San Pablo Avenue runs from downtown Oakland through Emeryville, Berkeley and Albany as it heads toward industrial Contra Costa County. Up there, it passes the old dynamite-making village of Hercules and the current oil-refining town of Rodeo before ending near the big C&H sugar mill in Crockett (home of Aldo Ray).
Albany’s a little bedroom community that borders Berkeley on the north. Most of the town is solid middle class, angling for genteel. But where San Pablo cuts through it, it still shows a little bit of its less staid self in a series of bars along the street: The Ivy Room, Club Mallard, and, my favorite (namewise, anyway — I’ve never gone inside any of these places), the Hotsy Totsy Club. I’ve always loved the sign.