birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Bergie Bowl

It began simply because my father's birthday was New Year's Day and there a bunch of college football bowl games that day. My dad, who normally had to work holidays, had the day off and invited some friends over. My mom made chinese chicken salad, a delicacy in the 1980s. She fried her own crispy noodles and everything. To watch the multiple games, my dad brought our little black and white TV into the TV room and placed it on the hearth next to our large color TV. He also brought in a portable radio, so he and his sportswriter friends wouldn't miss any of the action. In the days before cell phones, I remember my dad's friends waiting their turn to use our house phone to place last-minute bets with their bookies. A few years later, after my parents divorced, my mom had moved out. But my dad still served Chinese chicken salad on his birthday that he picked up at a restaurant in Oakland's Chinatown. And, for some reason, he also added a Burmese noodle soup to the menu. This had to be picked up at a separate location near Berkeley. The soup came with special toppings that had to be heated separately. The friends kept coming and the crowd increased every year. On big birthdays, his friend Ricky Ricardo (yes, his real name) hosted the party at his restaurant, Ricky's in San Leandro. Ricky's had multiple rooms with multiple TVs, but no Chinese chicken salad or Burmese noodle soup. As my father aged, he relied more and more upon me and my brother (and eventually my boyfriend and then husband Dale) to pick up the food. He had adapted the menu a bit. The Chinese chicken salad could not be picked up the day before at Costco. But the Burmese noodle soup remained the star of the show. Well, maybe the co-star. My dad (aka Bergie) was the real star. His friends would stream in throughout the day, depending on their own sportswriting schedules, and bring booze as gifts. In between games, my dad would hold court upstairs regaling his guests with stories of the jazz musicians he'd heard, the movies he'd seen, the books he'd read, the amazing events he'd witnessed. Now that he's passed away, his friends still host a party on New Years' Day. They call it the Bergie Bowl.

Koreatown Christmas

The Evolution of Tradition