Picks of the Week: Sustainable, strange, spooky suggestions for mid-October


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The global climate strike of a couple weeks ago may be over but that doesn’t mean that it’s time for us to sit back and push conversations about climate change to the side. Stop by the Berkeley Farm Stand on Monday afternoon right next to the Downtown Berkeley BART stop to swoop some fresh, local (and affordable!) produce. You’ll also get the opportunity to chat with the teens and young adults from the Ecology Center’s Youth Environmental Academy — all of whom, in my experience, have been quite lovely. Then, at 7:00 p.m., head over to Zellerbach Hall for a talk from E.O. Wilson titled “Half-Earth Day 2019: How to Save the Natural World.” Wilson is a highly renowned biologist and author, as well as an essential voice of hope in today’s environmental predicament. Also, his specialty is myrmecology, the study of ants!

On Tuesday, expand your appreciation for natural wonders from the Earth to the solar system. Hike (or drive) up to Grizzly Peak in the Berkeley Hills or Lands End in San Francisco to catch a prime view of the Draconid meteor shower, which is set to peak in the evening. While this particular shower isn’t necessarily known for being the most profuse, you’ll likely have the chance to see about five meteors per hour. But it should be worth it, and you might even be able to catch some sights of the night sky like this one, taken during the shower last year.

Wednesday’s your chance to get a guided tour of the “Strange” — the exhibition with that creepy René Magritte painting of two dementor-like people sucking one another’s souls out — at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, or BAMPFA. Gotta love those surrealists. In preparation for your 12:15 p.m. visit to the exhibit, be sure to listen to Paul Simon’s “Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War,” a song inspired by a photo of the painter himself. Then, after expending your mental energy trying to comprehend the obscurities of surrealist art, refuel with a cuppa joe (or fresh-pressed juice) at Windmill Coffee House for the Weekly Coffee Break. The event is hosted by the Berkeley International Office but it’s open to all UC Berkeley students. It’s the most affordable way to study abroad. 

Then take Thursday night to appreciate some of the most well-known faculty on campus. Take your pick between poetry, public policy and plants. At 5:30 p.m. in Doe Memorial Library, UC Berkeley professors Robert Hass and Chiyuma Elliott will join Indira Allegra, an Oakland-based artist of texts and textiles, for the first iteration of the “Poetry and the Senses” program. The event will consider the tangible implications of poetry on our world. If you find verse adverse, BAMPFA is hosting another free screening at 7:00 p.m., this time of Robert Reich’s “Inequality for All.” The man himself will also be making an appearance; the event promises to be a close second to “Wealth and Poverty.” And if the screen’s not part of your routine, we’ve still got a suggestion for you. Check out “Drugs, Plants, Brain, Mind,” which will be “an evening of science, conversation and community” with UC Berkeley’s very own professor David Presti. This event also will be happening at Café Leila on San Pablo Avenue and is also at 7:00 p.m., so difficult choices must be made!

Friday evening’s the perfect time to head into San Francisco. Grab a bite to eat at the weekly Fort Mason food festival “Off the Grid,” where you can get tender pork belly buns from the Chairman, empanadas con carne from El Porteño, black vanilla frozen custard from Frozen Kuhsterd and much more — all within the same grid! Once your belly is happily full, hop on over to SOMArts Cultural Center for an exhibition celebrating Día de Los Muertos. The show features over 40 artists, including many who have felt the impacts of gentrification in the Bay Area. The exhibit hopes to engage viewers in a dialogue about the future of San Francisco in the face of the city’s rapidly changing landscape. 

Spend the weekend getting into the spirit for spookiness. With Halloween only a couple of weeks away, it’ll be high time to start brainstorming your 2019 Oct. 31 getup. Will you opt for a UC-Berkeley-related costume —  the Campanile, Oski or a Berkeley squirrel, perhaps? Or will you take a more universal approach and find inspiration in Hollywood’s releases from this year — some prime options include Keanu Reeves from “Always Be My Maybe,” Hannah B. from “The Bachelorette” or a member of the Fab Five. If you’re having some trouble deciding, get in an October mood by making a trip down to McClelland’s Dairy in Petaluma to wander through the organic pumpkin patch. And don’t miss the opportunity to release your midterm angst with the farm’s pumpkin blaster.

Then wind down with a perusal of some of our recent arts content. Read up on what some of today’s popular media teaches us — or fails to teach us — about disaster preparedness with Julie Lim’s discussion of mainstream disaster films and Rebecca Gerny’s reflection on the works of Margaret Atwood. As Gerny so aptly puts it, “Today, with our country living in a perpetual state of political division and disaster preparedness, reading is an essential form of preparation. Atwood’s lesson is clear — the past informs the present.” 

As always, please email us with any suggestions, recommendations, musings, questions, etc. We’ll be as enthused to hear from you as this otter is to munch on an ice cube!

At a glance: 

Oct. 7: Berkeley Farm Stand, “Half-Earth Day 2019: How to Save the Natural World.$15-25, 7 p.m., Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley

Oct. 8: Draconid meteor shower

Oct. 9:  “Strange,” free, 12:15 p.m., BAMPFA, Berkeley, Weekly Coffee Break, free, Windmill Coffee House, Berkeley 

Oct 10:  “Poetry and the Senses” program, free, 5:30 p.m., Doe Memorial Library, Berkeley; “Inequality for All” screening, 7:00 p.m., BAMPFA, Berkeley, Drugs, Plants, Brain, Mind,” 7:00 p.m., Café Leila, Berkeley

Oct. 11: Off the Grid, prices will vary, 5:00-10:00 p.m., Fort Mason Center, San Francisco; Día de Los Muertos, $12-20, SOMArts, San FranciscoOct. 12-13: Halloween Costumes; McClelland’s Dairy, prices will vary, Petaluma

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Contact Ryan Tuozzolo at [email protected].