Author Archives: Frances Dinkelspiel

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

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GOODBYE TO THE OLD BERKELEY ART MUSEUM For 44 years, the Berkeley Art Museum at 2626 Bancroft Ave. has been a galvanizing force for culture in Berkeley and beyond. Many of the world’s greatest artists have performed or displayed their work there. But the Brutalist building designed by Mario Ciampi, and opened in 1970, is not seismically safe. It will close at the end of 2014 as BAM prepares for its move in early 2016 into a new 82,000-square foot home on Center Street designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. To celebrate the transition, BAM/PFA is throwing itself a goodbye party on Sunday called Let’s Go! A Farewell Revel. Starting at 11 a.m. and lasting until 5 p.m., the free celebration includes a create-your-own-museum art workshop, a dance battle by TURFinc, “vibrant vocals” from the women’s group, Kitka, a performance by pianist/composer Sarah Cahill of Gyorgy Ligeti’s 1962 composition “Poème symphonique” for 100 metronomes, and more. (Be sure to check out the Kickstarter campaign in progress to record the acoustics of the building.) The day will end with a procession from the Bancroft building through the campus to the new structure at 2155 Center St. Luckily, the forecast calls for a mix of sun and clouds. During the year it is closed, BAM/PFA will put on mobile exhibits around town. The PFA will continue to show films at its current site on Bancroft, across the street from the art museum. … Continue reading »

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Best Books of 2014: Chosen by local authors, Berkeleyside

Photo via Creative Commons
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Every year Berkeleyside puts together a list of the best books the editors have read. We generally ask local authors and literary-minded folk to contribute their picks. This year we decided to mimic the format used by The Guardian newspaper in Britain, and that meant asking everyone to limit their selections to two books apiece – a difficult task, we found. Here, then, is our selection of the Best Books of 2014.

Elizabeth Rosner: “Two books leap ahead of the herd”

Berkeley author Elizabeth Rosner published two books in 2014, including Electric City (named a Best Book of 2014 by NPR) and Gravity, a book of poems.

Two books leap ahead of the herd when I think about outstanding reading experiences this year.

The first is Karen Joy Fowler’s acclaimed novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, with its astonishingly original approach to the subject of familial love. Months after finishing the book, I can still recall the sensation of holding my breath while I turned the pages, hopeful and terrified and amused and devastated. This story broke my heart and blew my mind. In a very different but equally momentous way, I found myself profoundly affected by cover designer Peter Mendelsund’s book What We See When We Read. He offers an inspired “phenomenological” study of something that we readers both do and do not quite know about what is happening inside our brains, using examples from many of my favorite writers (Woolf, Tolstoy, Joyce, Kafka, and plenty of others). It’s a thrillingly visual and imaginative window into the mysterious and rapturous activity we call reading. … Continue reading »

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Anonymous artist collective claims responsibility for lynching effigies erected at UC Berkeley

Pastor Michael McBride tweeted this photo of a cut out of Laura Nelson out on Twitter.
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An anonymous artists’ collective posted notices at UC Berkeley on Sunday announcing it had placed three effigies in nooses at Cal — and a number of others around Oakland.

The group created the life-size cardboard cutouts of people who had been lynched to draw parallels between the past and modern day society, according to a statement.

See Berkeleyside coverage of the Berkeley protests.

“These images connect past events to present ones – referencing endemic faultlines of hatred and persecution that are and should be deeply unsettling to the American consciousness,” they wrote. “We choose to remain anonymous because this is not about us as artists, but about the growing movement to address these pervasive wrongs.” … Continue reading »

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Police Review Commission asks for suspension of tear gas

A line of police officers marched down Telegraph Avenue during the Dec. 6th protests. Photo: Pete Rosos
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After hearing the testimony of about 10 people who said they were treated unnecessarily roughly during a Dec. 6 protest, the Police Review Commission voted Wednesday to ask Berkeley city officials to restrict the use of tear gas, over-the-shoulder baton hits and firing projectiles as a form of crowd control.

The PRC, which put the issue on its agenda as an emergency measure, is hoping the Berkeley City Council will do the same at its meeting Tuesday, Dec. 16.

Read more coverage of the recent protests in Berkeley.

