Ninjas don't smile, JeffAnd then there were three. Er, scratch that–it’s four now. Here it is, last week’s oak drama … in three acts.

Act I

“Jeff Muskrat” enlists the help of a stealthy ninja to accept a dangerous yet brave mission: Climb your way into the oak grove. Unfortunately, his message does not self-destruct as promised.

Act II

A “Jeff”–not necessarily the “Jeff Muskrat”–infiltrates the fenced-off grove, first climbing past the initial chain-link fence. Later he joins his fellow tree brethren. Is this the original Muskrat? The mystery continues.


In an act of mixed victory and menace, the campus increases rations for the tree-sitters, from 1,200 calories to 1,800. It’s still not a sufficient daily average, and as Mr. Muskrat has said in his mission post, the energy bars are “junk, full of hydrogenated oils and corn syrup.” Yeah, well, food is expensive when you don’t go dumpster diving.

Image Source: Skyler Reid, Daily Cal
Are you a “Ninja”? Can YOU sneak into the Berkeley Oak Grove? [Indybay]
Tree-Sitters Joined by Additional Protester [Daily Cal]
University Increase Tree-Sitters’ Rations [Daily Cal]

Four more tree-sitters have vacated the oak grove, leaving just three sitters left.

Last night, three tree-sitters descended and the police managed to arrest one male. The others shimmied back up the trees, but the police later talked down the two, a male and a female dubbed “Olive.”

Most recently, our precious Dumpster Muffin (remember her?) came down. She indicated “that she might be suffering from an undetermined medical condition,” according to the Daily Cal. We will not … make … the … joke. We mustn’t be so mean.

Image Source: Kanaka’s Paradise Life under Creative Commons
Four More Tree-Sitters Voluntarily Vacate Oak Grove [Daily Cal]

Do we see a light at the end of the tunnel … already? Could it be? Yes, yes it is. At least according to the dears at California Golden Blogs–writer oaktownmario, to be exact. On Friday, the university filed a response to the ruling, which he read in its entirety. He also determined that it “kicks ass.”

The Clog read through his summary, which could still be a little dense for the average reader who doesn’t really care all that much about the tree-sit. Nevertheless, it sounds like good stuff. The university basically modified their athletic center blueprints and could possibly start building fairly soon. This line of the filing in particular seems to emanate the sound of trumpets and choirs of golden angels: “This Court has now ruled that neither CEQA nor any other law prohibits the University from removing trees to make room for the [Student Athlete High Performance Center].”

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Right when we started to think the oak grove tree-sitters would be up there forever, one of the sitters’ addictions got the best of him. Thanks in part due to the lack of supplies being transported into the tree-sitters’ humble oak space, two squatters decided to come down on Wednesday.

One of the fallen treewoks is named Bradley Costello, who goes by Squirtle. He needed a cigarette–which he received upon his descent, along with some food. The other former tree-sitter, Matthew Marks, simply wanted to deliver stuff to tree-sit supporters.

Both were “arrested for trespassing and for violating a judge’s court order that makes it illegal to be in the trees,” according to the San Jose Mercury News, and now reside in Berkeley City Jail.

Two down, seven to go.

Image Source: Shamim Pakzad, Daily Cal
Two more Berkeley tree sitters come down [Mercury News]

The ruling in the suit over construction at the Memorial Stadium oak grove is expected this coming Wednesday. Do hear that heavenly music? It’s angels sighing.

You thought the whole thing was dead, didn’t you? The Clog had let the issue lie, nothing was going on (except continuous living in trees and occasional animal-like calls). But now, we might smell a hint of closure.

The ruling was expected earlier in March, but the arguments were extended for extra expert testimony about the Hayward fault. In the meantime–and we can’t believe we’re admitting this–we sorta forgot about the whole issue.

The campus will hold a press conference after this week’s ruling. How will you celebrate/commiserate?

Image Source: Shamim Pakzad, Daily Cal
Ruling in Stadium Suit Expected Wednesday [Daily Cal]

Today, UC Berkeley figuratively pissed in the tree-sitters’ pimp cup, or more literally, kicked their “shitbucket” to the ground. The UC police hired an arborist to cut down ropes and dismantle some of the hood still up in the oak grove, angering the hardcore Oakers.

UCPD claimed it was early spring cleaning, but the other side tried to call them out on that one, according to the Daily Cal:

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Today, the UC Berkeley LiveJournal community highlighted an opinion piece from the Chron about the Nuclear-Free-Vegan-Save-The-Trees Zone, a.k.a Memorial oak grove. LJers responded mostly supporting the piece, agreeing that the tree-sitters are wasting their time.

From the Chron, Debra J. Saunders writes:

Like young children, the tree-sitters have no sense of proportion. They can leave at any time. They eat and mix with others as they will. The worst they have to fear is five days in jail. Yet they equate their plight with that of Gitmo inmates?

We think that comment alone deserves a slow clap. Krista, our resident NFVSTTZ-obsessed, would stand up, a tear forming in one eye and dramatically smack her hands together. The clapping would be infectious, and soon enough, the rest of Berkeley would follow in kind.

Saunders even mentions the Daily Cal, though not by name. She emphasizes the burden the tree-sitters have put on the campus police force, explaining that

Their cause is so ludicrous that a student newspaper editorial faulted a TV story on the tree-sitters’ Thanksgiving among the branches for failing to mention “the police officers who had to miss Thanksgiving with their own families because they had to patrol the oak grove.”

(The link is our own emphasis.)

