Not all posts are created equal. These posts are not in any directory. Except, of course, this directory which is not an official directory. They are links from other posts. Many, but not all of them, have nothing to do with Berkeley, but are digressions suggested to a digression-friendly mind.
In telephony, there are silent numbers, unlisted numbers ex-directory numbers, private numbers, secret numbers, and listed numbers with a hidden address. In Quirky Berkeley, there are these silent, unlisted, ex-directory, private, and secret posts. How did you find this page????
Alice Schenker’s account of the trip that she and Don took from New York to Mexico to San Francisco in 1957.
Amber Nelson photographed the Imagine memorial to her fiancee Fito every day for two years. Here is every photo.
I saw this Electric Questioner at Susan’s Store Room in San Anselmo. My brother Ric had one. A short reflection on Ric and his toys.
Asia Colombo’s year at Berkeley High, an exchange student with AFS. She embraced Berkeley in a Big Way, including all these quirky manifestations.
Earl, my friend’s l twin, visits. He shares stories about his life in Flint. We learn their childhood nicknames and then the two of them go to Vallejo in search of a Raymond Loewy chair..
In conjunction with a post on Berkeley tree houses, a mini collection put together by Gabby or paintings and illustrations romanticizing tree houses. Lovely.
Barry was Martin Metal’s back fence neighbor. He let me photograph a bunch of Metal’s work – I used the photos in the Metal post. Here is a brief look at Wagner.
In my post on bungalow courtyards, I speak of a fantasy of a simpler life. An enduring simple-life pure fantasy of mine has been a small house in South Bristol, Maine. Here’s why.
A collection of Cunard Lines advertisements and posters using the famous slogan, gathered by Gabby in Miami, inspired by my drive up to Eureka post.
Steffen the muralist grew up in Winnemucca. That fact seemed to invite, if not demand, a digression into the City of Paved Streets, a favorite Gabby Spot in the West.
In August 1970 Gabby left Young Emily in Philadelphia and drove back to California. He spent the night in Winnemucca, in search of the legend of Butch Cassidy.
The man claiming to be my friend’s long lost twin brother (a classic soap opera plot device!) sent material that validates his claim beyond doubt. What next?
A brief sketch of the Communist Labor Party, the hard left group that attracted Art Moura briefly in the 1970s in the Salinas Valley.
My father was born on May 16, 1916. This photo is from his last birthday, May 16, 1976. I remember him.
As I made my post on relief sculpture in Berkeley, I remembered relief sculpture that I loved in my childhood in Philadelphia – presented here, with some more train digressions.
These are terms that Frank Moore used to describe himself. Here are the originals – Chiron the wounded healer centaur, and Tiresias, blinded by Athena.
After I made an innocent remark about Paris and accordions, Gabby sent me a collection of Parisian accordion albums. Joy!
We got an email from someone claiming to be my friend’s twin. My friend devised a trivia quiz for the purported twin. We’ll see!
Gabby sent my friend a collection of “what a trip” and “what a long strange trip it’s been” ephemera in honor of my friend’s comments on my posts. Here it is.
Indulgent! Memories of August 1974, the Yolo County tomato strike, and hot summer nights with the Ramirez family at the Dixon farm labor camp.
Six hours in Camden junk shops – Gabby came up with a small, instant collection of record albums which used their cover art to conflate Christmas with sex. Nice!
I treated a brief mention of Jackie Gleason to wander just a little into my childhood and the affection that my family had for Gleason and his show.
Ted Friedman’s guest post about Stoney Burke prompted a mention of the 1960s rodeo drama by that name which prompted a look at Wide Country and a brief look at the gay cowboy fetish.
As Christmas, 2015, approached, my friend took a melancholic spin. Here is a glimpse at his childhood and his departure from the rails.
The fact that Jana Olson arrived in Berkeley the day after I turned 20 and that I was working at the University of Pennsylvania Dining Service at the time – an excuse for this.
Figurines, snow domes, maps, postcards – relics from a three-week Wisconsin-Minnesotra that Gabby took with his granddaughter Unloaded on my friend. The road is all, the end is nothing.
Another contribution by Gabby. Photos and a bit of ephemera about the Boy with a Leaking Boot. Wow. Who knew? Kinda kitschy, in keeping with my post on kitsch statuary that I don’t call kitsch.
