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Kristina Kehrer's picture


My interviewee was late to the Winthrop Square Park in Harvard Square, so I took up conversation with a busking musician. The conversation turned to the omnipresent topic du jour: the over-development and massive landscape changes in Cambridge, and the loss of longstanding, beloved businesses.

That is when the busking musician broke the news to me that Berk’s Shoes at 50 JFK St. was closing its doors forever, on this very day. I rushed right over.

The reason given for this seemingly sudden decision, but which felt laden with a secret subtext, was that the owner is retiring to Florida and plans to lie on the beach drinking Margaritas; a smart move after last year’s winter.

Berk’s is beloved, because of its excellent brands and gentle yet helpful sales associates. It has been in the square for 35 years. Berk’s will be sorely missed.

After some hugs and regrets with longtime Berk’s manager, Mikey, he informed me that his band, American Echoes, was playing in Union Square that night. What he didn’t tell me was, he was playing at one of the most awesome festivals I’ve been to in a long time. The sixth annual Starlab Fest.

Starlab Fest was awesome in that it felt raw, autonomous, and free of any corporate contrived influence. It is a festival of music and art (and so much more), built by musicians and artists in an attempt to keep their love of creating, alive and viable.

One of the festival organizers is Richard Hawke, a teacher at Cambridge Community Television.