BY DANIEL MCGLYNN //
Author, historian and El Cerrito resident Dave Weinstein spent months of digging through piles of archived historical information – newspaper clippings from the turn of the last century, personal papers and images of what life used to be like in Berkeley – to create his recently released book, “It Came From Berkeley: How Berkeley Changed the World.
In the book, Weinstein sought to answer, “What does it mean to say something is Berkeley? How did Berkeley the place become Berkeley the adjective?”
In his research, Weinstein found that Berkeley is more of an idea than anything else. This idea is both a cause and effect of the innovation, eccentricity, and sense of importance that Berkeley the place has demonstrated from the beginning.
“There’s a great continuity in the history of Berkeley, it didn’t just erupt out of nowhere in the 1960’s,” said Weinstein.
The book and the characters that make up Berkeley’s history will be the subject of his talk on Thursday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. at the El Cerrito Library.
A reporter and editor for the West County Times for 17 years, Weinstein left the newspaper business in 2001, in part, he said to spend time writing about topics he found more “personally rewarding.”
“I’m really into art and architecture and I got more and more into the idea of preserving buildings and historic landscapes,” said Weinstein. Now he does a lot of writing about lesser-known Bay Area architects for books and magazines.
Besides being a writer, Weinstein is also chairman of Friends of Cerrito Theatre. In early 2000 the organization rallied the community and city council to save the historic Art Deco Cerrito Theater. For years, the building, which still contains original murals and etched glass characteristic of the Art Deco period, was used as a furniture warehouse.
As a reporter, Weinstein often wrote features about interesting things in El Cerrito. That is how he stumbled upon the forgotten architecture hidden in the bowels of the theater-turned-warehouse. When the warehouse came up for sale, Weinstein and others in town became concerned that the signature architectural elements would be damaged, demolished or removed. After lobbying the city council, the theatre was restored and is now home to the Cerrito Speakeasy Theatre.
Besides the November 20 appearance at the El Cerrito Library, Weinstein will be at Black Oak Books at 7 p.m. on Shattuck Avenue. He will also give a talk at the Oakland Chapel of the Chimes on December 11. You can find more information about the book and a full schedule of appearances at davidsweinstein.com