letter to editor Berkeley Daily Planet 7.2.04


Editors, Daily Planet:

In the June 29 issue, Albert Sukoff offers 20 observations after 40 years in Berkeley. He needs an editor, or he needs my unified field theory of Berkeley ethnography that explains everything, even our struggles over questions like “you want coffee?” or “who lives, who dies and whose deck view has monetary value?”

For more than a hundred years, eager students from across the U.S. and the world have completed their studies at UC Berkeley. All were blessed. Some never left. Rather than just basking in the rarified air of western imperial education and then going out in the world or back home to make it a better place, these ingrate graduates, seduced by the climate no doubt, bought real estate and settled down to the great and good goal of making Berkeley heaven on earth, with excellent property values.

Attending a City Council meeting is like going to an experts convention. The guy on your left is a PhD, the woman on his left is an “alternative realtor,” the next concerned citizen over is a doctor, next speaker is a lawyer, a government rep, a university rep, a technician from the Lab, and yes, a lot of activists making themselves useful. But contrary to Mr. Sukoff’s observations, it’s not always how hard your butt to sit past midnight, it’s also how thick your wallet and it’s not just a bunch of dilettante activists, Berkeley includes plenty of wannabe town burghers.

The town suffers from the opposite of a brain drain—just too many darn smart citizens for good order. So, I’m suggesting a repatriation campaign. I will offer 10 dollars to the first Berkeley graduate still on the voter rolls after 20 years who goes forth, back to Iowa or Hillsborough or Bali or wherever in the provinces you came from to perform Berkeley’s good works where they’re needed.

Then maybe this place built for the university can get back to its real job of gouging students.

Hank Chapot

Central Campus Gardener

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