Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Tree sitting, Day 500-ish

By asoglin
Monday, May 12th, 2008 at 11:25 am in Uncategorized.

It would only seem fitting to start this blog with the-most-covered Berkeley story of the last 500-plus days — the tree sit at the University of California, Berkeley, otherwise known as People’s Perch. Yes, a die-hard (and revolving group) of tree sitters are still up in the oaks with their poop buckets and their hammocks and their environmental spirit.

No, Judge Barbara Miller has not yet made a decision about the three-consolidated lawsuits that are tying up Cal’s plans to build their sports training center. But, now the longest urban tree-sit in the country (world?) is getting some attention from eyebrow news outlets. Save the Oaks at the Stadium member Doug Buckwald tells us that both the New Yorker and the Economist magazines have contacted him in recent weeks to get the story.

Buckwald said he isn’t sure about the angle of the stories will be but we’re pretty sure that at least one cartoonist at the New Yorker could have some fun with the tree-sitting troop. Stand by for updates.

- Doug Oakley, Kristin Bender

72 candles for Wavy Gravy

It also seems fitting to start this blog, which will feature updates on the amusing, the strange and the little known stuff that goes on in Berkeley (and other cities) that you don’t see in our newspaper, with an item about counter culture icon Wavy Gravy. How many people can say they once had an ice cream flavor named after them? The hippy icon turns 72 this month, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing him down. Mr. Gravy (as some call him) was out in full clown regalia this week at Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop in Berkeley, entertaining the crowd and soliciting donations for the Seva Foundation, the international public health non-profit that he launched 30 years ago.

It didn’t seem to bother him that 99 percent of the young Cal students waiting in line for free cones had no clue who the old guy in the hemp-clown outfit was.

Gravy just kept on truckin’, blowing bubbles and having fun. A few of those older than 40 seemed to be in the know and occasionally people called out, inquiring into the clown’s condition. “Superb,” if you are wondering. It must be all those aqua aerobics classes that he and his wife take at Berkeley swimming pools. Or maybe his good health can be credited to staying away from the bad brown acid that he was warning the crowd at Woodstock about in 1969.

Whatever it is, Gravy is busy this summer, with a 72nd birthday party on May 15 that will benefit Camp Winnarainbow, (www.campwinnarainbow.org) a camp that teaches kids and adults circus and performing arts. The event is at 7:30 p.m. at 142 Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley and will feature Moonalice with G.E. Smith, Pete Sears, Barry Sless, Jimmy Sanchez, Roger & Ann McNamee, with special guests Mickey Hart & Barry Melton. There will also be performances by Jonathan Richman, David Nelson, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Emory Joseph & Woody Vermeire as well as Wavy Gravy & the Clown Conspiracy. General Admission is $35 with Circle of Schmooze (Gravy’s words, not mine) tickets going for $100. Prices include special seating, access to the pre-show reception and an autographed event poster. To buy tickets go www.142throckmortontheatre.org and click on tickets, or call 415-383-9600.

Gravy also let it slip recently that later this summer or early in the fall he’ll have another event in Oakland featuring one of the biggest acts in the world of classic rock. He swore us to secrecy but the guy is local (think the wilds of San Mateo County) and he is awesome. Check the Seva Foundation web site in July at www.seva.org for more information.

–Kristin Bender, Doug Oakley

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