Friday, May 4, 2012

Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

By Rachel Swan
Fri, May 4, 2012 at 11:03 AM

Well, it's been a momentous week, guys. We saw the resurgence of Occupy, the unveiling of Cal's coolest-ever dorm room, and some ardent bike boostership. If you're not planning to spend the weekend watching the much-hyped welterweight showdown at MGM Grand, then here are a few other ways to fritter away your time:

Hip-Hop in the Park

It's no small feat that students at UC Berkeley have managed
to hold free hip-hop concerts in People's Park for a decade and a half, which
means the tradition of Hip-Hop in the Park started in
a different era of hip-hop. At its genesis, the event was an incubator of sorts
— both for a nascent underground scene in the Bay Area, and for a
nostalgia-based subculture that embraced such things as B-boy cyphers and "the five elements." Judging by this year's
lineup, the annual showcase hasn't lost any steam. Dumbfoundead
will co-headline with the aptly named Gift of Gab (who gained renown as the frontman of Blackalicious). Also
on the bill: Jnatural, Ameishand the Society, local crews Understudies and Candlespit,
and an all-woman bloc with Raw-G, Aima the Dreamer,
Maya Songbird, Persia, and Coup DJ Pam the Funkstress.
One of the biggest draws, of course, will be the breakdance
battle hosted by Jern Eye and DJ Platurn
of the Oakland Faders. Party like it's 1998. At People's Park (between Haste St. & Dwight Way above
Telegraph Ave., Berkeley) on Saturday, May 5.Noon-5
p.m., free. — Rachel Swan

Gift of Gab co-headlines Hip-Hop in the Park, this weekend.
  • Gift of Gab co-headlines Hip-Hop in the Park this weekend.

Kentucky Derby at Golden Gate Fields

Golden Gate Fields (1100 Eastshore
Hwy., Berkeley) may not be anywhere near Louisville, Kentucky, the site of the
esteemed Kentucky Derby — but fans of the country's oldest horse race can still
watch the event on live simulcast at the local track on Saturday, May 5. And in
keeping with the opulent traditions of the annual Derby, patrons can sip mint
juleps from souvenir glasses and wear their most outrageous, glamorous, or
horse racing-themed head coverings for a chance to win up to $300 in the Run
for the Roses hat contest. First at-home race starts at 11:45 a.m. (contact
track for Derby start-time), $6-$8. 510-559-7300 or — Cassie Harwood

10 Connect :: A Group Show of Ten Artists

The artistic community that inhabits the Gray Loft Gallery
(2889 Ford St. Oakland) marks the thirtieth anniversary of that alternative
space with the show 10 Connect. The
multimedia exhibit — featuring work by ten artists, all women and longstanding
friends — is destined to become a benchmark in the Jingletown
art scene. Back in 1982, the artists, many of whom have gone on to very
prestigious careers, all lived in this building together. Photographer Jan Watten has recently transformed her studio into a very
comfortable, well-lit gallery. While eclectic, the work is clearly cohered by the artists' history, yet individual works of
genius can be found throughout. The gallery only keeps regular hours on
Saturday afternoons, but appointments are available. 10 Connect runs through May 25.
510-499-3445 or — Obi Kaufman


Some of the dialogue sounded a little halting on opening
night, but TheatreFIRST's production of David Mamet's
1992 drama Oleanna
should be quite polished by the middle of the run. Artistic director Michael
Storm, who plays the pouchy, troubled, erudite,
blithely sexist and somewhat bumbling professor John in this play, has a knack
for interesting casting decisions. In this case, he cast a Latina actress,
Josie Alvarez, in the part of Carol, the student who accuses John of sexual
harassment after a series of miscommunications. By playing the race card, he
adds an extra layer of ambiguity to what otherwise might have been a more
starkly black-and-white storyline. Whereas a white Carol might have seemed
despicable and opportunistic, and Latina Carol is much more clearly demarcated
from her privileged, condescending professor. Forceful
acting and subtle stage directions help enhance Mamet's powerful script, and
make this play germane to current debates about higher education. It's perhaps
no accident that the play is staged just two blocks from UC Berkeley. Through
May 13 at Berkeley City Club (2315 Durant Ave., Berkeley).
$10-$30. 510-436-5085 or — Rachel Swan

Michael Storm and Josie Alvarez in Oleanna
  • Michael Storm and Josie Alvarez in Oleanna

Sudha Balagopal

The mysteries of the number seven come together for Sudha Balagopal in her first
novel, There Are Seven Notes. Seven
short stories capture Balagopal's love for classical
Indian music and how it pervades the culture, as the book follows characters in
stages of their relationship to music: a young girl taking vocal lessons to
please her family, a professional singer re-evaluating his life choice, and a
celebrity giving up his dreams of a musically accomplished son. It's the
universal language set to musical words. At University Press Books (2430
Bancroft Way, Berkeley) on Saturday, May 5. 3 p.m., free. 510-548-0585 or — Alison Peters


You definitely don't want to miss the backyard chicken bicycle tour this Sunday.

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