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David Sedaris, The Motorcycle Diaries, Laurie Anderson, Al Gore, and Branford Marsalis
(L-r) David Sedaris, The Motorcycle Diaries (biopic), Laurie Anderson, Al Gore, and Branford Marsalis are among the top-notch roster of coming attractions.
 

It's beginning to look a lot like Berkeley

A smorgasbord of speakers and cultural events offers something for everyone this fall.

– One might be excused for dozing through this quiet, foggy summer on campus, but it's now time to wake up.

 Richard Clarke
Sept. 7: Defense expert Richard Clarke
 

For political junkies, the fun starts right after Labor Day with an appearance by Richard Clarke (Sept. 7, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall). The former counterterrorism czar and Bush administration whistleblower will discuss the events chronicled in his recent best-seller ("Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror") with Michael Nacht, dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy, and Steve Weber, director of the Institute of International Studies. Pairing Clarke with Nacht, who is also a government adviser on national security and weapons of mass destruction, and Weber, an unconventional and provocative thinker, should make for a lively exchange.

Molly Ivins
Oct. 6: Bushwhacker Molly Ivins
 

Another salvo of political firepower is launched in October, the month before the presidential election. Syndicated columnist Molly Ivins, coauthor of "Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America" (and the 2004 Mario Savio Memorial Lecturer here on campus), will discuss U.S. politics with Orville Schell, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism, on Oct. 6, not Oct. 7 as previously reported (7 p.m., Zellerbach Hall). Tickets will be available on Lower Sproul Plaza on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 5 p.m. the day of the event. Two nights later the J-School and the California First Amendment Coalition present a talk by Seymour Hersh, the longtime New Yorker investigative reporter whose exposure of torture at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison is just the latest milestone in a career spanning journalism's biggest front-page stories (Oct. 8, 6:30 p.m., Pauley Ballroom, MLK, Jr. Student Union; no tickets — first come first seated).


Oct. 14: Economist Paul Krugman

Next, Princeton economics professor and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman returns to campus after last year's standing-room-only appearance with what is likely to be an equally barn-burning lecture (Oct. 14, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall). And just in case there's an undecided voter or two left in Berkeley at that point, former vice president Al Gore will give a talk on global warming, followed by a conversation with Schell, on Oct. 26 (7:30 p.m., Wheeler Auditorium).

Sebastiao Salgado
Oct. 27: Photojournalist Sebastião Salgado

Those feeling battered by the political onslaught can take refuge in a spectacular lineup of arts offerings. Among them: New Yorker critic Paul Goldberger will lead a panel of architecture scholars in discussing the redevelopment of Manhattan's World Trade Center site (Sept. 30, 7:30 p.m., 105 North Gate Hall, not Barrows as previous reported; no tickets but seating is limited.). The several thousand people who were turned away from world-renowned documentary photographer Sebastião Salgado's 2002 talk on campus will get another chance to hear him on October 27 (details to be announced), when a new Salgado exhibition will open at the Journalism School's gallery.

 Billy Collins
Dec. 2: Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate

Two very different literary superstars are also on the roster: sarcastic essayist David Sedaris and former U.S. poet laureate (2001-03) Billy Collins. Sedaris, most recently the author of "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim," returns following two prior sold-out appearances at Cal Performances (Nov. 9, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall). Like Sedaris, Collins has broken sales records for his genre with his last three collections; he will read on Dec. 2 as part of the Lunch Poems series (12:10 p.m., Zellerbach Playhouse).

Gael García Bernal as Che Guevara
Sept. 13: "The Motorcycle Diaries," starring Gael García Bernal as Che Guevara

Fans of the celluloid arts, or of Latin America's most famous revolutionary, can look forward to the Center for Latin American Studies' Sept. 13 sneak preview of the Che Guevara biopic "The Motorcycle Diaries," starring the eye-catching Gael García Bernal of 2001's "Y Tu Mamá También," before its Sept. 24 general release (7 p.m., Pacific Film Archive). The PFA celebrates works about 21st-century Japan in its "neo-eiga: New Japanese Cinema" series (Sept. 17-19, PFA) before devoting most of October to the idiosyncratic Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin. The director of last year's "The Saddest Music in the World" starring Isabella Rosellini, Maddin will appear in person for several screenings of his films - including the Bay Area premiere of his latest, "Cowards Bend the Knee," as well as the nine others he has selected (October 8-31, PFA).

 Yo-Yo Ma
Dec. 7: Cellist Yo-Yo Ma
 

Cal Performances has assembled an eclectic ensemble of musicians to take the stage of Zellerbach Hall, starting with jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis and his quartet (Oct. 12, time to be announced). Iconoclastic performance artist Laurie Anderson will unleash her mind-bending viruses from outer space in two performances (Nov. 11 and 12, 8 p.m.). Arlo Guthrie will perform recently discovered lyrics by his father, folk icon Woody Guthrie, on Jewish themes ranging from Hanukah blintzes to the Holocaust ("from the sweet to the sour," as Woody wrote), backed by the popular New York klezmer group The Klezmatics (Dec. 7, 8 p.m.). Next, the wildly popular cellist and musical omnivore Yo-Yo Ma appears with pianist Emanuel Ax on Dec. 9 (7 p.m.).

And lastly, calling the young-at-heart and/or parents of young children: Cal Performances caps its crossover collection with two performances by Dan Zanes, the rocker turned children's musician. The former lead singer and songwriter for the indie band the Del Fuegos, Zanes (with his Rocket Ship Revue in tow) will play his family-friendly yet surprisingly hip renditions of American-roots standards and original tunes on Dec. 12 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The above listings may change; check the Calendar Critic's Choice page at www.berkeley.edu/calendar the week of any event for final schedule details.