Category Archives: Arts

Rent increase may force Poetry Flash to move

Richard Silberg and Joyce Jenkins stand in the offices of Poetry Flash on Fourth Street. The 43-year old publication may have to find a new home because the landlord wants to raise the rent more than 70%. Photo: Francesca Paris
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Poetry Flash, a Berkeley-based poetry magazine established in 1972, faces a threat to its existence from a rent hike that could be as high as 27%.

According to editor and publisher Joyce Jenkins, the landlord has sent her a letter stating that he intends to charge “market rate” and increase rent as much as $600 per month. Jenkins has not yet received final details about what the rent will be. … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Berkeley Kite Festival July 25-26: one of many fun events for kids this summer in Berkeley. Photo: Whitney Moss
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KITE FESTIVAL This family-friendly event will celebrate its 30th anniversary this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in César Chavez Park. Every year, hundreds of people flock to the Berkeley Kite Festival to watch masters fly kites or to fly their own. The free festival will feature kite making and flying lessons, as well as food and craft activities. The festival begins at 10 a.m. each day and continues until 6 p.m. Parking in the Berkeley Marina and at Golden Gate Fields costs $15, although the shuttles to the festival are free. Parking space is limited and the Berkeley Police Department encourages you to take public transit to the event. There will be free valet bike parking.Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: ‘3 1/2 Minutes 10 Bullets’

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For a brief period in late 2012, it was front page news from coast to coast: on ‘Black Friday’, the biggest shopping day of the year, a white man had fired ten shots at four African-American teenagers in a Florida parking lot. Before long, of course, the story was eclipsed by other tales of America’s festering racism problem – but for a little while it was unavoidable.

Now the case is reexamined in 3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets, a new documentary opening at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood on Friday, July 24. Directed by Marc Silver and featuring extensive courtroom footage, it’s a wrenching examination of perception, truth, and a culture steeped in frequently invisible but unavoidable discrimination and a nation awash in guns, guns, guns. … Continue reading »

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A visit with David Goines: Berkeley’s legendary letterpress printer and lithographer

David Goines Photo: Melati Citrawireja
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In the second of a three-part series on expert craftspeople in Berkeley, Melati Citrawireja, a summer 2015 photography intern for Berkeleyside, visits St. Hieronymus Press, the workspace of David Lance Goines. (Read Citrawireja’s first story on Klaus-Ullrich Rötzscher and the Pettingell Book Bindery.)

You may recognize David Goines by his distinctive handlebar mustache and deep, chocolatey voice, or you may know him by his letterpress and lithography artwork. Several pieces that have awarded him widespread attention include a collaborative book with Alice Waters, the owner of Chez Panisse, called 30 Recipes Suitable for Framing, and posters for well-known Bay Area spots, like Acme Bread and UC Berkeley.

Curious to meet the man behind these beautiful pieces that I’ve seen my whole life when thumbing through cookbooks in the kitchen, I ask to visit his workspace and Goines politely invites me over. … Continue reading »

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After brouhaha over Berkeley racism incident, Kamau Bell does comedy in his new hometown

Kamau Bell
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With two young daughters — Sammy, 4, and Juno, 7 months — W. Kamau Bell needs to be home early these days. Hence the name of his new stand-up show, “Home by 10,” running at The Marsh in Berkeley through Aug. 22.

The comedian, who is known for his unfettered jokes about race and racism — he hosted the FXX TV series “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell,” and his new CNN show, “United Shades of America” has just finished shooting — has supplemented his repertoire with funny stories about parenting and kids.

On the second night of the run, Bell riffed about the fine line between being a father and being a friend to one’s child, and related how he and his wife, Melissa Hudson Bell, picked a preschool for Sammy after they moved to Berkeley from New York about six months ago. (They are so happy with their choice that a portion of the proceeds of the show is going to Heart’s Leap Preschool on College Avenue.)

But race surfaces often: He also touched on how strangers wax lyrical about how beautiful his kids are — something he believes is likely an overcompensation through praise by white people to the fact the children are bi-racial (Hudson Bell is white).

“Why are we making such a great deal of it?” Bell asks rhetorically a few days after the show, as he sits drinking coffee at Au Coquelet in downtown Berkeley. He knows from the reaction of the audience, however, that this joke hits the spot. … Continue reading »

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YMTC’s new original musical ‘Don’t Stop Me’ explores darker side of high school life

Photo: Francesca Paris
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“I think my weird might be weirder than yours,” sings Hannah Miller in Don’t Stop Me, Youth Musical Theater Company’s (YMTC) first original musical. The song, like the show itself, explores the high-school experience: the insecurity, powerlessness and pressure that can come with being a teenager in the generation that is coming of age today.

We’re at the rehearsals in YMTC’s new Aquatic Park space in Berkeley, and it’s just over a week before the curtains part on opening night. Actors are running through the second act of the show, which finally has a complete script, while members of the creative team – the directors, the playwright and the composer – jot down notes on the Google Doc that contains the script. They stop the performance at least once or twice a minute to make adjustments.

The two-year-long project is culminating into what promises to be a coherent and compelling production. The show’s script is technically “locked,” but that doesn’t stop Dave Malloy, former YMTC Director and award-winning Broadway composer, and playwright Krista Knight, from changing a phrase or adding a couple bars of music before the show hits the stage.

As Director Jennifer Boesing puts it: “Krista and Dave would keep changing it till the opening night if they had their way.” … Continue reading »

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A panel explores the question, ‘Why Berkeley?’

