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The Death of Something - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
The Death of Something
This story made me sadder than I expected it too. There's the simple fact of having seen someone regularly for an extended period of time that makes that person's passing resonate. But it also works as an allegory for the fate of so many people who went to college and were "disciplined" into the margins or worse, not to mention of the Telegraph Ave. area itself, which has lost Tower and The Gap in recent months -- not a huge loss there, but a loss nonetheless -- and is now going to lose Cody's too. And you know how I'm drawn to texts that can be read allegorically.

Tags: , ,
Current Location: 94720 (if only in mind)
Mode: nostalgic

12 comments or Leave a comment
From: zokah Date: May 21st, 2006 12:18 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
i've been to Cody's three times this week (just returning from the third trip now) because I want to fill another 37 years (for that's how long I've been going) worth of visits in my body and soul before July.

Today, wandering around the large stack of poetry, I came to tears.

Telegraph Ave was almost empty of street vendors today.
kdotdammit From: kdotdammit Date: May 21st, 2006 12:37 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
The irony is that I never liked Cody's. Couldn't stand it actually. I've always been a Moe's person. I love Moe's, but Cody's and it's whole pretentious birkentstock whatever always just kind of got on my nerves. I don't know why it is that the store bothered me exactly but it did. Moe's, on the other hand, well I could spend hours, days even, in Moe's browsing and reading. I guess that's the thing about Cody's. I never felt comfortable browsing and reading in there. So it's sad I guess that it's closing, but I still prefer Moe's and Pendragon and Pegasus and even Half Price Books to Cody's. Too bad about the vendors. Glad I'm not staying in the East Bay when we come in June. Sounds like a real downer. And the naked guy dying in jail, well that's just a fucker. Fucking sad. The world, what a trash can.
From: zokah Date: May 21st, 2006 12:43 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
i also love moe's and grew up in both places. i also prefer reading in moe's to reading in cody's, but i do enjoy browsing in there as well as pendragon and less so pegasus.

and it is frightfully sad that cody's is going the way kepler's and others have and will continue to go. regardless of individuals likes. it's unfortunate that private institutions have no way to compete with non bricks and mortar, e-commerce sites. i have yet to purchase a book from amazon and yes, i'm proud of that fact.
kdotdammit From: kdotdammit Date: May 21st, 2006 12:56 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Yeah, it's a shame about independent businesses going down the drain. It's a shame about a lot of things. No doubt about that. I don't buy books from amazon either. They're a red business. In fact, I buy my books used at Bookman's and my CD's at Lou's in Encinitas. I buy my Artforums at B&N because I consider it my rental fee for the many hours me and my family spend there reading their books and not buying anything. B&N is blue at least. And they don't give a shit if you sit there all day and read and not buy anything. And they treat their employees well. So I'm okay with that. I realize I've become jaded and could give a shit anymore, but it seems a lot healthier to me now to not give too much of a shit when everything is so fucked. So yeah, too bad for Cody's but by all accounts they weren't the best employer (I've known people who've worked there). The funny thing about that whole independent business thing is that we're always so ready to say Buy Independent without looking at how the employees of the businesses are treated -- if they make a decent wage, work decent hours, have healthcare benefits, education opportunities, retirement options. It's very Berkeley to think globally as long as you don't look too closely at the reality. Like an employee should just be happy to work at Cody's and that should be enough. There is no right or wrong answer anymore. That's why we should all just do what's best for us. Very Darwinian. But the world is very Darwinian.
From: zokah Date: May 21st, 2006 01:01 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
i couldn't agree more. i think i do a pretty good job of focusing my efforts on where i know i can make a difference realizing the shame of many things.

it's ironic. i know (a former Center Stage employee) who worked for Cody's for a number of years and said it was one of the best jobs she had. she moved after Center Stage closed and began working for a barnes and noble of all places. she quit after siz months because she felt she wasn't heard as an employee.

