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: