Author Archives: Frances Dinkelspiel

Going blind and deaf will not defeat Rebecca Alexander

Rebecca Alexander writes about losing her sight and hearing in her new book, Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found. She is holding her mini goldendoodle, Olive.
Print Friendly

Rebecca Alexander’s world is slowly getting a little darker and quieter.

Every day, she loses a little sight. And a little hearing. But the 35-year-old athlete, spin teacher, therapist and new author refuses to let the shutting down of her senses defeat her.

Alexander suffers from Usher Syndrome type III, a rare genetic disorder that leaves most people deaf and blind by the time they are in their 40s. Alexander, who will be speaking about her new book Not Fade Away at Head Royce School on Monday, Sept. 29, and Books, Inc. on Fourth Street in Berkeley on Tuesday, Sept. 30, now has only about 10% of her vision left. She can see directly in front of her, but has no peripheral vision. It’s like “the end of one of those old Warner Bros. cartoons on TV, where Bugs Bunny sits in the center of the screen waving goodbye as the picture becomes an increasingly smaller hole, until it’s finally gone, leaving only blackness. That’s all, folks,” she writes in the book. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

A kosher harvest at Covenant Winery in Berkeley

Jeff Morgan, the co-owner and wine maker at Covenant Winery
Print Friendly

Jeff Morgan couldn’t keep his hands off the grapes

The gleaming purple clusters were heaped in crates in the parking lot of Covenant, his new winery in Berkeley. Morgan, a saxophonist and writer turned award-winning winemaker, had just brought the fruit down from Sonoma. As he wrapped the straps that had tied the crates onto the flatbed truck, he kept plucking grapes. A smile spread across his face every time he popped one in his mouth,

“These are really good,” said Morgan, a man with abundant kinetic energy and a laugh to go with it. “I am very excited about these grapes. I have never made wine with them before.”

The Grenache grapes were beautiful. They had only been picked about two or three hours earlier from the 700-acre Kunde Vineyard and they glistened in the sun, plump and juicy and without a hint of shrivel. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Beverage companies donate $800K to fight soda tax

The PAC against a soda tax in Berkeley has poured $800,000 into the No on Measure D campaign. Will Berkeley be first? Photo: Mike Mozart
Print Friendly

The political arm of the American Beverage Association donated $500,000 on Sept. 16 to fight a proposed tax on sugary beverages in Berkeley, bringing to $800,000 the amount of money it has poured into the No on Measure D campaign.

The contribution, which appears to be the single largest in Berkeley history, will be used to print materials, mail campaign flyers, send campaign workers door-to-door, and pay for advertisements in newspapers and on websites. (Full disclosure: Berkeleyside has a number of No on D ads on its site, as well as a Yes on D ad.) … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Events mark 50th anniversary of Free Speech Movement

An iconic image from the Free Speech Movement, which erupted on the Berkeley campus 50 years ago. Photo: UC Berkeley Libraries
Print Friendly

Oct. 1 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, a protest that only lasted for three months but set the stage for the turbulent 1960s.

On that day, thousands of UC Berkeley students surrounded a police car parked near Sproul Plaza. A young man named Jack Weinberg was inside. He had been arrested for distributing political material on university grounds despite rules that forbade it.

Many of the students who spontaneously surrounded the police car had been involved – or had been watching – the Civil Rights movement emerge. They were outraged by the injustices of the Jim Crow south. They had protested when the House Un-American Activities Committee held hearings in San Francisco. They had been furious when Clark Kerr, the president of the UC system, had declared that it was illegal to hand out political pamphlets on university grounds. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Bicyclist suffers life-threatening injuries after colliding with car at the intersection of Spruce and Eunice

A cyclist was struck by a car Sunday morning at the intersection of Spruce and Eunice. Photo: Larry Kudsk
Print Friendly

A bicyclist pedaling on Spruce near Eunice was seriously injured this morning when the bicyclist and a car collided, according to Berkeley police.

The accident happened at at 8:15 a.m. and the bicyclist suffered life-threatening injuries, according to police. He or she was transported to the hospital.

The Fatal Accident Investigation Team is on the scene. The driver and witnesses are cooperating with investigators. Police have not said which party was at fault in the accident.

The police department is … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,

Woman jumps out 3rd story window to escape fire

A woman was injured Sept. 13 when she jumped from a third story window to escape a fire that had broken out at 3144 King St.
Print Friendly

A woman who jumped out of an apartment building to escape a fire Saturday morning suffered serious injuries and was transported to a local trauma center, according to officials.

The Berkeley Fire Department responded to a report of a fire at 3144 King Street, between Woolsey and Fairview streets at 9:01 a.m., according to Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb. The fire erupted in a hallway outside a bedroom on the third floor and created a lot of black smoke, he said.