go figure.
kdotdammit From: kdotdammit Date: May 21st, 2006 01:10 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Maybe it's a matter of perspective and location. CB and I just agreed that the people we know who worked at Cody's thought they weren't treated fairly. The B&N thing probably depends on store management. All we can do is make the decisions we're happy with. That's all. Moe's by all accounts treats their employees very well which is why no one ever quits.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: May 21st, 2006 01:15 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
My general understanding was that Fred Cody was a Mensch and that Andy Ross most definitely was not. Ross was kind of an asshole about the street life on Telegraph which used to bring visitors, despite what he thinks. Cody's made the transition to the internet too late, unlike Powell's in Portland. And the City of Berkeley sold the whole area out in favor of Shattuck and 4th St.. Those were way bigger factors in Cody's decline on the Ave than the homeless and scruffy teens.

Anyway, I'm sure there were people who liked working at Cody's. But that doesn't mean Cody's was a great employer from an objective standpoint. I enjoyed working at University Press Books a great deal, but the pay was terrible. I was new, so it wasn't as big a deal. However there was a guy there who'd been working a decade and was still only $1.50 over minimum wage.

I got to understand the Berkeley bookstore thing a lot better during my time as an employee at UPB, because I had to shuttle back and forth between Cody's and Moe's with books in tow. What I learned was that Cody's employees were paid better than UPB ones, but subject to a lot more scrutiny from on high and a sense of arbitary management. Moe's employees, by contrast, were happy as hell. Even fifteen years ago, the long-timers -- and almost all of them were -- were making well over $10 per hour and often a good deal more, with ample vacation and benefits.

Once I learned that, I made every effort to buy things at Moe's first. I sure hope Moe's can survive. Used and new is more viable than strictly new. My fingers and toes are crossed. . .
From: zokah Date: May 21st, 2006 01:25 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
i really don't know how this turned into a thread about my preference of Cody's over all other bookstores in the east bay. which is the tone i've been sensing.

yes, i am also aware of the reputation of Mr.Ross, both with regards to berkeley and with cody's specifically and harbor no exceptionally positive feelings towards him given his latest tactics since opening the store in san francisco. i have been fairly close up until a year or so ago with the owner of the flower stand outside Cody's and that perspective has also gone to shaping my opinion.

what i said in my original post and will say again, i'm am quite sorry cody's is closing. it alongside moe's frame countless memories for me from the last twenty three years. and yes, i do think it's an incredible "shame" when independent businesses close - regardless of the reason. those are the places i prefer to support period. i don't think this has as much to do with the siding of some sort of "berkeley ideology" as much as it has to do with my own morals and values.

enjoy your weekend!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: May 21st, 2006 02:56 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
No such tone on my end. I just felt it necessary to chime in, since I had some concrete experience to report. We believe in independent businesses too and love the fact that Tucson supports so many. But it is important to remember that employers vary widely in their standards and practices, whether their business is small or large.
From: zokah Date: May 21st, 2006 03:00 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
as an employer, for quite a few years, I am certainly aware of the differences in standards and practices.

thanks for the reminder though!

From: marcegoodman Date: May 21st, 2006 06:10 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I am saddened to learn of both the death of the Naked Guy and the closing of Cody's. I only saw the Naked Guy once during one of of my occasional strolls across campus but he made quite an impression. Although my own preferences shifted to Moe's from Cody's over time, the unionization of Cody's employees in the earlier nineties was a strong influence upon our decision to unionize ourselves over at Green Apple Books across the bay.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: May 21st, 2006 07:33 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I remember that struggle to unionize. Part of my ambivalence towards Cody's derives from that period, when I was told by friends who worked at Cody's to shop at Moe's. Andy Ross, as I noted in a previous comment, is and was a decidedly ambivalent figure in the Berkeley scene. After all, in addition to his attacks on Telegraph street life, he pushed for the 4th St. corridor that he now cites as a reason for leaving the original store.
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