Daily Archives: January 10, 2012


The Berkeley Wire: 01.10.12

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The “big clean-up” of downtown Berkeley begins

Cleaners downtown
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A clean-up has begun in downtown Berkeley, part of a larger campaign to improve the area’s environment and boost economic development. It is being funded to the tune of $1.2 million by the Property Based Business Improvement District (PBID) that was passed by 71% of local property owners last June.

Last Friday, following three days of training, ten members of the new Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA) Cleaning Team in their neon yellow shirts hit the streets en masse. The first day was spent painting furniture and fixtures, and general litter removal and weeding. On Sunday, the team started pressure washing sidewalks on Shattuck north of University.

The intention is to deep-clean and beautify the entire 30-block area of Downtown Berkeley, and the work will include the removal of all graffiti and gum stains, painting all furniture and fixtures, and new landscaping, including new hanging flower baskets. Around $850,000 is being allocated to beautification services and improvements.

The DBA hired Louisville KY-based firm Block By Block to oversee the clean-up and ambassador services. The company has worked on similar projects in downtown Oakland, Santa Monica, and Pasadena, among others. Block By Block is also committed to hiring employees locally, as well as second-chance programs for hiring from social service agency partners. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

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DOWNTOWN LOCAVORE New, as of yesterday, to Center Street’s “restaurant row”: the Green Earth Café & Bakery, which offers a “Local Organic Vegan Ethical Sustainable (L.O.V.E.S.)” menu using the principles of macrobiotics. Owners Barbara Johnston-Brown and Ciren Zhuoga are serving salads, soups, sandwiches, wraps, unigiri, burritos, tacos, and desserts — including cookies, cakes, pies and puddings — with a focus on organic produce from local farmers and vendors. Johnston-Brown has run a catering company, teaches cooking classes for kids and adults, works as a private chef and has apprenticed as a pastry chef. Zhuoga, who is originally from Tibet, is cook and kitchen manager of Treasure Island Job Corps serving 1,100 meals three times per day. She has cooked at Manzanita Restaurant in Oakland where she specializes in weekend brunch menus. The café is at 2124 Center Street, next door to the Oasis Grill. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: Carnage

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Roman Polanski is not the nicest man in the world. Having infamously raped an underage girl in 1977, he fled the United States to avoid the consequences. Though his victim has since ‘forgiven’ him for his crime, the case continues to fester in the courts, and Polanski has not returned to the U.S. since.

It’s somewhat surprising, then, to report that the great director’s new film, Carnage (opening this Friday, January 13th at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas) is set entirely in the United States. Perhaps less surprising is the fact that — other than some very minor second unit work — it was shot entirely in France.

Based on an award-winning one-act play by Yasmina Reza (who co-wrote this screen adaptation with Polanski), Carnage tells a very simple story: as we see during the film’s short (and silent) prologue, two young Brooklyn boys have been involved in an altercation. Their parents meet to settle the matter and decide who will pay the medical bills. The end. … Continue reading »

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City of Berkeley pays tribute to late clerk Deanna Despain

City Clerk Deanna Despain, who died in an accident at home on Saturday
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Deanna Despain, Berkeley’s City Clerk since 2008, died on January 7th after apparently falling down the stairs in her home in Oakland. Interim City Manager Christine Daniel issued a statement to staff yesterday afternoon:

“I am deeply saddened to share with you that early Saturday morning, our friend and colleague City Clerk Deanna Despain passed away. Her family has shared with us that, although it is too soon to expect an official report, Oakland Police Department and the Coroner’s Office officials have told them that her death was a result of a terrible accident. This was very sudden, and our hearts are with her family as they come to terms with this unexpected tragedy.

“We realize this comes as a terrible shock to everyone who has been lucky enough to work with Deanna, who has been the City Clerk since May 2008. We are working with her family on how COB staff can support them, especially her husband and 10-month old daughter.” … Continue reading »

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