Let's face it: To the rest of the country, Berkeley might as well be another Gomorrah. (With a few exceptions, of course ... what's up, Madison, Wisconsin?) But in case you hadn't noticed, this li'l burg doesn't find labels like "bastion of liberal lunacy" negative. In fact, it's effing proud of them. So on the occasion of the tenth annual How Berkeley Can You Be? parade and festival, we'd like to take the opportunity to introduce a new municipal anthem:
Our Berkeley, 'tis of thee/Sweet land of Barbara Lee/Of thee we chant/Land of the Naked Guy!/Land of the Lefties' Pride!/From Northbrae to South Side/Let freedom rant!
You can hum it as you're readying your art car for the parade this Sunday, which starts at 11 a.m. at the corner of California and University. Will you turn your Prius into a giant bunch of organic bananas, or blow up a couple thousand female condoms and glue them to your Volvo? You can sing it as you're sewing, stapling, or glue-gunning your costume and combing out your wig-hat. No fair using your "Grieving Iraqi Mother" get-up from protests past: this one's all about originality.
Then, as you reach the festival grounds at Civic Center Park, stop singing for long enough to groove -- it's not enough to nod your head in this town, you're in Berkeley now, so you gotta dance -- with Albino!, a Berkeley-based, fourteen-piece Afrobeat ensemble; the mischievous and political Gun and Doll Show; ¡Lo Cura!'s reggae/flamenco mashup; and Kool Kyle as Inspector Double Negative along with his Equal Positives, who'll be rocking the crowds what they call "Modern Hop Indigi-Noise."
In the ten years since a University Avenue merchant named John Solomon started this paean to the joy of weirdness in the hopes of helping the down-on-its-luck main drag jumpstart its renaissance, the strip has indeed changed. It's certainly no longer a dead zone one scurries through to get from downtown to the Gourmet Ghetto. Heck, 100,000 bicyclists, potheads, students, musicians, librarians, sex workers, and other average Berkeleyites can't be wrong. Join them this Sunday and find out why. See HowBerkeleyCanYouBe.com for all kinds of truly wacky info.
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