My friend Sue and I had spent a week in the area the previous summer and fell in love with the east bay. I went back, wanting to explore the area more and actually wait for Sue to again follow me after she finished a summer school session back home.
After traveling over the Bay Bridge into Berkeley, we discovered a building that served as frat house during the school year but was rented out to both gals and guys by the week during the summer months. This frat house, Theta Delta Chi, was featured in the film “The Graduate,” where on an interior shot you’ll see actor Richard Dreyfuss in his first film role, speaking one line.
That is, until one sunny afternoon I found this short little rasta guy sitting on my room’s mattress, just about to crack open my knapsack to look through its contents. For some reason, I kept very calm. First of all, I knew he couldn’t steal anything because I didn’t have anything. A beat-up aluminum mess-kit, a camping knife and fork, and some well-worn women’s hippy clothing.
He didn’t look like the violent type. I simply asked him,“What are you doing here?” When he didn’t answer, I just said, “You can’t be in here. This is my rom. You have to leave.” And he did. I was surprised. I locked my door from the inside every night after that, though I didn’t have a key to the outside.
“Did you ever hear this album?” he asked.
"Why would you think he might be from Chicago?" I said.
“I figured Chicago is cold and Cold Fact might have something to do with Chicago," he said. "And the buildings on the cover look like older urban buildings.”
'Cos I'm tired of these scenes
For a blue coin won't you bring back
All those colors to my dreams
Silver magic ships you carry
Jumpers, coke, sweet Mary Jane
Sugar man met a false friend
On a lonely dusty road
Lost my heart when I found it
It had turned to dead black coal
Of course, I didn't travel all the way to California just to listen to records or play chess indoors. I joined the group of friends I made at the house and elsewhere in Berkeley for picnics, waterskiing outings, a day trip north to wine country, long discussions at coffee houses, a evening exploring San Francisco's Chinatown, endless billiards challenges, and a special night at a small, local dance venue where Carlos Santana hopped onstage as a surprise performer during a Tower of Power set.
“I’ve heard that song before. I’ve seen that record album before. I love that song,” I told my husband.
“Why is that song so hauntingly familiar?” I asked. “Rodriguez lives not too far away. Didn’t the Chicago radio stations play the song for awhile, back when?”
“Maybe I’m just getting it mixed up with the song ‘Candyman,’” I said.