[Editor's Note: Image has been removed due to licensing issues. The image was not licensed under Creative Commons by its creator. The Clog regrets the error.]
UC Berkeley, or in common parlance, the People’s Republic of Berkeley (OK, at least according to that one t-shirt at that one stand on Telegraph Avenue) has long been considered a place so progressive, so eccentric, so “Berkeley”, that it has rightfully been regarded as place detached from the United States itself. Or maybe that’s just the excuse the rest of the country uses to try to rationalize our behavior. Or to get rid of us.
But author Dave Weinstein, in his new book “It Came from Berkeley: How Berkeley Changed the World,” thinks that Berkeley is more than just a city full of tree-sitting, pot-smoking, atom-splitting, protest-anything-ing eccentrics. In fact he dares to call us the one thing that we have never before been called: all-American.
“Has there ever been a town more all-American?” he asks in his introduction. “Do Americans believe in individualism, living the good life, and participatory democracy? That’s what Berkeley is all about. And has there ever been a city in America in which religion and spirituality have more effectively served as forces for social change?”
Maybe he hasn’t seen those shirts with the hammer and sickle on them.
Here at Berkeley, we’re pretty notorious for our firsts: the Free Speech Movement, the longest urban tree sit in history, splitting the atom, Dumpster Muffin. But the book has an impressive list of Berkeley firsts that you may not know about: we’re the first city to divest from South Africa, to create a citizen police-review panel and a tool-lending library, to provide curbside recycling, to ban Styrofoam, to install curb cuts for people in wheelchairs and we’re the first university to come up with nuclear medicine and the wetsuit. Yep, it all came from Berkeley. Well so did Nicole Richie, so I guess that’s not saying too much.
The book is broken up into 61 sections, each with a cleverly phrased titled with a reference to a Berkeley stereotype, such as “How Berkeley Battled for the Park,” “How Berkeley Became Asian,” or “How Berkeley Discovered Yuppies.” We’re flattered that he thinks so highly of us, but at the same time a little offended that he’s reduced us to a laundry list of Berkeley clichés. “I wish America was more like Berkeley,” Weinstein said. Hmm…a nation composed of Running Wolves, Dumpster Muffins, Happy Happy men, and Yoshuas? We don’t know how America would feel about that.
Tags:David Weinstein, Dumpster Muffin, It Came from Berkeley, Nicole Richie, People's Republic of Berkeley
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