Mr. Loop 

Richard Clarke visits Z'bach

Tue 9/7

Richard Clarke must be one of the unlikeliest heroes opponents of war have ever had. As chief counterterrorism adviser to Presidents Clinton and Bush, Clarke advocated striking al-Qaeda hard, often, and unilaterally. He embraced the doctrine of preemption. His enthusiasm for covert operations made the Pentagon brass blanch. But the enemy of my enemy, and all that. With his recently released memoir, Against All Enemies, Clarke delivered a blistering critique of his former bosses in the Bush administration, blasting them for downplaying the terrorist threat in the days before 9/11 and then, through their obsession with Iraq, squandering the opportunity to smash al-Qaeda. Foes of the war cheered. The White House reeled. On Rush Limbaugh's radio show, Vice President Cheney floated the notion that Clarke was "out of the loop on a lot of this stuff." Which, in the down-the-rabbit-hole language of the Bush White House, presumably meant that Clarke had merely served as counterterrorism czar under two presidents, simply coordinated the White House response on 9/11, and only focused on terrorism and WMDs for most of his thirty years of public service. As Fred Kaplan put it in the Web magazine Slate, "Clarke wasn't just in the loop, he was the loop." Clarke visits Zellerbach Hall Tuesday night (8 p.m., $10 general, $5 students, Ticketweb.com, 1-866-468-3399) for a discussion with Michael Nacht, dean of UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, and Steve Weber, director of the Institute of International Studies. They will no doubt want to hear more about Enemies' most infamous moment, in which President Bush practically demands that Clarke find evidence implicating Saddam Hussein in the attacks of 9/11. Clarke, aghast, protests that no such link had ever been found. The president insists: "See if Saddam is involved. Just look. I want to know any shred." Agree or disagree with Clarke, few Americans have had a closer look at the face of the war on terror. -- Chris Ulbrich

9/2-9/7

Lit Happens

It could be Verse

No need to be terse:/Converse about verse/With instructors whose opinions they will disburse, as UC Berkeley's Lunch Poems Series launches in Morrison Library. Elaine Kim, Laura Perez, and faculty members from disparate departments, including math and engineering, read and discuss their favorite poems (Thu., 12:10 p.m.). ... Once upon a time on the isle of Alameda, a cozy new secondhand and small-press bookshop had space for art exhibits, author events, and a tea cafe. Celebrate Spellbinding Tales' grand opening at 1910A Encinal Ave. (Fri., 11 a.m.). ... Free snacks follow tonight's installment of the Albany Public Library's First Thursdays poetry series, so work up an appetite activating abundant alliterations (Thu., 7 p.m.). ... Everyone knows that football players have the best tales. Star running back Roger Craig, of Super Bowl fame, signs his Tales from the San Francisco 49ers Sideline at Fremont Borders (Sat., 2 p.m.). ... Seize the fast track in the rat race by joining the Rich Dad, Poor Dad reading group, which meets every Sunday at Barnes & Noble Oakland to discuss the latest money-management books (Sun., noon). ... Having honed his chops on the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War fronts, poet Neeli Cherkovski went on to edit literary journals with Charles Bukowski. He's reading at Pegasus Downtown (2349 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley) with improv artist and poet Jessica Loos (Mon., 7 p.m.). ... Half-American and half-Afghan by blood, Kabul-born Bay Areaite Tamim Ansary sent a private e-mail to twenty friends right after the 9/11 attacks that ended up reaching millions within days, thanks to the Internet. He reads from his book West of Kabul, East of New York at Rothwell Center, Mills College (Tue., 5:30 p.m.). ... Vanity Fair called Mandy Aftel's tailor-made fragrances "couture for the nose." The Berkeley therapist and would-be-novelist-turned-perfumer -- whose all-natural scents are beloved by celebs from J.T. Leroy to Leonard Cohen -- discusses Aroma: Recipes for Scented Food and Fragrance at Cody's Telegraph (Tue., 7:30 p.m.). ... Save a page, save the world: The Moraga Public Library celebrates its thirtieth anniversary with a bookmark-designing contest, lasting all month and starting today. Think flat (Tue., 10 a.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

Sat 9/4

Unplug Yourself

The landscape around US 1 is home to the kind of landscapes that leave the average gawker speechless. Maybe that's why Sean Smith -- born in quaint Pacific Grove and residing in Monterey -- chooses to let his acoustic guitar do the talking. And speak it does, in a complex, bluegrassy way not unlike the great eccentric John Fahey. Smith will pleasantly noodle his heart out at Epic Arts (1923 Ashby, between MLK and Adeline in Berkeley) this weekend, as part of Helen Chaya 's Acoustic Showcase, the organizer of which will play some of her own gentle songs, singing dreamy, confessional words with a clarion voice. Also appearing that night is multi-instrumentalist Fletcher Tucker, aka Bird by Snow , who takes his nom de art from e.e. cummings and his musical inspiration from a dream of a rickety spaceship, designed by a gifted child. 8 p.m., $7-$10 donation requested (no one turned away for lack of funds), all ages. -- Stefanie Kalem

9/4-9/6

Arty Arti Arté
Ain't no reason to Labor west this weekend

Oakland residents, your day has come again -- your days, actually. The fourth annual Art & Soul Festival is the place to be this holiday weekend for art, literary high-jinks, and music on six stages (including a kids' stage and activity area), on and around Frank Ogawa Plaza and Civic Center. Saturday's lineup includes (but is not limited to) Tony Toni Toné, the Presidents of the United States of America, and Alvon Johnson and his All-Stars. Sunday's big names are Los Lobos, Patty Griffin, Tom Rigney and Flambeau, and John Lee Hooker, Jr. On Labor Day, take in Eric Gayles, Norman Brown, an all-day gospel showcase, Ledisi, and many more. And those literary shenanigans? The Oakland Literature Expo will be going on at the fest all weekend long in front of the Federal Building, with performances, panels, workshops, and the American Book Awards. The party happens every day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and costs $5, unless you're twelve or younger, in which case you get in free. Visit ArtandSoulOakland.com for complete schedule and details. -- Stefanie Kalem

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