Three Michaels: Chabon, Lewis and Pollan in conversation

Perhaps you heard Michael Lewis talking to Terry Gross on Fresh Air Wednesday  about his epic article in Vanity Fair about Obama’s Way. Or you could have listened to Michael Krasny’s interview with Michael Chabon about his new novel, Telegraph Avenue. Or maybe you were lucky enough to nab one of the 300 public seats for Michael Pollan’s Edible Education at UC Berkeley.

One of the wonders of today’s Berkeley is the presence of three of the country’s best writers, all named Michael, doing fascinating work in their respective fields. Berkeleyside is proud to announce that we’re bringing together the three Michaels for the first time, at 7:30 p.m. on December 10, at Berkeley Rep’s the Roda Theatre.

Chabon, Lewis and Pollan will talk about Berkeley, about their work, about whatever strikes their fancy. It’s an opportunity to gain insights into food culture, politics, the state of literature, and what makes Berkeley such a magnet for interesting people. The Three Michaels’ Berkeley Conversation will benefit 826 Oakland, a new youth writing program for the East Bay, inspired by Dave Eggers’ pioneering 826 Valencia. The event is sponsored by One PacificCoast Bank.

Tickets for the Three Michaels are available through Brown Paper Tickets. General admission is $100, and tickets for a pre-conversation champagne reception with Chabon, Lewis and Pollan are $175. We’re excited about the evening. We hope you can join us for what promises to be a fascinating conversation, supporting an important initiative for the young people of our community.

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  • Why aren’t the Three Michaels interested in donating to a Berkeley organization to benefit youth. There are many. 

  • Tim

    I know Lewis is active in girls softball, so he’s doing the right thing there.

  • 826 Oakland will serve Berkeley youth as well as other East Bay kids. 

  • Mmaxwell

    $100??  Really???  Why so expensive?

  • It’s a fundraiser.

  • guest

    “Country’s best writers”.  They are definitely popular and very commercial but hardly the country’s best writers.

  • “Three of the country’s best.” I’m happy with that. 

    It’s impossible to be scientific about it, but in their different realms, the three Michaels are right at the top.  

  • EBGuy

    I probably won’t shell out the cash for a ticket, but if there’s Q&A, can someone ask them (or two of them at least) why they didn’t send their kids to Berkeley public schools?

  • berkeleyhigh1999

    Because they live on a north Berkeley pedestal. Eating at Chez panisse. 

  • Emunahhauser

    Nah, they eat at Saul’s. Together and separately.

  • maureen

    What difference does it make where their kids go to school? That’s a personal family decision. The fact that they are doing a fundraiser to support opportunities for kids to have access to becoming creative writers through an organization like 826 Valencia (without having to make the drive across the bridge) is pretty darn cool.

  • Berkeley Resident

     I second Maureen’s comment.  If you haven’t yet checked out 826 Valencia’s website (press link in article) please consider looking into it.  Our educational system is in need of just this type of program over here, in Oakland, Berkeley, etc. to mentor the kids, and many who have been helped through 826 Valencia have succeeded just because of the help they received through that program. To state the obvious, in a civil society, we help each other, no matter where our kids went to school or where we choose to eat or how little or how much money we have.  End of preaching.

  • Guest

    I disagree. With these three you have a Pulitzer Prize winner, a man who changed the way we look at food, and the best nonfiction storyteller in our generation. No doubt they are among the country’s best.

  • kathykahn

    WriterCoach Connection welcomes 826 Valencia to the East Bay!  We’ve been here since 2001, bring writing support to thousands of middle school and high school students in public school classrooms, with the one on one attention that no teacher can possibly provide.  (It’s amazing what you can do with upwards of 500 volunteers!)  We’ve grown from Berkeley to Oakland, Albany, El Cerrito, and Richmond — and we’re looking forward to sharing this exciting and important work with you guys at 826.  (More on us at   

  • Bonnie Hughes

    Can’t buy much good food or books after paying $100 for a ticket–find a larger venue and let real people in.

  • TizziLish

    A suggestion for the next fundraiser promoted by B’side:  broadcast the dialogue live online for a lower fee, like $35.  I’d love to hear this dialogue but just can’t swing the $100. $35 would be a huge stretch for me but factoring in the stars and the good cause and I would stretch. Still charge $100 for the live audience, maybe only sell online views after you have filled the house at $100 bucks a head. Not everyone lives in the hills!!

