by Rachel Swan
Never one to exit quietly, local birdcage maker and jazz booster Michael Parayno is staging a jazz sit-in at his recently shuttered Birdland Jazzista Social Club this Friday. He's demanding a variance to sections 12.44.010.A, 13.44.040.A, 13.44.040C, 13.40.100, 23D.32.030, 23B.56.010, 23B.56.020, and 23B.56.030 of the Berkeley Municipal Code, arguing that his unconventional garage venue has become a critical arts hub in a residential part of Berkeley, and that he's doing a service to the performing arts community by hiring local musicians and paying them a decent wage ($300 per 90 minute set, which is roughly three times that of most local bars). "We believe that is a justifiable course of action because of the benefits it provides the citizens, neighbors, and musician community of Berkeley. Most of the neighbors participate in the gatherings, and no alleged complaints from my immediate neighbors," Parayno wrote in a recent e-mail, which also accused the city of committing racism in the guise of code enforcement. He's invited city officials and council members to attend Friday's event, alongside Birdland supporters. He's also promised to turn Birdland, formerly a members-only social club, into a non-profit.