Ramon diligently kept the coffee coming at our regular early Friday breakfast there at Creekside Gardens. He was used to our wild chatter, but a friend of the opposite gender joined us this particular day, so it was more animated than usual. Ramon is a dear — he just laughs at us.
“I have a new campaign for this town,” one piped up. (Mind you, I am totally taking creative license with the retelling of this conversation) “Not the ‘Keep Austin/Portland Weird’ but ‘Keep Cambria Funky!” There was not much of a pause to consider the thought before we all jumped at the possibilities.
For quite some time, a cadre of Cambrian companions has lamented the loss of hippie habitat, freak flag flying and general “color” being presented in our most renowned creative community. “I mean, sidewalks?!” “Yeah, streetlights!??? What is there to see on Main Street after 6 p.m.? Criminitly! (How do you spell that?)”
From my house on Happy Hill, I don’t see this tremendous glow from town anymore. It looks like Armageddon.
“What was wrong with the proposed bollard lights?”
The gentrification has even pushed the most struggling of working-class folks to clean up their act, as projected in the eyes of mainstream media.
“No Facebook pages, no ‘official’ involvement, handmade bumper stickers and buttons. …”
“Your first art car could be the poster child!” our visitor presented.
Slogans quickly sprang forth: “Free-Range Funky Freaks Unite,” “What the Funk?” “Funky and Fun,” “Free the Funk” and so forth. We tried not to badly offend other patrons at the eating establishment. “Yeah, where are the freaks? We’ve all gone underground!
“Those that were busy making money are now pretending to have been freaks, and those of us who were busy being freaks are now too busy working the rest of our lives!”
“Well, we were working hard, too, but we were also spending hard,” someone thought out loud.
“Too much money here, driving a lot of us slobs out — how many contractors and others from the building boom of the ’80s had to leave town and all the other People of Character who can no longer afford even a shack to live in. They’ve got Festivals for Farts and Events for Kissing. … We used to have a great town that residents could actually enjoy during the week and any time other than summer.”
Oh, yay, the ranting that we did unleash upon the breakfast scene that morning. Even the “newcomer” at the table (the one who made the original campaign suggestion) was aware of what has been lost in this town. She had only to look around the table at the holdouts she was keeping company with.
“Honesty. It’s all about honesty and respect. What do you really need in your life? Why do you have to insist that wherever you live, you have to bring ‘it’ with you and inflict it upon others? We help each other, support each other the best we can, and that is essential to our general well-being.
But, how much richer it was when there were people with names like Coyote and Robot and Waco Dan, and we all let our freak flags fly. … And (we) saw everything we had (vented) and it was good.
“Are you going to finish that pancake? May I have it?”