Ian Mackey Newman

My friend Ian died, very recently. I’ve known him for about 10 years, since he was 16.
When I met him, he was a student at UC Berkeley. I just read that he got admitted at age 14. Obviously, he was incredibly smart. His mom moved to Berkeley with him and lived a few doors down from me in the same building as me.
I’m not sure what to write about him. During his years at Berkeley, I hung around with him and his mom a lot. We went to parties at each other’s houses. We had them around for brunch. We went there for dinner. They were the neighbors we were closest with.
I want to talk about how outstanding he was. Brilliant, charming, witty, just a great guy. I had fallen out of contact with him after he and I both stopped living in Berkeley. A couple of years ago, I ran into him in Berkeley and it turned out he was back to study law. We connected on facebook. So last August, I had a pint with him at Saturn and we caught up.
When I had last seen him, he was still kind of a kid, but meeting him again, he was, of course, all grown up. Even more charming. Wearing a fabulous hat. We talked about this and that. Then I heard that he passed the bar.
He was going into disability rights law and he would have been such a fantastic lawyer. People have stereotypes about what disabled people are like and he was none of those things. When he was a kid, he drove his chair like it was a tank. Actually, he drove it at alarming speeds. Whenever I mentioned him to my father, my dad would say, “is that the guy who races down the sidewalk?” He used to bolt a stick on to the side and play street hockey. I was invited to play also, but after watching him and his friends smash into each other, I feared for my safety.
One time, I was talking to him and he was complaining about how, because of Stephen Hawking, everybody thought a really smart guy in a chair must be studying physics and this was really annoying, because he was majoring in the classics. And I felt really bad, because I had been under the impression that he was doing physics. Over the course of the conversation, it turned out that he had started with physics and then changed his major. It was too funny.
A few months before we both left, he rented out the café down the street and had a huge graduation party. It felt like a hundred people came. His mom asked my band to play, but had already booked other bands for the night, so we ended up playing to the cleaning crew. It was out first gig and I blogged about it, back in the day.
It’s hard to believe he’s gone. I’ve been trying to think how best to remember him and I don’t know, but it’s so easy to imagine what he would say in response to some things I’ve thought about doing. He was just such a great guy.


I went to a hexing this afternoon. In the past few months, I’ve made it a point to say yes when somebody asks me to do something that I wouldn’t normally do. So when an old friend forwarded me an email about a hexing ritual, open to “both women and men,” once I found out the targets were hate crime committing rapists, I said ok.

We went to Ceasar Chavez park in Berkeley, which is also an off-leash dog area, so I’d been there loads of times before. We were in a stone circle, built to be a solar calendar, with the waters of the San Francisco Bay on three sides of us. Nearby, there were a million happy dogs, kids flying kites, a guy with a remote controlled glider. The grass was green from the recent rains and there was a cool breeze blowing from the West. It was all rather lovely.

As it happened, I was the only guy to go. All but around two of the women were Baby Boomers. Most of us were white, also. I went to Mills – a woman’s college, so I’d dabbled in wiccan stuff and been to a few rituals, but didn’t go on to do it after that. So I’d been to do pagan stuff a few times before and had mostly found it empowering, but not enough to overcome my atheism.

Despite this atheism, I was raised in a superstitious household and come from a superstitious country, so I couldn’t help but think that going to a hexing might be marinating myself in some bad energy. What goes around, comes around. If I wish ill on others, it’s going to come back to me, I guess I believe. I wonder if this sort of thinking is to keep women from being angry or from stewing in it. In any case, I was taking the negative energy seriously, as were the women there.

However, once things were under way, my mood changed from trepidation. The organizer had a bunch of 8.5×11 sized printouts of the Virgin of Guadalupe. She had cut eye holes in them to sort of function as masks and she passed them around with string. So I tied a sheet of paper with a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary to my head. And they set up some banners of her also.

