Category Archives: Events

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

Tartuffe caption. Photo: Courtesy kevinberne.com
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TARTUFFE AT THE REP Molière’s Tartuffe, a satirical attack on religious hypocrisy, still has its sting after 350 years. Berkeley Rep’s production, adapted by David Ball and directed by Dominique Serrand, was acclaimed as “revelatory” by the Chronicle. Actor Steven Epp stars in the title role. If you go on Friday, March 27 (as in tonight!), you can also enjoy the “last call” reception after the play, sponsored by Berkeleyside. Tartuffe is in repertory at the Berkeley Rep through Apr. 12. Tickets from $41 at Berkeley Rep, 2025 Addison St.    … Continue reading »

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Getting Frisky with Macy Blackman & The Mighty Fines

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Maybe a Manhattan methadone clinic wasn’t an auspicious setting for encountering a musical hero, but Macy Blackman wasn’t going let an opportunity to hang out with New Orleans drummer Charles “Hungry” Williams go to waste. Looking to get clean in the bitter winter of 1978, Blackman was sitting on a couch in the lounge of the Bernstein Institute strumming a guitar when someone informed him that Fats Domino’s drummer was in the next room.

“After a while he came in and started singing Chuck Willis’ ‘You’re Still My Baby’ with me,” says Blackman, a Kensington resident for the past 13 years. He celebrates the release of his new album Friskin’ the Whiskers with his band The Mighty Fines at Ashkenaz 9 p.m. Thursday, April 2.

A pianist, cornetist, and vocalist with a gruff, rhythmically assured delivery, Blackman is one of Northern California’s leading exponents of classic New Orleans R&B, and he absorbed a good deal of the music directly from the source. He and Williams struck up a fast friendship after that first encounter, and ended up playing music together up until the drummer’s death in 1986. Blackman, who still supplements his income as a piano technician, even taught Williams his trade. … Continue reading »

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Events

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

The solar calendar installation at César Chávez Park has been the target of recurring vandalism over the past few months. Photo: Chris Benton
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SPRING EQUINOX AT CESAR CHAVEZ PARK  Gather this evening at the Chavez Memorial Solar Calendar to celebrate the official arrival of spring. The event, led by Lori Lambertson of the Exploratorium Teacher Institute, will include a discussion about the “reasons for the seasons,” the Chavez virtue of HOPE, and other global spring equinox celebrations. Dress warmly: the weather is part of the experience. Friday, March 20, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., sunset is at 7:15 p.m. Cesar Chavez Park, 11 Spinnaker Way, Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: ‘Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine’

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It would be churlish indeed to say something negative about the deeply personal Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine, a new documentary opening at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood on Friday, March 20. Directed by Michele Josue, a close school friend of Shepard’s, it’s a criticism-proof film that makes up in emotional punch what it lacks in cinematic chops.

Matthew Shepard was, of course, a young Wyomingite murdered one 1998 night by a pair of pub crawlers. Josue takes a traditional chronological, biographical approach to telling Shepard’s story – not surprising, as she’s a neophyte filmmaker with no professional training.

The diminutive Shepard spent much of his short life on the move. After a stable childhood in Laramie, Matthew moved first to Saudi Arabia (where his father worked for an oil company), then to a swanky boarding school in Lugano, Switzerland. He spent time in Italy, Japan and Morocco, went to North Carolina for college, and lived briefly in Denver before returning to the ironically named Equality State. … Continue reading »

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Work begins to transform UC Theatre into music venue

City officials, downtown business owners and others gathered with David Mayeri Wednesday for the groundbreaking for the UC Theater. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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By Frances Dinkelspiel and Tracey Taylor

The long-shuttered UC Theatre on University Avenue was buzzing again Wednesday as city officials and supporters gathered for an official groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of the renovation of the former movie palace.

While David Mayeri, president of the Berkeley Music Group and the driver of the project, and others posed with gold shovels in front of the theater, the transformation of the 1917 building at 2036 University Ave. began in earnest inside with workers beginning to tear into the building’s floor with jackhammers.

