The Berkeley Wire: 10.21.16

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Photos: Green Day makes triumphant return to Berkeley

Green Day. Photo: Kelly Owen
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They famously got their start in the late 1980s playing local venues like 924 Gilman and Berkeley Square, and Thursday the mega-band that is Green Day made a triumphant return to their roots by playing the newly renovated UC Theatre on University Avenue.

The concert was a sell-out, as you might expect, and security, including some provided by Berkeley Police, was tight.

Almost as soon as the band took to the stage at 9 p.m. lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong was referencing the band’s local credentials.

“The Representative from Alameda County has the floor,” he hollered, slightly altering a line from one of the band’s biggest hits, Holiday, which was next up on the slate. (Holiday is from the 2004 American Idiot album which went on to be adapted for the stage by Berkeley Rep in 2009.) A little later, after playing a couple of other standards, Armstrong reminded the capacity crowd about the group’s origins to much applause, shouting: “We’re fucking East Bay boys!”

If you were at the concert, tell us how you liked it in the comments (now that we have them back).

Kelly Owen took these photographs for Berkeleyside. … Continue reading »

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

Crowds gather on Shattuck Avenue during Sunday Streets. Photo: Ted Friedman
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SUNDAY STREETS Last weekend’s showers occasioned a scramble to reschedule Berkeley’s fifth Sunday Streets celebration. This Sunday, Shattuck Avenue will be closed from Haste to Rose — 17 blocks — in a celebration of local businesses and organizations. Storefronts will be unobstructed, and business owners are encouraged to promote commerce and visibility by setting out seating on the street, hosting activities, and otherwise inviting interest and community. There’s a bewildering variety of activities planned from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., including plenty of live music, children’s activities, and sports and fitness. This year’s Sunday Streets also includes Salsa Sunday on Center Street in the downtown and the Vine St. Block Party in the Gourmet Ghetto. Participants are encouraged to walk, cycle or take public transit to Sunday Streets. Shattuck Avenue from Haste to Rose, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 23. … Continue reading »


Update: Berkeleyside comments, Twitter account back after widespread internet attack

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UPDATE, 1:55pm: Both Twitter and our comments are back in action.

ORIGINAL STORY: The major attack Friday that has caused big websites to go down — including Netflix, the New York Times, The Guardian, Spotify and Reddit — has affected Berkeleyside too.

Our Twitter account is unavailable, as Twitter is one of the sites that has shut down. Our comments are not functioning as they operate on the Disqus platform which also appears to have been affected by the outage.

The New York Times reported that many large websites were inaccessible to some East Coast users Friday morning and to people across the country by the early afternoon after Dyn, a company that serves as an internet switchboard, came under attack. … Continue reading »


Bites: Oakland Yard, 4505 Meats, The Cat House

Photo: Oakland Yard/Instagram
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Openings, closings

OAKLAND YARD WINE SHOP TO TEMESCAL The North Oakland neighborhood has craft beer in spades, but has yet to gain a specialty wine shop. That will change Nov. 7, when Oakland Yard moves in. According to a statement from the owners, Daniel Schmidt and Jonathan Davis, Oakland Yard intends to be both a wine store and a “community junction,” offering limited production European wines, a “large handful” of new-wave California winemakers, and other new world options. Notably, Oakland Yard will stock a central table of over 60 affordable red and white wines — they’ll all be priced under $17. Both Schmidt and Davis have, they say, an affinity for “fresh, lively wines” that are well-balanced, food-friendly and lower in alcohol. “I want people to pair these [wines] with the whole damn party… or a trip to the coast or an afternoon in the park or an amazing hike! What pairs with adventure? What pairs with awesome?” said Davis in the statement. Schmidt and Davis are both Bay Area natives; Schmidt worked in production at Copian Winery and Davis has worked at both Chez Panisse and Bi-Rite. They plan to hold two to three tastings per week. A grand opening party will take place Nov. 12 from noon to 4 p.m. with free sparkling wine, food and live music. Oakland Yard will be at 420 40th St., (at Webster Street), Oakland. Connect with the shop on Facebook and Instagram.Continue reading »

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Shotgun Players’ powerful ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’

David Sinaiko as George, Josh Schell as Nick, 
Megan Trout as Honey, Beth Wilmurt as Martha
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Fifty-four years after its Broadway debut, the award-winning Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee (1928-2016) hasn’t lost any of its strength and force. The alcohol-fueled psychological mêlée among George, Martha, Nick and Honey retains its full intensity and potency. Without the tight direction by Mark Jackson and the excellent performances by Beth Wilmurt, (Martha) David Sinaiko (George), Josh Schell (Nick) and Megan Trout (Honey), that might not have been the case. After all, in the wrong hands, the drama’s acrimony could easily be exaggerated into a SNL sketch. But no worries; this performance succeeds beyond expectations. I sat on the edge of my seat, totally engrossed during the entire three-act, three-hour performance.

