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Friday, September 16, 2011

Weekender: Top Things to Do Over the Next Three Days in the East Bay

Fri, Sep 16, 2011 at 6:00 AM

At press posting (!?) time, you have 259,200 seconds between now and Monday morning. Here's how to use 'em wisely:

PARK(ing) Day
Looking for parking can be stressful, but looking for parks will be a breeze during worldwide PARK(ing) Day on Friday, Sept. 16, when various metered parking spaces will be transformed into public "parklets" that offer a bit of greenery while challenging conceptions of urban space. Businesses and organizations across the East Bay will take part throughout the day and entire weekend. Actual Cafe (6334 San Pablo Ave., Oakland), which opened a now-defunct parklet in May, will host a new park with a DJ and happy hour, and Oaklandish (1444 Broadway, Oakland) will roll out a park in front of its downtown Oakland storefront. Times vary by location, free. Click here for full participant list. — Cassie Harwood

Project Bandaloop: Boundless
Site-specific and aerial dance are all the rage these days, and Project Bandaloop still leads the charge after two decades of dancing on skyscraper walls, across the face of El Capitan in Yosemite, and (every so often) in theaters. On Thursday through Saturday, September 15-17, Bandaloop celebrates its twentieth anniversary with premiere performances of Bound(less), a large-scale, multimedia vertical dance performed on (and between) buildings at the Great Wall of Oakland (Grand Ave. and Broadway). Electro-jazz musician and composer Dana Leong and his band accompany the supremely acrobatic, and evidently fearless dancers as they fly through the air, bending minds and altering perspectives. Arrive as early as 6 p.m. to secure your view, and bring a folding chair or blanket for a comfortable seat. 8:30 p.m., free (limited reserved seating available for $35 for Saturday night's show). 415-421-5667 or ProjectBandaloop.org. — Claudia Bauer

Off the Grid Golden Gate Fields
Brace yourselves, fans of Off the Grid in North Berkeley (not to mention that other city west of Treasure Island): Off the Grid organizer Matt Cohen is bringing the biggest gathering of food trucks he’s ever attempted to Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley, with thirty food trucks. The first race starts at 12:45 p.m., and because the trucks will be in the grandstand area, you will have to pay track admission. The whole thing is intended to have an old-timey, Ascot sort of vibe, meaning you’re encouraged to wear a big hat. And drink Bloody Marys. The vent has been running for the last four weeks; the final edition goes down this Saturday, Sept. 17. Gates open at 10 a.m., $6, (17 and under free, though you have to be 18 to wager). — John Birdsall

Jim Cohee Reads from The Swan
Nowadays in adult contemporary fiction it’s not hard to find stories told from the perspective of a child, but it’s a conceit that can easily collapse in on itself and become plot-obscuringly precious. Staggeringly few of these stories work, but The Swan — Jim Cohee's new novel about a young boy in 1950s Indianapolis who stops speaking in the aftermath of his sister’s death — succeeds because the author uses the constraint to draw out the tensions inherent in his approach: There’s something ironic, compelling, and deeply sad about hearing a story of mortality and unspeakable loss unfold in the chirpy, attention-deficit, occasionally hilarious voice of a fourth-grader. As Aaron Cooper stays silent and continues to cocoon himself in his imagination, it becomes clear just how much his life has been shaped by the fear and sadness of growing up in a family wracked by tragedy, and, more abstractly, in a nation entrenched in the Cold War. In Cooper’s world, brought to life through Cohee’s evocative prose, refrigerators turn into sharks and writhe around the kitchen; pythons masquerading as dinner guests eat housecats under the cover of night; and grown men are killed after being caught in bamboo finger traps. And somewhere in there, you begin to realize that this is not a novel about plot or linear motion. It’s about exploring what Cohee calls “a wilderness of dreams” — less a line than an exceptionally detailed dot. “The point of The Swan is to examine the fantasy life of a child, and the joy of The Swan is following the crazy path of this boy’s dream life,” Cohee said. “It’s a story that can only be seen through this child’s eyes.” The voice isn’t a gimmick — it’s the point of the book, and it works brilliantly. Cohee reads at Mrs. Dalloway's (2904 College Ave., Berkeley) on Saturday, Sept. 17. 7:30 p.m., free. 510-704-8222 or MrsDalloways.com. — Ellen Cushing

The Fellowship Band Featuring Brian Blade
Brian Blade is a jazz drummer you don't want to miss. He's worked with all the contemporary greats in jazz and beyond — from Chick Corea to Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan to Wayne Shorter. Thirteen years ago he formed the Fellowship band, composing mostly with keyboardist Jon Cowherd. His work is wide-ranging, at times incorporating instruments unfamiliar to jazz audiences, and not afraid to experiment. In addition to being one of the most talented jazz drummers of our day, in 2009 Blade released his first album as a singer-songwriter, entitled Mama Rosa. Fellowship, his go-to ensemble, has meanwhile become a jazz institution, and a captivating one at that. When Blade hunches forward and cracks his signature grin/grimace, it's hard not to watch with rapt attention. At Yoshi's (510 Embarcadero West, Oakland) on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 15-16.8 p.m. and 10 p.m., $16-24. Yoshis.com/oakland or 510-238-9200. — Will Butler

What's Out There Weekend
Hosted by the Cultural Landscape Foundation — a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that aims to educate the public about historic landscapes throughout the country — What’s Out There Weekend has already made stops in major cities like Washington and Chicago. On Saturday and Sunday, September 17-18, it makes its Bay Area debut with a series of free, expert-led architectural tours. “One of the things that we’re trying to do is teach people how to see and how to value landscape,” said Charles Birnbaum, who founded the organization in 1998. “What we wanted to do was focus on places that were public, and very often places that people move through every day but may not know their history.” The tour highlights sites designed and constructed during architecture's modernist era and focuses primarily on San Francisco sites, with stops at popular attractions like the Japanese Tea Gardens and the Sutro Baths. But on Sunday, it ventures into Berkeley and Oakland with a 10 a.m. tour of Greenwood Common (Between Buena Vista Way and Rose Street, Berkeley), an 11:30 a.m. tour of the UC Berkeley campus (Oxford and Addison streets, Berkeley), and visits at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively, to the Kaiser Center (300 Lakeside Dr.) and the Oakland Museum of California (1000 Oak St.) rooftop gardens. Free. TCLF.org/event/wotw-san-francisco or 202-483-0553, RSVP required. — Cassie Harwood


Plus...

Get Your Cheapskate On: This is how much we love you guys: Here are our searchable listings of every single free event happening in the East Bay this weekend.

Catch a Movie: Our critic calls Drive "rarity of rarities, an arty actioner that requires almost no excuses." Also of note: Ryan Gosling.

Eat Up: ...At Toast, the new-ish wine bar in Uptown that also happens to have pretty good food.

Get Buzzed: Be an early adopter and head on over to Vitus, the just-opened bar and music venue in Jack London.

creepy, right??
  • creepy, right??

Waste Some Time: Eyebrows: apparently very important if you're interested in not looking like a total creep. To wit, Celebs With No Eyebrows. (h/t BlogDH!)

Friend and Follow Us: Here we are on Facebook and Twitter.

Feed Us: Got any East Bay news, events, video, or miscellany we should know about? Holler at us at Ellen.Cushing@EastBayExpress.com.

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