Monday, December 24, 2007

Sailing Memories

From Carolyn Poirot (originally posted as a comment - but you all need to see and share this memory)

"Hi Mary Lou, You won't remember me because you were still very young when I started sailing with your Dad and John about 40 years ago. We sailed at Lake Wichita and Eagle Mountain. I was so sorry to hear about John's death, but it sounds like he did a lot of wonderful things in his life, both for fun and serious.

My best memory was from the day your dad got a new spinnaker for the old Morgan, and we were supposed to help him get it up in the middle of a race in which we were doing well. Something went wrong, and we ended up with the new spinnaker out behind the boat, dragging us to a dead stop (like some kind of parachute break floating out behind us.) I can still hear John's laughter when he realized what happened. Only your dad's loud curse of his worthless crew stopped all the laughing, and when we finally got the spinnaker back in the boat, he took us all up to the club for a gin and tonic and a lot more laughing all around. ...

Again, I am very sorry to hear about your brother and will keep your family in my prayers. Sincerely,

Carolyn Poirot "

Memories of John's Political Activitism

From Kent Minault comes this post:

John and I organized an action at our congressional representative's office back in August. Here's a link to some YouTube videos that show John in action at Howard Berman's office. John's cool and persuasive style maintained an uncompromising focus on the goal of peace without letting the event be taken over by the shriekers. The video is in three short parts. A nice star turn by John.

The links:

Life is...

John lived a great life, but who knows what life was to him and why he chose to leave it, but a couple of years ago - I postulated the following options for what life is...

Life is...
A) a bowl of cherries
B) what you make it
C) an illusion
D) fun while it lasts
E) a pile of dung
F) f'norked up
G) a game (trademarked by Milton Bradley?)
H) for the living
I) for the young
J) a mystery
K) for the birds, squirrels, dogs, (you can also do a fill-in-the-blank here)
L) Crazy...

But most of all - life is for sharing with the ones you love. I love my family. I miss my brother, John. I hope he is free and happy on the other side. As the Doors would have said, John has made the "Break on through to the other side"

Saturday, December 22, 2007

To become a contributor...

John loved people to be involved. So, please share your thoughts, feelings and memories about John here. You can do so in two ways, you can comment on existing posts. Or email to become an author on this blog.

Where Eagles Dare to Fly

There were seagulls and pelicans skimming above the waves of the Palisades' beach as I listened to someone mention John's name. The man spoke of his breakfast meetings he'd had with John throughout the years, in the background loomed an enormous Christmas tree lit and trimmed with red bows and candy canes as the restaurant help spoke loudly in Spanish. I listened to the man's pain of his loss of John and gazed out at Catalina Island, a rare sight to behold. This man's memories brought up images of John listening intently as his friend unloaded his woes and the frustration he felt for not having been able to help John. The man's heart hurt as so many will this day, his Memorial takes place this afternoon. There will be other days as well to smile or shed a tear in memory of John Berg. I will learn what he meant to many others as I was mesmerized by the sole voice of this one man, searching to voice his loss. He was agitated that he'd not see John again.At first, I was struck with sadness but I kept looking for the dolphins in the waves in the sea behind where this man sat as he talked. A lone dolphin broke out and breached against the cold air that permeated through an open window. A breathtaking and timely break in the allure of the place that I feel John is, poetry in motion and harmoniously home within the elements. I haven't seen the sun shine so bright in almost a week, a woman mentioned the same as she stood next to me before we'd sat. The dolphin went quickly but the birds continued their cross-paths, searching. I thought of how the soaring in thermal pockets--where only eagles dare to glide--coincided with a few words the man shared about what a deep thinker John was, how he dared to listen and remain until another was done talking to give guidance. He'd answered his own distress call. John was an eagle, he did dare to go where most couldn't, wouldn't or maybe shouldn't--according to some who fear changes. I am not angry with my friend. Miss him? You bet. The moisture in my eyes turned to a smile on my lips when I felt John's presence looming in this room by the sea because somehow, I still felt he was watching over every thing through others' eyes and hearts or maybe he's still soaring on another plane, giggling or outright laughing in freedom. I miss you, John, I respect you more and will always adore and honor, your honesty.