Rehabilitating the theater is expected to cost $5.5 million — with a capital campaign still seeking $2 million worth of support. Mayeri and the five-strong board hope to put on their first show in the building this fall. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Police work on neighborhood staging guidelines

Police from other jurisdictions provided mutual aid to the Berkeley Police Department during recent protests, and set up on McKinley Ave. Photo by
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In response to criticism about how they treated residents on McKinley Avenue in December, the Berkeley Police Department is working to establish a new set of rules for commandeering a neighborhood during large-scale protests or events.

Berkeley Police Captain Andrew Greenwood presented a proposed set of guidelines to the Police Review Commission on Wednesday night. He also apologized again for the manner in which police treated residents on McKinley Avenue, which is located right behind the Berkeley police department’s HQ, during the December “Black Lives Matter” protests.

“By failing to communicate with the neighbors ahead of time we caused a very bad situation for them,” said Greenwood. … Continue reading »

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

Niyar stars as Lakshmi in the movie "Sold"
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WATCH THE MOVIE ‘SOLD’ The movie Sold, directed by Jeffrey D. Brown, has been lauded at film festivals around the globe as a searing look into the widespread practice of sexual slavery of young girls. Based on Patricia McCormick’s 2006 novel, “Sold,” the film traces the story of Lakshmi, a 13-year-old girl from Nepal. After a monsoon devastates her house, she decides she will help her family by going to work as a maid for a wealthy woman in the city. Lakshmi instead finds herself sold to a brothel, named the“Happiness House. The Berkeley Anti-Trafficking Coalition and the Institute for South Asian Studies at UC Berkeley will be showing the film Friday at 6 p.m. in Room 2040 of the Valley Life Sciences building. It stars Niyar, Gillian Anderson, and David Arquette. Brown, who plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign to distribute the film in theaters, will do a Q&A session after the screening. Suggested donation is $5. … Continue reading »

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Semi-pro Ultimate frisbee team moves to Berkeley

The San Francisco Dogfish, a Major League Ultimate frisbee team, is moving to Berkeley for its 2015 home games.
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For being the lone teenager in a group of adult professionals in last Sunday’s practice, Colby Chuck showed his San Francisco Dogfish teammates he was no greenhorn in Ultimate frisbee.

Perhaps home advantage came in play for the Berkeley High junior. After two years bouncing around in San Francisco, the Dogfish, one of eight teams in the semi-professional Major League Ultimate, is moving to Berkeley and will call Yellowjacket Stadium in Berkeley High its new home starting next month.

Chuck can’t play for the Dogfish due to his status as a high-school student, but he is gaining valuable experience by practicing every week with the team.

“The players mentor me to get better for college and beyond,” Chuck said. “It’s just great that they can correct my game and make me get better.” … Continue reading »

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The Asian-American Film Festival comes to town

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If it’s March (and unless someone is playing cruel games with my calendar, it is), it’s time once again for the Asian American Film Festival. As in previous years, 2015’s festival includes a number of screenings at Pacific Film Archive.

This year’s festivities get underway Friday, March 13 at 7:00 p.m. with a film I was unable to watch in advance, Iran’s Tales. It’s double-billed with Vietnam’s Doat Hon (Hollow), a rather late contribution to the turn of the 21st-century Asian horror boom that relies overly on the now passé ‘long-haired ghost’ trope. If you’re a fan of the genre, you could do worse; otherwise this is a very, very average example of the style.