After a university faculty party given by Martha’s father, the university president, long-married Martha and George are visited by a younger couple, Nick, a 28-year old university biologist and his unsophisticated wife, Honey. As the long night wears on, Martha and George bitterly attack each other’s psychological sensitivities with biting and sarcastic wit, as Nick and Honey first observe and finally participate in the virulent dissection of Martha and George’s marriage. Soon, the cracks in Nick and Honey’s own relationship are revealed, as the games that pit illusion against reality escalate to a dramatic climax.

Albee’s ingenious and erudite dialogue adds a dynamic and spirited flair to the drama. It’s delivered in a spontaneous and authentic way with characters interrupting each other in lifelike repartee. In this beautifully crafted play, one must listen carefully to grasp the multiple layers beneath the pathos of George and Martha. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley honors community activists, artists and students at its ‘Outstanding Women of the Year’ ceremony

Moni Law accepting her award from the Commission on the Status of Women. Photo: James Knoz
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By Delency Parham & Maya Cueva

More than 50 people gathered at City Hall on Tuesday night to commemorate outstanding women who serve as leaders in the community and who advocate for improving the conditions of young Bay Area women. The event was held by the Commission on the Status of Women, which awarded six women and one local organization with a Lifetime Achievement Award, a Trailblazer Award, a Young Woman of Achievement and Leadership Award, and an Outstanding Organization award.

Among these awardees was Moni Law, a former attorney, community activist, and legal housing counselor. She received the Trailblazer Award for her leadership and commitment to helping youth of color, students, and residents understand their legal rights pertaining to rental housing.

Law is a filmmaker, a member of the Berkeley chapter of the NAACP, a member of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, and is deeply engaged in civic activity. As a housing counselor for the Rent Stabilization Board, she counsels low-income people of color, seniors, students, and people with disabilities who are looking for housing in a city with spiraling rent costs. … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 10.20.16

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Address verification work continues for Berkeley Unified

The Bonar Street headquarters of the Berkeley Unified School District. Photo: Kaia Diringer
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The Berkeley Unified School District has continued its stepped-up efforts to cut down on enrollment fraud during its second year of widespread home visits and address verifications prompted by a new policy adopted by the School Board last year.

Wednesday night, the board got an update from BUSD admissions manager Francisco Martinez about how enrollment and address verifications have gone so far in the 2016-17 school year.

Martinez was charged by BUSD last year with keeping a closer eye on school enrollment. As part of the new board policy, students in certain grades are required to provide proof of residency — such as a utility bill and additional documents — before being allowed to re-enroll.

This year, the families of all students heading into middle and high school had to provide proof of Berkeley residency if they wished to continue to attend BUSD.

Of nearly 700 students who attended fifth grade in Berkeley last year, 33 did not provide the documents, and went elsewhere for middle school, according to Wednesday night’s enrollment update. Of approximately 740 rising ninth-graders, 28 did not submit documents and they, too, left for other districts.

District staff also visited 503 homes as part of the address verification process “when the staff believes this is necessary to ensure compliance with the Berkeley residency requirement.” As a result of that process, 89 students were not enrolled in Berkeley for the current school year. According to the report, home visits took place in Berkeley, Oakland and West Contra Costa County. … Continue reading »

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Man pepper-sprayed after punching, biting police officers

Image: Google Maps
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A police call in Berkeley to a domestic dispute led to a man being pepper-sprayed and arrested after punching a police sergeant twice in the face and biting another officer in the arm, authorities said this week.

The woman involved in the dispute also struggled with police during the man’s arrest, and she too was taken into custody, police said.

Officers were called to the 1200 block of Ashby Avenue, near San Pablo Avenue, sometime before 10:25 p.m. Friday for a report of a domestic dispute, said Sgt. Andrew Frankel, spokesman for the Berkeley Police Department.

When they got there, officers determined the dispute had been verbal in nature, Frankel said. No crime had occurred. As officers mediated, the woman left the apartment.

But the man “was not satisfied with the officer’s response,” Frankel said, in a written statement. That “prompted him to call 911 over ten times to yell and vent his frustration. He was told by dispatch that he was improperly using the 911 emergency system, but continued calling.” … Continue reading »

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Judge tosses out legal challenge to Berkeley high-rise

2211 Harold Way is one of several tall building proposals in the pipeline that must offer "significant community benefits" under the Downtown Area Plan. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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An Alameda County Superior Court judge on Wednesday denied numerous challenges to the Environmental Impact Report prepared for 2211 Harold Way, meaning that construction of an 18-story, 302-unit building with 10,000-square feet of retail space and new movie theaters in Berkeley’s downtown can proceed – unless the decision is appealed.

