Quirky Berkeley walk well worth it

In front of the house where Mike Couzens and Adi Givens live, there’s a colorful Mark Bulwinkle sculpture.

Berkeley is known for its quirkiness. And Tom Dalzell is a guy who knows the quirkiest parts of Berkeley and writes a blog about it (called Quirky Berkeley). He also led about a hundred of us on a walk last Sunday along Ashby in south Berkeley. His photos are better and he has all the stories behind them, so you should definitely check out his site by clicking on the link above.

But I took some pics that he doesn’t have, and I even have thoughts to share that are specifically mine, so I’m still writing a post about my amazing experience.

It was perfect weather for a three-mile walk, and unlike my path-trekking of Berkeley, it was flat.

First off, please compare my photo of this memorial taken last Sunday (April 3, 2016) and John’s photo of it on his blog. (Maybe he took the photo right after the installation was painted six years ago?)

Emerson at Adeline
John’s photo
my photo








I was impressed by how much he knew about the artwork at each stop we made. I began to realize early in our walk that once you’re looking for it, quirky is everywhere. It’s no wonder that he can write a regular blog on the subject.

The one bummer of my adventure that day is that my Jawbone fell off before we even reached the second spot. (Jawbone is, or was, my fitness tracker. I had thoroughly researched several such devices before selecting the one I thought was most likely to remain on my arm. Click on the link and take a gander. Does it not look like it should stay on your arm?!) So not only did I lose my tracker, I didn’t get credit for the three miles I walked! Grrr…

IMG_1361Even though they were not officially part of the tour, I snapped a photo of one of those colorful utility boxes. I don’t even know what’s in there, but it’s pretty.

It took a few lights for our huge sprawling mass to cross Shattuck, and many casual flea market visitors and BART riders walking back to their cars watched us as we tried to gather into some semblance of an audience on the sidewalk across from the mural on the side of Ashby Super Market.

That particular establishment used to be called the Grove Market, which I know because I moved to the area in 1984. At that time the major thoroughfare had just changed from Grove Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Way, hence the market’s name. For a few years, signs remained along MLK that proclaimed it as “Old Grove Street,” I guess so that people didn’t get lost or weren’t confused. When my dad visited me from Oklahoma, I remember pointing the sign out to him and saying it must be for him because he was an old Grove.

Look closely at the “I” in the middle and you can see Mr. Charles waving.

I remember Mr. Charles, the greeter who waved at morning commuters every day. He wore gloves and shouted, “Have a good day!” at all who drove past him. It always made me smile.

The school’s sign wasn’t part of the tour, but I love it.

IMG_1369Our next major stop was Malcolm X Elementary, which had a big garden decorated with artwork created by Mark Bulwinkle in conjunction with students at the school, who drew designs on metal, which he cut and turned into beautiful sculptures. I have to say, it made the school look like a fun, warm, welcoming place.

Stay tuned for Part II of my Quirky Berkeley walk!


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