Daily Archives: June 28, 2012


The Berkeley Wire: 06.28.12

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Sameer Gupta: North meets South

Tabla player Sameer Gupta
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Sameer Gupta is on a mission to bring classical Indian music into places where it rarely ventures. A percussionist who plays tabla and trap drums, Gupta was a mainstay in Bay Area creative music circles until his 2008 move to Brooklyn, where he’s helped kindle a thriving Indian music scene with a weekly jazz-style jam session in a Prospect Park cowboy bar. He returns to California this weekend for a performance Sunday at the Subterranean Art House with Rohan Krishnamurthy
, a master of mridangam, the drum that plays a central role in South Indian music.

“It’s a North Indian meets South Indian percussion concert,” Gupta says. “We want to present each drum on its own and show them together, trading the rhythmic languages back and forth. Both the tabla and the mridangam have amazing timbres and mathematics, so we’ll talk about that and where the instruments fit in the Hindustani and Carnatic traditions.”

You can listen to Gupta’s Aaye Na Balam here. … Continue reading »

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Historic Berkeley High Old Gym makes way for the new

Woman's Pool Interior (1929 Addition) after seismic upgrade c.1937 BH-217
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Demolition work began this week on Berkeley High’s Old Gym on Milvia Street. The building has not been in use by students since October 2011 when it was abruptly closed by the school district. Its removal has been on the cards for a while, however.

The Old Gymnasium was built in 1922 and designed by William Hays. An addition, designed by Walter Ratcliff, Jr., was built in 1929 which included the warm-water pool. Following the Long Beach earthquake in 1933, the building was seismically upgraded in 1939.

Over the past few years the Old Gym has fallen into significant disrepair and was in need of further seismic upgrades. A proposal to rehabilitate it was rejected, despite the building having been landmarked in 2007. In 2008, a group of volunteers conducted a study to ascertain whether the Old Gym could be reasonably adapted to fulfill the needs of the school. Architect Henrik Bull was part of the group and wrote about the work for Berkeleyside, arguing that it could be saved.

Demolition of the Old Gym will continue over the summer and construction of what is known as the South of Bancroft Project is scheduled to begin in the fall. … Continue reading »

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Jim the Tailor, a Berkeley institution, to shut its doors

Helmut Drewes, who runs the 69-year old store Jim the Tailor, is retiring. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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For almost 70 years, there has been a Jim the Tailor in Berkeley.

No one remembers who the original Jim the Tailor was, but for the last 56 years the title has belonged to a member of the Drewes family.

Henry Drewes adopted the moniker around 1956, when, as a recent German immigrant, he took over the operation of the store, then located at 2480 Bancroft Way. In 1962, his son Helmut joined the business and they moved Jim the Tailor to 2486 Channing Way. Four years later, the Drewes moved a few doors down to 2436 Channing Way, where the store remains today.

But on Friday, after 69 years, a legacy will end. Helmut Drewes is shuttering the store, ready at last to retire to his Hayward garden. The closing ends a business that started in the difficult years of World War II, prospered during the post war boom when men and women still dressed up to go downtown and needed clothes that made them look elegant, and suffered broken windows during the 1960s protests against the Vietnam War and UC Regents.

“I am going to be 78 and I have been working 62+ years in the business, so I think it’s time to call it quits,” said Drewes. … Continue reading »

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Stop thief! Councilmember turns cop, solves crime

Officer Wengraf 004a
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On a recent Friday evening, City Councilmember Susan Wengraf put on a heavy bulletproof jacket and went on a ride-along with a Berkeley Police patrol officer. By the end of a thoroughly exciting night, Wengraf was talking enthusiastically about a second career in law enforcement — she had also been instrumental in solving a crime.

The ride-along  — which was a first for Wengraf who looks after District 6 in the Berkeley hills — started out routinely with the police officer responding to calls coming in over the dispatch radio. “There was a traffic accident with a woman who was 7-months pregnant,” recalled Wengraf. “A call about a 5-year old child who was missing, and an alarm going off at a home on Indian Rock.”

After a couple of hours roaming the city streets, there was word of a house robbery on Buena Vista Way, right in the heart of Wengraf’s district. The suspect had fled the scene, but there was a description, as a neighbor had seen him. … Continue reading »

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