I spend all day yesterday with a member of the Catholic clergy, so the sacrilege was actually getting to me, as much as feel goofy wearing such an odd non-mask. But also, the Virgin of Guadalupe is a symbol which belongs to the Hispanic populations of California, of which, as far as I was aware, nobody was present. My biggest negative issue with wiccans is not that it violates my unbelief, but that it appropriates the beliefs of others. And borrowing this symbol is cultural appropriation. So I felt kind of goofy and awkward and the only guy there and guilty for violating a heritage that both belongs to my people and belongs to others.

We formed a circle and she set up two very small cauldrons. We started by smudging everybody with incense. The woman who did the smudging sang a song while she did it. I didn’t know what to think when she singingly called me her sister. I don’t think she did it in response to me not passing, but because I did pass. Because if a guy was going to come into this space, he could deal with being left out of the language like women have to deal with it too, more often and in more places. Or maybe as she sang that I belonged, she sang the opposite also.

After we were all smudged, we hummed and then the leader invoked the four “grandmothers” of the four cardinal directions. Some coals were put into the cauldrons. She put frankincense on one of them. She had some yarn which represented the four rapist gay bashers who we were hexing. And their younger brother who knew about their crimes and was going to rat them out. I think she had a psychic vision of the brother. She cut the yarns and put them into the empty cauldron. And then she put in extremely foul incense. And we chanted about how they were bad people who were going to get caught and have bad things happen to them, while holding out our arms towards it.

Some of the dog walkers stopped to watch this, but only for a few moments. And also, one of the women had a movie camera with which she was documenting us. It’s Berkeley, so I don’t know if people thought we were making a fictional film or if a bunch of middle aged women dancing in a circle around the BVM, hexing rapists in the dog park is just entirely unremarkable.

The yarn she used was bright red. I don’t know what it was made of, but it was clearly treated with some sort of flame-retardant chemical and wasn’t burning as quickly as expected. So this required dumping on additional incense and some flammable stuff while we clapped and walked in circles around the altar thing.

At the end, when it finally, burned, we were to go around the circle and give blessings. Because calling for justice is positive. So even though it was a hexing, it was a positive thing to do. Thus neatly sidestepping the problems of calling up negative energy or other unseemliness. The first women to give a blessing was the smudger and she went on at length about womyn, and the womyn of the circle, etc. The next was my friend, who made a point of saying “people.” Then it was my turn, so I said “queers.” We all said something and afterwards, people said “blessed be” and then, thank goodness, it was time to remove the Virgin Mary from my head.

My friend and I took off right about then, without helping to tear down, as my friend could tell I wanted to escape. She said, “I swear they said ‘all genders.'” I wondered if I felt more uncomfortable about being in a women’s space or wearing such a goofy mask.

I think the most striking thing about the whole proceedings was that it was not symbolic for the women involved. It was not a protest. It was taking action. They believe that they’ve done something concrete in response to a terrible hate crime.

When I got home, I washed my face and hands, to get the smell of incense off of me, but it also felt like a kind of ritual, getting the previous ritual off of me. And it felt concrete too.

Fortunately, there is more concrete action that can be taken. There’s a fund set up to help the victim. Unfortunately, this kind of hate crime is way more common here than you might guess. What’s unusual is how much attention this one is getting. Gay and lesbian people are especially politicized since the election. Hopefully this energy continues. And as people take away our rights and and say we’re like deforestation and literally assault us, hopefully, our protests and our actions create change, so hate crimes become uncommon, our rights are restored and people are ashamed that homophobia was once so apparent.

I am in Califronia

I am here until the 23rd, when I’m off to Oregon, and then back again for a few days after xmas and then back to London.
If you want to hang out, call my cell phone: 917 355 5064. That’s the same number I’ve had for the last year or so. Heh, but I’m using the physical phone that I bought in 2003. It doesn’t take pictures, but it does calls and SMS which is all I really ever want to do. People look at me funny when I pull it out though. I feel dinosaur like. That and the only sweater I have here is one owned by my dad in the mid 80’s. I’m very retro with the prehistoric phone and the Cosby sweater.
My plans for this evening have fallen through. Everybody is busy for the holidays, which is reasonable and to be expected. It’s really weird being here for some reason. When I left last February, I wondered if maybe I was making a huge mistake leaving someplace where I so thoroughly belonged for someplace that I so totally didn’t. Now I don’t feel it here either, but maybe that’s jetlag.
I wish other people still blogged. It was easier to keep up with people when we were all reading each other’s blogs. Twitter is just not the same.

