Author Archives: Frances Dinkelspiel
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 »
Fourteen months after it was closed and torn down, the new South Branch of the Berkeley Public Library will reopen on Saturday May 11.
At 12:30 p.m. local officials and library supporters will gather for a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1901 Russell Street, right at the intersection of MLK. After that, the library will be open for normal business until 5:00 p.m.
When patrons walk inside the new 8,700 square foot, $6.5 million building, they will see something completely different from the award-winning, but clumsily remodeled, old South Branch building. The ceilings are higher, there are more windows, there are dedicated spaces for computers and other multimedia equipment, as well as more lounge chairs. Copper artwork by artist Gina Dominguez is displayed throughout the building. Solar panels will reduce heating costs.
UC Berkeley officials held a public hearing Wednesday night on plans to build a new aquatics center at 2222 Bancroft Ave., east of Oxford, and were told the one-story building is a lost opportunity for improving the area and would be too disruptive to parking.
UC hopes to start construction on the $15 million project in August to alleviate the crowding that now takes place at Spieker Pool. Currently, all 120 of Cal’s swimmers, divers and water polo athletes, as well as recreational swimmers, must use that facility, putting a severe strain on its capacity. … Continue reading »
The Berkeley Police Officers Association has sent out a survey to 19,000 Berkeley residents asking them their opinion on police use of Tasers.
The BPA posed seven questions in a March 27 email survey to see whether the community considers Tasers as way to assist police and protect suspects, or the opposite.
“This is a very initial step to find out what the community sense is … and go from there,” said Sgt. Chris Stines, the president of the BPA, which represents more than 150 rank-and-file officers. … Continue reading »
MARATHON THEATER Shotgun Players, “the biggest little theater company in town,” secured the rights last year to put on Tom Stoppard’s Coast of Utopia trilogy. This season Shotgun is producing Part Two: Shipwreck, along with some repeat performances of Part One: Voyage.” In Voyage, we met our young heroes in the first blushes of revolutionary thought and love. Now, with Shipwreck, we find them in their 30s. “The optimism of their early years has hit the rocks of marital infidelity, social anarchy, and a tsar who has no intention of stepping down. The stakes go up dramatically in this next great duel between the heart and mind.” The plays are directed by Shotgun’s artistic director Patrick Dooley. Through April 21 at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Avenue. … Continue reading »
Having a child is a life-changing event. But “having a child that is destined to die,” as Erica Jong writes in the introduction to Monica Wesolowska’s moving, lyrical memoir, Holding Silvan: A Brief Life, “must be more life changing still. How do we let go? How do we mourn?” Jong asks.
In today’s world of high tech births, it’s a tragedy that most in the United States will not experience. Yet, however rare, newborns do die. Wesolowska and her husband David, both long-time Berkeley residents, were completely unprepared for the awful news that their newborn son, Silvan, had suffered severe brain damage during delivery.
Wesolowska’s pregnancy had been uneventful and her labor seemed normal. Yet something had gone terribly wrong.
The baby lingered for 38 days and Wesolowska fit in a lifetime of loving in that brief time span. She and David decided soon after Silvan’s birth not to feed him, and they held and loved him as his once plump frame withered and wasted. Making the decision to let Silvan die was not easy — and the ethical considerations form a fascinating part of the book — and yet Wesolowska shows readers how it was really the ultimate act of maternal love. … Continue reading »
About 10 people gathered on Saturday to remember pedestrians who have been killed in Berkeley in recent years.
They gathered on the median on Adeline Street near Ashby in honor of Zachary Cruz Pedestrian Safety Month. Cruz, five years old, was on an after school outing when he was hit and killed by a truck on Feb. 27, 2009 at the intersection of Derby and Warring. There has been an informal memorial at the spot he died ever since. … Continue reading »
In 1913, Thornton Wilder, then a junior at Berkeley High School, wrote a one-act play, The Advertisement League, that was good enough to be selected for the school’s wildly popular vaudeville show.
Like many teenagers, Wilder felt constrained by his father’s demands, according to Penelope Niven, the author of Thornton Wilder: A Life. So he included a figure designed to irk his father, one based on Mrs. Lydia Pinkham, the Massachusetts woman whose popular “medicine” apparently cured all evils.
The skit is “a truly original conception,” wrote the yearbook Olla Podrida, according to Niven.
One hundred years later, that spirit of dramatic whimsy and defiance continues at Berkeley High. It can be seen in this year’s Independent Theater Projects, which take place at the Hillside Club March 22, March 24, and March 29 at 7 p.m.
Sierra Nevada, the craft brewing company known for its pale ale, is planning to open a tasting room on Fourth Street by the end of the year.
The Chico-based company will serve around 16 different types of beer in a 1,700-square-foot space in the Read Building at 2031 Fourth St., next door to Title Nine. There will be a long bar and a number of high tables. The emphasis will be on beer, not food.
“It will be a small, intimate tasting room,” said Sierra Nevada spokesman Ryan Arnold. “It will not be a place where you get a meal or lounge around. We want you to be next to the bar where you are engaged with the staff, learning about beer.” … Continue reading »
For more than a month, a desk in the middle of a fourth grade classroom at Jefferson Elementary School sat conspicuously empty.
Until December, 9-year-old Rodrigo Guzman occupied the desk, one of four clustered together. But when Rodrigo and his parents were denied re-entry from Mexico into the United States in January because their visas had expired, the desk sat empty for at least a month, a sentinel of sorts to the hope that Rodrigo would rejoin 27 classmates. Finally, Rodrigo’s teacher, Barbara Wenger took it out.
“We were just waiting for him to get back from his family vacation,” said Wenger. “We were just waiting. After we realized he was not going to come back we rearranged the classroom and removed the desk.”
But even though Rodrigo, who came to Berkeley when his was 18 months’ old, is stuck near Mexico City, desperately missing Little Caesar’s pizza, tacos from Rubio’s, and Fruit Gushers, his classmates are not giving up hope he will return. … Continue reading »
Comfort Mensah was standing at the bar at Ashkenaz Dance and Music Community Center early Saturday morning when two gunmen burst in and demanded cash. She and her boss, Larry Chin, the dance hall’s managing director, had just discovered some counterfeit bills among the $5,000 to $7,000 taken in that night.
“We were looking for fake money when I heard ‘pop, pop, pop,’ and I realized it was a gun,” said Mensah, who has worked at Ashkenaz for the last 16 years. “When I looked everyone was lying on the floor because that was the only way to be safe.”
One of those lying on the floor was Chin, who had been shot in the head and lay bleeding. Mensah threw herself down and grazed against the gunman’s foot, she said. He didn’t notice because he was so intent on taking the money from the cash drawer, she said.
“He was shouting ‘Where is the manager? Where is the money?’” said Mensah. … Continue reading »
Two employees of Ashkenaz were shot and seriously injured early Saturday morning during an armed robbery of the popular dance center at 1317 San Pablo Avenue, currently celebrating its 40th anniversary.
Two people with guns walked into the crowded dance hall around 12:05 a.m. and demanded cash, according to a press release by the Berkeley Police Department. The suspects fired guns during the robbery and bullets struck two employees, according to police. … Continue reading »