Happy Tuesday, Berkeley.
Olivia did a great job taking over for me for last week’s newsletter, so we celebrated with a trip to Sausalito on Veterans Day. Make some time this weekend to follow in our footsteps — you can view migrating birds of prey at Hawk Hill, then splurge on a waterfront seafood meal at Scoma’s Sausalito, featuring options such as scallop risotto and Moroccan-style salmon with couscous.
But first, take some time to continue your long-weekend relaxation. Tuesday is a free day at the San Francisco Botanical Garden, so head over there between 7:30 a.m and 4 p.m. to explore the more than 8,500 plant species it holds. I’m particularly intrigued by the specimens in the Andean Cloud Forest collection and the James Noble Dwarf Conifer Garden, which holds smaller relatives of our local coast redwoods.
And if the vegetation inspires you, check out the other gardens that Golden Gate Park has to offer. Cross the street to visit the Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers, which houses flowers and plants mentioned in William Shakespeare’s works. Or just a few minutes away is the Japanese Tea Garden, where $9 will get you admission to see koi ponds, pagodas and a variety of Japanese plant species. Once there, you can also head to the tea house, which offers a classic selection of teas along with snacks such as udon, edamame and dorayaki stuffed with red bean paste. If you feel like venturing a little farther, try out the Rose Garden.
No matter if you spend the day in the gardens or if you’re busy in Berkeley until nighttime, make some time for dinner at Gordo Taqueria. The restaurant, which has locations on both sides of the Bay, has been serving up Mexican food for more than 30 years — just pick your protein and choose from among tacos, burritos and quesadillas, and you’re sure to be pleased.
As an added bonus, the San Francisco 9th Avenue location of Gordo Taqueria is mere steps away from the San Francisco Botanical Garden. It’s also just across the street from San Francisco’s Hometown Creamery, a local “farm to cone” ice cream joint that serves seasonal flavors such as sake ginger pear sorbet and apple pie ice cream.
Now, even if you weren’t able to spend all of Tuesday in San Francisco, try to get over there Wednesday night. Starting at 7 p.m., The Great Northern will host Art Battle’s “San Francisco City Finals,” whose winners will go on to the national championships later this month. Art Battle is a live painting competition — participants have 20 minutes to create the best work they can, using acrylic paint and non-mechanical painting implements such as brushes or palette knives. Tickets cost $20 for those 21 and older.
After all that excitement at the beginning of the week, take Thursday easy. Cook something that’s good for you, such as quinoa fried rice with tofu and plenty of vegetables. Or try shakshouka, which places baked eggs inside a tomato and pepper sauce. With some seedy nut bread on the side, it’ll be a hearty fall meal.
And if you have any leftovers, you can eat them Friday night to fortify yourself for your pick of concerts. I’m most excited for The Mowgli’s’ show at the Swedish American Hall, with tickets selling for $24 at the door. You probably already know the Los Angeles-based alt rock group for songs such as “San Francisco” and “I’m Good,” but I’d recommend getting to the venue early to watch the openers. Elijah Noll combines pop and R&B into music you might just end up liking, while the rock four-piece Arms Akimbo offers up beachy, relaxed tunes such as “Little Insensitive.”
Or go see Kyle at The Warfield, with day-of tickets coming in at $35. The rapper has collaborated with a variety of artists, including Kehlani on “Playinwitme” and Wiz Khalifa on “Moment.” He also hails from Ventura, California — according to my dear friend from Ventura and jump-head hater Nick, Kyle created a remix of “Black and Yellow” to act as the local high school’s theme song.
And if neither of those sound up your alley, you could kick it back to high school with some relative classics: Cherub at The Fillmore or Kodaline at The UC Theatre. Pricewise, the two are comparable — tickets to see Cherub cost $22.50, while tickets to Kodaline’s concert are $25. The atmosphere, however, is where the two will probably differ. Cherub’s fusion of electro and indie pop sends me straight back to my senior year of high school with tunes such as “Doses & Mimosas” and “Lifesaver.” Kodaline, on the other hand, brings big emotions to soft rock in songs such as “All I Want” and “The One” — the band’s tour promotes its new album Politics of Living.
Then, it’s the weekend. Saturday’s a perfect day to take that Sausalito day trip that I mentioned before. On your way home, swing by San Francisco’s Victoria Theatre for the closing night of the HUMP! Film Festival, which is curated by sex advice columnist Dan Savage and features short adult films shot by everyday folks. While the sex industry is, of course, controversial (check out Shannon O’Hara’s piece on sex workers and comedians for some context), this festival aims to promote sex positivity and creative expression by showing a variety of “body types, shapes, ages, colors, sexualities, genders, kinks, and fetishes.” Tickets to the 21+ event are available for $25.
Finally, Sunday is Mickey Mouse’s birthday, marking 90 years since “Steamboat Willie” was released. Now, heading all the way to Disneyland just for a day seems foolish, if admirable, but fear not: There are plenty of ways to celebrate our favorite animated rodent from here in the Bay Area. If you’ve got a hankering for thrills, head over to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, though be warned that the park has faced controversy for keeping exotic animals in captivity. The family-friendly theme park contains everything from an indoor, foam-filled playhouse to the record-breaking Medusa roller coaster. Or if drops and loops aren’t your style, spend the day catching up on Mickey’s greatest cartoon hits. My personal favorite is “Fantasia 2000,” a collection of animated shorts set to music. It includes the 1940 classic “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” in which Mickey Mouse sees the consequences of misusing magic.
While you’re waiting in line at Six Flags or sitting within a San Francisco garden, take a look at Camryn Bell’s interview with Jeremy Messersmith. He talks about his new album Late Stage Capitalism, which he calls his “musical happy place,” while also touching on the current media and political landscapes and the status of the ukulele as “the purest folk instrument.”
Until next time.