I’m in the newspaper

I wrote a letter to Jon Carrol of the Chronicle and he ran it. The topic is bike routes and traffic in the East Bay. I tried to make it really short, but I worry that I sounded like an asshole.
I run stop signs all the time on the Berkeley Bike Boulevards. These are bike routes that run parallel to main streets in Berkeley. The roads are very residential and have stop signs on them quite frequently. There is not much cross traffic at these signs , nor much car traffic on the streets. In some places, they are blocked so that bikes can get through but cars can’t. The system is imperfect because the frequent stop signs technically apply to bikes, but the routes would be unusable to anyone who actually obeyed them.
What I didn’t say is that I don’t cut people off or aggravate car drivers or risk my own safety. I slow down for stop signs, which, honestly, is all the many car drivers do as well. Also what I didn’t say is that the problem could be mitigated by better signage. They need to put in one set of “yield” signs for bikes only and leave the stop signs for cars. Most issues with bike routes in suburban cities like this could be alleviated with better signage, but the ideas for how to post them are foreign and would not occur to somebody who hadn’t biked overseas.
Also what’s not obvious is that taking out stop signs would greatly increase safety. People are more cautious in uncontrolled intersections and this increases safety. Accidents aren’t avoided by just carefully following the law. Accidents are avoided by people seeing each other and being careful. So either better signs or no signs would help a lot. And roundabouts. How to design to increase safety isn’t some deep dark secret. The information is easily accessible and sometimes discussed in the newspaper and whatnot, so the city planners are aware that they’ve created a situation that’s dangerous to bikers and annoying to car drivers, but they make no major changes, even when the cost would be low. Why?
Well, I’ve dealt with the city of Berkeley planning commission and I suspect that they want to share the pain of their bitter twisted lives with others and also are frequently drunk at work plus they are resistant to any kind of change at all, even when it’s entirely sensible.
Carroll cut the part of my letter where I talked about the end of the California/ King bike boulevard. The bike route just dead ends at a major street with a median strip. The Oakland bike route picks up on the other side. There is no legal way to get across the major street without getting off your bike and walking it across a zebra crossing. Cops don’t give you tickets for biking across it, but they could. Also, it’s dangerous and scary. I hate that intersection so much and yet it still seems safer than biking along a more major street.
My hope and expectation is that since we’ve passed peak oil, there will be more and more and more bikers and numbers will increase safety.
Isn’t it amazing that I can live on another continent and still be opinionated about biking in the East Bay. Don’t worry, I have suggestions for London as well, starting with replacing the congestion charge with an outright ban on private cars for non-disabled people.

Berkeley Politics

My home town, the city of Berkeley, California is in the public eye for objecting to a US Marine Corps recruiting station downtown, near both the university and the high school. The right wing blogosphere went kind of nuts at this and you can read more about it here, at the Berkeley Daily Planet.