Photos of Simon Rodia, the ultimate outsider artist, maker of the Watts Tower in Los Angeles, the ultimate outsider art.
On a trip to Savannah, Gabby applied his “one-city-one-weekend” rule to building a collection of posters from a movie I never saw. And sent them to my friend.
It’s all about me. A short discourse on sculpture that has been a part of my life. With tangents. Of course. Because it’s all about me.
Photos of sculpture mentioned in Gabby’s journal from the early years of his love affair with Young Emily, plus excerpts of the journal.
The ship of Theseus was preserved. As planks rotted, they were replaced. When each plank had been replaced, was it the ship of Theseus? What a paradox!
When in Pittsburgh, Gabby assembled a collection of giant bug movie posters. He sent them to my friend when I did my post on Peter Mitchell’s welded bugs.
Color photographs of something that we experienced in black & white invite considering the role of black & white images in our lives. For 100 years, a lot. Now, not so much.
Gabby sent my friend photos of first-generation fast food joints. Cool photos! They got us talking.
Gabby first kissed Young Emily in Philadelphia shortly after a discussion of Rasputin’s salvation through sin philosophy. Here – photos of Gabby’s extensive collection of Rasputin movie posters.
Inspired by who knows what, my friend decided to switch out his decor from shabby shabby to Danish modern. His first acquisition was a Eero Aarnio Ball Chair, circa 1963. Finnish not Danish, but cool.
Molly from Heyday Press used the term flaneur to describe what it is that I do. I didn’t know the word so poked around a little here. A fixture of late 19th century Paris – thassa me!
Gabby sent my friend a decent collection of board games based on gender stereotypes of girls. Weddings. Dates. Shopping. Girl careers. Wow. What were we thinking?
My friend visited Storyland in SF with his family in 1959. He claims he was there when the last structure was demolished in 1996. It came up in a discussion about the ephemeral nature of life.
One weekend in Little Rock, Gabby assembled a collection of naughty CB/ham radio QSL postcards. He sent them to my friend, who “digs” CB radio ephemera.
Gabby sent my friend a small collection of postcards depicting the far-out house that John Lautner designed for Bob and Delores Hope in Palm Springs. This small collection rocks!
A propos de rien, an off-topic posting on Isaiah Zagar’s incredible outsider art/garden in South Philadelphia. Rarely has my friend’s “what a trip” remark been more deserved.
Thinking about pink plastic flamingo statues led inexorably to remembering flamingo croquet in Alice, depicted by illustrators variously over the years.
While innocently talking about artistic depictions of palm trees in Berkeley, I spun off to the date palms of the Coachella Valley. And the Date Festival. And the Coachella High School Arabs.
Gabby sent my friend his collection of postcards of London Bridge as she sits in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Absurd! Thus amusing.
When looking at my post on tools as decorative art in Berkeley, my friend bemoaned the lack of giant tools in Berkeley. We searched and found photos of about a dozen giant hammers – none in Berkeley.
Long story, but a few months ago I hauled out posters I had been carrying around for decades and gave most of them to Lincoln Cushing for placement in collections that could be seen. Here they are, almost 50 of them.
My family’s connection with Bryn Mawr College began 101 years ago, in 1914. The photos of the Hume Castle interior reminded me of Bryn Mawr College, and so I reminisce here about my connections with it.
My posting “Up on the Roof” got me remembering summer city nights on a roof – Philadelphia, 1970. Here is Gabby’s journal about those summer roof city nights.
Talking about Philadelphia got my friend talking about a spaceship that he visited in Drexel Hill in 1970. It was a Futuro House, a far out Finnish design from the late 1960s.
Mary Kate Morris was inspired by the art of Friedensreich Hundertwasser when she painted her garage. His paintings are inspiring. His architecture is beyond inspiring.
Gabby sent his photos of his still-young mermaid postcard collection. Plus a lecture on sirens – not mermaids he concludes.
Gabby sent my friend 19 magazine advertisements for Paramount Records Series 1200, “race records” of music by and for African-Americans in the 1920s and 1930s. They are, simply put, amazing drawings. One thinks of R. Crumb’s drawings.
My look at the Maidenform bra advertisements called to mind the “Panties Falling Down” paintings by Art Frahm in the 1950s. We see underwear and imagine what exists without underwear. Kinky! Fetish!
