I was at the Cal library today reading David Lance Goines’ book about the Free Speech Movement, of which he was one of the organizers. I’d been meaning to start the book, and saw him crossing the street this morning so decided today was the day (now in his 70’s, he’s a well known Berkeley personality, graphic artist and writer).

I stopped reading just as he describes how the Free Speech Movement erupted in 1964, culminating in the mass arrests which were the opening shot of student campus protests nationwide. The trigger was the contested strip of land between Sather Gate and Bancroft Ave, where students thought they could protest but the University cracked down anyway.

I walked by this area on my way home, which was a good call because I got to see this awesome drum corps.

How Pilates Got Huge: It Went Open Source

If you want to start a trend that goes from obscure to ubiquitous seemingly overnight, open it up wide. Case in point: Pilates.2faf9c8a-91d1-4dc0-8d33-93887a717e40

I started doing Pilates this year, so I’m what you’d call an ‘early majority adopter.’ While not quite mainstream, Pilates has become a huge fitness trend with millions of participants, seemingly out of nowhere, in a short time. I’d heard of it in the 1990’s… my sister was doing it as part of a rehab program. But I had no idea that a small group of people, mostly elite dancers, had been doing it since the ’60s and 70s.

Pilates percolated for a few decades, and then went viral around 2000-2005. Why? Because it essentially became open source on October 20, 2000.

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Virtual Poster Display

Bill Gates once spent millions of dollars to build virtual art displays into his new house. Well, now the cost is a couple hundred bucks, plus a little legwork. And the result looks great. (Note that the examples shown here are purposely set to run too fast, for demo purposes in a short video. Slower is better.)

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Tracking Public Art


Over the past few years I’ve been noticing public art more. Because it’s gotten way better and more interesting – we’re finally getting away from the formulaic people-on-park-benches public art of the 1980s, and back to the attitude and adventurousness of the 1930s. I don’t know if this is somehow related to the Internet, or because people like Banksy, Shepard Fairey, and Christo inspired a generation of more adventurous artists. But I’ll take it.

(Above: I really liked this mural on Alabama Street in the Mission. It just appeared one day in late 2015)

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Pete Madsen at The Monkey House, on a Rainy Friday Night

I saw Pete Madsen tonight at The Monkey House, a cool hole-in-the-wall venue right around the corner on University Ave. Pete plays a mix of blues/rag/slide guitar reminiscent of players from Leo Kottke to Robert Johnson, and he’s great! I took Pete’s “Surf Guitar” class this summer at the Freight and Salvage, which was a ton of fun. Here’s Pete’s website, if you want to see his upcoming performances, classes, and jams (and of course CDs).

Authors Speak: White Anger, Defending Obama, and the Science of Mashed Potatoes

strangers-in-their-own-landU.C. Berkeley apparently has great visiting speakers. This past week I saw three provocative book authors on the Berkeley campus… speakers who left me feeling both inspired and challenged.

Tonight it was Arlie Russell Hochschild at the Journalism School. She’s a Berkeley sociologist who spent several years in southern Louisiana trying to understand the anger of white conservatives there – anger that’s driven support for both the Tea Party and Donald Trump.

Continue reading Authors Speak: White Anger, Defending Obama, and the Science of Mashed Potatoes