A Particular Place: Slideshows of Berkeley, CA, an Inspiration

Berkeley7Berkeley is the wildcard of the East Bay, usually the seemingly black and white part of the Bay (chaotic and urban Oakland versus the idyllic suburbs from Orinda to Concord and Castro Valley). With Berkeley, it’s a  tame but certainly not boring spot of the Bay, most consider it just a small-scale San Francisco on the other side of the bridge. I love it, even for its hippie rep, but beyond that (c’mon, Telegraph Ave is only one street of many in the city). I love the spirit and liveliness of every street corner and shop and home you encounter. Back in 2007-2010 was the time I spent the most in Berkeley, and the things you could see here! I had to write about it, and that’s how I produced my first novel The Muse Land.


The Muse Land, now being reconstructed as The Boys in America, is set in scattered parts around the Bay, but a great deal of the story is in Berkeley, where my protagonist, Cameron, settles down in after leaving his native England to work soccer camps in California. He’s made a right decision in that, because it truly is a wondrous place to find whatever it is you’re looking for out of happiness or inspiration.Berkeley3

Berkeley is really chic and urban for all the pleasant right reasons, and I was very glad to see that Refinery29 created a shopping and dining guide on their San Francisco domain for the up-to-date fashion and lifestyle website. It lists some spots I’m well familiar with, and some new and up-and-coming little boutiques and eateries I know that I must see for myself!
Here from the article i’ve noted two spots I have written about in my novel: The Claremont Hotel Club and Spa and The Cheeseboard Pizza. They’re long-standing monuments of this city, from the elegant roaring 20’s facade of the grand Claremont which you can see right from the freeway nestled in the green Berkeley Hills, to the always crowded and quirky pizza-menu Cheeseboard with few seating so that most diners have to illegally take to the grassy island in the middle of Shattuck Ave to have a mass picnic with friends or strangers. Both are places I clearly identify in my story, and once I’ve finished revising and you all get the chance to read it, I hope that they, along with other parts of the city (such as the Berkeley Marina above) really move you and make you see not just the beauty in San Francisco, but all around the Bay Area, too.
Matt overlooking sunset on the Bay Area , two summers ago. The fog that sets over the entire San Francisco Bay Area is truly magical is best seen from the Berkeley Hills along Fish Ranch Road.

One last note on this magical place: should you EVER set your sights on settling down here in Berkeley, take note of the lovely little streets and microhoods made up of the city’s most characteristic and beautiful bungalows. From craftsman houses to idyllic English cottage styles, the housing in this city has been one of the biggest influences in my story. I’ve always gone to Berkeley Homes which features prime real estate of gorgeous homes with charm to look for settings throughout Boys in America. Even if it’s out of your reach to consider owning anything, let alone as a post-grad angsty twenty-something like myself, just to dream about owning one of these remarkable places keep me inspired. Look local, explore local, because the best ideas come from the world outside, the world just within reach. The world that’s in fact, right where you are: home.


collage images via Refinery29.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s