In a 16-page ruling, Judge Frank Roesch denied the 15 claims Berkeley residents Kelly Hammargren and James Hendry had filed in January to stop the project. The two had filed separate challenges which were combined. Roesch conducted a four-hour court hearing on the challenges on Aug. 26.

In December, the city council approved the complex, which will be the largest construction project built since Berkeley adopted the Downtown Area Plan in 2012. Under the plan, density downtown was increased and Berkeley sanctioned the construction of seven towers ranging from 120 to 180 feet high. In exchange, developers were required to provide extraordinary community benefits.

City officials ordered the developer of 2211 Harold Way, HRS Berkeley Investments, to make a $10.5 million payment into the Housing Trust Fund, with another $1 million going into an arts fund. Habitot Children’s Museum, which will be displaced because of the project, will receive $250,000 of that money. The developer has also agreed to use union labor and to rebuild the Shattuck Theatres. Berkeley applied a $6 million credit for the labor agreement and a $5.5 million credit for the theater. The developer will also have to pay into a streets fund and a childcare fund.

The first $2 million of that payment will be made when HSR Berkeley Investments obtains its building permit. Half will go into the housing fund then, and the other half to the arts fund. The developer will have to pay $3.5 million – or post a bond or otherwise guarantee payment – when it gets its occupancy permit.

‘The project team is pleased with the decision as it reinforces our perspective that the lawsuits were specious to begin with,” said Mark Rhoades of Rhoades Planning Group, which assisted Penner in the entitlement process. “The decision also reinforces the voters’ desires for the Downtown Plan as it is reflected in this project after more than 35 public meetings. The project team is currently in discussion on the next steps but the strength of the decision likely means that the project will move forward even IF there is an appeal.” … Continue reading »

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Jeff Denson’s ever widening circle

The Jeff Denson Quartet plays the California Jazz Conservatory on Friday. Photo by A-Retrospective.
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Starting a record label in the 21st century might seem like a fool’s errand, what with collapsing CD sales and streaming services that offer less than a pittance per thousands of plays. But jazz bassist/vocalist Jeff Denson offers an object lesson in the power of a savvy and well-curated outlet. Over the past year, his new label Ridgeway Records has released a series of stellar recordings introducing some of the region’s most promising young artists, like Berkeley-reared guitarist/composer Ian Faquini’s Metal Na Madeira.

The label is also a vehicle for his own music, and Denson celebrates the release of his latest Ridgeway album, Concentric Circles, Friday at the California Jazz Conservatory, where he’s a founding professor in the school’s accredited college program. Featuring bassoon virtuoso Paul Hanson, pianist Den Zemelman and drum maestro Alan Hall — who released a fantastic Ridgeway album Artic introducing his Ratatet with Hanson and Denson earlier this year — the quartet brings together two earlier ensembles.

Denson first performed around the Bay Area with Hall and Hanson in Electreo, a texturally acute collective trio that explored a constellation of spacious compositions laced with Hanson’s finely calibrated electronics. He forged a deep connection with Zemelman when he recruited the pianist into a trio designed to accompany octogenarian alto sax legend Lee Konitz, a group documented on the first Ridgeway album The Jeff Denson Trio + Lee Konitz. … Continue reading »


Big Screen Berkeley: ‘The Battle of Algiers,’ Do Not Resist’

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I first saw Gillo Pontecorvo’s 1965 feature La Battaglia di Algeri (The Battle of Algiers) at Berkeley’s UC Theatre sometime in the mid 1980s. To say it was an eye opener would be an understatement: here was a ‘war movie’ that told its story from the perspectives of both sides. Who was I supposed to root for?

I didn’t see the film again until the Criterion Collection released their outstanding three-disc DVD edition in 2004. Criterion’s timing was perfect: the then 40-year old film was about to become an unexpected hit at the Pentagon, where America’s generals used it as a training aid to combat Iraq’s growing urban insurgencies.

Newly restored, The Battle of Algiers begins a weeklong run at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, Oct. 21. Restored or not, though, it’s a classic of modern cinema that always rewards another viewing. … Continue reading »


The Berkeley Wire: 10.19.16

San Francisco through the trees, taken at Golden Gate Fields. Photo by David Gould

San Francisco through the trees, taken at Golden Gate Fields. Photo by David Gould

After spate of issues, all fraternity and sorority on-site social events cancelled (Daily Cal)
State Senator Loni Hancock leaves legacy, open seat (Daily Cal)
Rexx Life Large owes it all to Berkeley (The Bay Bridged)
Dresher delights in Berkeley Symphony opener (SF Classical Voice)
The burning question in the East Bay hills (Bay Nature)

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