Daily Archives: July 19, 2012


The Berkeley Wire: 07.19.12

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Berkeley’s rocky relationship between paving and bikes

Bike lanes and bike boulevards are part of Berkeley's bike-friendly strategy. Photo: Nancy Rubin
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When Israeli neuroscientist Shlomo Bentin died after a bicycle accident last Friday, many of the commenters on Berkeleyside were convinced they knew the culprit: the poor state of the pavement on Bancroft Way. “The pavement quality going down Bancroft is in absolutely atrocious condition,” wrote one commenter. “The reason this could have a bearing on this accident is that cyclists often must deviate from an ideal line in order to avoid htting a huge crater, pothole or logitudinal fissure thereby forcing them to swerve more into the line of traffic.”

Berkeley police are still investigating the accident, and there is no way yet to know whether the pavement is at issue. But cycling advocates and transport experts agree that pavement quality is a factor in both bike safety and bike use.

“The condition of the roadway plays a significant role,” said Dave Campbell, program director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. “If you hit a pothole on a bicycle you can go down, and lots of terrible things can happen when you go down.”  … Continue reading »

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On eunuchs and intrigues: Talking with Anita Amirrezvani

Anita Amirrezvani 3 by Rex Bonomelli
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A lustful eunuch intent on revenge. A Persian princess seeking to bend an empire to her will. A bloodthirsty Shah with a jones for opium and a deadly streak of paranoia. Anita Amirrezvani’s second novel, Equal of the Sun (Scribner) is a beautifully crafted tale based upon the intrigues that followed the death of Tahmasb Shah, who ruled the Persian Empire from 1524-76. Amirrizvani reads from “Equal of the Sun” at Mrs. Dalloway’s in the Elmwood tonight at 7:30 p.m.

A long time Berkeley resident who settled here after earning a BA in English from Cal, Amirrizvani spent more than a decade cogently covering dance for the Contra Costa Times and San Jose Mercury News. Her first novel, 2007’s “The Blood of Flowers” (Little, Brown and Company) was set in 17th-century Iran, but it wasn’t based on historical figures. “Equal of the Sun” delves into the inner workings of the palace during a time of upheaval, and the critical role played by eunuchs.

Andrew Gilbert: Let’s talk a little about your family background. You were born in Tehran, and your father is Iranian and your mother American. How did they meet?

Anita Amirrezvani: My mom is Lithuanian-American, and she emigrated to the US when she was young. She and my dad met at the University of Miami when they were college students in the late 1950s. Thinking about it, I realized, how else did people of such diverse backgrounds end up meeting at that time? They got married in Iran, and I was born there. Things being what they were, they separated and I came back to US with my mom when I was two and a half. … Continue reading »

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Car fire in Berkeley causes dramatic smoke, no injuries

Aftermath of fire  Derby St by Sandy Friedland
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Firefighters were called at around 9:50am this morning to attend to a car fire at Redwood Gardens on Derby Street in South Berkeley. Citizen reporter Sandy Friedland was on the scene and said the smoke caused by the blaze was dramatic.

Crews from Berkeley and Oakland went to tackle the fire that erupted in a BMW parked near trees and vegetation at around 9:45am on Thursday morning. According to Friedland, a VW sedan parked in front of the BMW that burned also caught fire. Firefighters were hosing down the pavement at around 10:30am.

The owner of BMW, who did not want to give his name, said he was loading clothes into the passenger side of the car, when fire erupted on the driver’s side and “the seat melted”, Friedland reported. “The car was not running. No one was burned, thank goodness,” she said. … Continue reading »

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Beat poet joins crowded field for Berkeley mayoral race

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The iconic Caffe Med on Telegraph Avenue was the perfect venue for an interview with Mark Schwartz, a 21st-century beat poet and candidate for mayor of Berkeley.

The multidimensional Schwartz has 13 books of poetry under his belt and holds an engineering degree from Cornell University. (The new edition of “On Third Street Kerouac Revisited” is graced with a blurb by Noam Chomsky who says the book is, “For one of those rare moments of a little tranquility.”)

Schwartz grew up in a Jewish household in the Bronx and followed a boyfriend to the West Coast in 1978. Since then, he’s lived mostly in San Francisco, but came to Berkeley three years ago. He now lives in a cottage in north west Berkeley.

Schwarz suffers from mental illness, for which he’s been hospitalized and, comparing himself to Thomas Eagleton — a former senator from Missouri who suffered from mental illness — he says his disability won’t be an impediment in taking on the office of mayor. Asked if he’d care to elaborate on the nature of his illness, the candidate answered with a sense of humor that was evident during much of the interview: “I’m classified as a schizophrenic affective – that’s because I’m effective with people.” … Continue reading »

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