Monthly Archives: June 2011


The Berkeley Wire: 06.30.11

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In memoriam: Phil Wood, founder of Ten Speed Press

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Berkeley publisher Phil Wood of Ten Speed Press died late last year. Dayna Macy, author of the recently published “Ravenous: A Food Lover’s Journey from Obsession to Freedom”, was Wood’s publicist from 1987 to 1990, and she shares her memories of him here. At a memorial held on Sunday June 26, many friends gathered to tell stories about Wood and to remember him.

By Dayna Macy

I first met the late Phil Wood, founder and publisher of Berkeley’s renowned Ten Speed Press, in 1986. Phil gave me my first job in publishing. For a few months I was the receptionist. After I booked an author on the Letterman show when I was supposed to be answering phones, he promoted me to publicist.

In the four fabulous, fantastic years I worked at Ten Speed, I went to the Letterman Show with “White Trash Cooking” author Ernie Mickler to cook chicken feet; yelled at former Black Panther Bobby Seale, author of “Barbeque’n with Bobby” for driving the wrong way over the George Washington Bridge and missing an important TV gig; and explained to People Magazine that a recent spate of books like “How to Shit in the Woods,” and “What Bird Did That?” did not mean we were launching a new imprint on scatology. … Continue reading »

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Smoke incident at Safeway on Shattuck — no injuries

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Update, 3:25pm: Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong called Berkeleyside to say that the Shattuck Safeway remains closed after a leak in the store’s refrigiration system caused smoke-like vapor to escape and raised the alarm. The fire crew has called on environmental health staff to help them determine what type of refrigeration fluid is leaking. “No-one will be allowed back in the store for now because we want to make sure the fluid is not hazardous,” said Chief Dong. The store’s … Continue reading »

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Berkeley street style: Scoops of fashion sense

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By Dana Smith

Oh sun gods, how you tease. But lucky for us, we’ve learned your fickle ways and we’re quick on our sandaled feet. Give us noontime highs in the 70’s or 80’s (see, we don’t ask for much) and we’ll shed our fleece, show some leg and grab our favorite summer accessory — ice cream! All before the fog starts its inevitable march back in through the Gate.

While some cities’ favorite summer fashion accessories might have more staying power — as in they don’t melt — Berkeley has always appreciated the fleeting nature of beauty in all its states — from Baltimore-style shaved ice bowls to soft serve.

And, while we applaud the style of these ice cream eaters, the true honors this week have to go to the ice cream itself. With flavors like basil, jasmine tea, toasted coconut and pistachio-candied pistachio it is the sweetest thing on the street this season. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley school board considers weapons safety report

One of the inner courtyards at Berkeley High
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While Berkeley High should tighten its perimeter, enlist its uniformed police officer to patrol its edges and nearby park, have its security officers wear identifiable uniforms, and teach students about the impact of guns, it should not require students to wear a visible identification badges and use them to get on and off campus – at least not yet.

There are still too many unresolved issues on how to implement the mechanics of closing the campus and requiring ID badges to move forward quickly, school board members decided Wednesday night. The board directed Superintendent Bill Huyett and his staff to more closely examine those items and return with a more detailed and workable plan.

“We don’t have to do this by fall,” said Board member John Selawsky. “I just want to see us working on it.”

Huyett agreed that rushing into a new set of requirements might not be the best idea. … Continue reading »

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‘Charity’ book bins run by for-profit company

Book bins "for charity" endanger donations to Friends of the Berkeley Public Library. Photo: Lance Knobel
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Berkeleyans tend to be generous, civic-minded people, so the bright blue bins in supermarket parking lots marked “Donate Books” could inspire thoughts about clearing clutter from some shelves. Think again. The bins are run by for-profit Thrift Recycling Management, based in Lakewood, Washington. In Berkeley, the bins are now at Andronico’s and Safeway locations. Nationally only about 25% of the books are given to non-profits (locally, Safeway has a different arrangement with no books being sold).

According to a recent investigation by D. K. Row for The Oregonian, Thrift Recycling Management (TRM) has revenues of about $26 million a year and 200 employees. The books collected in the bins are sorted into three groups: about one-quarter are sold through online sites like Amazon, about half are pulped, and the final one-quarter is given to non-profits. Most of these go to Reading Tree, a non-profit registered in Utah. Row’s investigation revealed unusually close links between TRM and Reading Tree. TRM President Jeff Mullin is also president of Reading Tree. (Reading Tree’s 2009 990 form can be seen here. The organization had gross receipts of over $10 million in 2009.)

