You probably know the Beatles tune “Day in the Life,” the one that goes: “Woke up/got out of bed/dragged a comb across my head,” and the next line, “found my way downstairs and drank a cup/then somebody spoke and I went into a dream.”
That dream begins at 8:13 a.m. After catching up with the news on KQED (88.5 FM), you join the java crowd at Peet’s in North Berkeley (2121 Vine Street) trying to find motivation in a soy latte or double espresso. Strolling up Vine to Spruce, you discover a whole bunch of parked art cars. The sight of a hundred working cameras affixed to a vintage ’70s van inspires your artistic curiosity, so you saunter over to the Berkeley Art Center at Live Oak Park (1275 Walnut Street, 510-644-6893) three blocks away, which happens to be featuring a collection of Hopi-style tapestries made by a local Native American artist.
By 10:41, you’re actually lucid, and realize it’s almost lunchtime. Heading up to campus, you take a quick round of the Cal Art Museum’s latest expo (2626 Bancroft Way, 510-642-0808), then grab some takeout from one of the food stands at Bancroft and Telegraph and plop down on the steps of Sproul Plaza for some free entertainment. There’s a lot to choose from: wanna-be Sinatras, street preachers, and idiot savants spouting gobbledygook on Upper Sproul; Chilean folksingers on Bancroft; the post-punk trio with fuzztone accordions playing Lower Sproul (on weekends, there’s a large, impromptu drum circle whose beats reverberate around the plaza, bouncing off the surrounding buildings). It’s all very nice, but your vegan salad was huge, and you have to take a nap under one of the plaza’s shade trees.
Your dream within a dream is interrupted by the loud reggae music blasting from a boom box carried by members of Berkeley High School’s 4:20 crew. You catch a contact, then jump back in your ride, where you listen to the second half of KPFA’s “Hard Knock Radio” (94.1 FM) featuring a program on socially conscious Icelandic rap groups. You nod your head to the beats as you drive down Telegraph into Oaktown. Your next stop is the Black Box (1928 Telegraph, 510-451-1932), where you gaze at artwork by prison inmates and participate in a video shoot for a local neo-soul artist. A few blocks away, you discover an experimental orchestra improvising an avant-garde symphony with found objects at the 21 Grand Gallery (449B 23rd Street).
By 5:30 p.m., you’re on 580 South, arriving at the Bistro in Hayward (1001 B Street, 510-866-8525) for the tail-end of happy hour. An acoustic blues-rock band plays Dylan riffs as you become one with the suds — go easy, man, you’re driving! You lose track, though, and when you glance at your watch, it’s already 7:30. You have just enough time to make it back to Yoshi’s in Jack London Square (510 Embarcadero West, 510-238-9200) for the early show. After getting suitably jazzed-up, you hop back on the freeway and don’t stop until you see the exit sign for Concord, where, at around 9:00, you catch an early death-metal set at the Time Out (1822 Grant Street, 925-798-1811). You then race over to the Pine Street Bar & Grill in Livermore (875 Rincon Ave., 925-606-8266) in time to see your favorite local punk band, Virgin Mega Whore.
Now it’s past midnight, and you’re Oakland-bound again. For a hot minute, you see and are seen at Sweet Jimmie’s downtown (1731 San Pablo Avenue, 510-268-8445), then it’s off to the deep East O — 98th and Foothill. You see plenty of muscle cars with gleaming spokes and candy paint bumping rappers Richie Rich, Keak the Sneak, and 50 Cent, but there’s bad news. The sideshow’s been called off, ’cause po-po isn’t having it tonight. It’s 1:57 a.m., but you’re not ready to go home just yet. You swing by the Ibiza Resort out by the airport (10 Hegenberger Road, 510-383-9888), slip the doorman a dub and, just like that, you’re getting your club on to some fierce house music until 5:55 a.m., when the DJ finally packs up his gear. As the dawn breaks, you head back to Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto and prepare to do it all over again — with endless variations.