"Your Mom is So Berkeley" started out as a joke at work. We thought it was funny so I wrote a note for some friends on facebook. They thought it was funny so I made a facebook group. The "Your Mom is so Berkeley" facebook group now has over 2,500 members so I've decided to bring it out to a wider audience. I hope you like it.

Contact us: yourmomissoberkeley@gmail.com
Follow us on Twitter: @yourmomissoberk

Friday, April 30, 2010

Politics I

Your mom leans left like fat kids enjoy fried dough, hella.  What did y’all have to say about your mom’s politics?  Well let’s start with this story from Kate Gelles:

“My mom is so Berkeley that she just told me that at six years old, she asked me where I had been and I told her I couldn't tell her. She said that I had to tell her or I couldn't go there again and I started to cry I can't tell you, they're republicans and if I tell you, you won't let me go there again.”


Your mom is so Berkeley….

... she believes that freedom of speech is an inviolable right. But she thinks republicans should all be quiet.

...she thinks she still on the government hit list and blames all her failure in life on the conspiracy

…her kids are sworn to secrecy, until she decides never to run for public office.

…she put a Geraldine Ferraro for Vice President button on your backpack for your first day of kindergarten (and you thought it was tight)

... that growing up your 24 Hour Fitness was the YMCA, your Macy's was Goodwill, and you knew way more about local politics than you do now.

…she was banned from a country for disobeying the laws on racial segregation.

…she used protest posters as wall paper.

…she taught you Walt Disney was a fascist...and then took you to Disneyland anyway.

…your mom is so Berkeley that you were having flashbacks from your childhood reading about the protests at UCB this week.

…you were raised with political correctness and feminism, both which shun "your momma jokes.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pot I

Photo courtesy of Anna Kolb

Yeah, you knew it was coming. Contrary to popular belief there’s not a ton of posts about the herb but there’s enough for this post. I think it goes without saying that your mom has a pretty liberal stance towards the kind no matter what she told you in high school.

Your mom is so Berkeley…

...she gave your husband a bag of pot and a pipe the night before your wedding because he and his groomsmen needed to relax.

...she used to sell weed to the other cop that just pulled you over.

...she can always tell if your high from personal experience

...she always got some homegrown around, same shit you used to pinch in the 7th grade

…when she found your rolling papers she said, "If you are smoking pot I just want you to be cool about it.”

…she used to give me joints when you were at BHS so you wouldn't have to go to People's Park to buy them yourself.

…you can still taste, smell and feel the texture of goldenseal like it was yesterday!

…she let you, at age 4, name your cat 'roach ashtray' and it still comes up at the family table.

…when she asked you if you'd tried pot yet and you said "No," she then asked, "Why not?"

…she passed you joints at parties.

…she caught your smoking pot she couldn't get mad cuz 1. It was hers and 2. She was selling it to her patnahs!

Monday, April 26, 2010

People I

"The Yo Yo Lady" and family.  Pic courtesy of Mimi Zeiger

Like anywhere Berkeley has its own local celebrities.  It is also a destination for various luminaries for various reasons.  Check out this cool story from reader Leather Sammie,

“My mom is gone now, but she was so Berkeley I was allowed to go across the street and hang out with Jefferson Airplane while they practiced. Grace Slick used to make the BEST cookies! They would sit me and a plate of cookies to one side and play and play. I could sit in there as long as I wanted! I thought I was cool!”

Here’s what you mom thinks about various well known people.

Your mom is so Berkeley…

...she made you feel like you knew a celebrity when Michael Ellsberg started at your school (apologies, Michael).

...you thought about booing when then VP Bush and Gov. Deukmajian visited your elementary school.

...your first CD was a Grateful Dead album that your friend designed the cover artwork for

...my mom wrote an article about her for the East Bay Express.

...she used to hang out and drink coffee with those dudes who are now homeless and crazy and she knows them by name and has stories about them

…you thought Angela Davis must be a family friend, what with all the pictures of her at home.

