Time is fleeting
Madness takes its toll
But listen closely....
And the void would be calling
Let’s do the Time Warp again”.. (Rocky Horror Picture Show)
I Remember going to the UC theater to watch the midnight showing of the the Rocky Horror Picture Show? Those were the days eh? We laughed at those crazy songs, like “Let’s do the Time Warp Again”..... Our local pizza joint is a head shop on Telegraph Avenue, transported miraculously to the heart of La Crucecita in some kind of time machine. “Hey You, get off of my cloud”, echos in our ears as the incense and pizza smells waft through the air to bring us into a dark, hippie era head-shop from back in the day. A freakin’ time warp for sure!
The pipes, the hookahs, the tie dye t-shirts, the silk screened images of acid trips no one really experienced, and jewelry I haven’t seen in 40 years, are all here. To say nothing of the Indian cloth, lanterns, and incense burners I haven’t seen in one place since I stopped walking the avenue. And the music is our old LPs transported along with the head shop. Bob Marley, Beatles, Stones, Jimi H paraphernalia scattered all over. We have no idea who owns this place or his (her?) background, but they definitely had Berkeley of the 1960‘s on the brain when they put it together.
We like their pizza, by the way. But, if there can be nostalgia for a head shop for people of a certain age, this be the place. I imagine clandestine sales of weed thriving here. Who knows? They have a huge brick oven, and the best thin crust pizza than anywhere else in the world. We always get the Margarita, and think we should sneak in our own basil to put on top of it (because basil here is very fragile, and lasts like ten minutes after you pick it), and we’d have a little taste of pizza heaven.
One of the first times we went, we were alone in the restaurant. This is unusual in itself, because usually it is so crowded, we have to hang near if not at the bar, and down a couple of tropical drinks or beer (in Larry’s case) before we can even see a table, much less get one. It’s a dark place. On this night though, with just us, there was a television crew, filming the making of one of their pizzas. There was a middle-aged gringo (our age) gentleman speaking into a microphone and exhaulting the pizza being made. I asked the waitress who or what was going on. She said one word: GEM. Oh, I said, like I knew what that was.
Turns out I did discover what GEM was a few weeks later, as I was channel surfing my TV and this same man was there on the screen sampling the very same pizza we watched being filmed and consumed. Turns out this is Robert Alexander, indeed a gringo from our Bay Area, who has a TV show down here: GEM (Gringo en Mexico), and he was gleefully downing La Crema pizza for all of Mexico to see. In his hilarious badly accented, but certainly fluent Spanish, he takes the viewer into the Mexico off the beaten path (sort of like Bay Area Backroads, remember), and introduces the viewer to places in Mexico you might have missed, and it is always a wonderful, rich, cultural part of Mexico that he shows you. This program is meant to be for Mexicans, and I don’t know if you can get it in US, although it is broadcast from Televisa and I know they have a station in the States. But, for someone learning Spanish and wanting to get a bigger picture of how incredible Mexico is, look for it on one of the local Spanish language channels.
They have open mike nights where you can catch an occasional dropout, of a certain age, living here, performing old school coffee house songs. At other times, it is nothing but old RR, reggae, and once in a while even an old soul tune, blaring from the stereo. The crowd is always a mix of locals and the gringos who love them. During “the season” (November - April) we try not to go, as it is like Spengers (where 200 people suck up 5-10 cocktails before seating), there are too many people to negotiate the right spot. But come end of April, it’s ours again...just locals. You can go in and get a table, and happily listen to bad folk singing, while chowing down on the marvelous pizza and drink the cactus margaritas. Oh, it's reggae night tonight! Can't wait.