cbus3.jpgCometbus #51
The Loneliness of the Electric Menorah
by Aaron Elliott
96 pages, 1/2 size

It's been two years since the last proper issue of Cometbus and let me tell you #51 is worth the wait. Cometbus #51 is a well-researched and reported history of Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, California, the city of Aaron Elliott's and my birth. It begins in 1963 at Rambam, a short-lived bookstore run by two cranky, stubborn gentlemen: Moe Moskowitz and Bill Cartwright. Moe went on to open Moe's Books and Cartwright to start Shakespeare and Co.

The story of Telegraph Avenue continues and included are histories of underground comics, used booksellers, new age publishing, Lhasa Karnac, the battle of People's Park, North Berkeley yuppies, the SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army), the great Amoeba records, creepy Ken the owner of Rasputin Records and Blondie's Pizza, poster art, and a slew of other Berkeley characters. I've heard parts of these stories from my mom, though Elliott's starting point is a few years before her time as a student at Cal. I also spent plenty of my own time hanging around on Telegraph, getting coffee at the Med, buying records and trading books. Peppered throughout the story are certain Berkeley feelings, including a distaste for 4th Street, strong opinions on the changes in North Berkeley, and an incredulity as to why on earth anyone would move to Boulder, Colorado.

As a bay area kid, I am so happy to read more complete versions of stories I've been hearing for years. And anyone who knows what it's like to have a complicated relationship to a place will appreciate and understand this great issue. After I finished reading it, I sent my copy along to my mom who, hilariously, has moved to Boulder. Also inside are wonderful stencil art portraits of the major players in the story by Caroline Paquita.


Cometbus #51 is available for $3 from Microcosm or at your local cool bookshop.

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