I have posted about the signs of San Pablo Avenue – signs in Berkeley and Albany and Emeryville and neon signs and a post about the bars on San Pablo in Berkeley.
When I did my first post about San Pablo Avenue in 2014 (before Trump, before the pandemic, and before the fires), I wrote: “San Pablo Avenue is our funkiest boulevard. South to North – it is the street, the avenue, the underbelly. For those of us inclined to romanticize urban life, San Pablo is as good as it gets. It is hard to imagine it being gentrified, but – possible.”
I was wrong, at least as far as Berkeley goes. Developers have descended upon San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley. Apartments with high-rent, questionable aesthetic value, and negative funk arising where once there was funk.
What we need is a rework of the brilliant “Nothing but Flowers,” Talking Heads with flowers and wildlife replacing modern technology in a post0apocalyptic world. Here we have yuppie housing replacing Third World businesses, housing, and urban street life.
John Storey and I broke our stir crazy bonds in August and walked the southern end of the El Cerrito’s stretch of San Pablo Avenue from the Albany border to Moeser.
Largely without comment, here is what we saw moving from south to north.
I don’t see the word “Oriental” used much these days. It is an outdated term in the world in which I live. “Asian” has entirely taken over. I learn from NBC news – of all places – that “Activists and academics trace the origins of the term [Asian-American] back to 1968 and University of California, Berkeley students Yuji Ichioka and Emma Gee, who, inspired by the Black Power Movement and the protests against the Vietnam War, founded the Asian American Political Alliance as way to unite Japanese, Chinese and Filipino American students on campus.” Ichioka (Japanese-American) and Gee (Chinese-American) were part of the Third World Liberation Front in Berkeley. Go Berkeley!
This photo by Jack Kirby was made in 1969:
Is anybody keeping score at home? How many dentist offices does this make?
Is it me or there is an echo in here?
Clearing my throat here.
As far as I’m concerned, this can stay just like this for as long as you want. It is gloriously funky, especially with John Storey’s black and white work.
Can you believe it – a cigar store Native American Indian outside! Wow, guess what city didn’t get the memo on this shit? An increased sensitivity towards depictions of Native American Indians and a movement against perpetuating stereotypes has culled their ranks substantially.
The Repository of All Knowledge tells us: “Bánh mì or banh mi is the Vietnamese word for bread. In Vietnamese cuisine, it also refers to a type of short baguette with thin, crisp crust and soft, airy texture inside that is often split lengthwise and filled with various savory ingredients like a submarine sandwich and served as a meal. Plain banh mi is also eaten as a staple food. A typical Vietnamese sandwich is a fusion of meats and vegetables from native Vietnamese cuisine such as chả lụa (pork sausage), coriander leaf (cilantro), cucumber, pickled carrots, and pickled daikon combined with condiments from French cuisine such as pâté, along with chili and mayonnaise. However, a wide variety of popular fillings are used, from xíu mại to ice cream. In Vietnam, sandwiches are typically eaten for breakfast or as a snack.” Now you know!
As a public service – and I am all about public service – I link here to what they say to do if you get your phone wet. We lost count of the number of times that our daughter Rosalie get her phone wet, each time with a different technique.
Makizushi (巻き寿司, “rolled sushi”), norimaki (海苔巻き, “Nori roll”) or makimono (巻物, “variety of rolls”) is a cylindrical piece, formed with the help of a bamboo mat known as a makisu (巻き簾). Makizushi is generally wrapped in nori (seaweed),
Damn! Shit is getting real on San Pablo! This rocks my soul!
Nostalgie de la boue is the attraction to low-life culture, experience, and degradation, found at times both in individuals and in cultural movements. The phrase was coined in 1855 by French dramatist Émile Augie. In Act I, Scene I of the play Le Mariage d’Olympe:
LE MARQUIS. Mettez un canard sur un lac au milieu des cygnes, vous verrez qu’il regrettera sa mare et finira par y retourner. (Translation: You put a duck in the middle of swans, you’ll see that he will miss his pond and eventually return.)
MONTRICHARD. La nostalgie de la boue!
It is close to but not exactly the same as “slumming it” or “low brow.” I first read it used with great effect by Tom Wolfe in his 1970 essay “Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s” Wolfe explains: “Nostalgie de la boue tends to be a favorite motif whenever a great many new faces and a lot of new money enter Society. New arrivals have always had two ways of certifying their superiority over the hated ‘middle class.’ They can take on the trappings of aristocracy, such as grand architecture, servants, parterre boxes, and high protocol; and they can indulge in the gauche thrill of taking on certain styles of the lower orders. The two are by no means mutually exclusive; in fact they are always used in combination.”
