Nick Leslie…

…I did not know. Never met the man. Do not know any of his friends, family or frat brothers. But I did feel dark when I first saw his memorial on the steps of Sproul Hall, because it became clear again that the angry hate and evil that is in the world can be brought right up close in an instant. When you have no love of self or others, then hate easily fills that hole. I did take a snapshot of the informal memorial, and I will share that with my kids as they get older when I explain to them that extremism can breed terrorists, and that often ends in death. And it is not something that happens in a far off land, it happens to us as a people, no matter if we are way over there… so it brings it home.

Love of self, of friends and family… of community, institution and beliefs… often brings up good people. Good people are seen by the work they do that others enjoy naturally. So it is that Nick’s close friends and family were inspired to create a lasting chapter of Nick. It is a story about giving those a helping hand in their educational path. His close friends and family created a Foundation to do this. The Victory of the People Scholarship has been set up to provide support for undergraduate students enrolled in Berkeley Study Abroad programs.

On November 12, 2016 Nick’s fraternity hosted the first annual benefit jam in his memory and described what the name Nicolas means. Continue reading

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Moniker… Freight trains.

 

Moniker. Can’t think of a better word. I see these all the time in my travels, and they change through the years. Some come around for a long time, others I see only once. These people get around. These are the marks left by train riders, hobos, railway workers, vagrants, losers and the young and foolish. If you read up on some railroad history, you’ll find people have been doing this since railroads laid their tracks back before 1830.

These are unlike gangland or territory tags. These are more like ‘I was here’ in the Kilroy Was Here fashion popularized by American and Allied troops out of World War II. But these unassuming, non-threatening monikers represent the individual, and not a cause.

I am always on the lookout for the old and faded monikers. Some I have seen date nearly twenty years old, and are quite faded. Always interesting to see some new ones, too. I think I am seeing a few with a lot of time spent on them, which tells me they are not people that are interested in bagging a bunch of cars… too much time spent on one gets you just a few applied.

Seems like some of these people spend their life out here.

 

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Berkeley…

This is my first blog post. Ever. I am still learning about building a website, and all the time-consuming chores that go with that. Biggest time-eater? Learning Curve 101. No matter how easy the designers make it, there is always some little thing that jacks me. Good thing for intelligent Tech Support. Live Chat kicks ass!

I am not a writer or photographer by trade, but I wanted to share my thoughts and photos anyway. So I hope you enjoy what is here, but if this is too lame you can always click away to some other site.

Berkeley, California is just one of the many cities that make up an area called the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. Berkeley is a bit more famous than it’s neighbors, likely due to past and ongoing political hollering, but also has the distinction of seating one of the honored institutions of University of California’s system of higher cost education – Cal Berkeley. There is a lot more to it than that, of course. Cal has been here a long time and won’t be going anywhere, but there seems to be a lot of change going on around town. I’m thinking I better get out and take a look around before some of this stuff gets hacked up like the east span of the Bay Bridge.

As unchecked gentrification continues to feed the wealthy, we lose more of the unique flavors that make up time-tested institutions. Recently, Berkeley lost the long-time home of Berkeley Ace Hardware to more ‘urban renewal’ as that building will probably be vaporized in a laser-guided attack of concrete, stainless steel and green-glass windows for more outrageously expensive “housing”.

Whatever.

But Ace Hardware is still around. They just moved to Milvia and Addison on the ground floor of one those new, sterile buildings I just described. I get it. I know. You can’t stop progress. Yeah, the new buildings are probably safer, more efficient, better lighting, etc.

Puke.

I like old worn out tile floors, brass or glass jewel doorknobs, questionable plumbing (so long as I am not the one crawling under the building chasing leaks), tall windows that are a pain in the ass to open and close, and a furnace that gets lit a few times a year… and when it does you smell dust being burned off. I don’t need to have everything so perfectly clean, neat and tidy… and getting priced out along the way. That big new building will probably get damaged when the Hayward fault jams up again, anyway.

Being outside is great. Rain or shine, I like to be out there. I like walking around lookin’ at stuff. I’m probably lookin’ at you. I’m not going to get into your business, and you likely won’t even see me. But this East Bay is a real interesting place. There is a lot of cool stuff to see and do. There are so many friendly, intelligent and witty people out there. Homeless or well off, I like to talk to you. You people are great.

When my windows are open, that nice, cool Bay Area air blows my cheap curtains around and carries with it the sound of the trains down off Fourth Street and the scent of garlic, curry or someone’s weed. My on-call job causes me to sleep at all weird hours, sometimes going to bed at Two P.M. and then being up all night, or vice versa. Whatever time of day or night, I can’t stand to be cooped up, so I do a lot of walking around.

So here are some of the things I see.

This is only just a little bit of the town. The miles of blocks of neat old homes, the Telegraph area, Berkeley Marina and the hills up by Tilden… not to mention the Gourmet Ghetto (mentioned it anyway)… cultivate strong, living threads in the unique pattern of this town. I am continuously impressed with East Bay Regional Parks… some of my best near-heart attack moments have occurred while running my tired ass through the unspoiled back country of Wildcat Canyon.

There are a handful of people I have frequently seen in my tennis shoe travels. Some of them I have had the time to talk with; each time it was a pleasant experience. So far, I have not had the bitter experience of dealing with a straight up asshole, but I bet I have a good chance of that at some point. I think I have avoided that because I try to meet people with a smile first, even though my face is usually all bent up in a scowl by too many years of  squinting in the sun.

At some point, I would like to approach some of these people and include them in this blog. I will never be able to talk to Nicolas Leslie, but last month I almost had a chance to talk to Brock Turner’s victim when she read her passionate letter to a weekend crowd just a few feet away from where Nicolas’s memorial was. At the time I was afraid to approach her. When she stood there in the bright California sunlight reading those things, I was deeply moved by her strength and passion… and my chest got tight as I thought of my sixth-grade daughter at home and what the world is. Miss  Emily Doe, I am deeply proud of you for your words.

 

 

 

 

 

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