February 2003


2/3/03 Of the 6000 visitors to this site in January over 10% were visitors to Scrambled Eggs.

Please read John Geluardi's West County Times story, Bicycle Activists Sue Berkeley Police. Perhaps the activists could also spend some time resolving their identity crisis and determine whether they're pedestrians or vehicles. And why do some cyclists dress as if they are racing? The motorcyclists who dress similarly are often "hotdogs" and are dangerous to both themselves and others.

Last week I discovered a wonderful restaurant for breakfast. It is not in the neighborhood but is close-by. I t is the Café Cerrito at 9935 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito: They are opposite the El Cerrito Plaza. The service is personal, the food is excellent, the prices are VERY reasonable and the ingredients are fresh. "We make our own hollandaise for the Eggs Benedict" offered the owner. "The lemons come from the trees in our neighbor's back yard across the street. " I recommend the Eggs Benedict as well as the Blueberry Pancakes with home made Blueberry Syrup. Their phone number is 510-524- 7838.


2/4/03 Today is Sri Lanka Independence Day.

Since January 22nd there was robbery with a gun and two cars were stolen in our neighborhhod. For details see crime report for Beat 15

Margret Elliott is one of our neighborhood's long-time residents.

In 1971, with a Masters degree in art from U.C. Berkeley, I needed a studio so I rented a metal building at 2737 10th Street. I sublet portions of the building and lived and had a studio in part of it. I was a single mom trying to pursue a career in art (M.A. U.C.Berkeley 1971) and to raise a child at the same time. The building was metal with a concrete floor, no insulation, and our only heat was a wood-burning stove. The bathroom was a little outhouse with a toilet and shower that had been built by the occupant of the brick building next door (Fantasy furniture which made waterbeds very popular in the '70s). I was given the choice of electricity or gas for that little bathroom building. Naturally I chose gas so I could have a good, hot shower whenever I needed one. I didn't care if I had to shower by candlelight. Living in the studio was very uncomfortable and also very wonderful. Before we occupied the building it had been occupied by someone who built trimaran boats (I actually knew someone who had built one in that building in the late '60s and had sailed to Panama in it). In any case, they had left the plywood templates used in the trimaran construction behind and I used them to build some enclosed loft-like rooms for my son (5 ) and me. I replaced some of the corrugated panels on the roof with corrugated plastic skylights. Plants hung everywhere and we also hung a swing from the metal beams that were the skeleton of the building.

to be continued


2/5/03 Christopher Pella probably knows too much about Japanese automobiles. He is, in fact, a Professor of Cars. For instance, Pella immediately knew that my Toyota 4 x4, manufactured in December 1979, is really a 1980 model. Also, he loves cars, but more importantly he is an excellent mechanic: he has repaired automobiles professionally for twenty years and when he worked for Toyota became a certified Master Diagnostician -- not just a paper position. Tuesday, Chris replaced the clutch master-cylinder and clutch slave-cylinder on my truck. His diagnosis was accurate and honest, his work excellent and timely. Christopher's Auto Repair is not only in our neighborhood but is, in the best sense, a neighborhood garage. Christopher's Auto repair is at 1010 Carleton Street, his phone is (510)704-0182, and his email is chris@christopersauto.com He drives a really trick 1988 Toyota MR-2.

I just finished one of the best books that I've recently read. It is Persian Mirrors: The Elusive Face of Iran . This fine, informative book was written by Elaine Sciolino, a New York Times correspondent with more than twenty years of experience in modern Persia.Through stories about the many Iranians that she knows, Sciolino presents the complex cultural fabric of Iran -- the stories also give us a sense of Iran's past. (Persian culture is 2500 years old. Persepolis had a postal system when my ancestors in Northern Europe were hitting each other with clubs.) And though Sciolino beautifully gives a feeling for the country as a whole, she also clearly and warmly reveals her Persian friends and acquaintances. When I finished reading the book, I felt that I had been to Iran.


2/6/03 Today is New Zealand Waitangi Day

In their West County Times column, RANDOM ACTS OF FACTNESS, Erin Barrett and Jack Mingo offer "How many animals come in that circus-wagon-shaped box of classical Nabisco animal crackers? Typically 22 cookies, in a random mix of 17 possible shapes."



