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Hobo for a day: Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, already restless from the drudgeries of his new office, announced last week that he would broaden his horizons by going homeless for 24 hours. Seven Days couldn't help but kick-start our febrile imaginations at the prospect of the mayor slummin' it. Herewith we present the nonexistent diary of Bates' adventures through the looking glass, titled "When Bad Things Happen to Good Mayors."
The following are verbatim excerpts:
Tuesday 3:30 p.m. -- Kissed Loni goodbye and hit the mean streets. Damn! Forgot to move the Volvo for street sweeping. Wow! People really have to pay this much? Oh, whatever. Chief Meisner will take care of it. It's kinda hot carrying this sleeping bag around -- you'd think REI's techies would've made these things light as a feather by now. Hmmm. Wonder if one of these stupid reporters has Evian and sunscreen. And a couple of brioches would go down nicely right about now. Maybe we can pop into the Bowl for a few provisions.
4:30 p.m. -- Lose the BOSS lottery for a shelter bed. Dang! Dang! That poverty pimp boona cheema's gonna get hers when the budget cuts come around -- teach her to cut me a break next time.
5:30 p.m. -- Head up to Telegraph to get acquainted with the street people. They're such lost souls, you can see supply-side economics in the whites of their haunted eyes. Well, except for the one that just spat on me. Hey, buddy, I used to caucus with Willie Brown! How 'bout a little respect?
6:00 p.m. -- Ah, People's Park. This place takes me back. Loni told me all about the time when Chancellor Tien tried to build volleyball courts here. Such passion. Such Sturm und Drang. But now I'm all conflicted about the place. Why, for instance, is everyone asking me, "What you need?" But it's time to rest my weary bones on the park's loving blades of grass. Eeew, dog poo. I thought we had a law about this stuff.
Hey, here comes Kriss Worthington. And he's holding! Excellent, Mr. Worthington. Fire that fat boy up -- it's just what I need to get in touch with the dual-diagnosed members of our community. ... Wooow! Ever notice how weird your hands are? I mean, you got these nails that are all hard and stuff, and this black goo collects under them, and when you dig it out, you don't know what it is! Is it dirt? Or clay? Hey, maybe it's hash, and you could get lit by smoking it. Wouldn't that be weird, if you could get high by smoking your toe jam? Oh man, I'm really freaking out here.
7:30 p.m. -- Got the munchies, but no money. Try panhandling students, but it feels weird. Whenever I ask, they laugh and say, "I'll have to table that motion." Bastards. Next time they want an AC Transit monthly pass, I'll tell them to kiss my ass.
9:00 p.m. -- Okay, it's getting kinda cold. Walk up to the Gourmet Ghetto in hopes of finding more-generous citizens near Chez Panisse. Mmmmm, the smell of that goat cheese and arugula is driving me crazy. Courage, Tom! Put that Gold Card back in your pocket! You're here to experience misery, and that's just what you'll do!10:00 p.m. -- Loitering outside Shirley Dean's North Berkeley cottage in hopes of lowering her property value. Maybe she's refinancing right at this minute, and her broker will look outside and see one of America's forgotten, just looking for a little dignity. A song would get me in the appropriately forlorn mood. Ahem. Once I built a railroad, made it run, made it run against time ...
11:00 p.m. -- Bedding down for the night on the Adeline median. Inventory time. Hemp pajamas -- check. Air mattress -- check. Travel pillow -- check. I meant to stuff some Daily Cals into my shoes; it adds to the authenticity of the experience, and I've gotten into the habit of, shall we say, needing more than one Daily Cal at a time. But these damn cameramen won't leave me alone for a second. They keep expecting me to say something profound. I hope they don't notice that I've been plagiarizing Anatole France all day.
11:30 p.m. -- After a quick chuckle at Calvin Trillin's latest piece in the Nation, I'm ready for some shuteye. About time, too. I feel the weariness of homelessness grinding my fragile bones. This must be how our wretched of the Earth feel, each and every day. How long will we ignore them? How long will it take for the people of this wealthy nation to wake up to the plight of their brothers and sisters? Oh wait, cell's ringing. Hi, Loni! I wuv you too, shmoogums! Yes, dear, it is very noble of me to do this ... -- Chris Thompson
Certainly damaged: Embattled college radio chartmeister CMJ has finally found a workable solution to its chart-falsifying scandal ("The Monster That Ate College Radio?," February 26). The problems allegedly started with CMJ's hodgepodge of a computer database blanking out whole charts when it didn't recognize albums submitted by college stations for inclusion in its weekly magazine, CMJ New Music Report.
This was an absurd situation, because college DJs routinely pay homage to obscure artists. Conveniently, CMJ execs made matters even more absurd by replacing the unverified chart entries with Certain Damage, the company's own commercial sampler, which labels pay $2,000 or more to appear on. When stations such as Berkeley's KALX found out their charts were being falsified, they raised hell. And when the Express started nosing around, CMJ did an about-face. It began printing "Unverified" in those slots instead. Which, of course, was music to the ears of a New Mexico-based Ramones wannabe band called Unverified.
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