Talk about kink! For 21 years Maidenform fantasized about women wearing nothing by a bra above the waist. When Madonna did this, it was kink. I say – kink is kink. This was kinky, fetish stuff.
We first posting pictures of Berkeley neon, I mentioned how Gabby and I had loved walking the night time summer streets of Bakersfield in the summer of 1973. Here are photos of the neon and other things that kept us sane during a tough three months in Bakersfield.
When my friend and I pondered motel names with “moon” in the name, we both thought of the cow jumping over the moon at the old Milk Farm in Dixon. Here are collected images of the Milk Farm, old Vacaville, and the Nut Tree (RIP).
A trip to the Blue Moon Saloon on San Pablo in El Cerrito led to speculation about motels with “moon” in their names. Which led to this. Photos collected with my friend of moon-named motels.
My friend’s brother send him a packet of postcards and a few photos from the family’s road trip to San Francisco in 1957. My friend remembers the trip – and San Francisco – with great affection.
When Helen Bannerman wrote Little Black Sambo, she envisioned Sambo as South Indian or Tamil. American versions of the book tended to portray him as African, as seen in these book covers. Plus my friend has a theory about Sambo that is not expected.
Looking at photos of the remains of now-gone movie theaters in Berkeley triggered in my friend a great desire to watch the 1955 film Shack Out on 101. Lobby cards and movie posters give a sense of the movie.
For no apparent reason, Gabby sent my friend a collection of more than 30 albums by German pop singer Heino. Here they are. For no apparent reason.
My friend made the bold claim that he’d rather spend the evening with Spring-Heeled Jack, a demonic urban legend from Victorian England, than a God-fearing Republican. Here is Gabby’s collection of Spring-Heeled Jack material. I think I agree with my friend.
The House of Curries on Durant suggested to me V. S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas and his four other Trinidad novels. I was enchanted by them in my early years in Berkeley. Here – a brief view of the books that charmed me so.
While it is true that the political subtext of most murals that have a political subtext is left-wing, there is such thing as a right-wing mural. Here are some from Cleveland, Ohio. Leave the hate zone! Come to Berkeley!
Gabby gifted my friend his modest collection of theremin albums, acquired over the years in the hope that Young Emily would one day become a thereminist. She decided to get rid of the theremin, and Gabby dumped the albums.
There are temptations which I cannot resist. When talking about Uptown how could I not mention, if only briefly, Petula Clark and “Downtown?” And show you the album covers that Gabby sent us?
My friend is planning a field trip to his hometown Detroit to check out the Heidelberg Project. We got talking bout Detroit because of Uptown Soda, a local beverage from his childhood. This was part of Uptown in general. See below.
This is either a rabbit hole or a worm hole. I mentioned the Uptown Club in Oakland. Then I chased photos of giant guitars. And now I chase businesses with Uptown in their names. Bars, clubs, theaters, liquor stores. Etc. All uptown.
My post on musical material culture in Berkeley led to this collection of photos of giant guitars, mostly but not exclusively signs such as this sign from Nashville. The closest we get is the Uptown Club in downtown Oakland.
One of the representational sculptures that I photographed is of Raleigh Fingers, which led to this digression on his baseball career as seen in baseball cards. With side trips to Eddie Collins and the 1957 Milwaukee Braves.
Kathy Roha directed me to a house on Grant Street south of Derby where there are five definitely rogue gnomes. This led to a brief exploration of the phenomenon of rogue gnomes and their bad-boy behaviors.
The sign for Serendipity Books is still on University Avenue as I write, in the fall of 2014. The bookstore is gone, but here I remember it. What a store it was!
My friend had me drive him into the hills east of Richmond, where a friend of his has a trailer full of rodeo toys, including the Levi’s Mechanical rodeo from the 1939 International Exposition on Treasure Island. Wow!
How could a person create a post about windmills and not mention Cervantes and Chapter VIII: “ Of the valourous Don Quixote’s success in the dreadful and never before imagined Adventure of the Windmills, with other events worthy of happy record?” You can’t.
Just to show off, Gabby went on a two-day hunt for Tiki ephemera in Denver – books, comics, magazines, and record albums. He scored some cool stuff, and sent it to my friend.
