I've been traveling around Northern California for the past few days, finally settling into a brief Berkeley visit. Although it's only been half a dozen years since I've lived here, the changes are mighty. This overcast, misty day is quite reminiscent of Portland, but that's where the similarities end. I see California's budget crisis in the number of businesses gone and going. An empty movie theater is difficult to tolerate. All the possibility gone dark. I see the publicly insane staring at me from their street caves and perches. I see some familiar faces, well worn by time, age, and their addiction to remaining in the same place for decades. Even some of the streets have been re-configurated adding an unfamiliar tone and the anxiety that I really don't know where I'm going.
Still, I love the diversity and hate the traffic.
This morning I found a few minutes to wander the UC Berkeley campus and dropped in the bookstore. Looking a little shabby these days, the old student union. Across the street and just down from the famous Telegraph Ave. and Sproul Plaza historical intersection still resides a textbook store. There used to be 3 or 4 of those used book places in the glory days. Of course, that's all changed now. I give the one remaining four or five years at the most.
The UC campus in Berkeley is very Asian. That's just a statement of fact. It just is. Perhaps I should say it just seems that way. I know that's an uncomfortable stereotype and I will definitely look into it.
Parking is always a challenge. The South campus area is still filled with all manner of hangers on. At one point, I chanced to see an old white Victorian house, a few blocks south of the campus on Dwight Way, near Fulton St. It looked the same as it did when a 23 year old kid spent the night there back in 1970. Don't really know who lived there then but I managed to find the place with a couple of folks I was traveling around with that summer. Back then word of mouth could get you a place to crash. When the tenants extended the use of the floor, we jumped at the offer. A roof and a bathroom; no charge. I wonder who will be sleeping there tonight?