Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sundays on Telegraph

     If you want a nice, laid-back atmosphere with nice, laid-back people, you have to visit Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue.  Especially when the crowds of Berkeley students have left for the summer. Telegraph is an area where you can find lots of shopping, delicious eateries, and Bay Area history and ambience.  I recommend visiting on Sundays because most of the parking is free, and you can check out street vendors and see local bands and entertainers gathered as part of "Sundays on Telegraph."
     Sundays on Telegraph started in June and runs every Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm through September 27th.  Telegraph is shut down to traffic during the event between Durant and Haste, so you can browse without having to worry about or wait for traffic.  Most of the vendors present when I went were selling jewelry, but there were also t-shirts, dream catchers, and knick knacks.  There were also jugglers performing individually and in groups, a band playing Hawaiian music and doing hula dancing, and Aztec dancers wowing the crowds with their impressive skills and outfits.
     The vendor turnout when I went was light (under twenty booths), but there's so much to do on Telegraph that it's still worth the trip.  You have to check out the historic Moe's Books, where you can wander multiple floors of books in every genre.  Moe's buys and trades books, so you can find new and used books. Moe's also has a collection of rare books, and a great selection of books about the Bay Area.  And Moe's has a restroom for customers, which is a rare thing in some parts of the Bay Area.  You just have to ask for a token.
     Another shop you have to visit is Cream.  Stop here.  Take a deep breath to prepare yourself.  Now, Cream sells ice cream sandwiches that have been divinely ordained.  As in, they take two warm cookies of your choice and put your choice of ice cream between them.  What this creates is a warm, melty, gooey chunk of pure bliss.  What is commonly referred to in Berkeley as Nirvana.  And they cost only $2!  Seriously.  Two bucks for the perfect cookie/ice cream sandwich.  Who can beat that?  They're also open way late to satisfy midnight munchies: until midnight Monday through Wednesday and until 2 am Thursday through Saturday.  Visit their website at to see their flavors, mouth watering pictures, and information about the shop.
     You can also get something simple and delicious from The Melt, Gordo's, or Noah's Bagels.  And you can get new and used DVDs, BluRays, and music from Rasputin's or Amoeba.  You are also in walking distance of Shattuck Avenue where you can go to Shattuck Cinemas, Pegasus Books, and the Berkeley Public Library.
     Shattuck Cinemas is a beautiful little theater that plays a great selection of new independent films.  It has a lounge that serves food and alcohol, and it offers showings in the evening that only admit adults 21 and over (yay!).  But the best part about Shattuck Cinemas is that the theaters have couches and bean bag chairs instead of theater seats.  The couches come in single, double, and triple seats, and the bean bag chairs are up front right before the screen.  These couches are big, very plush, and very comfortable.  I saw Blackfish here.  The documentary and the experience were awesome.
     Across the street and down a little way from Shattuck Cinemas is Pegasus Books, an adorable bookstore that offers new and used books in many genres.  The selection is not as big as Moe's, but the atmosphere is great, and Pegasus sells a collection of Zines from local authors.  It also has a bookstore cat that will tolerate light mauling.
     It may seem odd to promote a library as an entertainment destination, but the Berkeley Public Library is one you just have to check out.  As a connoisseur of libraries, I can tell you that Berkeley's is one of the biggest and best of the Bay Area.  The grandeur of the architecture reminds me of the Boston Public Library.  And if you're a California resident, you can get a library card for free.  You don't have to be a Berkeley native.  This library has five floors.  Five!  It also has tons of comfortable areas to sit, tons of study cubicles, a large amount of computer terminals, and almost any book, movie, or periodical you could ever want.  You can also browse a large section of books on local history and look at photos from Berkeley's past.
     If you live in the Bay Area and you haven't visited Berkeley's Telegraph area, you're missing out.  If you want to get in touch with the vibrant spirit of the Bay Area, there's no better place to do it. This is an area that helped shape our nation, and you can feel that rich history in the air.  You'll meet some colorful people and sometimes see some shady interactions, but you won't be bored.  You can drive or BART/bus.  Just make sure to have cash with you, and share a little with those you meet.  Because this is definitely a place where you should share the love.

Sundays on Telegraph
Aztec dancers preparing to amaze.

It looks small on the outside, but like a book, you just have to go inside.

Welcome to heaven.  We have cookies.



Just watching the world from my window seat at the library.

One of the many lounge areas of the Berkeley Public Library.

You're looking in on just one section of the Berkeley Public Library.  This place is huge!

A little note on Berkeley Public Library's history.

One of the best documentaries I've seen this year and ever.

Shattuck Cinemas...home of the cushy couch seating.

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