The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend, Jan. 18-20

JENNY ODELL AT THE LIBRARY Oakland-based author, artist and educator Jenny Odell will be speaking and signing copies of her book at the central branch of the Berkeley Public Library on Saturday. How To Do Nothing: Resisting The Attention Economy, a cross between a self-help book and a political manifesto, encourages us to “stop toggling, pay attention and notice nature.” The book has been widely praised, not least by former President Barack Obama who chose it as one of his top 10 books of 2019. The New Yorker also included in its books of the year list. The library describes the event as being a “celebration of New Year, New You” that aims to “bring readers together for community conversation, exchange of ideas, and new perspective building for the beginning of the New Year.” As well as being a writer, Odell has taught internet art and digital/physical design at Stanford since 2013. Saturday, Jan. 18, 2-3 p.m., Central Branch Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge Street.

PRISCILLA DREAMS THE ANSWER On Monday evening, La Val’s Subterranean Theatre is putting on a staged reading of  Priscilla Dreams the Answer by Walt McGough, directed by Michael J. Hawkins. From the organizers: “Priscilla, a lonely woman who works at a hobby shop, is so empathetic that she cries nightly while watching game shows. But her evening routine gets weird when she starts receiving 3 a.m. phone calls — from aliens. When she finally picks up, the aliens ask her a big favor: to save the world. In this fantastical play examining loss, love, and the search for answers, Priscilla looks to the only expert she knows, her favorite game show contestant Simon, to save both worlds before it’s too late.” One night only, Monday, Jan. 20, 8 p.m., La Val’s Subterranean Theatre (basement of La Val’s Pizza), 1834 Euclid Ave., Berkeley. Pay what you will.

PETER TOSH MUSIC FESTIVAL Carlton Campbell, cousin of the late reggae legend Peter Tosh, will be hosting the 29th annual Peter Tosh Music Festival on Saturday at Ashkenaz. Artists taking part in the celebration include Prezident Brown, Kulcha Knox, Reggae Angels, Bobby Tenna, Kurrency King, Jah Warri and DJ Young Fyah. Out of Many One Productions has been producing the Peter Tosh celebration annually for the past three decades. Saturday, Jan. 18, doors at 8 p.m., Ashkenaz , 1317 San Pablo Ave, (at Gilman Street). Tickets: $20 in advance on Eventbrite and $25 day of show.

BERKELEY MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. BREAKFAST Join Berkeley faith organizations, community groups, elected leaders and residents in celebrating the life and legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at the ninth annual MLK Jr. breakfast, which, of course, is on Monday, the official Martin Luther King Day and a public holiday. Over what is always a plentiful buffet breakfast, King’s central theme of hope and the message that Americans must unite in order to fight poverty and create an equality of opportunity will be explored. The launchpad will the theme of King’s last book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? As the organizers put it, “In times seemingly as dark as these, it’s important that we band together to strengthen the bonds of community and reinvest in our friends, family, and loved ones.” Monday, Jan. 20, 7:30-10 a.m, Pauley Ballroom, UC Berkeley, Berkeley. Tickets: $10-$25.


FREE FILM SCREENING FOR MLK DAY Also on Monday, the East Bay Media Center will screen The Other America, a film by Allen Willis film, as part of its KingFest. Willis, who died in 2011, was a pioneering African American filmmaker who documented significant periods in the history of the San Francisco Bay area. The Other America focuses on King’s 1967 “white backlash” speech at Stanford University. The East Bay Media Center houses Willis’ archives. Monday, Jan. 20 at 7:30 p.m., EBMC, 1939 Addison St. Berkeley. The screening is free to the public.

Don’t miss these other events featured on Berkeleyside:

In Berkeley: Django Reinhardt unchained and Charles Amirkhanian’s music inspired by nature

Big Screen Berkeley: ‘Clemency’, ‘Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project’

Tracey Taylor is co-founder and editorial director at Berkeleyside. Email: tracey@berkeleyside.com.