Oakland, Berkeley, And East Bay News, Events, Restaurants, Music, & Arts
@Tony- Rental law is applied to tenants regardless of the legal state of their unit- that's the primary message from me on the Berkeley Rent Board & James from the Oakland Tenants Union.
This is the response to the (still) anonymous attacks on me and my history. I apologize for its length. There was a lot of inaccuracies to correct. Yours, Jesse
So since I’ve been identified as one of the problems, let me respond. I walked into 924 Gilman in June of 1989 for the Anarchist Gathering show with MDC, Political Asylum, Yeastie Girlz, Kondom Nation, & others, & didn’t leave until 2010 when the combination of personalities then in charge made me decide to turn in my keys. During those 21 years, I was Secretary for 14 years (i.e. ran collective meetings & took minutes) and stage managed and/or coordinated hundreds of shows. I’ve worked every volunteer position except sound since 1989. Around 2013 or 2014, as Gilman legally became a 501(c)3 non-profit, I started going to meetings again and helped Ryan E. & others create a structure in our by-laws to accommodate our new legal status. I ran and was elected, along with my housemate Kamala (who literally found 924 Gilman w/ Victor/Alchemy Records, and went on to play in Kamala & the Karnivores, Cringer, The Gr’ups, Naked Aggression, & Hers Never Existed among others), to the initial fundraising committee (or “fundraising board”, as we called it in the by-laws for some reason). Both of our terms expire in November 2016.
Claim from above post:
“ In recent years, a number of core volunteers have stated they don't feel the “No Major Labels” policy is still necessary given the state of the music industry (including board member Jesse “Lucious” Townley, who helped write the policy in the first place).”
First off, there’s 2 “s”s in Luscious. 2nd, I still think the Major Label ban is a good idea. I have always advocated against bands signing to a major for the reasons stated above. I have also stated repeatedly that context HAS changed, and that for the vast majority of Gilman patrons, Green Day has ALWAYS been on a major & that I understood why the collective approved having Green Day play- for them it is NOT the “third rail” of punk politics that it was 22 years ago in 1994. Kamala & I DID come to a meeting & proposed that the show be moved to a larger venue in order to raise more money for the benefit. We also expressed serious concerns about security for the show. The collective did not agree with our proposals.
“Longtime volunteers such as Obadiah Bowling, Jesse “Luscious” Townley, Jeff Armstrong, etc have consistently made it clear that they are not interested in challenging the reactionary mindset much at all and have made numerous "exceptions" the new rule, especially when it comes to waiving the ethics and broader community/moral considerations for anyone who is a past or present shitworker, anyone who has been around long enough (including lots of fucked up HC bands from the 80s), and certain corporate entities that want some kind of explicit dual association/branding (ie Jack Daniels at a fundraising event co-sponsored by 924 Gilman at the Fox Theater, Green Day carefully filming their "homecoming" as mentioned previously). When people have raised questions about any of this, they have been gaslighted, quickly shut down, and/or essentially told they "just don't get it" and are being judgmental/fascists/whatever.”
I don’t know what specific examples I’m being associated with in this example. The fundraising committee is, under our by-laws, charged with getting major initiatives approved by the membership but allowed to take care of the details outside of collective meetings. We were not at all involved with the details of the Green Day benefit for the fire victims, so I can’t speak to that.
We worked with another non-profit, Undercover Presents, on the Fox Theater “Tribute to Dookie by Green Day” benefit for Gilman. They, through their leader Lyz Luke who came to a few Gilman meetings to answer questions, worked on sponsors and large donations. I worked closely with her on the budget and we worked out various ways that Gilman would guarantee a donation income through both ticket sales and our independent-of-Undercover-Presents indiegogo campaign. From day one, it was clear to the collective that this was a collaboration with Undercover Presents and not a solo effort by Gilman.
By practice and by a proposal passed by the membership, fundraising committee representatives appear AT LEAST at the 2nd membership meeting of the month, and often- as in this month- at the 1st to report on news and initiatives. We always ask for input and if an idea is controversial the collective can vote on it. This process was used when people were uneasy with the fundraiser’s media committee doing outreach to various media outlets without the collective’s knowledge. The collective mandated that media outlets be mentioned during fundraising reports in order to be vetted by the collective.
