Happy Thursday, Berkeley.
We’re back with a special edition of the Picks of the Week newsletter for everyone’s favorite excuse for a midsummer barbecue: the Fourth of July. Considering the current state of the union, it’s entirely understandable if you don’t feel up to celebrating this country and its origins. Nonetheless, take advantage of your day off and check out all the activities the Bay Area has to offer on this holiday.
Start the morning off right with a quick, cheap breakfast, because you’ve got a full day ahead of you. Maybe you can clear out the fridge with an easy recipe — toss some frozen berries in the blender while you fry up eggs and bread, and you’ve got a winner in less than five minutes. Or maybe you can grab something on the road, such as a breakfast sandwich from Starbucks or a chorizo-and-egg-filled breakfast burrito from Tacos Sinaloa.
Once you’ve eaten, head out into the great outdoors for a hike close to home, maybe at Tilden Regional Park or Mount Diablo State Park. At Tilden, walk a bit of the 4.1-mile Nimitz Way, a wheelchair-accessible and dog-friendly trail that provides fantastic views of the East Bay. For a longer trek, head to Mount Diablo’s Mitchell Canyon area for the trailhead of the 7-mile Back Creek Trail Loop, which shows off many of the state park’s greatest sights. And while you’re on the trail, keep your eyes peeled for a red, white and blue from Mother Nature: Edith’s checkerspots, Virginia opossums and lazuli buntings.
Whether you hiked for miles or just walked out your front door, head next to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. The on-site café Sunday at the Museum offers a variety of snacks, sandwiches and noodles, as well as a dinner menu served only on Thursdays. While you’re appreciating the Japanese prints and Chinese ink wash paintings, take some time to also recognize the legacy and impact that generations of immigrants have left on the United States.
After this packed day, it’s time to relax for a bit. Spend the rest of the afternoon in your favorite spot, and watch some all-American hits. Maybe you have a tape of “What the Constitution Means to Me” stashed away from its time at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, though it’s now made it all the way to Broadway. Or maybe you’d rather honor another hometown hero and watch W. Kamau Bell in “United Shades of America,” in which Bell explores communities across the nation, from retirees in Daytona Beach, Florida, to LGBTQ+ folks in Salt Lake City, Utah.
There’s also plenty of options for movies, if that’s how you’d rather spend your time until dinner. Set up “Independence Day” on your laptop (it’s free on Hulu and available to rent on Amazon Prime Video or iTunes for $4), and enjoy the glorious spectacle of an alien invasion. While you’re watching, cook up a batch of gourmet popcorn — try tossing half of it with salt and half with paprika and garlic powder for a treat that looks like the flag.
And now it’s time for dinner, which, of course, means it’s time for a barbecue. If you have the space, equipment and ventilation, put on your apron and get grilling! Some local public spaces, such as Codornices Park, César Chávez Park and San Pablo Park, even offer barbecue grills and picnic tables, so you can invite a crowd.
Fry up some Juicy Lucys and make some In-N-Out-style animal fries as a side. As a vegetarian option, you could use alternatives to beef such as beans, falafel or even beets for your burgers. For a 21-plus beverage, check out this “watermelon with a twist.” (Spoiler: The twist is about 25 ounces of your favorite liquor.)
Then, it’s time for the finale: fireworks. For an extra patriotic night, celebrate on the USS Hornet, a World War II-era naval ship that now acts as a museum. For $25, you can enjoy the fireworks from the Alameda waterfront. If you’re not up to shelling out that much, just head down to the Berkeley Marina for fireworks at 9:30 p.m.
If fireworks (or loud noises) aren’t your thing, then head home to drown out the sounds with some America-themed music. Start off with “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and “Young Americans,” by Billy Joel and David Bowie, respectively. Listen to the original “This Land Is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie, then try a cover of the same song by Chicano Batman. Then finish out with some contemporary songs — maybe “American Boy” by Estelle and “Your Best American Girl” by Mitski — and then it’s time to sleep.
While you’re waiting for the fireworks to start, check out Areyon Jolivette’s column for The Daily Californian’s recent Pride Month issue. She discusses the evolution of her sexual identity and comes to the conclusion that she is a lesbian, as is Indiana Jones (possibly). Although Pride Month just came to a close, it’s always the right time to celebrate love and diversity.
Until next time.