1934, when they become banned by the upcoming Nazis, because three of them are Jewish.

Berlin, Germany, 1927. Harry Frommermann is a poor, but talented musician writing his own pieces and dreaming of the big success. When he goes to the store nearby and listens to new records he is so deeply fascinated by the tunes that he doesn't even realize that Erna, the young employee, adores him. When the day comes where he can barely afford the food for his parrot, it is time to do something about his situation. He launches a newspaper ad looking for company to found a singing group. He gets to know Robert Biberti and both seem to be on the same level. Soon four other fellows are found. A concept evolves and rehearsal begins.

Berlin in 1928: Young actor and musician Harry Frommermann has the idea of creating a German version of the American a-cappella band 'The Revellers'. He then publishes an advertisement in a newspaper and soon has formed a group out of singers Robert Biberti, Erich Collin, Ari Leschnikoff and Roman Cyckowski as well as pianist Erwin Bootz. After a long time of rehearsing and failures 'The Comedian Harmonists', as the group calls her, achieve a huge popularity, success and wealth in Germany as well as Europe and even the United States.

The group's trademark are not only brilliant singing performances, it's mostly their talent to imitate music instruments so that the audience gets the impression of listening to a whole orchestra playing while indeed the only real instrument is the piano. However, after years of immense success first problems appear with the beginning of the Nazi period, because three of the group's members are Jews and so soon are forbidden to perform in public.

The movie portrays the rising of stars, the sparkling side but also the shadows of their success and finally their fall, being destroyed by politics and a mad government. Very entertaining, very moving and brilliantly acted. "




The Comedian Harmonists (Die Comedien Harmonists), (1977 documentary)

In the late twenties Berlin gave the world a singing sextet whose popularity, in today's terms, would rival that of the Beatles. Now all but forgotten, the Comedian Harmonists were the rage until politics busted them up in 1935, when the group's three Jewish members were forced to emigrate and the other three musicians made the decision to remain in Germany. Like so many riches from the cultural renaissance of Weimar Berlin, the legacy of the Comedian Harmonists died with their music. Eberhard Fechner has unearthed their story in the fourth and last film in his 'Panorama of German History in This Century,' documentaries in which recent German history is revealed in the lives of those who lived it. It is not a series that focuses on the rich and famous, but if the sounds of the much-loved singing troupe were entirely unique, in a way their lives after 1935 were not: their story becomes that of the German people-those who were to live their lives in exile, and those who for reasons both complex and banal, remained in Germany. Of the three Jews who emigrated, only one (a prominent cantor in San Francisco and Los Angeles synagogues) achieved anything remotely resembling the course of fame and artistic achievement the Comedian Harmonists seemed destined to follow. But the three who stayed made their own bargain with destiny: trying to accommodate to the regime brought on their downfall as musicians and as menschen, as their attempts to preserve the group with new members ended in mutual accusations before the Gestapo, who in any case banned their music after 1941. Fechner, in typical fashion, revives the era through the eyes of the artists themselves (with the wives of the two deceased members providing memories equally rich in detail). "The Comedian Harmonists has to be experienced to be believed," wrote Ronald Holloway in a 1977 Variety review. 'It pulls no punches and is highly critical without imposing a private thesis upon the proceedings.'

Directed and Written by Eberhard Fechner. Photographed by Rainer Schaeffer. Edited by Brigitte Kirsche. Music by the Comedian Harmonists.



The b&w photo is an early one of the original members.

"Wochenend Und Sonnenschein" is sung to the tune "Happy Days are Here Again."

The Harmonists can be streamed on Netflix.

The Harmonists film and CD's of the Comedian Harmonists for purchase, here.

The bald S.A character in The Harmonists is Gauleiter of Franconia, Julius Streicher.

The 1977 documentary, Die Comedien Harmonists , was shown at our Pacific Film Archive in the 1980s.

Baritone, Roman Cycowski immigrated to the U S and was a cantor in San Francisco.







"Chinese Army Unit Is Seen as Tied to Hacking Against U.S." at

"This 12-story building on the outskirts of Shanghai is the headquarters of Unit 61398 of the People's Liberation Army. China's defense ministry has denied that it is responsible for initiating digital attacks.

The building off Datong Road, surrounded by restaurants, massage parlors and a wine importer, is the headquarters of P.L.A. Unit 61398. A growing body of digital forensic evidence - confirmed by American intelligence officials who say they have tapped into the activity of the army unit for years - leaves little doubt that an overwhelming percentage of the attacks on American corporations, organizations and government agencies originate in and around the white tower."


With increasing cyber attacks on our Homeland and the counter attacks, and with the pending use of domestic drones over the Homeland, we will fully experience really for the first time at home, modern warfare.




"Synthetic biology: Stanford, UC Berkeley engineering a new frontier" Lisa M. Krieger at

"Most people look at the cedar in Drew Endy's front yard and admire its graceful green boughs, heavy with needles, sap and cones. Endy sees something much different: an industrial manufacturing platform, waiting to be exploited.

'I dream we could someday reprogram trees that could self-assemble a computer chip in your front yard,' exudes the brilliant and intense Stanford University scientist, who has emerged as a leading evangelist in the new field of synthetic biology.

One gene at a time, Endy and other elite teams of Bay Area scientists are striving to design and build organisms unlike anything made by Mother Nature." 


















a reader from Germany writes

"Is there no revival of this kind of music in the States? 

Ron Argentati"


On April 12th and 13th the Max Raabe & Palast Orchester will perform at our new SF Jazz Center.

