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Nap Time!!!

Thursday, May 18, 2006
I have a plan!

Mayor Tom Bates has a plan for Telegraph Ave. The plan is like most plans in response to things going to hell. Here's the plan:

Do some stuff. All kinds of stuff. Stuff that can be described by different words, and that requires all kinds of different people to pretend to take action. This way, it'll look like something is being done. Bring on the stuff!

The city has offered plans to clean up Telegraph before only to see them fall apart. Al Geyer, owner of Annapurna, an eclectic shop offering everything from bongs to books, said the city needs back up its rhetoric with action.

"A lot of these sound like platitudes to me," he said. "They offer services when the spotlight is on Telegraph Avenue. Then when the spotlight is off the services are cut back or withdrawn."


But Geyer said Telegraph must retain its history and resist changing its nature.

"It's where Allen Ginsberg wrote Howl, its where coffee club culture began," said Geyer. "Berkeley is famous for its restaurants and boutiques."

Dammit, Berkeley, make Telegraph better! But do it without changing anything!

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/18/2006 06:18:00 PM #
Comments (8)
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The plan concretely calls for more social services and bike cops.

Also, I agree with this Al Geyer person that Telegraph will only succeed if it retains its history and continues to attract the "different" people. It wouldn't work to make Telegraph a shopping district like anywhere else. That's already in downtown Berkeley, Solano Ave, and 4th St.
The fact that it's doing something concrete doesn't mean it's doing something useful.

The problem is that history doesn't keep up with reality. History doesn't survive in competition with reality. That's why it chills in books and stories and stuff.

I guess it depends on how you define "work." 4th St. "works." Telegraph doesn't. When the biggest local market is 21st century students, dreaming of "the glory days" doesn't keep people in business. Students have changed. Telegraph doesn't have a choice anymore.
4th Street, with the exception of Bette's Oceanview Diner which rocks, is somewhat of a yuppie hell hole. Not being one to pay $49 for a dinner 30% as substantial as what $4 can buy me at La Burrita, I tend to avoid it.

Telegraph works - in a sense. The eateries on the street survive, and many retail shops (except those selling body piercings or bongs) tend to fold. The Gap on Telegraph died, and, having worked there, I can tell you that this is generally a plus.

I like that Telegraph is weird, and it's basically harmless. I don't even mind the REAL homeless people, we just need some way to get rid of the rich teenagers from Marin who come down to Telegraph to bum change, do meth, and play with diseased pit bulls. If we get rid of the gutterpunks, Telegraph takes care of itself. Just tell them to go home - their dads bought them new Beemers!
How sad to read that Cody's closed. I used to live just a couple blocks away from it, and I loved to browse, buy a magazine, maybe a new book. Cody's had a lot of character.

The part of Telegraph near the university is kind of sad, though. From the rich kids playing at being homeless to the real thing, there's just a point where it becomes too bothersome. Where it becomes too much of a hassle to walk around all the people sitting on the sidewalk, and then around all the street vendors, and so you just take a side street instead, so you can get from point A to point B quickly and easily. Telegraph has a lot of potential, but all the baggage keeps it stuck (rich punks, people's park, etc.)
'Harmless'? Police statistics bear out that People's Park and the area surrounding it is ground zero for most crime in Berkeley. But it *is* nice to hear that whatever unpleasantness that exists there is the fault of 'rich kids'. (Sure.) In addition to Cody's leaving, keep in mind that the Gap, Blockbuster, LaVal's Southside, Tower Records and Footlocker have also all left. I can't blame the last two for leaving--whenever there was a rally for racial preferences-- oops, 'affirmative action'--on campus, supporters would encourage local high school youths to attend...more than once, many of them decided to smash the windows at Footlocker and loot the place. A few years ago, when a dance held at the ASUC by the African-American frat couldn't absorb all those who wanted to attend, a night of 'wilding' by black youths ensued. Strong-arm robberies, burglaries...and Tower Records had its windows smashed and inventory looted. There wasn't much community outrage, either. I recall the Daily Planet's coverage consisted of a story on an inside page with the headline 'Hundreds take to streets'--as if it were all merely some sort of spontaneous political rally! Berkeley's reputation for permissiveness, dizzy naivete and white liberal guilt make Telegraph the perfect place for drug dealers, runaways, black on white crime, you name it. Yeah, I think I'll invest thousands and open a business on Telegraph. Sure.
I think bhs74 needs a black friend.
Oh, I have black friends and neighbors. One of them is employed by the City of Berkeley's Public Works Dept., and his job often consists of driving around our fair city and power-washing the urine off of sidewalks and bus shelters. He tells me there's been no shortage of work for him these past few years. (Clearly the signature work of those notorious 'rich kids'.)
I bet all of your black friends love it when you lecture them about "black on white crime."
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