Berkeleyside’s most popular 2010 stories: The lion roars

A cougar made the top story spot for Berkeleyside this year. Photo by dracobotanicus/Flickr creative commons.

We love animals, celebrities, food, and crime — but not necessarily in that order.

As part of our end of the year summary, Berkeleyside has done an analysis of the most popular stories of 2010. We have published a grand total of 1,815 stories on the site since our launch in October 2009, and readers have submitted an impressive 7,410 comments.

This year, a few of the stories were much more popular than others.

Drum roll, please. Which were the most popular posts on Berkeleyside in 2010? Here they are in descending order:

Mountain lion roams the Gourmet Ghetto

People were incredulous when a mountain lion made its way through one of Berkeley’s best-known districts on the night of August 31.

The two-year old male cougar stopped by the defunct Elephant Pharmacy. He jumped a fence into the playground of All Soul’s Episcopal Church on Spruce. And then he led police on a chase that ended with his untimely death. The shooting of the lion deeply disturbed many, even though Berkeley police really had no alternative.

Afterwards, Fish & Game warden Patrick Foy told Berkeleyside there were two possible explanations for the animal wandering into such a built-up area: “It could have been an escaped pet, but that’s less likely. More likely the animal was coming out of the Berkeley hills because it was getting kicked around by more dominant males.”

Chez Panisse disappoints

When Felix Salmon and Michelle Vaughan came to Berkeley in April, they were eagerly anticipating a dinner at Chez Panisse. Well, the meal didn’t turn out quite like they hoped, and their jointly written story detailed their disappointment.

The story went viral as it seems most everyone has an opinion about this famed restaurant. There are many fans and many detractors and their opinion collided in the comments section on Berkeleyside.

Brad Pitt and and Angelina Jolie at the Claremont Hotel

Sahara and Shiloh Jolie-Pitt at Claremont pool. Photo: US Magazine.

This was just a six-sentence article we published on August 1, but it seems much of the world cannot get enough information about Brangelina — even Berkeleyans who profess to be above such celebrity trivia.

Berkeleyside’s crack investigative team broke the news that the couple and their brood of six children were staying at the Claremont Hotel and had been sited at the pool. Pitt was in the East Bay to film Moneyball, based on Berkeley resident Michael Lewis’ book on the Oakland As.

We were rewarded with a sighting of Angelina through tinted car windows and a close up with Brad. The scoop: Pitt is shorter and much more ordinary looking in person than in photos.

Saving Mr. Mopps’ toy store

Devin McDonald and Jenny Stevenson, new owners of Mr Mopps.

Who knew that so many people cared about the continuation of a toy store?

When Berkeleyside reported in April that Mr. Mopps’, a Berkeley institution on MLK Way for more than 40 years, was going to close, distraught patrons formed a Let’s Buy Mr. Mopps’ Facebook page.

Devin McDonald and Jennie Stevenson read our coverage and decided to buy the store, securing its delights for another generation of children.

City victim of credit card fraud

Picante. Photo by macpaulster.

In May, the computers at Picante Restaurant were compromised, permitting Russian thieves to steal credit card numbers and make fake duplicate cards, which they then could sell in bulk.

Hundreds of people in Berkeley found themselves the victim of credit card scams, an indication of the growing sophistication of thieves.

One notable trick revealed during our coverage: inserting a matchstick size skimmer into a gas station kiosk or ATM machine to extract a card number.

The death of Malik Grayson

Malik Grayson.

When this 14-year old Berkeley High freshman died from gunshot wounds, after being shot in the head by his best friend, the community was devastated.

Malik was a charismatic and well-loved young man who brought joy to a lot of people. This became apparent as his friends filled up Berkeleyside’s comments sections with declarations of love and disbelief.

It wasn’t all wild animals and celeb spotting, of course. Many of our stories this year struck a chord and generated long-drawn out, insightful conversations within our community in the comments sections. Beyond the top six, here are 12 of our other top 2010 stories — some of which covered issues which ran for weeks, if not months:

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