Max Raabe & Palast Orchester

In the 1920s and early 30s, Berlin was a roiling cauldron of creative energy where avant-garde art movements intersected with popular culture, birthing theatrical and musical forms that continue to influence our world today. Walking a narrow line between madcap kitsch and sublime musicality, Max Raabe and Palast Orchester evoke the heady, dancing-on-knife-point mood of the Weimar Republic. A conservatory- trained baritone besotted with the Weimar era vocal style exemplified by the Comedian Harmonists, . . ."


Max Raabe & Palast Orchester perform Annabell

link courtesy Ron Argentati





and there always will be

Marlene Dietrich

Marlene Dietrich, die fesche lola  










Kurt Weill and Bertolt BrechtThreepenny Opera.

On January 11-15, 1958, at the Afifa Studio in Tempelhof, Berlin, Columbia Records recorded a studio cast production of the complete Kurt Weill and Bertolt BrechtThreepenny Opera. The recording was done in German. Columbia released this recording as a two-record set in 1958 as O2L 257 (Monaural) or O2S 201 (Stereo). Not only was it the first 'complete' work of musical theater to be released in stereo, but it also claimed to be the first complete recording of the original Die Dreigroschenoper. The recording includes music and linking dialogue.

Die Dreigroschenoper is Bertolt Brecht's politicized re-telling of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (1728). It is re-told to Kurt Weill's music, and Weill's compositions make this a special event. Brecht's satire of decadent society is set among beggars, thieves and prostitutes, yet some of the songs- "Moritat," "Barbara-Lied" and "Seeräuber-Jenny"-have virtually become lieder. This recording presents these 'tunes' without pretense. A colorful expressionist production, this is a world filled with strongly drawn, often grotesque, cartoon characters. It is a place where the singers irreverently belt out and growl out their songs, and it is the home of a blaring honky-tonk band. . . .


Kurt Weill and Bertolt BrechtThreepenny Opera. from Musical Theater on Record











"UC Berkeley Study: Rich Get Richer, Poor Get Poorer" Michael Kling at

"While the rich got richer during the economic recovery, most Americans saw their incomes decline.

Incomes for the top 1 percent of earners increased 11.2 percent during the recovery from 2009 through 2011, and incomes for the other 99 percent declined 0.4 percent, according to report by Emmanuel Saez, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley. "



"UC Berkeley researchers aim to revolutionize e-books" at

"UC Berkeley students in the campus's School of Information are collaborating to enhance the efficiency of e-books in the hopes of revolutionizing the accessibility of information among researchers and the general public."

Not interested in e-books, then check out Caviar Communism, Refecting on the Absurd in Berkeley--Or not.



















"How Berkeley's Colorflow Graded a Sundance Award-Winning Doc" at is about Potter Creek's new film studio.

"The waterway referred to in the title of A River Changes Course is the Tonle Sap in Cambodia whose pattern of altering its course twice each year has shaped the lives of local people for centuries. In producer-director Kalyanee Mam's powerful documentary, which won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize in its debut at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, the river's ebb and flow also serves as a metaphor for changes happening to three Cambodian families whose way of life is threatened by globalization and environmental degradation.

Final color-grading and editorial finishing for the film was completed at Colorflow, whose new Bay Area post-production facility was designed specifically to meet the needs of independent films like A River Changes Course. The company pairs state-of-the-art post technology, including a 20-seat DI theater with an Autodesk Lustre grading system, with a relaxed, boutique environment.

That combination provides filmmakers like Mam with the tools to give their films a professional finish in a setting that is free from the time and cost pressures that often go hand-in-hand with finishing films in New York and Los Angeles. 'The people at Colorflow were very supportive of my film,' Mam says. 'It's wonderful to work with people who are passionate about what they are doing.' "




"Oblivious walking, an unseen Berkeley danger" at

"So you are walking to class through Telegraph, eating an ice cream sandwich from CREAM, listening to music on your earbuds, texting your mom, wondering if there will be a pop quiz today and rewording your newest thesis in your head.

Some students in front of you cross the street and you follow behind them, when all of a sudden, you are staring down the front of a Jetta honking its horn and coming 35 mph straight at you. Thank God you jumped back onto the curb. According to data from the The Seattle Times, you could have just become one of the 60,000 people that are in vehicle/pedestrian accidents every year in the United States - or worse, one of the 4,000 fatalities that occur from such accidents.

We've seen these types of scary incidents happen in Berkeley before. Last semester, a student was hit crossing the street on the north side of campus.

We all do it, walking while distracted."




I'm a new rider from Berkeley. . . . Hope to find a lot of good pointers from the veterans and experienced riders here in the forum. Just signed the papers last weekend and my new bike should be delivered by this weekend or early next week.



Lt Dave Frankel emails

I am writing to inform you that Berkeley Police Officer Rashawn Cummings has been selected to fill the vacant Area 4 Coordinator's spot formerly occupied by the newly promoted Sergeant Cesar Melero. His first day as an Area Coordinator will be Thursday, 2/21/13. He can be reached at or 981-5774.
Officer Cummings has been a Berkeley Police Officer for approximately 10 years. During his tenure with the police department, he has held special assignments in the Drug Task Force and the Bicycle Patrol Unit. His collateral duties include Assistant Team Leader on the Barricaded Subject Hostage Negotiation Team, Firearms and Tactics Instructor and Field Training Officer.
Prior to joining the department in 2003, he attended Idaho State University and graduated from California State University Hayward with a Bachelor's degree in sociology.
I am looking forward to working closely with Officer Cummings on Area 4 projects. Please join me in welcoming him to the Community Services Bureau.
Lt Dave Frankel
Area 4 Commander











"Four beautiful moons, big mysteries, and few answers any time soon" at

link courtesy Bob Kubik

"During the last couple of nights the moon and Jupiter have appeared close to one another in the sky."





