Monthly Archives: December 2011


Best of Berkeleyside: This week’s most popular posts

Berkeley in 2011: a year covered in all its ups and downs by Berkeleyside. Photo: D.H. Parks

Most important Berkeley stories of 2011 The future of Telegraph Avenue, Occupy protests, city budgets and safety at Berkeley High: just some of the year’s top issues.

Big Screen Berkeley: Best movies of 2011 You can read reviews of the big box-office films in the mainstream press. Berkeleyside’s John Seal selects his favorite 15 alternative movies that screened in Berkeley in 2011 and which he recommends you seek out and see.

Ten most popular multimedia stories in 2011 Cyclists — naked and not — Peetniks, a theater painter, and rats all featured in Berkeleyside’s audio and video offerings this year.

Top food stories in Berkeley in 2011 Artisanal butchers, Andronico’s, Alice Waters: not all the big food topics began with ‘A” in 2011.

It was a week of looking back at the most enduring stories Berkeleyside ran this year. But the news didn’t stop happening just because we were taking a moment to reflect. We reported on the double shooting on Sacramento Street, a lawsuit against Pacific Steel, and a two-house fire on Miller Avenue. And we also published a heartfelt personal thank you to the Berkeley Fire Department by a Berkeley resident whose house was saved in a blaze earlier this month.

If you think Berkeleyside has made your life a little richer, and enhanced your knowledge of this vibrant city in 2011, please consider helping up sustain the site by becoming a subscriber. Thank you and a very happy, healthy 2012 to all our readers.

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The Berkeley Wire: 12.30.11

Berkeley branch van has new winter hours [BPL]
Cal tops USC 53-49 in Pac-12 opener [Daily Cal]
The “Hate Man” of People’s Park [Oakland Tribune]
Woman raised in Berkeley dies in Albany crash [Albany Patch]

Photo: Venus and moon over San Francisco by dogenfrost/Berkeleyside Flickr pool

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Top food stories from Berkeley in 2011

Andre Green from the Berkeley Food & Housing Project cooks for the neediest in the community. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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As the year draws to a close, it’s time to look back to see what food stories created a buzz around town and on Berkeleyside in 2011.

Granted, there’s an arbitrary nature to such end-of-year lists. But it’s an opportunity to take stock of the city’s culinary culture.

For the purposes of this post we’ve focused on food news stories, which doesn’t take into account the dozens of interviews with foragers, farmers, artisans, advocates, chefs, cooking teachers, preservers, pasta makers, cheese purveyors, pop-up restaurateurs, and farmers’ market vendors we’ve published during 2011.

This year also saw controversial coverage of corner stores, reporting on detractors of school food, an insider’s take on speed dating with a veg-friendly focus, and a widely criticized first-person piece on disappointing camp chow.

Readers may differ on what food stories caught their attention. Feel free to add your own highlights (or low points) in the comments section.

In alphabetical order: … Continue reading »

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Police blotter: recent crime in Berkeley

Police HQ
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2011 will wind down as one of the safest years in Berkeley. There was only one homicide this year — the March 8 slaying of Toby Eagle in the back yard of his Blake Street home — compared to five killings in 2010. This is lowest number of murders in Berkeley since 2001, according to Sgt. Mary Kusmiss.

In this partial list of recent crimes in Berkeley from Dec. 25-29, Sgt. Kusmiss also included a snapshot of what police have been doing, along with information on specific police calls. For other sources of information on crime in Berkeley see Community CrimeViewand

Quick Facts – What BPD Officers are doing:

Between  Sunday, December 25, 2011 at 1:33 a.m. and Thursday, December 29 at 9:22 a.m., BPD officers were dispatched and handled 21 welfare checks of community members throughout the City of Berkeley.

Between Sunday, December 25, 2011 at 11:58 a.m. and Thursday, December 29 at 3:48 p.m., BPD officers made 26 pedestrian stops throughout the City of Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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A thank you to donors, subscribers to Berkeleyside in 2011

Berkeleyside readers came by to meet the staff at an open office at PIQ on May 11, 2011. Left to right, standing: Nancy Rubin, Jeanne Pimentel, John Gordon (right) and daughter. Photos: Tracey Taylor
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Berkeleyside turned two in 2011. The site has seen its readership and reach increase dramatically in that time, in part because of our journalism and community contributors, and in part because of our partnerships with KQED, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Bay Citizen.

Still, Berkeleyside is a shoestring operation, run by professionals who do it mostly out of a sense of fun and civic pride. We sell advertising,  but another important source of income comes from you, dear readers. … Continue reading »


The Berkeley Wire: 12.29.11

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Cause of Berkeley hills fire under investigation

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The two homes that caught on fire in the Berkeley hills on Wednesday night suffered more than $1 million in damage, according to Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong.