“They’re not being straightforward,” said Diane Davenport, president of Friends of the Berkeley Public Library. “TRM made $26 million last year from books that they’d gotten out of these blue bins.” … Continue reading »

Out in Berkeley: Mo’Fone — distilling the essence of funk

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By Andrew Gilbert

When it comes to funk, less is often more. The band Mo’Fone puts that insight into insistently syncopated practice on just about every piece. Led by El Cerrito drummer Jeremy Steinkoler, Mo’Fone, which performs a late set Friday at Michael Parayno’s singular Birdland Jazzista Social Club, is a stripped down combo featuring Larry De La Cruz on alto sax, clarinet and flute and Jim Peterson on baritone sax and bass clarinet.

Veteran reed players with extensive jazz and R&B credits, they seamlessly shift roles on each tune, sliding from riffing support to propulsive solos. Somehow, the trio captures the kinetic power and sonic punch of a funk horn section and a brass band, but distilled to its essence.

The band’s first album, 2003’s “Surf’s Up,” introduced Steinkoler’s surprisingly effective minimalist concept. As impressive as its full sound was the trio’s intriguing repertoire, which ranged from “Black Market” by the fusion supergroup Weather Report, and “African Market” by South African piano legend Abdullah Ibrahim to Earl King’s Mardi Gras classic “Big Chief.” … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 06.29.11

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Downtown PBID passes overwhelmingly

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The Berkeley City Council last night approved the formation of the third property-based improvement district (PBID) in the city, increasing fourfold the funds available to the Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA) for environmental enhancement and economic development programs. A ballot count showed 71% of downtown property owners approved of the PBID.

“Now we get to work on implementation, not campaigning,” said John Caner, executive director of the DBA. “It’s all about making downtown a lively and vibrant place. It gives us the opportunity to accelerate and build on the successes we’ve already had downtown.” Caner pointed to the coming openings of the Magnes Museum, the Helios Center and the refurbishment of the BART Plaza as key building pieces for the downtown.  … Continue reading »

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Berkeley City Council passes budgets for 2012, 2013

Budget differences
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As expected, the Berkeley City Council last night adopted the biennial budget for fiscal years 2012 and 2013. The budget, originally presented on May 3, closes a $12.2 million deficit in FY2012 and a $13.3 million deficit in FY2013 by eliminating 79 positions, cutting a number of services, and raising a number of fees (the full 384-page budget report can be accessed here).

The budget had been extensively debated in a number of council meetings since the a discussion of the budget development calendar in October. Last night there was no discussion of the main budget, and it passed without comment. The focus of debate last night was on supplemental allocations for community agencies that had been cut in the proposed budget. Councilmember Linda Maio and Mayor Tom Bates proposed $114,078 in additional funding for nine agencies, and councilmember Max Anderson proposed $264,078 in additional funding for the same nine agencies, as well as the city’s Black Infant Health program, a number of festivals and the city’s pools.

The debate on the two proposals was heated, even though councilmember Jesse Arreguín pointed out that “we’re close”, and attempts should be made to “bridge the gap”. Eventually, the Maio/Bates proposal was agreed, with additional sums for the Cinco de Mayo and Stonewall festivals.  … Continue reading »

What happened when Lonely Island trio visited Amoeba

Screen shot 2011-06-29 at 12.38.44 PM
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Back in April, three Berkeley boys made a return visit to their hometown. Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer are the threesome behind Lonely Island, makers of ‘digital shorts” (otherwise known as music videos) for NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

The trio visited Amoeba on National Record Store Day to promote their latest album, Turtleneck & Chain, and chat with their fans, some of whom could not contain their excitement (as in much screaming and one hug request directed … Continue reading »

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Spate of smartphone robberies committed since June 19

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Five cases of robbery — strong arm and armed — have been reported south of the university campus and near downtown since June 19, according to the Berkeley Police Department. According to Sgt. Mary Kusmiss of the BPD, the police are seeing a “predominance” of strong arm and grand theft robberies being committed for iPhones and other types of smartphones. “There has been an incredible focus on iPhones,” Kusmiss said.

In the most serious of the crimes, last Wednesday, at around 11:45 p.m., a 19-year old UC student was the victim of armed robbery at the intersection of Dwight and Etna. He was approached by three males who pushed him to the ground while pointing a gun at him. The suspects took various items including an Apple iTouch and a BlackBerry phone. One suspect punched the victim in the throat while another struck him across the forehead with the gun. The three suspects fled on foot southbound on Etna. The victim sustained minor injuries and was treated at the scene. Berkeley police searched the area but were unable to find the suspects.

The victim described the three suspects as unknown race or Black males in their late teens, 5’8” to 5’9” in height, 140 to 150 lbs., with average builds, all wearing dark hooded sweatshirts with the hoods up and dark jeans. … Continue reading »

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Where in Berkeley?

Where in Berkeley?

Know where this is? Take a guess and let us know in the Comments.

Update, 8:30am: Phienx got it right in five minutes. This is outside the barber shop on Sather Lane. Congratulations Phienx on being this week’s winner.

Photo: Tina Zhu.

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