Category Archives: Arts

Black Cal students repaint The Big C to reflect African flag

The students from Black Student Union who painted Cal’s “C” the colors of the Pan African flag. Back row: Isis Dillard, Eniola Abioye, Blake Simons.
Front row: Alana Banks, Gabrielle Shuman, Lauren Butler. Photo: Mara Van Ells
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Six UC Berkeley students woke up before dawn to climb into the Berkeley Hills to paint a school symbol red, black and green.

The students, members of the Black Student Union, lugged cans of paint and other supplies up the hill in darkness to paint the formerly golden giant letter C the colors of the Pan African Flag.

The Big C is a large concrete block that was built into a hill overlooking campus in 1908. Since then, it’s become tradition for opposing teams, such as Stanford University, to paint the Cal symbol their own school colors and for Berkeley students to repaint the structure gold. … Continue reading »

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

Mobile InTent: Alta California + parts close by
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ALTA CALIFORNIA In October 2014, a group of artists from Oakland, Berlin and Guadalajara began to travel, pushing against walls and borders from the permeable walls of a tent. Departing from the mythical island known as Alta California, they have been mapping geography and possibility for the last three months. The last segment of this body of work will arrive at Berkeley Art Center, as the Mobile Office for Applications for Passport and Visas to a Borderless Country. “On bicycles, towing balloons, wooden appendages, desks and signs, they ask the progressive city of Berkeley to recognize hidden work and dreams while cultivating the borderless imaginary.” Alta California is a project of Ann Schnake/MobileInTent with Victor Figueroa Infante, Marlet Torres Martínez/la compañia de artes vivas Alariete, with creative input from Ursula Maria Berzborn, Theater Grotest Maru and Kunsthaus KuLe, Berlin. Admission free, 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 24, Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St., Berkeley.  … Continue reading »

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‘The Duke of Burgundy': A stylish film, not to be missed

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Because of a seemingly never ending litany of technical problems, I almost gave up on watching a screener of The Duke of Burgundy (opening at Landmark’s Opera Plaza Cinemas in San Francisco on Friday, Jan. 23). For whatever reason, though, I stuck with it – and I’m glad I did.

Bearing a title perhaps more appropriate to a Francophone frock flick starring Isabelle Adjani, The Duke of Burgundy takes its title from a species of butterfly. Insects – and especially Lepidoptera – are front and center in this film, though their actual bearing on the plot is minimal.

The film details an unusual relationship between two women. Cynthia (Mifune and After the Wedding’s Sidse Babett Knudsen) is an imperious, middle-aged writer and amateur entomologist, while Evelyn (Chiarra D’Anna) is a younger woman who at first appears to be Cynthia’s simpering maid – a helpmeet who just can’t seem to wash madam’s underwear properly. … Continue reading »

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Paul Hanson: Bringing the Bass(oon) to Berkeley Friday

Oon with Paul Hanson and Ariane Cap
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Paul Hanson has spent much of his life taking the bassoon into realms where the horn has never before traveled. From world jazz and klezmer to funk and rock, the Berkeley native refuses to be bounded by the irascible double-reed’s traditional symphonic role. Based in American Canyon since the end of a four-year stint with Cirque du Soleil in Japan, he returns to town for a California Jazz Conservatory performance at 8 p.m. Friday with the duo Oon featuring the inventive electric bassist Ariane Cap.

Pronounced like the last syllable of Hanson’s instrument (“just subtract the bass from bassoon,” he says), the duo released a debut album Polaris in 2013, and they’ve continued to refine and expand a surprisingly varied array of material. While the album focuses on original material by both musicians (Cap often composes with Austrian multi-instrumentalist Wolf Wein, the album’s co-producer), they’ve also devised striking arrangements of familiar songs, such as “Stella By Starlight” and “Dear Prudence.” … Continue reading »

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New Steve Jobs movie starring Michael Fassbender, Seth Rogen, Kate Winslet, shooting in Berkeley

The new movie about Steve Jobs is based on the biography by Walter Isaacson
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A new movie about Steve Jobs, starring Michael Fassbender (as Jobs), Seth Rogen (as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak), Kate Winslet and Katherine Waterston, is coming to Berkeley on Friday for some location shooting.

Filming will take place in and around La Méditerranée restaurant at 2936 College Ave., and will be concentrated during nighttime hours — Friday, Jan. 23, from 6 p.m. through Saturday, Jan. 24, at 6 a.m. — to mitigate the impact on the neighborhood, according to an email put out by District 8 Councilwoman Lori Droste.