…childhood pictures involve the Bubble Lady, the Med, the Polka Dot Man or being naked in the campus fountain.

…HER mom sat on Alan Ginsberg's lap!

…she misses listening to The Bob's at the annual KPFA craft fair.

…she used to take me by Grove Street on my way to school each day so I could wave at Mr. Charles.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ecology Part 1

Photo by Elana Ford

Yesterday was Earth Day which got us thinking about your mom.

Your mom is so Berkeley...

…She planted a tree when you were born to account for your carbon offsets.

…she used all paper bags until they were tissue paper thin

…when friends came over she'd invite them to put on gloves and stick their full arms into the center of the compost pile to feel the extreme heat.
…You got gloves? I don’t remember getting gloves.

…whenever she sees a bathtub, toilet tank or road barricade, she wants to make a flower planter out of it.

…whenever she has to "take a number", she brings home the little slip of paper from the store to recycle it.

…she goes thru the trash to double check that no recycleables made it into the garbage

…you had a compost long before the city of Berkeley started collecting it and she still uses that because she wants to have her own dirt for your front yard

…she uses the excess shower water to water her plants

...not only is every day Earth Day, every day is also Indigenous Peoples Day and 4/20.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Don't mean to bring down the room

Me and mom, 1979

Note: This post was scheduled to run last Wednesday but I whisked away on a surprise vacation so there were no posts last week. Here is this one week late.

Today is the third anniversary of my mom’s passing. I don’t want to bring down the room, but I would like to take this chance to introduce you to the real inspiration for Your Mom is So Berkeley.

My mom moved to Berkeley in 1957 and she never lived anywhere else after that. She graduated from Berkeley High in 1970 (where she had Donald Schrumph and, I believe, Mr. Panasenko) and from Cal in 1974. She became a Berkeley mom four years later. Growing up in that time put her right in that classic Berkeley wheel house of being young and rebellious in that “Berkeley in the 60s” time period. She spent a year without shoes, grew hair down to her waist, and experimented with drugs while listening to “Sergeant Pepper’s.”

While I was growing up she had a string of interesting boyfriends, actors, painters, writers and randomly, a lawyer who was my favorite. Because of these connections I was exposed to a lot of really cool things as a kid. One of the random byproducts of her relationships is that we are both painted into murals in the east bay. I ended up in the Jewish Heritage mural in downtown Oakland and my mom is in the mural at the Berkeley Amtrak station (on the far right).

As a Berkeley mom my mother allowed me to spend my Saturday’s gathering signatures for the GE boycott, which I begged her to let me do. As a single woman inclined towards the arts she signed me up for dance and painting and theater as a kid. I didn’t play organized sports until I was in high school and I don’t think she ever understood why I did it.

Over the years she became a locally known journalist writing for many of the local print outlets. She also did TV stints on local news and round-table type programs. She chronicled my teenage years in a column she wrote for Diablo magazine which was fine until a girl I knew suddenly knew a lot more about me than I’d told her. Through her writing and her great love of people, art, and her community my mother amassed an eclectic and loyal circle of friends. During the 1990s her annual September Party became an underground legend for the 30 and over set. One YMISBer even remembers my mom’s parties in the 70’s:

Rebecca Saulsbury: My mom is so Berkeley she used let me fall asleep on Chiori and Roberto Santiago Senior's bed at when the parties ran too late

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 the community she had been a part of for so long rallied around her. Her friends in the arts community put on a benefit for her at La Pena to raise money for her medical bills. People brought meals for her and my brother so she wouldn’t have to worry about cooking while she was going through her surgeries and treatments. One day we were going through Tupperware to return to people and one of them a asking tape and marker label with an “eat by” date and the name of one of our local food luminaries. It was pretty cool since I don’t think my mom knew the person who had provided the dish. The calls and emails from well wishers and people wanting updates on her condition became so overwhelming we had to set up a website and email newsletter to keep people apprised of her condition

When she died in 2007 she was surrounded by her family and friends. She was remembered at a public memorial at the Oakland Museum and with a few articles and obituaries. These all covered the particulars of her life much as I’ve done so far. But to me all these things were ancillary. I never understood the impact my mom had on others until she got sick. To me she was just mom.

