My favorite college town: Although Berkeley may be considered more bougie than bohemian these days, the counterculture vibe that made it so famous in the 60s is still recognizable in its local haunts, and food and art scene. Dine at world-famous Chez Panisse — considered by many to be the birthplace of the California cuisine food movement — where the focus is on locally sourced, sustainable ingredients.
For art and cinema aficionados, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive are on a mission to “inspire the imagination (and) ignite critical dialogue” with diverse exhibitions and hard-to-find independent films. For a taste of the old days, head to the University of California’s epicenter of protests and performances, Sproul Hall, or head to Telegraph Avenue for bookstores and street vendor wares.
I went to UC Berkeley as both an undergrad, and grad school. Grad school was one of the best years of my life!!
And my post grad days at UNC: Attending a Tar Heels (basketball) game on the University of North Carolina’s pretty, mid-19th century campus is practically a spiritual experience. After worshiping at the altar of a men’s basketball or women’s soccer game, visit the Franklin-Rosemary Historic District that abuts campus and make a tour of the 30 plus art murals around downtown.
Don’t forget Chapel Hill’s notable food scene — the area once won the title of “America’s Foodiest Small Town” by Bon Appétit magazine. Local favorites include the upscale Hawthorne & Wood and Sutton’s Drug Store, a beloved diner filled with Tar Heels basketball memorabilia. The cuisine has too much fried food for me.
But did I mention that I was tear-gassed twice in Berkeley in the Sixties? But I dared not get arrested or even appear on TV, or my Dad would have ordered me home!
One little Berkeley secret: the area has many outstanding and inexpensive Chinese restaurants. Then there is always the Cheese Board, and Berkeley Bowl.
By the time I got to Chapel Hill, the primary goal was to find great golf courses in North Carolina. I golfed for a week at Pinehurst before classes began. And I found several more in the Triangle area. Little did I know that one of my UC grad school classmates would become Chancelor for Health at nearby Duke University.
I was planning to be in Berkeley tonight for the Alison Krauss concert at the famous Greek Theater. When I was an undergrad, we often went to the Greek for bonfire rallies before home football games. And it was a precursor to a wild night of partying in Berkeley. In fact, I loved the Friday night parties more than the Saturday night drunken orgies! Just kidding!
Speaking of the Greek, I have seen many famous performers here. These include Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Sarah McLachlan, Yo-Yo Ma, Norah Jones, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Jefferson Airplane, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, BB King, and Miles Davis. I wonder if I was coherent (sitting or standing upright) during any of these back in the Sixties??
The Hearst Greek Theater seats 8600 people and is owned by the University of California. Past speakers have included the Dalai Lama, Biship Desmond Tutu, President Kennedy (1962 Charter Day), and President Theodore Roosevelt. It was built in 1903, and believe me, the hard cement seats feel like 1903! The design of the theater was based on the ancient Greek theater, Epidaurus.
And for me, it is always a treat to revisit my Alma Mater, starting in 1964 as an undergrad, and 1974 as a grad student. Go Bears!!!