Mass culture in America has a tendency to pull anything innovative from the fringes into the mainstream. So it was with Tiki. When Disney went Tiki in 1963, you know that the first wave was over.
We only ever had one Tiki joint in Berkeley, and it is gone. At least I think we only had one. Alameda and Oakland had a number, and still have a few. And, of course, Trader Vic’s in Emeryville.
Our consciousness about things Polynesian was raised by publication in 1950 of Kon Tiki, two years after its original publication in Norway. It was oh so much more than a story about men on a raft in the Pacific.
When our troops came back from the Pacific theater after the war, they brought with them a sense of the exotic place in which they had waged war. South Pacific, the book and musical, helped launch the Polynesian postwar boom.
In the mid 1930’s, Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic opened Polynesian-themed restaurants bearing their names, Don in southern California and Vic in northern California. They were pioneers, Tiki before its time.
Well before the Tiki cultural boom of the post-war years, we had achieved a collective image of an exotic Polynesia, thanks to books and paintings. The scenery was stunning, the women beautiful, and sexual mores relaxed. What more could you want?
Okay you can calm down now. What you have demanded, what you have pleaded for – now here. The books and magazines and movies and songs that informed a young me, Main Line white bread boy, born in 1951. What a confession!
In my post about the signs of Little India I mentioned books and records that shaped our view of India. Conrad and Kipling, Shankar and Sambo, Hesse and Rushdie. Shallow musings.
Slims with instruments, Slims with place names, and other Slims. Cowboy balladss and Delta blues and electric Chicago blues and hillbilly music. A whole lot of Slim record albums, courtesy – of course – of Gabby.
Gabby unloaded another collection, this one of Lucha Libre magazines, on my friend, knowing that my friend had a passing interest in professional wrestling. I tore my friend away from the collection to see my post on Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.
My friend got around to the second carton of Christian record albums that Gabby sent him. Here they are, in their power and in their glory.
When I took the Mark Bulwinkle photos to show my friend he was spacing out on the graphics from this 1967 Time/Life book. As far out as the graphics are, they pale next to Bulwinkle.
The Osha Newman mural on University Avenue is on the wall of what was once the Co-Op Credit Union. The Co-Op was founded by the EPIC club of Berkeley, so here is a two-minute visual primer on Upton Sinclair’s EPIC campaign.
A posting about murals led to a discussion of the Berkeley Co-Op which led to a discussion of Upton Sinclair’s EPIC program which led to the EPIC songbook which led to the IBM Songbook. Simple.
Among the toys that were handed down to me from my brother Ric/Eric were a few sets of American Plastic Bricks. As a matter of personal privilege, I ask for the floor for a brief review of American Plastic Bricks.
This is the parent posting on the folklore of chimneys and the reality of chimney sweeps. Fairy tales, statues, museums. And a grim and tough reality that bears no relationship to Mary Poppins and Dick Van Dyke.
Once upon a time I drafted a post on chimneys in Berkeley. I had to say something about the folklore of chimneys. And when I did that I got kind of lost. Gabby chipped in with these postcards and the figurines below.
Gabby had the postcards, but he shies away from figurine collections that require space. These chimney sweep figurines and carved figures are the collection of a friend of Gabby’s in London.
We asked Gabby for musical support for the jungle page. He spent three days and not much money in thrift shops, junk shops, flea markets, and garage sales, and quickly assembled a collection of jungle-themed albums. Just for me!
In my presentation of depictions of jungle animals in our yards and signs, I digressed for a moment to consider the communist and satanic implications of jungle music – rock and roll. Who knew?
I was talking about the Berkeley Folk Music Festival. Which was part of the Folk Music Revival. In which the Kingston Trio played a big part. And I point out here the extent to which the Kingston Trio were not as unradical as it seemed.
In the 1970s, Fleming Revell published Spire Christian Comics, giving youth an alternative to the comics that they liked, which which had been self-censored or burned. Chuck Colson. Hansi who loves swastikas. Hal Lindsey. Wholesome!
Gabby went to Romania (he was in France) to track down a collection of figurines. In Romania, he came across a quirky cemetery and sent photos.
Gabby went from France to Romania to check out a collection of hurdy-gurdy player figurines. He found a great quirky cemetery and sent photos, but here are the figurines that put him on the train to Bucharest.
