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Critical creative mass: Alan Hall’s Ratatet and Thompsonia celebrate new CDs on Addison

Amidst the ongoing debate over development in Berkeley there’s one kind of density that everyone should celebrate. I’m talking about the critical mass of creativity that can found almost any given night within half a mile of Shattuck and University. Or even within one block. On Sunday afternoon veteran drummer Alan Hall celebrates the release of his new Ratatet album Arctic (Ridgeway Records) at the California Jazz Conservatory, where he’s a founding faculty member, and later in the evening Berkeley’s Eric, Suzy and Allegra Thompson celebrate the release of their album Thompsonia at Freight & Salvage.

Berkeley’s radical rag celebrates its 50th anniversary

In 1965, a bar owner named Max Scherr stitched together a small leftist publication he called The Berkeley Barb. The “I” key on his typewriter was broken, so he drew the letter by hand each time it appeared. On the heels of the Free Speech Movement that had rocked the city one year earlier, the amateur publisher put those principles to practice. His first issue covered FSM arrests and a protest that blocked a train carrying troops en route to Vietnam.