Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Did Berkeley Bowl Ban Reporter for Life?

By Chris Thompson
Wed, Oct 1, 2008 at 10:18 AM

Los Angeles Times reporter John Glionna recently wrote a terrific piece on the tense, hyperkinetic, aggro atmosphere at the Berkeley Bowl. Shoppers ramming their cars into one another in a frenzied effort to get a parking space, customers barking at each other to get the hell out of the way, or scolding those who dare utter anything that could be interpreted as a sexist remark. It's a love song to the Bowl and the city that hosts it, with all its warts and charms and quirks on full display. But it looks like owner Glen Yasuda didn't care for the story; in a follow-up blog post, Gionna claims that Yasuda called him up and reamed him out about the piece. What's more, Yasuda banned Glionna from the store. For life.

What could have pissed Yasuda off so much? Apparently, he didn't appreciate Glionna writing that the store has a one-strike-you're-out policy on people who sample the food. One shopper told Glionna that after he snacked on two apricots, security guards stopped him in the parking lot, took his picture, made him sign a no-trespass agreement, and declared him persona non grata. "They treated me like a thief," he said.

Store manager Larry Evans seems to confirm the policy in the story: "There's a sense of entitlement to this town. ... People think, 'If I want to do it, I'll do it, just try and stop me.' " But now, Evans claims there is no such policy against samplers, just shoplifters. "People who put stuff in their pockets and walk out with it, we don't call that sampling," he says. "But somebody who tries a grape, there's no harm done." Evans adds that after the story ran, TV reporters called to do follow-up pieces, which didn't exactly thrill him. "I'm still kind of in disbelief as to what broadcast journalism finds interesting."

Still, banning Glionna's an awful lot of overkill there, Glen. Are you gonna ban us for writing this post now? Free John Glionna! Free the Berkeley Bowl, um, One!

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