New: Berkeley's Telegraph Ave. Regains Its Mojo;
Struggling Street Fair On A Roll;
Record Rains Followed By Record Heat
And A Landmark Student Building Reduced To Rubble

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday July 17, 2013 - 11:29:00 AM

It was a wild and bumpy Berkeley Week. Even Bette Davis would be impressed. 

First Berkeley watched forlorn Telegraph Avenue fight for its life, then came the rains to wash˙away all hopes. Bad weather haunted the first three Sunday Fests, but that bad weather was typical Bay Area summer chill and fog. Weather so good we didn't know it until we lost it. 

Then two days of rain broke rainfall records. Then came the heat. Highs were no more than 5-10 degrees above normal, but the duration of the heat wave set longevity records. 

Forth of July (ninth day of hear-wave) just short of 80, as predicted. 

Several Bay Area cities opened cooling shelters; health warnings--issued. 

Through this Job-like-plagues period Berkeley staggered. 

Then members of the Cal Marching band became the symbol of an upward Telegraph trend in a photo by Ted Friedman that was media-published twice. Saxophones raised to the heavens. 

And that upward symbol did portend better times the next week as students and vendors trickled back to the Ave. 

Despite a spate of gloom-and-doom major media pieces counting Telegraph out, Telegraph Ave. still has cachet. MTV has been filming at Moe's books, reminding old Berkeleyans of the famous Dustin Hoffman shoot at the Caffe Mediterraneum (the Graduate, 1957). 

A long line of Kentucky bibliophiles filed into Moe's this week. They come every year to the world-famous store, according to a Moe's staffer. 

A tourist bus pulled up on the avenue last week with twenty-five Diablo Valley College students. 

An Asian tour group toured the avenue on the 4th. 

Except for subsequent bad weather, Telegraph was finding what one pundit called it's [lost] mojo. 

A few melted ice-creams and sweaty brows did not reduce a growing flow of pedestrians, more than in the previous four weeks combined. Some of these people are from Southern California, part of a state-wide heat wave, (Death Valley: 127 degrees). Some like it hot. 


To photographers who daily shot the picky deconstruction of the student senate and Daily Californian offices (photographers like award-winning Oakland Tribune photographer David Yee, who shot for the Daily Cal in the 80s) the shoot was reminiscent of the Sequoia Apartment Bldg. fire almost two years ago. 

The plot was the same. Venerable buildings felled by natural disasters (fire and residual earthquake effects.) Watching these tear-downs is like a movie where you know the ending but can't turn away. 

The deconstructed buildings did not crash, but were methodically picked to rubble by a cherry-picking jaw of death. 

Great fun for the adolescent mentality, a basic trait of photographers—and voyeurs, too. 


Follow Ted Friedman at berkeleyreporter.com.