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Recent Stories

  • How Quirky is Berkeley? Benches!

    Conny Bleul-Gohlke’s Marin Avenue bench honoring her parents on their 50th wedding anniversary is an exceptional example of an almost-only-in-Berkeley tradition – benches placed in front of houses for pedestrians to sit on. It is a charming feature of life in Berkeley, and one that is not common elsewhere.

  • How Quirky is Berkeley: Bowling balls as garden art

    I find the use of bowling balls as lawn art to be undeniably quirky. For me, that starts with the premise that bowling itself is whimsical — an antithesis for the social isolation of our era.

  • How Quirky is Berkeley? Science and art on Cedar Street

    Two smart scientists live at the northeast corner of Scenic and Cedar. Dan Werthimer is an astrophysicist who conducts research for several SETI (Search for Extra-Terresetrial Intelligence) programs. Mary Kate Morris is a virologist who has researched HIV since a Peace Corps tour in Africa in the 1980s.

  • Quirky Berkeley: The small world of Grace Munakata

    Grace Munakata paints, makes collages, and teaches painting at California State University, East Bay. She also gives to the street a small world on the gently sloping hill in front of her house at 1230 Monterey Ave., just above Hopkins Street and the Monterey Market.

  • How Quirky is Berkeley? Gardens that define the term

    “Quirky” has one thing in common with “obscene.”  When Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart was presented with what the State of Ohio had deemed an obscene movie, he famously wrote:

  • How Quirky is Berkeley? The city’s hidden murals

    Murals are usually front and center, loud and clear, impossible to miss. In my systematic wandering of Berkeley, I have come across several hidden murals. Murals in and of themselves are quirky, and the fact that a mural is not easily seen makes it even more quirky.

  • How Quirky is Berkeley? The story behind hex signs

    Hex signs are a form of folk art indigenous to southeastern Pennsylvania. German immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 17th and 18th centuries became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. They delineated  themselves as the “fancy Dutch” (mostly Lutherans) and the “plain Dutch” (mostly Old Order Amish).

  • How Quirky is Berkeley? Animal mailboxes

    The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is not as old as you might think — early 20th century, born of the advertising industry’s grasp of the importance of visualization.