Far more interesting is director Dean Yamada’s Senrigan (Cicada), an endearing character study from Japan screening at the Archive on Saturday, March 14 at 8:15 p.m. What initially threatens to be one of those awful ‘multiple perspective’ storylines develops into a tight little tale about an infertile schoolteacher (Yugo Saso, good but perhaps a wee bit too old for the role), his unsuspecting fiancé (Hitomi Takimoto), and an unfortunate 4th-grade pupil (Houten Saito). It’s a lovely little film anchored by fine performances all around and writer Yu Shibuya’s slightly cheeky screenplay, which manages to blend elements sweet and sour to near perfection. … Continue reading »

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

Mollie Katzen in her garden in Berkeley. Photo: Mollie Katzen
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Want to know what a world-famous chef peruses in the comfort of her own home? If so, rush down to the Friends of the Berkeley Public Library’s store on Channing for its annual cookbook sale. Mollie Katzen, who shot to fame with her “Moosewood Cookbook,” and who has since written almost a dozen others, including 2013’s “The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation,” donated about 400 books for the sale. They are cookbooks for which Katzen has written a foreward, has reviewed, and maybe, just maybe cooked from. There are even some of her own cookbooks. And, as usual, the prices are “ridiculously low.” The Friends of the Library store is at 2433 Channing Way and is open Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (There is also a Friends store in the Central Branch but it does not have Katzen’s books) … Continue reading »

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Live Oak Park Fair is leaving Berkeley after 44 years

A glimpse of the 2011 Live Oak Park fair through a display of hula hoops. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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One of Berkeley’s most treasured outdoor celebrations, the Live Oak Park Fair, is leaving the city after 44 years.

Jan Etre, the producer of the fair since 1988, is moving it to the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond and turning it into a benefit for the radio station KPFA. It will still be a fair focused on the arts, but the June fair may be twice as large and will be known as the KPFA Summer Arts Fair.

“It’s been wonderful,” said Etre, who has worked on the fair for 27 years. “It’s been a joyful community garden party every year. We are sorry Live Oak is ending. We are all kind of sad but we see this is as a bigger, better picture.” … Continue reading »

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In Berkeley: It’s a woman’s woman’s woman’s world

Kitka. Photo: Thomas Pacha
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Sisterhood isn’t just powerful it sounds hella good. Venues around Berkeley hardly need International Women’s Day (March 8) for inspiration to feature great female musicians, but from Freight & Salvage to R. Kassman Fine Pianos and Berkeley High there are numerous women-centric concerts and events taking place in the coming days.

On 8 p.m. Sunday, the 30th Jewish Music Festival presents the great Bay Area choir Kitka at the Freight, an event that also includes the JMF’s Shofar Award ceremony honoring folk music legend Ronnie Gilbert.

The eight-women Oakland ensemble has developed a vast, breathtaking repertoire of traditional songs from the Balkans, Caucasus, and Slavic lands and new material composed for the group drawing on those Eastern European vocal traditions. For the JMF, Kitka is presenting an array of material, including pieces from last year’s album I Will Remember Everything. The album features composer Eric Banks’ settings of the long censored verse of Sophia Parnok (1885-1933), known as “Russia’s Sappho” for her emotionally charged poems to her lover, the great Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva. … Continue reading »

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Karen Paget’s ‘Patriotic Betrayal’ is a monumental work

Karen M. Paget. Photo by Don Kellog
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If you’re old enough, think back to the 1960s, that decade of endless turmoil and revelation. Though the CIA had been established in 1947, it wasn’t until 1962 that the agency came to the attention of most Americans, as a result of its disastrous handling of the US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. Five years later, another CIA scandal broke: a carefully researched article in Ramparts magazine revealed that the agency had been funding the US National Student Association (NSA) for many years and turning many of its leaders into spies.

Now, nearly half a century after the Ramparts article, Karen Paget has written a blockbuster expose, “Patriotic Betrayal,”  detailing the full history behind that story, stretching back to the origins of both organizations in the 1940s. “Patriotic Betrayal” is a sordid tale of deception, manipulation, and systematic lying by officers of the Central Intelligence Agency, who turned the student organization into a Cold War weapon. The book was 15 years in the making and is based on Paget’s personal experience in the NSA plus extensive archival research and more than 150 interviews with former officials of both the NSA and the CIA. … Continue reading »

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