“Local legend ‘Diamond’ Dave mentored Bob Dylan” by Jason Violette

January 25, 2017 (theguardsman.com)

Bob Dylan is an American icon and folk paragon who is now the first singer, songwriter to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for literature.

City College student, poet, philosopher, rambler and Mutiny Radio host “Diamond” Dave Whitaker not only knew Bob Dylan back in the day, but served as a mentor to Dylan.

“Diamond” Dave Whitaker has evolved in conjunction with San Francisco throughout its history for the last half century. He is a local legend, a cultural curator, and advocate of freethinking whose personality radiates with originality.

Whitaker first set out for San Francisco in 1957 to be apart of the “Beat” movement, an American social and literary movement centered in the artist communities of San Francisco. Gallivanting through San Francisco’s Little Italy, Whitaker met poets and philosophers such as, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and other social misfits and anarchist.

Having left the country to go to Israel in 1958, Whitaker returned stateside landing back in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1961. In Minneapolis, Whitaker continued to expand on concepts introduced to him by Kerouac and Ginsberg, nurturing the spirit of the “Beat” generation by encouraging people to play their uniquely styled music.

Whitaker first met Bob Dylan in 1961 at the University of Minnesota, when mutual friend, Bonnie Beacher, bumped into a “bummed out” Dylan who was wrestling with his life’s journey.

After Beacher listened to a young Bob Dylan, he said, “I know where you need to be,” and took Dylan to Whitaker’s house. It was in Whitaker’s living room “where music was going on, where talks of radical politics are going on,” said Whitaker, that the two met for the first time.

Whitaker recalls that it was through his friendship to Dylan that he was first introduced to musician and folk patriarch Woody Guthrie.

“It was when I gave Dylan, Woody Guthrie’s autobiography ‘Bound For Glory’ a book about riding freight trains, playing picket lines, hobo camps and other dives, that Dylan learned of Guthrie,” Whitaker said. “It changed [Dylan’s] life.”

After closing his eyes,Whitaker recollected a story of himself and Dylan attempting to locate and speak with Woody Guthrie. He said Dylan located Guthrie at Greystone Park Mental Hospital in New York City.

“We tried to call [Guthrie] but could not talk to him due to his disease,” Whitaker said Guthrie suffered from Huntington’s disease.

Whitaker said Dylan hitchhiked from Minnesota to Madison, Wisconsin where he stayed with other folk singers who were brought together by their shared radical ideas. According to Whitaker, Dylan continued to travel to Chicago, Illinois and finally New York City.

“In those days there was no modern interstate system, and this is back when there was only three main highways, so it took Dylan a few weeks to make it to New York,” Whitaker said.

A few weeks later Dylan sent Whitaker a postcard, with Guthrie pictured playing a guitar stickered with “this machine kills fascist” on the front, and smoking a cigarette.

“Do you want to know what the card said,’ Whitaker asked.

It read: “Dear Dave, I met Woody, He like’s my stuff.  –Bob.”

I asked Whitaker when was the last time he and Bob Dylan had spoken and if he had any clue as to if and when Dylan would accept the coveted Nobel Peace Prize?

“It had been years since we’ve spoke, Bob will take his time as he always does and do what he thinks is best,” he said.

 Diamond Dave at his second home, SFCC. Photo by Gabriela Remi
Diamond Dave at his second home, CCSF. Photo by Gabriela Remi

 

Political Labels & How to Use Them Correctly: Left, Right, Liberal, & Fascist (by John Laurits)

Political Labels: Liberal, Conservative, Left, & Right
Many say that Donald Trump is a fascist, Fox News has repeatedly referred to Barack Obama as a socialist, and, if you read the comments below my articles on Facebook, it won’t take long to find some dingbat claiming that I’m a liberal hack (usually with all-caps, too). All of these political labels, however, are wrong. On most days of the week, Trump preaches nationalism & laissez-faire capitalism (not fascism), Obama promoted neoliberal policies (not socialist  ones), & I am an anarcho-syndicalist hack, not a liberal one. It’s clear what people mean to say, of course — most who say Trump is a “fascist” are really trying to express their concern that he may abuse his presidential powers and, by “socialist,” Fox News was saying they were upset that a Black man was regulating business, which was always Bill O’Reilly’s greatest fear…

