Author Archives: Frances Dinkelspiel
Tabitha Soren was driving down Sacramento Street near Stanford Avenue when she spotted a change in a huge tree jutting up in the air.
For months Soren, a Berkeley photographer and former news correspondent for MTV and NBC, had been eyeing the tree. At 60 feet high, with a bifurcated trunk completely covered with leaves and vines, the tree was an arresting sight in the gritty Oakland neighborhood. Soren had long been intrigued by its sculptural qualities, but the tree had always been inaccessible behind a chain link fence. … Continue reading »
CAFE LA RENAISSANCE Christina Sun, who owns 3045 Shattuck Ave., a building that has been a neighborhood flashpoint for years, has opened up a cozy cafe on the ground floor. Called Café La Renaissance (pictured top), the eatery two blocks south of Ashby Avenue opened its doors May 6 selling coffee and other beverages. Now it has introduced sandwiches, salads, pastries from The Bread Workshop, as well as gluten-free sandwiches from Sista Sandwich in Oakland. The interior is inviting, with couches, posters, a Renaissance-style oil painting, and a fireplace mantle. “Renaissance means rebirth,” said manager Dani Stewart. Sun “wanted to set up an environment where people could come and leave all their worries behind. It’s a play on words.” The building, once known as “the flying cottage,” was declared a public nuisance by the City Council in 2003. It was heavily damaged in a 2006 arson fire and then rebuilt. The hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. … Continue reading »
Berkeley police were out in force Thursday for the funeral of Ceejay Reed, 19, at McGee Avenue Baptist Church in South Berkeley.
The police established a visible presence on McGee and Stuart Street around 11 a.m. in an effort to deter a repeat of a shooting Tuesday night in East Oakland during a street vigil for Reed. On that occasion, a car driving by a group of people mourning Reed in the 5000 block of Melrose Avenue fired 20 to 30 bullets, one of which killed a 19-year-old Antioch man. Some of the bullets shattered the window of Oakland Fire Station 18, narrowly missing two firefighters, according to news reports. … Continue reading »
It was four days to D-Day and the place was hopping.
Painters rolled on a last coat of paint. IT guys fiddled with computer wire while architects strolled around looking for last minute glitches. Carpenters nailed sheets of plywood to a storage area.
In just a few hours, the new South Branch of the Berkeley Public Library was set to open. And, while the bulk of the construction was done, there were numerous small things that hadn’t been completely finished, like the landscaping, shelving all the books, installing all the computers, and the final build-out of the Tool Library.
“We have a lot to do in the next few days but we are feeling good about it,” Donna Corbeil, the city librarian, said on Tuesday. When pressed, though, about whether it would be finished, she took a long pause before answering with a resounding “Yes!” … Continue reading »
Update 9:00 p.m.: US Attorney Melinda Haag told the Oakland Tribune in a prepared statement that “we continue to take a measured approach and have only pursued asset forfeiture actions with respect to marijuana retail sales operations very near schools, parks or playgrounds, at the request of local law enforcement, or in one case, because of the sheer size of its distribution operations.”
City and state officials and medical cannabis advocates vowed Wednesday to fight back against … Continue reading »
RISING FROM THE ASHES Good news for fans of Breads of India. The restaurant at 2448 Sacramento St., which was seriously damaged by a fire in September, plans to reopen sometime in mid-June, according to the owner Rohit Singh. Construction to repair the building started in late April after many months navigating insurance issues and city permits, he said. When the restaurant reopens it will feature the same menu with changing daily specials, but the space will be updated and ADA compliant. The Sacramento Street location was the first Breads of India location – it opened in 1997 – and it’s been tough having it closed, said Singh. There are two other branches, one in Oakland and one in Walnut Creek. … Continue reading »
In 1962, when Joan Steinau Lester was 19 years old and living in New England, she fell in love with a young African-American writer. Her family disapproved, so the idealistic young woman ran off to New York City to join her boyfriend. The young couple married six months later — an act that was illegal in 27 states – and eventually had a son and a daughter.
