Tag Archives: UC Berkeley

Tonight: Grateful Dead’s “Dark Star:” A Psychedelic Lecture by Dr. Graeme Boone

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Mickey Capper ’13 reminded me to post about this. Here’s the blurb from the official Facebook page for this event:

Born and raised in San Francisco—the home of the Grateful Dead—Professor of Music Graeme M. Boone attended the University of California at Berkeley, the Universite de Paris, and Harvard University, where he taught before joining the faculty at Ohio State. Following an overview of the band’s early history and style, Dr. Boone’s talk includes the showing of a “mandala movie” which helps elucidate the Dead’s open-ended song “Dark Star,” conveying a holistic, organic analysis of the tune, and incorporating every salient element in the extended, psychedelically evocative improvisations of its first 150 recorded performances.

With lyrics by Robert Hunter and music by Jerry Garcia, “Dark Star” can cover a broad spectrum of moods and musical ideas—incorporating anything from R&B cover songs to outer-space apocalypse—but the attentive listener can also hear lines of force binding the jams together: structuring devices, strategies, and trajectories that direct each improvisation and also serve as fundamental guideposts. An animated movie with changing colors and annotations follows two specific performances of the song, recorded in London on 4/8/72 and 5/23/72 during the band’s European tour that spring (the original 16-track analog tapes of the entire Europe ’72 tour were remixed, mastered in HDCD format, and released by the band in 2011).

UC Berkeley Devotes Class to ‘Mad Men’

It’s no secret that Mad Men—the critically acclaimed AMC drama created and produced by Matthew Weiner ’87—has been a stunning success. In 2008, the show made television history, receiving 16 Emmy nods and the Outstanding Drama Series award—the first basic cable series to do so. In a feature for The Good Men Project book/blog/documentary, Weiner discussed the show’s Wesleyan origins. This season the show continues to draw in nearly three million viewers.

But still, here’s a new one: the show is now the subject of a popular new weekly class at UC Berkeley, discussing the engaging series in a historical and cultural context:

During the weekly class, the TV show is given the treatment normally reserved for works of literature. Words like “archetype” and “tragic” pop up frequently as students analyze Mad Men’s glamorous yet troubled characters. The class explores the politics and culture of the early ’60s and discusses themes such as the role of women in the workplace, class and society, marriage and family.

The class is part of UC Berkeley’s DeCal program, a student-run education undertaking that allows students to create and facilitate their own classes on a variety of often unconventional subjects. Considered a unique and “democratic” aspect of Berkeley’s undergraduate program, the program offers 150 courses each semester for up to two units of academic credit on topics that range from Harry Potter and “Sex and the City” to numismatics and swing dance.