The new movie, not to be confused with the 2013 movie Jobs, featuring Ashton Kutcher, is dripping with A-list credentials. As well as the starry actor line-up, the film is being directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionnaire), according to IMDB, with a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, The Social Network, The Newsroom), based on the biography of Jobs written by bestselling author Walter Isaacson.
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Big Soda unmasked: It’s not as sweet as you think

Citizen Coke
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A review of Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism, by Bartow J. Elmore
***** (5 out of 5)

Since my fellow citizens and I in Berkeley recently approved a tax on sweetened soft drinks— by a margin of 3-to-1, of course! — despite a multi-million dollar campaign by Big Soda, I thought it might be timely to pick up the new book about the history of the Coca-Cola company, the granddaddy of the pack in Big Soda.

I was expecting standard fare in business writing — a straightforward chronology of the company from its beginnings as a cocaine-laced stimulant popular in the American South to today’s universal symbol of imperialism. But that’s not what I found. Citizen Coke by Bartow J. Elmore is much more than that, and much better.

The key to appreciating this brilliant book is its subtitle, “The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism.” For Elmore, the Coca-Cola Company is not just a case study in successful capitalism — for many years, its brand reigned supreme throughout the world, and it still jockeys with Apple and Google for the top spot, according to the Interbrand agency. As Elmore puts it, Coke’s is “the most-recognized brand in human history.” … Continue reading »

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Christine Carter to talk about managing life’s complexities

Christine Carter. Photo: Blake Farrington
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By Jill Suttie

In 2009, Christine Carter felt like she had it all. Working her dream job at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, she was helping further the study and dissemination of the science of happiness. She had two wonderful kids, a best-selling book called Raising Happiness, a popular blog, and frequent requests for speaking engagements.

Then she got sick. At first, it seemed like no big deal—just a little strep throat. But she took a round of antibiotics and didn’t recover; then she took more. Nine courses of antibiotics later, she still hadn’t healed. Instead, she ended up in a hospital with a severe kidney infection. The diagnosis?

“Exhaustion,” says Carter. “My body had basically lost the ability to heal itself.“

That’s when she realized something was really wrong. Her life had become completely out of whack, and it was taking its toll.

“Here I was, an expert on how to sustain high performance and be happy, and I could not get myself healthy, because I was overwhelmed and exhausted,” she says. “The irony was not lost on me.”

That’s when Carter began to chart a new course. Using her background in studying elite performance and productivity, as well as happiness, positive emotions, and well-being, she put together a plan to reinvent her life. That experience, as well as correspondence from her readers complaining that they felt overwhelmed, inspired her to write a book about her path to healing: the newly published The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work. … Continue reading »

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Eddie Marshall: More than a drummer

Eddie Marshall. Photo: California Jazz Conservatory
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Some three years after the death of the beloved San Francisco drum maestro Eddie Marshall the loss still stings. Whether serving as a sideman or leading his own inventive combo, Marshall made the trap set purr and roar, generating tremendous swing with a minimum of fuss. His presence in the Bay Area felt particularly felicitous as he moved west after establishing himself as a top-shelf New York player, known for his work with Toshiko Akiyoshi, Stan Getz, and Sam Rivers. As the house drummer at Keystone Korner in North Beach, he provided impeccable rhythmic support to steady rotation of masters, while generously mentoring several generations of young Bay Area musicians.

“Eddie was one of the great drummers in the world,” says New York saxophonist/trumpeter Peck Allmond, who graduated from Berkeley High in 1980 and leads a tribute to Marshall at the California Jazz Conservatory on Friday at 8 p.m. “Eddie chose to live in the Bay Area after a long time in New York so he could have a family, go camping, ride his bicycle. In addition to his drumming, he was a great composer. We just had a rehearsal, and every time we play his tunes we find new stuff. They make so much sense and sound so great.” … Continue reading »

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Arts

Big Screen Berkeley: Double Indemnity

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When it comes to leading ladies, I’m apparently a bit of a cad. I have no trouble telling my Alan Ladds from my Errol Flynns, but put headshots of (for example) Merle Oberon and Joan Fontaine in front of me, and, despite decades of intense movie watching, chances are no better than 50:50 that my ingénue identification skills won’t let me down.

