Category Archives: Events

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

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bigger pictureFIGHTING DIABETES WITH POETRY Type 2 diabetes, caused by eating the wrong food and a sedentary lifestyle, is on the rise. It’s also preventable. Now Youth Speaks and the Center for Vulnerable Populations have come together to form The Bigger Picture Campaign, a novel way to get word out about the disease. Tonight, eight young poets will be premiering their poetry about the disease from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at The David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way. “This is poetry of provocation, witness, and social justice. We want all like-minded health warriors to be present.” … Continue reading »

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

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BERKELEY JUNETEENTH FESTIVAL Family entertainment is the focus of the annual Berkeley Juneteenth Festival which this year takes place Sunday, June 19, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The RD Bonds main stage will be showcasing the best of the African-American experience: upcoming acts in African drumming, jazz, blues, neo-soul, gospel, rhythm and blues, and reggae. The Lothario Lotho stage will feature specialty performances like dance, spoken word, fashion, and community performers. Alameda County health agencies will be on hand to offer informational workshops and health screenings. There’s a two-on-two basketball tournament; historical exhibits; art for children; and of course, delicious food. Pick up a copy of Vision Magazine when you’re there — a Berkeley Juneteenth souvenir publication featuring highlights about the performers and artists, and stories pertinent to the community. For more details visit the Juneteenth website. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Frameline40 in the East Bay

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It’s time once again for the annual San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival (more succinctly known as Frameline40). This year the Festival further expands in the East Bay, offering five days of programming at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood.

I’ve always had a soft spot for biker movies, so when I read the précis for Ovarian Psycos (screening at 9:30 p.m. on Monday, June 20) my interest was immediately piqued. Could the film possibly be a distaff version of 1971’s legendary gay biker epic, The Pink Angels?

Alas no, but Ovarian Psycos still largely succeeds on its own terms. While the Psycos might be considered a ‘gang’ by some, they ride pedal bikes as opposed to Harleys, and are actually more of a community organization cum bicycle club serving women of color living in or near East L.A.’s Boyle Heights neighborhood.

Primarily (though not exclusively) young and Latina, the Psycos organize large-scale rides through the streets — sometimes dubbed ‘Clitoral Mass’ — in an ongoing effort to reclaim the streets for women. Their meetings also serve as open-ended opportunities to discuss issues that affect members’ daily lives — particularly male violence against women. … Continue reading »

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She’s the boss: Ojai at Berkeley celebrates amazing women

Tyshawn Sorey's "Josephine Baker: A Portrait" closes Ojai at Berkeley Saturday at Zellerbach Playhouse
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Tyshawn Sorey grew up hearing about Josephine Baker as a matriarch of the civil-rights movement who knocked down racial barriers around the world. It wasn’t until recently, however, when the drummer, pianist and composer started to collaborate with poet Claudia Rankine and soprano Julia Bullock, that he came to appreciate her vocal prowess. Cal Performances presents his new work Josephine Baker: A Portrait 8 p.m. Saturday at Zellerbach Playhouse as the closing event of Ojai at Berkeley.

Programmed by artistic director Peter Sellars to celebrate an array of heroines, the festival opens tonight at Zellerbach Playhouse with Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s oratorio “La Passion de Simone” inspired by radical 20th-century French philosopher Simone Weil. The new restaging by Sellars features International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the vocal group Roomful of Teeth, and Julia Bullock singing the part of Weill, a role originally created for her former teacher, the transcendent Dawn Upshaw. … Continue reading »

‘Sara’s Song’ captures era when there were two Berkeleys

Tina Jones Williams' mother and father in the early 1940s. Williams' book, Tina's Song,  is loosely based on some aspects of their lives. Photo: courtesy Tina Jones Williams
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On Saturday, June 18, author Tina Jones Williams will lead a discussion about her new novel “Sara’s Song” at the Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center in Richmond. The book is inspired in part by her family’s move from Chicago to Berkeley during World War II, and follows her first novella in the Julia Street Series, “Some Things I Want You to Know.” Both Williams’ mother and Sara, the novel’s protagonist, worked briefly as welders at the Richmond Shipyards. Berkeleyside spoke with Williams, a Berkeley native who grew up on Julia Street, about writing a book of fiction that captures an era when two Berkeleys, a Black one and a White one, existed parallel to each other, rarely intersecting on the corners of openness and acceptance. 