Max Raabe & Palast Orchester

Home Page

"Dream a Little Dream" performance mit zeppelin




The Comedian Harmonists perform Duke Ellington's Creole Love Call, 1928.




















"Peter Barnes' The Ruling Class"

the third production in UC Berkeley's Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies Main Stage 2012/2013 season, opens March 8 in Zellerbach Playhouse. The work deals with Jack Gurney, a member of the upper class who inherits his father's position of Earl. Jack's aristocratic family expect him to use his new position to advance the household's wealth and power, but Jack believes he's the "God of Love" and wants to give the money away. Through increasingly brutal means, his family attempt to cure him of his liberalism with hilarious and terrifying results."


Henny Youngman "A guy tells his psychologist, 'Nobody pays any attention to me.' The doctor says, 'NEXT!' "




"Standoff ends; SWAT team leaves Berkeley neighborhood"

"A Berkeley Police SWAT team ended a possible standoff early Thursday when it was determined a person holed up inside a home was no threat to the public.
The incident began with officers responded to reports of shots being fired from a car at that was driving on Addison St. around 7 p.m..

After having been provided the vehicle's license plate number, officers were able to trace the car to the registered owner's home on Addison St. and Jefferson Ave., just five blocks away from UC Berkeley campus.

Responding officers attempted to contact the owner, but the man refused to respond. Around 10 p.m., a SWAT team was on scene and a police negotiator was attempting to make contact with the man.

Once contact was made, officers determined the man did not present a threat and the SWAT team was withdrawn from the scene.
No injuries were reported in connection with the shooting."






" 'Secret Garden': Beloved children's book now a Berkeley-bound opera" Richard Scheinin at

"It's been more than a century since Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote 'The Secret Garden,' the classic children's novel whose themes strike such a chord: a child's abandonment and fortitude and the way she finds health and renewal by working the earth of, yes, a secret patch of garden. The story tiptoes toward the sunlight, as Mary Lennox -- an orphan, bratty and miserable -- is sent to live with a neglectful uncle on his estate in Yorkshire, England. Gradually, she discovers her own strength and happiness; she blooms along with her garden.

Adapted through the decades for stage, screen and TV, this tale is now an opera, opening March 1 in Berkeley. "











I liked Grandma Penndorf's Victrola better than our Philco

I remember as a four year old happily jumping up and down on the living room sofa, pounding a pot with a spoon in time to march music blaring from the large Philco. I also remember the Sunday afternoons at Grandma and Grandpa Penndorf's, where cigar smoke filled the room as grown-ups talked and laughed and drank Mogen David. Grandma put old German 78s on the wind-up Victrola to keep me busy. The machine, as much as the music, intrigued me.

But the first records that I actually remember playing were 78s of Duke Ellington, of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France and of Bix Beiderbecke and Frankie Trumbauer. My father bought them right after the end of the war when you could get records again. (I remember that when feeling good, a little schnaps helped, my dad could whistle along with the Bix and Frankie Trumbauer solos quite skillfully.)

After the war he also bought a 78 changer, a Philco, with a miniature radio transmitter that broadcast the record's music to our big living room radio ten feet away.

The Philco changer had a felt covered metal platter, a substantial grey metal base with a heavy tone arm and steel needle, and an antenna that came out of its backside like a tail. Antenna placement was critical. There was just one position for the best sound. (My father labored long and found it.)

To play the records through our Philco radio you turned the radio on and set its dial to the frequency band on which the player broadcast. (My dad was a Ford man, and Philco radios and record players were built by a division of the Ford Motor Company. My dad bought, or would have bought, anything made by Ford. Mr. Ford was pro-German before and during The First World War, a time when my then eleven year old father, a new German emigrant, was regularly getting beaten up by kids at school. My father forgot neither.) You then carefully put a stack of 78s on the player's spindle and pushed the on-auto button. The changer-platter began spinning madly, the first record clunked onto the platter, jarring it, and the needle slammed into the record.

Duke Ellington's band then boomed out of the big Philco speaker. (My mother's favorites, Eddie Duchin's Piano Music of 1929, could also be made to come through the Philco-I like to think that I got my musical taste from my father.)\

Grandma and Grandpa Penndorf also had a 78 player. It was of an earlier time, a wind-up Victrola that stood taller than I did. They placed it prominently in their living room, right across from the piano. (The record players and radio consoles of both my grandparents were thought of in the same way they thought of their musical instruments, and were given a place of honor in both their homes.)

I confess I liked Grandma Penndorf's Victrola better than our Philco. It was beautiful in its polished metal and wood, and it didn't boom. On most Sunday afternoons we visited Grandma and Grandpa Penndorf's and we often listened to the Victrola. On special afternoons Grandma would play Axsel Schiøtz and Grandpa would serve pastries and dessert wine.

Conversation stopped as the clear but far away voice sang songs in German. Even though I didn't understand, I loved listening.

When the grown-ups had finished playing records and eating pastries they started talking again . . . maybe just a little sad about far away Germany.











"Tesla says profits will arrive this quarter after losing more money than expected" Dana Hull,

"In its first in-depth discussion with Wall Street analysts since the electric carmaker's high-profile feud with The New York Times over an unflattering review of a Model S road trip, Tesla Motors (TSLA) promised the new sedan will spark a financial turnaround even as the company continued to bleed cash.
CEO Elon Musk told investors and analysts Wednesday that Tesla would be profitable for the first time in the current quarter because it has ramped up its production to the target level of 400."




