“Gilman board member, fundraising committee member, and politician Jesse ”Lucious” Townley launched into a tirade (ignoring the point) about how personal redemption trumps all other considerations and that we can't tell if someone is a homophobe/sexist/racist etc at the door or whatever so we shouldn't try to read minds…”
Okay, this is where the character assassination comes into play. I AM a politician- to be specific, I am the Chair of the Berkeley Rent Board. I am a progressive and I have been a proud Green Party member since 1992. I was first elected to the Rent Board in 2008 and reelected in 2010 & 2014. 924 Gilman’s struggles against the Berkeley PD in 1990-91 and Pyramid Brewery in the mid-90s prepared me & that generation of Gilman regulars- with the help of long-time volunteer John Hart (a veteran of the People’s Park fights)- for addressing government power structures head on. We learned how to pack City Council meetings, how to stay awake AND comprehend zoning meetings, and a ton of other political tips that have enriched our lives & saved many projects, including Gilman, in the decades since.
This line about a “tirade” actually conflates 2 separate statements in 2 separate agenda items at the last membership meeting.
In the agenda item about that dude from “Hard Times” website, I cautioned against 924 Gilman taking action against things that did not happen with its 4 walls based on its historical inability and lack of savvy to do so (see: Jeff Ott & Jux, circa 1995) and also to point out that the rules on the door regulate behavior, not belief. I gave examples from way back when about how we regulated “No Racism” and “No Misogyny” (note the difference in wording to today’s “No Sexism”- at that time the collective thought misogyny was easier to discern). I talked about how we required jerks with white power shirts or tattoos to cover them up or leave, and how one member of a recurring bunch of jerks wore a “No Means Yes” shirt and we refused him entry until he removed it (which I’m pretty sure he didn’t so he never entered). (Obviously, anyone who showed up with either racist or misogynist or homophobic regalia & covered up was carefully monitored by volunteers & security since the odds were good that they’d be violent and/or drink inside as well, allowing us to toss them) I talked about how we didn’t feel that we could regulate what people actually thought, in their heart of hearts, but instead we could regulate their outward appearance and actions.
This whole point was delivered in a diplomatic & conversational tone at regular volume. (I *am* a politician, remember?)
The 2nd part about redemption & rehabilitation came up when someone proposed that Sam McBride/Fang should be 86d. Besides the fact that his bands have played Gilman repeatedly over the past decade with no problems from him, here’s an interview where people can read- in his own words- where these ideas of redemption & rehabilitation come from. (In addition to being a foundation of any cultural scene made up of fuck-ups, non-conformists, & weirdos) You can also read that he does not consider himself blameless or free of any efforts at redemption.
In addition to the sober living house he co-founded for addicts coming out of rehab:
About the murder he committed:
“And I could have made a bunch of different choices, but I didn’t. I came from a background of drug dealing where you didn’t do things like that. But that’s still just excuses and there’s no excuse for what I did. I can’t imagine that if those circumstances happened again that I would ever react like that again. I did what I did. Some of your choices in life you can’t take back.
WW: Did you ever hear from her family?
Sammytown: I got some threats from her Dad but I get that. I did a fucking horrible thing. That’s where, this part I definitely take responsibility for. People give me shit for what I did, because, for some reason, they don’t think that I have a problem with what I did. But I have a much bigger problem with what I did than they can imagine. There’s no dialogue for it. They just say well fuck that guy, he’s a horrible person. There are a lot of circumstances that affect the decisions you make when you’re seeing red. You know, and if you take just one of those things out of the equation you can have a totally different outcome. There’s a lot of reasons, but there’s no excuses.”
There’s a lot more in that interview that explains why a majority of the collective members who were there (my estimate is 40-45 people) voted apparently overwhelmingly NOT to ban Sam McBride. (I don’t know the vote total because I had to leave before the vote)
3 more things for your consideration.
1. I am 100% against (even now) the Slapshot/Fang bill happening at 924 Gilman. While our security is good, this combination of crowds is much more appropriate for the larger security crews at the Oakland Metro or similar local venues. At the last meeting I proposed canceling this show due to security reasons. It lost with 12 yes, 13 no, unknown # abstain.
2. Jeff Armstrong has told me, directly, that he, Obadiah, & Executive Officer Larry forced the asshole who abused our Secretary to turn in his keys well before the situation was public knowledge. That is in direct contradiction to this: “… Their first reaction was to tell her that she should “step away from the club for a while”, effectively making her the problem instead of addressing the issue directly until the abuser was outed publicly and a wider community response occurred.”
