A Mediated Life

A night in Berkeley: Build and David Sedaris

The Zellerbach Theater on the U.C. Berkeley campus is in the middle of a major construction zone. The closest parking garage has been closed. So it behooves patrons to get there early, or risk parking a LONG way away. Thus, R and I  arrived at 6:30 for the 8pm reading by David Sedaris. I expected we'd eat on Telegraph Avenue, but R told me that "Shattuck is Harvard, Telegraph is UC." And thus, at 6:30 on a Saturday night we went looking for a nice restaurant with an open table. No such luck; school is in session. Our eyes were attracted to a garishly modern corner place called Build. We weren't even sure it was a retaurant, but it had immediate seating, so we sat down. It is one of those places that has its own rules, and if you don't know them, you feel foolish as you try to navigate your dinner. Basically, you are given a chit which contains your table number information. You present the chit in the "Construction zone," to a cook who makes a custom pizza to your specifications. The brick pizza ovens are VERY hot, because your pizza comes to the table in 10 minutes. They expect you to order a pizza per person, but frankly, a half pizza (three good sized pieces) and a salad was plenty of dinner for me. I had the Caprese salad, R had the Endive. Both were lovely to behold and delicious to eat, as was our pizza.

Then to the mezzanine for a sold-out reading by David Sedaris, who generously plugged Ann Patchett's book, for sale in the lobby, and the CDs and book of  Dylan Brody, who actually opened for Sedaris. The show was so sold-out that R and I sat in adjacent rows, several seats apart. It was the best pair of seats I could buy. I own all of Sedaris' books, read all of his casuals in the New Yorker and listen to his BBC radio show, "Meet David Sedaris," so he doesn't have much material I haven't heard. R has an ap on her phone that plays animated versions of his journal entries, narrated by Sedaris himself. Sedaris is hysterical in person, with that deadpan delivery he made famous on NPR's "This America Life."  We were both in stitches for 90 minutes. Alas, David has started to work a little blue; there were two jokes that were just a smidge beyond the pale. I mean, Fudgy McPacker was a creation of  Sedaris' early in his career, but these remarks were a tad explicit for our taste. I hope this isn't a harbinger.