My friend is a big fan of Blow-Up. London 1966, fashion photography, the Yardbirds playing a club, mimes playing tennis, the movie posters, the soundtrack. All here. He was 21 when it came out. I was 16. Loved it!
A gospel hymn. But a phrase that has come to have darker meaning. But still a gospel hymn, and still celebrated on these album covers.
An illustrated guide to Gabby’s prattle about Mexicali as he drove Young Emily along the Salton Sea towards Mexicali in 1973 – Mexicali Beer, Mexicali Rose, and Mexicali Brass. Classic Gabby.
My friend Gabby was an early lover of Googie. He latched on to the Villa Sur Motel in Calexico when he first went down there in 1972. It is stunning. Now, 40 yard later, it is cool. To have seen it as cool then – way to be, Gabby!
A visit to El Centro and Calexico in July 2014 threw me back to my UFW years in the Imperial Valley, 1972-1980. I play around here with the legend of Barbara Worth, and El Centro’s Barbara Worth Hotel, which perished to fire in 1962.
Gabby sent us photos of the Magical Garden of Fernand, on the road from Dinan to Cancale in Brittany. It is pretty wild. Fernand has a decidedly quirky vision. And time on his hands to bring his vision to life.
A letter from Gabby explaining what he and Young Emily were doing in Brittany. And how they went to Cancale for a day and on the way came across the Magical Garden of Fernand.
My friend did a shout-out to his friends around the country to send him photos of mailboxes designed as guns and, later, tanks. He got a bunch. They are wild and collected together for the first time here.
In the summer of 2014, Young Emily immersed herself in the music of the hurdy-gurdy as played in Brittany. Gabby, as always pursuing the low road, immersed himself in collecting hurdy-gurdy postcards.
Here I present three excerpts from Gabby’s memoir touching on his growing fascination with collections, starting with the party at Young Emily’s house and her grandmother’s collection of three wise monkeys.
When I excerpted Gabby’s memoir mentions of collections, I started with Young Emily’s grandmother’s three wise monkeys collection. And then got to Gabby’s three wise monkeys postcard collection. Pretty cool.
Wouldn’t you know, but when I mentioned Peter and the Wolf in my woodlands creatures posting, Gabby chimed in and sent photos of his collection of Peter and the Wolf record album covers. It is a ludicrous collection.
I was talking about Peter and the Wolf when posting photos of woodland animals. We learned that Peter was a Young Pioneer and that the piece was first performed for Young Pioneers. So – we take a look at Young Pioneers posters.
Conny Bleul-Gohlke made one. And that meant I had to chase down photos and drawings and synonyms. They amuse and amaze me. And, they provide an apt metaphor for the Quirky Berkeley mission/quest.
When posting photos of dog and cat art from Berkeley yards and porches, I got sidetracked to Coolidge dressed dog trading cards and Mainzer cat postcards. And remembering my friend Bobbie who wrote me on Mainzer postcards.
When I talked about cat and dog lawn art etc. that I have seen, I riffed on “raining cats and dogs.” And then wasted an hour finding all these books titled Raining Cats and Dogs. It will take you a minute to look at them. I saved you 59 minutes of your life.
Babbling on about Cambridge (below), I mention that Gabby had visited Harvard in his senior year of high school, had decided on Iowa State, but then decided to go work for the farm workers instead. This except from his memoir describes that decision.
The talk of dogs playing poker reminded me of the Wursthaus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and my boyhood lunches there with my family in the late 1950s. And that got me going on those years and on Cambridge.
Along with the Sputnik stamps (below), my friend has a tasty small collection of Amelia Earhart stamps, which he hauled out when I was working on my posting on flight-themed objects in our yards. Farewell first lady of the sky!
My look at the rockets and spaceships of Berkeley led me to Gabby’s collection of space stamps, emphasis on Sputnik and emphasis on the Warsaw Pact countries’ superior grasp of the images of space.
From Hank Snow to Elton John to David Bowie to the Byrds – the sound tracks of flight. All because of the posting on quirky flight-themed material culture found in Berkeley.
When I was making my posting on architecture not based solely on right angles, Gabby sent scans of his collection of postcards, books, record album covers, and movie posters based on “dangerous curves” and variations thereon. Here they are.
