A Tale of Two Toilets

January 3, 2011

Roadside rest areas are nice, but since when is it okay for them to be nicer than my house?  Check out this architectural wonder of a pissoir with its Craftsman details, custom tile work, automated faucets and flushers, and tasteful landscaping.  Seeing how California has a gazillion-dollar budget hole, isn’t this a bit much?

Oh, and did I mention that this elegant shite-chateau has a twin on the other side of the road?  Seriously: show me a public school anywhere in California that looks this good and I will buy you a golden fleece seat cover to cradle your deluded bum. Read the rest of this entry »

Y2K vs. the Martini 8

January 14, 2010

Has it really been ten years since this happened?!  On December 31, 1999, I was arrested while scaling the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge with a backpack full of Martinis. And I don’t even like Martinis! Back by popular demand, here’s the story, as originally published in Twisted Times.



A True Crime Story

By Jack L. Lopes

There’s an old superstition that says whatever you’re doing at the stroke of Midnight on New Year’s Eve is what you’re going to be doing all year long. I sure hope it’s not true. At the cusp of the new Millennium, as the clocks chimed Y2K and another dead calendar page fluttered off into the void, seven friends and I were getting arrested for climbing the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Our plan to welcome the new century with an enviable view and a perfect martini did not come to pass. Instead, we became the last arrests of 1999 and the first police report of 2000. At the stroke of Midnight we were on a pier-side police barge, being searched and handcuffed while the fireworks went off around us.

It’s an odd and unlikely story that begins back in February of 1995, when my friend and fellow traveler Sebastian Melmoth suffered an unfortunate arrest on the Bay Bridge for drunk driving, and subsequently swore an oath that no liquor would touch his lips until the year 2000. His fierce will did not fail him, and he kept his promise to the end, but as the years went by he developed a powerful thirst.

A veteran urban adventurer and a connoisseur of the industrial arts, Melmoth has a particular fondness for bridges. He has climbed dozens of them, in this country and in Europe, and has introduced many enthusiasts to the pursuit. His first choice, and arguably the ideal spot to toast any new era, was the Golden Gate Bridge, but after actor-activist-moron Woody Harrelson and a few angry friends got arrested stringing propaganda banners from that span, the Bridge Authority went berserk on new security measures, welding access doors shut and installing surveillance cameras from top to bottom and end to end. By late 1999, Melmoth had settled on the idea of a Bay Bridge celebration, but he kept the final plans to himself, knowing he would have to pick just a handful of climbers from the army of friends and friends’ friends who had by now heard rumors of this unique New Year’s Eve celebration.  I got the call a few days beforehand — one of the lucky few. There were to be eight of us, and two boats. We would meet in the city at 9:30.

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Meat Parade Memories

August 4, 2009

“Great idea,” I said to my friend John when he proposed that we enter a meat-themed float in the “How Berkeley Can You be?” parade and cover it with meat-grilling, meat-gnawing, cigarette-smoking freaks dressed in leather and fur, spewing clouds of charcoal smoke, under a banner reading PETA: People Eatin’ Them Animals. “Great idea, except we might get killed. Those peace-loving Berzerkeley moms will rip us to pieces.

“We need our own protest marchers,” I suggested. “We’ll field our own counter-demonstration.” And thus was born the VegetAryan movement, a brave cadre of brown-shirted, jack-Birkenstocked, sign-waving, slogan-chanting thugs, violently opposed to all things carnivorous and willing to disrupt the “meat people” by any means necessary.

Thanks to the efforts of DocumentAryan Puzzling Evidence, we can now enjoy the thrills and (grease) spills of this epic confrontation and its sequel (“Meat People II: Straight to Video”), in which we returned to the streets of Berkeley the following year with more meat, more fur, more cigarettes thrown to children, more pig heads on stakes, more Read the rest of this entry »

White House Beer Summit

August 1, 2009

abc_obama_gates_rowley_090723_mnIn one of the biggest non-stories of the year, President Obama met yesterday with the principals in the soon-to-be-forgotten but currently-notorious, racially-charged, violently overblown incident up in Cambridge, in which a black Harvard professor was arrested for disorderly conduct after allegedly breaking into his own home after a trip abroad, and not reacting well when the police were called in. Our usually well-spoken Chief Executive, remarking that the police had acted “stupidly” in the affair, found himself promptly tasting shoe leather, and hastily invited Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley to the White House to discuss the matter “over a beer,” and perhaps turn bad PR into good PR by creating a “teaching moment” for the Nation. In other words: desperate spin control.

The resulting “Beer Summit,” covered in exhaustively shallow detail by the national media, was frought with symbolism, intentional and otherwise. As a so-called Beer Expert, I feel the need to step in as an analyst, and help you decipher the Story behind the story.  Because while the event may have been nothing more than a feel-good photo-op, the beer selections of the participants say a lot about race and class in this country, and the perceptions of our perceptions about race and class.  So let’s take a look at exactly which beers were called in to grace the nation’s highest picnic table on that fateful afternoon…

President Obama’s beer choice: Bud Light. The message: “I don’t really like beer, but I don’t want to come off as an elitist, wine-drinking douche, so I’ll order the best-known brand in America and hope I poll as a regular Joe, albeit watching his weight.”  The sub-subtext: “I’m still paying for that ‘guns-and-religion’ comment in the PA primary, and  I’m going to need Joe Sixpack on my side to get Health Care passed.” Beeradvocate.com’s review of Bud Light: C (mediocre).

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A Brief History of Naughty

May 8, 2009

HawkingI’m probably going to Hell for this, or maybe I’ll just get sucked into a massive black hole, but I couldn’t stop myself from wondering what one of those dorky Penthouse letters would sound like if it was read by Professor Stephen Hawking.

I saw Dr. Hawking once on the streets of Berkeley, or someone who looked just like him, accompanied by a tall, rather sexy nurse in crisp white uniform. I remember thinking: “Way to go, Doc!” After all, his condition hasn’t stopped him from fathering three children. He’s a man, damn it, not just a disembodied brain with a speech synthesizer!

So here you go: a little soft-core pillow talk from the smartest man in the world. Enjoy!  Dear Penthouse

C28: Fundamentalist Fashion

February 10, 2009

c281You know how the car radio occasionally scans up a station that sounds like standard indie rock, with big guitar riffs and some guy singing about getting high, kicking ass, and falling in love? But then you listen for a minute and you realize he’s getting high on God, kicking Satan’s ass, and falling in love with Jesus? C28 is the rag-trade equivalent of that sneaky FM station, a retail chain selling faux-hip clothes and gear for young evangelicals who don’t want to dress like Mormon missionaries, but whose moms won’t let them shop at Hot Topic.

Poised between the godless Bay Area and America’s pulsing red heartland, I have a rare vantage-point from which to observe this sort of phenomenon. It’s called Sun Valley Mall, and it’s easy enough to find the C-28 store if you know what to look for. Just stand in front of Hot Topic, then look across the mallway to the store that looks just like it, only instead of being staffed by surly teens with clip-on nose rings, has a fresh-scrubbed cheerleader type working the door.

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