I went today to see the protests. Code Pink in Berkeley The anti-war group, Code Pink was set up in front of the City Hall. They had camped over night. This is a women’s group and most, but not all, of the women seemed to be retirement age. There were also a lot of very energetic young people running around, most ly on the other side of the street. Activists in Berkeley
Also across the street were a bunch of right wing pro-war types. Even in Berkeley, alas. Pro-war vs Youth They had a very loud sound system set up playing Sousa marches and country songs. While I was mingling with the Code Pink types, somebody I knew from Mills came up to me. She said that when the pro-war folks showed up at 5AM, they started chanting “Burn! Burn! Burn!” at Code Pink. “They just seemed very angry.” She said.
Parked behind all the action were a bunch of news vans. Code Pink in Berkeley Whenever the police started herding people around, something they were fairly aggressive about, the news cameras sprung into action.
I didn’t stay at the demo long. I was enlisted to help distribute water to the Berkeley High students. Many of them had cut class to go protest. I heard one girl telling her friends that her “mommy” had given her permission to skip school and protest. The kids involved seemed to be very diverse – girls and boys, many races, many teen sub groups. Skaters, goths, and jocks were all out there, all having a good time.
I quit distributing water when the kids started throwing it on each other. I’m not going to carry several liters of water around on my shoulder so they can play with it. As I got on my bike to leave, I went very near one of the news vans. Inside, I heard the anchor ranting about how this sort of thing has been going on for 40 years. The unbiased media was full of scorn for the peace movement. Isn’t it tired to spend the last 40 years advocating for social justice and non-violent conflict resolution?
Even if some individuals have been advocating the same thing in the same way for almost half a century, that doesn’t make their cause less right. Peaceful Hippie in Berkeley

Yet another Earthquake

This morning, right after I got up. As all my California readers are certainly aware, sometimes very large earthquakes have foreshocks. These are a bunch of minor (or major) earthquakes that precede something really big. Not all really big earthquakes have foreshocks, but almost all have aftershocks, some of which are nearly as big as the major quake itself.

FEMA, the now-defunct US Emergency Management agency, made a list several years ago of the top three disasters likely to befall the US. The list included a terrorist attack in New York, a major hurricane hitting New Orleans and a large earthquake in the San Francisco region. Wouldn’t it be great if Bush went 3 for 3? I’m sure Bay Area residents can expect all the same support, help, aid and relief that was offered to people struck by Katrina and all the transparency and honesty of the response to the Twin Towers disaster.
I don’t live in a rich neighborhood. I’m screwed. Oh, and why is FEMA now defunct? Because it’s part of homeland security. The Bush Administration doesn’t care about disasters unless it means they get to start a war afterwards.
Ok so what’s the deal with earthquakes? Ok, you know how continents slowly drift around over really long periods of time? They do it in little leaps and bounds. If you are on the border of the movement, you get shaken up when the movement happens. That’s an earthquake. The surface of the earth is covered with really big puzzle pieces called “plates”. The places where the plates touch each other are where earthquakes tend to happen. There are cracks and stuff along those borders. Those are called faults. They’re what shakes. The whole Pacific Rim is covered with faults and therefore with earthquakes and volcanos. This is sometimes called the Ring of Fire.
The San Francisco aera is covered with tons of fault lines. Some are big and some are little. The big quake in 1989 was centered over 100 km south of Berkeley and was on the Loma Prieta fault. The big fault that goes very close to me is called the Hayward fault. It has not had a really big quake in a long time and thus is due for one. Sometimes in the next century. There’s a reason the phrase “geological time” exists. Sometimes a bunch of little earthquakes is just a bunch of little earthquakes, but there’s no certainty.
Everywhere in the world has risks. Low-lying areas flood. Some places have scary storms. Here, the ground shakes. But, my gods, the scenery is beautiful.
Links: USGS: Earthquakes, Disaster Preparedness



3.7 on the Richter scale, very near my house. There was another one of the same size in the same place just a couple of days ago. Foreshocks? I wanted to come home for the holidays, but not for the Big One.
In possibly related news, today is/was international orgasm for peace day. Maybe a bunch of last minute procrastinators actually made the earth move.
I really hate earthquakes. I was in the big one in 1989. That made elevated highways near my house now collapse despite being well over 100 km south of here. The Hayward fault is much closer and due to go. I hope it waits until I’m out of here.

What happens next

Ok, so the HOA was vengeful. you can’t do stuff without asking first. However, Ellen has been encouraged to work with the design review comittee (which includes an architect), to come up with a shorter version of the shack which is not nailed into the wall (big sticking point due to water penetration issues, which are really very minor, but you know . . .). Her plan, she told me, is to tear down the old shack and re-use the materials to construct the new one, which will keep her busy for a quite a while and hopefully will not fxck up her upcoming gig in Seattle.

