chocolate is a verb

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Tag Archives: People’s Park


Sequoia Apartments and Mario's La Fiesta, Telegraph and Haste, BerkeleyIt was a good building, solid and old, its front door on the side street, Haste, and the apartments sprawled over storefronts on Telegraph Avenue. For no particular reason, I was slightly afraid of the manager, who became my boss when I took a cleaning job for a reduction in my rent. I vacuumed the halls and buffed the wooden handrails with lemon-scented polish, applying it liberally in an attempt to reduce the pervasive odor of old shoes. When people moved, I scrubbed apartments.

Mine was a tiny studio at the end of a hall with windows facing onto Telegraph Avenue. Directly below, on the Ave, was a Mexican restaurant. The aroma of Mexican food filled the apartment day and night, soaking into the walls and furniture. It wasn’t a bad smell, better than old shoes, but it was intense and persistent, like having a large animal in the apartment. Even if I baked bread, or chocolate chip cookies, their fragrance would be overlaid with tortillas and beans.

The shape of the place was peculiar and it’s likely that it had been cleaved from what was once a much larger apartment. To get to the tiny bathroom, which had a window facing onto a light well, you walked through the little kitchen and two very small closets.

When the riot police and National Guard occupied the rooftops across the street during People’s Park, Telegraph Avenue seemed very narrow and I was practically eye to eye with them, their gas masks and weapons making them fearsome and otherworldly, though they probably weren’t much older than I was. For a while, the Mexican food smell was forgotten as the peppery tang of tear gas found its way through the closed windows…
photo by Avi Morgan