Here is a lovely essay on the term by Devin Foley.
My legal mentor in the United Farm Workers sometimes accused us as being “downwardly mobile towards the exotically deprived.”
THIS LINGUISTIC DIGRESSION MUST END.
Say what you want – these two black and white photos and that which they depict lift my spirits.
A better person than Tom Dalzell could resist linking to Edith Piaf. But I am not better, and 42,000,000 hits on the song can’t be wrong. And – Bill Monning would never forgive me if I didn’t also link to this by the Grateful Dead.
Eke is, we learn from their website, ‘founded on trust, integrity, and respect.”
Here we have something that could only happen in Berkeley. Or El Cerrito. To learn more, follow this link to a thorough and caring Berkeleyside article about the store.
The murals are by Stefen. I believe that he is the father of the “modern”mural movement in Berkeley. I have written about him several times, most notably here.
Your home for good stuff. Good naming!
I was getting worried. Worries assuaged. Another dentist.
I was getting worried. Worries assuaged. Another dentist.
Oh oh. Not a dentist. Keep calm. Don’t panic. Don’t worry.
This video – Exhibit A in the case for the need for drugs in the Sixties. But I still like the song.
No murals by Stefen.
“Tufunga” means “disguise” in Maori. I’m not sure it is used that way here. There is a slang sense that is new to me – a tough, ornery person, a new incarnation of what was once affectionally called a “bad motherfucker”
I don’t have enough words to describe how wonderful this store is. Blues, Country, Folk, Jazz, Cajun/Zydeco, Mexican, Gospel. The whole deal. Their website – here.
Salinas and San Juan Bautista were my home for most of the 1970s when I worked for the legal department of the United Farm Workers. A Saturday afternoon show on KUSP out of Santa Cruz and then KFAT from Gilroy introduced me to the glory of American country music. They had an outlaw/rebel spirit that resonate with us as we struck blows against the Empire.
The KFAT dj’s got wiped out at about the same time that Cesar wiped us out. We related.
A digression, but a relevant one. This store is that music.
A sad relic. Here is a history of the pay phone from the Smithsonian.
Come to think of it, we have seen a fair number of massage parlors on this trip. Linked here is a discussion of massage parlor code language. I am not suggesting that this business or any of the others shown in this post are erotic massage parlous where a happy ending can be bought. It is just that this presented an opportunity for a look at language.
This was the Handcraft Studio School. Not no more it isn’t
Edgar Alan Poe took two stabs at coining a profoundly popular cliché. In his 1831 poem “To Helen” he wrote of “the beauty of fair Greece, and the grandeur of old Rome.” In an 1845 revision, he changed the phrase to “the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome.”
That is relevant here why? The glory that was San Pablo Avenue, the grandeur that was Jack in the Box.
This is my favorite photo from the whole batch of this walk. I am ever so grateful that John Storey carried his camera with black and white film and that he still has his darkroom and the ability to develop and print black and white photos.
Given what I said about black and white photos, how about this for color?
I can’t resist a little Jack in the Box popular culture. Here you will find ” The Strange History of Jack in the Box.”
There are seven locations for his mini-chain. The appeals committee decided unanimously that seven locations did not disqualify this business from appearing in these pages. By limiting its ruling to this business and not making sweeping seven-locations ruling, they were able to make their ruling unanimous.
What a stunning sign, not? Which makes me think about the old joke about “cunning stunts.”
My favorite color photo from this series.
The song “Blame it on the Bossa Nova” describes a romantic relationship inaugurated by a couple dancing to the bossa nova – “the dance of love.” Gormé was born in the Bronx to Sephardic Jewish parents. Her father was born in Sicily, her mother in Turkey to a family of Lebanese Jewish descent. They spoke several languages at home, including Ladino, which is rooted in Spanish I have a good span of books in and about Yiddish, but not much when it comes to Ladino.
Gorme married Steve Lawrence in 1957 and they were still married when she died 56 years later.
I first lean red the term “bullet bra” in conjunction with Gorme. A bullet bra is a full-support bra with cups in the shape of a paraboloid with its axis perpendicular to the breast. The bullet bra usually features concentric circles or spirals of decorative stitching centred on the nipples. Invented in the late-1940s, they became popular in the 1950s due to “sweater girl” pin-ups.
Bossa Nova is a style of Brazilian music, which was developed and popularized in the 1950s and 1960s and is today one of the best-known Brazilian music styles abroad. The phrase bossa nova means literally “new trend” or “new wave”.
It is not controversial to say that “The Girl from Ipanema” is the most popular bossa nova song of all time.
