If you’re stressed out about the election like us, you might be looking for some escapism to soothe your anxiety. This week, enjoy a talk about the history of the Gourmet Ghetto, a performance project on student life in the time of corona, a cartooning workshop, a hilarious audio play and a viral exhibit. Breathe in, breathe out, stay grounded. No matter the outcome, everything will be okay.
TRACHOMA EPIDEMIC The COVID-19 pandemic has been terrifying and nerve-wracking, to say the least. But the world has seen epidemics and pandemics in the past, and survived them. In this exhibit by the Truhlsen-Marmor Museum of the Eye, operated by the American Academy of Opthalmology, you’ll witness a disease that ravaged a population, closely mirroring what’s happening with the current pandemic. Trachoma is a bacterial infection that attacks the eyes, and the United States was subject to a Trachoma epidemic from 1912 to 1924. In this online exhibition, you can examine a rare set of glass propaganda teaching slides that were prepared by the National Trachoma Service. It might look like history is repeating itself, but don’t lose hope. We can overcome this. Wednesday, Nov. 18, 12-1 p.m. Free.
TALES OF A NEIGHBORHOOD TALK The North Shattuck area formerly known as the Gourmet Ghetto has legendary status in Berkeley, but do you know about the tasty roots of this iconic neighborhood? Now you can find out in Berkeley Historical Society’s talk, “Tales of the Gourmet Ghetto: My 50-year Obsession with Over-Roasted Coffee, Goaty Cheese, Baby Vegetables, Stinky Garlic, Pastrami and More,” led by food writer and artist L. John Harris. From clerking at the Cheese Board to waiting tables at Chez Panisse during the California cuisine revolution of the 1970s, Harris will lead audiences through his experiences that have inspired his cookbooks. Sunday, Nov. 8. 3-4:30 p.m. Donations encouraged.
CARTOON SCHOOL What’s a better distraction from the vicissitudes of life than diving into the world of cartoons? The Cartoon Art Museum of San Francisco is continuing its fall cartooning academy this weekend. Led by instructor Greg McCreary, students ages 14 and up can learn basic and advanced cartooning skills, like designing characters, writing stories and finishing a comic. If you can’t make it to this workshop, don’t fret. There’s one more session on Saturday, Dec. 5. Come learn how to cartoon: there’s loads of fun and lots of learn. Upcoming workshops on Saturday, Nov. 7 and Sat. Dec. 5. 3-4:30 p.m. $20.
ENGLISH TEA PLAY Sipping a nice cuppa tea sounds like a good way to relax, doesn’t it? San Francisco’s Magic Theatre is offering an upbeat “dramedy” to help uplift us. In playwright Caryl Churchill and director Loretta Greco’s audio play, Escaped Alone, three old friends and a neighbor share a summer of afternoon teas in their backyard garden. Over drinks and snacks, they discover their entwined histories through song, laughter and tears. The all-women cast and crew include players like Elizabeth Benedict, Anne Darragh, Julia McNeal and Anne Hallinan. Tune in for a pleasant getaway and get swept away by a complex and compelling story. Until Nov. 15. Tickets are $10.
ZOOM SCHOOL The pandemic has radically changed the way students learn. For Cal students — some of whom have matriculated to college for the first time this fall — doing all of their classes over Zoom isn’t the way they envisioned the start of their higher education. UC Berkeley’s Department of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies is documenting student experiences in Unstable Connection, a devised performance project. Students have drawn on personal experiences to create a collection of performances addressing the pandemic, racial strife and national discord, and the chaotic transition to remote learning and living. Watch and learn. Available online for free. Nov. 6-15 at various times. Check website for screening times.