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Life Arts

Visions of Cody's Books

By       Message Bob Patterson     Permalink
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(Berkeley CA.) Oct. 14 Cody’s Books in Berkeley is gone but, other than that, the Sixties are alive and well in this city which is just a few beats away from San Francisco.  These days what was Cody’s is now an empty building up for rent and outside a sign urging “Bring the Troops Home,” doesn’t specify which war is being referenced.

Moe’s Books is right where it has always been and it is encouraging to see that there are more bookstores per square mile in this city than - well, it can remind a bloke of the old days on Book Row of America in New York City.  Pegasus Books in Berkeley had a used copy of Jack Kerouac’s “Visions of Cody.”  Notice it “had” one?  The proprietor of the Beat Museum in San Francisco told this columnist that that particular novel was considered by many to be Kerouac’s best and so the austerity budget suffered a tad while we indulged in an impulse purchase because we gotta do something to help the country recover from . . . is Bush permitting us to call it a “recession,” now?

A walk on Telegraph Avenue in 2008 is like taking a stroll down Memory Lane.

The photo store called “<a href =>Looking Glass Photo</a>” features 4X5 sheet film and just seeing a box of that brought back memories from more than forty years ago.  You had to know the notch code for film and that would cue you as to how to load the film into the film holder with the emulsion side out.  You had to know what the dark slide indicated.  White side out meant unexposed film; black side out meant a picture had been taken.  All that sounds like gobbledygook to people who take digital photos, but film heads will say “aye, lad, there’s the rub.”

While we were there we picked up a flyer calling our attention to the 32nd <a href =>Nikon Photo Contest International</a>, whose theme, this year, is:  “At the heart of the image.”

Tuesday in Berkeley was one of those marvelous Indian Summer days, with warm temperatures and clear blue skies, that the locals relish.  It was what photographers would call an f-16 day.  (People in L. A. think they are entitled to 345 such days each year.)  Isn’t it ironic that while Berkeley resident Jane Stillwater is exploring Iran, another one of this site’s columnists is jotting down notes about her home town?

In any other city in the USA it would be a bit disconcerting to see a very old man in black shorts and a blue shirt with an FDJ (a pro Communist youth group from the divided Germany era) patch on it, but not in Berkeley where anyone fits in no matter what their attire.

People’s Park these days resembles an open air hotel for the transients.  Is this NorCal town trying to challenge Harry Shearer’s claim that Santa Monica is home of the homeless?

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Heart shaped sunglasses seem to be in vogue this year.  Did you know that in the film “<a href =>Lolita</a>,” the actress is never seen wearing that style of sunglasses?  After the film was completed and the pictures were being taken for the advertisements, the still photographer bought a pair and used them for the shoot.

It’s been quite some time since our last visit to a poster shop so it was a trip to visit the Reprint Mint.

Berkeley humor heard on Telegraph Avenue:  How many Dead-heads does it take to change a light bulb?  None!  They let it burn out and then follow it around for thirty years.

We saw a young fellow in a GG Alan T-shirt taking a smoke break and then entering a Bank of America branch, couldn’t ascertain if he was a customer or an employee.

The ubiquitous cell phones break the illusion that time travel back to the Sixties has been accomplished.  Another futuristic anachronism is the swapping of URL’s.  A chat with some young men about the war, gave this columnist a chance to guide the fellow who was online to a recent column also about Berkeley and that, in turn, gave one of them a chance to urge that a plug for <a href =>Think Tank Media Co-op</a> be used in the column about the afternoon’s walk.

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One street vendor offers mouse pads with designs that echo those on the T-shirts he sells.  One that caught our attention was the Iwo Jima image (taken by Joe Rosenthal) that proclaims “Democratizing the Middle East” and has photoshopped the image so that the Marines are hoisting a McDonald’s sign with logo.

Mario Savio said:  “There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part, you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, the people who own it, that unless you're free the machine will be prevented from working at all.”  (Sounds like he was describing Bush’s America.)

Rasputin Music had a copy of the “Revolution” soundtrack album in the window, so that’s what the disk jockey will play while we split.  Have a “free speech” type week.


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BP graduated from college in the mid sixties (at the bottom of the class?) He told his draft board that Vietnam could be won without his participation. He is still appologizing for that mistake. He received his fist photo lesson from a future (more...)

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