Berkeley Downtown U. S. Post Office

Proposed Sale of Berkeley Post Office

USPS Public Meeting and Comment Period for Proposed Relocation of the Berkeley Main Post Office; Tuesday, February 26, 2013. 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Berkeley City Council Chambers, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Berkeley.

The United States Postal Service has scheduled a public meeting to discuss the proposal to sell the Downtown Berkeley Post Office at 2000 Allston Way and relocate postal services.

From the USPS announcement:

"The reason behind the proposal is the realignment of USPS infrastructure to a 26-percent drop in total mail volume over the past three years, brought about by the diversion to electronic communication and business transactions. USPS does not receive tax dollars for its operations or facilities, but covers costs solely through the revenue received from the sale of its products and services.
"The Postal Service is in a very serious financial situation and is facing insolvency. Every opportunity to reduce expenses and generate revenue is being considered in order to maintain universal service to our customers. If this relocation is approved, USPS anticipates selling the current Berkeley Post Office building."


Berkeley Downtown United States Post Office

Oscar Wenderoth, Architect, 1914
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Berkeley's elegant Main Post Office is representative of the Second Renaissance Revival style, also called Neo-Classical Renaissance Revival. Government buildings constructed in this era were designed to "educate and develop the public taste and eventually elevate it to a higher plane." Classical motifs decorate the building's exterior and interior. The exterior terra cotta arches that are supported by plain tuscan columns are repeated on the inner wall of the loggia and again in the wall between the lobby and the main workroom. The mural over the door of the original Postmaster's office, which depicts figures from California's Spanish and pioneer periods, was painted in 1936­1937 by Suzanne Scheuer for the Treasury Relief Art Project during the Depression.












a studious student

in Our Town, downtown




"West Berkeley--A cultural mashup" by Nate Seltenrich in the Eastbay Express, Insiders Guide.

Phillip Davis

an Express photo

browses for records at Dave's Record Shop

"One of the more diverse neighborhoods in the East Bay, West Berkeley is home to an array of cultures, from one end of the socioeconomic spectrum to the other. Warehouse-dwelling artists, recent immigrants, homemaking young families, and innovative social and business ventures share space in this 'hood, a quality reflected in its incredible variety of restaurants and retail establishments."




"Former Quarterback Breaks Paper Airplane Record" video by Mary Grady is at

"The quiet world of competitive paper airplane flying got some unusual attention this weekend when Joe Ayoob, a former quarterback for the University of California at Berkeley, set a new world record for distance, 226 feet and 10 inches, inside a 747 hangar at McClellan Air Force Base, near Sacramento.


"The Secrets of the World-Record-Setting Paper Plane"

with video is at








Some months after it was reported that U S Special Forces were launching a Ben Laden like operation against the leadership of Mexican drug cartels the AP releases "Guatemala probing reports drug lord may be dead".




"Al-Qaida tipsheet on avoiding drones found in Mali" is an AP story that some of our city commission members also might find useful.

"One of the last things the bearded fighters did before leaving this city was to drive to the market where traders lay their carpets out in the sand.

The al-Qaida extremists bypassed the brightly colored, high-end synthetic floor coverings and stopped their pickup truck in front of a man selling more modest mats woven from desert grass, priced at $1.40 apiece. There they bought two bales of 25 mats each, and asked him to bundle them on top of the car, along with a stack of sticks.

'It's the first time someone has bought such a large amount,' said the mat seller, Leitny Cisse al-Djoumat. 'They didn't explain why they wanted so many.'

Military officials can tell why: The fighters are stretching the mats across the tops of their cars on poles to form natural carports, so that drones cannot detect them from the air.

The instruction to camouflage cars is one of 22 tips on how to avoid drones, listed on a document left behind by the Islamic extremists as they fled northern Mali from a French military intervention last month."



"Drone use surges as FAA seeks to regulate unmanned aircraft" at

"Sharp-eyed dog walkers along the San Francisco Bay waterfront may have spotted a strange-looking plane zipping overhead recently that looked strikingly like the U.S. stealth drone captured by Iran in December.

A few key differences: The flying wing seen over Berkeley is a fraction of the size of the CIA's waylaid aircraft. And it's made of plastic foam. But in some ways it's just like a real spy plane.

The 4 1/2-foot-wide aircraft, built by software engineers Mark Harrison and Andreas Oesterer in their spare time, can fly itself to specified GPS coordinates and altitudes without any help from a pilot on the ground. A tiny video camera mounted on the front can send a live video feed to a set of goggles for the drone's view of the world . . . "



















GRAYSON Burger is one of the best hamburgers in the USA--ZAGAT's picks in 25 cities at USA Today


a Bob Kubik still-life of the GRAYSON Burger is at 900 GRAYSON as is the burger.

Just how many burgers have been rendered in still-life?



daughter of 900's Chris and Heather at her French School Halloween Parade


Bob Kubik emails a link to the original ZAGAT story--scroll to photo 23.

"'Prepare to confess' after meeting the 'Demon Lover', 'his 'funky' Californian's 'sinful' version of chicken and waffles from a menu of 'classics with a twist', plus an 'outstanding' burger; sure, the place is in the 'hinterlands" of Berkeley, and Saturday brunch lines are 'out the door', but it's 'worth squeezing' in for such 'comforting' fare and 'warm', 'efficient' service; P.S. closes 3 PM weekdays and 2:30 PM Saturday.
900 Grayson St; 510-704-9900"




Ashley, a worker at our Berkeley Bowl Cafe, has just passed her CHP motorcycle written -test with a 100% grade.









For an extreme view of full-drone-surveillance, the BBC science fiction series "The Last Enemy"* is worth a watch. (Though their T.I.A [Total Information Awareness] is the product of just CCTV**).


