Daily Archives: December 18, 2012


The Berkeley Wire: 12.18.12

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In memoriam: Stephan Jarjisian, loved and cherished

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By Jackie Childers

Stephan Garabed Jarjisian, or Steve as everyone knew him, was a PhD student in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He was known by many students, as he was a graduate instructor for several classes, including Animal Behavior and the Psychology of Sleep. He was finishing his doctoral dissertation under the advisement of Dr. Irving Zucker at the time of his tragic death.

He loved music. He loved playing his guitar on his balcony that overlooked the Bay, and he loved singing. When he whistled, which he did perfectly, you knew that he was happy in that moment (and he whistled often).

He loved jazz and listening to Rush, Taj Mahal, Pink Floyd (he once said that Dark Side of the Moon was the best album ever recorded), and Miles Davis. Every summer he would go to multiple Phish concerts near his hometown in Philadelphia with all of his friends, whom he cared for so much.

He loved cooking and had a special talent for creating culinary works of art. He loved fishing, here in the Bay as well as down in the Cayman Islands where he spent so much time with friends and family. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley considers becoming a No Drone Zone

Two quadricopter drones, typical of the designs popular with hobbyists. Photo: Gregor Hartl/Ars Electronica
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Berkeley City Council will tonight consider a proposal from the Peace & Justice Commission to ban the use of drones — unmanned aerial vehicles — in the city’s airspace. The recommended ordinance would also prohibit the city, or any agency of the city, from purchasing, borrowing, testing or using drones. Hobbyist use is exempted “as long as those devices are not equipped with any kind of camera or audio surveillance equipment.”

Alameda County Supervisors last week tabled a proposal from the county sheriff to use a $31,646 grant to buy a surveillance drone, following protests from the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation about the lack of privacy protections.  … Continue reading »

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Christmas Bird Count is not just for the birds

Snowy Egrets / Photo by Alan Krakauer
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By Ilana DeBare

Maureen Lahiff treks across the UC campus every weekday for her job as a public health lecturer.

Last Sunday, she made that trek again but saw the campus in a whole new light —  as a place brimming with birds.

Lahiff was among 200 volunteers taking part in the 72nd annual Oakland Christmas Bird Count, run by the Golden Gate Audubon Society.

Part of a national Audubon tradition, the Oakland count covers a 177-square mile circle that stretches north to Point Isabel and south to the Oakland Airport. Five of the count’s 29 teams were assigned to sections of Berkeley, including the waterfront, Claremont Canyon, Tilden Park, UC, and central Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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For Oakland food desert: A people’s grocery store

Brahm Ahmadi scaled
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The Bay Area may be known internationally as a foodie destination, but there are pockets of the region that stand in stark contrast to the world of organic produce, farmers’ markets and artisanal edibles. West Oakland, for example, is what some call a “food desert.” This low-income neighborhood has not sustained a full-service grocery store in years. Now, one man and his grassroots organization hope to change that by opening a “People’s Community Market,” the culmination of many years of groundwork and a lot of vision.

Brahm Ahmadi came to West Oakland more than 10 years ago as a community organizer focused on environmental issues, but he quickly found that the area’s residents were far more concerned with their lack of access to fresh, healthy food. As a result he founded People’s Grocery in 2002.

People’s Grocery is a collection of programs and experiments whose underlying, long-term goal has always been the creation of a brick-and-mortar grocery store — when the time seemed right. Ahmadi, who had no experience in retail, no food background and no history in the neighborhood, knew he had to invest some time into researching the idea and laying the foundation before breaking ground on what is known as the People’s Community Market. … Continue reading »

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Rich and satisfying: ‘The Hard Nut’ cracks the mold

Mark Morris Dance Group
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Exploding onto the main stage at Zellerbach Hall like the Fourth of July wrapped in black, white, red and green packaging, Mark Morris’s The Hard Nut made its triumphant return to Berkeley.

A three-year hiatus extended the production’s every-other-year tradition with Cal Performances. The last time Bay Area audiences boogied to Act I’s Gallop or swooned during the Nutcracker Ballet-inspired spoof-fest’s breathtaking duets and glorious ensemble machinations was 2009.

Although little has changed in the elaborate, 20-year old production created in 1991 during Morris’ stint in Brussels as Director of Dance at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, audiences have. Expectations increase, rather than fall, when the economy slumps and the advent — some say onslaught — of technology raises the bar every time a production is remounted. The show’s big numbers (48 crew members backstage, 32 dancers, 20 pounds of confetti used in the snow scene) prove only that Morris wasn’t kidding when he said the production was not created to tour or to make money for the company. … Continue reading »

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