  • EBGuy

    The 3Michaels are extremely articulate and intelligent. I’m sure their answers would be informative and enlightening.  For now I’ll have to live with the entertaining links that BS provided.

  • Graham Freeman

    This is perfect – an event that my wife and I can both enjoy, and within walking distance.  Looking forward to it!

  • Graham Freeman

    I think it’s a very fair description.

  • Another voice

    So this is what Berkeley has come to, a self congratulating carefully avoiding of awkward realities collection of people who love to disagree while stroking each other and patting themselves on the back I wonder if any of them actually are really from Berkeley or like the vast percentage of the populace now declared themselves to be “from Berkeley” because they could afford to buy a home and pay exorbitant property taxes. I love Berkeley too, and love and feel entirely entitled to criticize long and loud. My grandparents came here in the first decade of the twentieth century and I know a few who put me to shame with their own claims. This is no longer the town I grew up in. It is in fact full of Starbucks and chains despite all the posturing and sneering. It’s tedious to listen to a crowd of intellectuals, probably few who ever venture below Sacramento Street other than on their way to the freeway or Ashkenaz (to show how cosmopolitan they are), no one mentions that taboo subject of class which is rife in Berkeley and the attitudes of those who own property. No one celebrates the history that created the situation they seem to find themselves in and sound like they alone created. I could tell you tales of Berkeley and they are not all so pretty, or liberal, or sophisticated. It’s a town that has a University in it and some folks that think that because they live here they’re more privileged,entitled, benighted and ennobled than anyone anywhere else. I read Chabon’s piece about Berkeley from ten years ago and it sounds just like what I said above, aside from being well written with the very limited scope of his focus. The work of an outsider who has anointed himself to be an authority. Being a third generation (and one of my son’s a fourth) from Berkeley gives me a very different take on all this. By the way, I grew up in north Berkeley and to me Chez Panisse is an old house in a row of old houses across the street from a bunch of old houses they tore down to build a grocery store called the Co-op. This is not Utopia and these guys are not Epicures, or Platonic sophisticates, they aren’e even ersatz Aldus Huxley.  Get some perspective please!

  • Graham Freeman

    I’m a renter who lived in poverty as a child, who earns a high income as an adult, and who lives West of Sacramento Street in Berkeley.  Rather than engage with each and every one of your points, let me just say that my perspective is substantially different from yours, and yet mine is also valid.  I think Berkeley is a great place to live.  The university’s influence on our community is a hugely positive contributing factor, whereas the anti-everything negativity is one of the major downsides.

    To put it another way, if you don’t want to hear from the Three Michaels, don’t attend.  Better yet, put on your own event.

  • Marsha

     and what difference does it make where they EAT?

  • Supportive Guest

     I would love to attend–I’m a fan of all three writers, Berkeleyside, and 826 Valencia. I will offer to volunteer at 826 Oakland as soon as they are accepting applications. What I’d love to see is either this presentation recorded and made available for podcast or aired on a local NPR station in the future. $100 a ticket, even for a fundraiser, is just too much for this family of four on one non-profit salary to be able to pay. But bravo for you for reaching into the deep pockets of the East Bay 5%. (If you were going to charge $100, why not go even higher–$150?)

  • SarahSiddell

     A very good idea, but let KPFA be the one to record it, as they record many other local events and then broadcast them for free. When was the last time you heard a local event on KQED radio, except for the Commonwealth Club and that foreign affairs organization’s show that is sponsored by Chevron (and thus feel a bit suspicious to me)?

    KPFA could the Three Michaels conversation to raise money for the station if BerkeleySide permitted them to do so. That would be an added benefit to the community.

  • Random Boyz

    This is so messed up. I went to MIT and we’d have Michaels like these show up  all the time (some of them had occasionally won a nobel prize or had invented, say, Bose speakers). We never had to pay $ to hear them talk. This is just sad.

  • EBGuy

     Uhhh…. somebody had to pay the tuition bill!?

  • Suavameir

     It’s called a fund raiser

  • Mbfarrel

     Tsk; though I agree with many of your points, your tone is that of someone born at Alta Bates.
    Good to see you’re up & kicking.

  • LJS

    So many complaints about how much this event costs. It is a fundraiser, guys. The money is meant to support programs that help teenage literacy programs. It’s like giving to the public library, or the homeless shelter, or the
    food bank, except you get to hear these three great guys talk. If it were free, there would be no funds raised. What a waste! I was born and raised in Berkeley and have only seen it improve in the 65 years I’ve lived here.