Category Archives: Events


Chamber names three new Visionary Award winners

Vivienne Ming (left), Polly Armstrong, Judy Appel and Nancy Skinner at the Visionary Awards. Photo: Mark Coplan
Print Friendly

The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce named neuroscientist Vivienne Ming, co-founder of Socos, biochemist Jill Fuss, founder of CinderBio, and computer game pioneer Will Wright, founder of Stupid Fun Club, winners of this year’s Visionary Awards.

“Running a business is hard. Running a business in Berkeley can be even harder at times,” said Berkeley Chamber CEO Polly Armstrong. She said the awards recognized individuals with the “imagination and persistence” to innovate in Berkeley.

The three winners come from dramatically different fields. Ming’s Socos combines machine learning and cognitive neuroscience to maximize students’ life outcomes (Ming will also be speaking at the Berkeleyside-organized Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas on Oct. 16). Fuss’ CinderBio uses extreme microbes — that survive in volcanic waters — to make a new class of ultra-stable enzyme formulations for applications like biofuels, industrial cleaning, paper manufacture and textile finishing. Wright, who created SimCity and The Sims, established Stupid Fun Club as a creative think-tank for experiments with robots and software.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

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

The South Branch of the Berkeley Public Library opened in May 2013. Photo: Richard Friedman
Print Friendly

BANNED BOOKS WEEK BIKE PARTY Join the Berkeley Public Library for the second annual Banned Books Week Bike Party on Saturday Oct. 3, 10 a.m.-12 noon. This year, the event takes place at South Branch (1901 Russell St.) for a kickoff celebration featuring bike decorating, music and more. Participants will then ride as a group over to the Central Library (2090 Kittredge) via Russell, Milvia and Kittredge streets for a reading from some of the most frequently challenged books. There will be a raffle off a prize for readers at the end. The ride is about 1 mile long and is perfect for beginning cyclists and kids. Info on the BPL’s website. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

The utopian vision of the Ben Goldberg School

Ben Goldberg - photo by Adam Goldberg
Print Friendly

Interviewing choreographer Twyla Tharp for an upcoming story about her 50th anniversary tour I was struck by her description of her new dance “Preludes and Fugues” set to J.S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier as belonging to a utopian streak long at the center of her work. “You take a huge responsibility in imagining the world as it should be,” she said.

I haven’t asked him about it directly, but it seems that a similar vision animates Berkeley clarinetist/composer Ben Goldberg’s band Ben Goldberg School.

Featuring alto saxophonist Kasey Knudsen, Santana trombonist Jeff Cressman, Berkeley bassist David Ewell, drummer Hamir Atwal, and Rob Reich on accordion, the sextet performs 8 p.m. Saturday at the California Jazz Conservatory. Founded about three years ago, the ensemble wasn’t created as a vehicle to transmit information as much as to provide a forum for group revelation. Devoted to Goldberg’s melodically charged, blues-and-roots steeped tunes, School creates a rarified musical space in which some of the Bay Area’s most ardent improvisers can fully express themselves. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Big Screen Berkeley: ‘The Black Panthers’

Print Friendly

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, and it’s probably safe to say the party is as contentious today as it was in 1966. Were the Panthers revolutionaries or reformists? Insurrectionists, or social workers working within the system to improve the lot of African-Americans? Focused primarily on self-defense, or intent on overthrowing the government of the United States?

These questions are confronted from the off in The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, Oct. 2). The parable of the three blind men – and how each of their impressions of an elephant differ radically – is related by former Panther Ericka Huggins, who states “It wasn’t nice and clean. It wasn’t easy. It was…complex.” … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , ,

Unveiled: Full program for Uncharted Ideas Festival

Speaker grid 9
Print Friendly

The full program for the third annual Uncharted Ideas Festival was unveiled today, and is published below. The festival takes place at the Berkeley Rep, the Freight & Salvage, and on the UC Berkeley campus in downtown Berkeley on Friday Oct. 16 and Saturday Oct. 17.

Full details of speakers and performers at
Register for a one- or two-day ticket now.

