Time to Get Weird

An SF street fair, a concert at The Greek, and a film present mind-bending oddities: Our events picks for May.


Jean-Michel Jarre brings mind-bending sounds and a killer light show to Berkeley.

Daniele Dalledonne/CC

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How weird can you get? That’s the question this month, because not only is May the domain of the annual celebration of oddness that is San Francisco’s How Weird Street Fair (May 7, noon-8 p.m. $20, Howard and Second streets, San Francisco. HowWeird.org.), it’s also time for a slew of mind-melting artists to descend on the East Bay, starting with ambient noise pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre.

The spiritual forefather to today’s synthwave revival, Jarre developed the ambient, electronic sound that’s come to be associated with chromium dolphin posters, black-lacquered bachelor pads, and all things aesthetically 1980s. Jarre’s retro-futuristic sound is at once iconically ’80s and completely timeless, a strange dreamy mélange  that leaves the listener both soothed and elated. Jarre first burst onto the mainstream ambient music scene (if there could be said to be such a thing) in 1976 with his chart-topping moody synthesizer album Oxygène, and just last year announced a new sequel, Oxygène 3, to mark the 40th anniversary of the original collection. Jarre’s hypnotic rhythms lull listeners into whole new worlds of consciousness, but he’s just as famous for his spectacular concerts. This is a guy who really puts on a show, and a typical Jarre concert isn’t complete without strobe lights, laser beams, and day-glo effects. These moods are the pure product, and this is an event sure to be a feast for all the senses.

May 26, 8 p.m., tickets start at $160, Hearst Greek Theatre, 2001 Gayley Road, Berkeley. TheGreekTheatreBerkeley.com.

Courtesy Anchor Bay Entertainment

The Holy Mountain from Alejandro Jodorowsky explores the effects of mushrooms and sleep deprivation.

That’s not your only chance  to blow your neurons this  month. Dilate your mind with the upcoming screening of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain at BAMPFA. Every time you see any vaguely strange piece of film, some easily scandalized plebian is guaranteed to exclaim: “The director must have been on drugs!” This time, he’s absoultely right: the filmmaker’s mushroom-and-sleep-deprivation-fueled metaphysical masterpiece is a brain-bruising psychedelic ride for freaks, hippies, and anyone who never left the ’70s.

May 7, 7 p.m., free to $12, BAMPFA, 2155 Center St., Berkeley. BAMPFA.berkeley.edu



More than just a book sale, the Oakland Book Festival is a  celebration of the power of the written word to inspire and change; the festival brings together journalists, writers, historians, editors, and other wordsmiths for panel discussions on everything from the nitty-gritty struggles  of magazine publishing to the importance of writing for civil disobedience and protest. Also on tap: a dedicated children’s area hosts kids’ readings, bookbinding craft projects, and interactive programs courtesy of Children’s Fairyland. May 21, 10:30 a.m., free, Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland. OaklandBookFestival.org.

Photo of Wendy Lesser by Richard Rizzo

Wendy Lesser discusses Louis Kahn, the subject of her book, at Books Inc.

Wendy Lesser, founder and editor of The Threepenny Review, discusses You Say to Brick: The Life of Louis Kahn, her biography of architect Louis Kahn, from his impoverished Philadelphia childhood to his success as one of America’s most renowned architects. Famous for his monumental style, he pioneered a new kind of architecture that celebrated the weight and heft of solid buildings and continues to influence design today. May 31, 7 p.m., free, Books Inc., 1491 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. BooksInc.net.



May is a month of film festivals. First, explore the world of trail and ultra running, as well as some of the world’s most awe-inspiring trail-running destinations, through this series of inspirational films at the Trails in Motion Film Festival. See the great outdoors without leaving the theater.

May 4, 6 p.m., $16, 32Ten Studios, 3210 Kerner Blvd., San Rafael. TrailsInMotion.com.

Courtesy Trails in Motion Film Festival

Try trail or ultra running with litte effort at the Trails in Motion Film Festival.

Then check out the DocLands Documentary Film Festival to see how sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. The California Film Institute hosts this first film festival with the best and most provocative films about real life.

May 10-14, 6 p.m., $12.50-$15, Smith Rafael Film Center, 1112 Fourth St., San Rafael. CaFilm.org.

For nostalgia nerds, the New Parkway’s Cereal Cinema lets you relive that childhood Saturday tradition of waking up way before dawn to, as parents would say, rot your teeth on sugary cereal and rot your brain with violent cartoons. The New Parkway’s all-you-can-eat breakfast combo and all-you-can-watch cartoon marathon is a tribute to the rite of passage for all ’80s and ’90s kids.

May 13, 10 a.m., $10, The New Parkway Theater, 474 24th St., Oakland. TheNewParkway.com.

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