Local band’s coming-of-age album addresses sexual assault

The Blondies lead singer Simon Lunche and lead guitarist Isaac Roth. Photo: Natalie Orenstein

The Blondies lead singer Simon Lunche and lead guitarist Isaac Roth. Photo: Natalie Orenstein

Bay Area rock band the Blondies have grown up together, working their way up from summer camp stages to venues like the Stork Club in Oakland and Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. The members, some freshly graduated from high school, are navigating the adult world, and it’s reflected in their music.

The Blondies released “Just Another Evening,” a self-described “coming of age album,” earlier this month. The title track is a comment on rape culture and the pervasiveness of sexual assault and harassment.

“Unfortunately, I see that kind of stuff going on around me all the time and I was really fed up with it,” said lead singer and songwriter Simon Lunche, who graduated from Berkeley High School this month.

The band members who are already in college were disturbed by the level of sexual assault and harassment on their campuses as well. The five members of the Blondies, all male, felt compelled to make a statement about it. … Continue reading »

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Aurora’s remarkable ”Master Harold’ … and the boys’

Sam (l, L. Peter Callender) and Willie (r, Adrian Roberts), pretend to spar as Hally (Andrew Humann) calls the shots in Aurora Theatre Company’s Master Harold…and the boys. Photo: David Allen
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Aurora’s new production of “Master Harold” … and the boys is a brilliant evening of theater. Its playwright is South Africa’s Athol Fugard, whose internationally respected anti-apartheid works include Blood Knot, Boesman and Lena, and My Children! My Africa!Master Harold’s” cast of three, L. Peter Callender, Andrew Humann and Adrian Roberts, are all superb in their roles. And Timothy Near’s discerning direction perfects the production.

The powerful, award-winning “Master Harold,” a 90-minute autobiographically-based drama set in one rainy afternoon in 1950, is about Hally (aka Master Harold), a 17-year old Afrikaner white boy, and Sam and Willy, two middle-aged black servants employed by Hally’s family. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Male assaulted by group on Grizzly Peak Boulevard

Look out at Signpost 15 on Grizzly Peak Boulevard
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A man sought treatment at the hospital after being assaulted on Grizzly Peak Boulevard about 24 hours after a robbery in the same vicinity, police have reported.

No one has been arrested.

According to a statement released Sunday evening by the University of California Police Department, the agency received a report earlier in the day about an aggravated assault at either Signpost 15 or 16 on Grizzly Peak.

The male victim, whose age was not disclosed, had been at the turnout with some friends when a fight broke out between his group and another group between 3:39 and 4:09 a.m. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeley police search area after report of man with rifle; no one found

Police searched a home in Southside Berkeley after a report of a man with a rifle Saturday but found no one matching that description. Photo: David Yee
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Berkeley police officers conducted what was described as an extensive search Saturday evening after receiving a report of a man in the area witnesses believed to have been carrying a rifle.

Ultimately, officers found no one matching that description, said Lt. Alyson Hart of the Berkeley Police Department.

“It’s a call that we take extremely seriously,” she said. “It’s an unusual call, but you never know.”

Hart said it’s possible that what the witnesses saw was a BB gun, or something else altogether. Sometimes, police get calls that turn out to be hoaxes too, though Hart said she didn’t think that had been the case in this instance. Without having found the man, it’s impossible to know for sure.

Initially, BPD got a report at about 6:45 p.m. that a white man in dark clothes, about 6 feet tall and 20-25 years old, was walking northbound in the 2400 block of Warring Street while carrying what the caller believed to be a rifle. He had short hair and a black jacket, with a slim to medium build.  … Continue reading »

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Schools

Hundreds hold vigil in Berkeley to remember Efe Ustenci

Saturday's vigil for Efe Ustenci drew hundreds of people. Photo: Ted Friedman
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Several hundred community members came together at Berkeley High School on Saturday evening to remember 17-year-old Efejon Ustenci, who drowned Wednesday in Placer County less than a week after he graduated from BHS.

The theme of the vigil, said photographer Ted Friedman, who attended the event on behalf of Berkeleyside, “was to ‘live Efe’s legacy.'”

One friend told Friedman that Efejon, known to many as Efe, would be remembered as someone who was nurturing, humorous and fair-minded. Others have described him as a natural leader looked up to by many, a talented athlete, and a kind and loving young man.

A fundraiser to help collect money for burial costs has raised more than $16,000 since it was created Friday evening.

Wrote Chris Young on the memorial page, “In my work with BIHS [Berkeley International High School] I see students names a lot and meet most of them as seniors. After visiting me once, I noted that Efe carried himself with maturity and kindness. At graduation he thanked me, though I hadn’t done much to directly serve him. Efejon Ustenci! His name jumps off my list of graduates. Yes, Efejon Ustenci. That’s that humble young man who stands out as a beautiful example of strong character for his peers and teachers. Surely, he will inspire us into the future.”

Several photographs from the memorial appear below. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Armed men rob trio on Grizzly Peak Boulevard

The view from Grizzly Peak Boulevard near Signpost 15. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Two men were injured during an armed robbery early Saturday near Signpost 15 on Grizzly Peak Boulevard, police report.

The University of California Police Department said three men in their 20s approached the men and a woman, who were near their car on Grizzly Peak at about 3:30 a.m.

The 23-year-old woman and both men, age 25, were enjoying the view, said UCPD, when three men walked up to them.

“Two of the males pointed guns at the victims and demanded their property,” said UCPD in a prepared statement released Saturday evening. “The victims complied and suspects fled the scene on foot towards Signpost 16.” … Continue reading »

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Fundraiser, vigil planned for drowned Berkeley student

Efe is remembered as a talented athlete. Photo: Ustenci family
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The Berkeley Unified School District has announced a vigil and fundraiser for Efe Ustenci, who drowned earlier this week in Placer County while on a trip with friends.