It was released in 1967. My family hosted two foreign students for a few weeks in the summer of 1967. One was Anna Sana de la Sala Perez from Brazil. She introduced us to this song. I have emotional memories of this song. and that summer.
Ipanema is a neighborhood located in the South Zone of the city of Rio de Janeiro between Leblon and Arpoador.
Cool! Let’s cue up Jay and the Americans –
What a shot! I am starting to bore myself listening to my praise for John Storey’s black and white work. “Another piece of America’s lost…..” We probably know Willie Nelson’s “Last Cowboy Song” the best but he didn’t write the song, Ed Bruce did. Bruce is known for the 1975 song “Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” and recording the 1982 country number one hit “You’re the Best Break This Heart Eve Had.”
How can I not?
The fall of 1976. The movie “Car Wash” came out. I was in the Imperial Valley working as legal support for a United Farm Workers organizing drive. It was a magic, magic time. This song from the movie take me there. Magic.
“Katana” means “sword” in Japanese. “-Ya” is a suffix used in Japanese usually to refer to people of certain professions. So like Butcher-ya, shopkeeper-ya, or something like that. It’s basically like Mr. Butcher or Mr. Shopkeeper.
Qigong, qi gong, chi kung, or chi gung is a centuries-old system of coordinated body-posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for the purposes of health, spirituality, and martial-arts training.
What do you think – is any form of sexual gratification – such as a “happy ending” at a massage parlor – outside of your relationship unacceptable? There’s no right or wrong answer as long as there is a conversation and an understanding. Man oh man is that all VERY foreign to me. I have a friend whose stepfather brought his Thai masseuse home for Thanksgiving. She spoke no English. It wasn’t clear if this was a happy ending situation or not. Awkward!
In Tibetan, “zomsa” means “gathering place.
I am tempted to digress on the Jay Vee Liquors empire. But – I resist! The little strip mall carries the Jay-Vee name.
Hoshi (星) is the Japanese word for “star”.
“Yaoya” loosely translates from Japanese as “green grocer.” “-San” is an honorific suffix.
Dig the portraiture – Yours Truly reflected on the left, John Storey reflected on the right. A Portrait of Artists as Not Young Men. Isn’t that funny – I am 69 years old and I can’t bring myself to call myself old. Perhaps it is because I am vibrant and my aura is built of brilliant rainbow shades of every emotion and color! That, or denial. Getting old cannot happen. It cannot happen to me. It cannot happen to me now.
Wow – a bold statement if ever there was.
From these photos (not quite done – but relevant here) one could conclude that the economic engine that is El Cerrito is driven by massage parlors, dentists, and dry cleaners.
Secrets indeed! I don’t know, I just can’t imagine that I would ever come to a place where I went in to one of these and bought tokens and a little tube of lube and went into a “private” booth and tried to ignore what was on the cement floor and cycled through porn videos available on the screen while self-gratifying ever-conscious of the incremental costs.
Secrets really cried out to the heavens for a night picture. I wasn’t about to ask John Storey to go out one night just for a photo so I went to the Secrets Facebook page and screenshot this photo. In the interest of a complete record, Secrets described itself as: “We are a small, local store catering to the adventurous spirit who wants more spice and variety in their lives. We feature all the top brands and our trained consultants can help you with any request and thoroughly explain how each product works.”
It’s a good photo no? A beacon in the night!
Research conducted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology concluded that the internet is 80% pornography, 15% cat videos and photos, and 4% poorly written comments. That was in 2011 (and it wasn’t true) but if the “research” were done now, you’d have to factor in pro-Trump Russian bots and QAnon posts about Democrats and their child-sex-trafficking and the glory that is President Donald “Grab Them By the Pussy” Trump.
I showed a draft of this to my friend in “View Post” mode. He had two things to say. “I got two beefs” is what he said.
First? I said nothing about Nation’s Hamburgers there at San Pablo and Central.
The explanation is simple – it’s not on San Pablo, it’s on Central. Also it’s a small chain but I’d overlook that because my son Jake had a baseball coach who had some family connection to Nation’s. And they have a decent vegetarian burger. Not on San Pablo, but to make my friend happy I’m willing to include this photo.
His second beef? “No mention of Credence Clearwater, the Pride of El Cerrito. How is that possible?
Of course I know that all four original members of Creedence Clearwater Revival attended the high school from 1959-1963.
I did a little hit on this fact in a QB post a few years ago. Scroll down to the part of Cosmo’s Factory. You’ll see.
If you want ti know more about the band and its El Cerrito roots, I suggest this article from the Chronicle.
All this talk brings up a song that I didn’t know of theirs. Bill Wood introduced me to it.
A great song.
Having death with my friend’s two beefs, I asked for his opinion on my draft post.