UNDERNEATH THE SHADY TREE (AGAIN) “This is not the beginning of the end; this is the end of the beginning!” Winston Churchill I was sitting outside at a restaurant, on Center Street in downtown Berkeley, when my friend Martin the mailman approached. “Hey Winston, what’s going on with downtown Berkeley and all that stuff you were dreaming about two years ago? Pretending you were sitting under a shady tree in front of a grand hotel, looking at a new museum, kids playing in a plaza, a creek on this very block, and a Jimi Hendrix statue down the street. Looks the same to me!” “Martin,Read More →

The Future of Downtown: Underneath The Shady Tree I was sitting alone in downtown Berkeley, lost in thought, when my friend Martin the mailman approached. “Hey Winston what are you doing?” he asked. “I’m sitting here under this shady tree watching the kids playing in the fountain in front of the hotel and convention center”, I responded. “I don’t see any tree. What hotel, what fountain?” he replied. “Over there (pointing), next to the new university art museum and film center. Since they day lighted Strawberry Creek, and all of those new sidewalk cafés have sprung up, downtown has become a real jewel. I especiallyRead More →

IT’S SNOWING IN BERKELEY By Winston Burton Last week the temperatures fell, and there was snow on Mt. Diablo and at other higher elevations. Also there was lots of TV coverage of snow storms on the East Coast and Midwest. I must admit that during the recently passed holiday season (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Super Bowl) I also kind of missed the snow, something that rarely happens in Berkeley. When it snows everyone looks better. With a hat pulled over your head, scarf wrapped several times around your face, layers of multiple sweaters on and wearing big boots – what’s not to like. You’reRead More →

FIELD OF DREAMS By Winston Burton He was out for some refreshment, an ice cream on a warm summer afternoon in Philadelphia, and on his way home. We didn’t start out looking for trouble. We were bored and had nothing to do. We were all decent athletes and loved to play sports. In some ways we were just like Fat Albert and the Cosby kids. We all wore weird hats and had different nicknames. We played football in the street, used milk crates for basketball, and broomsticks as baseball bats. Usually we were all about fun. But that night the school yard was locked, theRead More →

COMMUNITY COURAGE By Winston Burton The law of the jungle is survival of the fittest; the law of civilization is cooperation! I had walked by the same one story office building in Hayward for over a year on my way to work often waving good morning to the occupants, but only rarely getting a wave back. One day a woman ran from that building to my office, which was down the street, screaming, “Help! Help! He stole my purse! “Who,” I said. She pointed to a white male running down the street. I took off in hot pursuit. He was not slowing down. He zigzaggedRead More →

Imagine A Day Without Hippies Last week I was driving my 12 year old son to his music lesson, listening to NPR. It was a beautiful day and all was right with the world, and then he said something, out of the clear blue sky that chilled me to the bone. “I hate hippies”! “Why”, I said ?. “They’re losers! They messed up my future with their hippie revolution – sitting around half-naked on blankets flashing that stupid peace sign. We should have dropped the bomb! Then there wouldn’t be any wars and I wouldn’t have to go to Iraq or some other crazy countryRead More →

IN SEARCH OF JIMI HENDRIX By Winston Burton Should we erect a statue of Jimi Hendrix in Berkeley, California? Whaddaya think? In September, 1967 I started my freshman year at Philadelphia Community College where I proceeded to major in “Jimi Hendrix”. Together with a group of friends, I spent that first semester getting high, cutting classes and listening to music. I went from a “B” student, Motown and button down shirts in high school – to bell bottoms, headbands and Jimi, in a blink of an eye (4F’s and an I to be exact)! In those days there was an active military draft and IRead More →

THE FIRE NEXT TIME “So the lord sent down the rainbow sign, no more water the fire next time”. Langston Hughes People of color have been talking for years of the inequalities and injustice in the United States, but main stream America constantly counters with – you’re just paranoid. They say slavery was in the past and racism hardly exists anymore. There forefathers were poor, came from Europe and made a good life for themselves and families through hard work! They never take in to account that our U.S Government legalized and supported discrimination against people of color, and separate but equal was the lawRead More →

Homeless or Keyless? By Winston Burton It had just started to drizzle and I had ducked under a freeway overpass to keep dry. I was tired from walking all day and sat down on a worn, discarded mattress. I looked around at bottles and trash strewn everywhere and something scurried near my foot. It was starting to get dark so I decided to take my chances in the rain. I headed out, not sure where I was going, hungry, getting cold and I had to go the bathroom. My cell phone rang. It was my wife. She was finally home! I had locked myself outRead More →