Sure, I looked up to her for carving a career out of the cold hard rock that is freelance journalism. I admired her for buying a house in Berkeley and essentially raising a family on one income while never clearing more than $60,000 in a single year. But to me she’s the mom who played “Peter Pan” with me in the environmental yard at Washington Elementary. She’s the mom who taught me how to grow strawberries and pumpkins. She’s the mom who tried her best to play catch and basketball and take me to A’s games even though her only athletic pursuit was swimming laps at the Y and jazzercise. (Oh, there was also her stint in an all women’s Greco-Roman wrestling league. I thought that was pretty cool.)

She’s the reason I’m not afraid of losing anything. Because after watching her lose and build and lose and build again I know that happiness comes from hard work and good friends. She was the woman who exposed me to the arts and to all the career possibilities outside of the traditional world. She’s the reason I’ve been a writer and an interpreter and a teacher and an actor and a lecturer and everything else I’ve been. I’ve been these things because she showed me that you’re never stuck being what you are and that it’s fulfilling to take risks, to try to make your career what you want it to be.

She’s the reason I’m writing this right now and the reason you’re reading it. If the YMISB book ever becomes a reality it will be because I had such a great Berkeley mom. Thank you for helping me share what she gave me.

A few posts about my real life mom:

Your mom is so Berkeley…

…she’s gotta name the car. Her photo albums have the car listed along with the people in the photo.

…she hijacked a PTA meeting by speaking only in Spanish and only taking questions and comments in Spanish to show the parents who DIDN'T speak Spanish why they should provide interpreters.

…your after school snack consisted of frozen peas in a cup and powdered milk. Ah childhood.

...you used to carry a wicker lunch box

...she says the cop that just pulled her over "was a dick when we were in high school too."

...she used to sell weed to the other cop that just pulled you over.

...you fell out of a tree at school and no one got sued.

...she pronounces sherbet with an r before the t

...she knows at least one person painted into a mural in town

I know this post has been long and not very funny but here’s one last story about my mom from YMISB member Debby Segal:

Roberto, so glad to meet you in cyberworld, and to tell you something straight from my heart. Roberto's Mom, the irreplaceable Chiori, was so Berkeley, that before there was a young Roberto, she adopted me: As my Big Sister via Big Sisters of America. She took me on and under her wing when I was a troubled teen (75 or 76?), who had a difficult home life. She was nonjudgmental, inspirational, fun, and kind, when I needed it most. One of my fondest life memories I have was of Mission district Carnival, a Bay Area tradition which she (and R.S. senior), were instrumental in spearheading. I will find a picture of me and her that RS took during that time, and somehow get you a copy. Much love, from the bottom of my Berkeley Heart. Greetings to RS senior.

Thanks Debbie. And thank you YMISBers. You all have turned this into the best way I’ve found to honor my mom and all the Berkeley moms out there.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Your Mother's Day is So Berkeley

We at YMISB headquarters are happy to announce our first event, "Your Mother's Day is So Berkeley." This pot luck picnic will take place the Saturday before Mother's Day, May 8th 2010. If you are interested please click the "Events" link above for details.

Some things are still being worked out so please check back for updates.



So I came back from last week’s terrific Seattle vacation with a cold. As nice as it was to be off work it sure was chilly. So, in honor of my illness I present your mom’s view on health care. We’ll start with a story from a member and then on to some jokes.

(Ed.’s Note: her name is “Waterfall.” How Berkeley is that?)

Madeleine Waterfall-Quiton: HAHAHAHAHAH! An email from my Mom today! :
"Dear Maddie...I hope you had a good day with your patients and were able to get in touch with your healing energy and transcend the academic details. One thing about older patients, they probably are giving you a lot of knowledge and skill because they will recognize your goddess power. Love Mom" HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Your mom is so Berkeley…

...she wears stones for their healing properties and does Reiki on the cat

…she delivered half the babies on Shattuck. And probably breastfed them too.

