Berkeley in the Summer of 1974

I first visited Berkeley in the summer of 1974. I was 17-years-old. Still a boy, really. Still a virgin. . . I was looking for remnants of the ’60s counterculture. And Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley seemed like as good a place as any to find it.

That was kind of a historic moment. The summer of ’74. The day before I hit Berkeley, Nixon announced he had resigned from the presidency. So it was PARTY time in Berkeley! The Vietnam war was finally over, and now Nixon had been run out on a rail. Two big victories for the counterculture in what had been a long-fought battle. So it was like a victory celebration in Berkeley.

One of my distinct memories of that period was a copy of Frank Zappa’s “FREAK OUT!” album prominently displayed in the window of this record store on Telegraph. The flourescent colors. It seemed to exactly capture the spirit of the whole Telegraph scene at that time and space. “FREAK OUT!” Telegraph Avenue seemed like a psychedelic carnival at the time. The summer of 1974. And I had 20 hits of blotter acid in my wallet. And I was ready to see what I could find.

This afternoon I was walking down Telegraph Avenue yet again. Nearly 50 years later from when I first showed up. And I couldn’t help thinking: “Why am I still here??”

Everyone else has come and gone. Most of them long gone. And yet, for some reason, I’m still here. Like a relic from a bygone age.

Even Frank Zappa has been dead for quite some time now.

Needless to say, I felt melancholy about the whole thing. This wistful feeling. As I remembered all the decades, and all the people, and the stories, that came and went over all my years on Telegraph Avenue.

Now I’m trying to sum it up. To at least come to some kind of conclusion to this post. But I can’t really make any sense of it. Aside from this wistful feeling. Like it was all just a crazy dream. Maybe the whole thing was just a hallucination in the end.


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