The houses at 1005 and 1007 Miller Avenue near Grizzly Peak Boulevard suffered extensive structural damage, he said.

Fire officials do not yet know what cause the fire, which erupted shortly after 8:30 pm and sent flames shooting up more than 60 feet in the air. Four fire fighters were injured … Continue reading »

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Out in Berkeley to enjoy live music on New Year’s

Edessa will be playing at Ashkenaz on New Year's Eve
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Even on a slow night you can find a generous array of live music in Berkeley, but on New Year’s Eve the People’s Republic offers a particularly enticing selection, especially if you’re looking for the chance to dance. Every venue seems to play to its comfort zone, with La Pena delivering Cuban, Ashkenaz offering Balkan, Freight & Salvage bearing bluegrass, and Jupiter getting groovy. Why brave the Bay Bridge when you can dance the night away close to home?

Orquesta La Moderna Tradición @ La Pena
Even in Cuba, bands focusing on the gracious 19th century style known as danzon are rare, but Orquesta La Moderna Tradición breathes new life into this elegant form, which combines Afro-Cuban percussion with flute and violins. Violinist/arranger Tregar Otton, who’s also a key member of the Mexican music ensemble Los Cenzontles, co-directs the band with conguero Michael Spiro, a percussion master who’s been at the center of the Bay Area Latin music scene for more than 25 years. Cuban-born Felix Samuel and Caracas-raised Eduardo Herrera share lead vocals, while flutist Jesus “Chus” Alonso, violinist Sandy Poindexter, pianist Robert Karty, clarinetist Don Gardner, timbalero Carlos Caro, bassist Steve Senft-Herrera and percussionist Sage Baggott (guiro and bongos) round out the ensemble. With a family friendly vibe, this might be the most welcoming New Year’s event in the region. … Continue reading »


Berkeley 2011: How closely did you follow the news?

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It was a busy year in Berkeley, what with various Occupy movements, gun violence at the high school, restaurants opening and closing, and more. How closely did you pay attention? Here is a quiz to test your news savvy. The answers are after the jump.

1) Phil Kamlarz retired Nov. 30, 2011 after working for the city for 36 years, the last eight as city manager with a salary of $242,580. How much unpaid vacation and sick leave pay did he take with him?
c)$147,439 … Continue reading »

12 steps to get fit for 2012

A hiker and her dog going up Claremont Canyon fire trail Photo: Frances DInkelspiel
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By Susan Helmrich

Last year, around this time I wrote an article about New Year’s resolutions and exercise. So, how did you do?

The holiday season is upon us once again, and it is time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the new. The new year is a time to make resolutions, if you are so inclined, which is merely another way of setting goals for yourself for the coming year. How are you doing … Continue reading »


Two homes in Berkeley hills damaged by fire

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Two homes on Miller Avenue in the Berkeley hills were extensively damaged Wednesday night when a fire that spread to three alarms broke out.

The fire in the heavily wooded area broke out at 8:32 pm at 1005 Miller Avenue near Grizzly Peak, according to Assistant Fire Chief Gil Dong. The fire quickly spread to an adjacent house, prompting officials to evacuate nearby homes. The flames were contained by 10:41 pm, but not before crews from Oakland and Alameda were … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 12.28.11

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Ten most popular Berkeleyside multimedia stories in 2011

Rieger interview
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This was the year Berkeleyside went beyond words in a concerted fashion and embraced other media including video, podcasts, film footage, as well as Storify reports comprising Twitter posts and photography.

We were helped in our endeavor by some wonderful contributors who are either professionals or seriously good amateurs.

Berkeley-based videographer Kim Aronson created a series of profiles of members of the Berkeley community, including the couple who run Mr Mopps’ toy store and local barber Harold Spiller. Aronson’s portrait of his neighbor, Gregory Kloehn, who built an ingenious, if minuscule, home from a dumpster, placed seventh in our end-of-year ranking.

Robert Mills, one of our summer interns, produced several polished videos for us, including one that made our top 10, perhaps, unsurprisingly, by focusing on an annual naked cyclist event.

And veteran broadcaster John Rieger made a welcome debut on Berkeleyside in the latter part of the  year with his podcasts tackling quintessentially Berkeley subjects such as bumper stickers and the unwritten rules of the road for cyclists. This provocative report, enhanced by the lovely photographs of contributing photographer Nancy Rubin, ranked second in the Top 10 of the year, which we list in full below:

1. The rats of Telegraph Avenue [Video, Tracey Taylor, 01.28.11]

2. What exactly are rules of the road for cyclists? [Podcast, John Rieger and Nancy Rubin, 11.29.11] … Continue reading »