2/7/03 Today is Grenada Independence Day

Regan Bice's elegant design for Susanne Hering and John Philips' building - 935 Grayson




2/8/03 Today is "Day of Culture" in Slovenia

Even though the Border's Emeryville store is part of their nationwide chain, it doesn't feel like it. With worn-in carpeting and even a few easy chairs, it has its own identity and is real comfortable. But more comfortable than the easy chairs are the people who work there. I regularly take my mid-day break at Border's and browse, read, buy, or order a book. (Their prices are very competitive and their bargain books are a particular value. A few of the best books in my aviation collection come from this section.) But the store's real value are the friendly, helpful staff. Through my visits I've come to know some by name. Noah comes first to mind, probably because he's really tall. But more importantly, he's really friendly and eager. And if Noah is big, Judi isn't so much small as she is compact. She's also bright, cheerful, and really smart. I often go to the information desk when I'm in the store -- there Michael once did a computer-book-search so thorough and detailed, I believe he obtained information that the computer did not willingly want to give. Sharon seems to remember me from Moe's long ago, and though at first she seems just sweet, as I've come to know her she's gotten off some insight-filled zingers. Though I've had little contact with Joseph in music, I otherwise know of his reputation as a jazz authority and his one recommendation -- Duke Ellington's Finest Hour -- was superb. When browsing, I'm often aware of Denise quietly doing stock work or making suggestions to fellow workers. She seems very, very confident. And at checkout, I am occasionally waited on by Saba, who, though reserved, is always pleasant and also somehow reassuring. I always feel good after talking with her. (She also recommended a great Ethiopian restaurant.) Mela is efficient, knowledgeable, and a particularly energetic shelver. And Deb, the General Manager, seems unassuming yet efficient and business-like. Altogether these people are a mix as rich as the one I remember from Moe's in the 1980s . . . and Moe would have liked the idea that at Border's managers also shelve.

Border's Emeryville store is at 5903 Shellmound Street and their phone number is (510) 654-1633 -- they have plenty of parking.

While there, go next store to the food court and have some Afgani food at Pamir Afghan Cuisine -- it's freshly prepared, reasonably priced, and of the highest quality. My favorites include Spicy Chicken Curry, Saffron Chicken Curry, Lamb and Spinach, and Shrimp Curry. (The Shrimp Curry is prepared as you wait, the others are prepared daily.) All these dishes are served with rice, salad, and naan, and if you ask, hot chutney. Have Baklava for dessert. This food's really good and it's probably good for you.


2/10/03 Today is Iran National Day 

Our blossoming Japanese fruit trees now are. See them along 8th Street in front of Kruse and Ecole Bilingue, and on both sides of Heinz between 7th and 9th.

Now, within easy driving distance of Potter Creek, I can go to both an In-N-Out Burger and a Krispy Kreme Donuts. They are within a block or so of each other in the Shopping Center off Highway 80 in Pinole. At the end of a ten minute drive, I can not only have a cheeseburger with extra grilled-onions but now I can also have a jelly-filled donut. My life has changed for ever.


2/11/03 Around Noon last Tuesday, Marvin and I sat out in front of the warehouse and solved all of Potter Creek's problems. (We had a little extra time, so we also solved many world problems.) Soon, Ed and Merryll Saylan pulled up, I got two more chairs, and the four of us sat in the sun as Marvin told of the challenges involved in mounting his retrospective at the Oakland Museum. After Marvin finished, conversation touched on other subjects and Ed asked "What about North Korea?" "We solved that." assured Marvin.


2/16/03 Margret Elliott's neighborhood memories continue from her 2/4/03 post.

Plants hung everywhere and we also hung a swing from the metal beams that were the skeleton of the building. After one year of living there I moved into a proper house with some friends in another part of Berkeley, although I maintained my tenancy and my studio in that building until 1983. Even though it was uncomfortable and a little scary (especially when hailstones rained down on the uninsulated metal roof) and uncomfortable (when the temperature dropped below 50 degrees and our tiny wood burning stove which had formerly been used to heat a caboose on a train couldn't make a dent in taking the chill off of the place) my son, as he was growing up, always referred to that time when we lived in the studio in a voice full of wonder, implying that we had lived in Eden.


2/17/03 Margret Elliott's neighborhood memories continue:

I knew we were living in that space illegally. Live-work did not exist as a legitimate concept then. My greatest fear was the building inspector would discover we were there. In 1976 I went to work for the City of Berkeley Housing Re-habilitation program and in 1984 I became a building inspector for the City. I had become the thing I had most feared! In 1991 I became the Building Official for the City of Emeryville (until 1999) and one of the first things I did there was to write a Live-work Ordinance. Funny how things turn out. I continued to maintain my studio and to rent out spaces to other artists in the metal building until the owner, Joseph Davi (a son of one of those original Italian immigrants) died, about 1983. The brick building next door (on the same parcel) had several artists studios behind the waterbed factory. The metal building was torn down a some years ago. The brick building now houses a company doing computer animation and special effects for film.


