Daily Archives: July 20, 2012


The Berkeley Wire: 07.20.12

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Anthrax scare at Berkeley police station, other cities

BPD station
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Update, 5:00pm: Berkeleyside’s Lance Knobel filed this report from Berkeley Police station:

A white envelope containing a suspicious white powder was opened at the BPD this afternoon at 2:17 pm leading to an evacuation of part of the public safety building and a dispatch of specially trained hazmat teams from BFD and Alameda Fire Department. The hazmat teams determined that the powder was a food paste product and the all-clear was given to the building at 4:00 pm this afternoon.

The Berkeley envelope was one of at least four similar incidents today — the others were in Hayward, San Leandro and Union City. Berkeley has launched a criminal investigation and the FBI has been notified and will be involved in the investigation.

The envelope was received as part of the ordinary mail delivery and was opened by a female member of the professional staff who worked at the front counter. “She recognized the need for caution and concern right away. She alerted her chain of command,” said BPD Sgt Mary Kusmiss. … Continue reading »

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Willy Wonka at Berkeley Playhouse: An enchanting ride

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Berkeley Playhouse’s new production “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” directed by Elizabeth McKoy, is an entertaining and touching show that will appeal to kids and adults alike.

Based on Roald Dahl’s classic book “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” it follows young Charlie as he finds a rare golden ticket hidden in a bar of chocolate. With this ticket, he gets the opportunity to meet the famous candy connoisseur Willy Wonka and tour his remarkable factory. With a standout performance by Vernon Bush as Willy Wonka, creatively bold sets and costumes, and an enthusiastic cast of professional actors and children, this production measures up to the many past screen and stage adaptations.

The show begins with Bush, dressed as Wonka in a vibrant, sparkly outfit and elevated in the air, alone on stage singing the beloved classic “Pure Imagination.” His smooth and soulful voice resonates throughout the playhouse and invites the audience into the wondrous world of Willy Wonka.

As the play goes on, Bush’s spirited and confident performance steals the show. Reminiscent of Johnny Depp’s creepily friendly rendition of Wonka in Tim Burton’s 2005 adaptation, Bush is intriguingly nonchalant. This comes across for instance in his blasé attitude towards slightly gruesome events, for instance when a young boy is sucked away into a pipe of chocolate. The mature complexity that Bush displays will interest an adult audience members, yet his carefree attitude will draw in children more than Depp’s unsettling rendition. … Continue reading »

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Local 123 finds its feet in West Berkeley and beyond

A look inside Local 123.
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Frieda Hoffman, who runs Local 123, a popular west Berkeley café, trained to be a social worker and wanted to work in the addiction field. She spent six years in Berlin with her then-husband, a German, but had difficulty landing work in her area. So when an American friend decided to open up a café there, and became quickly overwhelmed, she jumped in to lend a hand and discovered that she rather liked the barista business and wound up managing the java joint.

Hoffman and her husband returned to the States in 2008 and toyed with the idea of running an eco inn along the coast, but soon realized that was cost prohibitive. So then they started scouting for café locations – and found the storefront on San Pablo Avenue, formerly a video rental store and a beauty supply shop. (During the build-out, much of which the Local 123 crew  did themselves, they discovered placenta hair gel, among other artifacts.)

Her marriage didn’t survive the cross-Atlantic shift but Hoffman decided to soldier on with opening the café – the business was a welcome distraction – and her sister-in-law Katy Wafle, stepped in to help. Hoffman lived above the café until the summer of 2009, when she decided she was done waking up to the sound of coffee grinders. … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

PACES photo
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NATURAL WONDERS  A visit to the UC Botanical Garden is always an exercise in amazement. The garden’s collection of thousands of plants from around the world grabs the senses and immerses them into sights, shapes, and smells. Now a number  of artists have built site-specific installations in the garden, drawing their inspiration from the various exotic plants. Their work is on display at In Natural Discourse: Artists, Architects, and Scientists in the Garden, an exhibit that runs through Jan. 20, 2013.

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Man throws rock through window at Alta Bates

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Citizen reporter Carl Bass sent in this photo of a window at Alta Bates which was shattered on Thursday afternoon when a man threw a rock through it. Berkeley police arrested the man, said Bass.

To get breaking Berkeley news, follow Berkeleyside on Twitter and on Facebook.

Police Blotter: Recent crime in Berkeley

Police HQ
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July 8

Attempted robbery, 1500 block of Stuart Street
On Sunday, July 8, 2012, at approximately 11:00 p.m., an attempted robbery occurred in the 1500 block of Stuart Street. The victim was knocked to the ground causing minor injuries.  The suspect attempted to take the victim’s property, but was unable to get any of the property. The suspect is described as: Suspect – “Black male juvenile, 16 years old, 5’5” tall, 155 lbs wearing a red short sleeve shirt, black pants and red tennis shoes.” … Continue reading »

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