[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.

Image Source: KAP Cris
It Came from Berkeley: How Berkeley Changed the World [Site]
Smashing the Berkeley Myth [Berkeley News Center]
Celebrities Born in Berkeley, California [Hollywood.com]

Albert said:
Oct 13, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Berkeley has been “a city in America in which religion and spirituality have more effectively served as forces for social change”, in spite of the sickle and hammer that indicates atheism.

Berkeleyan liberalism includes a sense of spirituality that is new age and nondenominational. It is not the branch of liberalism that advocates Communistic atheism. I remember attending Dona Spring’s funeral, in which all the intellectuals of Berkeley attended. They were religious in their remembrance, but they referred to notions like “spirit” rather than “God” or “Christ”.

It’s also much more congenial with Eastern religion, to the point where the new age religion is more of an all-encompassing amalgam of divinity.

dumb adn dumber said:
Oct 13, 2008 at 11:58 pm

Way to go Ruby Elizabeth Lee.

Oh, 61 sections — a secret code.
That image is great.

“Eastern religion:”

… maybe becuse these ports of these cities here are the gate way to the east. Not to hard to understand this concept. In the 1960s, eastern religion was a world-wide-fad, not only here at the Bazzerk.

“participatory democracy” — oxymoron. Democracy in Greek lexicology means ‘ruled by the common [people]” — to participate would be redundant of the very definition.

“It [Monster] Came from Berkeley.”
I’ll buy that.

The Mighty Toad said:
Oct 18, 2008 at 10:29 pm

Berkeley > UC Berkeley.

Also, Albert: the hammer and sickle symbol is about communism, which includes but is not limited to atheistic communism. Doesn’t say diddly about atheism itself. Atheists are still arguing about a symbol for that—and that’s part of the fun.

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