2/18/03 Today is Gambia Independence Day

Margret Elliott's neighborhood memories continue:

When I first moved into the house I now live in, the building across the street (now 22 live-work units) was a factory. The punch-press began at 7:00 AM by my alarm clock and, sadly, there were no other kids in this neighborhood for my son to play with. Across 9 th street, on the same side of Grayson were a couple, Joe and Evelyn, who had lived in the corner house for many years (now Regan Bice's office.) Joe told me this neighborhood had been occupied by Finns and Italians. He said that the Italians had been brought over from the sulfur mines in Sicily to work in the sulfur refining plant on the corner of 7th and Heinz.

to be continued


2/20/03 A sad (good?) example of denial can be found at Ridge Urges Preparation: East Bay Largely Indifferent. My own experiance with air filters is some six months old. I have been running a Honeywell 17250 free-standing air filter in a 14' x 14' x 8' room. On its high speed, it filters the room-air every six-minutes. The 17250 comes with a carbon pre-filter, a HEPA filter, and a Cpz gas filter, and usually produces after-a-rain-storm fresh air. The best price I've found is at Air Delights.

Margret Elliott's neighborhood memories continue:

His grand-father brought over several cuttings of fruit trees and the fabulous pears that arrive every late summer on Regan's tree are of those cuttings from Sicily. It seems all of the houses along 8th Street were company houses built for the workers in the sulfur plant -- Joe had grown up in one of them. And his mother lived on the Northwest corner of 10th and Grayson. Her name was Rose -- she grew Swiss chard. When I first met her she said to me "Honey, are those your own teeth? They're so beautiful." Directly across 10th Street lived another woman named Rose who she grew roses in her yard. I never learned anything about her, but she used to give me bunches of roses during the year I was living in the studio.

to be continued


 2/23/03 Today is Brunei National Day and Guyana National Day.

On February 4th, as we sat and talked in front of the warehouse, Marvin Lipofsky and I solved many world problems. But yesterday Marvin came with news of one we apparently missed. He had just read Documents Indicate Bayer Knew of Dangers of Cholesterol Drug One of our neighbors is Bayer's large and expanding West Berkeley facility.

I'm now reading Ray Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories about which New York Times Book Review critic, Michael Wood wrote "Raymond Carver's America is helpless, clouded by pain and loss of dreams, but is not as fragile as it looks." For an account of some of Oakland's "pain and loss of dreams" please read Meredith May and Seth Rosenfeld's Bankrupt Dreams: How Idealistic Educator's Grand Plan Turned into Fiscal Nightmare.


2/24/03 Today is Estonia National Day.

One view of Bayer's past can be read in Chapter Two, "The Empire of I. G. Farben" in Antony C. Sutton's Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler. One paragraph is unforgettable. "One of the more horrifying aspects of I.G. Farben's cartel was the invention, production, and distribution of the Zyklon B gas, used in Nazi concentration camps. Zyklon B was pure Prussic acid, a lethal poison produced by I.G. Farben Leverkusen and sold from the Bayer sales office through Degesch, an independent license holder. Sales of Zyklon B amounted to almost three-quarters of Degesch business; enough gas to kill 200 million humans was produced and sold by I.G. Farben. The Kilgore Committee report of 1942 makes it clear that the I.G. Farben directors had precise knowledge of the Nazi concentration camps and their use of I.G. chemicals. "

Bayer's financial and cultural contribution to my neighborhood, Berkeley, and the Bay Area has been considerable and is valued.









1/1/03 2003 marks my thirty-first year in Potter Creek and my forty-first year as a resident of Berkeley. Have a joyous New Year.


1/2/03 I spent New Year's Eve with Harold and Mary Lawrence at their new co-op apartment over-looking Lake Merritt. For dinner Mary served the four of us orange chicken curry over pasta. "I have to cook the noodles now" she said, and then excused herself from before-dinner drinks. The table was perfectly set and carefully placed before their picture window over-looking Lake Merritt and its lights. But more commanding than the view was Mary's life's work. On the walls of the room hung row after row of her black and white photos of people -- Jean Gabin, Boris Karloff, Gypsy Rose Lee, Orson Wells, Rita Hayworth, Antal Dorati, Michael Tilson Thomas, Edward Heath, Aldous Huxley, Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, Janos Starker, Ingrid Bergman, Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Betty Davis, and many, many others. "After I finished shooting Orson and Carl Sandburg, Sandburg told me that he thought I knew what I was doing and added 'I read you too, you know. I like what you write.'" "I did all the photos for Gypsy's book, even the cover. There was nothing else on the cover, no writing, just my photo." "Jean Gabin was photographed in Hollywood: I don't remember what picture he was working on." "So they sent me a starlet to pose with the studio-guard. You can see that it was Rita Hayworth. But at the time I didn't know who she was. It was before she was famous." "I knew Mrs. Roosevelt. That was taken at Campobello." The evening sparkled as Ms. Mary held court.