My contribution to John's Memorial

Today is the 22nd of December, and last night was the longest night of the year. Today, as the days will begin to grow longer, we are gathered to celebrate an incredible being of light who has left the physical plane. John was a beacon to so many people.

Some might say that John's life lacked direction. In reality, John was a mighty creative force like a river carving out its own path. He played many roles in his own life. Perhaps, the best of them being friend and companion. He always had a kind word or a harsh truth when a person needed it. And he never lacked stories - he told great stories of his adventures, places he had been, fun he'd shared with others, and the things he dreamed of doing.

John was a man who lived his dreams and inspired others to do the same. He wanted to challenge himself so he took trapeze lessons. He needed more challenges so he climbed Mt Whitney. He hiked to Havasu Falls this year. He traveled the world.

Being his sister was probably the best seat on the planet to view a life filled with joy, adventure, great people, and lots of plans and dreams. While we will all miss him, we must not get tangled up in the way he died. We must celebrate the way he lived and become our own forces of nature, our own rivers carving out our own streambeds in this earth by which we can light our campfires and share the tales of our lives with our loved ones - just like John did. The days are growing longer, the light is stronger - remember the light John shared with you and please go out in the world and do the same thing.

Favorite John Berg Memory from Charles Berg

Charles asked me to post this for him. (Mary Lou)

There are many things I will remember about John – including him being the sweet little blonde kid with the cowlick in our Christmas-card pictures. One moment in particular comes to mind, however, pertaining to our mutual love of music.

Growing up in Wichita Falls, Texas, we kids listened to the local rock and roll stations – to the horror and displeasure of our classical-music loving father [whose incessant playing of Bach organ music soured me on that to this day]. When I went off to college in Chicago in the fall of 1960, I discovered genres of music I had never known [blues, folk, jazz, etc] – but to this day still enjoy rock music. One of my fellow entering students at the University of Chicago was Elvin Bishop, from Chickashaw, Oklahoma, who had arrived at college with an old Dobro guitar. Elvin and I lived in the now-demolished East House of the "New Dorms" – and I was one of a small group of guys who would sit on the stairs singing songs as Elvin played.

The other two parts of the New Dorms were the women’s residences, West and North Houses, which alternated hosting a two-hour "coffee hour" on Wednesdays. At some point, the end of the coffee hour was followed by some musicians setting up and playing for several hours in the "Central Unit" of the dorm. The group included Elvin and other students [Paul Butterfield and Mark Naftalin] along with some black guys they had met at the nearby blues joints on 43rd Street; they played a mix of blues and pop music [Ray Charles’ "What’d I Say" was a favorite].

This group went on to become the Butterfield Blues Band – who infamously served as the backing band for Bob Dylan’s shocking electric songs at the 1965 Newport Folk Fest. After the band went on to glory, my brothers arrived at the University of Chicago, John briefly as an undergraduate before departing to New Orleans, then back home to Wichita Falls where he became a DJ. During a trip he made to Chicago shortly after that, we heard that the Butterfield Blues Band was going to be playing at the Aragon Theater [in mid-winter, as I recall]. We got in touch with Elvin, whom I had not seen for several years, and made plans to attend – then to hang out with Elvin after the show.

The Aragon, originally a ballroom, had no seating [you sat on the floor] – but did have a bar [off-limits to the mostly under-aged crowd]. Being "of age," we went into the bar – where John spotted a female musical acquaintance. He returned to us shortly to introduce this lady: Janis Joplin!! That was the only time I ever saw her [I never saw her in concert despite loving her music].

Then Butterfield, Bishop and Co. started to play – and we went out to join the crowd. Thirty or so minutes into the set, another guitarist [whom John also knew] showed up – as I recall, from a planned concert that had been cancelled. He went up on stage to play with the band – but, not having his own "ax" with him, picked up one of Elvin’s guitars to play. Well, actually, to restring before playing. Without asking Elvin’s permission, the guy took all the strings off the guitar and put them back on in reverse order: Jimi Hendrix was left handed. THAT was the only time I saw Hendrix play – but not for long: Elvin was so P.O.’d at Hendrix that he unplugged, put the guitar he was playing down and stormed off the stage. Elvin joined John, myself and the others and we left.