The fundraiser to help pay for the 17-year-old’s burial costs has already raised more than $3,600 in approximately an hour. Its goal is $10,000.

A vigil at Berkeley High School has been planned for Saturday, June 25, from 5-6-30 p.m. in the courtyard. The school district had counselors on campus Friday to help offer support.

Wrote BHS Principal Sam Pasarow in the email about the vigil and fundraiser, sent Friday at 9 p.m.: “Please join us as we mourn the loss of Efejon Ustenci, and also celebrate his life.” … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 06.24.16

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Landmark Claremont Court house on market for $5.45M

2840 Claremont Boulevard built in 1910, is on the market for $5.45M Photo: BHG
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One of the first houses built in Claremont Court is on the market for $5.45 million, marking it as one of the most expensive residences ever for sale in Berkeley.

The light-filled landmark home at 2840 Claremont Blvd. has eight bedrooms, five bathrooms, a large entryway, a formal dining room, a grand living room and a suite of servants’ rooms upstairs. Paul O. Teitzen, the president of the Bank of Santa Maria in southern California, hired the architectural firm of Hodges and Mitchell to construct the home, said Allen Hibbard,the listing agent for the home. He is with Better Homes and Garden Real Estate. The Teitzen family moved in in 1910, just four years after ground was broken for the Claremont Hotel (it opened in 1915) and three years after Duncan McDuffie and Joseph J. Mason started to subdivide the area bounded by Derby Street, Belrose Avenue, Claremont Boulevard, Claremont Avenue, the Claremont Hotel, Russell Street and Oak Knoll Terrace. It would become known as Claremont Court and was noted for the graceful gates that set off the subdivision. … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

grunt
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bigger pictureFIGHTING DIABETES WITH POETRY Type 2 diabetes, caused by eating the wrong food and a sedentary lifestyle, is on the rise. It’s also preventable. Now Youth Speaks and the Center for Vulnerable Populations have come together to form The Bigger Picture Campaign, a novel way to get word out about the disease. Tonight, eight young poets will be premiering their poetry about the disease from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at The David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way. “This is poetry of provocation, witness, and social justice. We want all like-minded health warriors to be present.” … Continue reading »

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Bites: Red Bay Coffee Box, Agrodolce, Firebrand

Red Bay Coffee Box. Photo: Red Bay Coffee Roasters/Facebook
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Openings, closings

RED BAY COFFEE BOX NOW OPEN AT THE HIVE Close to a year after announcing it would be opening a café built out of a converted shipping container in Oakland’s Hive complex, Red Bay Coffee Roaster‘s “Coffee Box” is now open. In addition to coffee, we hear from East Bay Dish that the Coffee Box is offering baked goods from Oakland-based Tart Bakery. Funds for the café were raised through a successful $80,000 Kickstarter campaign last spring — the most successful coffee campaign ever on the crowdfunding site, according to Red Bay founder Keba Konte. But permitting issues delayed the opening of the café, despite the fact that Konte had finished construction on the container months ago. In the meantime, Red Bay launched several farmers market stands, including one at the downtown Berkeley market, added Uber as a client, and built out a new headquarters in a converted factory in Fruitvale. The Red Bay Coffee Box is at 2327 Broadway (between 23rd and 24th streets), Oakland. Connect with the coffee roasters on FacebookTwitter and InstagramContinue reading »

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Longtime Berkeley resident Henrietta Harris turns 100

Henrietta Harris
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By Erika Shaver-Nelson

Henrietta Harris celebrated her 100th birthday June 15 with a leisurely morning. She had breakfast in bed and then got her hair and make-up done to get ready for her day. She and her close friends had a picnic in the back garden at Chaparral House, where she lives, with fried chicken, potato salad, carrot salad, fruit salad and lemonade. Residents, staff, family and volunteers of Chaparral House gathered to celebrate with chocolate cake.

Everyone really enjoyed R&B/Soul vocalist Kymi, who sang at Henrietta’s party. Kymi and Henrietta sang “Summertime” together and Henrietta danced with her guests. Henrietta received numerous birthday cards, wishes, gifts and flowers. She received a very special birthday letter from the current president of the University of California, Janet Napolitano. Kris Welch sang happy birthday to Henrietta at the beginning of her show, The Talkies on KPFA. The archived link to her announcement can be found here.  … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 06.23.16

Birds at Cesar Chavez Park by Mohan Ajmani

Birds at Cesar Chavez Park by Mohan Ajmani

Snapp Shots: Berkeley art studio beautifies neighborhood (East Bay Times)
Review: ‘Othello’ by Ubuntu Theater (Theaterstorm)
Grand Jury critiques Berkeley’s email practices (Daily Cal)

Want to get breaking news quickly? Follow Berkeleyside on Twitter and on Facebook.

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Fire at former Sliderbar in downtown Berkeley

BFD responded to a fire at the former Sliderbar location 2124 Center St. Photo: Paul Kealoha-Blake
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The Berkeley Fire Department has responded to a fire on Center Street in downtown Berkeley that caused the evacuation of several buildings and is backing up traffic in the area.

The fire, reported at about 3:30 p.m., took place at 2124 Center St. between Shattuck Avenue and Oxford Street.

Donna McCracken, deputy fire chief, said the fire broke out in a wall at ground level in the commercial building.

Firefighters had been able to knock down the fire by putting water on it, but were having difficulty accessing its source due to the tight quarters.

Traffic was jammed up on Center between Shattuck and Oxford, McCracken said.

Firefighters remained on scene as of about 4:15 p.m. to make sure the fire had been extinguished. … Continue reading »

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