Coffee and Smoke, Signs of the Times

Old West Guns Room Albany, CA


Residents of Albany Hill, shown here in the background, look down on this spot close to the line of the city of El Cerrito. This Peet's was an abandoned lot for much of the decade I would drive by several times a week. Sometime between late 2004 and 2006, the Peet's was constructed and opened. Its position right beside the Old West Guns Room is not just worth pondering, it speaks volumes.


The Guns Room has been in business since 1969. The building that houses it was built in the 1940s. As a new Peet's is set to open in my own neighborhood, I contemplate this particular pairing as the ultimate beacon of where we're at here in the Bay Area.

Peets and Old West Guns Room, Albany California

For about a decade, I've viewed cell phones as this new century's weapons- weapons of information. We've become information warriors and communicators rather than warriors of the flesh protecting our land and livestock. We'll out PR you, outsell you, out market you, sue you, motivate more donors, activists, and citizens to our cause or campaign rather than find our friends and come gun you down (I'm choosing to ignore the impact of our now more copius laws deliberately). Life used to be a lot more about muscle and ways of life that didn't have cars and automation.
A century later, we'd rather caffeinate than reload, drive than ride, shop for recreation rather than than shoot. A chunk of us, especially those who might patronize this Peet's, work with our minds for our livelihood rather than our bodies. Is there someone out there standing around waiting for their Caffè Macchiato with a to do list that reads:


- Trader Joe's (in the revitalized El Cerrito Plaza across the street)

- Guns Room: ammo and gun oil

- B3 (my personal acronymn for Bed, Bath & Beyond) for wedding gift


Maybe. The 2002-7 El Cerrito Redevelopment Plan identified the median income of El Cerrito residents in 2000 to be $57,000. Not everyone wants to blow all that spare change (no pun intended) at the Guns Room.


As decades of my life have passed, the terms for describing what's happened to this area overlooked by Albany Hill have also changed. In the 1980s, this would be classified as "yuppification." Now, it's called "revitalization," or is that just a California term? If I lived upt there, I'd call it "relightalization." Terms change, but so also do the definitions.
How do you define "vital?" Do you see yourself as a Yuppie? Do you think Yuppification is a good thing? Does it depend. How have the terms changed for you?


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