As you can image, this was one of the most memorable evenings in my lifetime of listening to music – and John has always been a central figure in that memory. Rest in peace, John. I hope you can track down Janice, Jimi and Paul "out there" and share a few stories – and maybe sing a song or two.
Charles Berg

Friday, December 21, 2007

When John and I met in high school, I didn't get to know him until 11th grade because I was never in the accelerated classes. I just wasn't interested in studying, but I was interested in being a Thespian and that is how we met. Truthfully, he and a couple of other boys used to drive me crazy in class, but I probably loved it. He loved to have card games at his house (in the apartment behind) but that was mostly for "the guys". I had a hell of a Senior Party out at a private lake with lots of beer, and that sealed John's and my friendship forever. We went off to college (Him-Chicago, me, LSU) and I always thought that he migrated down south because of my clever and descriptive narrations over hundreds of dollars of phone calls that first year. When he moved to New Orleans, I initiated him to the Southern lifestyle as I knew it...much partying and little studying. I didn't learn to study until at least the second year by which time I had introduced John to the famous Linda Bridget Revue on Bourbon Street and the fine art of cruising Pat O'Brians and listening to the jazz come ripping out of the swinging doors. Gosh, I partied way too much, that stopped when I transferred to UT. John actually escorted me, my Mother and a dear friend of hers when the ladies came to New Orleans on a trip. We went out to dinner and some clubs, and after I went home, John got the ladies back to their hotel. Unfortunately, a couple of nights later, my mother's jewelry was stolen from her hotel room (the Royal Orleans) and of course, the FBI came to John's apt to "interview" him several days later. He was totally freaked out because he was "growing" in his back bedroom but I guess the interview went off without a hitch, probably the best acting job he ever performed. What to say about John. He was a gentle man. He was always interested in what I had to say, even though I was never his intellectual equal. Sometimes I was even superficial, can you imagine that? He never let on he thought that and was always highly supportive and the most negative comment I ever got was a "Realllllly?!?" with a rising voice inflection that indicated he kind of doubted the validity of my point. God love him, he was patient and kind and yes, Mary Lou, I do believe that he was crafty in his own way. He was the first person to bring the idea of Twelve Step Recovery to my attention and I probably would not have considered it had it been proposed by a lessor man. I owe him an awful lot, and wish that I had more time to be with him. Well, thats all for now, probably more to come later. Peace.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What a Happy Boy!

John grew from this very happy boy to become a joyous, helpful man. Just look at that face. While adventuring through life, John also had a few misadventures like shutting his fat little hiney in a desk drawer, ironing his baby-fat belly, and more. He also had a sailing mis-hap in which his date threw his shoes into the water. What she didn't know was that the keys to the car and John's glasses were in those shoes. He wasn't so happy then, but overall - John seemed to smile more than he was down. He helped more than he took. He was a great guy who will be deeply missed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

For My Friend

John's passing surprised me but did not take away the incredible insight, compassion or love he gave with so much enthusiasm whenever I'd see him. I treasure the years that I and my son, Dylan, knew him. The BBQ's, the lunches to talk about 'things that bother us.' Hands down, his smile lit a room up with that infectious glow and his laugh hit the highest of notes. Thank you Mary for putting a place up to honor a special brother, which tells me, his sister is one hell of a woman too! What a gift he was and you are.

John had integrity that I find so rare in men along with his raucous, bawdy and silly humor. Walking contradiction? Yep and loved him all the more for it because I knew he was one of the 'few' who could be trusted in a world that loses sight of those that have separate paths, yet don't wish to be separate so much as to make a difference. And that? He did in a BIG way, as Johnny only could. May all his dreams he started-- come true--Johnny we miss ya.

For the family, John and all who contribute to this page.