*Set in London beset by terrorism and illegal immigration, it features the introduction of "TIA" (Total Information Awareness), a centralized database that can be used to track and monitor anybody effectively by putting all available government information in one place. . . .

**Closed-circuit television (CCTV) is the use of video cameras to transmit a signal to a specific place, on a limited set of monitors. It differs from broadcast television in that the signal is not openly transmitted, though it may employ point to point (P2P), point to multipoint, or mesh wireless links. Though almost all video cameras fit this definition, the term is most often applied to those used for surveillance in areas that may need monitoring such as banks, casinos, airports, military installations, and convenience stores.



















"Oakland's Lake Merritt Reconnected To Bay, Boaters Celebrate" video at

"For the first time in more than 100 years, folks can now paddle under a new bridge and into the Lake Merritt Channel, as part of a project to reconnect the lake to San Francisco Bay."





"The Jewish Music Festival returns to Berkeley" by Andrew Gilbert at

"Rather than taking the easy road by focusing on Ashkenazi roots music, the Bay Area's Jewish Music Festival earned an international reputation by spotlighting traditions too often overlooked or ignored, presenting artists from far-flung locales such as Central Asia, Argentina, Tehran, Iran, and New Orleans.

This year, a confluence of several anniversaries marking critical historical events related to Poland have turned the festival's attention squarely to Yiddish culture. While one might assume that means commemorating a once-vibrant world destroyed by the Holocaust, the festival's programming makes a persuasive case for the ongoing vitality of Yiddishkeit, the old-world cultural roots of the vast majority of American Jews.

'I've always been committed to showcasing Jewish culture from around the world, but this year made perfect sense to focus on the history and culture and traditions of this community,' says Eleanor Shapiro, the Jewish Music Festival's longtime director. 'This culture is still so vibrant. People think of Yiddish as a language of old people, and wonder whether it has a future. We're doing our best to spread the word that, yes, there is a future to Yiddish, a future to music that comes out of this tradition.'

Produced by the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, the festival begins Saturday and runs through March 9 at venues around Berkeley, opening at Berkeley Rep's Thrust Stage with a fascinating double bill, 'The Future of Jewish Music in Poland.' " 




Big Money in Jazz is now playing Sundays and Saturdays at Savoy-Tivoli SF

Mal Sharpe writes "We've hit the jackpot! We'll be playing on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons in one of San Francisco's most historic bars--The Savoy-Tivoli, established 1907. It is in the heart of North Beach, on Grant Ave---the birthplace of the Beat Generation---and it is a great way to spend the day in The City By The Bay; Italian Bakeries and restaurants and one of a kind shops and views. It is on the side of Telegraph Hill and if you go up to Coit Tower, you can still hear the band."












"U.S. sends troops to Niger for drone missions" David S. Cloud and Kathleen Hennessey, Los Angeles Times.

"President Obama says the 100-troop deployment will help France in its effort to drive militants out of northern Mali.

"About 100 U.S. troops have deployed to the West African country of Niger to help establish a drone base for surveillance missions, in the latest step by the United States to aid French forces battling Islamic militants in neighboring Mali."



















Oscar Update

"Before the big screen was actually big, movies were more personal: it was just you, a crank, and a few hundred flipping cards. But the viewing WAS on-demand" is a video report at CBS Sunday Morning.

"Truth is, the very first motion pictures could be watched on a handheld device, and in the hundred-odd years since flip-books, it seems movies have come full circle."



"Popcorn, the snack that saved the movies" is a report at CBS Sunday Morning.

"The biggest moneymaker at movie theaters last year wasn't from a comic book or Steven Spielberg, and didn't involve werewolves or vampires.

Just like every year, the number one blockbuster was the concession stand and its most bankable star, popcorn." 




"Linda Hunt: Towering talent in a small package" is a CBS News video interview.

"Linda Hunt won an Academy Award for her second performance ever on film. Lee Cowan talks with the diminutive actress about her life and career,"



"David Edelstein's Oscar predictions"

"Last year, I sat here and predicted every Oscar winner. Had I gabbed with Academy members? Nope. Can I foretell the future? Sorry. Did I just love the big winner, "The Artist"? Definitely not.

I'd simply read certain columnists who'd been spun by certain publicists who'd been hired by certain studios that had squired certain nominees around Hollywood to screenings and cocktail parties to influence the votes of a few thousand people -- most over 55, white, well-off and liberal.

This year it's even busier. Harvey Weinstein, all-mighty poobah of Oscar buzz, got Dr. Mehmet Oz to extol 'Silver Linings Playbook' for its insights into mental illness.

Look, I like the movie. It's a good, dark rom-com about a couple of cute depressives. Maybe it's even therapeutic to see people crazier than WE are. I'm just not certain of its medical efficacy.

Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg brought in a master to spin for 'Lincoln': Bill Clinton! You hire awards consultants like political consultants. You stay ahead of the message. "






"The Ghastly Love of Johnny X (SF IndieFest)" Bernard Boo at  

"There are some pacing and narrative issues, but ultimately Johnny X is an enjoyably wild and surprisingly slick-looking adventure that is worth a look.

A decade in-the-making, The Ghastly Love of Johnny X is a retro-tinted window into the mind of director Paul Bunnell, mashing together influences from sci-fi B-movie flicks like Flash Gordon and musicals like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Grease. The combination of the two genres (with touches of various other eccentric influences) works well, though it's not quite as explosive as it should be. There are some pacing and narrative issues, but ultimately Johnny X is an enjoyably wild and surprisingly slick-looking adventure that is worth a look, especially if you're a fan of over-the-top, genre filmmaking.

