Memories of life at UC Berkeley

Sproul Hall houses UC Berkeley’s administration.  Back in pre-computer days, when you wanted to get anything done (i.e., enroll in classes or get forms or whatever), you had to go to Sproul.  The lines at Sproul were always ridiculously long and slow.  Way too often, after I’d stood in line seemingly forever, just as I got to the window, the clerk would announce “We got a bomb threat and the building needs to be evacuated.”  Disconsolate, I’d drag my sorry self out of the building, knowing that I’d have to stand in line all over again (and that I probably wouldn’t get my first choice in classes).

I haven’t thought about those irritating little episodes in my life for a long time, but they suddenly flashed into my brain when I read about a recent rather unsuccessful effort to revive Sproul’s glory days:

Fourteen protesters who forced a lockdown at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Hall Friday afternoon to demand that Cal enroll more black and Latino students left on their own after three hours.

I so don’t miss Berkeley.

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  1. Charles Martel says

    I lived in Berkeley on and off from 1967 through 1973. Coming from semi-arid Southern California, I loved the town’s trees and greenery, architecture, and academic vibe. But even then—and I was pretty far left—I sensed an oppressive streak in its politics and culture. The town was too self-consciously progressive, with its endless hand-wringing over the Other, as long as the Other was dark, poor. and conveniently a county, state, or continent or two away.
     
    There was also an overlay of Black Panther politics on the place. Berkeley was the western outpost of the Upper East Side limousine liberal mentality that Tom Wolf skewered so wonderfully well in “Radical Chic.” The Panthers were thugs through and through, but they delivered enough spittle-flecked Marxist rants to get the tweedy professors who lived up in the hills high on dreams of bad-assery—soon, thanks to the example set by their swarthy brothers, they’d pick up the gun and ascend to a state beyond milquetoast. As for Berkeley’s radical women, the thought of being ravished by a revolutionary black hunk was like living in a mad erotic mash-up of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Uncle Tom’s Cabin
     
    It was grotesque, often humorously so. It took a very long time for me to wake up, but I now realize that those early Berkeley experiences were the first rays of light to get through my determinedly squeezed shut eyes.

  2. Mike Devx says

    Charles, if you enjoyed ‘Radical Chic’ you might get a kick out of Norman Spinrad’s ‘Bug Jack Barron’. Late 70′s I think. Its politics are still decidedly left, but it skewers the counterculture’s “Baby Bolsheviks” with gleeful abandon. (Did Spinrad invent that phrase: Baby Bolsheviks? I’ve always liked it.) An early criticizer of media manipulation tricks, too.

    I think he (and Elmore Leonard) did a few riffs on the chicks getting their rocks off with the hard-core black revolutionary guys.  The intensity! The revolutionary fervor!  Hot hot hot!  Of course, these days it’s probably more correct for the leftist politichicks to get it on with radical Islamic jihadists, you know.  The intensity!  The revolutionary fervor!  Those New Black Panthers are just so… passe…  Old news.  Give ‘em a burning-eyed jihadist instead!  Take it all off, except for the kaffiyeh!

  3. says

    I have no idea what Sproul is.

    One of the more interesting things to me is how internet hacking, piracy, and freedom of information is now pitted up against Democrat corporate backers such as the MPAA and the RMIA/RMAA.

     Two guess where Ted Kennedy’s buddy Chris Dodd ended up after jacking up a cool million or 10 from the housing bubble he caused?

    Yeah. Most of the Left’s ground work is laid by people that aren’t politicians. Not any more, that is. Private consulting jobs, so on and so forth.

    The Democrats convinced a Republican to generate a bill called SOPA, which was originally designed solely to benefit MPAA and RMAA. Basically Hollywood Democrat backers. This in turn led the hacker group Anonymous to leak Stratfor emails to Wikileaks. Right now the perfidy of the Leftist alliance is not a popularly known thing even on the internet. When it does become known, I wonder how people will react. The Left has already inculcated “big corporations = evil”. But that can be turned on its head. So far it has been used to convince blacks and Jews and Americans to vote Obama. So far.

     

  4. Mike Devx says

    Ymar said: Right now the perfidy of the Leftist alliance is not a popularly known thing even on the internet. When it does become known, I wonder how people will react. The Left has already inculcated “big corporations = evil”. But that can be turned on its head. So far it has been used to convince blacks and Jews and Americans to vote Obama. So far.

    In the late 50′s and 60′s, all the criticism was directed at “the military-industrial complex”.  Collusion and corruption!  Fat cats getting richer through insidious insider connections!

    These days, it is “the government-business complex” that we should be targetting.  Anyone who thinks that all businesses are run by free-market capitalists need to have their eyes opened.  I wonder, just how many businesses are led by people just CHOMPING at the bit to get into bed with their government power folks.  These businessmen and women have no free-market philosophy.  They have no interest in capitalism.  Nor in competition.  They want to feather their bed.  They want regulations passed that leave THEM in the catbird seat, and harm their competitors.  They want to use government, and they want government to use them.  As long as they get to set the rules, hurt their competitors, and remain on top.

