Last night Ducknik and Mushnik and Plotnik drove into Berkeley to see Mississippi Motorhead perform a fabulous story at The Monkey House. He was great and the other storytellers were excellent too. When one of his characters throws out his hip and says "You don't know how it feels to be a woman in love!" it brought down the house.
Before the show, we drove by an old West Berkeley neighborhood down by the water, where the Great PD had sent a picture of a house for sale. The house, as you can see, is probably not being completely torn down because building codes make them keep the outside facade, but it is basically a rip-'er-down-to-the-nails job. The neighborhood, when Plotnik was in school, was 100% black and one of those places you didn't go into unless you came from there or had a good reason.
Now -- this place was being offered the other day for -- get this -- $400K, which makes it a bargain, despite having to spend at least that much to be able to live in it, and when you're done you're still in this old neighborhood.
But guess what -- the street is full of old, apparently unrestored classic Victorians, the kind with old roses and wisteria bushes twining on beat up picket fences, and venerable churches apparently still in use with towering spires, and...there's a trendy bar. And there's a trendy pet store. And there's a yoga studio. And where are all the black people? They are certainly not on the street anymore, just young-ish white faces walking dogs and driving twenty-year-old Volvos.
The neighborhood has all the signs of being already past the discovery stage. Where do the old people go when they sell their homes to the newcomers? Will the yoga studio and bakery have the same staying power as the corner market and brake shop they replace?
Truth is, I think so. The old gives way to the new. Great Plotnik World Headquarters resides in one of these old cozy Victorians itself, not in West Berkeley but in Noe Valley, and not in a once-black neighborhood but a once-Irish neighborhood, and not in a neighborhood being discovered now but once that went through that twenty five years ago.
So think of this old house, or what remains of it, a generation from now, only a few blocks from the bay, when the ghosts of the people who lived here have all taken their clanky chains and slunk into the memories no one has any time for because the new people, like the old people, are all too busy working to make the mortgage.
$400K is not a bargain for this dump. But one of those cute old Victorians?