Was your mother the inspiration for the novel?
The two main characters, Sara and Ben, are very loosely based on my mother and father. They did in fact leave Chicago in 1943, moving their small family (I wasn’t born yet) to Berkeley. Some of the parts, and some of the events, and some of the people did, in fact, happen. The other thing that I will say: the very best parts of Sara are my mother, for sure. … Continue reading »

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25 years after the Oakland/Berkeley firestorm, Risa Nye pens memoir

Risa Nye
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On Oct. 20, 1991, a wildfire ripped through the Oakland hills and parts of Berkeley, killing 25 people and destroying 2,483 houses and 437 apartments and condos. Risa Nye, an Oakland writer who writes the Ms Barstool column for Nosh, was at home with her family in Oakland when the fire began. Since it was on the other side of the freeway, Nye, who was about to turn 40, didn’t quite believe the flames would reach her house. So when the family evacuated, they took some precious items but left behind many important keepsakes.

Read Berkeleyside’s special 20th anniversary Firestorm coverage.

Nye has written a memoir about the tragedy and how she and her family coped with their losses called, “There Was a Fire Here.” She Writes Press published the book, which Zac Unger, a former Oakland firefighter and the author of “Working Fire,” says is a “searing memoir” that is “told with humor and grace.” There will be a book release party for Nye Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at The Bay Area Children’s Theater Performance Hall, 2162 Mountain Blvd. in Oakland (corner of Mountain and Snake Rd). Nye will be in conversation with Alex Green.

Berkeleyside recently spoke with Nye about her book.

What motivated you to write a memoir about the fire 25 years after it happened? How hard was it to recreate the events of that time? What techniques did you use to capture the period?

The memoir had been in the works for many years. The push was to get it published this year in honor of the 25th anniversary of the fire. The anniversary provided a good incentive to get it done in a timely manner. Recreating the events wasn’t hard at all — I had kept newspapers from 1991, starting with the day of the fire, in a big box, and I had access to other reports and documents online. Another great resource was a short film, made by a Stanford graduate student just a few months after the fire, which included footage of the fire and interviews with my older son and me. I’d also kept a journal during the planning and reconstruction phases, so I had my words as well as the words of others to refer to as I wrote. … Continue reading »

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

'Time to Choose,' a new documentary from Charles Ferguson, opens at the California Theatre on Friday
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TIME TO CHOOSE Berkeley-based director Charles Ferguson’s new documentary, Time to Choose, opens at the Landmark California Theatre on Friday night. Ferguson and a number of other figures involved in the film will be at the 7:05 p.m. showing on Friday. Time to Choose explores the full scope of the climate change crisis and examines the power of solutions already available. Among the experts and climate activists featured in the film are Berkeleyans Michael Pollan and Peter Calthorpe, as well as former Berkeleyan Steve Chu. Ferguson’s Inside Job won the Oscar for best documentary. California Theatre, 2113 Kittredge St.  … Continue reading »

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Second Bay Area Book Festival fills downtown Berkeley with literati, kids’ events, ideas

The Lacuna installation at the Bay Area Book Festival. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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The second Bay Area Book Festival took over downtown Berkeley on Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5. Tens of thousands of book lovers filled 11 different venues, as well as the open-air kids’ stage, the Lacuna book installation in Civic Center Park, and scores of publisher booths.

According to festival founder and organizer Cherilyn Parsons, nearly 10,000 tickets were issued, which guaranteed seats at events, and thousands more participants were “walk ins” for the free sessions with authors.

“What really stands out this year was the excellent literary quality of the festival,” Parsons said. She also cited the popularity of the kids’ stage, the literary-themed movies at the Pacific Film Archive, and the international authors.  … Continue reading »

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English majors unite! The Bricoleurs take Jupiter

The Bricoleurs under the Jupiter redwood, with guitarist René Planchon, Justin Baird, and organist Brian Ho.
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What’s in a name? For Berkeley drummer/composer Jared Baird, finding the perfect moniker for his Hammond B-3 powered trio marked a major step in uniting two distinct facets of his life. An English teacher at Marin Academy by day (he also spent six years on faculty at Berkeley High), Baird holds down Jupiter’s Tuesday Jazzidency series through the end of June with The Bricoleurs.

