What can possibly be quirky about steps and risers? In Berkeley, the answer is – lots.
Writing this, the title “Quirky Steps and Risers” didn’t come immediately but when it came – it came! Sometimes you don’t know that there is even question but when you experience the answer you know that there was a question.
“Quirky steps and risers” fits the rule of three. It is not a retriplication, such as “hodge-podge lodge.” The rule of three can refer to a collection of three words, phrases, sentences, lines, paragraphs, stanzas, chapters, or sections of writing and even whole books. The three elements together are known as a triad. The technique may be used not just in prose but poetry, oral storytelling, films and advertising.
It rolls off the tongue though – quirky steps and rises.
The Fountain Walk steps shown above take you from the Marin Circle down to the Solano Tunnel and vice-versa. In the summer of 2013, artist or artists unknown to me embellished the steps with chalk art. I resisted photographing or including the steps for weeks, thinking that they were too ephemeral. In the end, I relented, in the name of “art is not eternal” and “all things must pass.”
Above are several photos from September 2013. That winter what rain we had erased the chalked art quirky steps and risers.
The Fountain Steps are a reminder of the ephemeral nature of quirk. Like Joyce with his they lived, they laughed, they loved, they left, the quirk was made, it stayed, it left. Another reminder:
Poe nailed it with “the glory that was Greece/ And the grandeur that was Rome.” Once there was glory here on these risers, faded now.
Here – not many words needed – are a few of the many quirky steps and risers to be found in walking the streets of Berkeley.
Those are nice orderly tile steps and risers. For a walk on the wild tile-step side, let’s visit Marion Fredman’s steps and risers at 22 Tunnel Road and the back of her house on Oakridge Path.
See it? Believe it!
This Golestan Education riser presentation is a mere shadow of its former self.
I favor the older, more complete version.
Marcia Donahue does not claim that the eyes on the riser here are intended to ward off evil, but they do give that impression – a nazar, an amulet or charm to protect against the the evil eye.
Ted Friedman took this fantastic photo of the steps at the Mad Monk Media Center (formerly Cody’s Books).
As a breaking-the-rules bonus, here is one interior staircase.
Eni Green is all about doxies. This one ones its way down her stairs.
When I showed these photos to my friend, he challenged me to a round of speed popular culture STEPS allusions. You have four seconds to offer an allusion after your opponent has. He started with the obvious:
“Thirty Nine Steps.” Hitchcock.
“Giant Step” Taj Mahal.
“Step by Step.” Crests.
“One Step Up.” Springsteen.
“Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.” Bill B.
“I’ll be Watching You.” Sting (“Every step you take…”).
At this point it was getting hard and we straying a bit and the hits weren’t coming. My friend blurted out “Stairway to heaven” and BINGO I won. Same idea, different word. Not that I couldn’t have gone one with stairs and stairway – “Sugar Mountain” by Neil Young (“Now you’re underneath the stairs/ And you’re giving back some glares”) and “Helplessly Hoping” by Crosby Stills and Nash (“Stand by the stairway/ You’ll see something/ Certain to tell you confusion has its cost.”)
I got to choose what we’d do because I’d won. I voted for a random Quirky Berkeley evening walk in search of quirk large and small and cats of Berkeley. He was down for it. We always talk about walking but we don’t do it enough. After the walks I wanted to hear “Helplessly Hoping” with its refrain – “”They are one person / They are two alone / They are three together / They are four for each other.”
I am traveling and so this post is going up a little late. I apologize to those who start their Saturdays with this post. But – here it is. Better found later than found not at all.
My friend came back from his quarters wearing sensible shoes and a hat and sunscreen, ready to walk.
What does he think of the post?