A Summer in Berkeley and Oakland (a 30:30 report)

06/29/2020 1 By BuddyCushman

I believe it was a Thursday in February when I woke up on a rug in an apartment in Berkeley. Good old California, I’m thinking I caught a red-eye from Daytona, was it the night before? Had I been here longer? A week? More? There was something about a Halloween gig, some second-floor party where most everyone was tooling around in powered wheelchairs. And all in costume, I remember someone had a big crow head on, yes, crow sounds, caw caw, was that aggravating or do you wipe the slate clean when it comes to ambiance? Beats me, though you have to ask yourself how would a fleet of battery-powered wheelchairs – and those mothers weigh a ton, hell, the batteries must be thirty pounds alone, how would they get up to the second floor? Because this for sure, even within the haze of bare memory, this was no elevator building, nah, more like some three-floor wood shack like in the house neighborhoods. Dwight? University? Cannot remember. Drugs were likely involved, though my connection with the Doctor of Divinity, who had recently moved up from West LA to Oakland, hell yes, that’s it!! That wake-me-up call from the Doctor like a week ago – so it is a week –

“Milky, it is imperative you catch the next available flight and get your ass to the Oakland airport, at which place and time we will rendezvous and you will take charge of (what he called officially) “The Move”, set me up, hook me up, facilitate meetings and connections down with the Independence Center folks. I cannot move forward without you, and I’m hoping I do not need to say it but your rewards will be magnificent, quantity and quality, and who can you trust in these days if not me.”

It’s coming back – the call, falling back to sleep, then up like a banshee on the horn to the airport and a host of friends trying to arrange a ride, the best I could do, I’m remembering, was a 10:30 flight that night, a direct shot from Fort Lauderdale to Oakland, which strikes me now as a weird arrangement, but that two-hour ride down from Daytona bumped me back and I was lucky to find Sally Burnside who was decent to haul my scattered ass down barely in time to rush through security and then stay awake all the way across the country, reading Kerouac and scribbling notes every ten minutes on the next “Big Idea”, which you see I also can present language in a most formal benevolence, meaning ratchet up the urgency of important, which all that is well and good and a few phone calls after the plane ticket and the drive-down fell into place, the Doctor of Divinity and myself were long-distance, cross-country arranging our plans, and as it turns out the best he could do was arrive at ten the next morning, arrangements for his chair and attendants to the airport, his mother and father currently out of the country, technically, in their (mom and dad) ever group-iness following The Dead out to Bermuda, meaning they had not been too far at all from my sleek but weary ass when I got my early a.m. Florida east coast call, though as I write this I have for sure put some serious distance from them.

But the Doctor, best he could was the next day and I was there (Oakland airport) knocked out on one of those blue plastic chairs which 10,000 years of yoga and judo practice still could not lead to a comfortable night’s sleep, though in fact I arrived only five hours earlier and then had fallen into a deep sleep, now I remember I was dreaming of running out over the runways which hang out into the Bay and there is tall wild grass everywhere and these huge mother rabbits and there I was with some kind of outer-space, Taser thing trying to lower the over-population problem you can read about in the Berkeley Barb, my favorite “alternative” rag all over the country, so yadda yadda, that’s why I’m out here, and I have been in a spare room in the apartment – a ground-floor job just over past People’s Park and right up from the Independence Center, and helping to arrange the new livability quotient for the Doc up here in the East Bay, services and electrical upgrades for his breathing equipment which I have a solemn duty to get right every single night, so I’m wondering, how the hell I got that right after that Wednesday night party which had me on the floor unknowing where the fuck I was and how I got there, even if the brain cells started firing up after say 15 minutes, I mean the Doc and I wheeled over to Nation’s down Broadway (back to Oakland) – one of his favorite USA haunts – for a late breakfast/early lunch an hour ago so he’s still among the living meaning I didn’t fuck up the life-saver stuff and maybe you do things enough it becomes a second nature but still I may need to take a long look at the drugs and alcohol because I am a man of serious responsibilities out here on the west coast versus back on the east coast where I would quite sweetly label myself a major fuck-up who was hustling the state of Florida for a weekly paycheck by allegedly tracking down runaways on the beach boardwalk, which anyone who spends more than half an hour there can tell you runaways haven’t the slightest interest in being tracked down so what I do is crank up some impressive tracking notes about all my comprehensive outreach and connective-ness with area businesses, serious numerical stats, even the cops who I do actually know a few and maybe three of them are cool and not genuinely racists or hating on hippies and youth in general, so I find a way to justify a weekly check and my rent is cheap in the dump I call home in Flagler Beach, and a true perk is because my direct supervisor at the agency who is this older woman and very cool – I think she hung around with the Beats and the abstract artists in New York City back in the day, and in fact it was her copy of “Desolation Angels” written by Kerouac I was reading on the red-eye, anyway a perk is she knows I am doing next to nothing, though somehow managing to actually deliver a kid to the runaway house rarely, but she likes me so when I need to pick up and head west, like even when it is way past what you would describe last minute, she is cool, says go baby go, we will hang in somehow ‘til your return, and she sweetened the deal with the higher ups,

And the Doctor is well aware of my vocational status in the Sunshine State and knows I’m a hop, skip, and emergency call away, and see, now it has I think all come back to me, I have arranged extra additional extended time out here and the Doctor has swung some deal with the California government folks who authorize heavy paychecks for attendant services, so,

Sure, I woke up on a rug in some chick’s apartment right off Telegraph near Durant in late February, but now I have already agreed to what I’ll call a blood-bother contract with his Divinity-ness and will be out here through the summer, yes sir, and if you have never spent a summer in Berkeley and Oakland you have no clue just what sweetness you are missing.