Palace of Culture

Well worth a walk across campus, this building, roughly across from lower Sproul Plaza and Zellerbach Hall at 2430 Bancroft, west of the Telegraph intersection, houses two cultural landmarks, Musical Offering and University Press Books. The former includes that increasingly rare commodity, a classical music CD shop, and a cafe. The latter is a superb bookstore. Both are owned by two overlapping partnerships, representing the worlds of academe, literature, music (the making and the playing), and publishing. The cafe of late has turned out some great dishes. When I stopped in this afternoon, a string quartet was performing in the corner table (the leftmost window facing the street). Musical Offering's current newsletter has an interview with the new Cal Performances director that's well worth reading. One can become a "Friend of UPB" for an absurdly modest cost. This Palace of Culture deserves support, as few businesses are under greater threat now than independent bookstores, which are pressured by Amazon, e-books, and horrific terms of trade. Yet, unlike its digital competitors, one can peruse the books and make informed decisions. One can also hear talks by writers and even join in UPB's Slow Dinners, which invite guests to read their own work. Highly, highly recommended.


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