Somebody on the HOA wrote an angry letter about the shack, condeming it and attacking me, saying that I had been asked to attend the meeting, but had refused. Indeed. I told everyone that I talked to that I would have loved to attend, but classes were starting. I’m sure that any other person in my compound would have skipped registration day and the first day of classes and bought a last minute new plane ticket, so I feel like quite a slacker. But there was this class I wanted to add, for which I had emailed the professor asking for approval, but she didn’t write back. I felt like attending the first session was necessary to get the class. It was a hard choice for me, since the class isn’t offered every year. Finally, my education won out, mostly because I didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a new ticket and also have to pay late fees. Sharon would not beleive this, but so far, I have avoided all late fees. I have not even asked the grad office for mellon balls, although they often have cookies out and actually, one time they did give me mellon balls, now that I think about it. this is the difference that a big endowment makes.
anyway, I didn’t see this letter, since it went out after I left. But there have been many similar letters with neighbors denouncing each other during my time in that compound. I really like Berkeley. I live in nice area. I have neighbors that are actually very nice in social settings. Nevertheless, I’m very strongly thinking about selling after I finish with school. This would be after another 14 months at Wesleyan. a possible year in Germany after that (I hope) and maybe a PhD program, so not for a while. There’s some sinister similarities between homeowners associations and Maoism. The denunciation thing. It’s an exploitable part of human nature. I used to have a coworker at netscrape who said that the Stanford Prison Experiment showed that you didn’t have to train people to be concentration camp gaurds, you could just get them to do it automatically (I’m so glad I’m out of the software buisiness). I think that Maoist denunciations work the same way. You can exploit people’s natural tendencies to support your system. It’s prolly easier than capitalism, since it doesn’t require a gigantic media apparatus constructing rediculous myths and pounding people with them constantly.
I’m a good leftist. I want to beleive in a noble human character that would come out under a just economic system. People would farm in the mornings, code in the afternoons and write symphonies in the evenings, to paraphrase and mangle Marx. But there are people in the world (I’m no longer talking about my HOA, but more about political groups in Italy and the US) who are true beleivers in facism. There are people strongly dedicated to the other side. Some of these folks are paid by plutocrats. some of these folks are plutocrats. some are afraid of alien other. but there are some folks who just believe in facism. How do they get these ideas? How do you neutralize these ideas? How can you fight this tendency? Is it learned? Is it inborn? Is there some cultural meme that could be stamped out, thus leading to the utopian sisterhood of humans?


