I had a flashback of memory, riding on a city bus up University Avenue in Berkeley back in the late '70s. The smell of teargas and public outrage had long faded, there was an imported hat store now, carrying in high ticket tropical weavings to fuel a then fashionable fad.
The airbrakes sounded for a sharp stop at Shattuck Avenue, and I debarked and crossed the street, remembering the time the riot cops and demonstrators really had a stand-off there. No burning barricades anymore, and in a way thank heavens for that.
So I was having a flashback of memory, thinking barricades as I moseyed. I noticed the Bart construction barricade was wallpapered with posters. These posters were so different from any of the posters that had ever appeared in town that I had seen, the concert posters or the calls to action in the old days.
These new posters were oversized, in color, and slick and glossy. A veritable fortune to print. And here they were. A wall of them. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars stapled to the plywood.
The posters depicted a copper toned, golden portrait of Garland Jeffreys
. I knew it was Garland Jeffreys because that name was on the poster, too. I recognized the name Garland Jeffreys, I'd heard that song "Wild in the Streets" recently on local radio, although I had missed it the first time it was around. And from recent newspaper reads I knew he was soon to appear in the area. And from those articles, too, I learned for the first time he was in some way associated with Lou Reed and that meant a distant association in some way with "The Velvet Underground." Hey, that's really something, I thought. They used to call the subway the Underground in London, before it was called the Tube (and their records were just becoming popular hereabouts, I meant the Tubes and White Punks on Dope not the one about burning leather and zippers sending sparks into the night) and this structure was to be the BART. And that underground thing as a word seemed to be the end of any similarity I could come up with.
OK, a record company street team had taken over the expanse of plywood announcing the re-release of an old product. And I suspected the hands on the staple guns were those of a relatively well-paid record company street team at that, even if they were unpaid college interns using their friends energy in exchange for free tickets or other minor bits of pelf. Why should any of that bother me so much? I don't know, and I don't to this day, but it all seemed so pampered, plushed up, smoothed over, and glossed out, and contrived. I think that's what bothered me the most, that contrived part. I didn't want to waste my time even looking or thinking about those posters anymore.
So the next time I rode that bus, I took a different number and rode straight up University so I didn't have to walk past the record company's free advertising space barricade. And I couldn't help but notice that somebody with printing skills and a pen had altered the whole lot of posters to read "Mild in the Streets."
I didn't giggle out loud or point my finger and yell "hey looka that". I merely smirked a bit because I felt I understood.