Political Labels

In these examples, political labels are used in ways that distort their meaning. This is important because, if you & I have different meanings for words like left, right, conservative, liberal, & socialist, it’s hard to communicate our ideas to each other. No one ought to feel bad or be made fun of for mixing up terms or labels and it’s fine to not know the meaning of a word — it happens to all of us and it’s an opportunity to learn! Now, let’s look at the most commonly misunderstood, misapplied, & mixed up political labels….

Left vs. Right

National Assembly, Left-Right Political Labels

The interior of the French National Assembly building at the time of the French Revolution. (Photo by Rischgitz/Getty Images)

Left versus right — the great political divide! This pair of political labels first reared their ugly heads during the French Revolution — in the national assembly, supporters of the king sat on the right side & supporters of the revolution, many of them revolutionary socialists, sat on the left side. Newspapers began to describe the assembly in the terms left & right and it all sort of snowballed from there. By the beginning of the 20th century, those who wanted social reform or greater equality, like socialists & communists, were described as being to the left, while reactionaries & defenders of the current establishments & constitutions were described as being to the right.

Generally speaking, leftists want to reform how power & wealth is distributed by a society through social, democratic, economic, or revolutionary means and the right defends society’s institutions from idealistic reforms or tries to get rid of previous reforms.

Liberal & Conservative

Political Labels, Liberals and Conservatives

Political Dialogue in the US

The words, “liberal” (from Latin liber, “free”) & “conservative” (con “together” + servare “to save” = “to keep together” ), can be used to describe the ideas of keeping things as they are & being free to change them. In that sense, they can work similarly to left & right — the word “liberal,” however, is only applied to leftists in the United States. Outside of the US, a liberal is someone who promotes the ideas of liberalism, a political philosophy that emerged during the Enlightenment, influencing the uprisings against the European monarchies.

As the name suggests, liberalism promoted free speech, freedom of (& from) religion, freedom of the press, & free markets. To achieve this, liberals opposed the absolute power of monarchies, which allowed rulers & noble classes to take away the people’s freedom & property. The liberal solution was that everybody should have rightsequality before the law— meaning that kings & beggars ought to be equally accountable to written laws (like a constitution), instead of the pope or a jerk wearing a crown. When the word is used this way, republicans & democrats are both liberals because both want more-or-less free markets & a constitutional government to protect certain rights.

This can be confusing for some in the US because a right-wing republican is a liberal, while a leftist advocate of socialism (like me) is not a liberal.

Fascist vs. Authoritarian

Fasces, a Fascist Symbol from Ancient Rome

Fasces, a symbol out of ancient Rome

I’ve heard many people on both the left & right hurl “fascist” at each other — in fact, the word has been mostly used negatively from the time of World War II. The word itself came from the Italian Fascismo,” derived from the verb “to bundle or bind,” from the Latin “fasces.” A fasces was a bundle of wooden rods, often with an ax included, and a symbol of rulership & collective power in Rome — a single rod can easily be broken but many rods bundled together are impossible to snap. Benito Mussolini & his fascist party used the symbol for their ideology, which promised a return to the glory of the Rome by binding the industrial & social forces together into a militarized, central government, led by a strong leader.

Scholars are still arguing about the best definition but virtually all of them agree that the fascists were both anti-liberal & anti-socialist — which means that Donald Trump, in particular, is not a fascist. Anti-liberal means anti-capitalist and the fascists had a mostly planned economy, which would horrify the capitalist Trump! The word most people are looking for is “authoritarian.” An authoritarian leader or government demands & enforces the obedience of those below and pretty much any system of government can be authoritarian, including socialist & capitalist ones. The opposite of authoritarian is “libertarian.”