Johnny X is a too-cool-for-school greaser a la James Dean and The Fonz who gets banished to earth from a far-away world. Followed by his gang of goons, the Ghastly Ones, Johnny chases after his ex-girlfriend, the sultry siren Bliss (De Anna Joy Brooks), and a soda jerk with a heart of gold, Chip, who have stolen his powerful "Ressurection Suit", which grants its wearer with the ability influence others in a powerful way. In their epic cat and mouse pursuit, they sing songs, dance their asses off, and have a fateful run-in with an aging former rock star, Mickey O' Flynn (Creed Bratton), who is mysteriously linked to Johnny."

Trailer here.

Soundtrack CD here.




















Aging Services Division at

"Day Trips for Seniors

North and South Berkeley Senior Centers provide a robust calendar of day trips to affordable local activities and shows.  Each senior center has an advisory Trip Committee comprised of Senior Center participants."


Okay, doakey, . . . but where's the information about cross-country motorcycle-club trips?



"Berkeley Places Fourth in Nation for Cities That Bike to Work" Sasha Barish at

"The U.S. Census Bureau recently published a survey showing that Berkeley has the fourth largest percentage of workers in all of the United States, around 8.85 percent, who bike to work. Berkeley trails behind Davis and Palo Alto, California, as well as Boulder, Colorado.

At Berkeley High School, teachers are joining the trend and biking to school from their homes around the Bay Area.
'Biking is great way to start the day,' Green Academy science teacher Kate Trimlett said. 'It's good for your health, [and for] the environment, and it's fun." 




Councilwoman Maio emails

Dear Residents,
The U.S. Postal Service is coming to Berkeley next Tuesday, February 26, to hear from us about their sale of our beloved Main Post Office. They are proposing to move staff and services to a storefront (where they will have to pay rent) and then sell Berkeley's historic main post office to the highest bidder. Many, many post offices have already been sold and many others are on the chopping block. They are serious.
Congress, in the Bush era, quietly passed a law requiring the USPS to pre-fund its employee benefits for the next 75 years ... for employees who are not even born yet. This huge debt has crippled the agency and is forcing it to sell the public's assets. Lobbyists helped write the legislation. Hence, the widespread sale of buildings in the public trust -- choice buildings, often with historic interiors, in highly valued locations.
These buildings were intentionally created in a grand style, by our grandparents, as monuments to the public good. We must retain our beautiful post office and work with other cities to do the same. This is entirely possible if we join together to fight for our public legacy and services.  
On Tuesday, February 26th, Post Office officials will come to the Council Chambers to hear from Berkeley, from all of us.Join us.
Tuesday, February 26th, 7 p.m. 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
Visit for background and much more information about the privatization of our postal services,selling off of assets, and what you can do to join the effort.
Councilmember Linda Maio




"UC Berkeley pushes stadium seat sales" Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross, Chronicle Columnists.

"Cal has sold about 1,900 of the 2,900 premium club seats at its redone stadium, leaving the project $121 million short.

Slow seat sales have prompted UC Berkeley to launch a fresh marketing campaign and look for other revenue in an effort to keep pace with the $18 million a year in debt it will soon owe for the Memorial Stadium makeover and athletic center construction.

The redone stadium opened last season, but only about 1,900 of the 2,900 premium club seats - lifetime spots that cost anywhere from $40,000 to $225,000 each - have been sold. And not everyone who bought a seat has fully paid up."




"Berkeley City Council lowers affordable housing fee" by Megan Messerly at

"After lengthy discussion, Berkeley City Council voted nearly unanimously to set a new, reduced Affordable Housing Impact Fee at Tuesday night's meeting.

The fee, which passed by a 6-1 vote, lowers the amount of the previous Affordable Housing Mitigation fee approved by the council last October from $28,000 to $20,000 per apartment unit, which some council members hope will provide a further incentive for development in Berkeley and bolster the city's fund for low-income housing development.

Currently, developers in Berkeley must make 10 percent of their apartment units affordable to low-income tenants or pay a fee to the Housing Trust Fund, a pool of federal, state and local funds for financing the development of long-term affordable housing.

Since the previous $28,000-per-unit fee was implemented, all of the six new rental housing developments have chosen to include affordable housing in their project proposals rather than pay into the fund."









Really revolutionary stuff is Chris Anderson's "The Makers Revolution"

"Chris Anderson's book The Long Tail chronicled how the Web revolutionized and democratized distribution. His new book Makers shows how the same thing is happening to manufacturing, with even wider consequences, and this time the leading revolutionaries are the young of the world. Anderson himself left his job as editor of Wired magazine to join a 22-year-old from Tijuana in running a typical Makers firm, 3D Robotics, which builds do-it-yourself drones.

Web-based collaboration tools and small-batch technology such as cheap 3D printers, 3D scanners, laser cutters, and assembly robots, Anderson points out, are transforming manufacturing. Suddenly, large-scale manufacturers are competing not just with each other on multi-year cycles, they are competing with swarms of tiny competitors who can go from invention to innovation to market dominance in a few weeks. Anybody can play; a great many already are; a great many more are coming.

'Today,' Anderson writes, 'there are nearly a thousand "makerspaces"- shared production facilities- around the world, and they're growing at an astounding rate: Shanghai alone is building one hundred of them.'

'Open source,' he adds, 'is not just an efficient innovation method- it's a belief system as powerful as democracy or capitalism for its adherents.' "



Maker Magazine is here.

"Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2012: The Maker Movement" at "The Maker Movement isn't Just for Hackers Anymore" at "The Maker Movement Lowers Consumption and Waste"


Helping these revolutionaries settle here, the Maker's Revolution has active support in west-Berkeley!




Chris Anderson's "The Makers Revolution" presentation is part of Long Now's Clock and Library projects.