Anyway, this semester, I’m taking Mystic Voices, and undergraduate Medieval studies class that I didn’t know if I would get in to, Alvin Lucier’s composition seminar, a group tutorial in SuperCollider (taught by Ron Kuivila, my advisor), Colloqium, and Gamelan. Jessica told me that I have to take a different ensemble this semester and I can’t keep taking the same one. If this is the case, then I’m going to take Anthony Braxton’s ensemble, although I would need to ask him to waive the pre-req, which I think he would do. I plan to take his ensemble next fall, along with gamelan, and take fewer academic-type classes.
For the record, although I whine about back pain, I really like gamelan. The songs are groovy and the ensemble is low stress. We had our first meeting tonight. I played the gong, which is the most laid-back of all the instruments, since it only plays at the end of phrases that are 8, 16, 32, 64, or 128 notes long. Hypothetically, phrases could also be 256, 512, or 1024 notes long. There’s a cutoff somplace, the longest phrases ever actually written, but I can’t remeber if it is 256 or lower. I feel very ethnomusicologically-oriented when I play gamelan. Last semester, the ensemble was the grad student social club. this semester, there is a teem horde of undergrads and few grad students. There’s me and a small group of PhD students, but I feel good about it.
I’m sort of half TA-ing Ron’s Recording Culture class. I’m not officially assigned to the class and the last hour of it conflicts with the Mystic Voices class. Ron said this would be ok. There’s a parking garage in Middletown that plays loud Baroque music year-round in an unsuccessful bid to drive away youths from a coffee shop located in the first floow of the building. In the warm months, the youth hang around the coffee shop anyway. In the cold months, nobody would sit outside and get snowed on to drink coffee, but they leave the music on anyway. The parking garage is music is highly irritating. Somehow, Ron convinced the parking garage owner that his Recording Culture class should be allowed to do an installation there for 24 hours, where they use the Muzak system. He’s involved in curating a seperate event, called Rock’s Roll, at a museum where composers submitted stuff that’s supossed to be played on top of each other. Composer A’s tracks play at the same time as Composer B’s. Ron’s starting off his class by having them mix the submitted stuff, including things that were not picked for the museum. The submissions include works by Maggi Payne and Brenda Hutchinson (I think The Star Strangled Banner is among them). Maggi’s stuff sounds really cool. I haven’t listened to all the submissions yet.
I do not know if semi-TAs get to do anything for the parking garage, I’ll keep you posted. But personally, I think the owner should permanently cancell Muzak and let me install some SuperCollider patches. I could just stick a laptop in their PA system, which would not only be more economical than paying Muzak fees, but would also be much more interesting and just as likely to drive people away. I’m thinking about that thing I did a long time ago with virtual memory. I’m thinking about just intoned triads that might make people want to hurl themselves in front of trains. I’m thinking about fingernails on blackboard type sounds. Dubya talking backwards about terrorists.
I want to do more stuff with Dubya. I noticed a certain melodic quality when he said “In fact, what the terrorists have done is caused us to take an assesment of what’s important.” There’s interesting pitch material lurking there. It’s higher pitch than the rest of his speech. Insincere. Sing-songy, almost. I went to the WhiteHouse webpage and fired up AudioHijack and started capturing the State of the Union address. Only when he started tlaking about Hydrogen-powered cars, did I realize that I was grabbing the wrong year. If you can stand it, go listen to last year’s address. The text is very, very similar to this year’s. I didn’t get as far as weapons of mass destruction before I quit listening. For some reason, they haven’t posted this year’s address. I heard a rumor that Democrats applauded when he said that the Patriot Act was set to expire this year (thank god), so maybe they’re editting that out.
I don’t know what I’ll do for political audio-mangling if Dean wins in the fall. I guess I could use his Iowa roar thing.
So, except for Mondays, I have a much more relaxed schedule this term. I’m also only taking 4.25 units this semester, instead of 4.75. I might even have time to write music. I heard a rumor that Alvin will require us to write a string quartet. So I’ll be in the library with the score to Ruth Crawford Seeger’s String Quartet and the CD, trying to figure out how she did what she did.


Often hopeful (like right now), but with a tendency to slip in to anger or despair. In Berkeley, walking around often restored me to hope. Here, not so much. I’m speculating that it’s the cold + people often don’t bother shoveling their sidewalks, thus making the walks somewhat treacherous (what’s with my neighbors? they pile trash in their yards. they don’t shovel snow.). Also, in Berkeley, I felt a sense of belonging to a larger thing. I am a part of the universe, etc. Here, I feel rootless. I tell myself that I’m part of the universe, but I feel more like a Christmas tree, cut off from my roots and dragged to suburbia to eventually wind up being tipped over in the middle of the unshoveled sidewalk, next to garbage cans. I’ve got an appointment with Behavioral Health (aka: a shrink) on tuesday.

feedback requested

Christi’s brother built a green-housey kind of thing in the backyard of my Berkeley residence. Since then, several problems have emerged including lack of insulation, a leaky roof and most importantly, the ire of the Home Owners Association. Apparently, it had to be pre-approved by a Deisgn Review Comittee, a step I completely forgot about. We don’t own our backyard. It is an “exclusive use common area” under control of the neighborhood association. According to the CCNRs, they get to review any major changes to the backyard and even have the right to enter to pull weeds. The HOA is meeting on January 20th to deicde if they are going to require that the structure be torn down. Ed, my next door neighbor came over to look at it today and said that since it was obviously temporary, that they could probably be persuaded to let it stand. We told him about Ellen’s exploits as a composer and he seemed impressed and said he thought that it would prolly be ok and I should write a letter explaining things to the HOA. Any feedback on the firts draft would be appreciated. I don’t have much experience in the ways of small governing comittees.

