Not getting older – getting better!

Like Dustin Hoffman’s Graduate (shot in Berkeley in 1967), and Harold from Harold and Maude (shot in Berkeley in 1971), the Bay Area definitely has something of a love affair with older women. Is it the climate? The yoga? The positive effects of feminism and ensuing gender equality? The excellent food? Medical marijuana? Free speech? I have no idea, but rarely have I seen so many women over 50, 60 and 70 who have the posture of ballerinas, the smile of buddhas, the hair of schoolgirls and the rosy cheeks of newborns.* On the weekends – if they’re not off to Oregon for white water rafting trips, like our retired downstairs neighbor – you will often spot them on their bikes on Marin County roads, clad in skin-tight speedo suits that show off their enviable, lightly muscled curves – at an age where in the rest of the world,  “exercise” would mean sitting in a rocking chair and knitting! All, I’m sure, without the help of modern medicine or high-tech cosmetics.

So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that when a 62-year-old windsurfing Bay Area lady is rescued from the freezing waters of the bay after 13 hours, she is described as “alert” and “pretty well”, because she has “a lot of stamina”. You go, girl!

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Clang clang clang went the trolley

…back when there still was one! (Spotted at Berkeleyside)

This is from a 1906 mutoscope reel (in-depth information at the Library of Congress). Here’s something to make up for the missing sound:

Wikipedia tells us that

“The Mutoscope worked on the same principle as the “flip book.” The individual image frames were conventional black-and-white, silver-based photographic prints on tough, flexible opaque cards. Rather than being bound into a booklet, the cards were attached to a circular core, rather like a huge Rolodex.

…and, more interestingly, that these reels were commonly used for “pornographic” imagery presented to paying patrons (a progenitor of YouPorn, if you will) – to the detriment of public morals:

“In 1899, The Times printed a letter inveighing against “vicious demoralising picture shows in the penny-in-the-slot machines. It is hardly possible to exaggerate the corruption of the young that comes from exhibiting under a strong light, nude female figures represented as living and moving, going into and out of baths, sitting as artists’ models etc. (…).”

A collector’s site describes the contents of one such reel, “Birth of the Pearl” which “pictures a nude woman rising from a seashell and standing.”” (Wikipedia: Mutoscope)

Posted in Nobody Beats Berkeley. Comments Off on Clang clang clang went the trolley

The Bible Guarantees It

As has been pointed out by Pastor Harold Camping on his radio show and on several informative and entertaining road signs next to Bay Area freeways , the world will end this Saturday, 6 p.m. We’re all going to die! Need some convincing of this fact? Here you go:

Lots of numbers in there, so I guess he must be right (also, Camping has an engineering degree from UC Berkeley – spotless academic credentials!). There’s hope for some of us, though:

“O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day.” (Mormon 9:6)

According to this heathenish FAQ, I’ll probably not be counted among the “spotless, pure, fair and white”, but at least I’ll die a happy woman having tasted this year’s first white “Spring Snow” peaches…as the eternal hippie favorite Ecclesiastes puts it:

“To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to reap,
a time to laugh and a time to weep.”

(Watch out for the cute little girl at 1:15! I wonder what became of her when she grew up.)

Stranger In A Strange Land

A German restaurant just opened in Berkeley and I thought I should have a look at the relevant Chowhound thread before venturing there myself. It sounds authentic indeed:

“There was no hostess so people did not know how to get a table and were left loitering near the door (none of the servers bothered to pay any attention to the number of people standing around waiting for a table. Bizarre).” (breanac on Chowhound)

Oh my, poor Americans, standing there like third-graders whose mom forgot to pick them up from soccer practice…welcome to the third world, where people just sit down! This is how we roll in pre-civilization Europe. You’re on your own. People fighting over chairs and tables. Tushies lowered onto seats without a hint of official authorization. Couples hogging four-seat tables. In short, anarchy. Adjust your tip accordingly! Overall, the restaurant sounds OK enough to check out, even though it threatens to deliver “Cooking and Baking with a North-German Twist.

(This comment makes me doubt the overall qualification of the contributors to this forum, though. I will not take this kind of abuse from the inhabitant of a country where “fresh joe” is routinely served from something fittingly named a “coffee urn” sitting on the counter, filled with a fluid so obnoxious that “refill” sounds like a death threat to anyone with taste buds or even just an innervated tongue.)

It’s a good sign

Berkeley is full of people who have strong opinions, and thus, full of various types of signs. First off, if your car does not have an Obama sticker, it is understood that you’re either a) sceptical of Obama because he’s so moderate he’s basically a crypto-fascist or b) somewhat of a crypto-fascist yourself. (Exception: If you drive a Prius or a Subaru, you’re not required to use any additional stickers, it’s already clear you’re a Lib’rul or worse.) Further stickers that are beloved by Berkeleyans: the COEXIST, the KPFA, and the Darwin Fish. If you have collected lots of political opinions over the decades, your car will slowly turn into this – a common sight on Berkeley parking lots. (Up in the hills, one bumper is still telling us to “END APARTHEID NOW”). There’s lots of lawn signs, murals, and signs in windows. Signs on bikes declaring “NO WAR FOR OIL – BIKE FOR PEACE”.

And then, there’s the “YOU’RE PERFECT” guy:

(Note the North Face fleece vest – the Berkeley uniform!)

Some see this annoying abundance of signage as a signal to fight back. My favorite meta-stickers adorn our neighbor’s Honda: “BRUSH YOUR TEETH, IT’S THE LAW” and “Vote YES on NO and NO on YES”. The most incendiary and controversial sign in Berkeley at the moment, however, must be this:

Did you know that…

…Berkeley is the home of the world’s best Pilsner? Local supermarkets also offer Spaten. Strange how stuff that isn’t really that good ends up being an export hit. (See also: San Pellegrino Water)

Posted in Aus Aller Welt, Nobody Beats Berkeley, Speis & Trank. Comments Off on Did you know that…

Sock it to me

Back in May, though I was deeply in awe of a laundry-folding robot developed by Cal scientists, I lamented that it didn’t solve the age-old problem of socks. Behold the glory of scientific progress: