I am a day late from my schedule -I almost always post on Saturday mornings -and here we are it’s Sunday morning.
I confess, but first I owe you an explanation of what confession means to me. I was raised in the Episcopal Church. We did not confess one on one, we had no confessional, there was no expectation of detail, and we weren’t given any specific actions by which we could achieve reconciliation. Using the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, once a month we said a general confession his in unison. There was some almighty and most merciful Father and then the confession – We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done. That’s it. Pretty tame.
In that spirit, I confess that I am running on fumes this week in the Quirky Berkeley Department.
I have been working like a dog on my book about People’s Park 1969. This has been an intense couple of weeks in terms of copy editing and photograph selection deadlines. As a result, I have left undone that which I ought to have done. I ought to have gone back to 1613 Derby and found out the story behind the quirky. But I didn’t.
So what we have today is simple and lovely – which I am promoting as a virtue all the while acknowledging that I have erred and strayed.
The painted garage door is killer.
The driveway is Even More Killer. I cannot think of a better driveway in Berkeley. There house with the zebra garage doors on Ada Street has the Hawaiian Islands painted on its driveway – it is cool, but this is the gold standard of quirky driveways.
Elegant stained glass with down-home installation. Quirky!
The planting style in the front yard is overgrown jungle.
In the middle of the jungle is a nice,large bird cage – with no birds. Cool, no?
These triangles remind of Lenny Pitt’s angle-bisecting structures/sculptures. Within the jungle it s a good thing.
What an excellent use of a bed frame,no?
So there it is. Simple, charming ,elegant.
I showed this simple and elegant post to my friend. As is often the case, before he told me what he thought about the post he had something to show me – photos.
“The first day I came to Berkeley I saw him. Tommy Roberts with his puppets. He was a tiny dude, well over four feet as Groucho would say but a fair mark under five. He had the puppets in shopping bags – a king, a dog, a scarecrow and a bunch of little men. Later on Ruth Asawa made a puppet or two for him. That day, the first day in Berkeley, the dog puppet recited a poem about not knowing what color he was.
“It was gestalt, epiphany, satori. I had Greyhounded from Detroit to Oakland.
“I knew what I was leaving, but didn’t know where I was going. I stuck out my thumb in Oakland and 20 minutes later was at Telegraph and Bancroft. I saw Tommy Roberts on Sproul Plaza and knew I had come home. I was where I was supposed to be. I felt comfortable inside myself for the first time.
“He lived in dive SRO hotels. I visited him on Turk Street a couple times. He had stories, he did. They locked him up a bunch of times – Camarillo, Laguna Honda and St. Francis hospitals. He was the king of walk-away though. Left when he wanted to.
“Grimes and Tommy were best buddies as long as they didn’t see each other too often.
“Grimes’s thing was the Automatic Human Jukebox. Dude could play.
“Tommy died in ’96. I went over to the dive on Turk Street where he lived. I buzzed in and a group of the senile brigade who lived there were sitting in the lobby watching television and talking about Tommy. I went out and got some sandwiches and a jug and paper cups”
I was patient. “This is all very interesting, and I say that seriously. But is there a link between this story and my post that I don’t grasp?”
It was his turn to be patient. “My friend, you need a break. And a wash in the Pool of Siloam. Tommy made me know Berkeley was my home. And these photos from Derby Street make me know that Berkeley is still my home. I wonder somedays, all this fierce talk about Berkeley needs to look like Bay Street. Derby Street reminds what Tommy Roberts taught me,that’s all.”
I’ll admit, it got past me. I chalk it up to the hard work I’ve been doing. And here all along he had understood the post. I still had to ask – what does he think of the post?