In my treatment of Berkeley buildings that in some part contain other than right angles, I explained that any wedge-shaped building is called a Flatiron building. And then felt compelled to gather photographs of Flatiron buildings other than the famous ones we know.
Talking about a couple wedge-shaped houses in Berkeley got me to the Flatiron Building in New York which got me to 23 Skidoo, an immensely popular fad expression 100 years ago, meaning and origin both uncertain.
I punned off infinite regression by saying infinitely digression when digressing from a posting. The most common term for recursive images is the Droste Effect, form Droste chocolate. I collect here labels with repeating, recursive, Drost-effect images.
Well, I made a Lazarus allusion in writing about Michael Parayno’s Rustic Bird Houses. And then felt compelled to show some of the artistic depictions of the Biblical Lazarus, emphasis on the cultural assumptions of the artist. Nothing to do with Berkeley.
When I posted about quirky car art (as opposed to art cars) in Berkeley, I parked my reminisces about a brief teenage flirtation with the low brow car art of Big Daddy Roth and Mouse here. And I remembered the song “Surfin’ Bird.” Here.
This one of the simplest and direct digressions ever. From my posting on dragon yard art and porch art to the obvious choice for a theme song, “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Simple. Direct.
“Tom Dooley” was one of the songs I noted as containing lyrics concerning hanging from a tree. I couldn’t let a mention of the song pass without a digression into its history. Hint: the Kingston Trio was not the first group to record the song.
I mentioned the Main Point when talking about the Kingston Trio, on account of John Steward performed there. That mention led to this excerpt from Gabby’s journal about Springsteen at the Main Point.
While chasing down Tiki images in Berkeley backyards, I digressed to Tiki restaurants in the East Bay, and when in that digression I mentioned Pub Tiki in Philadelphia, the Tiki joint of my youth. And that mention led to this digression. Simple enough.
Philadelphia modernist Vincent Kling designed the chapel at my school, the Episcopal Academy in Merion, Pennsylvania. Here I indulge in naked-faced nostalgia with images of my past and the past before that. And I wonder if Googie could apply to some degree here.
Gabby sent my friend a small collection of postcards celebrating the 1964 New York Worlds Fair. As you will see, the whole thing kind of screams GOOGIE. I went to the fair with my friend Criswell. He remembers it well.
My friend Gabby was an early adapter of Googie architecture. In July, 1970, he went to Wildwood, New Jersey, where he discovered the beauty of the Doowop-style motels. Here is his journal entry that describes his trip to Wildwood.
Another detour within a detour. A friend of Gabby’s sent me photos of part of his Bozo collection, thinking that it might help my reduplication effort. Sure, why not, I can always use another digression. Here it is – bozo!
I know. I should have known better. I have nobody but myself to blame. I mentioned the reduplication project to Gabby. He just happened to have a collection of record albums with “Hully Gully” on the cover. He sent me the photos. Here they are. I should have known.
As my list of reduplications grew, so too did the number of terms which might offend. I parked them here, safe from innocent eyes. Here they are – the naughty bits.
How can a person talk about giant dinosaurs and not talk about the Bedrock City/Flintstones theme parks, past and present, with their giant, friendly, happy pet dinosaurs. My point exactly, so let’s visit South Dakota, Arizona, and British Columbia.
I don’t want to sell myself short in terms of my future, but as things now stand this is the mother of all digressive, tangential explorations. Tip Top Liquor on San Pablo sent me to all things Tip Top. And that sent me to another six posts. Amazing.
Exact/copy reduplication. Rhyming reduplication. Ablaut reduplication. From abracadabra to zig-zag. Illustred. Big fun with words! All from Tip-Top Liquor on San Pablo.
You asked and we listened! A simple list, no clever graphics, of the 510 reduplicative words and phrases collected and presented above.
Plus recursive acronym syndrome syndrome. Plus redundant acronyms. A linguistic side show.
A subset of Gabby’s collection of Christian record albums, these all celebrate the children’s ditty, ’cause the Bible tells me so.
When I showed my friend my list of reduplications, he was in the process of looking through four cartons of record albums that Gabby had sent him – “Big Hair/Bad Suit Christian Record Album Covers.” Here are photographs of the first of the four cartons. Terrifying.
