What happened was:
I was working on a new and improved post on painted doors.
I had an iPhone photo of the door at Kingman Co-op, 1730 La Loma. I wanted a good photo.
We walked up to Kingman.
There was a toad mural that I hadn’t seen. Cool mural!
But, the door was blocked by a chalkboard with the history of Kingman Hall on it. Daniella Thompson has written a detailed history of Kingman Hall, The brief history is: built in 1914 for Theta Xi fraternity, fraternity disbanded in 1964, functions as “Toad Hall” rooming house 1964-1969, rooming house with new owner 1969-1973, Ken Keyes Jr. and his Berkeley Living Love Center 1973-1977, and since 1977 the Students’ Cooperative Association. It’s all on the chalkboard.
But the chalkboard was in the way of the door. Stephen Whiting was standing at the front door. We asked if we could move the chalkboard. He helped us move it. Stand aside history – art beckons!
Whiting graduated from Cal in December 2015 and left Kingman Hall for months woofing (or is it wwoofing?). He was back to see friends graduate, it being graduation weekend.
He asked what we wanted the door photo for. I explained Quirky Berkeley. He grokked it.
He pointed to the butterfly on the door and to his t-shirt. A butterfly!
He took us north on the property to an iron gate. That same butterfly!
And then he asked if we wanted to go inside and see the murals inside. Panic! I am SO old. They are SO young. Not sure that my Quirky Berkeley cred, such as it is, would carry much weight with this crowd. And – intruding, much? No, no, he assured me. People were open. No problem.
So we went inside and photographed some of the many many murals. Just inside the door:
This is a recent mural. Whiting said that in his time at Kingman there had been four different murals here. Some of the murals in the house are old, some are new. If you want to paint over a mural, the House Council has to approve. Quinn made this mural.
Upstairs and downstairs and around corners and half-flights of stairs:
“Oh shit it’s Tuesday,” sometimes embellished to “Oh Shit It’s Only Tuesday” and/or “Holy Shit It’s Only Tuesday.” is a meme with legs.
Homage to The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.
A depiction of “Strange Frog” by Alejandro Giraldo, seen in his Strange Animals post. The original:
Some controversy is attached to this door. There are some – still a minority – who find the door aesthetically unpleasing and wish to paint it over. Others – still a majority – find the literary value compelling. I’m with the majority on this one.
From The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.
One of the kitchen murals. Post-its!
A depiction of Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
From Be Here Now by Ram Dass. The original:
Jack Baur of the Berkeley Public Library shows good knowledge by informing that this Is taken from the artist Jill Thompson’s her interpretation of the character Delirium from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series. The original by Thompson:
Back to Kingman:
David Bowie. Obviously. Painted by Madelyn Covey when she lived there.
An ode to All My Friends Are Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John, published in 2010.
An animated GIF of the first few pages was posted on Tumblr and became the most reflagged and liked post in the history of Tumblr.
Most of the photographs we took were of murals. A few weren’t:
This is the door to the room where (1) perhaps the fraternity did the hazing that got it disbanded, and (2) Ken Keyes lived when the house was the Living Love Center in the 1970s. The Co-op member with the most coop points gets to live in the room. I didn’t see the inside. Maybe some day? Or – maybe I don’t want to? Scary? Maybe not. Mady Cohen lived in the room, which they called the Guru room. She describes it in a comment to this post as “all beautiful carved wood with built in incense burners, Buddhas, green tile, and tall windows.” So maybe not scary.
Climbing stairs up to the roof:
A muraled sleeping place for guests under the eaves.
And then out onto the roof. Parties. House Council meetings. Relaxing. Sunset!
The murals were amazing, just amazing. Whiting told us that they are nothing compared to the murals at Cloyne Court. I will check them out.
Walking through Kingman was like drinking from a high-pressure fire hose. The murals, yes, but also the spirit of youth stirring. This was not very different at all from the scenes of my youth, 50 years ago. It seemed a tad chaotic and Oh My God Why Don’t They Clean the Bathrooms and all that, but, still, through it all, Youth called. Steve and Quinn and Ben – on a path not unlike the paths we chose 50 years ago, although the choices facing them are at the same time more and less limited.
Most of my experiences with Quirky Berkeley are with people roughly my age, people who came to Berkeley when the young and aspiring and creative refugees from the rational culture could afford to live here. With the post-it art on Milvia and here at Kingman I have had a big dose of the young. I feel old but I feel young. My back pages! I’m ready to grow young again – no surrender!
I showed the photos to my friend. He winced and then smiled. He promised me a whole night of stories about Toad Hall after dinner tonight. I’m game! As we agreed on Toad Hall stories, the mail came. In it was an over-sized envelope from Flint, Michigan, addressed to my friend. Oh my!
What about the mural photos?