The Telegraph Avenue Street Calendar 2000 was the 11th issue of the series. And it was kind of like “the end of an era” for me. And it wasn’t just because the 20th century was coming to an end. Though that was symbolic, of course.
Up to that point, the colorful, zany, crazy Berkeley street people on Telegraph were not only tolerated. They were downright celebrated. It’s one of the reasons our calendar was such a local hit. Berkeley took a certain pride in it’s offbeat, weirdo charm. It was part of what made Berkeley Berkeley. And there was a strong artistic and bohemian flair to the Telegraph street scene up to that point.
And back then, the Berkeley liberal do-gooders mostly had genuine concern for “the plight of the homeless” (who were viewed as primarily victims of Reaganomics through the prism that was Berkeley progressive politics).
But around 2000 you could sense a definite shift in the prevailing attitude. There was more talk about “those bums that are ruining our nice shopping district.” And headlines started blaring from the local papers: “What’s Wrong With Telegraph Avenue?”
What indeed. The Berkeley street scene just kept getting grimmer and more barren every year after this. And when 9-11 hit in 2001, there was definitely a sense that the party was over. And that we had indeed entered a new era.
Bring back the ’90s, man!