“Our proposal was for a cooling-off period,” said Alison Bernstein, vice chair of the PRC. “[Using tear gas] is a crowd control technique. We’re not saying it’s right. We’re not saying it’s wrong. But we are hearing serious concerns from the community.” … Continue reading »

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2 officials demand investigation into police tear gas use in Berkeley protest Saturday

City Council members Jesse Arreguín and Kriss Worthington told a crowd of protesters yesterday that they want an investigation into the use of tear gas by police. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Hours after Berkeley’s police chief defended his department’s decision to use tear gas on protesters on Telegraph Avenue on Saturday, Dec. 6, two Berkeley City Council members called for an investigation into what they said were police excesses.

Kriss Worthington and Jesse Arreguín made that call on the steps of Old City Hall shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday. Normally, the two would have been inside the building for the regular council meeting, but Mayor Tom Bates had canceled the meeting earlier in the day, expressing concern that it would be swamped with hundreds or thousands of protesters. Bates said he plans to reschedule the meeting soon.

Speaking through a megaphone to a crowd of more than 200 people that had gathered as part of the fourth night of protest against police killings of and violence against black men, Worthington said Berkeley police had used their batons Saturday to hit students, members of the clergy, journalists and others.

“I am embarrassed that Berkeley police would attack our constituents,” he said. “We will demand an investigation. … We will demand reforms of the way the police operate in the entire city of Berkeley.” … Continue reading »

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Two years after the shooting of Pamula Mullins, Berkeley police are still looking for clues to her killing

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Cathy White has never forgotten the last phone conversation she had with her younger sister, Pamula Mullins.

It was the evening of Dec. 4, 2012. The two sisters were discussing what each would make for Christmas dinner. Mullins offered to make her “messy” salad – a salad chock full of things other than lettuce – and White was gently trying to talk her out of it. Unbeknownst to Mullins, no-one in the family really liked her salad, but they were too polite to tell her that directly.

After a good laugh — the two sisters were very close — Mullins said she had to get off the phone to go to the store.

That was the last time White talked to her sister. … Continue reading »

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5 local cookbooks that will make great holiday gifts

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The front table of Mrs. Dalloway’s bookstore on College Avenue in Berkeley is brimming with cookbooks, a sure sign of the holiday season. Many publishers release cookbooks in October so they have time to build enough buzz to make them a must-have on every foodies’ holiday gift list.

A number of high-profile cooks and food writers released books this year, including a third tome from the popular Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi called Plenty More; How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman; and the ever-popular Joy of Cooking.

All good cookbooks, to be sure. But what is out there to buy for the devoted locavore? How about narrowing that down to authors with an East Bay connection?

Below are Nosh’s holiday gift recommendations: five fabulous cookbooks featuring local chefs or cooks with East Bay connections. And, as with much of the food in the East Bay, it begins at Chez Panisse.

Mention “Berkeleyside Nosh” at Mrs Dalloway’s and you’ll receive a 10% discount on any of these books!Continue reading »

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Decades-old mural could derail Berkeley apartment project

Patrick Kennedy is hoping to build at 70-unit building at 2539 Telegraph Ave., but is concerned that a mural on the property will be landmarked, making the project unfeasible. Photo: Panoramic Interests
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After deciding the former Center for Independent Living building at 2539 Telegraph Ave. should not be a landmark, Berkeley’s Landmarks Preservation Commission is pondering whether a faded and weathered mural in the property’s back parking lot deserves that recognition — a move developer Patrick Kennedy says could kill his plans to build an apartment complex on the site.

The landmark designation of the mural might also mean that the Center for Independent Living (CIL) would lose the $3 million it would get for the sale of its building, a loss that could impact programming and the organization’s future, according to Stuart S. James, its executive director.

“The mural in its current crumbling condition means little to us,” James wrote in a letter he sent to all the members of the Berkeley City Council. The “issue … could adversely affect the future of our organization.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley may consider new rules for cannabis grow sites

Cannabis being inspected at Berkeley Patients Group. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Update 11/19/14: The City Council voted on Nov. 18 to refer this item to the Planning Commission for further review.

Even though Berkeley residents voted in 2010 to allow six commercial cannabis grow sites to operate in the city’s manufacturing zone, none has opened – and none probably will unless the city changes its guidelines, according to a report that will be presented tonight to the City Council.

When Measure T was adopted in 2010, it restricted cannabis grow factories to the city’s M (manufacturing) zone. But space appropriate for operations of 30,000 square feet (the maximum allowed for each site) is extremely limited, according to the report prepared by the city’s Medical Cannabis Commission. Moreover, very few properties in that district come up for rent.