There are, happily, exceptions: I have no trouble recognizing women who specialized in strong or assertive roles. Bette Davis, Joan Blondell, or Joan Crawford are among my favorite brassy dames – and then there’s Barbara Stanwyck, one of the greatest actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Stanwyck garnered four Academy Award nominations during her career, but never won the big prize. Perhaps her best shot came via the greatest film noir of them all, Double Indemnity (screening at Pacific Film Archive at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 17 as part of the series “Ready for His Close-Up: The Films of Billy Wilder”), but it was not to be: Ingrid Bergman took home the gong that year for her performance in Gaslight.  … Continue reading »

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The man behind the Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival: Mark Baldridge, 1948-2014

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By Sharon Coleman

For decades, Berkeley has been enriched by a vibrant literary community with poetry at its heart, as we see in downtown Berkeley’s Addison Street Poetry Walk. At the heart of the poetry community since 1972 has been Poetry Flash, a hub for reviews, articles, event listings, and presenter of many singular literary events. And at the heart of Poetry Flash since 1995 has been Mark Baldridge, in so many capacities from board member to web master, but most notably as Director of the annual Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival.

When Robert Hass was named first U. S. Poet Laureate from the West in 1995, he joined in meetings at International Rivers Network with poets and ecologists to discuss “Nature and the American Imagination,” the theme of his laureateship, and to think of ways to engage the public using poetry. Having left a corporate career and started his own small advertising agency, hungry to do something real, Mark attended these meetings. From the discussions came the idea for the first Watershed Festival that took place in April 1996 at the Bandshell of Golden Gate Park. … Continue reading »

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

Participants in the free parkour workshop on Saturday will learn the basic moves of the sport. Photo courtesy of SF Parkour on Facebook
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BEGINNER’S PARKOUR CLASS Most Berkeleyside readers know the ins and outs of our city. So why not take a weekend to explore familiar terrain from a new vantage point: upside-down, in the air, or rolling over it. SFParkour hosts monthly introductory classes, which occasionally — such as this Saturday, Jan. 10 — take place at UC Berkeley. Parkour is a sport that involves moving quickly and creatively through obstacles in an urban environment. Participants in the class will learn the philosophy of parkour, safety tips, and the basic moves. Everyone is welcome, but attendees under 16 need parental permission. Wear comfortable clothes and running shoes, and meet at Mulford Hall (north of University Drive) at 12 p.m. … Continue reading »

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Philip Gelb: Popping up vegan in West Berkeley

Phil Gelb. bagels out of oven
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For the past decade, vegan chef and shakuhachi master Philip Gelb has combined his passion for music and food with a movable monthly series that pairs a four-course meal with a recital featuring singular musicians such as alto sax great Oliver Lake and Irish harp expert Diana Rowan. Looking to expand into new territory, he’s joining forces with Tomate Café’s Jack Wakileh, introducing a new pop-up series in West Berkeley (sans music for the time being).

Gelb kicks off the first of three scheduled events on Saturday Jan. 10 with a celebration of the culinary traditions of Southern African-Americans and the Caribbean inspired by Oakland cookbook writer/culinary historian Bryant Terry. Terry, who will be on hand speaking between courses, recently published Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed.

“Bryant’s a guy I have great respect for,” said Gelb, who is one of the first musicians to perform new music on shakuhachi, the ancient, end-blown Japanese bamboo flute. “I first came across him on KPFA years ago being interviewed about food politics in the African-American community. We’ve met up over the years, traded food and ideas and talked about collaborating.” … Continue reading »

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Threepenny Review marks 35th birthday with new book

Wendy Lesser. Photo: Threepenny Review
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Wendy Lesser started The Threepenny Review in 1980 in Berkeley with the intent of highlighting art, literature, and music, not just in the Bay Area, but around the country. Over the years, the quarterly journal has evolved into one of the most respected, and idiosyncratic, intellectual publications in the country.

Each issue contains a broad spectrum of articles, from short pieces that look at television shows like “The Wire” and the Kirov Ballet, to longer meditations on opera, concerts in unusual places like San Quentin State Prison, birdwatching, and other pursuits. There are many poems, stories, and reviews of movies and musical performances.

The Threepenny Review is really a reflection of Lesser’s intellect and interests, according to observers. (Check out her blog, The Lesser Blog to see the vast number of opera, symphony, and other types of musical events she attends.) The author of ten books, Lesser was described in the New York Times as “an intellectual of unflinching dignity and gravitas.” … Continue reading »

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