About Long Now

"The Long Now Foundation was established in 01996 to develop the Clock and Library projects, as well as to become the seed of a very long-term cultural institution. The Long Now Foundation hopes to provide a counterpoint to today's accelerating culture and help make long-term thinking more common. We hope to creatively foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years."

















your "editor"

a Regan Bice photo

"What Is Collaboration Anyway?" Carrie Lozano at

"Tagged: collaboration, collaborative journalism, collective work, investigative reporting, investigative reporting program, teamwork
Journalists, by nature, tend to be fiercely competitive, racing to break the news before their rivals. Given that tendency, anyone who's engaged in a journalism collaboration knows that it's an extraordinary endeavor. That's why it's worth stepping back and identifying what we really mean when we say we're collaborating." 



our Councilman Darryl Moore emails

The Community Engagement working group of the Berkeley Climate Action Coalition cordially invites you to join us on Saturday, March 2nd from 9:30am-1pm for a neighborhood walk and asset mapping day.
About the Neighborhood Walk and Asset Mapping Project: We think that West Berkeley is top-notch and want to promote the neighborhood's assets! The goal of the Neighborhood Asset Mapping Project is to identify local resources, highlighting local businesses, organizations, skills, and public spaces that are within close walking and biking distance in order to reduce a reliance on driving and support local businesses. With an estimated 30% of all car trips are two miles or less, we can make a difference locally. 

Mark your calendar: On March 2nd from 9:30 am-1 pm we will tour some of the neighborhood treasures. Join us, as we:
Meet for free coffee and bagels at the Ecology Center (2530 San Pablo Ave), and then walk around the neighborhood to various businesses and other neighborhood jewels that make the neighborhood a sustainable place to live. (Heavy rain cancels)  

End with a community gathering, with free snacks (free lunch is pending). During the gathering we will highlight important neighborhood and community resources available for further neighborhood engagement, including the website, Buy Local Berkeley directory of local businesses and emergency preparedness resources.

About the Climate Action Coalition:  Bringing the Berkeley Climate Action Plan to you! The Berkeley Climate Action Coalition is a group of local non-profits, educational institutions, businesses, faith-based organizations, public health organizations, neighborhood groups, government agencies and committed individuals, all working together to implement the Berkeley Climate Action Plan and reduce greenhouse gas emissions locally.
Look forward to seeing you on March 2nd. Please RSVP to 



"Aging Services Division" at

"Workshops & Support Groups for Seniors.

A variety of workshops and support groups are offered at the North and South Berkeley Senior Centers.  Most are free of charge."




"Students at the Berkeley Student Cooperative Turn Conservative on Labor Issues"

In most ways, the Berkeley Student Cooperative - America's largest student housing cooperative - epitomizes liberal Berkeley values. The BSC boasts solar panels on its roofs, communal meals in shared houses, hot tubs, LGBTQ, African American, and vegetarian theme houses. Governing the organization and setting its annual $10 million budget is a Board of Directors composed of 28 students elected by fellow housemates.

However, when it comes to labor negotiations with its 20-person staff, student leaders of the BSC take the conservative road.
Citing the need to minimize variable costs, the BSC's Board-appointed labor negotiation committee - consisting of the President, the VP of Internal Affairs, the Operations Manager, an alumnus, and two members at large - have been pushing for significant cuts to employee benefits. Their proposed contract would cut the BSC's medical contribution for employees' dependents in half, increase out-of-pocket medical costs by 1000%, and cut retirement contributions in half. Mid-career employees will see their medical costs rise by $500 per month and lose defined contribution retirement benefits worth $300 per month or more."






"Anarchist Picnic - Berkeley CA"

"From 8 days of anarchy - Day 4 of 8 days

The evening of March 15th will probably involve several marches (at least one in Oakland) and actions against police brutality. It's important for anarchist to understand the history of struggle against the police and why March 15th is the day that anarchists do this.

Before that evening, before the anarchist Café, before a night of jail solidarity, we will meet for a picnic to discuss how best to meet the struggle against the police. The picnic will be a potluck, there are many good places to find food in the immediate area around our picnic spot in central Berkeley.

Meet us between noon and 3 PM. Bring food. Bring friends. Bring your ideas.
Ohlone park (far east end near MLK) - for picnic only!
March 15th between noon and three
a picnic with new and old friends
Friday, March 15, 2013 - 09 to Friday, March 15, 2013 - 11"



"'Fear and Loathing' in Berkeley, California" by James Armstrong II at

[James Armstrong II writes "I'm a homeless student, writer, and activist... currently panhandling my way through school (and life.)."]

"The quotes I am posting are from Berkeleyside's nonsense about the first murder of the year and a couple more isolated incidents of low-level crime that occurs every year.  There is nothing new or spectacular about this information.  Nothing earth shattering.  Nothing remotely out of the ordinary, as highlighted by the words of (sic) officer Frankel, at the end of this piece, . . .

But first, there is this:

'Residents asked police about recent home burglaries, a pepper-spray attack of a woman walking to BART, and how to come up with neighborhood solutions to violence.

Frankel said the best approach for community members is to reach out to police quickly, with as much information as possible, if they spot anything suspicious. (For those with "quality of life'"concerns and chronic problems in Area 4, he said the best contact is beat officer Rashan Cummings at 510-981-5774. For time-sensitive issues, or reporting crimes in progress, residents can call 911 for emergencies and 510-981-5900 for non-emergencies.).

