I thought I had better things to do, but that was before I attended the opening day of the fair, and found that there is nothing in the world better to do than the Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair.
Stage one of Berkeley's thirtieth holiday fair wrapped Sunday, under light rain.
Saturday, the rain fell hard, and some artists packed up early.
But more than one artist said that big profits (and perhaps some last minute discounts) await stage two, next weekend, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (Xmas Eve)—as last-minute shoppers panic.
As one vendor told me, not all concessions lose money in the rain. "There are winners and losers," said Paul Ogren, who is in his second year at the fair with his War to Piece nuclear jewelry. "The jewelry won't explode," Ogren assured; it's sculpted from wires once used to direct nuclear missiles.
Ogren is a gifted promotor, who has had his fair share of media attention, and sells his designs in major museums throughout the country.
Across the street from Ogren, I met Fred Rosefeather, who was so excited to be here, he almost broke into an Indian dance. "In San Luis Obispo, an art gallery owner told me, I was too good for San Louie, and said, go to Berkeley."
Ogren and Rosefeather, neighbors at the fair, didn't know each other in San Louie.
Long-time fair organizer, Janet Klein, told me that the fair fills yearly with gifted artists, who are steered here by other artists.
Klein, who has served the fair for a quarter-century—last nine years as the event-organizer—plies the artists with a continuous supply of chocolate cookies, each day.
She runs a tight ship, settling disputes, and enforcing regulations.
Saturday, she ejected a vendor, she said violated the regulation requiring that pieces for sale are made by and sold by the artist. This is an important rule, because it gets you close to the artists, who are all entertaining.
Their glamorous lives are spent going to crafts fairs all over the country, where they develop patter for people like us, and especially reporters. Tell them you are a reporter for the Berkeley Daily Planet.
The event has become a major venue for some of the best artist-craftsmen in the state, and states throughout the West. They flock to Berkeley with their arts from San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles area, the South Bay, the Peninsula, and Marin.
Berkeley was represented last week by artist Eddie Monroe, a veteran of the holiday event, and founder of the Berkeley Street Vendor's Association, which assigns stalls to Berkeley artists by lottery—each weekend.
Monroe returned two years ago to selling on the street where he began his career in the 60s; he now exhibits large paintings at the 4th Street Studio, where he also teaches. He tells me his studio paintings are selling well. "I'm at the top of my career," he has told me.
Although Monroe, who has been painting bay-area scenes for more than forty years, is doing his best work these days, he still sells his iconic Telegraph Ave painting, showing Teley in its glory years, when Teley was mainly small local businesses selling necessities, like locks, clocks, and socks—and barrels of books, and magazines.
Award-winning scenic photographer, Louis Cuneo, founder of the Berkeley Poetry Festival, is offering his best work at easily affordable prices. If you liked his photos of Aquatic Park published last year in the Planet, you will be glad to know you can purchase the set for $20-25.
Weather report: Saturday, 50 percent chance of rain; Sunday, 45 percent chance of rain; Monday (Xmas Eve.) partly cloudy, ten per cent chance of rain.
Last week, an artist was on his phone following the fair (foul )weather by Doppler Radar.
Ted Friedman writes a "philosophical" sex column, Sex@Cal for Berkeley Reporter.
Contact him at email@example.com.