Sunday, June 18, 2006

Tie-dyed Tears

A famous Telegraph Avenue landmark, Cody's Books, is calling it quits. With the charming wit for which Berkeley is justly noted, Screwy Lewie, a longtime Berkeley resident and guitar player who busks in front of Cody's, blames the store's closing on Reagan (for adding to the homeless problem) and the current President Bush.

On a hopeful note more consonant with reality, another business owner on Telegraph notes:
"What used to be a much more kind of social and politically orientated and active group is now much more business-orientated. There really isn't a passion for art and music the way there used to be."
For those unfamiliar with Berkeleyese "art and music" means dope. The real reason for Cody's demise is much more mundane - there's a Barnes and Noble on Shattuck that opened a few years ago and locals just don't find the stench on Telegraph Avenue particularly inviting.

A metaphor for the current state of the 'progressive' movement?


David Thomson said...

“There really isn't a passion for art and music the way there used to be."For those unfamiliar with Berkeleyese "art and music" means dope.”

I think we can take it for granted that these almost elderly hippies get high every single day of the week. Smoking marihuana is probably considered using the light stuff. And one wonders why they sound so delusional? I doubt that the Daily Kos kids use mind altering drugs. They have other problems.

Anonymous said...

Is "orientated" a metaphor for the current state of 'progressive'/ Berkeley ed?

Rick Ballard said...


Man, like that's so... umm.. uptight, yeah, uptight. Ya need to loosen up, man - here take a couple of hits of this stuff, it's... it's.... real good stuff man. That grammar crap is way too...

Hey, did you see that butterfly? Wow, what beautiful..... what?

Anonymous said...

Lol, Rick. You're almost convincing ! :)

MeaninglessHotAir said...

Careful, Rick, Cody's has always been one of my favorite bookstores ever. They had the best math collection I've ever seen, beating the pants off of any bookstore in Boston or New York. It's a shame to see it go. It's hard for the indys to compete with Amazon--what's their value-added?

terrye said...


It seems that more and more the Independents are a dying breed, in just about everything.

loner said...

It was with less sadness that I read of the closing of the Telegraph Cody's, but then I always thought it something of an anomaly among the bookstores on Telegraph, than of the UC (the great and huge rep cinema of nearly half my days) on University at the beginning of this decade or of the transition of the great Telegraph restaurant and club, Larry Blake's, into its current incarnation, and much as I like Telegraph Avenue it's not been it's historical self (it was never without street people of all sorts and temperments since I've known it) since Bank of America (Telegraph & Durant) put the windows back in.

Powell's in Portland remains my favorite bookstore. It'll be an occaision for profound sadness if it ever closes its city block store. The Barnes & Noble has been on Shattuck (a street I usually found filthier, if less congested) for over a decade? I reasonably sure I spent some pleasant time there while still in the north. I'd meet college friends there and then take in a movie at one of the many theaters on or off Shattuck. The last theater on Telegraph (a small upstairs rep place) closed before 1980. The Borders in the Emery Bay Public Market in Emeryville goes back even further and we were doing similar there sometime in the '80s IIRC.

Time passes and brain cells (even without the drugs) die. Even the Berkeley City Council from time to time surprises. Really.

Eric said...

I used to work for Barnes & Noble, and when the company started opening up its "Superstores" in the early 1990's there was a huge outcry that 'local' bookstores would be driven out of business and so on and so forth.

Some of that happened. However, not for the reasons you might think.

Mostly it came down to the fact that a B&N could actually stock more books than these independents, (and cheerfully order anything that wasn't in the store). When B&N added the coffee bars the whole thing just seemed to take off.

There seems to be quite a hunger for what B&N is offering. I helped open a 30,000 square foot store in Paramus, NJ in the middle of 1991, and there was an estimate was made of sales for the first week. Which was surpassed on the first day. We were surprised, to say the least. An entire overnight crew had to be added to restock the store at night. I didn't think people read that much anymore. (Actually, I'm still not sure people are reading the books, but they are buying them).

In smaller towns, a 9-10K sq foot store will make a profit with almost no effort what so ever. All that had to be done was put the book in the customer's hand.

I used to see snarky editorial cartoons that B&N or Border's wouldn't carry 'progressive' books, which is total BS. Those books are carried. They just don't sell.

Syl said...

I loved the huge B&N in my neck of the woods. Lots of space to move around unlike Borders where wearing a bulky winter coat made it impossible to navigate. Not that I have a winter coat but you know what I mean.

My only voiced complaint was shelving the science books with the pseudo science books. But at least they had books on physics and stuff, unlike Borders where the pickings were slim.

I haven't been to either for years, but the big B&N closed. They opened another a few miles away but friends say it's much much much smaller.

Don't know that it means anything.

Eric said...

In various places there was some tweaking. They opened two stores in Paramus before opening a third and closing one of the others based on basically how big the parking lot was.