…you were delivered by your father(not a dr.), at home (not a hospital)

…she thinks yoga has too may "Warrior Poses". Peace out you kinda rainbow sisters!

… when she comes to visit me in Italy she brings the following American must-haves: chiropractic pillow, sonicare toothbrush heads, tension tamer and women's tonic herbal teas, trader joes almonds and cranberries, Peace and Calming essential oil, cucumber scented body time soap.

…you were born at home in a bed made of natural redwood that your mom built herself while she was pregnant.

… she had you "take a moment and visualize joyful places" before taking you to the emergency room with a broken arm

… she got a glass eye with a dophin-safe tunafish in it.

…she hitchhiked from Marin Ave. to Alta Bates on the day you were born.

…that I was afraid to tell her when I got my first period because I was afraid she would try to have a pagan ritual to celebrate

…your placenta is still stashed in the back of the freezer, waiting to be planted under a tree.

…she had her placenta made into pills to help fight post-partum depression.

…she paid the midwife who birthed you with a sheet rocking job.

Monday, April 12, 2010

On Vacation

I'm not sure how Berkeley it is but my wife swooped me off on a secret vacation to Seattle to see opening day baseball. So no posts this week. If you need a YMISB fix check us out on facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, April 9, 2010

2,000 Members

This week "Your Mom is So Berkeley" hit 2,000 members on facebook. It's a pretty cool thing considering it took eight months to get the first 1,000 and only one month to get the next 1,000. To celebrate the milestone we at YMISB offered a personalized YMISB joke to all of our twitter followers. Coming up with thirty or so personalized jokes, which involved looking at each followers profile to learn something about them, was a tougher task than anticipated. Just the kind of challenge you need when bored at work.

So, here they are:

@510families Your mom is so Berkeley she let you run barefoot at Adventure Playground.

@nams Your mom is so Berkeley...she won't go to Holi in the states because it just can't compare to the ones she experienced in Peace Corps

@BasicPc Your mom is so Berkeley...when you told her you were "going viral" she offered you some herbal tea.

@energyface Your mom is so Berkeley...you've eaten placenta at least twice

@jateke Your mom is so Berkeley...she buys groceries daily and saves rinds and peels to grind into paste to eat while hiking

@Thandelike Your mom is so Berkeley...she swears she can get better gozleme on Telegraph than you can get where you live

@GPMotorcycles Your mom is so Berkeley...she thinks Ducati gets passed on the left hand side

@ensignbenson Your mom is so Berkeley...when she hears "are we not men?" she yells "Yes!"

@Nsavidge Your mom is so Berkeley...she's planning a massive sit-in to save Iceland

@superflydrizzy Your mom is so Berkeley...she can write your name on rice

@CrazyBerkeley Your mom is so Berkeley...she sells homemade incense out of hemp backpack in front of Berkeley BART.

@buylocalberk Your mom is so Berkeley...she buys SO local all her goods come from bartering with friends and local communes

@raudelwilson Your mom is so Berkeley...she's glad you left banking but mostly because she thinks "consultant" is a kind of therapist

@anniesnapshots Your mom is so Berkeley...she's planning a "save the crabapple" tree sit protest in my backyard

@asucfamily Your mom is so Berkeley...she was really hoping you'd pick Ashland or Humboldt

@JudeLaBarre Your mom is so Berkeley...she considered opening a second Peete's as "sprawl"

@neberkeley Your mom is so Berkeley...she won't buy new shoes but she'll drop $140 on organic, local, free trade saffron

@adnys Your mom is so Berkeley...she explains your job as "something to do with social studies and computers"

@indie_traveler Your mom is so Berkeley...she considers "foreign travel" to include trips to so-cal

@dilatante2 Your mom is so Berkeley...your tweetname comes from the reefer related nickname she gave you in high school

@wordjanitor Your mom is so Berkeley...the ironing board at your house was only used for collecting signatures outside of Andronico's

@moiraop Your mom is so Berkeley...she can name more varieties of maple leaf than she can name Maple Leafs

@jcceastbay Your mom is so Berkeley...she only eats gluten free matzoh brei

@bisonbrew Your mom is so Berkeley...she made a hef out of sourdough starter

@ReganConley Your mom is so Berkeley...you moved to DC and protected your tweets so she wouldn't know you'd "gone centrist."

