Sunday, March 20, 2011

White near-equinox

This photo, from Berkeleyside, shows Solano Ave. on Friday night. I was at a dinner party in the Oakland hills. When I returned to my house on Arch Street, I found the front and back yards and both decks covered with "snow" that felt and sounded like crushed ice. Although hail, in reality, it triggered a lot of merrymaking in the neighborhood. Something similar happened here in the early 1970s, when I lived above Euclid on Hearst.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The 2430 Arts Alliance

2430 Bancroft Way
Last night, I attended "a symposium to launch the 2430 Arts Alliance." This foundation exists to support Musical Offering and University Press Books, the two endangered enterprises housed on the ground floor of the building, and provide a bridge between them and the community by sponsoring musical and literary events, both in the building and on the campus. Registered as a charitable foundation, the 2430 Arts Alliance is definitely a worthy cause for anyone who values continued access to the classical music CDs and noteworthy books - new and used - on offer inside. UPB separately runs a "Friends of UPB" group that can be joined for the modest fee of $35/year (or a ridiculously low $350 for life membership). Joining gets you an accumulating credit for books purchased. Why patronize them when Amazon is a click away? First and foremost, there are the pleasures of the place itself, shared with the Musical Offering Cafe and the knowledgeable staff on both sides. Second, one can peruse at leisure. Third, one can avoid the inducements to buy that are a hallmark of Amazon, and thus sidestep the disappointments of whim. Fourth, imagine a world without these two cultural landmarks. A grim world, indeed!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Austin, Texas

Fate (of the work-related variety) brings me to Austin. The street scene above (not my photo) typifies the area around the downtown hotel where I'm staying. Rumored to be the Berkeley of Texas, Austin is certainly steeped in a live-music scene. At dinner, I met a former colleague who moved here and set up shop. He told me it's easier to do so than in the Bay Area. The city is warmer (76 degrees when I arrived) than the Berkeley I left behind. A river runs through it (the Colorado, the Texas one that empties out in the Gulf). The skyline is messed up by some egregious tall buildings, garishly lit up at night (not unlike this hotel, aiming for trendy but landing on cheesy; nice room, though). Speaking of music, drumbeats reach my ears. Some rocker neighbor? A bit of that at home, too.