Picks of the week: Get informed, get relaxed and get cookin’

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Happy Monday, Berkeley!

It’s still the start of the semester, but school’s really starting to rev up just about now. Hopefully the weekend allowed you to decompress a bit and get a head start on work for the upcoming week; perhaps you even checked out a new coffee shop or did some pedal boating. However your weekend went, here are some picks to help make your week ahead just a little more smooth, aware and engaging.

With the presidential election just around the corner, it’s an especially important time for students and Berkeley residents alike to practice active and thoughtful civic engagement — even though this can prove tough with the day to day demanding so much attention. This Monday, take advantage of a panel the Free Speech Movement Cafe is holding on one of the most contentious issues of the 2020 race: gun control. Take a break from your Moffitt study session at 6 p.m. for “The 2nd Amendment: American Society’s Interpretation Across Time,” a medley of respected legal, historical and politically inclined perspectives on the issue.

As you get back into the rhythm of the week, be sure to also take moments of respite and prevent burnout. Pop into the Tang Center at 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday for the free weekly Mindfulness Meditation Group, which incorporates a reflective reading and silent meditation. And for dinner, do yourself (and the planet) a favor and drop by Cafe Ohlone, a pop-up restaurant located behind University Press Books, for some real Californian cuisine. The Cafe’s hours change week to week, but this Tuesday it’s having its evening tea hour from 5:30-6:30 p.m.. Inspired by inherited generations of Ohlone food teachings, owners Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino only serve dishes — from venison meatballs to acorn flour brownies — that hail from the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Area.

At almost $50, this next one’s quite a bit out of our regular Picks budget — but we think you might be interested nonetheless. Everybody’s favorite Canadian avocado-loving heartthrob is making a stop at the Castro Theatre on Wednesday to celebrate his first cookbook: “Antoni in the Kitchen.”  The “Queer Eye” star will be joined onstage by Berkeley’s very own Alice Waters, as well as Davia Nelson of the NPR production duo the Kitchen Sisters. At the very least, you’re sure to get lots of tips on salt usage in your cooking. And even if you can’t make it to the event proper, various Berkeley booksellers — including Pegasus Books in Downtown — currently have the publication in stock, so be sure to check it out!

If you’re unable to reap the therapeutic benefits of proximity to Mr. Porowski on Wednesday, here’s another tip for a bit later in the week. On Thursday at noon, Dr. Kelly McGonigal of the viral 2013 TED Talk “How to make stress your friend” is speaking at International House on the same subject. McGonigal works at Stanford, but hopefully we can set aside our disapproval long enough to enjoy her sage advice on leading a less chaotic and frenzied life.

And what better way to wrap the week up than with a party — especially a hella big one? The Friday night celebration hosted by the Oakland Museum of California, or OMCA, promises to be a special one as it’s a celebration of the museum’s 50th birthday! Hop on BART and make a stop at the free “Hella Big 50th Birthday Party,” which includes complimentary gallery admission from 5-10 p.m. (some of the exhibits currently on view at OMCA include “Take Root: Oakland Grows Food,” “Black Power” and “Question Bridge: Black Males”). Plus, official DJ of the Golden State Warriors DJ D Sharp will be there mixing beats, some of Oakland’s finest young poets are set to read their works, and Oakland-based classically trained pianist and hip-hop aficionado Kev Choice is scheduled to perform alongside his ensemble. All this and you don’t even have to miss out on the Off the Grid noms being served up in San Francisco; many of the same food trucks will be making a stop at this event as well.

This weekend, continue your celebration of the East Bay’s arts heritage with the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention, a five-day local music festival at locations across Berkeley that ends on Sunday. Free opportunities for Saturday’s iteration include a string band contest at 11 a.m. at the Downtown Berkeley Farmers Market and a calling workshop at Ashkenaz Music and Dance Community Center where you can learn how to square dance. Later that same night, also at Ashkenaz, there’ll be a square dance party where you can show off your new skills! This sounds like one of those capital-B Berkeley sort of events, a chance to get an authentic taste of the city via a tradition that’s been around since the 1960s. Plus, who knows? You might turn out to be square dancing prodigy.

Also, don’t forget to celebrate Responsible Dog Ownership Day on Saturday. Give your dog a nice pat, FaceTime your dog who’s back home or make a visit to Jojo and compliment him on whatever snazzy harness he’s got on that day. Last year, among other canine-oriented groups across the nation, the Savannah Kennel Club hosted a celebration in honor of the holiday; meet some of the pooches and their responsible owners who showed up here!

Finally, don’t miss the lovely spread put together by our arts editors Anagha, Grace and Areyon that provides a guide to some of the flicks included in the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive’s Abbas Kiarostami series. Many of these are still screening, so catch them while you can.

As always, hit us up at [email protected] with any questions, concerns, musings, comments, etc.. We’ll be just as thrilled to hear from you as Mark Robertson was on Responsible Dog Ownership Day last year!

Until next time.

At a glance

Sept. 16: “The 2nd Amendment: American Society’s Interpretation Across Time,” Free, 6 p.m., Free Speech Movement Cafe, Berkeley

Sept. 17: Mindfulness Meditation Group,” Free, 12:15 p.m., Tang Center, Berkeley; Cafe Ohlone evening tea hour, $20, 5:30 p.m., University Press Books, Berkeley

Sept. 18: Antoni in the Kitchen,”  $45, 8 p.m., The Castro Theatre, San Francisco

Sept. 19:How to make stress your friend,” Free, 12 p.m., International House, Berkeley

Sept. 20: Hella Big 50th Birthday Party,” Free, 5 p.m., Oakland Museum of California, Oakland

Sept. 21 & 22: The Berkeley Old Time Music Convention,” $0-20, throughout the weekend, Downtown Berkeley Farmers Market and Ashkenaz Music and Dance Community Center, Berkeley

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Contact Ryan Tuozzolo at [email protected].