Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Oakland bar application for Golden Bear / Dapper on Grand is problem

The location at 389 Grand Avenue of what was once my favorite Oakland, California hang, The Golden Bear, has been closed for what seems to be about a year now. It was most recently called "Dapper" which was an odd name for a bar to this blogger. It was a nice place that seemed to cater to one type of young, black, Hip Hop-oriented audience.

Dapper had a weird vibe: if you weren't exactly and narrowly from that group, you could feel uncomfortable. It's almost like how Cafe Van Kleef in downtown Oakland has changed. It seems to fit a young, white grunge artist crowd and if you're not part of that group, it can feel weird.

But, I must confess to some interestingly fun one-night stands out of Cafe Van Kleef. Being bald is fun, but I digress.

Someone has filed an application to reopen Dapper bar and some residents in Oakland's Adams Point neighborhood are upset about it. One person just didn't see the reason for a bar there. I disagree.

Bars in the Grand Lake area have always served as the community gathering point. It's the one place that, if done right, can bring together young and old, and black and white and everyone in between.

The last place that did that was The Golden Bear under the legendary Cal Rugby Assistant Coach Jerry Figone. The Golden Bear served as that community gathering place, and there was no moment that more demonstrated that then after the Loma Pierata Earthquake in 1989. I was there, er, here.

I was supposed to meet a friend / client at The Golden Bear that October 17, 1989 day when I was basking in the glow of a Cal Masters Degree in City Planning and all that came with it. But on that day, degrees didn't matter. I had finally arrived at the Golden Bear after a confusing trek to get their using public transit: AC Transit.

BART was disabled due to systems checks. The earth shook, but I didn't know what happened. Some blind lady with a radio on the bus said the Bay Bridge collapsed. Of course, everyone thought she meant the whole bridge.

When I arrived at The Golden Bear, the whole neighborhood was there. Friends who lost their cars to falling bricks from who knows where. People who couldn't get to San Francisco. People laughing and crying. It was a wild scene.

In the middle of it all was Jerry Figone. Talking to everyone. Giving free drinks to those who didn't have money and encouraging others who had money to buy drinks for folks if they wanted them. But mostly people talked. And the coolest memory I have of that day is people who normally don't talk to each other as was the group nature of The Golden Bear at times - Hey, it was a Cal Bar, which is why I went there - suddenly did.

That was a great moment. For me it ended in exactly the way I wanted it to, and given my sentence about Cafe Van Kleef, you can guess what that was, stilettos and all.

Bars can bring people together. The only place that does that now is The Alley on Grand Avenue. I don't know what the person or persons has planned for The Golden Bear space, but I hope whatever it is, they bend over backwards to make it inclusive of everyone. The Golden Bear under Jerry Figone did that and Oakland needs that.

Iron Man 2 reviews are out: bad reviews have wrong take

Iron Man 2 is supposed to be released May 7th, but Jon Favreau is so confident in his second take on the story of a weapons genius and his famous exoskeleton that he let some so-called critics see it.

Thus, Iron Man 2 reviews are out, but while the reviews pan the movie, they are awful themselves. This blogger's never seen a set of reviews that seem so bent on finding something wrong they wind up becoming studies in nitpicking. As exhibit one, let's take The Hollywood Reporter (THR).

Kirk Honeycutt of THR does a lot of explaining that Iron Man 2 isn't logical without explaining why. We just have to understand his logic. But considering the Arizona Governor's decision to approve a horribly psychotic immigration law in that state, we have to be careful to trust anyone's logic now, even that of a movie critic.

What Kirk Honeycutt seems to miss is that Iron Man is grounded in a high level of realism. That Tony Stark is dying from his own creation has to cause some kind of emotional response from him. Trouble is Kirk Honeycutt doesn't tell us what that is. That's not right, because fans of Iron Man know the story, so it's a good idea for the reviewer to tell us what the movie is doing so we can at least know how it works. I can't tell that from Kirk Honeycutt's review.

Then there's Den of Geek, a cool-ass name for a website. But Simon Brew's review confused me. I can't determine if Simon Brew's telling me Iron Man 2 is better than the first, or the opposite.

But I'll give Den of Geek credit because, well, they're geeks. From that, Iron Man 2 seems just OK, but not at the level of The Dark Knight.

Frankly, I wasn't expecting that anyway.

Roch the Casbah

Arizona illegal immigration law invites psychotic behavior

Governor Brewer's creating a psychotic environment
That the Arizona illegal immigration law is psychotic is without argument. The law, approved by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, calls for the identification, prosecution, and deportation of those presumed guilty of illegal immigration.

 This is where the environment that invites psychotic behavior is created and why the law itself is psychotic. First, we must understand the definition of the word "psychotic."

To be psychotic is to have a "loss of contact with reality, usually including false ideas about what is taking place or who one is (delusions) and seeing or hearing things that aren't there (hallucinations)" according to a definition at Google Health. What's interesting and directly apply to the Arizona illegal immigration law and its drafters and implementers are the symptoms of psychotic behavior:

Abnormal displays of emotion
Depression and sometimes suicidal thoughts
Disorganized thought and speech
Extreme excitement (mania)
False beliefs (delusions)
Loss of touch with reality
Mistaken perceptions (illusions)
Seeing, hearing, feeling, or perceiving things that are not there (hallucinations)
Unfounded fear/suspicion

"Abnormal displays of emotion" can be seen if one visits YouTube.com and searches for "arizona illegal immigration rally." The result has the first four videos from a rally by Nazi's or the "National Socialist Movement" showing the very "Abnormal displays of emotion" of those yelling "white power" and showing "unfounded fear/suspicion" by saying "We believe they should go back to Mexico and make their own country strong. This is out country." Here's one video:

That statement reflects not just "unfounded fear/suspicion" but "mistaken perceptions", "Loss of touch with reality", and "extreme excitement." Why?

Consider that a person could be an illegal immigrant and be from, say, Ireland. That has nothing to do with Mexico, but the man in the video is so out of touch with reality that he displays his mistaken perceptions and false beliefs.

Because of this the Arizona illegal immigration law becomes a tool with which a psychotic has license to be, well, psychotic. A psychotic can pick out anyone they believe fits their race-based fantasy of what an illegal immigrant looks like, totally passing by the Irish waitress and going for any person who the psychotic thinks comes from Mexico. To take the psychotic's possible actions to their logical conclusion such a person may try to make a citizen's arrest, and that would be an "abnormal display of emotion."

Clearly Arizona's got a problem. Moreover, the problem is its number of people showing psychotic behavior in crafting and passing the illegal immigration law. Governor Jan Brewer herself said on Fox News "We can't tolerate it. It's an invasion. An invasion of our country." I next expected Governor Brewer to yell "white power." Take a look at the video below and compare it to the video above several times, and note the "abnormal display of emotion" by both the Governor and the Nazi in each video:

In the video, Governor Jan Brewer sounds less like an elected official and more like a member of The Arizona Nazis. A very scary person exhibiting psychotic behavior.

If Governor Jan Brewer doesn't scare you in that video, well, maybe you're psychotic? Just being honest. Psychotic behavior is something one should work to remedy.  Thinking of someone as "the other" only causes problems for both you and the person who's the unfortunate target of your loss of contact with reality.

In my next blog post, we'll look at what remedies the Governor, and others, should use to get better.

Stay tuned.