Daily Archives: June 22, 2011

News

The Berkeley Wire: 06.22.11

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New taqueria opens in old Amanda’s space on Shattuck

The interior of the new Casa Bernal Taqueria. Photo: Emnah Hauser
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Casa Bernal Taqueria celebrated its grand opening Tuesday at 2122 Shattuck Avenue with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a 10-piece mariachi band, and $2 beers.

The new taqueria, which opened in the space once occupied by Amanda’s, is the project of Guillermo Bernal and his father. Their family owns a number of restaurants in southern California and Mexico. It features Niman Ranch pork and beef, free range chicken, and organic produce.

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Typewriters are making a comeback in Berkeley

Joe Banuelos, owner of Berkeley Typewriter, shows a vintage Olivetti machine
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By Edward Derbes

Typewriter sales have gone up in Berkeley over the past few years, and the owners of the city’s two typewriter stores can’t quite explain why. But, whether it’s the vintage appeal or just because people want to write without the distraction of the internet, the two stores aren’t complaining.

Berkeley Typewriter is on University Avenue, a  few doors down from the year-old Trader Joe’s and across the street from Performance Bikes, where a Grand Opening sign is still displayed in its two-story window. The store has been operating from its squat storefront since the 1930s. Joe Banuelos, its third owner, has run the shop for nearly twenty years.

Joe’s brother, Jesse Banuelos, who works as a typewriter technician at the store, said most of the new customers are in their 20s and 40s. “It’s attorneys,” he said. “They prefer to type on these kinds of machines. They tell me, ‘They look cool in my office.’”

A fascination with vintage typewriters also accounts for the recent rise in sales, said Joe. In particular, people in Japan are buying typewriters built in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. The store will charge $250 to repair a classic Olivetti, but that machine can be resold for $1,000 in Japan, said Joe. “They buy them because they are antique. There’s a big demand because they are part of American history.” … Continue reading »

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Library architect apologizes to Berkeley

Todd Jersey's vision for a renovated West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library.
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The architect who worked with Concerned Library Users, the group suing Berkeley to stop the demolition and rebuilding of the south and west branch libraries, has sent an apology for his actions to the City Council and city manager.

In a letter dated June 17, 2011, Todd Jersey apologizes for “causing more harm than good,” by presenting two designs that he said would “save the original buildings.” Jersey said his work was a misguided effort to resolve the dispute between the city, which wants to tear down the two branches and build entirely new structures, and CLU, which contends bond monies raised to renovate the city’s branch libraries cannot be used for demolition.

“This clearly backfired in many ways that in retrospect I should have known,” Jersey wrote in his letter. “Therefore I am also writing to apologize for the stress and hardship that my participation in the project caused you as City officials. Looking back on this now I can see that I naively thought that my participation could help settle the suit and alter the course of the projects in a good way. Obviously I failed to understand the amount of community investment in the work done by the other firms and furthermore, that in a lawsuit, there really is no opportunity for discourse. Instead of helping, my efforts created hardship for the City and for the Library Staff and The Friends of the Library. For that I am personally sorry. Clearly I have no intention of doing anything like this again.” (emphasis is Jersey’s)

Jersey wrote that he was never a signatory to the efforts of CLU to sue the city. In fact, he said, he does not support suing his own municipality.

The letter will not have any legal bearing on the CLU lawsuit against Berkeley, which will be heard before a judge on September 9th, according to Berkeley City Attorney Zach Cowan.

But Councilman Darryl Moore, who sits on the board of the public library, hopes Jersey’s letter prods CLU to reconsider its actions.

“The lawsuit is causing nothing but difficulty and pain throughout the community,” said Moore. “I hope those who filed it will read it, take it to heart, and consider dropping the lawsuit.” … Continue reading »

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City project will transform utility boxes with vibrant art

A painted utility box in Palo Alto
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There are 60 different utility boxes in downtown Berkeley and they are all gray. But not for long.

A new civic art project has plans to transform these dull, bleak and utilitarian boxes, which are owned either by the city or by PG&E,  into a kalidescope of color and art.

Called the “60 Boxes Project,” the idea is to pair patrons with artists who will paint the boxes or make a design that can be transferred to large polymer stickers and be affixed to the boxes.

“We’ve had a very very positive response to this project,” said Elyce Klein, who is coordinating sponsorships for the group, a collaboration between the Earth Island Institute‘s Streets Alive! program and Berkeley’s Civic Arts Commission.  “The quality of artwork on the boxes will be very high.”

A wide range of sponsors have already pledged their support for the initiative, including Berkeley High School, Peet’s Coffee, the Downtown Berkeley Association, numerous private schools, businesses, individuals, public officials, and non-profit organizations — even the city’s Mayor, Tom Bates.

Now the 60 Boxes Projects is putting out a call for artists to participate. They must fill out a form and submit examples from their portfolio. Each sponsor will get to choose their own artist. The theme is “sustainability.” … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Dragnet Girl

Pool playing is prominently featured in Yasujiro Ozu's Dragnet Girl
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Talking pictures came relatively late to Japan: it would be 1930 before a feature-length Japanese talkie was released, and silent films continued to be produced throughout the decade. Yasujiro Ozu’s 1933 drama Dragnet Girl (Hijosen no onna, screening at Pacific Film Archive at 7:00pm on Friday, June 24 as part of the Archive’s Japanese Divas series) is no exception: in fact, it doesn’t even feature a musical score.

For those who can’t abide absolute quiet, silent film accompanist Judith Rosenberg will be tickling the ivories during the screening of this rare title. Dragnet Girl’s power, however, derives from its consistently stunning imagery and distinctive mise-en-scène. Music and dialogue are definitely surplus to requirements.

The story revolves around Joji (Joji Oka, who — at least according to The Internet Movie Database —is still with us at the ripe old age of 107), a washed-up boxer turned hoodlum. Joji’s former glory and current infamy has won him an admirer in the form of impressionable young ‘Lefty’ Hiroshi (Koji Mitsui), who has abandoned his studies and taken up smoking and snooker in order to emulate and ingratiate himself with his hero.

Hiroshi’s foolish lifestyle choices have upset sister Kazuko (Sumiko Mizukubo, only 16 at the time), a record store employee who opts for traditional kimonos and get-a instead of pencil skirts and high heels. Kazuko appeals to Joji, asking for his help in convincing her brother to straighten up and fly right. … 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.

Our first guesser, TN, got it right. This photo was taken at a house at the corner of 9th and Virginia. Congratulations, TN!

Photo: Guy Shochat.

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