Photo: Daniel Parks
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The Berkeley that Malcolm Margolin settled in in 1970 is different than the Berkeley that exists today. That was a time when people were going back to the land, discovering the power of nature and protesting the Vietnam War.

Berkeley in 2015 is a city on the move. You can barely drive down a street without being slowed by construction cranes. Start-ups, not communes, are the focus of most young people’s attention. A protest in People’s Park draws yawns.

Margolin, the executive director of Berkeley book publisher Heyday, has been thinking a lot about the values that brought him to Berkeley and the values that flourish today. To explore the question, “Why Berkeley?” he is hosting a discussion at Books, Inc. on Shattuck Avenue on Monday July 20. It is part of a series of events celebrating the bookstore’s recent move. … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

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BERKELEY SPARK FESTIVAL The Berkeley Spark 3.0 Arts and Innovation Festival will bring artisans, innovators and nonprofits to Civic Center Park on Saturday for a community-based, participant-driven event that aims to connect the great East Bay. The festival features local independent makers with a focus on sustainability and originality. It also serves as a place for fans of the Burning Man culture to gather, and for those who are heading to the desert to stock up on gear and accessories. Civic Center Park is at Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and Center Street. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Learn more at … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: ‘They Live by Night’

They Live by Night
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Cinema is knee deep in films about star-crossed lovers on the run from the law. From Bonnie and Clyde to Badlands to Natural Born Killers and beyond, ‘bad kids in love’ has been a reliable Hollywood trope for decades — and it all began with They Live by Night (1948), screening at Pacific Film Archive at 8:45 p.m. on Friday, July 17 as part of the series ‘The Cinema According to Victor Erice’.

Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell star as Bowie and Keechie, two youngsters brought together by fate after convicted killer Bowie breaks out of prison with Chickamaw (Howard DaSilva) and T-Dub (the magnificently monickered Jay C. Flippen). Keechie is the daughter of Mobley (Will Wright), T-Dub’s alcoholic brother, who’s arranged for the purchase of a getaway car for the three escaped felons. … Continue reading »

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‘Top Girls’ by Berkeley’s Shotgun Players is top theater

Top Girls
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Shotgun Players has scored a bit hit with Caryl Churchill’s 1982 drama, Top Girls.

The Obie award-winning, superbly written Top Girls takes place in London and environs at the beginning of Margaret Thatcher’s reign as Prime Minister (1979-1990), when her Conservative Party emphasized individual success and achievement, as opposed to the protection of all segments of society through labor unions and government social programs. Although it’s a play about women, Top Girls is essentially asking all of us to think about the nature of the society we favor, for men and women. … Continue reading »

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How Quirky is Berkeley? Buldan Seka’s ceramic friends

"Quirky Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., on May 7th,  2015."
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Buldan Seka’s giant, brightly painted, freakish ceramic sculptures have caught the eye and attention of drivers and bikers and walkers on upper Spruce Street in Berkeley for years. Her front yard is a stunning gallery of her large, ceramic works.

Seka was born in Macedonia to Turkish-Yugoslavian family that moved to Istanbul at the outbreak of World War II. She studied ceramics in Istanbul and opened a gallery featuring small pieces, nothing like what she has in her Berkeley yard. … Continue reading »

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On downtown Berkeley street, the poetry is underfoot

Poetry Walk Photo edrdo
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On a downtown Berkeley city block, poetry is a constant companion.

Stretched along both sides of Addison Street between Milvia Street and Shattuck Avenue, cast-iron “stepping stone” plaques engraved with fired, glass porcelain enamel lettering speak the language of poets from Ohlone Indians to contemporary wordsmiths.

Known as the “Berkeley Poetry Walk” and anthologized in The Addison Street Anthology,  published by Berkeley-based Heyday Books, the public-art project was a massive undertaking completed in 2003 by a team of pivotal volunteers, private donors, the City of Berkeley, City staff and the Civic Arts Commission. … Continue reading »

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An accomplished ‘Fiddler’ at Berkeley Playhouse

Tevye's daughters Tzeitel, Chava, and Hodel (L-R: Abbey Lee, Grace Ng, Jade Shojaee) wonder who Yente the Matchmaker will bring them in "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" in Berkeley Playhouse's production of Fiddler on the Roof.  Photo by Ben Krantz Studio.
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Fiddler on the Roof, running through Aug. 2 at Berkeley Playhouse, is the 1964 Broadway classic about Tevye, the poor milkman of the village of Anatevka, and his five daughters. Adapted from the late 1800s writings of Sholem Aleichem, a Russian Jew and advocate of Yiddish as a Jewish national language, Fiddler is as much a play as a musical, filled with witty banter, wry comedy, and compelling story.

While woven through with what will be to many strange customs, rituals, and assumptions, it’s told in a way to both explain and relish, and never to put off. The musical’s lyricist, Sheldon Harnick, commented in a 2004 NPR interview  on how little Yiddish made it into the lyrics. Other than the expressions “l’chaim” (“to life”) and “mazel tov” (a blessing), for example, you won’t hear it, even as you’re well immersed in a culture that is, at play’s start, a many-centuries-old tapestry of tradition. “Tradition,” the iconic opening ensemble song, was actually a late addition to the musical, a summary, looking back on what the creators realized they were trying to tell: the musical is about a man evaluating the traditions that have been the warp and woof of his life and his community, even as they are being unraveled. … Continue reading »

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