Words are Important
& Knowledge is Power

Words are important — using the right ones can empower us to clearly present our thoughts & ideas for others and, unfortunately, choosing the wrong ones can be the cause of endless arguments over nothing. For example, advocating for “democratic control of the means of production” almost never starts a heated debate, in my experience — talking about “socialism,” however, is pretty much guaranteed to start a heated debate! The amazing part is that these two things are the same! It’s not that people are unwilling to discuss different ideas — it’s just that we sometimes don’t have the same understanding of a word or concept.

With that in mind, I hope this article can help at least a few of you transform some arguments into good discussions — thanks for reading.

In solidarity,
John Laurits

(JohnLaurits.com)

Call your Senator on Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson

After watching the hearing, I am even more convinced that Tillerson has no place in government, let alone as Secty. of State. Also, it is down to one more Republican turning their vote away from Tillerson in addition to Rubio, who has declared his opposition. This will ensure his defeat, provided all democrats vote against confirming him. We are very close to defeating his nomination! Please Make the Call.
–Ruthie Sakheim

Explore. Enjoy. Protect.
Senate hearings on Rex Tillerson start today. Call to tell your senator to oppose putting an oil CEO in charge of our foreign policy.
Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon
Call 1-888-430-7789 or
Text
TILLERSON to 69866

to call your senator now. Tell them to say no to Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.

 

Only Donald Trump would put an oil CEO in charge of his foreign policy.
But we’re fighting back– with over 67,000 emails into your senators since December and 2,000 phone calls just this week, we’re making it harder and harder for Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson to get confirmed as Secretary of State.
Now it’s time for you to add your voice. Call your senator now by dialing 1-888-430-7789 or text TILLERSON to 69866 to be connected to their office. You’ll hear a short recorded message, then be connected to one of your senators’ offices. If you’d like to contact your other senator, just dial in again.
When you reach their office, tell them the following:
  • Name
  • Address
  • Please vote against Rex Tillerson’s nomination for Secretary of State.
  • As CEO of Exxon, it will be impossible for him to act without major conflicts of interest.
  • Given his close ties to Russia and Exxon’s history of doing business with state sponsors of terrorism despite US sanctions, Tillerson is uniquely unqualified to be the face of US foreign policy.
Your call could not come at a better time. With breaking news about Tillerson and Exxon doing business with Syria, Iran, and other state sponsors of terrorism, you can help bolster wavering senators who might want to just confirm Trump’s nominees and move on, or push senators of conscience to do the right thing and not let an oil CEO be the face of America to the world.
Call 1-888-430-7789 or text TILLERSON to 69866 now and make your voice heard!
Thanks for everything you do to protect our environment,
Lena Moffit
Sierra Club

“Man found dead outside in Berkeley” by Emilie Raguso (berkeleyside.com)

A man’s body was found at Hearst and Shattuck avenues Sunday morning. Photo: Heidi Sachs

January 22, 2017

A man who has not been identified was found dead outside in North Berkeley’s popular Gourmet Ghetto neighborhood Sunday morning, authorities report.

Berkeley Police Lt. Andrew Rateaver said a man was found dead, but that no further details about him could be released pending the ongoing coroner’s case.

Rateaver said authorities were called at 9 a.m. to offer medical aid to someone at 2044 Hearst Ave. Police and firefighters responded. But when they got there, they found that the person who reportedly needed help had already died.

The investigation is going, Rateaver said.

The coroner’s office said Sunday afternoon that the man has not been identified so no further information was available.

It may, however, be the latest in a series of troubling deaths outside of people sleeping on Berkeley streets.

Last weekend, the body of a 55-year-old woman was found in the yard of a home on Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Homeless activist Mike Zint said Tuesday at a vigil for her that the woman was the ninth homeless person who had died outside in the East Bay in the past few months. He said four were in Oakland, and several others were from Berkeley. Zint said their long years in the elements had contributed to their deaths.