"When the switchboard lights up like a Christmas tree, we know something is going down,'" he said. '" want you to call about all suspicious activity. That's what I really need you to do: Pick up the phone." '

My problem: these people are not qualified to know what 'suspicious' means or even looks like.  Police even screw it up, and they are 'professionals.'  I'm out here all the time and I screw it up, quite regularly, too.  And I am someone who is always out here. So I have more authority on these subjects, more than most.  More than those being told to 'report 'suspicious' activities.'

Again, I am not suggesting people turn a blind eye to crime.  What I am saying is sometimes 'suspicious' is relative and 'innocuous,' when given time to observe that something deemed suspicious plays itself out.  Also, depending on the age of the person doing the reporting is also a concern.  Elderly people seem afraid of their own shadows, because of the saturation of violence in the 'news' media and (unnecessary) pressures being applied on them by people with (hidden) agendas."







"Santa Cruz police officers and suspect fatally injured in shootout" is a report at

"The two Santa Cruz police officers and the male suspect injured during a violent shootout Tuesday afternoon have died, according to authorities."


"2 Santa Cruz officers shot to death" Jaxon Van Derbeken, Vivian Ho and Henry K. Lee at

" Two Santa Cruz police officers were shot and killed Tuesday afternoon in a gunbattle with a suspect, who was also killed, authorities said.
Police Chief Kevin Vogel confirmed that the officers had been killed while trying to arrest the suspect.

Struggling to contain his emotions, Vogel told reporters, 'We lost two exceptionally fine officers today. ... We need to figure out a way to bring our department together and get through this. It's a horrible, horrible day for the Santa Cruz Police Department and the community of Santa Cruz.'

The officers, identified by Vogel as Detective Sgt. Loran "Butch" Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler, were answering a call at 801 N. Branciforte Ave., about a mile northeast of downtown Santa Cruz, at around 3:30 p.m. when the suspect opened fire, said April Skalland, a spokeswoman for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Department. . . . 

The suspect the officers attempted to contact was identified as Jeremy Peter Goulet, 35, of Santa Cruz.
Police wouldn't say why the detectives went to the house Tuesday. Officers who responded to reports of shots being fired arrived at the scene to find the two detectives, who were dressed in plain clothes, shot outside the residence.

Police located Goulet nearby on Stanford Avenue, neighbors said. The sheriff said gunfire was exchanged at a second location and Goulet was killed. Police said they didn't think anyone else was in the house at the time of the shootings. Late Tuesday nearby residents were still not being allowed to return home. . . . 

California state records show Goulet as a licensed pilot living in Santa Cruz. He had previously been living with his twin brother at an apartment on Benvenue Avenue in Berkeley. . . . 

A man who lived below Jeremy Goulet in the Berkeley apartment building described him as 'super, super creepy.'

Andrew Morrison, 22, said Goulet had been living with his brother in the upstairs unit but moved out not long after Morrison and his wife discovered his Oregon conviction. They were doing research on him because of his strange 'ehavior, Morrison said.

'I didn't know until recently that he was a sex offender," he said.
Goulet had worked at Cole Coffee in Berkeley, he said, but lost his job recently and moved away.

'He told me he was in the military and was stationed in Guatemala,' he said."






Berkeley PD Monday arrested a female, Trayana Shipman, in connection with an unspecified Berkeley homicide.


"Berkeley Man who died after struggle with police was severely mentally ill" by Doug Oakley, Oakland Tribune.

"The stepmother of a severely mentally ill man who died after a struggle with police in his downtown apartment Feb. 12 wants to know if officers handled the situation appropriately given his well-known problems.

Police have released few details, citing an ongoing investigation.

Elysse Paige-Moore, who said she cared for 41 year-old Xavier Moore along with his father since Moore was a child, is devastated'
'I don't know if it was my son's time to die, or if he was not handled with the level of care he deserved,' said Paige-Moore of Berkeley on Monday. "I still don't know what happened. There have been no police reports, but there's been a lot of speculation. There have been some things that went very wrong and I would like more information.'

Paige-Moore said at first she had no reason not to believe the police version of the story 'and what went down,' given Moore's physical and mental health history.

Her stepson, who weighed 347 pounds, was paranoid schizophrenic, a heavy smoker and used alcohol, crack cocaine and methamphetamine, she said. He also was transgender and passed as a woman, she said.

But after thinking about what police told her of the incident in his apartment in the Gaia Building on Allston Way, she wants more answers.
Berkeley police have said little publicly about Moore's death, except that they responded to a disturbance and contacted Moore who became agitated and started to scream."

















eternally useful links


You can find more information about our current weather conditions than is good for you at

Want to see weather coming in, going out, beautiful sunsets, and much, much more? Check out This very hip site was in an email from reader and contributor, Tony Almeida. Read Tony's Jimi Hendrix story on the only page that routinely gets more hits than Scrambled Eggs.



Richmond Ramblers' motorcycle club member, Cliff Miller emails a very

useful link

If you ever need to get a human being on the phone at a credit card company or bank, etc., this site tells you how to defeat their automated system and get you to a human being within a few seconds.



Best gas prices in 94710, as well as all of US and Canada, are here at

Kimar finds Costco routinely has the lowest price.



Bay Area home prices from

Bay Area foreclosures from


Our City Council update is here.

Our Planning Commision update is here




Our City of Berkeley Boards and Commissions page is here--redone and friendly.



All reports of crime-in-progress should first go to Berkeley PD dispatch--911 or non-emergency, 981-5900. THEN make sure you notify EACH of these City people.

The contacts are below:

Our Area Coordinator, Berkeley PD - 981-5774.

Ryan Lau, aid to Darryl Moore - 981-7120

Darryl Moore, City Councilman

AND check out BPD feature "Who are these Suspects."


The original owner of all posted material retains copyright. The material is used only to illustrate.