@ajiradarch Your mom Is so Berkeley...your first camera was made from an oatmeal box. 10:05 AM Apr 7th via mobile web

@HilaryShepherd Your mom Is so Berkeley...her idea of celebrity gossip is following Delroy Lindo around Berkeley Bowl.

@jmcyoung Your mom Is so Berkeley...she has a kid trailer on her bike that's only used to carry dogs and things from the farmers market

@berkeleybecca Your mom Is so Berkeley...she knitted you a pair of coveralls. When you were 30.

Done! 29 personalized #YMISB jokes created and sent. Productive morning neh? Thanks all and happy 2,000th member!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

School Part 1


One of the interesting things about Berkeley schools is that the public ones are also full of kids who’s parents aren’t as “Berkeley” as the people posting here most of the time.  You know, those kids you all say wouldn’t trade you for your sprout and marmite sandwich when you were a kid.  Who are those other kids?  Do they think that show “Parenthood” is totally realistic?  Who knows?  What I know is YMISBers were a little embarrassed having to try to integrate with “those other” kids.

Your mom is so Berkeley…

...you thought about booing when then VP Bush and Gov. Deukmajian visited your elementary school.

… she put a Geraldine Ferraro for Vice President button on your backpack for your first day of kindergarten (and you thought it was tight)

…she was disappointed when you majored in neuro-science/pre-med. She kept asking why you didn't want to become a painter.

…she slept with Mr. Panasenko possibly while underage.

…she cringed when you told her in Junior High it "might" be fun to be a cheerleader!

…she sent you to a charter school and made sure you knew it wasn’t fair that charter schools existed because they take away cash from public schools and they represent the privatization of public institutions

…she enrolled you in the Black Panther’s pre-school when she moved to town without noticing the guys with guns standing around.

… she knew when you cut class cuz she either ran into you on Shattuck Ave. (or Telegraph) or someone else's mom did and told her.

… she bought you didgeridoo lessons, and complained to the principal when the jazz ensemble refused to write parts for it.

…she sent you to "Blue Fairy Land" for kindergarten.

…she helped you with your second grade petition against partially hydrogenated oils in school snacks, and wrote about you to the guy with the Oreo lawsuit. "Don't hydrogenate me!"

…she taught the person who started this group at Longfellow.

Money Part 1

Elana Ford's Tie Dye Party

Berkeley moms are pretty particular about how to spend their money. New clothes are out. New cars? Out. Locally sourced, organically grown, sustainably farmed, saffron? In! Organic foods ain’t cheap, but your mom, it seems, is.

Here’s some of what you had to say bout your mom’s spending habits:

Your mom is so Berkeley…

... when the house got cold, you went to bed.

... she follows you around the house, turning lights off behind you.

... that growing up your 24 Hour Fitness was the YMCA, your Macy's was Goodwill, and you knew way more about local politics than you do now.

…she made you throw a tie-dye party every year on your birthday to save money on clothes.

…that when she goes to Cactus Taqueria she tips each line cook an equal percentage of the total because otherwise it wouldn't be fair.

…she buys people food stamps ($1 for $1) so they will have cash to buy non-food items.

…your dept store was called The Berkeley Free Pile.

…she befriended other families to tag onto their Strawberry canyon pass.

…she gets REI points on her credit card

…she still does all her banking at The Co-Op (grocery) Credit Union

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Monday Was a Baseball Day

Sorry there was no post yesterday. I got caught up getting the family ready for opening day baseball last night. Maybe you can check out this post I wrote last summer about dads and baseball. Hopefully it can tide you over until the new YMISB post tonight.

One day soon I'll get on a more normal morning publishing schedule.
Thanks for reading.

