Gang Bang 

Author thinks we're getting screwed

MON 9/15

In 1996 Ted Nace sold his flourishing home-based publishing company to a British media giant, and naturally got to thinking about the creep of corporate power. Then, in 2000, Business Week asked some Americans whether they figured business was dominating their lives. The answers suggested that Nace's new book, Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy (Berrett-Koehler, $24.95), might have an audience -- that, in fact, the political might of today's largest companies has grown in direct proportion to their visibility as targets at Berkeley bookstore readings. Fortunately, as his Black Oak Books appearance this Monday should demonstrate, democracy hasn't been disabled enough to prevent Nace from getting his word out. "Even though corporations are not mentioned at all in the Constitution," he writes, "they have somehow accumulated more legal rights than human beings." Some research allowed Nace to partly attribute this condition to the "radical metaphysical assertion" by the Supreme Court in 1886 that corporations could be considered "persons." He didn't like the sound of that, and wondered how that came to pass in a nation founded -- at least nominally -- on resistance to overbearing power. Nace ran his subject through a lint-roller of American history, to see what stuck. He found the Boston Tea Party "a highly pragmatic economic rebellion against an overbearing corporation, rather than a political rebellion against an oppressive government." And the Civil War, during which Abraham Lincoln feared "corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow." And World War II, when FDR's celebrated four freedoms were amended by public-relations agencies to include a fifth: free enterprise. Not to mention a few other episodes, such as the '80s. And the Enrons.

For Americans who care about their past, or their future, an investigation into corporate ascendance is an essential undertaking. And as Nace's title implies, it may even have the makings of an epic. He appears Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books, 1491 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. 510-486-0698. -- Jonathan Kiefer

9./10-9/14

Lit Happens

Epi-tomes

Ditching plum careers in law and architecture, newlyweds Jennifer and Erik Niemann put their fledgling marriage to the test on a wild ride from hemisphere to hemisphere. A slide show at Easy Going celebrates the Himalayan-trekking section of their book, Chasing Summer: Exploring the World on an Eighteen-Month Honeymoon. 9/10, 7:30 p.m. ... Some families live in double-wide trailers in Peoria; Aidan Hartley's family lived on a paradisiacal African ranch. He'll read at Cody's from The Zanzibar Chest, in which Hartley crosscuts between his gut-wrenching career as a Reuters reporter on the Somali frontlines and his sojourn in search of a family friend murdered in Afghanistan. 9/10, 7:30 p.m. ... Not quite as nasty as its name suggests, the Adult Bookclub holds its monthly meeting at Fremont's Coffee Beans Bistro, in affiliation with Towne Center Books, which offers attendees a discount. Today's topic isn't XXX; it's Wallace Stegner's XXX Angle of Repose. 9/10, 7 p.m. ... A veteran of early women's-lib consciousness-raising circles and author of Daybreak: Meditations for Women Survivors of Sexual Abuse, Maureen Brady is also a cofounder of the Bay Area's own Spinster's Ink. She'll read from her new novel, Ginger's Fire -- it's about two chicks and a conflagration -- at Boadecia's. 9/11, 7:30 p.m. ... It means so much more in Malagasy and it sounds so much more urgent in Urdu. An open reading at Coffee Roast Express (780 Main St., Pleasanton) features international poetry read in the original language and in translation. For mucho más información, call 925-426-8869. 9/11, 7:30 p.m. ... After a reading by two poets at Crockett's Valona Deli (1323 Pomona St.) comes jazz by the local Terry Henry Trio; drummer Bill Moody beats the skins but also happens to write jazz-themed mystery novels featuring broken-handed ex-pianoman Evan Horne. 9/14, 4 p.m. -- Anneli Rufus

THU 9/11

It Happened There Too

Monthlong event commemorates 'Chile's 9/11'

To observe the thirtieth anniversary of the military coup that overthrew democratically elected president Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973, La Peña presents Septiembre en la Memoria: Thirty Years of the Chilean 9/11, a monthlong series of cultural, political, and social events that examines and illustrates how the CIA and Nixon-administration-backed coup indelibly marked Chilean society. It also considers how Chile, evolving from the end of the military dictatorship twelve years ago to democracy, now regards its past and builds its future. Other related tributes celebrate Chile's Independence Day. At the benefit, music and dance by Grupo Raiz and Araucaria, spoken words by Francisco Letelier and Michael Parenti, and a sample of Marianne Teleki's documentary-in-progress Special Circumstances, commemorate and link the bombing of Chile's La Moneda on September 11, 1973 with the terrorist attacks on New York's Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. For details on participating visual artists, authors, and performers, as well as all the programs held there and elsewhere, call 510-849-2568, or visit LaPena.org -- Pat Katzmann

SUN 9/14

Gawk 'n' Stroll

Poor journalists, usually broadcasters, are fond of pointing to events such as the Solano Avenue Stroll and intoning something about how "it's one of the last vestiges of small-town America still remaining in this busy world." Wrong. There are thousands of little communities across the country where ordinary people dress up in funny costumes and parade leisurely down the main drag while kids paint their faces and eat ice cream -- and Albany and North Berkeley have put their dibs on this weekend. This Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., "the East Bay's oldest and largest free street festival" is expecting some 150,000 visitors to its one-and-a-quarter-mile stretch of Solano Avenue for giant worms, Boy and Girl Scouts, live music, ponies, jugglers, street eats from around the world, a bicycle stunt show, horses, art cars, and other family-style blandishments. But no beer -- this is an alcohol-free event. Get there early (8 a.m.) for a pancake breakfast. Info: SolanoAvenueAssn.org -- Kelly Vance

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