Letters for the week of August 10-16, 2005

Highlighting some of the positive developments at Berkeley Liberation Radio. Defending the memory of another former radio phenom: MC Hammer.

“Pirates Without a Ship,” Cityside, 7/27

My dysfunctional family
At our last Berkeley Liberation Radio (BLR) general meeting, DJ Captain Fred circulated copies of your article, and we agreed that (usually) any publicity is better than no publicity. BUT we’d prefer to be better represented.

BLR’s low-power signal does not interfere with any other station, and we are NOT “pirates.” It was pirate ships that brought slaves to the US, and BLR opposes all that represents. A CD is available of what I consider our best show, Slave Revolt Radio, by Tracy and Gerald. It uses music with voice-over and tape snippets of people like Rumsfeld, Chomsky, and Amy Goodman to deliver a hard-hitting analysis of what’s going on in the US today.

BLR continues to be on the air with our mobile broadcasting unit while we are, as DJ Abdul puts it, “a homeless family.” I personally find BLR a refreshing change from other mostly-white left groups. Computer illiterates, people of color, and disabled people actually feel comfortable in BLR. As a listener, low-power radio in Berkeley (BLR and its predecessor, Free Radio Berkeley, both at 104.1 FM with some of the same activists/DJ’s) has “saved my life,” I sometimes comment.

We struggle with process and differences that result from our diversity, but there is “Joy In the Struggle.” I love these people, some more than others, of course, and that’s mutual. I’ve never been officially voted “in” or “out” of the BLR collective, but I contribute by listening to and loving this slightly dysfunctional family — 104.1 FM.
Michael Alan Hammer (aka DJ Modus Operendi), Berkeley

Who made you write that?
As a member of the BLR collective, I must strongly object to the negative tone in your recent article. Instead of slamming us by highlighting every negative thing you could think of, you should at least mention some of our accomplishments. We’ve served this community for nearly six years, with no help from media giants like Clear Channel, who would try to squash us. We will continue to speak freely and fight censorship. I guess your miserable rag will have to serve its corporate master, but I don’t have to read it.

Paul Griffin, Berkeley

¬°Viva TUPA!
I appreciate the article you wrote on BLR. There are some clarifications that need to be made, however. It is only Prometheus that has gone the “legal” route. I am still advocating electronic civil disobedience and providing folks with the skills, knowledge, tools, and technology to create and build their own radio stations. Increasingly, our efforts are being directed toward Latin America, with Project TUPA (Transmitters Uniting the Peoples of the Americas) — www.radiotupa.org. Another FRB project, Can of Worms Publishing, has just released a graphic guide, A Popular Guide to Building a Community FM Broadcast Station. It is done in the popular education style prevalent in Latin America. A book release party is scheduled for August 26 at the AK Press Warehouse in Oakland.

Stephen Dunifer, Oakland

“Have You Seen Him?,” Down in Front, 7/13

Can’t touch this
I just read your article about MC Hammer trying to make a comeback. I was with you throughout the article until you asked him not to bring back “Addams Groove.” I mean, come on: The Addams Family song was pure genius and should most definitely be included in a MC Hammer greatest hits. “They do what they wanna do, say what they wanna say, live how they wanna live …” This movie theme track goes right up there with “On Our Own,” the theme track for Ghostbusters 2 by my favorite loser, Bobby Brown. Movies don’t have good theme songs like that anymore; they just slap on whatever song is popular at the time. This is why I think MC Hammer should include that in his comeback.

PS: Have you heard him on 94.9 in the mornings? At least he is better than Magic Johnson doing play-by-play for basketball games.
Jachyn K. Davis, Fremont

Thanks for not hating
Thank you for an honest description of MC Hammer’s event. While I couldn’t attend the event, I am indeed still a fan. I do not like the way some writers have a bias against Hammer because of his career and financial mishaps. The articles these writers write are laced with useless comments bashing on Hammer.

I understand that while Hammer is not on top of his game, or on top of any chart for that matter, he still is a famous icon in the entertainment industry. Thank you for reviewing his performance honestly and without undue hatred.
D. Madahar, Fremont

In our July 27 item on DJ Kitty and the club, Kitty’s, she plans to open in Emeryville, we gave the wrong address for the club. The address will be 6702 Hollis Street.

Our August 3 feature story (“Off Their Meds”) contained some incorrect information about the radical mental health group the Icarus Project. It is not a nonprofit group in its own right, and operates under the fiscal sponsorship of the FJC, a New York-based nonprofit. Also, only employees and members of the project’s core collective will be required to fill out advance directives explaining their mental health care preferences – not everyone who joins a group affiliated with the project. The article also mistakenly stated that the independent mental health group MindFreedom has an office in San Francisco.

Last week’s Calendar story on the “Eye Sea” dance performance at UC Berkeley (“Mad, Hot”) contained three factual errors. The Berkeley/Oakland branch of AileyCamp has only one director, David McCauley. Vince Collins is a former, not current, member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem. And the reference to the performance being informed “by the development they’ve done this summer in drug education” was incorrect.

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