Something To Tilt At

Next week I'll begin my formal (and, I suppose, informal) duties as a new member of the Berkeley Energy Commission. If there's anyone out there with experience in government (or with energy ideas), I'd appreciate hearing from you in the comments section (with do's and don'ts).

On Tuesday afternoon, at 1:30, I'll be attending a groundbreaking ceremony for a wind turbine being built at the Shorebird Nature Center (right by the Berkeley Pier) -- there's a nice little article about it in today's Chron.

On Wednesday evening at 6:30, at the North Berkeley Senior Center, I'll attend my first commission meeting as a commissioner myself (my son and I dropped in on them a couple months ago). Apparently at the start of the session I'll be sworn in -- or, as my son refers to it, "coronated." I'm somewhat nervous about being up to the challenge -- about having the patience to work through the incremental processes of fighting global warming at the local level (among other energy issues) -- but I'm excited to be getting involved.

On a beautiful day in Berkeley like today, it seems almost surreal to imagine that there's a climate crisis. I keep thinking of what my little heal-your-own-back book (and my chiropractor) says: it's especially important to work at prevention when nothing seems to be wrong. (I understand that this spine-to-global-warming analogy is quite flawed -- but if you have a wonky back yourself, you probably understand how the topic tends to work its way into disparate conversations.)

By the way, as far as I know the public is welcome at commission meetings. At one point, late in the meeting I attended as a civilian, the commissioners came to a point in their agenda where they were supposed to ask for public comment. They all turned to me, as I was the only member of the "public" in the room. After an awkward moment I just shrugged and said, "Um, the public's cool with everything so far."

June 22nd, 2007

A Direct Mailing That Would Make More Sense If I’d Ever Learned To Drive

From AIG Auto Insurance (verbatim):

Why is Josh Kornbluth eligible for a Free Quote on these special auto insurance rates when many other CA drivers aren't?

Out of 21,623,793 drivers in California, Josh Kornbluth is one who qualified.

1 comment June 21st, 2007

Why Michael Can’t Reed

My guest on tonight's show -- a repeat of the first episode of our second season -- was Michael Tilson Thomas, leader of the San Francisco Symphony and (more importantly) a recovering oboist.

MTT -- as he suggested I call him (I didn't ask him to call me JK -- didn't want to come off as being imitative) -- started out on that noblest (or at least quackiest) of all double-reed instruments. But faced with the daunting challenges of the "ill wind that no one blows good" (cf. Danny Kaye), he made the wise choice to instead slack off and become a world-class conductor, composer, and TV-series host. The series -- Keeping Score: Revolutions in Music, right here on our very own public television -- is a marvel: concise, moving, accessible.

As I move forward with my own (decidedly amateurish) efforts at oboe-playing, I can take comfort at this tenuous link with a great musician -- though I admit, as connections go, it's a slender reed to cling to. ...

June 18th, 2007


I've been appointed by Mayor Tom Bates to the Berkeley Energy Commission!

More to come shortly. ...

June 16th, 2007

Stripper Names

The word on the street is that you get your stripper name by combining the name of your first pet with the name of the first street you lived on.

I'm "Fred East 7th Street."


4 comments June 15th, 2007

Citizen Josh Extended Through June 17

Just wanted to mention that my new one-man show, Citizen Josh, has been extended a week -- through Sunday, June 17. It's at the lovely and historic Magic Theatre, at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Info here.

Also, if you happen to attend tomorrow's matinée (at 2:30), you can hang out afterward for my onstage "Democratic Dialogue" with USF politics professor Brian Weiner, who's one of the heroes of the piece.

June 9th, 2007


Tonight's show (at 7:30) is a lovingly restored rebroadcast of an episode that ran earlier this season -- one that focused on two-wheeled conveyances. So in order to keep the conversation balanced, we had to keep moving forward. (Sorry -- I'm a bit under the weather, and my writing is possibly even loopier than usual.)

Two-Wheeler Type 1: Choppers -- those beautiful, raunchily loud, handmade motorcycles. Expert: Tom Zimberoff, chopper-lover, photographer extraordinaire, and author of the dazzling photo book Art of the Chopper II.

Two-Wheeler Type 2: Mountain bikes -- that relatively new species of bicycle that allows people very much not like me to go at high speeds up and down really big hills. (Okay, I do have a mountain bike -- and I love it -- but I tend to stay on the flatlands.) Experts: biking pioneers Joe Breeze and Jacquie Phelan. Joe made one of the first mountain bikes and currently makes commuter-friendly "Breezer Bikes." As for Jacquie, she was one of the early woman mountain-biking champions and now -- among other endeavors -- runs WOMBATS: the Women's Mountain Bike & Tea Society.

Plus, there's a "Wandering Josh" segment in which I attended a chopper show at the Cow Palace and earned my leathers -- well, tried to.

2 comments May 28th, 2007


Someone in our extended family gave my son a watch last Christmas. There were lots of kids and lots of presents at my sister-in-law's place, and somehow we immediately lost the little instruction sheet for the watch. The watch is kind of high-tech -- a very cool gift for a child my son's age -- but it doesn't have the simple markings that would tell us the make or model of the thing. So we haven't been able to set it properly.

The watch has been with us almost half a year now. A few times a day it beeps, loudly and repeatedly. If you try pressing buttons randomly, sometimes the beeping will stop for a few seconds -- and then start up again. Eventually the beeping ceases. Then, a few hours later, it beeps again, for a while.

It used to live on our kitchen table, for some reason. In the great migration of all things, it now sits next to my computer.

Whoever gave my son the watch is beloved to us, and we have never even broached the possibility of getting rid of it. The beeping isn't that terrible; you kind of get used to it after a while. And you know that the beeping will stop eventually, if you just leave the thing alone.

Okay, watch. I've got my battery. You've got yours. Let's both try to keep ticking for as long as possible.

May 25th, 2007

The Playwright’s the Thing

Tonight's show (at 7:30) is an immaculately reconditioned broadcast of a program we first ran a little while ago -- featuring a conversation with one of our local Bay Area treasures: acclaimed playwright Philip Kan Gotanda. Philip's latest play, the Fillmore- and Japantown-based After the War, recently ran at the A.C.T. -- and he always has new, ambitious stuff in the works: not just plays, but also movies and even (sometimes) dance works. He's a deep, fascinating artist, and it was a pleasure to sip some of the organic wine he brought and talk about all kinds of things.

May 21st, 2007

Citizen Josh

My new one-man show, Citizen Josh, opens tomorrow evening at the Magic Theatre in S.F. I'm hecka-excited! If you want info, you can click here.

2 comments May 18th, 2007

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