With love,


John in June 2007

In the Summer of 2007, we moved from the San Francisco area to to near Austin, Texas. The first leg of the trip was a stopover at John's house. We arrived at 1:20am, and John met us as cordially as if we had gotten there in time for dinner. We chatted a little that night - stopping quickly so we could all get some sleep.

The next morning we got up and went to breakfast which is where this picture came from. We had such a great time - laughing and talking. Upon arriving back at John's we discovered our white dog, Pearl, barking furiously at the statue of Buddha in the backyard. John had the presence of mind to grab his video camera and get this video. Please enjoy...

Friends and Family Gather Round and Share...

I invite you to share stories about the life and times of John Berg. He brought joy into our lives. His acting showing the diversity of the man - from being able to portray attorneys to the crazy Max on Summerland. He loved life. He lived it damn well.

John reveled in adventure. He went to Havasu Falls, climbed Mt. Whitney, traveled the world and made a home for himself that he loved. So with this post, I invite you in... please share your stories of John. We all have a bunch of them to share.
So, while you look at this picture of John (courtesy of a friend), just imagine hanging out in the yard with him and sharing tales of his adventures or your adventures with him. It's time to celebrate the wonderful life he led.

John Berg - a brother, a friend and a fine human being

John Edward Berg was my brother. He left us this last week to move on to where he will feel no angst or depression. We will all miss him. Here's his obituary:

John Edward Berg, age 58, died in his Valley Glen (suburb of LA) home on December 16th. John died peacefully in his sleep in his home.

John was born in Wichita Falls, Texas on April 5, 1949 to parents Dr. Owen C. Berg and Evelyn van Emden Berg. John graduated from Wichita Falls High School in 1967. John attended the University of Chicago, Tulane University and the school of life.

During his life, John had a diverse career path - holding many jobs including restaurant manager, rock and roll band manager, bartender, Top 40 and Country Western DJ, ski resort marketing manager in Crested Butte Colorado, production assistant for Wide World of Sports, and writer for publications such as Sports Illustrated. He also became a graphic artist for Merrill Lynch in NY, did voice-over work for radio and television commercials as well as being the voice of Dial-a-Pope. John became an actor appearing in recurring roles in General Hospital, The Bold and the Beautiful, Port Charles, Passions and The Young & the Restless. John moved to LA and became increasingly more active as an actor appearing in movies such as Star Trek Nemesis and It could happen to you. More recently, John made guest appearances in series television on shows such as Monk, Brothers & Sisters, Navy NCIS, Boston Legal, House MD, and many others.

John’s most recent focus was to create a world peace movement named "Unplug for Peace" which encouraged people to unplug and listen to the small, still voice inside for one day per month in order to create a more peaceful world. The effort was backed by people such as Jean Houston (one of the principal founders of the Human Potential Movement) and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul). The target goal for Unplug for Peace was one National Day in which people would unplug on January 28th, 2008-- the 60th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s death. John was also very active in Alcoholics Anonymous, helping others reach sobriety and peace in their lives.

John’s other passions included snow skiing, travel, trapeze, hiking and mountain climbing. In recent trips, he visited Havasu Falls, hiking about 10.5 miles each way with about 2500 feet of vertical. He also took a cruise to Istanbul. One of John’s big achievements in the last few years was his climb of Mt. Whitney for which he prepared for weeks. John and his friends actually made it to the summit of Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the Continental United States.

John is survived by his mother, Evelyn Berg in Harker Heights, Texas, and by four siblings: Charles Berg in Chicago, Illinois, Bill Berg in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, Ann Berg Turchick in Loudonville, New York and Mary Lou Berg in Taylor, Texas. He also had three nieces and one nephew. He also had three Bengal housecats which he adored.

John’s remains will be cremated. An informal memorial was held in Studio City, California on Saturday the 22nd of December of 2007.

If you wish to make a contribution in John’s name, please make it to Getting Out by Going In which can be reached by going to . John’s life can be summed up as live your passion, follow your dream. It was a choice he made throughout his life, and he would want all his friends and family to do the same.