Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events



Whether or not you're celebrating Valentine's Day, everyone can rejoice about the three-day weekend. Here are the five best events for you to check out:

Downtown Berkeley Is for Lovers
This year’s Grammy Awards — during which Queen Latifah officiated the marriages of 34 gay and straight couples — made mass weddings trendy. Now the City of Berkeley is jumping on the bandwagon. To celebrate the first Valentine’s Day since the repeal of DOMA and Prop 8, the Downtown Berkeley Association is inviting couples who wish to wed to the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza, where their marriages will be officiated by Berkeley City Councilmember Darryl Moore, Berkeley School Board Member Judy Appel, and Berkeley Chamber CEO Polly Armstrong. After the chorus of “I dos,” the crowd will be able to vote for their favorite couples — in the categories of gay, lesbian, and straight — and the three winning newlywed pairs will receive a free mini-honeymoon, including a two-night stay at Hotel Shattuck Plaza, meals at Eureka! Burger and BUILD Pizzeria, and tickets to see Berkeley Rep’s The House that will not Stand. After the winners have been announced, all are invited to the Hotel Shattuck Plaza for a wedding reception with champagne and cake. Friday, Feb. 14. 5 p.m., free, $10 for post-wedding reception. Downtown Berkeley.com/is4loversZaineb Mohammed

Thomas Mapfuno and the Blacks Unlimited
Thomas Mapfumo is an exiled Zimbabwean political activist who has been making music that details the struggle of his people to achieve self-rule for nearly forty years. In the 1970s, he created chimurenga music by transposing the Shona people’s use of the African thumb piano onto electric guitars and bass, drums, and horns, and by blending in elements of jazz and blues: It’s moving and emotional, in addition to being socially conscious and intellectually engaging. Mapfumo now lives in Eugene, Oregon and has been barred from returning to his homeland for the past five years, but he continues to make music that is passionate about the struggle of Zimbabweans. Over the years, his band, Blacks Unlimited, has undergone a variety of lineup changes, but at Ashkenaz this week, it will consist of a guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, drummer/percussionist, and two singers. Saturday, Feb. 15. 9:30 p.m., $20, $25. Ashkenaz.comMadeleine Key

The Cosmic Mass.
  • The Cosmic Mass.

The Cosmic Mass: Art & Spirit
The alternative worship ritual and dance celebration known as Cosmic Mass was first started in Oakland by radical theologian Matthew Fox. The purpose was to foster community, inspire creativity, and allow for personal and collective healing through music, dance, visual art, and spoken word. The next incarnation of the event, which will focus on the theme of “art and spirit,” will take place at American Steel Studios on Sunday. The evening will begin with a welcome speech by Fox, after which it will include live musical performances, interactive dance, and talks by the artists who created the altars for the event. In addition to a DJ spinning trance, electronic, and world beats, there will also be a visual DJ projecting artistic works, as well as live video of the crowd, onto the walls. Sunday, Feb. 16. 6:30-9:30 p.m., $12-$20 suggested donation. TheCosmicMass.comZ.M.

Lara Buchak
We do it all the time: Decide to (or to not to) jaywalk, eat raw fish, invest our money, smoke a cigarette, have sex, take a vacation. We’re so well practiced at taking risks, big and small, that the mechanics of pro and con, cost and benefit are basically second nature. Not for UC Berkeley philosophy professor Lara Buchak, whose book, Risk and Rationality, plumbs economic and philosophical research into the many reasons we take risks, ultimately concluding that none of us are as rational as we’d like to think. Hear her speak at the Marsh Berkeley as part of a live recording of the public radio program Philosophy Talk; we’ll leave it up to you to decide whether to go for sushi after. Sunday, Feb. 16 3 p.m., $15, $20. PhilosophyTalk.orgEllen Cushing

Paz Errázuriz La Palmera, Santiago.
  • Paz Errázuriz' "La Palmera, Santiago."

Paz Errázuriz / MATRIX 251
In the early Eighties, a community of male prostitutes and transvestites lived and worked in brothels in the Chilean cities of Santiago and Talca in order to avoid life-threatening brutality from a merciless military regime. Their stories might have remained hidden if not for the work of Chilean photographer Paz Errázuriz. Self-taught, Errázuriz began photographing invisible communities and cultures in the 1970s. In collaboration with journalist Claudia Donoso, she recorded the lives of these individuals and put their stories in a book titled La Manzana de Adán (Adam’s Apple). Now, many of the photographs and texts from the book are on view at BAM/PFA in the exhibit Paz Errázuriz / Matrix 251. The black-and-white photographs are tremendously affecting, offering a glimpse of fragile lifestyles of alienation made beautiful with the means available. In one series of three photographs a sex worker named Coral is shown undressing, only wearing a garter and pantyhose, in front of a rundown building that has the texture of a smoky hearth. The photo is intimate and yet not intrusive or judgmental, allowing for a perspective that has rarely been given a public venue. Through March 30. $10; $7 for seniors, students, and youths age 13-17; free for members, UC Berkeley students and staff, and children under age 12. BAMPFA.Berkeley.eduSarah Burke

Plus... Get your cheapskate on: This is how much we love you guys: Here are our searchable listings of every single free event happening in the East Bay this weekend.

Feed Us: Got any East Bay news, events, video, or miscellany we should know about? Holler at us at Zaineb.Mohammed@EastBayExpress.com.