    Government-business collusion.  Aka, corporate welfare.  It’s Big Business.  And as you said, Ymar, it can be turned on its head.  Obama is the WORST of these power players by far – but he has a lot these anti-capitalist, anti-free market big businessmen paying him a lot of attention.  How many of them are already in his pocket?
     

  5. Charles Martel says

    Mike, I read “Bug Jack Barron” all the way through one late night and early morning in Berkeley in 1969. Loved it. Yes, Spinrad coined the phrase “Baby Bolsheviks,” and I recall one memorable passage in the book when somebody—Jack Barron?—asks, “What ever happened to the Baby Bolsheviks?” And the sad answer was something along the lines of, “Time for getting came.”
     
    Spinrad knew even in the late Sixties that the whole sorry spectacle was going to end with white-hot revolutionaries going to work for non-profits, and the government, and the academy, and the media, wed eternally to their revolutionary ideals, but espousing them over a glasses of fine claret and china plates heaped with Kobe beef. Breitbart’s (pbuh) description of his recent dinner with Bill Ayers and his Buchenwald bitch, Bernardine Dohrn, was a perfect example of that.

  6. rick9911 says

    Funny isn’t it! The best education you got wasn’t where you expected it to come from and wasn’t the lesson ‘they’ wanted you to have.

  7. Mike Devx says

    > Funny isn’t it! The best education you got wasn’t where you expected it to come from and wasn’t the lesson ‘they’ wanted you to have.

    I  agree, Rick. I was well indoctrinated during school in the 70′s.  But in my spare time I also read a lot of Robert Heinlein.  Heinlein sowed the seeds and kept me relatively grounded during my liberal years.  I think I owe a lot to Robert Heinlein.
     

  8. says

    “Breitbart’s (pbuh) description of his recent dinner with Bill Ayers and his Buchenwald bitch, Bernardine Dohrn, was a perfect example of that.”

    If you want evidence of God’s hand, just realize that supping with the Devil might be the death of you. I’m rather serious on this matter. 

  9. says

    If you were to ask me if I would be willing to have dinner with Ayers and that poisonous snake called Dohr, I might be willing, depending on what explosives and weapons I would bring. But I would never, ever, eat a single thing in that house. Or drink anything.

     I would have told Breitbart that as well, had he been alive today.

  10. 11B40 says

    Greetings:

    And once again, I see another example of how our elected officials and “unelected” administrators allow the public’s rights to free travel and to do its commerce to be sacrificed on the altars of some “more equal” demonstrators. 

    Back when I originally came across “civil disobedience” as a moral and political concept, accepting the consequent punishment was viewed as an important part of the exercise. Nowadays, in all this post-civil rights confusion, that concept seems to have been lost or discarded. 

    The repetition of these scenarios, time and time again, reinforces my idea that there is no real will to prevent or even much moderate these incidents.  What are oft described as “demonstrators” are, in actuality, passive-aggressive civic disruptors (not that I’ll ever come across such a description in today’s media).  What, if any, subsequent civic punishments are being inflicted on them (not that you’ll ever come across that information in today’s media) are clearly not sufficient to dissuade them from their forthcoming episodes.

    Is there is a more concrete example of the success of “The Long March through the Institutions”?

  11. Rick Z says

    I have my own very special memory of Sproul Hall. It was late January 1974, and I had just been discharged from the service. Having been a student “in good standing” at UCSB in 1970 when I was obliged to “pledge the Mekong Delts,” I was under the naive impression that I would be welcome to resume my studies at any UC campus. So there I was, resplendant in my still-fresh GI haircut, transcripts and DD-214 in hand, standing in line at the admissions office at Sproul, ignoring the icy glares and mumbled invective of my fellow line-standers. Soon enough my hair would grow out and I would be one of them again.

    The clerk at the counter was a young woman in a granny dress, probably no older than me, and probably a student aid of some kind. I explained my situation, showed her my paperwork and asked for an application for readmission.

    She simply glared at me.

    “I can’t help you,” she said.

    “Can’t or won’t?” I replied.

    She smiled the smile of the righteous, and raised her voice slightly. To be honest, I can’t remember exactly what it was she said next–something to the effect that so far as she was concerned, ”baby-burners” were definitely not welcome at her campus.

    You could tell she was really proud of herself that day.

    I ended up finishing my degrees (BA, Econ; MBA) at CSU Hayward down the road a piece. At that time, over 10 percent of its student body were fellow vets, and perhaps in retrospect, that nameless young woman did me a favor. I don’t think I would have enjoyed myself at Cal during that period, or perhaps ever again.

    Still, to this day I wonder whatever became of her, and if she’s still thinks so well of herself.      

                       

  12. SADIE says

    “As for Berkeley’s radical women, the thought of being ravished by a revolutionary black hunk was like living in a mad erotic mash-up of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

    Once again, Charles Martel, you have eloquently explained why progressive women vote Obama. Well, not just women -”girly” women, too.

