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After a week of rain and showers, the sun is out again. Today I wanted lunch somewhere special, a change from the routine. I decide to drive to a little oasis of high-style in Berkeley, at 4th street near the old Spenger's restaurant. I suddenly got in the mood for Bette's Oceanview Diner, a conscious effort at 50's nostalgia chic, but nonetheless a pleasant place to eat. I sat at the counter and got a big mug of coffee. Right next to the ketchup bottle, tastefully arranged against the backdrop of a chromed menu holder, were packets of Splenda, always a good sign.
A charming waitress named Angela, with a Jean Seberg-style pixie cut, served me a Cobb salad, which was super—the bacon thick and crispy, the avocado green but not hard, big chunks of blue cheese, cherry tomatoes with actual flavor. Cobb salad I imagine, was the first of the low-carb (zero-carb?) meals, long before Atkins was a twinkle. Is there a history of the Cobb salad on the Internet? (Yes.) Who was the redoubtable Mr. Cobb (or was it Mrs. Cobb?)
Anyhow, this note appears to have become a mere restaurant review, which was not the original intent of this blog. Somehow, therefore, I've got to make the connection between Cobb salad and the meaning of life. Hmmm… Aha! I've got it.
The key question is whether a 50's nostalgia diner is merely a mercenary and cynical trendy exploitation of a gullible public (as Zippy the Pinhead might conclude)—or something more. But what if the food is good, and the decor cool, as it is here?
And then I saw it for what it is. A fifties nostalgia diner does not have to be bogus, simply because 1959 ended more than 34 years ago. An entity like Bette's can be a distillation of 1950's style, a celebration of brief but triumphant era of American design, the last stage of Art Deco, the New Look, the stay-at-home Mom, the big chrome chariot, the Prom. Can a nostalgia diner be more fifties than the fifties? Yes!— in the same way, with the proper intellectual filters applied, that Peggy Guggenheim's Venice can be more Renaissance than the Venice of the Inquisition and the Black Plague.
I am glad that the fifties are over—for one thing, I graduated from high school in 1959. I am also glad that I can enjoy a Cobb salad and 2 cups of coffee in a high-energy, chromed, stylish fifties environment, unencumbered by the Army-McCarthy hearings, Tricky Dick, Nikita Khrushchev, Jim Crow, and my eleventh-grade "history" teacher Mr. Stump.—JDLblog comments powered by Disqus Comments (View)
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