Two women were inside the bedroom when the fire started, said Webb. One apparently tried to escape by jumping from the window to a tree, but the branch sje landed on broke and she fell three stories to the ground, said Webb. The other woman was rescued by firefighters. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , ,

Politics and prose are all in a day’s work for Erik Tarloff

Erik Tarloff. Photo: Terry Lorant
Print Friendly

When the bestselling author Erik Tarloff turned up for an interview at Berkeley’s Elmwood Café in July, he had left an empty house. His wife, Laura D’Andrea Tyson, the former economic advisor to President Bill Clinton and a professor at the Haas School of Business, was in Aspen consulting with U.S. leaders. Tarloff had remained behind at their Berkeley home as he prepared to depart for Stockbridge, Mass., where the Berkshire Theater Group was gearing up to perform his new play, “Cedars.”

This interplay between writing and politics has been a constant in Tarloff’s life, and one that seems to inform his writing. He was born in Los Angeles to screenwriting parents who were blacklisted in 1953 because of their affiliation with Communism. The family had to move to England so his father could find work. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Target to open small city store in downtown Berkeley

Target plans to open a TargetExpress store in downtown Berkeley in March 2015. This is a photo of the first TargetExpress store, which opened in July in Minneapolis. Photo: Target
Print Friendly

Target is coming to town.

The Minneapolis-based retailer is poised to turn a long vacant building at the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Allston Way into one of its new-concept TargetExpress stores by March 2015. The store will only be 12,000 square feet — compared to the average Target store size of 80,000 square feet — but will sell food, clothing, accessories and consumer electronics that will appeal to students, commuters and downtown’s growing residential population. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , ,

Gabrielle Selz’s ‘Unstill Life’ provides peek into the modern art world with its glamour, ambition, heartbreak

Gabrielle Selz and Peter Selz. Photo: Courtesy of Gabrielle Selz
Print Friendly

When Gabrielle Selz was growing up in New York in the 1960s, her house was filled with artists who have become icons of the time: Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, and Alberto Giacometti.

Selz’s father was Peter Selz – then a curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, a man whom the New York Times dubbed “Mr. Modern Art.” Peter Selz moved to Berkeley in 1965 to become the founding director of the Berkeley Art Museum, a position that allowed him to showcase West Coast artists. He highlighted Funk, film, and ceramicists like Peter Voulkos and Robert Arneson who were not even considered true artists at the time. Peter Selz later became project director for Christo’s Running Fence, the 24.5-mile long billowing fabric fence that ran over the Marin County hills in 1976. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Berkeley buildings to get upgrades after library lawsuit

Ashkenaz will use a $27,000 grant it received from the Berkeley Preservation Trust to seismically upgrade its building and help fund a new roof. Photo: Joe Balestreri
Print Friendly

A bell tower constructed in 1878. A nursery school built in 1927. An import-export warehouse converted into a music venue. A prefabricated panel cottage put together in 1887.

These four Berkeley structures will soon be improved, thanks to $87,000 generated by the settlement of a lawsuit between Berkeley and Concerned Library Users, a group that protested how some Measure FF library bond funds were to be used. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Berkeley zoning ballot language heading to court

Downtown-resized
Print Friendly

Berkeley City Councilman Jesse Arreguín filed a lawsuit against Berkeley on Wednesday seeking to overturn ballot language that will be used to describe a downtown zoning initiative.

Arreguín wants an Alameda County Superior Court judge to take up the matter immediately, since final ballot language for the November 2014 election is due Sept. 2. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Woman stabbed on AC Transit bus: ‘What did I do that made you want to murder me?’

A woman was stabbed Monday night on an AC Transit bus like this one. Photo: Paul Sullivan
Print Friendly

This article has been updated to include comments by the father of the alleged assailant.

Update: 8/16 If you want to help Mariah, you can made a donation at a You Fund Me site that has been set up for her. It’s like a personal kickstarter: http://www.gofundme.com/d5bars

Original Story: The woman who was repeatedly stabbed by a man when she was riding an AC Transit bus on San Pablo Avenue on Aug. 11 said she had not even noticed her alleged assailant before he pushed a knife into her eye. But she did spot the man who came to her rescue.

Mariah Elizabeth, 21, of Oakland (Berkeleyside is not using her last name) had gotten on the northbound 72M bus at 40th and San Pablo around 10:00 p.m. or so Monday. She was on her way to the San Pablo Lytton Casino. As she bounded up the steps of the bus, Mariah spotted a young man in his 20s skateboarding across the street. He, too, got on the bus. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Animal rights activists smash Star Grocery windows

The window that was vandalized at Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
Print Friendly

Two FBI agents visited Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue on Monday to investigate a broken window the government believes was smashed by animal rights activists.

The large plate glass window of the market, which has been run by the Pappas family since 1922, was smashed around 2 a.m. on Sunday, July 27, according to Nick Pappas, the store’s owner. He wasn’t aware of the animal rights connection until the FBI contacted him a few days later, he said. … Continue reading »

Tagged , , , , ,