The Avenue

03/10/2011 at 10:48 am (Exercises, Senses, Telegraph Ave.)

As I continue working on the novel, I’m attempting to add physical details that are true to Berkeley and the 1976 setting.  But I’m also concerned with other senses – not only the sights of the time and place, but the sounds, smells, tastes and the tactility of Steve’s surroundings.

This short exercise lists certain scents associated with Telegraph Avenue in the 1970s:

Suds and lemony detergent escaping the laundromat on the corner across from the 7-Eleven, which always smells like Slurpees and beef jerky;

b.o. so strong it makes anyone walking downwind of the aged black homeless man it belongs to gag involuntarily – the smell known notoriously as Bum Scum;

human feces in People’s Park;

poet Julia Vinograd’s musty chapbooks she shoves under the noses of every single passerby who happens to glance her way, only three dollars, plus she’ll sign it for you;

LaVal’s pepperoni pizza — covered with chili flakes — being consumed on the Northside by a study group of bleary-eyed undergrads during finals;

the aromatics of Caffé Med, where the Turkish coffees overpower the Ethiopian blends every time.



photo by Justin McFarr

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