Day 1 — Friday, October 16

8:00-9:00  Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse lobby
Coffee, Berkeley Rep courtyard
Music by the Michael LaMacchia Trio

9-11:00  Roda Theatre, Berkeley Rep
Opening session
Lance Knobel, Curator, Uncharted

The adaptable mind
Tiffany Shlain in conversation with Peter Leyden

Criminal justice 2.0
Alex Kozinski in conversation with William Turner

Pop-up performance: Meklit Hadero

Liberty and drugs
Ethan Nadelmann in conversation with Frances Dinkelspiel

11:00-11:30 Berkeley Rep courtyard
Coffee break

11:30-1:00 Roda Theatre, Berkeley Rep
Morning session

What next for #BlackLivesMatter?
Pastor Michael McBride in conversation with Joshua Johnson

How I learned to stop worrying and love drones
Chris Anderson in conversation with Peter LeydenContinue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , ,

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

Photo: Gerardo Gomez
Print Friendly

DUDAMEL Gustavo Dudamel conducts the famed Simón Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela in a gala performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Greek Theatre on Friday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. Soloists are Mariana Ortiz, soprano, J’nai Bridges, mezzo-soprano, Joshua Guerrero, tenos, and Soloman Howard, bass. The orchestra will be joined by the Chamber Chorus of the University of California and Alumni, the Pacific Boychoir Academy, and the San Francisco Girls Chorus. The performance at the Greek is the second program of the all-Beethoven Cal Performances residency, which kicked off the Berkeley RADICAL (Research And Development Initiative in Creativity, Arts and Learning) project. Tickets from $24, Greek Theatre, 2001 Gayley Rd.    … Continue reading »

Change of the century: Musical tribute to Ornette Coleman

Print Friendly

A few nights after Ornette Coleman’s death on June 11 at the age of 85, Berkeley guitarist John Schott put out the word that anyone interested in share music, memories, or thoughts relating to the iconic saxophonist should come by the Berkeley Arts Festival space for an informal gathering.

The event was warm and unscripted with musicians describing life-changing encounters with Coleman and offering impromptu versions of some of his beatific blues. Jazz lovers are almost used to the loss of our foundational artists, as the ranks of players born before World War II continues to dwindle.

But Ornette was far more than a seminal improviser who exponentially expanded the music’s rhythmic and harmonic possibilities. He embodied the playfully heroic duality-erasing ideal at the center of African-American musical innovation. Radical and rootsy, avant garde and populist, philosophical and visceral, genius and trickster, Coleman arrived on the Los Angeles scene in the mid-1950s with an utterly and insistently individual aesthetic and never strayed from his own wending path. … Continue reading »

Tagged , ,

Two new movies to watch: ‘Wildlike,’ ‘Racing Extinction’

Print Friendly

East Bay moviegoers are getting a bit of a raw deal this week: there are two worthwhile new features opening this Friday, both in San Francisco, and neither with playdates currently scheduled for Berkeley or Oakland. Coming at the end of the summer release doldrums, it’s surprising and unfortunate that room couldn’t be found on this side of the Bay for either film, both of which are of more than passing interest.

Wildlike (opening at the 4 Star Theatre on Sept. 25) is the sort of drama in short supply since the 1970s. Reminiscent of 2008’s topnotch road movie Wendy and Lucy, it’s a solidly plotted, character driven story with a fine ensemble cast and some gorgeous location cinematography. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

Jamelle Bouie, Anna Lappé, Meklit, Patrick Dooley sign up for Uncharted Ideas Festival in Berkeley

Speaker grid 6
Print Friendly

The line-up of speakers and performers for the 2015 Uncharted Festival of Ideas is almost complete. Here are just a few of those who have recently confirmed:

  • Meklit Hadero The Ethio-American singer-songwriter co-founded The Nile Project, and her music bridges the frontiers between language, tribes and disciplines.
  • Anna Lappé, co-founder with her mother, Frances Moore Lappé, of the Small Planet Institute and Small Planet Fund, is helping us reevaluate the way we think about food.
  • Patrick Dooley, who founded Shotgun Players in 1992 in the basement of a pizza parlor, is committed to theater as a form of activism. Dooley will be in conversation with culture wirter Scott Timberg, whose latest book is Culture Crash: The Killing of the Creative Class.
  • Joshua Johnson, Johnson, the morning newscaster on KQED and guest-host of public affairs program “Forum,” recently launched the “So Well Spoken” segment and podcast. Johnson will be talking to Pastor Michael McBride, a national leader in the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Sandra Gilbert Gilbert is a pioneering feminist critic who has most recently published Rereading Women: Thirty Years of Exploring Our Literary Traditions.

Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Poet laureate Coolbrith: Did Berkeley shortchange her?

Print Friendly

2015 marks the centennial of the naming of California’s first poet laureate. In 1915, during the height of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, the state named Ina Coolbrith, then 74, to become an ambassador of words.

Aleta George, a journalist and a part-time house manager for Berkeley Rep, has written a new biography of Coolbrith who was known as “the sweetest note in California literature.” George will be talking about her book, Ina Coolbrith: The Bittersweet Song of California’s First Poet Laureate, at Books Inc. in Berkeley on Tuesday Sept. 22 at 7 p.m.

Berkeleyside asked George to write about why Berkeley should stake a larger claim to Coolbrith, (1841-1928), who currently is more closely associated with Oakland, where she served as the city’s first public librarian, and San Francisco. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

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

Salsa dancing at Eats, Beats & Brews in 2014. It's back on Sunday Sept. 20 in downtown Berkeley. Photo: EB&B
Print Friendly

EATS BEATS & BREWS The Eats Beats & Brews salsa party returns to downtown Berkeley on Sunday, Sept. 20, noon to 6 p.m., with a packed program of fun events for all ages. Rumbaché will shake up the warm afternoon with live music and dancing, there’s an outdoor beer garden from Drakes Brewing, food from local restaurants, and fun games for all ages. Center Street’s Restaurant Row will showcase over 15 different international cuisines with special deals just for the event and combos perfect for al fresco eating. Games of Berkeley will be taking over part of the street for a Locally Grown Games Day where everyone can come meet game developers, try out new games and celebrate modern gaming.  … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Scott Fitzwater: ‘Sketches in Slate’ solo show in Berkeley

A Prayer for the Earth. Mosaic artwork by Scott Fitzwater
Print Friendly

By Laura Paull

If the grey metamorphic rock known as slate could revert to the flow of its volcanic origins, it might resemble the dynamic new works of mosaic artist Scott Fitzwater.

Opening Sept. 19 at the Institute of Mosaic Art in West Berkeley, the Portland artist’s solo exhibition “Sketches in Slate” showcases Fitzwater’s year-long exploration of slate as a mosaic material. From the flowing lines and curtains of color in his early “Progress” to the chunky chaos and subtle color overlay in his most recently completed “Diversity Gradient,” “Sketches in Slate” provides the rare opportunity to see this body of work in one show.

Fitzwater is a largely self-taught artist who began his exploration of mosaics in 2008 after retiring from a career in software engineering. … Continue reading »

Tagged ,

Guitarist George Cotsirilos: A nighthawk flies in Berkeley

Print Friendly

Chicago-reared George Cotsirilos arrived in Berkeley in 1969 as an aspiring young guitarist deeply under the sway of the three blues Kings (B.B., Albert, and Freddie). In the midst of his undergrad studies at Cal he took some time off to play with a blues band in Ann Arbor, and when he re-enrolled to continue his sociology studies he came under the sway of legendary East Bay guitar teacher Warren Nunes, who turned his attention to jazz and “opened up other vistas,” Cotsirilos says.

These days the long-time Berkeley resident is one of most tasteful and dependably swinging jazz guitarists on the Bay Area scene, and the leader of a lithe and quietly dramatic trio with bassist Robb Fisher and drummer Ron Marabuto. The group performs at Jupiter on Wednesday night. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,