    “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”       

  13. Gringo says

    Charlie’s Silver Hammer, a.k.a. Charles Martel
     
    There was also an overlay of Black Panther politics on the place. Berkeley was the western outpost of the Upper East Side limousine liberal mentality that Tom Wolf skewered so wonderfully well in “Radical Chic.” The Panthers were thugs through and through.
     
     While there have never been any arrests in the 1975 death of Betty  Van Patter,what is known about the case points to  the  Panthers. From “David Horowitz’s Long March” @ Front Page: (2000: originally in The Nation)
     
    On July 22, 1974, Huey Newton shot a young prostitute, after which he fled to Cuba. “I should have left [the Panthers] then,” Horowitz says. In fact, many of his black friends in the party did depart at that very moment–a turn of events that enraged Newton’s successor, a striking, charismatic and voluble young woman named Elaine Brown, who, according to Horowitz, said the party was under attack and “the rats were leaving the ship.” Horowitz says he felt trapped. When Brown asked him to recommend someone to oversee the party finances, he suggested Betty Van Patter, a 42-year-old bookkeeper who had worked at Ramparts. Van Patter, who was white, eagerly accepted the position. On December 13, 1974, she vanished. A month later, her body, with a massive head wound, was discovered in San Francisco Bay.
     
    It is a case, according to veteran Panther-watcher Kate Coleman, that has “haunted the Bay Area left for two decades.” A lengthy investigation by Coleman revealed that Van Patter had discovered questionable activity–rackets, dope, prostitution–at a Panther-run bar in Oakland called the Lamp Post and had reportedly complained about it to Brown, who then fired her.
     
    Van Patter’s death plunged Horowitz into “a really clinical depression,” he says today. “For a good year, I woke up in tears every day because of Betty.” What inspired the guilt was not simply that he’d recommended Van Patter to the Panthers but that he’d been too frightened to warn her about the dangers she faced. But he was in a bind: Van Patter, delighted to be employed by the Panthers, was completely enamored of Brown and wary of Horowitz, whom she did not trust. So he let her proceed with the job.
     
    As nearly 40 years have gone by since Betty Van Patter’s murder, it is not likely her killers will be brought to justice. Any time Elaine Brown is questioned about Betty Van Patter, she becomes rather hostile.
     
    “As for Berkeley’s radical women, the thought of being ravished by a revolutionary black hunk was like living in a mad erotic mash-up of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
    In his books Radical Son and  Destructive Generation, Horowitz writes about Faye Stender. Fay Stender was a radical lawyer who dedicated herself to helping prisoners- especially black prisoners. In the process of helping George Jackson, she became his lover. When George Jackson requested her assistance in smuggling arms into Soledad Prison, she refused and backed off. Fay Stender was not involved in George Jackson’s armed attempt in 1971 to break out of prison. Jackson was killed in the breakout attempt.
     
    Disillusioned, Fay Stender got out of legal assistance for prisoners. Unfortunately, some considered her refusal to bring arms to George Jackson to be a betrayal. In 1979 a prisoner on parole was  admitted to Fay Stender’s house. He shot Fay Stender, leaving her paralyzed. A year and a half later, after the prisoner was back in prison, Fay Stender committed suicide.
     
    There is a reason for calling the place Berserkeley.
     
    http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=22538  

  14. Gringo says

    While I might be accused of hijacking the thread, note that the above link begins:
    ON OCTOBER 19, 1959, Frederick Moore Jr., a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley, climbed the steps of Sproul Hall
     
    Rick Z, I have a story about the military and registration. Some months after my draft board had granted me 1-O [Conscientious Objector] status, I was in line registering for a course. When I got to the front of the line, I found out the person doing the registering was from my high school, a year ahead of me. I asked him what he was doing now. “Killing babies….”   He was in ROTC. I laughed with him, but to my regret I never said the following: “If we are going to have armed forces, we need to make sure that those in the armed forces are honorable men. You are an honorable man.”   He was. His high school  peers respected him enough to have elected him class president.
     
    I was not one of those “military are baby killers” people. Most likely my pacifism was a reaction to the childhood death of a friend in a gun accident with his older brother. I abhorred  killing, as I knew some of the consequences of killing: how the poor brother suffered over what he accidentally did to my friend, his younger brother. Two lives were ruined, not just one. I later changed my views on pacifism as a result of the carnage in Cambodia. As long as  thugs wander the earth, no one has clean hands.
     
    Back to the main topic. Having done it the old way- standing in line- and doing it the new way- online- the new way is much better. Registration is one of the administrative functions of a university. Computerization of  registration has saved universities a lot of money. Given the economies of scale that computerization has provided universities, it is rather ironic that administration takes up a higher proportion of the university budget today than it did  several generations ago.
    Another plus for computers: my writing is much more fluid than it used to be. Yes, it used to be pretty bad.

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