“In trying to relocate to expand our operations, we encountered scarcity of suitable space in the M District, compounded by apprehension from Berkeley landlords to lease to cannabis related businesses,” one cannabis businessman testified to the MCC in November 2013. His words were included in the report. … Continue reading »

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Jake Silverstein, new editor of New York Times Magazine: ‘The East Bay shaped my view of the world’

Jake Silverstein: the recently appointed editor of the New York Times Magazine grew up in the East Bay
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In March 2014, Jake Silverstein was tapped for one of the top jobs in journalism: the editorship of the New York Times Magazine. A 1993 graduate of Berkeley High School, Silverstein, 39, has deep roots — and a deep affinity — for Berkeley. Surprisingly, he didn’t write for the Berkeley High Jacket, but he did pen stories for the high school’s literary magazine and acted with an independent theater group. His first real professional journalism piece was an East Bay Express story on Ed Gong, the famed piano mover.

Silverstein is a poet, author of the 2010 fiction/non-fiction hybrid book, Nothing Happened and Then it Did: A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction, and a barbecue lover. His deep love of long-form narrative nonfiction took him from the Big Bend Sentinel in Marfa, Texas to the editorship of the Texas Monthly which was nominated under his stewardship for 12 National Magazine Awards. It won four, including one for general excellence.

He grew up in an intellectual family in Oakland. Silverstein’s mother, Marsha Silverstein, is a psychotherapist in Berkeley who also works with the Ann Martin Center. His father, Murray Silverstein, is a poet and an architect with the Berkeley firm JSWD Architects. He is also the co-author of numerous books, including Dorms at Berkeley: An Environmental Analysis and Patterns of Home: The Ten Essentials of Enduring Design. (Silverstein used his father’s business address to get into Berkeley High.)

Silverstein was in Berkeley recently to give the keynote address at The Latest in Longform: The Berkeley Narrative Journalism Conference 2014. For many of the journalists in the room, there was one overriding question: will Silverstein’s West Coast upbringing (and his years in Texas, another sort of western frontier) give a different spin to the Gray Lady? … Continue reading »

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15 displaced after early-morning fire in North Berkeley

12 people were displaced when a fire broke out Monday morning at 1802 Bonita Ave. Photo: David Yee
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A fire broke out at 1802 Bonita Ave. near Delaware Street around 5:06 a.m. Monday morning, displacing 15 people living in various rooms.

No-one was injured in the blaze, which sent huge flames shooting above the white, three-story Victorian-style house.

“When crews arrived they found fire and smoke coming from the third story,” said Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong. “It looked like a dormer attic space.” … Continue reading »

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Zoning Board says cannabis collective a public nuisance

Berkeley officials contend that Forty Acres operatied an illegal cannabis operation on the top floor of this building at 1820-1828 San Pablo Avenue. Photo: Google Street View
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Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board voted unanimously Nov. 6 to declare the Forty Acres Medical Marijuana Growers’ Collective a public nuisance – the latest step in Berkeley’s three-year odyssey to shut the place down.

ZAB officials listened to two and a half hours of testimony at the hearing, including impassioned pleas from neighbors who said the area near 1820-1828 San Pablo Ave., right above The Albatross pub, had become a no-go zone.

The smell of marijuana in the area is so strong that numerous families don’t let their children play outside, according to testimony of several neighbors. Cars routinely block driveways – and the drivers become aggressive when asked to move. Groups of people openly smoke cannabis on the sidewalks. Sometimes the partying goes on until the wee hours of the morning. Those that can’t make it home sometimes sleep in door-wells or on the sidewalk, according to neighbors. … Continue reading »

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New hotel project is a go again after defeat of Measure R

The developer for a downtown Berkeley hotel proposal at Shattuck and Center said his plans are on hold pending November's election. Image: JRDV Urban International
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Now that Measure R, the initiative that aimed to impose stricter standards on tall buildings, has been defeated, the project to build a hotel downtown is back on track.

Developer Jim Didion of Center Street Partners LLC had stopped all design work on the hotel planned for the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street pending the outcome of Tuesday’s vote. Didion had contended that the requirements called for by Measure R would make the project financially infeasible.

But after Measure R was delivered a resounding defeat — No on R captured almost 74% of the vote, according to the most recent tally — work was set to resume, said Matthew Taecker, one of the hotel’s consultants. He said revisiting the design will be one of the team’s first tasks. … Continue reading »

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