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Lunch at Chez Panisse & 911 on Telegraph Ave., Berkeley

Chez Panisse Still Life, watercolor
Chez Panisse Still Life, watercolor

I had a wonderful afternoon with Casey (of art blog “rue Manuel bis”), her charming husband and delightful daughter on Friday when they were in San Francisco for a brief visit. Casey’s husband was interested in visiting Berkeley so we started our tour of Berkeley at Chez Panisse where we were lucky enough to get lunch reservations.

Although we brought our sketchbooks to share with each other, we didn’t sketch, focusing instead on delicious food and great conversation. I took a photo of this scene in the restaurant as we were leaving. Here is the way it appears in my sketchbook, drawn from the photo on my computer screen:

Chez Panisse still life as it appears in sketchbook
sketchbook pages

The design at top left is from the lunch menu which I photocopied smaller and glued in the sketchbook. I discovered that my souvenir Chez Panisse postcard is the perfect size to trace around to create a nice margin in this book. To keep it handy I stuck it in the glassine envelope I’d glued in the back of the sketchbook. Things were looking so messy in this sketchbook as I tried to find my way with the new paper and size of sketchbook. Now I’ve found the solution to the messy pages: draw the margins first and stay within them instead of painting to the edge of the page.

911 on Telegraph Ave.

Despite my warning that Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue is pretty funky, everyone wanted to see the University of California, Berkeley campus and visit the used record and book stores on Telegraph. We walked on campus and then down to the shops where I bought an old Busby Berkeley CD (in honor of my cat of the same name).

On Telegraph I noticed two women who looked like prostitutes wearing outlandish makeup and mini-skirts. We also passed a soapbox preacher ranting (positively) about sex, a lone hare Krishna, sad clumps of young junkies with their pit bulls, the requisite tables of political bumper stickers, a super-stinky homeless guy, a bathing products store, a “head shop” selling hookahs, and someone handing out flyers for a tanning booth.

Heading back to my car we heard shouting. Those same whorish women we’d seen were running from Telegraph towards us on Durant, pursued by several coeds and everyone was screaming. The ho’s were screaming “Don’t touch me! Get away from me!” The coeds were screaming “Give me back my purse! Give me back my sweater!”

We stood there as if watching TV, trying to make sense of it all. The two ho’s jumped into a shiny black car parked right in front of us and slammed the door. The girls continued screaming while a slight young man stood at the driver’s window, saying, “Just give her the purse back.” Finally someone yelled, “Call the police!”

That snapped us out of our confusion and while I dialed 911, Casey had the presence of mind to note the license number of the car and was repeating it over and over. I told the 911 operator what was going on and handed the phone to Casey who gave the license number.

The ho’s threw the empty purse out the car window, revved their engine, and although the girls tried to block them from driving off, managed to speed away. I sure hope they got caught via the license number but I’m guessing the car was just as stolen as the purse, and probably ditched quickly. It was weird and scary, but fortunately nobody was hurt.

It was a more comprehensive tour of Berkeley than I’d intended. We went from the pinnacle of fine dining, to the campus at the center of the city, to the ugly underside of my dear Berzerkeley.

6 replies on “Lunch at Chez Panisse & 911 on Telegraph Ave., Berkeley”

Whew! Well, they do say that artists should seek adventure; it help keep you in that creative mode! 😀 I think you and Casey should be set for awhile!!

Awesome painting!


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