Cody’s Books Mad Comeback

by Steed Dropout
April, 14, 2016

New sign blows smoke. Photo by Ted Friedman.


Cody’s Books is sort-of-back, after a nearly twenty year Rip-Van-Winkle.

Cody’s Books, deceased 2008, has stood empty ever since–a big chunk of a blighted block at Telegraph/Haste. With nearby Moe’s Books, and the Caffe Mediterraneum, Cody’s formed an historic triangle harking back to Berkeley in the fifties.

The Bally-hooed book and author-talks center could re-open (softly) by week’s end, as a used books and records store.

Whether the opening is timely depends on what the Cody Building owner Ken Sarachan’s staff call’s ‘Ken time,’ a timing system of starts,stops, and reversals. “I can do something Ken wanted only to have him change it,” says a staffer.

Sarachan is the major property owner on Telegraph. (Seven properties and businesses, including Blondie’s Pizza, and, recently, Anastasia Vintage Clothes).

Although Berkeleyans will always call it Cody’s, Cody’s playful entrance sign—it changes colors and seems to vibrate—proclaims it “Mad Monk, Center for Anachronistic Media.” Mad Monk is Rasputin, the name of Sarachan’s records/DVDs empire (a twelve store chain); Rasputin is depicted on-line as a sexy tale of Czarist-Russian palace intrigue.

A philosophy or history dissertation could be written to explain “anachronistic media.”

Note, though, that nearby competitor’s are not passing judgement on their books and records by calling them anachronistic. Some of these anachronistic vinyls (and rare books at Moe’s) are
fetching big bucks.

Berkeley reporter has been stalking the Cody’s site since 2011, when we noticed the building was being retrofitted. We have stuck our camera into Cody’s regularly and watched its artistic flourishes and ambitions.

At one time the Monk was to have been a nightclub, or at least a restaurant/bar with an art-adorned balcony and a killer East-bay hills view. The Monk could still reach those goals. The site has two kitchen spaces, and the bookcase modules are moveable.

Monk’s boffo balcony could be in an art museum in Oakland.

Ken Sarachan’s Mad Monk-Rasputin was a sorcerer, among other things. It may take a sorcerer to complete Mad Monk, as Sarachan envisions it.

Sarachan Photo Gallery:

Sarachan before a city council appearance. Photo by Ted Friedman.
Sarachan checking progress at his latest Telegraph store, Anastasia, now open.
Photo by Ted Friedman.
Sarachan's Mad Monk with cop. Photo by Ted Friedman.
Early plans. Photo by Ted Friedman.
Early plans. Photo by Ted Friedman.

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