Tip Top Bread promoted the hell of itself. Trading cards, toys, etc. Spaceships. Racing cars. Puzzles. What a country! What a bread!
The Ward Baking Company gave us Wonder Bread and Hostess Twinkies and, thankfully, Tip Top Bread. The bread that came in the trucks and with the promotions. And that had the great reduplication for a name.
Tip Top Liquor Store on San Pablo led to exploration of Tip Top led to Tip Top bread led to Tip Top bread trucks. And that led to truck driving music
My quest for examples of the reduplicative Tip-Top take us to New Zealand! Bright pacakaging and brighter retail outlets for Tip-Top ice cream products and frozen confections.
Cody’s ads in the Berkeley Barb were positively joyous about the paperback revolution. Lest we forget what a big change the paperback represented, here is a modest reminder.
In writing about Cody’s I thought of a paperback bookstore from my youth in Ardmore, near Suburban Square. It doesn’t take much to digress me, so here is a little post on the country’s first shopping center, near my hometown.
We don’t have any giant roadside dinosaurs in Berkeley. This isn’t fair, but it is what it is. So here I motor around California and point out quirky giant dinosaurs, past and present. And I nobly resist the temptation to show the giant dinosaurs of Vernal, Utah.
Inspired by the John Lennon graf-art/mural along the railroad tracks, I collected images of murals elsewhere of the Beatles and of John. My favorite – the used-to-be Beatles house in San Francisco. Hands down.
I mention Tacoma’s claims to fames when talking about the graffiti garage, and then digress here to one that is gone but not forgotten – a one-man nursery rhyme theme park that is not there anymore. But it is remembered.
When addressing graffiti along Berkeley’s railroad tracks, I allude to the fantastic graffiti garages up in Tacoma. The City condones/encourages graffiti art in public garages,and the art is spectacular.
While pretending to take a field trip to Tacoma to see the graffiit garages, I came across a spectacular collection of photos in the library’s archives. They depict a long-gone, oh-so-much-better time. Moving photos of a living city.
Well what happened was – I wrote a post on the graffiti garages of Tacoma (not published yet). I love Bob’s Java Give in Tacoma, a giant coffee pot. And so one thing led to another, back into the land of roadside vernacular architecture. Giant things!
The mural on Popeye’s led me to Cajun murals and posters and a few signs for Cajun accordions and that led me to accordion stores in general. Just in time I learned the term “research rapture.” Down the rabbit hole!
It does not take much to get me reminiscing about my time in the Imperial Valley. Talk of Bob Wills playing in Brawley in the Faded Signs post got me on this tangent about the Hotel De Anza in Calexico, as described in Gabby’s memoir.
Inspired by the Cajun/Zydeco murals at Popeye’s on San Pablo, I race down the rabbit hole here with murals and posters (and a few signs) depicting Cajun culture, emphasis on Zydeco music. Why not?
Back to Gabby’s memoir – his and Emily’s encounters with accordions from the Basque, Tex-Mex, Cajun, and (briefly) tango cultures.
Reading Gabby’s description of walking the Basque neighborhood of Bakersfield on a warm September 1973 night sent me on this quest for photos of signs at Basque restaurants and hotels. Way off the mark, I know. And a few murals!
Gabby is a determined collector. He started collecting accordion album covers in 1977 and has not looked back. Here are photos he took of most of the albums in his collection.
When Gabby sent me the photos of accordion album covers, he shed a collection and sent my friend a folder filled with accordion advertisements and comics. And a threat to send his collection of images of animals playing accordions in the future. Here they are. Wow.
Bruce Duncan was a genius and hero of Telegraph Avenue. His genius was under-appreciated. Boy oh boy was he smart and funny.
Bud Plant had two presences on Telegraph, his Comics and Comix store, and his comics. Fantasy. Ground-breaking. A sight to behold.
As these covers make abundantly clear, Don Donahue’s comics, a fixture on Telegraph, represented a complete collapse of morality and decency. Or total liberation. Depending on your point of view.
Covers of comics published by the Print Mint. A tremendous burst of the creative cultural underground. Not my cup of tea then but greatly admired by me today.
The Express Times was an underground paper that had its roots in Berkeley and was a presence in Berkeley in 1968 and 1969. It was short-lived but explosive. These covers give the flavor.
