Tag Archives: Crunchy

Craft-Based Statements

“I loved (the tea cozy),” said Christina Stork, founder of Article Pract, a knitting shop in Oakland. “I look forward to more craft-based statements.” The Daily Californian, Thursday, June 3, 2010

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense”. – Gertrude Stein

For Berkeleyites no longer nimble enough to climb trees, they can still get their protest on through guerilla knitting. I hate to use up “OMFG” as the title of a post so early in the history of this blog, but hearing this story, I wasn’t sure if it was time to move back to NY, or click my ergonomic Earth shoe clad heels in the air.

Back story: Gertrude Stein had been living in Paris for 30 years when a book tour brought her back to California. When she went to find her childhood home in Oakland, the house was no longer standing. In 1937, she published “Everybody’s Autobiography”, where she referred to the experience as “There is no there there”. OK, so everyone might not have access to Wikipedia, but that quote has since been taken out of context by some fellow Oaklanders , who see it as a slight to the city. I don’t exactly follow, but apparently there are those who are abreast of random literary quotes, but only enough to misinterpret them, then get all hot and bothered and go make bumper stickers about it.

Cut to 2005, the city of Berkeley commissioned a cheeky $50,000 public art work titled “Herethere”, which is installed on the Berkeley-Oakland border. On the Berkeley side, eight foot-tall letters spell out “HERE”, and on the Oakland side, another set of steel letters read “THERE”. Oakland residents grumbled about it, so it probably should have come as no surprise last month when a group of renegade knitters donned masks and worked through the night to cover the “T” in “THERE” in a *giant tea cozy*. When Berkeley city officials suggested the hooligan crafters remove the cozy, supporters set up camp to guard their handiwork of civic disobedience.

Gertrude Stein saw it as an end to childhood. Oaklanders see it as a racist slur. Berkelyites see it as $50K. Knitting activists see it as fun, biodegradable protest. The artists of the actual sculpture see the cozy as “creating a dialog”. The Parks Department sees it as defacing public art. Salt Bagel sees it as delicious fodder.

If there was any part of this story that could have been mirrored in New York, or anywhere else, this is where I think the two versions would begin to break:

The Trust of a Sexual Healer/Performance Artist

I was at home when my husband recently called from out in the world. He was at a gas station and had just discovered a lonely Master Card, on the ground, next to the pump. Rather than suggesting I quickly book us a Lost-themed Hawaiian vacation or buy a fat gift certificate to Circuit City, he wanted me to do a little detective work to return the card to its owner. “Sweet!…Oh…OK…Why don’t you just leave it with the attendant?” He is good. I’m glad he hadn’t read my mind.

There was no immediate listing for Elizabeth Kaden (name changed to protect the unawares).  Google brought up a few misspellings, someone on Facebook, someone in Kansas, and finally:

Liz Kaden is a graduate of the Barbara Brennan School of Healing, an intuitive sound healer and performance artist…


As it turns out, Miss Kaden is, among other titles, a performance artist and sexual healer. According to her website, she is “deeply passionate and committed to helping others explore and expand their own unique creative essence”, and believes that “self-expression through healthy sexuality and creativity can be the key to greater liberation and fulfillment in life”. She is currently living in San Francisco and is exploring her own life as both a healer and artist.

From this page Miss Kaden sells her “Sacred Sexuality Essence”. With only twenty drops under the tongue daily, the tincture claims to clear negative thoughts about sexuality, eliminate chaos and untangle the co-dependent. Using simple ingredients such as: essence of hand-picked wisteria, “conscious sexual healing energy, spring water, brandy (to preserve) and love”, for $15, plus $5 shipping and handling, Liz will send you a bottle, quantity unspecified.

I have so many questions. How do you get conscious sexual healing energy into an eyedropper? Is the brandy there to preserve the energy or the love? Don’t people already do that? Whose wisteria is she picking?  What is intuitive sound? Not to profile, but aren’t sexual healers/intuitive sound healers/singers/performance artists, exactly the demographic for who might lose their ATM card at a Berkeley 76 station?

Below two testimonials, a phone number is listed.

A few minutes later, she calls back. The voice is younger than I was expecting. She’s frazzled but grateful. This will come back to us. Good energy. In the middle of a move, running around today, could she drop by the house tomorrow, or possibly the next day? She’s got a lot on her plate what with work and the move. I volunteer to drop it in the mail, but she insists that she doesn’t want to be any trouble, but actually now that she’s thinking about it, could she maybe come on Monday evening instead?

A trusting sort. This would *never* happen in New York.

After a few more calls to reschedule and write down our address again, a meeting is finally arranged three days later. She would even bring us a bottle of sacred essence to thank us.  She, a kindly, if unfocused Mother Nature. Me, freakin’ Mother Teresa.

We were surprised (one of us answered the door, the other was peeking through the blinds) when I opened to a pert young Cathy Rigby look-alike. A 20-something year-old blond with her blue Toyota station wagon still running out front. I’ll give her chaos, and possibly co-dependency, but what would she know about sexual disorder? Conveniently, all of her essence was in storage while she was moving, but she would definitely mail us a bottle whenever she gets organized… A few more thanks, and assurance that karma owed us one, but she had to dash.

After locking the deadbolt, I’m not sure which of us got out an “Uhnt uh!” first.

We have not heard from her since. I don’t expect to. That’s OK. That part’s the same.

$80 Sweater

Recently, as I was hefting sacks of groceries into the house, a young couple pulled up in their beater car and parked nearby. We exchanged smiles and I went back to hefting. I was surprised when I looked up again and the woman was standing directly in front of me, as I thought our exchange was complete. Now, from whence I hail, quickly approaching a stranger to stand this close would be seen as aggressive. She seemed like an unlikely suspect, but was she about to mug me? I imagined a cute, but unpredictable Drugstore Cowboy-esque junkie couple on the lamb. I panicked that the grocery bags were too heavy for me to swing with any accuracy.

“Do you like this sweater?”, she asked.

I looked over at her boyfriend to see if he was armed.

No Dogs

“I paid $80 for it at Anthropologie but I’m not sure if I like it. Do you like it, hon?” She looked over at the boyfriend.

Straggledy-haired blond boyfriend stayed cautiously neutral but wisely offered that she looked pretty.

The sweater was tres Berkeley despite the chain store purchase: multi-colored, organically grown-looking and somewhat shapeless. I wouldn’t be caught dead in it, but it seemed to match her wholesome, nature gal vibe, so I, still waiting for the catch, volunteered that it was “nice”.

She repeated that the sweater had cost $80, and wanted confirmation from a complete stranger that she had paid too much. She was a wall of chirpy twitters, interrupting herself only once to say that she liked my outfit, and ask where it had come from. As my “outfits” rarely come from a single store-bought, chain store source, I condensed my response to “Banana”.

Conscious of melting dairy products still weighing me down, I finally offered that if she had so many doubts about that (fugly) sweater, then perhaps she should return it. Ten minutes later, satisfied with my answer, she suggested that we might see each other around and, with her boyfriend, headed over to the multiple-occupant surf-hippie house a few doors down.

Who does that?

Crazy Berkeley hippie kids.