He lifted the band’s name from Michael Chabon’s book, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, in a moment of inspiration when “one of the characters discovers this artistic approach to making comic books borrowing from the French avant garde,” Baird says. “The thought hit me that it’s a great visual metaphor for what I want to do, evoking this idea of bricolage, pulling from all these different elements. Later I came to learn that in common French a bricoleur is a handyman, a tinkerer, or an amateur, and l liked the spirit of that. I approach my music like a professional, but I don’t really play music for a living.” … Continue reading »

Big Screen Berkeley: ‘Chevalier’ and ‘Time to Choose’

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In case you missed it, here’s a link to a fascinating Guardian story about how perceptions of masculinity differ between American and British men. As a man (and I do use the term advisedly) who’s lived in both countries, I can attest that the story’s conclusion — that American men feel ‘completely masculine’ at a rate considerably higher than do their UK counterparts — is broadly accurate.

Of course, the story does make one wonder how men in other countries would rate themselves on the ‘0-6’ scale utilized by YouGov’s study – and, judging from the male characters in Chevalier (opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, June 10), Greek men would likely rate themselves as even more testosterone-laden than their American co-genderists. Sorry, dudes.

Set aboard a yacht somewhere in the Aegean, Chevalier tells the story of six guys (presumably six quite well-off guys, as there’s no hint of Greece’s ongoing slow-motion financial crisis) enjoying an extended at-sea stag party. Their days are occupied with fishing, scuba diving and jet-skiing; their nights with gourmet meals and mind games. … Continue reading »

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City begins first phase of Rose Garden trellis restoration

Rose Garden. Photo: Colleen Neff
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The trellis at Berkeley’s storied Rose Garden is to be rebuilt, and on Monday afternoon a small event was held to mark the  ‘groundbreaking’ for Phase 1 of the Rose Garden Trellis Restoration Project.

This phase consists of the documentation and demolition of the existing trellis; the salvage of existing wood members; the reconstruction of the center portion of the trellis; pathway accessibility upgrades; and lighting and safety upgrades, according to the city, and is estimated to cost $391,620. It is being underwritten by the Measure F parks tax, the General Fund, and the East Bay Regional Parks District (Measure WW).

Read the city’s plan for the Rose Garden trellis restoration.

The second phase of the restoration would be to complete the trellis reconstruction and accessibility upgrades, and is tentatively scheduled for 2018, dependent on raising the necessary funds. … Continue reading »

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Funny and fresh: Shotgun Players’ ‘The Village Bike’

IN PRODUCTION


Elissa Stebbins as Becky, Nick Medina as John in The Village Bike by the Shotgun Players. Photo: Pak han
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Count on the fearless Shotgun Players to produce The Village Bike, a contemporary British play by Penelope Skinner about a pregnant woman who isn’t getting enough sex. This amusing, slightly rueful two-act play, though superficially about sexual incompatibility in a marriage, also gives us a glimpse into modern marriage and contemporary English life.

Recent additions to their trendy village, newly pregnant Becky (Elissa Stebbins), an English teacher, and her husband, John (Nick Medina), in advertising, bought an old house with faulty “sweaty” plumbing. The analogy of stuffed-up groaning pipes hints at the more serious problems that permeate their household.

John has lost all interest in sex, afraid it hurt the baby, says he. He prefers to spend his time lecturing his wife about how to have the perfect baby and how to buy organic meat. Becky, however is much more interested in sex, and if her husband is not willing, why not masturbate to porn flicks, or scout the neighborhood for willing male companionship? … Continue reading »

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

People enjoy Lacuna at the first Bay Area Book Festival in 2015. Photo: Ned Fielden
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BAY AREA BOOK FESTIVAL The second annual Bay Area Book Festival will take over downtown Berkeley on Saturday and Sunday with hundreds of author talks, panel discussions, book signings and literary kids’ events. Everyone will have their favorites, but among the highlights: Jonathan Lethem, Jacqueline Winspear, Tanya Holland, Sherman Alexie and two-time Pulitzer winner (and Berkeley resident) T. J. Stiles. All sessions — even those shown as sold out on the festival site — will have free seats available for those willing to stand on line. Plus there’s the Lacuna installation with 50,000 free books. Saturday, June 4 and Sunday June 5, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., throughout downtown Berkeley.  … Continue reading »

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