Whatever you may have heard, countercultural Berkeley did not materialize, Brigadoon-like, out of the marijuana haze of a Vietnam War protest. Long before there was a Berkeley Barb or a How Berkeley Can You Be? parade, there were Berkeley bohemians. And Charles Augustus Keeler, by the standards of proto-hippiedom, was Sgt. Pepper.
Arts + Letters
Artist Alicia McCarthy, who got her MFA in art at UC Berkeley in 2007, had a big year in 2017. A part of the Bay Area art scene for 20 years, McCarthy is best known for being a key figure of the acclaimed Mission School, a group of artists associated with the San Francisco Art Institute who did work in San Francisco’s Mission District in the 1990s.
Posted on June 7, 2018 - 4:03pm
At first glance, the work of Alicia McCarthy and Ruby Neri couldn’t be more different. McCarthy’s intersecting swaths of color, “weaves” as she calls them, are hypnotizing and prismatic, calling to mind 1960s Op Art.
Posted on May 24, 2018 - 3:06pm
For a journalist it seemed the ultimate dream gig: working for the Great Gray Lady herself, the New York Times—but operating from a lovely California beach town, not the dreary main newsroom in Manhattan. And indeed, Mike McPhate appreciated his position as producer of the Times’ newsletter, California Today. He had, after all, paid his dues.
Posted on May 22, 2018 - 5:06pm
Compared to the opulent and tranquil UC Berkeley Morrison Library, the modest adjoining art storage room, at first glance, isn’t much to write home about.
But looks can be deceiving; what it lacks in appearance, it makes up with cultural richness. The Graphic Arts Loan Collection (GALC)—peeling white shelves, offset by dusty linoleum floors—houses more than 800 original pieces of art, diverse as the university itself.
Posted on May 17, 2018 - 4:59pm
In 2012, Babette Café opened at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) brutalist-style structure on Bancroft. It was quickly celebrated for its inspired NorCal take on breakfast and mid-day offerings made by chefs Joan Ellis and Patrick Hooker. The married couple had at first thought “Babette’s Table” would work, but later settled on “Babette.”
Posted on May 15, 2018 - 3:36pm
A visitor walks between Roc Nation and United Talent Agencies until she reaches the heavy glass doors of a beige building in a Beverly Hills office park: once inside, she tells the lobby attendant she has an appointment with Playboy magazine. If the visitor has an A cup and a complexion that can be accurately described as “dapple-gray,” the attendant will still permit her to access the elevator, provided the visitor has an appointment. (Fortunately, I did.) The attendant will not laugh; this is a city of dreamers.
Posted on May 10, 2018 - 1:07pm
Two journalists who’ve spent varying amounts of time teaching their craft at Cal give themselves an assignment that, in the end, blows away that well-worn rubric of “who, what, where, when, why.”
They are Michael Pollan, famous for his smart writing about food, and Don Lattin, a.k.a. me, known for my reverently irreverent writing about religion. Pollan and I found a subject that falls within each of our “beats,” a magic mushroom that offers the omnivore a tantalizing glimpse of God.
Posted on May 2, 2018 - 4:27pm
When I go to Berkeley Bowl with Laura McLively, I immediately feel like a tourist, too delighted to keep my cool among the rows of citrus and loose leafy greens. Used to produce sold in hard plastic clamshells at my Los Angeles Trader Joe’s, I marvel at the wall of eggplants, not just purple but white, green, and some—like the tiny, speckled Indian graffiti eggplant—all three colors at once.
Posted on April 26, 2018 - 3:15pm
The North Bay fires were national news mere hours after they ignited early in the morning of October 9. The dawn sun, glimmering wanly through the pall of smoke cloaking Sonoma and Napa Counties, illuminated the smoldering ruins of hundreds of homes. No relief was imminent: the hot, dry winds that had sent the flames howling from Calistoga to Santa Rosa continued unabated, and the forecast was for more of the same. This was a natural catastrophe on the scale of Hurricane Katrina—possibly worse.
Posted on April 25, 2018 - 4:31pm
Robert Calonico hasn’t been leading a secret life, but his nocturnal activities might shock the thousands of students who’ve played under his baton. During his four-decade career as a band director, including a 28-year reign as Cal’s director of bands, which is rapidly coming to an end, Calonico has quietly maintained a thriving practice as a top-shelf saxophonist and clarinetist.
Posted on April 17, 2018 - 2:51pm
It was in the 1990s that Pat Thomas read Growing (Up) at Thirty-Seven by Youth International Party (Yippies) co-founder and Jerry Rubin. Then in his mid-30s, a little depressed and not sure what to do with his life, Thomas describes the book as a little bit autobiography and a little bit self help.
Posted on April 16, 2018 - 4:13pm
L. John Harris, food writer, filmmaker, Gourmet Ghetto fixture, has been called the “Balzac of Berkeley.” But on a recent drizzly morning, he could have passed for Proust as he stood outside the original Peet’s, describing the caffeinated madeleine moment he had at the shop nearly 50 years before.
“It was a house blend, mostly likely a French roast, and it reminded me of coffee that I’d had in Europe,” he said. “We’ve all had food epiphanies that flood us with memories. This was one of those for me.”
Posted on April 11, 2018 - 4:28pm
When the Alvin Ailey dancers are in the house, Zellerbach can feel more like a church than a theater. When the doors open, the audience members file in like parishioners. Some are regulars, while others are first timers, but when the curtain comes up it doesn’t matter. Young, old, student, professional, black, white, devout, secular, right, left; the differences between them disappear during the rapturous gospel of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Posted on April 10, 2018 - 4:47pm
In a career where success often doesn’t come until later in life, if at all, comic Irene Tu has an impressive resume for her mid-20s.