Worth a Look


This week, check out Grateful Dead tribute band Dark Star Orchestra, catch author Steven Pinker's talk on how to write well, and swing by an annual favorite in Palo Alto: the Great Glass Pumpkin Patch.


Dark Star Orchestra

In 1965, five young men from Palo Alto formed a band. They called themselves The Warlocks -- that is, until they realized the name was already taken. That's when they renamed themselves The Grateful Dead.

Nearly 50 years later, the band from the Midpeninsula that helped define an American generation has long since disbanded, but their spirit lives on in more than 300 tribute acts worldwide. Among the best of these is Dark Star Orchestra: the Grateful Dead cover band whose tally of live performances -- 2,300 and counting -- recently surpassed the Dead themselves. This Thursday, Oct. 9, Dark Star Orchestra plays Redwood City's Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway St.

Dark Star doesn't just play covers; these seven musicians claim to "continue the Grateful Dead concert experience" by recreating set lists. Another claim to fame: They've played alongside every living member of the original Grateful Dead (or is that The Warlocks?).

Today's youngsters may think of Jerry Garcia as the man who lent his name to an ice cream flavor, but for others, the Dead live on.

To learn more about Dark Star Orchestra, visit darkstarorchestra.net. For tickets to Thursday's show, go to foxrwc.com or call 650-FOX-7770.


Steven Pinker

He's one of the nation's foremost public intellectuals. His books on language, the mind and human nature have catalyzed debate and changed the way we think about thinking. This Wednesday, Oct. 8, Steven Pinker makes a rare West Bay appearance in a talk at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center (3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto).

Best known for his popular science books including "The Language Instinct" (1994) and "How the Mind Works" (1997), Pinker approaches the phenomenon of language from the perspective of evolutionary psychology, arguing that language is more an instinct than an invention, and that grammatical rules are largely irrelevant to communication.

In his talk at the JCC, the Harvard University psychologist will speak about the science of language and what it takes to produce clear, stylish prose. Pinker's most recent book is "The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century," which has been hailed as an iconoclastic smackdown of Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style."

Pinker's talk is presented by the Commonwealth Club. Tickets are $12 for JCC members, $20 for the general public and $7 for students with valid ID. For tickets, go to paloaltojcc.org or call 408-280-5530. To learn more about Pinker, go to stevenpinker.com or follow him on Twitter @sapinker.


The Great Glass Pumpkin Patch

It's back: California's largest glass pumpkin patch returns to the Palo Alto Art Center at 1313 Newell Road this week. The exhibition of roughly 10,000 hand-blown squashes opens Tuesday, Oct. 7, at 10 a.m. and runs through Friday at 5 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, the pumpkins go on sale to the public.

Like the fruits that inspire them, these objets d'art come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Pumpkin-hunters will find everything from glittering iridescent gourds to earth-toned varieties so life-like, you might almost mistake them for the real thing. Displayed all together, they make for a dazzling sight.

Shoppers can feel good knowing that proceeds from the Great Glass Pumpkin Patch sale benefit the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation as well as the Bay Area Glass Institute, both nonprofit art education groups.

To learn more, go to greatglasspumpkinpatch.com or call 650-329-2366.

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It's time once again to cast your vote for the best places to eat, drink, shop and spend time in Palo Alto. Voting is open now through May 27. Watch for the results of our 2019 Best Of contest on Friday, July 19.