One of those individuals was Roberto Benitas, who died in September in the doorway of the old U-Haul business on San Pablo Avenue and Addison Street.

In mid-December, a man may have died after having a medical issue outside the McDonald’s at 1998 Shattuck Ave. (The coroner’s office had no information on the man identified by the community as the victim when Berkeleyside called to check in December. The Berkeley Fire Department said a person was transported by ambulance from that location but could provide no further information due to privacy laws.)

That same week, according to reports from the First They Came For The Homeless activist group, other Berkeley fatalities included a man known as “Caveman” who died after being in the hospital for several weeks, and “a homeless woman new to housing.”

In the last month or so, Berkeley has doubled the number of shelter beds it offers by opening three emergency warming centers in addition to its regular shelters. The newest one, at 1231 Second St., can accommodate dogs and large amounts of gear. Berkeley even opened two places that people can stay during the day, but they are not being well-used and are being phased out, according to a staff report.

Note from Mike Zint:

The fatalities are occurring frequently. Two in one week in Berkeley. Have enough died, or do you want more?

T O D A Y !!! Join the Women’s March in San Francisco at 3 PM (from Ruthie Sakheim)

 

 

“Come out to the Women’s March in San Francisco on January 21st. Let’s show our neighbors that we won’t tolerate hate and that we will stand up for our rights.”
Valeria Avila, E4FC Community Educator
January 21, 2017 

My name is Valeria Avila. I was born in Mexico and came to the United States when she was 16 years old. I am studying Mechanical Engineering at Santa Clara University. I am also part of E4FC’s Community Education team.

My fellow E4FC Community Educator, Angelica Vargas, will speak at the Women’s March in San Francisco on Saturday January 21st. Please join us in advocating for undocumented immigrants nationwide!

The Women’s March is open to everyone who stands for human rights, civil liberties, tolerance of diversity, and compassion for our shared humanity.

Time of Rally: 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Time of March: 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Starting Location: San Francisco’s Civic Center
Ending Location: Justin Herman Plaza

Find out more information about the Women’s March here

Why join me at the Women’s March? Marching with thousands of people brings me hope that, although our circumstances may differ, we’re all united in our pursuit of social justice. We are not alone.

My fellow E4FC Community Educator, Mitzia Martinez, and I will be at the rally and march to organize our E4FC group. We’ll be gathering at SFAC Galleries Window Installation Site at 2:30 pm. If you have questions, call me at (510) 943-8671.

 

ANOTHER HOMELESS PERSON DEAD ON OUR STREETS by JP Massar

First They Came for the Homeless (FTCftH) decries the loss of yet another life on the streets of Berkeley – ‘Body of homeless woman found near Berkeley High’, reported in Berkeleyside 1/15/17. People without shelter and without hope is the mark of a failed society, one that will likely fall even further over these next four years as tolerance and compassion continue to lose ground to bigotry and mean-spiritedness.

FTCftH will be holding a press conference, followed by a 24-hour vigil commencing at 5:00 PM, Tuesday, January 17th on the grounds of Berkeley’s New City Hall in memory of lives lost needlessly – in Berkeley, San Francisco, in Portland, OR, Denver, CO and all across the country.

Mike Zint, an organizer with FTCftH, said

“A tent is not a permanent solution. Housing is. But with no housing available, a tent in a sanctioned tent city would provide shelter, storage, security, privacy, and most importantly, stability. And stability is what will help the most. Give people time without harassment, hours, abuse, or rules that don’t fit in with life.”

FTCftH once again calls on the City of Berkeley to stop using police to terrorize homeless people, to stop confiscating the possessions they need to survive, and to stop dismantling the small, supportive communities they establish. Protecting and serving means all the people of Berkeley, not just the housed. In the absence of a place to call her own, would a tent and companions have saved this woman’s life? We don’t know. COULD a tent, companions and shared food saved this woman’s life? We think that’s a good possibility.

For more on our thoughts on homelessness please see http://tinyurl.com/jmqp4kj