Another example of East Bay modesty at its best is Berkeleys Monterey Market. The store doesnt stock the high-end gourmet items favored by taste-conscious yuppies -- you wont find a kalamata olive bar or prosciutto display anywhere. Still, its produce selection is easily comparable to the Berkeley Bowl, yet its prices are often a tad cheaper, and its lines much shorter.
When it comes to the ultimate expression of East Bay modesty, however, you cant top Mac Dre. The legendary Vallejo rapper has been dead for about two years now, and while hes no longer able to tell you how much hes feeling himself, others are more than willing to do it for him in his absence. His praises have been sung by just about every other rap artist in the region, while T-shirts bearing his visage have become a fashion trend among younger folks. His legacy is also somewhat modest -- Dre never attained mainstream exposure or became a household name, but hes one of the few local artists whose career spans the eras from mobb music to the hyphy movement, and he deserves props for being a pioneer of independent label success. He also deserves credit for his creativity and his highly conceptual sense of humor. You can have your Josh Kornbluths and your Robin Willamses, but its seriously hard to top Dres character Ronald Dregan, or his reserved, conservatively dressing alter ego Thizzelle Washington. Yet modesty, as usually is the case, ends up being its own reward. Unlike such overexposed, overly commercial groups like the Black Eyed Peas, Mac Dres impressive catalogue of underground hits -- 22 albums released during his lifetime, and several more posthumously -- will be listened to long after My Humps has been replaced as your personal ringtone. -- Eric K. Arnold