Dear Members of the HOA,

This letter concerns the temporary structure in the backyard of Unit N. First, I would like to apologize for neglecting to get pre-approval from the Design Review Committee.

This structure is intended to be temporary. Ellen Fullman is occupying my unit while I am away for graduate school. I will graduate in May 2005 and dismantle the structure when I return. Ms. Fullman is an internationally known composer and the inventor of the Long String Instrument. When I offered her use of my unit, she said it was too short for her instrument and we came upon the idea of extending the instrument into the backyard.

Ms. Fullman has performed around the United States and Europe. In 2001, in San Francisco, she premiered a 45 minute piece that she wrote for her instrument and the Kronos Quartet. She was recently featured in the cover story of MusicWorks magazine. I feel that her work is both important and incredible. Having use of the temporary structure enables her to continue this work while she stays in Berkeley.

We are willing to be flexible and to take steps to mitigate possible water penetration issues. I hope that given the temporary nature of the structure and the value of Ms. Fullman’s work, that the board decides to temporarily allow the structure to remain.

Thank you very much,

Top 4 free things to do in the East Bay

  1. The Albany Bulb
    Located right next to Golden Gate Fields, this old dump now holds a ton of art made out of junk. There are paintings, sculptures, mosaics, installations and more. Even a very small castle. See it now before the city of Albany buldozes it. Open during daylight hours. Indy Media Artcile
  2. Chapel of the Chimes
    Located in Oakland on Piedmont Avenue. This is a big building, designed by local architect Julia Morgan, that holds the ashes and remains of many, many people. It’s seperated into a bunch of rooms. Some are tiny. some are medium-sized gardens, some are large chapels. The walls are display cases filled with urns. Floor to high ceiling. Many of the urns are shaped like books, with the name of the person who is inside on the spine like a title. The ceiling is glass, so sunlight filters in. the rooms are very echo-y, given all the hard surfaces and very interestingly resonant, with obvious resonant pitches. some of the glass ceilings slide back to let in a breeze. Many of the garden rooms ahve fountains. Parts of the place are maze-like. Part is big open rooms. There’s something for everyone and it’s really interesting to wander through. Not all of the rooms are accessable. Open 9-5 daily. Official Website
  3. Doggie Diner Heads
    This is the largest tourist attraction in Emeryville, except for the Ikea. the dog heads sit on a trailer, just off Ocean avenue, between Hollis and San Pablo. I think they might be in New York right now, though. The Doggie Diner, a local restaurant chain, closed in 1976, but it’s emblem, a mona-lisa like weiner dog head, has enduring fame and is often featured in Zippy the Pinhead. These dog heads used to sit on poled in front of the restaurants. They’re big. They’re weird. They will make you laugh. You can go see them anytime, but they do travel and there’s nobody to call, so it’s hit or miss. Roadside America Article
  4. Indian Rock
    It’s a big rock in North Berkeley. Some people practice rock climbing on it, but there’s also a couple of stairways carved into it. It has a terrific view, so you can climb to the top and look at the entire bay area. It’s a great place to look at sunrises (although facing the wrong direction), sunsets, eclipses, meteor showers, stars, whatever. Technically, it’s open during daylight hours, but I’ve seen plenty of people there after dark, especially for unusal celestial events. The rock itself is not accessible, but the park has a little path through it that is. And the route there takes you through one of Berkeley’s three roundabouts. the biggest one! It has a fountain or something in the middle. Berkeley Parks Department Offical webpage about the park