When a big part of Max Scherr’s staff went on strike against the Barb and started the Tribe, one grievance mentioned was the sleaze in the Barb. There was a little in the Tribe in the beginning. Presented here. In its glory.
Jane painted my favorite struggle mural in Berkeley. It turns out there is only one degree of separation between us and I in fact worked with her husband in the Imperial Valley in 1976. Here – her posters, her murals. This mural.
Jane Norling’s mural on Martin Luther King Way honors the Sandinista government’s literacy campaign in Nicragua. This is a mostly visual look at literacy campaigns in revolutionary Cuba and Nicragua.
Before the Berkeley Barb appeared on Telegraph Avenue in 1965, a number of radical, almost-underground publications had seen the light of day/Telegraph. They were short-lived and serious but blazed the trail – Root and Branch, Spider, Steps, Wooden Shoe, and others. They were the first, small steps out of the shadows, followed by later, big steps. I am always drawn to the first small steps.
A collection of graphically great ads run by Cody’s in the Berkeley Barb in 1967. Somebody had fun making these ads.
More giant signs, following in the footsteps of the donuts. None of these in Berkeley. Signs with big balls and/or big pins.
Almost no words. Pictures of Telegraph when it was grand but not yet magic. History lesson.
I almost succeeded in a posting without words. Photos of Sather Gate. Just missed my goal of no words. Dang.
The bus played a role in the farm workers movement, just as it did with the civil rights movement. Farm labor buses, braceros on buses, terrible accidents, buses in strikes, buses burned and bombed, buses across America.
We saw one Doggie Diner head at Eni Green’s major quirky house on Harper Street. Here are three that live in Emeryville and places west. Watch them travel. And then see why we learn how to say quirky in Polish as we gild the quirky lily.
A digression within a digression – at least, maybe a third regression. In 1967 Gabby bussed from Nekoosa to Rio Grande City for a high school senior project observing the farm worker melon strike. He stayed with the UFW for 12 years.
In August 1970, Gabby went back to California to the lettuce strike in Salinas. He describes here saying goodbye to his could-be-dream-lover-of-a-lifetime Young Emily in Clark Park. He was an idiot to leave her.
The bus in popular culture – books, movies, television, and songs. Best bus show: Honeymooners. Best bus lyric: Harry Chapin. Most evocative song: Simon and Garfunkel, “America.” Best video: “Double Dutch Bus.” By far. Nothing else close.
Contemplation on the recurring theme of the bus in American race relations – the Great Migration, the Montgomery bus boycott, the Freedom Riders, the March on Washington, and school busing in Boston.
Teen idols, Jerry Blavat, Hy Lit, Legendary Dobb’s, diners, crab house, Ultimo coffee, and a big Frank Rizzo mural. IOU hoagies and pizza. All relevant for field trip visit to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.
One less degree of separation here. We go to South Philadelphia to see Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Gabby dallied here in 1969 and wrote about it. Two degrees by my counting.
My friend Gabby lived in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia for a year. I include this because Rocky Balboa lived in Kensington, and from there ran through the Italian Market, relevant to the Magic Gardens post.
Wandering into South Philadelphia on our field trip to see Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, it is only natural that we ask a vegetarian who never ate a cheesesteak in his life where the best cheesesteak in Philadelphia might be.
The late 1960s and early 1970s were a golden age of political posters. Here are about 30 that were collected by members of the Red Sun Rising collective on Parker Street in the early 1970s.
Our Berkeley murals are not especially strong when it comes to celebrating the Black Panthers, so here is a field trip to murals elsewhere, images of Panthers, of Bobby, of Huey, of Fred, of Angela, of LIttle Bobby.
Based on the one caboose in the one backyard in Berkeley, I went off the deep end on the lore of cabooses, focus eventually on caboose motels. Not all will want to read this. But it is good stuff.
Fascinating stories of trains in my life that will rivet you. Or not. Pennsylvania Railroad. Franklin Institute. Tehachapi Loop. Bakersfield freight yards. What is not to love about trains?
My friend Gabby was my spiritual guide to greasy spoons and dives. Here is a small excerpt of what he wrote about The Resistance in Philadelphia
They call it roadside vernacular architecture. I call it giant donuts. We don’t have any. Too bad.