Picks of the Week: Postcards, poetry and pedal boats to propel you through the week


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Happy Monday, Berkeley.

It seems like summer just flew by, doesn’t it? And the new semester means we’re busier than ever, so we’ll be changing things up a little bit with this newsletter — that’s right, two writers. 

Ryan is a junior majoring in comparative literature; Ketki’s a senior studying integrative biology. One thing we have in common, though, is a passion for bringing you the best arts and culture things to do around the Bay Area. 

So kick it all off on Monday at the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, or BAMPFA. Maybe you dream in Python, or maybe the only coding you do is in Morse. Either way, head over at 6:30 p.m. for “Robots Are Creatures, Not Things.”. Here, Atonaton founder Madeline Gannon will explain how technology and art are combining to shape the way we interact with robots and what that means for our future and theirs. Admission is free, so come back here next week, too — this lecture is part of a weekly series, “Arts + Design Mondays.”

On Tuesday, brave the steep UC Berkeley gradient and head over to Stephens Hall at 5 p.m. for a postcard talk (something you never knew you needed until now) from San Francisco-based historian Omar Khan. The scholar will be discussing his latest book, “Paper Jewels: Postcards from the Raj,” a study of the explosion of postcard usage in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka beginning in 1892. In his video preview of the book, Khan is adamant in proclaiming postcards “the Instagram of their time.” Check out the talk and let us know if anything presented is truly finsta-worthy.

Wednesday provides the rare (in this case, yearly) chance to hear some of our lauded professors actually present their original work. Unsurprisingly, many of the UC Berkeley English Department’s faculty members are also accomplished creative writers — to mention a couple of the most prominent figures, Joyce Carol Oates has published 58 novels to date and Robert Haas was a U.S. Poet Laureate. At the Annual Holloway Faculty Reading, faculty including C.S. Giscombe, Lyn Hejinian and Geoffrey O’Brien will read from their personal collections. In preparation for the event, sample some of their works, such as “Ponderable,” ”From Honey to Ashes” and “First Dream.”

If you haven’t been to one of BAMPFA’s outdoor screenings, you should go. They’re free, they’re very laid-back, and you get to watch a movie on the side of the futuristic metal behemoth that is the museum. Thursday is just the day to do so — as part of its “Berkeley Film Foundation,” BAMPFA is showing “This Ain’t No Mouse Music!” on the big screen. The film is technically a documentary tribute to Chris Strachwitz, founder of Arhoolie Records and bluegrass/jazz aficionado, but it’s also a deep dive into the music that the man in question so loved. Hopefully, you’ll get to not only watch but maybe even groove along as well. 

Have you ever hoped to recount the wrongdoings of your shitty ex to an auditorium full of strangers? Well, SF Mission-based Endgames Improv’s “Your Fucked Up Relationship” is a prime place to do so. The improv group, which has two nighttime shows every Friday, revolves around audience members’ accounts of their own unfortunate romantic experiences — which the cast will in turn use as the premise for a bit. Compared to hitting up a bar (or age-appropriate venue), it’s a very chill way to spend a Friday evening. 

Then it’s the weekend, so get out and explore a new side of town. Start your day off in Uptown Oakland at Tertulia Coffee, which shares a space with the Latinx-focused art gallery Sanchez Contemporary. Grab a cup of the house blend, known as “El Jibaro,” and check out Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez’s “Puerto Rican Portraits of Resistance.”

Next, head down to Lake Chabot for a day on the water. If you’re an avid hiker, try the 10-mile lake loop, though beware of some steep elevation changes and plenty of poison oak. If you’re more in the mood to sit back, the marina rents out kayaks and pedal boats for just $27 for an hour. Just make sure to keep yourself and any canine companions out of the water, because toxic algae in the lake can pose a threat to dogs.  

Sleep off all that exercise, then head out again Sunday evening. Take BART over to the 24th St. Mission station and explore the foodscape of 24th Street, smack in the middle of the Mission District. Try quesadillas at Taqueria El Farolito, mofongo at El Nuevo Frutilandia or a scoop of “Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee” ice cream from Humphry Slocombe

Whether you stop at every shop or speed straight through, make sure to get to Brava Theater Center by 8 p.m. to catch the last night of the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival. There, you can immerse yourself in electronica with sets from computer music pioneer Carl Stone, bassoonist Dana Jessen and performance artist Svenska Elektriska Operaensemblen. Tickets to the festival are $13 for students. 

And while you’re waiting on BART, check out Skylar De Paul’s piece on the new Lana Del Rey album, Norman Fucking Rockwell. According to Skylar, Del Rey’s latest release encompasses everything from “breezy summertime poems” to “lovesick melodramas,” bringing yet another dimension to Del Ray’s musical reflections on the West Coast. 

If you have any questions, comments or concerns, email us: [email protected]. We’ll answer faster than a squirrel on a racetrack

Until next time. 

At a glance

Sept. 9: “Robots Are Creatures, Not Things,” Free, 6:30 p.m., BAMPFA, Berkeley

Sept. 10: “Paper Jewels: Postcards from the Raj, Free, 5-7 p.m., 10 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley

Sept. 11: “Annual Holloway Faculty Reading,” Free, 6:30-8:30 p.m., 315 Wheeler Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley

Sept. 12: “This Ain’t No Mouse Music!Free, 7-8:30 p.m., BAMPFA, Berkeley

Sept. 13: “Your Fucked Up Relationship,” $15, 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., StageWerx Theater, San Francisco

Sept. 14: Bay Area Adventure, Tertulia Coffee (Oakland); Lake Chabot (Castro Valley)

Sept. 15: San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, $17-30, 8 p.m., Brava Theater Center, San Francisco

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Contact Ryan Tuozzolo at [email protected].

Contact Ketki Samel at [email protected]. Tweet her at @ketkisamel.