Daily Archives: January 4, 2012


The Berkeley Wire: 01.04.12

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Berkeley mother transforms despair into words

Marie Lawson Fiala
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Marie Lawson Fiala can pinpoint the exact moment her life changed completely.

It was the Saturday evening of Labor Day weekend in 1998. Lawson was folding laundry in her Berkeley home and mulling over the best way to present closing arguments in a bank trial. Suddenly, her husband interrupted her reverie. “I think Jeremy is having a stroke,” he blurted out.

Fiala’s 13-year-old son, a boy who loved sports, school and barbeque, had collapsed in the kitchen and was lying on the floor, unable to move his right side. As Fiala knelt beside him, Jeremy looked up and said in slurred speech, “Mom, help me.”

Those were the last words Jeremy uttered for months. Rushed to the hospital, he clung to life, barely alive. Plastic tubes drained blood from his brain and a respirator pushed oxygen into his lungs. Fiala, an experienced litigator who had argued on behalf of some the country’s most powerful corporations, found herself unable to do much but pray for her son’s recovery.

“Nothing marks the last normal hours of your life as special, nothing that you look back on and say, ‘There, that was the turning point,” Fiala writes in Letters from a Distant Shore, a memoir about her son’s illness and recovery. “If only I had paid attention, I would have known, I would have treasured those hours. If only …’” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley police investigate drive-by shooting

Screen shot 2012-01-04 at 3.43.13 PM
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Berkeley police are investigating a drive-by shooting that took place on Ashby Avenue on Jan. 2.

A man was driving eastbound on Ashby near Harper Street around 3:10 pm when a red car pulled alongside him. Someone in that car fired shots and then sped south towards Oakland, according to Sgt. Mary Kusmiss of the Berkeley Police Department. The victim, who was not injured, drove east, away from the scene. Several bullets had been fired into his car.

Berkeley police … Continue reading »

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As Sequoia rubble removed, plans made for new structure

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Two businesses on the site of the demolished Sequoia Building at Haste and Telegraph may re-open, and plans are under way to build a new structure on the site. City officials are hosting a meeting today to discuss the future of the site with its owners, who are known to have retained an architect for a potential new project there.

Crews have been working since last week on removing the many tons of debris and rubble that were left on the site of the Sequoia Building at 2441 Haste Street following its demolition in December prompted by a devastating fire on November 18th last year.

An investigation into the potential toxicity of the building’s debris revealed evidence of lead, but not of asbestos as had been rumored (see update at foot of story with more details). The removal of the rubble is expected to continue into next week. … Continue reading »

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In memoriam: Rabbi Arnold ‘Avi’ Levine

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By Robinn Magid

Rabbi Arnold “Avi” Levine was honored Sunday, December 18, 2011 with a memorial study session given in his name at the home of Dr. Gary and Lois Marcus of Berkeley. Approximately 100 friends, former congregants and local rabbis gathered to pay tribute to Rabbi Levine who passed away in Palm Desert on October 27th 2011 at age 70 after a 12-year battle with cancer.

Rabbi Levine served as the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth El of Berkeley from 1976 to 1994. Under his leadership, the vibrant, liberal Jewish congregation grew from 250 families to more than 500, expanded Camp Kee Tov and the Beth El Nursery School, and forged a closer relationship with the State of Israel.

At the memorial, attendees fondly remembered the gentle man who loved running in Tilden Park and took time to provide personal attention to all those who required it. His attentiveness to pastoral duties, and his untiring emotional support and rabbinic guidance were recalled by those who spoke. … 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, 9:11 am: Reader “Completely Serious” got this fairly tough one pretty quickly. The target is part of a makeshift play area up in Tilden near Grizzly Peak Blvd. Congratulations, Completely Serious (who is clearly not averse to being a little unserious sometimes) on being this week’s winner!

Photo: Daryl Austern.

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