AKA the Albany Landfill, the Bulb is a vageuely bulb-shaped, uh, space. There are lots of overgrown pathways, pieces of concrete and rebar and quite a bit of artwork.

The artwork is the most noteworthy of all the Bulb's features. Most of it was created by a collective of homeless persons calling themselves SNIFF 213 (the primary member's prison code was, at least in part, SNF213). Along the water's edge on the Bulb's northeast side there is a gallery of their art, including styrofoam block sculptures, many paintings and a spinnable Wheel of Life.

Deeper into the west-northwest side, there is the bicycle graveyard, a circle of bicycles implanted in the ground and other bicycles. There are sculptures formed from them and from their parts. Deeper into that side, you may find Bum Castle. A Yellow Brick Road of what appears to be pristine, bright yellow sidewalk winds its way up to Bum Castle, a circular structure with a rooftop patio, one warm, open room and a spiral staircase to the roof. On the concrete behind the place, poems are painted (including the Ode to Your Elbow). The sidewalk was actually made in place by cementing many of the small pieces of junk concrete found in the Bulb together. Once again, this was all done by the homeless, who inhabited the Bulb.

A few years ago, the Albany Police went into the Bulb and kicked out all of the bums, which massively increased the number of homeless in and around Albany, California and Berkeley, California. Since then, the homeless have started to return and to maintain the art again.

The artwork and geography of the Bulb are dynamic and things are never the same on a return visit. The rough gravel and dirt paths are ideal for anything but a road bike, but one must be prepared to carry the bicycle over certain parts of the landfill. The Eastshore Park Project will be taking over the area soon, and it seems that the artwork may be completely destroyed.

If anyone knows of any legal way for the artwork to be preserved, say so. The Albany Bulb is very important. It is a tribute, a protest, a celebration and a mourning.

I have never known anyone who wasn't speechless when they saw what is hidden within the Albany Bulb.

Update (2004.08.15): I just took an old (43 years, specifically) friend of the family to see it for the first time. He said, "Wow, this is the most truly psychedelic space in the greater Bay Area outside of Bolinas."

"A curse upon the souls of those who maliciously destroy the efforts of others."

(Editor's note: See it for yourself - http://panamaus.org/gallery/30may2004)

The Bulb is a landfill. Not in the plastic and diapers rotting in the sun sense, but in the "hey, let's take a bunch of concrete leftovers and dirt and make some more dry land!" sense. It's mainly composed of dirt, though everywhere you go, there're chunks of concrete, brick, and unidentified flotsom/jetsom around. Most of the foliage is small shrubs, only a few bushes and trees taller than 10 feet, and most of the plants are California native. The foliage is dense, and the paths are winding, making for a beautiful walk, an interesting stalk, or a horrible place to get lost.

The Bulb is used by anyone and everyone for anything and everything. I used to Society for Creative Anachronism-style fight out there with about 20 other guys (that's where the stalking comes in). People walk their dogs, people bike ride, there's a huge BMX jump on the south side of the narrow part of the bulb.

About Bum Castle, however... A friend of mine met the original bum of Bum Castle. The man was obsessed with playing cards. Bum Castle is in fact, not round, but heart shaped, and the bum made a diamond in red gravel and a club in black on the ground. My friend asked him: "So, where's the spade?" and the bum simply gestured at the rusty shovel leaning against the wall.

Minor point: The Castle is really more on the south-west side of the peninsula of the Albany Bulb.

If anyone cares to go out there, and is in the East Bay, here's the info: from the freeway (580/80), get off at Buchanan Street, and head west. You'll pass Golden Gate Fields on your left, and reach a small parking lot near a beach. this is the jumping off point. From anywhere else around there, just go to where the Albany, California Police Station is on San Pablo Avenue, turn west, go over the overpass, and go out there. The best part is, you can never be lost for long out there, you're cornered on a peninsula.

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