1/3/03 I just looked at my web site stats for the end of the year and the most visited page is not any journal of recorded music or fine vintage lps, but is scrambled eggs with over one-thousand-four-hundred visitors. Yesterday the site received 372 visits of which 45 were to scrambled eggs.

Recently there was an email from someone in Holland who assured me that he always obeyed the law while riding his bicycle in Rotterdam. And a college friend of John Phillips, and a client of mine, saw John's link and emailed him, renewing their friendship.


1/4/03 A story in the West County Times by Dennis Cuff about the USPS offers "With later starts and some mail left to sort manually, carriers on some routes lack the time to finish in eight hours, said Al Ainsworth, a retired carrier who wrote 'Going Postal: The Tip of the Iceberg,' a book critical of the agency. 'They put pressure on the postal carriers to rush, but it's too much,' Ainsworth said. 'Their priority is the bottom line, not service for the customer.' A friend, a retired USPS carrier, says much the same. For more, read the story Late Mail Deliveries Irk East Bay Residents.


1/5/03 Mike Taugher's story in the West County Times begins "For years, people living near Bay Area refineries have complained that gases from unregulated stacks fouled the air they breathe, only to be assured that what they were seeing was insignificant. Those assurances, it turns out, were wrong." The whole story is Flares Spew Pollutants by the Ton.

On New Year's Eve, in order to get to Lake Merritt, I drove through Oakland neighborhoods off San Pablo and Telegraph Avenues. Compared to these neighborhoods Potter Creek is woefully under lighted.


1/8/03 Harvey my Mailman loves to fish: Here he is catching a rainbow trout in Lake Chabot. Netting the trout is Harv's fishing buddy, Myland Fong, and the young girl with crossed fingers is Maya Wong. The photo was taken by her Dad.

Harvey my Mailman and his friends



1/11/03 Just over a year a my friend Charlotte Ortega was murdered by her adopted son in North Berkeley. He dumped her body in the Bay off the Berkeley Marina and her body washed up at the foot of the Berkeley Pier. It was easy to identify for she'd lost her right arm and leg in an auto accident. Now, a year year later, the police are looking for another woman's body at the Berkeley Pier. She will be easy to identify for she is eight months pregnant.


1/12/03 Kava Massih Architects has prepared drawings for the proposed Berkeley Bowl structure on Heinz at the end of Eight Street and east of the chocolate factory. The proposed structure includes a retail market, restaurant and warehouse. The drawings can be seen at Kavi's office at 2830 Ninth Street.




Jerry Victor of V & W with an old time customer, Larry Weber


Harvey the Mailman reports that the outside-mailboxes at 2810 to 2850 Seventh Street were pried open Friday night the10th or Saturday morning the 11th. These boxes are in the vicinity of Berkeley Mills.


1/15/03 In a follow up to his Flares Spew Pollutants by the Ton Mike Taugher reports that Bay Area Air Quality's emphasis on auto emissions has been largely political., motivated by the desire for Federal highway funds. In using the agency, in effect, as a money raiser, they overlooked the more serious issue of refinery gas burn off. For the complete story read Refinery Emissions Debate Flares Up It has long been my view that the pollution problem in Potter Creek is the neighborhood's irresponsible use of hazardous material, not the auto emissions from Highway 80.


1/17/03 Mi Tierra Foods is a refreshing bicycle ride away from much of Potter Creek. It is just South of University at 2082 San Pablo Avenue. The owner, Jesus Mendez, features Hispanic products from Mexico, Central and South America and his business card advertises "FRESH TAMALES, TORTILLA & BREAD DAILY." His food is good and really reasonably priced. He has baked goods, produce, canned goods, meat and fish, dairy, and at the back of the store there is a delicatessen.






1/21/03 At their Berkeley facility in our neighborhood, Bayer employs about 1500 people with an additional 200 consultants.


1/23/03 In the month of January thru the 22nd, three autos were stolen in our neighborhood and there was one burglary. For details see crime report for Beat 15


1/25/03 There is a community meeting on Wednesday, January 29 th at 6:30 PM. The meeting will be held at Kava Massih Architects, 2830 Ninth Street. The proposed Berkeley Bowl site will be discussed. Kavi will show his plans.


1/30/03 A community meeting was held last night at Kava Massih Architects in a much too small, stuffy room. Among those present were representatives of our Mayor and our Councilwoman. Kava presented his very elementary plan for the Berkeley Bowl site on Grayson. Judging from his presentation, for a dramatic increase in traffic, Potter Creek will get a wonderful market and restaurant, and Berkeley Bowl will get a warehouse. But more importantly, I believe this project signals an area sea change the effects of which can only be imagined -- certainly increased density is one of them. For myself, I will make the leap of faith and assume that most of them will be good.

Margret Elliott sent me a page of her neighborhood memories. They are wonderful and she has agreed to let me post them -- which I will do soon.



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