We all have a lot of Berkeley history — every block, every building, has a ghost of Berkeley Past

Photo by Robert Toren

I stumbled across this photo yesterday on this Facebook group page — Historical Berkeley. The group mostly posts photos from Berkeley’s past — streets and buildings and businesses from those bygone days. This particular old photo is from Telegraph and Haste (you can see the Soup Kitchen restaurant on the corner and the striped awning of Moe’s Books in the background).

But when I looked closely at the photo, I realized it was my old friend B.N. Duncan that just happened to get captured by chance in the photo, standing there at the crosswalk. In that particular moment in time and space. And standing next to him is his little old lady friend Mikal Overhulse. They’re both long dead now. But there they are in the photo, still standing there.

I immediately realized the photo was from 1980. Because that was the one period in Duncan’s life where Duncan didn’t have a big, bushy beard (he had this Norelco electric shaver at that time that he used to shave himself with every day, until the shaver finally broke down and Duncan never replaced it so he had a big, bushy beard for the rest of his life).

When I saw the photo I was immediately overwhelmed with this deep feeling of melancholy. And this sadness in the pit of my gut. For the rest of the day I felt like crying whenever I thought of that photo. I’m not sure why. Maybe there’s something wrong with me (that’s always a plausible theory). Or maybe there can just be a lot of sadness to this life. At one point I really WANTED to cry. Just to purge myself of the sadness. Ya know. Like when you feel the need to puke, and at some point you just want to puke just to get it out of your system and purge yourself of the poison. So I just wanted to cry and cry to purge myself of the sadness, like a catharsis, where maybe you resolve some kind of deep pain.

Remembering all the movies that were going on at that particular moment. And all the movies that played out afterwards.

Random weirdness on Telegraph Avenue

Odd scene. I was just walking down Telegraph Avenue, and this young asian couple was walking towards me. When this big, young white guy walking with a little dog on a leash suddenly stops directly in front of them, blocking their path. He has a cup of water in his hand. And he suddenly flings his water at them. It splashes across their chests. They step back and look at the guy. They’re more surprised and confused than anything. They’re not really wet. They’re mostly just looking at him like: “Why did you just DO that??”. . . The guy stands there for a couple of seconds, glaring at them, still blocking their path. Mumbles something at them that I can’t make out. Then turns, and continues walking down the street.

The asian couple stands there for a couple seconds, watching the guy walking off. Then they cross in the middle of the street to get to the sidewalk on the other side. And continue on their way.

Holidays (today was Memorial Day) often bring out strange things from people.

Biker’s Bash flier — November 11, 1983

I’m trying to remember the chronology of the shows. I think this was the second Biker’s Bash — (and the first one we put on at the Farm). It was mostly me and J. Bone that organized it. I booked two of the bands: Zorky & Bruce were these two acoustic guitar players who were Telegraph street musicians who did great cover versions of the hits of the day (Steely Dan, etc) … I remember I paid them 50 bucks for the gig (I was quite the empresario, ha ha) and I really wanted them to headline because they were really good and always drew a big crowd, and I got a big kick out of watching people slam-dancing in the pit at the front of the stage at the Farm to two hippie-looking guys playing acoustic guitars, which was a bit unusual. . And the place was packed. .
. And Kover Band was my friend David McCord’s band (he was also in Kwikway). And J. Bone booked the other two bands: Black Dolls and Bad Habit (who were probably the best of the bike messenger bands and the lead guy went on to an impressive career in the music biz)….

But the thing that baffles me is — the first Bash was in February of ’83. And this one was in November, 8 months later. I don’t remember there being that big of a gap between the first and second shows.

RIP the legendary Mabuhay Gardens / On Broadway Theater

Like a lot of people, I had my moments at that joint: The Mabuhay Gardens/On Broadway Theater (the legendary Ness Aquino and Dirk Dirksen, the empressarios).

1980 — going to the Mab for the first time on the night that John Lennon died, tripping on acid.
1982 — delivering stacks of Twisted Image #1 hot off the press to all the punk rockers at the On Broadway.
1982 — interviewing John Doe and Xene and Billy Zoom of X backstage after a gig at the On Broadway.
1983 — putting on the first Biker’s Bash bike messenger concert at the On Broadway
1983 — seeing a psychotic set by Henry and Black Flag (with my beloved punk rock pal Mary Mayhem) at the On Broadway.
1983 — putting on a Twisted Image benefit concert at the Mabuhay (featuring Kwikway and Slug Lords).
1984 — going to the last show of the Dirk Dirksen era On Broadway with my cartoonist friend John “Baboon Dooley” Crawford — Dead Kennedys headlined naturally (an official end of an era).
1984 — I put on one last Biker’s Bash at a revamped On Broadway under new ownership after Dirksen bowed out — the show was a disaster (Bad Habit headlined) they didn’t even have a decent sound system set up, and that effectively ended my bike messenger career.

It was an honor to be a small part of such a legendary venue.

The return of Wiley Coyote

The other morning Mini Scaredy the feral cat was sleeping on my chest, when this coyote suddenly popped it’s head up from behind the tall grass a couple yards away from us. I was surprised when Mini Scaredy suddenly jumped off my chest and rushed directly at the coyote in full sprint. And to my greater surprise, the coyote went running away, and fled up the hill until it disappeared from sight.

Surprising because a.) The coyote is about 5 times bigger than the cat. And b.) the cat is on the wrong side of the predator/prey equation, re the coyote.

So go figure.

A Kenneth Anger story (1927-2023)

Back in 1965 the author Ken Kesey invited the underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger (most well known for the film “Lucifer Rising” and the book “Hollywood Babylon”) and some of his friends to visit him for a party at his place in LA Honda where he lived with various Merry Pranksters. So one evening, Anger and the Pranksters are all hanging out in the woods at Kesey’s place, partying. Kesey had rigged the woods around his house to blow people’s minds when they were tripping on acid, and there were amplifiers and microphones hidden behind the trees to provide weird psychedelic sound effects, as well as light projectors, and trees painted day-glow colors. So anyways they’re all sitting around in this little amphitheater in the woods when suddenly this bright and blinding spotlight gets turned on. And the light shines directly at this little golden cage that’s dangling from a tree branch above. And there’s a live chicken inside the cage. The cage is then slowly lowered to the ground by a pulley, where it rests alongside this tree stump — that’s painted golden — with a golden axe stuck into the tree stump. Keep in mind everything else is pitch black aside from the glowing golden axe in the center of the spotlight. So you can imagine how jarring and bewildering this all suddenly is, especially if your mind has been altered by certain chemicals. Then, one of the Merry Pranksters proceeded to pull the golden axe out of the stump, grabbed the chicken out of the cage and placed it face-down on the tree stump. And then chopped it’s head off with one mighty blow. Then he threw the headless chicken — spurting blood from its neck and flapping it’s wings wildly — at Kenneth Anger and his friends.

Kenneth Anger and his friends immediately jumped up and rushed out of there in anger and disgust, greatly shocked and offended by the whole spectacle. They got in there cars and left, and never returned.

Ken Kesey later quipped: “I guess we out-eviled them.” Ha ha.

The circle jerk of life

Of course I feel bad that the cute little hamster is getting chopped up and eaten by a feral cat.

But I figure: I’ll eventually die. My body will rot in the ground and turn into fertilizer which will produce grass which further hamsters will eat and perpetuate their lives.

So you see?? It all goes round and round in the perfect circle (jerk) of life!