Bonus Special Story

A Man Is Playing Pinball Behind Me

Kent Mitchell
2 min readAug 31, 2022


I did not expect this. Sitting at a wine bar I’ve never been to before, alone but for the proprietor. Until a short man comes in and starts talking on the phone about how he was hired as a temp by Tesla before going to work for a lumber company. Wrote a story after tasting their delicious wines, and left.

Then I came here.

Local, hip bar with good tacos. Better than the ones I usually get. And the bartender shakes the shaken drinks dramatically. I don’t think it matters that there are three sports games on, it doesn’t seem to be a sports bar. People from the community keep dropping in. When I first showed up ten minutes before the end of Happy Hour I was the only one here on a very late Tuesday afternoon. It feels like Old Berkeley, even defunct and absorbed Oceanview. Oceanview, otherwise known as West Berkeley, was a stagecoach stop. Looking up I realize I am sitting at an Old West bar. What happened?

The distorting lens of time brought me here where drink shakers ring like bells and local West Berkeley denizens play pinball. My watch tells me it’s time to stand but I must not, I cannot. Instead something called Hotline by bLAck pARty comes on and I listen while the bartender makes the exact drink a woman asks for and two guys with margaritas and fried food play another actual live sports game on their cell phone. Wow, what is this? The shaker starts up again. How did this place survive the past 150 years since the Gold Rush? How did the rest of the world survive separate from this place? Maybe it didn’t.

View from Gilman St at the edge of West Berkeley.

That is the ocean view. I wonder if it’s changed in 150 years. My friend says this place has good bones. I guess she’s right.