Each Sunday morning during my 2017 sabbatical, I would start a load of wash in the apartment building’s single shared washing machine and head to Philz Coffee on Shattuck (don’t look for it—it’s not there anymore). I’d stand on this sunny corner in the perfect weather with an enormous coffee and watch the world for a minute… Before heading back to change over the laundry.
Houses stacked onto the hillsides of Berkeley, California have a weird tiered geometry and features like picture windows at the corners of rooms. Living there long enough, they become everyday and ordinary… But they’re a bit surprising when first encountered.
Of all the building colors in California, there’s a special shade of pastel green that zooms straight out of the middle of the twentieth century and into every Tarantino film.
Even on a marine-layer-y morning that green stands out.
Far, far out, under the span of the Golden Gate Bridge, boats move through the haze. The extreme distance compression of this 500 mm lens puts the end of the old Berkeley Peer practically beneath the bridge, despite them being on opposite sides of the Bay. Optics are fascinating.
The expanses of wood in the modern architecture of Berkeley’s Energy Biosciences Building contrasts with the timber-framed buildings of old Berkeley across the street. As campus expands and the needs of modern Berkeley grow, I expect most of those older buildings in the space between Shattuck and Oxford will eventually vanish.
Though UC Berkeley’s Energy Biosciences Building still stands, this particular view of the sunset lighting its wooden overhang is no longer available; the construction of Berkeley Way West in what was once the building’s parking lot has closed off that section of sky.
There’s something quintessentially “summer” about a pool party at a weird California hillside home built in the mid-twentieth century. There are little details and vignettes among the clusters of people—stories packed into the space. This party took place almost nine years ago; I can’t remember what a single group was discussing.