PS: The facebook group is sitting on 1,995 members. It would be pretty cool to have 2,000 before our next interview thing coming up in a couple weeks. If you know someone who hasn't joined please recommend us.


Friday, April 2, 2010


Photo by Stephanie Johnson

It seems like beyond public nudity, off beat religions, and composting the thing that most scarred generations of Berkeley kids was being told that carob is a suitable replacement for chocolate. It’s not. We love you moms of Berkeley, but please stop with the carob already. If you have push it don’t compare it chocolate, let it stand on it’s own. Seriously. Read on.

Your mom is so Berkeley…

… she got you called out in the College Avenue Coop babysitting room cause she'd convinced you that Carob Peanut Butter Cups were the food stamp version of Reese’s

… she taught a women's yoga class in our house every Wednesday night, followed by carob chip cookies and a consciousness raising session.

…we had whole wheat carob chip cookies for dessert
           … ewww.....oh god I remember those

…you had to convince her that carob is NOT chocolate
          …Hell yea! Carob is my personal childhood hell!!!
          …you tell her...carob is NOT chocolate

…she'd put wheat germ into our made from scratch birthday cakes and our carob "milk" shakes

…when you baked "toolhouse" cookies you used whole wheat flour that had to be kept in the freezer and carob chips

…your biggest treat was carob chip cookies made with honey that had orange peel shavings in them.
           …Oh lord yes. To this day the sight and/or smell of carob chips make me retch.

…Carob. WTF was up with carob? Satisfying as a dry hump.
          … OK, I've always wondered. What WAS the deal with carob chips? Why were they supposed to be healthier than chocolate? They had sugar in them right?
          … Ugh! Carob! What was that all about?

OK so maybe carob wasn’t all bad. There was also this:

I love the moms and all the Berkeley goddess/composting/vibrations/civil protest/carob chip ways. Wouldn't trade it for growing up anywhere else!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Protests Part 1

Photo courtesy of Connor Nielsen

So yes, Berkeley is known for protests.  It got to a point when I was in high school that you would see six people marching down the street with signs yelling about something and it wouldn't even phase you.  You had no idea what they were about and you didn't care.  I thought the era of the protest was dead.  I figured that much as society had become harder to shock we were past the point where protests were a viable means of getting attention for an issue.

Then came the Bush presidency and protests were in vogue again.  Then the economy crashed and University fees went up and now it's Berkeley all over again.  Here's a post from Connor Nielsen explaining the photo above:
"Yeah my mom is that berkeley. She took me to the riots in Feb 2008 over the code pink disputes. This is where the oakland, richmond and berkeley riot control was there in the streets near berkeley high. I also was in the sit down protest that day, but here is a pic at 11PM out front the police department."

So here's some posts about your mom's protests:

Your mom is so Berkeley:
....because when you came home from Lincoln (soon to be Malcolm X) elementary school you found Mom already home from work early because her office above the store on Telegraph Ave. had been tear gassed.

…she bought you matching "One Voice Pro Choice" T shirts at the march when you were about 13.

…she started a petition to save the veggie car from being impounded.

…that as a little kid you whined, "Oh, not ANOTHER peace march!" because for just one day, you wanted to be left alone to play with your decidedly un-pc Barbies... and Little Kiddles.

…she marched you in a stroller during the 1975 B.U.S.D. Teacher's strike!

..she was arrested for protesting at age 9.

…that we took a day off school to go "March on Gallo" down Telegraph Ave.

…my brother was tear gassed in his stroller during a protest march on campus.

…her social life used to consist of going with friends to get arrested outside of Livermore lab.

… that even when she isn't in Berkeley, she still goes to protests and sit-ins.

…you had no choice but to march in every 'Right to Choose' rally.

…she didn't get upset with you for coming home later than expected because you were out running from the cops after a protest turned into a riot.

…she wheeled you to a People's Park protest in a stroller.

…she made you and your brothers give water from a hose to all the passing anti-Vietnam War protesters marching by your house because it was a really hot day!