A time capsule back to the Berkeley Inn

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Some songs are like time capsules. They take you back to a period of time. And when you hear them again, decades later, it’s like all the memories of that time are somehow encoded in the music. And when you hear it again you might start crying and crying and never stop.

I used to listen to this song on this one album by Peter Green in the summer of 1982. I was staying with my friend Duncan at his hotel room in the Berkeley Inn. And my big dream At the time was to publish an underground newspaper. And as I worked on laying out the lay-out pages for what would be TWISTED IMAGE #1 on Duncan’s desk — rubber cement, x-acto knife, white-out, etc, the tools of the trade — I used to listen to this song over and over. “When Kings Come Home” was the title. It’s an instrumental, just one guy playing an acoustic guitar. And It was like soothing background music that helped me concentrate on the work at hand.

Duncan had this dusty little hotel room. It must have been about 20-feet-by-20 feet. It had a big brass bed, and a desk, and a sink, and one window that looked at to the back corners of Telegraph Avenue. And that was it. I can still see Duncan’s hotel room clear as a bell. I even remember his room number. 414. On the fourth floor. And he had a bunch of posters on his walls. A beautiful blue photo of a whale leaping out of the water. A poster of Princess Diana (go figure — Duncan was English). And he had xeroxes of all the covers of his underground zine TELE TIMES on the wall behind his bed. Every time he published a new issue he’d immediately scotch-tape a Xerox of the latest cover on the wall. Like a trophy. I think he had about 25 covers on his wall at that point. All posted in chronological order. Like a history of his on-going accomplishments.

And Duncan also had this cheap record player. It was just a box that folded out with a handle and a tinny little amplifier built into it (if you were a kid in the 60s you probably had one of those record players in the days before stereos). And he had a stack of records. I remember he had “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfield. And, oddly an album by Laverne and Shirley — the TV sit com actresses — singing the rock songs from the’ 50s. That was one of his favorites.

And he had this one too. It was a quirky compilation album by John Fahey and Leo Kotke and Peter Lang. And I used to play it over and over back in June of 1982 in Duncan’s little hotel room.


Decades later I was trying to remember what that one particular song was that I used to play over and over back in 1982 in Duncan’s dusty little hotel room. All I remembered was that it was a compilation album with John Fahey. I couldn’t remember the song title or the album title or even who did it (Peter Lang). Finally — thanks to the wonder of YouTube — I was finally able to find it. And as I listen to it now, it’s like I’m back in Duncan’s hotel room and it’s 1982 and we were young and everything was starting. And then in a blink of an eye it all came and went.


When Kings Come Home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LocAHVcuROU

The burning of the Berkeley Inn

Going, going, gone.

The Berkeley Inn 1986.

The top photo is from right after the first fire. Almost certainly arson. It started mysteriously in a wing of the building where no people were living. So investigators were baffled as to what could have started the fire. Which is why they strongly suspected arson.

Fortunately the firefighters were able to save the building before there was substantial damage. As you can see from the top photo. So all the tenants were temporarily housed in motels. And plans were made to tentatively repair the damage.

But then — wouldn’t you just know it — a SECOND fire broke out. Even more mysterious than the first fire. Since there were no tenants in the building at the time, and all the electricity had been cut off. As you can see from the middle photo the building was completely gutted by the second fire.

And the bottom photo shows the remains of the Berkeley Inn, right before it was completely demolished by the wrecking crew.

But there’s a happy ending to the story. At least for the owner of the Berkeley Inn. Who got a big insurance settlement after the Berkeley Inn was demolished. And lived happily ever after. The End.

How I met the famous poet Julia Vinograd


Oddly, the first time I met Julia Vinograd I scared her.

It was 1978 and she lived in a little hotel room on the fourth floor of the Berkeley Inn. My friend Duncan lived down the hall, and often published her poems in his zine TELE TIMES. He also published my underground comix in TELE TIMES.

So one afternoon, after visiting with Duncan, I was getting into the elevator. And Julia got in at the same time.

So I introduced myself. I figured we were both hip underground artists getting published in Duncan’s hip underground zine TELE TIMES. I happened, at the time, to be holding in my hands one of my hip underground comix. I had brought the original art up there to show Duncan. It was some weird, bizarre underground sex cartoon that I had just hacked out. But I figured Julia was a fellow hip bohemian artist. So I showed it to her as we rode on the elevator together.

She took one look at the cartoon. And she instantly had a horrified look on her face. She moved to the farthest end of the elevator. And wouldn’t look at me or talk to me for the rest of the elevator ride.

And when we finally got to the first floor, she bolted out of that elevator and headed for the front door as fast as she could, never once looking back.

Ha ha. What can I say? I was 22 and not particularly bright and just figuring out how to present my artwork to a breathless public.




Duncan and Friederike




At some point in the 1980s, this somewhat crazy but well-meaning young woman named Friederike fell in love with my pal Duncan. She stalked him for many years, to no avail (Duncan didn’t want anything to do with her).

Then in 1986 she finally got her man. Duncan lost his home at the Berkeley Inn when the owner torched the building in an obvious case of arson. Friederike came to the rescue and invited him to move into her apartment. Which he did. And they ended up having a romantic relationship that went on for many years.

Friederike was also a very talented painter. This is one of her paintings titled “The Burning of the Berkeley Inn.” She painted it from a photo of her and Duncan sitting in front of the Berkeley Inn shortly after the fire. Duncan has all of his boxes of possessions behind him, as they’re waiting for a friend to drive by in their pick-up truck and take them back to Friederike’s place.

I suppose you could title this photo: “Friederike Gets Her Man.”