Raising two biracial children in a world that still regarded segregation as matter of course was not easy, but as the Civil Rights movement gained momentum, prompting a breakdown of racial barriers, society grew more tolerant. Today, one out of every 12 marriages is made up of people of two different races, according to the 2010 census. There are 4.2 million biracial children in the U.S. … Continue reading »
As the weather heats up — the National Weather Service is predicting that the temperature will hit 87 degrees by Thursday – officials have issued a Red Flag Warning for the East Bay Hills for Tuesday and Wednesday.
The wind is expected to pick up speed around 6:00 p.m. today, with heavy gusts of up to 50 mph possible by early Wednesday morning. The strong winds should last until 6 p.m. May 1.
The official fire season in Berkeley hasn’t started yet, but the fire department is taking extra precautions in anticipation of the heat and wind, according to Avery Webb, interim deputy fire chief and public information officer. Firefighters have been asked to check their wildland firefighting gear and put it in their vehicles, he said. … Continue reading »
Berkeley author Michael Lewis sauntered into Mrs. Dalloway’s bookstore on College Avenue on Monday, dressed for the 85-degree weather in a white cotton jacket and pants.
The crowd, which had been expecting him a half hour sooner and had started to disperse, quickly returned to the seats set up before a podium. Within seconds, Lewis, the bestselling writer of books such as Moneyball, Liar’s Poker, The Blind Side and The Big Short, had captivated the audience with his easygoing humor.
Ten Berkeley residents — including a former aide to Mayor Tom Bates, the former top administrator for the city of Oakland, a UC Berkeley law professor, a nuclear scientist, a Berkeley High math teacher, and a longtime member of the high school’s Safety Committee — have applied to fill the vacancy on the Berkeley Unified School District board.
The applicants are vying to fill the seat vacated March 31 by Board President Leah Wilson. The district will whittle down the list to a set of finalists by April 24. Those candidates will be invited to give a three-minute presentation to the board and the community at a May 1 meeting. The school board hopes to select Wilson’s replacement by May 8. … Continue reading »
IMAGINE NONVIOLENCE In response to the March 16 shooting at the club, which injured two employees, and violence in general, Ashkenaz is sponsoring an event called “Imagining Nonviolence” on Friday April 19. “This event explores, celebrates, and shares numerous ways that we heal from violence, individually and within community. Starting with a hands-on healing art workshop, participants will collage and may post their art to build a Wall of Peace in our Back Studio. There will be counselors available and a drum circle for kids. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. with a kids’ drumming circle and then a community drumming circle. At 9:30 p.m., SambaDá and cosmos Percussion Orchestra – the same bands that were playing the night of the assault – will perform. Tickets are $10-$12. The Ashkenaz Music and Dance Community Center is at 1317 San Pablo Ave. … Continue reading »
There’s a whole lot of information languishing around in Alameda County.
Like the number of times people have reported bedbugs. Or the county’s various fictitious business names. Or the reports of disease.
Now officials are hoping some clever programmers, coders, community activists, and entrepreneurs will come together to turn the county’s raw data into web and mobile applications. Alameda County is sponsoring its second “Alameda County Apps Challenge,” on Saturday April 27 at Berkeley High School. “Got code?” is the theme of the daylong hackathon. … Continue reading »
David Morris, whose Bread Garden bakery on Domingo Avenue in Berkeley was the one of the first to offer fresh, handmade croissants and baguettes when it opened in 1973, died on April 3 of cancer. He was 65.
Morris, who operated The Bread Garden for 39 years, shut it down in 2012 because of dwindling sales. In the summer of 2012 he opened a similar bakery in Paso Robles to much acclaim and appreciation from the community.
“Amazing breads!” wrote one customer on Yelp! “Will certainly be going back often. Picked up a couple of goodies too. Yummy. Just what Paso needed!”
Morris bequeathed the bakery to his longtime manager, Sandy Luong, who lives in Emeryville. Luong had assisted Morris in getting the Paso Robles Bakery open.
“I do have full intention of keeping it open and seeing David’s dream of starting a new bakery in a new location followed through,” said Luong, who plans to commute back and forth between the Bay Area and Paso Robles. … Continue reading »