The editorial to which she refers, in fact, came after the Clog posted a video from the TV story. Yeah, so we’re obsessed with the tree people … because it’s all so absolutely ridiculous, even for Berkeley.

Image Source: Shamim Pakzad, Daily Cal
With their heads in the trees [SF Chron]
With their heads in the trees [UCB LJ Community]
A Dangerous Home [Daily Cal]
Earlier: Without the Axe, How Will We Cut the Trees Down?

Photographer Jack Gescheidt made headlines in March when he organized a nude photo shoot of pale, hippie bodies strewn listlessly across the Memorial Stadium oak grove. It was all a part of his TreeSpirit Project–a photography series with the basic mission of saving trees everywhere. Gescheidt used March’s oak grove photo, titled “Last Stand,” to raise awareness for the Save the Oaks campaign. The money, on the other hand, went mostly to him–10% goes to his non-profit partners.

Well, it’s been more than a few months already, and Gescheidt’s $50 oak grove photograph didn’t do much good for the oak grove, considering last Monday’s ruling. So what does Gescheidt do? He organizes another photo shoot via Craigslist! The Clog has tentatively titled it “Last Stand (For Real This Time),” and if you’re interested in participating or watching, the nakedness commences at 8 a.m. this Saturday. Compared to the March event, Gescheidt says this one will have more “dramatic effect” thanks to the recently implemented “manmade barrier,” also known as the chain-link fence. We would pompously muse at such an ingeniously artistic juxtaposition, but the Clog is made up of neither hippies nor art history majors. Gescheidt’s Craigslist ad states:

You’ll be naked for only 5-10 min. — and excitement and adrenaline usually distracts from your feeling chilled.

Yeah, so does the overpowering stench of patchouli and the tingly sensation of fire ants crawling up your legs. He continues the ad with an explanation of why this second shoot is necessary:

A complex court case with multiple lawsuits has been presented, and a Berkeley judge’s decision is pending and will be delivered in the next 2-8 weeks. The case will likely be appealed by either side and the community’s will is still relevant and important.

And while it is still “relevant” and “important,” we presume that he would like to milk as much publicity and cash as possible. Gescheidt ends by saying:

Our goal is to highlight the beauty, power and value of these trees before it’s too late.

Yeah, this much free publicity doesn’t come around too often. We gotta hand it to the guy for his smart public relations skills. After all, once the trees get cut down, we expect his photo prices to skyrocket like beanie babies–as will his autograph.

11/10: TreeSpirit photo event: spare Berkeley Memorial Oak Grove, Sat. Nov 10 (berkeley) [Craigslist]
Own a Piece of Sexy Assassination Attempt
Get Out the Way: Judge OKs Booting Tree People (Again)

A tentative ruling Monday afternoon said that whether protesters provide legal names or not, UC Berkeley is tentatively allowed to remove the tree people fenced in at Memorial Stadium’s oak grove since a couple of months ago.The university and tree people have been at odds with one another since folks set up camp in the Nuclear-Free-Vegan-Save-the-Trees Zone almost a year ago.We share sentiments with folks at The Patriot on this one, but Beetle’s probably more realistic in suggesting nothing will happen until construction is set to begin. After all, nothing has happened since Oct. 1 when the court first ordered the tree people to leave or face $1,000 fine and five days in jail.We noticed stuff at the NFVSTTZ seems to happen about once a month. Hormones? Couldn’t be. The vegetables they aren’t cooking on propane tanks don’t have hormones.And it is the University of California. Expect efficiency? Pay thousands of dollars more for it at a school that cares.While we wait for the NFVSTTZ to become Tree People-Free, at least we can reflect as deeply about the issue as the girl on her cell phone (see picture).Image Source: Ted Kwong, Daily Cal. Edited by Krista LaneNew Ruling: Tree-Sitters Must Go [Daily Cal]Cal can boot all tree-sitters, judge says [SF Gate]Falling Excrement Prompts Court Order for Tree-Sitters [The Paper Trail]Vegan Nutrition with Dina Aronson, M.S. R.D. [Vegan Family Living]

The city of Berkeley is just picky, picky, picky about their lawsuit against the University of California, probably because the university’s compromise still calls for construction at the contentious Memorial Stadium hippie lair oak grove.It doesn’t surprise us, really, to see the city vote against something the university proposes because it has rejected UC before.But we guess The Clog held a glimmer of hope after Beetle reported Gordon Wozniak’s support of the ASUC during the election hoopla back in July 2006, noting “his analysis completely fails to understand the Alternative Vote system the ASUC uses.”Maybe Wozniak’s annoying constituency or his pained ignorance of campus issues drove him back to his nay-saying ways.But Facebook groups have been popping up in support of the stadium and our athletic Bears, and we all know how important that makes the issue. Utterly.Nevertheless, we’re sighing at the City Council’s groundhog-seeing-its-shadow-like response to the university’s willingness to halve the scale of construction on their own property. It means an extended performance art exhibit, and more to the point, more articles to bore ourselves writing. Isn’t this getting a bit old?Image Source: George Derk, Daily CalCouncil Rejects Athletic Center Settlement [Daily Cal]Council Rejects Proposal to Amend City Charter For Student District [Daily Cal]

CLARIFICATION: It has been brought to our attention that Gordon Wozniak was, in fact, the sole City Council vote in favor of settling the City’s lawsuit against the University of California. While the author intended statements to suggest Wozniak’s “nay-saying” was in other cases, she does not wish to suggest his position was against the university in the case of City of Berkeley v University of California. 

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