Oh little town of Locke, CA. A rich and sordid history, the ups and downs of an isolated community. Built by Chinese immigrants, for themselves, a safe place to live that reminded them of home in China.
One of the residents, Jim met my husband many years ago. He is a photographer, and has collaborated on a book about Locke. He is one of the several artists associated with the Moon Cafe, an cooperative made up of locals.
After the birds, we were hungry. I got on the iPhone and searched restaurants in that remote area and came up with Al the Wop's in Locke, a few miles down the road. Practically every place in that town is an oddity and Al's did not disappoint: it is old and dark, uneven floors and low ceilings, with a full fledged barroom in the front. Locke used to have quite a few saloons, as well as whore houses and gambling joints.
I ate delicious prawns with a crisp green salad. Basic and good. Restored, we wandered the town, the husband wondering if he could find his old buddy Jim. We wandered to the neighborhood behind the commercial street, came to Jim's and hollered for him. No answer. Only a luxurious cat sunning itself on the porch. How glad we were, then, to run into Jim at the Moon Cafe.
He was putting in volunteer hours to keep the place open, along with building owner and fellow artist Brock Alexander.
Brock talked about his sculpture of a woman embracing the head of the
cyclops. Still in progress, it is a piece of beauty and horror. I
would love to have it in my yard, actually, but the price tag is too
steep for me at this point. Not overpriced, mind you, just not in my
league.I was struck by the vitality of the Cafe, brightly colored walls, a bathroom decked out in Abraham Lincoln memorabilia, artwork on the walls by locals.
This is, I thought, an artist's paradise. Artists don't generally make a lot of money, but we sure can have a lot of fun. It's playtime for grown ups. Brock Alexander owns the joint, but runs the space as a cooperative.
Serendipitously I happen to be reading a novel called "In the Casa Azul" about Frieda Kahlo's life and her affair with Trotsky. This cafe seems a very Kahlo kind of place. Full of whimsy, saturated colors, and rich history.
And, finally, here's a fruit I brought home from Brock's tree. Pomelo, Citrus maxima, is an original citrus fruit, with the look of a big grapefruit, native to South and Southeast Asia. It smells heavenly.