29 January 2007

The beauty of decay

Photo courtesy of hurleygurley

hurleygurley, an excellent photographer who displays her work on flickr, managed to infiltrate into the bowels of the vacant Flint Ink (formerly Cal Ink and a City of Berkeley Landmark) and shot haunting photos that evoke the poetry of abandoned places.

Well worth the visit.

27 January 2007

Professors to the rescue of trees

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2007

Eighty years separate the two arboreal statements below. The poem (with a nod to Joyce Kilmer, W.H. Auden, Andrew Marvell, and Ogden Nash) was read by retired English professor Peter Dale Scott at the Memorial Stadium oak grove celebration last Saturday, 20 January, and again during Dona Spring’s birthday party at the Hillside Club on Tuesday, 23 January.

Call to Chancellor Birgeneau
(Peter Dale Scott)

I think that I shall never see
touchdown lovely as a tree.
It’s great to watch kids play a game
Big Money makes it not the same.
And where Big Money is the rule
A school forgets it is a school;
Till Time, indifferent in a week
To a beautiful physique,
Will judge those schools that went to Hell
As farm teams for the NFL,
Annihilating what we made
Of a green thought in a green shade.
The health of a society is tested
When gentle people get arrested.
Good God! I never thought to see
Poets arrested in a tree.
But, folks, if you don’t heed this call
You may not see this tree at all.

1. Joyce Kilmer: “Trees
2. W.H. Auden: “In Memory of W. B. Yeats
3. Andrew Marvell: “The Garden
4. Ogden Nash: “Song of the Open Road

The article below speaks for itself. It was published in the Oakland Tribune on 15 December 1926. The professor quoted was the great Willis Jepson, founder of the Jepson Herbarium. Jepson was a charter member of the Sierra Club and a resident of Panoramic Hill. His house, designed by Julia Morgan in 1925, overlooks Memorial Stadium. Note that eighty years ago, the leader of the committee to save the Point Lobos trees was none other than real-estate developer Duncan McDuffie, another lifelong member of the Sierra Club.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

P.S. My favorite ditty on this topic was composed by U.C. Berkeley students and chanted during a demonstration on Friday, 12 January, after campus cops staged a pre-dawn raid on the oak grove, evicting the ground support crew and confiscating their possessions:
Hey, ho, Birgeneau
You say “Chop!”
We say “No!”

22 January 2007

Three wise women in a tree

Shirley Dean, Betty Olds & Sylvia McLaughlin spent an hour in an oak tree to protest UC’s plans to cut down the oak grove. (photo: Daniella Thompson)

Former Berkeley mayor Shirley Dean (71), Councilmember Betty Olds (86), and Save the Bay founder Sylvia McLaughlin (90) joined the Save the Oaks at Memorial Stadium tree sitters at 11:30 this morning when they climbed a ladder to a tree platform, where they remained for an hour.

The three wise women called on the university to set a better example to its students and practice what it preaches. They vowed to continue the protest until the university abandons its plans to cut down the oak grove. Shirley and Betty joined the new orgnization U.C. Alumni for the Oaks.

Watch a video of the occasion.

Many prominent Berkeleyans and the media turned out for the event.

Photo: Daniella Thompson

17 January 2007

Woodruff Minor presents The Architecture of Ratcliff

Builders Booksource
1817 4th Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
Wednesday, 7 February, 7:30 pm
(510) 845-6874

Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary & Garden Arts
2904 College Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94705
Saturday, 24 February, 4:00 pm
(510) 704-8222

Woodruff Minor presents his new book, The Architecture of Ratcliff (Heyday Books). The story of an architectural firm that has shaped the Bay Area for over a hundred years, The Architecture of Ratcliff is a lavish look at three generations of one company’s architects who have left a significant imprint on West Coast design and continue to lead the way in innovative, creative building solutions. Their accomplishments are many, including Oakland International Airport’s Terminal 2, Mills College’s Concert Hall, buildings on Berkeley’s “Holy Hill,” and a rich array of houses, from the charming to the contemporary. Throughout it all, Ratcliff has maintained its commitment to family, the environment, and to excellence in design.

14 January 2007

Phoebe Apperson Hearst lived here

The Hearst house in the Reed-Grigsby years. Louise Reed is seen on the terrace. (photo courtesy of Rita Frances Strom)

When Benjamin Ide Wheeler was president of the University of California, his most constant fundraising partner was the indomitable U.C. regent and benefactress Phoebe Apperson Hearst. During their 20-year joint reign, from 1899 until 1919, Wheeler and Hearst were an unbeatable team. For half a dozen years, they owned adjoining houses on what has come to be known as Holy Hill.

Following the Hearst residence, the house was home to the editor of a mining journal, then to a coffee planter and his second wife, formerly an actress. After the planter was murdered on his Guatemalan plantation, his widow married his friend, a Berkeley realtor with a green thumb who created a showplace garden next to the house.

Since the late 1940s, the house has belonged to the Mormon Berkeley Institute of Religion. Read the full story.

12 January 2007

Almost 6,000 LPO referendum signatures turned in

Mayor Bates’ and Councilmember Capitelli’s new developer-friendly Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, passed on 12 December by the City Council (with Kriss Worthington and Betty Olds opposed and Dona Spring absent), appears to be headed into the bottom drawer until the next election.

Volunteers of the LPO 2006 Update campaign gathered over 5,900 signatures for a referendum in less than a month and submitted them to the City Clerk on Thurdsay, 11 January.

If 4,092 of these signatures are verified by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters, the new LPO will be stayed and the 1974 Landmarks Preservation Ordinance will continue in force until the next election.

Read the story in the Berkeley Daily Planet.

08 January 2007

A Legacy of Beauty: The Life and Work of Julia Morgan

OHA Second Thursdays at Chapel of the Chimes
4499 Piedmont Avenue
11 January 2007
7:30 to 9:30 pm

Mark Wilson will present an illustrated lecture covering his forthcoming book, A Legacy of Beauty: The Life and Work of Julia Morgan. Some lesser -known of the architect’s East Bay designs will be shown. Wilson will describe his collaboration with Morgan’s goddaughter, Lynn McMurray, and his discovery of previously undocumented Morgan buildings. He will assess Morgan’s lasting legacy on the 50th anniversary of her death and will sign copies of his classic guidebook, A Living Legacy; Historic Architecture of the East Bay.

Information: (510) 763-9218 or oaklandheritage.org
Donation: $8 members, $10 non-members