Oct 17, 2010

Last evening in the Berkeley hills, at an October Fest: 17 Hippies in the background; Little blonde girls dressed like 1939; and the hostess, a noblesse-faced redhead from Bavaria offering a bouncing display of breastage and beer, sausage, cakes and light conversation to go with a lavish garden. The cigarette smoke was just hanging there above our heads, not moving at all.

These were some real accent carrying Germans, deep in the lederhosen — shop customers, fellow parents, people from the university, and a man in a black suit, black hair, white shirt, open at the collar, wearing a ponytail. He was in his late 40s, with a rectangular face, bad skin and a dark expression — imagine if Rudolph Steiner had come back to life, having built the Goetheanum in West Hollywood and was still offering prominent past lives to potential investors.

Of course, he was actually from Croatia.

And then sitting next to me, a little precariously on the folding chair, a woman in middle age. I ask her who she's going to vote for. "Can't," she says. "There's no place to vote where we are and we never got any ballots in the mail. It's too late now."

She's 55, to put it kindly, with baby soft gray hair and a five-year-old boy on her lap, her own boy, spoiled as der Pfirsischs. She explains that she's living out in El Sobrante, which is over the hills from this place, beyond El Cerito, over still more hills and then you come to a funky man's Woodside, horses and hay and such, and where according to this woman it's no holes barred. Which is to say there's a lot of adultery going on.

She's a scientist, with slightly bulging eyes and a deep Brooklyn accent, every story she tells is more bizarre than the last, but of course she's very aware, she knows exactly how she's appearing. And finally she says, "And you know the name of the place where we live, you know what it's always been called, from Indian times?"

"Screwball hill," she says nodding. "And that's true."

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