Even if “Boycott Gilman”’s claim is accurate, then it indicates that our collective may be unable to handle issues like abuse within the context of a egalitarian construct. Jeff A. suggested to the collective months ago (& I suggested to the Secretary’s close friend this week) that Gilman bring in an outside organization like Bay Area Women Against Rape to do trainings on recognizing and dealing with abuse. (I suggested it based on the history I mention above, I can’t speak for Jeff’s reasons) It seems like a no-brainer regardless of what else happens.
3. From the 5/18/16 post that starts “924 Gilman Street is over as we know it.
This is a call for a wide-scale boycott of 924 Gilman by those of us who give a fuck about things that matter.”
“… Board members who abide by the pre-incorporation promises to not interfere with the daily running of shows and the club environment…”
Also, from the post above:
“[nevermind that membership was assured when the club got nonprofit status and a board in 2014 that the board would always be completely separate from day-to-day business and wouldn’t interfere with the running of the club].””
There is zero in the rules or the by-laws restricting fundraising committee members (aka “Board members”) from participating in collective meetings as full voting members as long as they complete the requisite volunteer work required for all voting members. This seems like a jab at people who can only serve in limited yet still important capacities for our shared endeavor. Is this suggesting that our collective small “d” democratic process should disenfranchise certain regular volunteers? Four legs good, two legs better?
Personally, I rarely vote at all- not even to abstain- in membership meetings, even on proposals I make and/or advocate for/against. I do this because I feel like this allows me to participate without participating “too much”. I’m balancing my deep emotional ties to the collective with the recognition that I don’t do the nightly/weekly volunteer work that so many others do. (And yes, this is a change from the last time I attended meetings on a regular basis) But my personal preferences are just that- my personal preferences- and NOT anything the collective has signed off on.
[Note: I did not vote in any way on the proposal I made to cancel the Slapshot/Fang show for this reason]
Hi, I'm one of the long-time Gilman volunteers slandered by the (still) anonymous "boycott Gilman" people. Like Kamala, I also turned down Sam's request for an interview. I did post a statement explaining how the (still) anonymous "boycott Gilman" misrepresented my long history with the collective and my personal ethics.
At the last Gilman meeting a collective member proposed 86-ing Rory & Jamie. He withdrew that proposal after the overwhelming majority of those present said it would be unfair to a) take such action without proof that they were behind the "boycott Gilman" page and b) take such action without Rory & Jamie having the opportunity to respond and take part in the discussion.
Please update your article to reflect this: the collective REFUSED to take unilateral action based on hearsay against current and former collective members out of a strong sense of fairness and direct communication.
Too bad, they've been a good neighbor.
They haven't brewed beer in Berkeley since they fired all of their unionized workers in 2013. That means that under their use permit, the restaurant/brewery has been operating illegally, since it's an "ancillary use" to the manufacturing that's supposed to be happening at that spot.
Word on the street is that another brewery is looking to purchase the property. It's zoned Mixed Use/Light Industrial, so they've got to conform to similar uses as Pyramid did when they opened in 1997.
You can donate directly to 924 Gilman via this link:
Every little bit helps! (check, paypal, credit card)
Changes to Costa-Hawkins have to go through the legislature. In the meantime, Oakland CAN pass a proactive rent control system, like Berkeley, Santa Monica, & East Palo Alto. (The latter just began its rent control program a few years back) Currently Oakland has a reactive rent control system like San Francisco: if a landlord or tenant thinks there's a problem, they contact the city & it's figured out. In proactive systems, everyone already knows what the allowable rents and the allowable rent increases are since all units under rent control (pre-1983 construction) are registered. This also means that key information about other regulations like owner move-ins, eviction processes, & dispute resolution processes are sent out to landlords and tenants multiple times a year.
- Jesse Townley, Chair, Berkeley Rent Board
In honor this week's Air Guitar Championship in SF (and the cover story in the East Bay Express), KALX's Soap Box Derby will be airing the very entertaining interview Jesse Luscious did with 2006 + 2008 US Champion and current US Air Guitar tour manager, Hott Lixx Hulahan!
The archive show will be broadcast live at 90.7 FM & streamed live at http://kalx.berkeley.edu
Thursday June 23, 9pm-9:30pm PST
Spread the word, thanks!
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