Category Archives: Events

‘Xs and Os’ at the Rep: Stories of a game that can kill

(l to r) Anthony Holiday (Addicott) and Eddie Ray Jackson (Anthony) perform in the world premiere of X’s and O’s (A Football Love Story), a hard-hitting docudrama at Berkeley Rep that examines our country’s passion for a game that is life-giving yet lethal.

Photo courtesy of
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It’s hard to ignore football, even if one tries. Adored by millions of devoted fans, it’s a huge part of American culture, not to mention a multibillion dollar industry. The versatile, vital 85-minute “docudrama” Xs and Os explores diverse aspects of the game from teamwork to trauma, from fandom to fear, from consciousness to concussion.

Playwright KJ Sanchez (a self-described football fan) with actor Jenny Mercein (whose father, Chuck, played in Super Bowls) interviewed assorted groups connected with the game, including fans, current and former players and their families, as well as doctors and coaches. The real names of a few people are used while many have been changed. The interviewees’ comments are repeated verbatim in the play, artfully arranged in short scenes that alternate among the various constituencies. … Continue reading »

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Richard Pryor book covers comedian’s time in Berkeley

Scott Saul wrote much of "Becoming Richard Pryor" at The Beanery on College Avenue. Here is Saul with his son, Max, at the cafe. Photo: Frances Dinkelspel
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Scott Saul moved to Berkeley about 12 years ago, and, right before his son Max was born in 2007, he developed a new obsession: Richard Pryor.

The talented but self-destructive comedian had lived in Berkeley decades earlier, a sojourn he credited with politicizing his stand-up routines. Pryor frequently said he re-invented himself in Berkeley, but no experts knew exactly when he lived here. (Pryor died in 2005.)

So Saul, a professor of English at UC Berkeley, whose PhD was in American Studies from Yale, decided to solve the mystery. But he didn’t just pick up a phone and make calls. Instead, he headed to the archives.

Pryor had been given a radio show on KPFA. He only recorded two shows before departing again for Los Angeles, but by looking at the Pacifica Network records in North Hollywood, Saul was able to pinpoint Pryor’s time in Berkeley: February through September 1971. It was information that no other writer had nailed down before. … Continue reading »

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Grumpy Cat comes to Berkeley Humane in style, fanfare

Grumpy Cat, held by her owner Tabatha Bundesen, poses with City Councilmember Linda Maio and Berkeley Chamber of Commerce CEO Polly Armstrong before the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Photo: Seung Y. Lee
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With a police-escorted motorcade fit for a foreign ambassador or an A-list Hollywood star, viral internet star Grumpy Cat rolled into Berkeley in style Saturday afternoon.

Hundreds of fans waited outside Berkeley Humane at 2700 9th St. to catch a glimpse of Grumpy Cat, who has a permanent scowl on her face and millions of fans on social media. Tucked in the arms of her owner, Tabatha Bundesen, Grumpy Cat oversaw the ribbon-cutting ceremony of Berkeley Humane’s new mobile adoption center.

Following the ceremony, Grumpy Cat held a private photo session with her fans. Tickets for an up close and personal were reserved long before Saturday. The opportunity to take a photo of Grumpy Cat — or with, for the lucky fans who registered for the photo session in time — drew residents from beyond the Bay Area. … 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 »


Viral internet star Grumpy Cat comes to Berkeley

Grumpy Cat, the feline internet sensation, will be visiting Berkeley Humane this Saturday. Photo: Scott Beale/ Creative Commons
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Grumpy Cat, the cantankerous cat with a permanent scowl and more than 7 million Facebook likes, will grace Berkeley with her presence for the first time this Saturday afternoon.

Arguably the most famous cat on the internet, Grumpy Cat will be present for Berkeley Humane‘s ribbon-cutting ceremony of the new mobile animal adoption center at 2700 Ninth St. at noon. After the ceremony, Grumpy Cat will have a private photo session with her fans at 1 p.m. The event has already sold out.

After Grumpy Cat challenged her fans with a #GrumpyTownUSA contest following the launch of her second book “The Grumpy Guide to Life” (both books are New York Times bestsellers), Berkeley Humane led a campaign with support from Mayor Tom Bates, the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and the Berkeley Police Association to bring Grumpy Cat to Berkeley. … 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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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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King’s legacy celebrated at Berkeley breakfast

Caption. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Since its start three years ago, the annual celebration breakfast on Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been one of the key community events on the calendar. On Monday morning, more than 350 people packed HS Lordships overlooking the bay to break bread with fellow Berkeleyans, to honor Berkeley students and to reflect on King’s legacy at a time of heightened awareness of racial disparities and injustice.

“If we ever need the legacy of Martin Luther King, we need it today,” said Michael McBride, pastor of The Way Christian Center. In a powerful talk which ranged from Ferguson, Mo. to Berkeley protests, McBride said, “We will wrestle with the question, ‘Which side are you on?'” … Continue reading »

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

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PALLADE MUSICA A young early music quartet from Montreal will have its West Coast debut in a series of concerts by the San Francisco Early Music Society this weekend. Pallade Musica will play instrumental works from the 17th century, including compositions by Sweelinck, Castaldi and Buxtehude. The program “journeys from the beginnings of the Stile Moderno in the breathtaking sonatas of Dario Castello to the pinnacle of the Stylus Phantasticus with Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber’s ‘Mystery Sonatas’ for violin.” Pallade Musica will perform at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave., at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17. Call the box office for ticket availability on 510-528-1725.  … Continue reading »

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New Safeway on College Avenue opens to crowds

A new 45,000-square foot Safeway opened on College Ave. on Jan. 15. Photo: Celia McCarthy
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Hundreds of people jammed into the spanking new Safeway store on College Avenue on Thursday. Most were there to gawk at the shiny surfaces or taste a variety of free samples, but plenty of people were there to shop, happy to have a large grocery store back in the neighborhood.

The new store is 45,000 square feet and cost about $35 million to build, according to Chris Pattillo, chair of the Oakland Planning Commission, who spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The store employs about 160 people, and 65 of those union jobs are new, she said.

“We’re excited,” Bernard Hardy, Safeway’s vice president of retail operations told the crowd that had assembled for the in-store speeches. “Tell your neighbors we’re back. We’re excited about being back in the neighborhood.” … 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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Berkeley MLK breakfast offers community, celebration

Over 350 Berkeleyans gathered for the third annual community breakfast honoring the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Photo: Lance Knobel
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The fourth annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast takes place on Monday, Jan. 19, 8-10 a.m., at Hs Lordships, on the Berkeley Marina.

The breakfast, which opens Berkeley’s celebrations of MLK Jr. Day, brings together a diverse and friendly crowd to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy and to honor the next generation of young leaders. The food isn’t half bad either.

The breakfast will be emceed by Berkeley schools superintendent Donald Evans and Pastor Anthony Hughes from St. Paul AME Church. Members of the Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble will perform, as will a youth choir from a number of Berkeley churches.

The lifetime achievement award will be presented this year to Berkeley native Thelette Bennett, a long-time Berkeley High administrator. Bennett became student activities director at BHS in 1974… and stayed for 18 years. She went on to become vice principal at Willard Middle School, Longfellow Middle School and BHS.

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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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