Author Archives: Guest contributor

Opinionator

Op-ed: Berkeley schools are victims of their own success

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I am a proud graduate from, and enthusiastic supporter of, the Berkeley public schools. I am a lifelong resident of Berkeley, and have chosen to raise my family here. I love the school that my children attend, and have had nothing but tremendously positive experiences with all of the teachers and staff that have been involved in their education and care.

But Berkeley elementary schools are experiencing unprecedented problems with student population growth. In recent years, the number of students … Continue reading »

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Obituaries

Remembering UC Berkeley economist Gregory Grossman

Gregory Grossman
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Gregory Grossman, 1921-2014

UC Berkeley, economist Gregory Grossman, considered a towering figure in the study of the Soviet economy, who shaped the thinking of generations of scholars, died on Aug. 14 at the age of 93, at a Berkeley care facility due to complications from a fall.

Grossman received his undergraduate degree in economics from UC Berkeley in 1942 and his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1952, before returning to UC Berkeley, where he spent his entire career. He retired in 1993.

Grossman was born July 5, 1921 in Kiev, Ukraine. In early 1923 the family fled the post-Russian Revolution chaos and famine and took a month-long journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway to Harbin, Manchuria. After completing high school in 1937 in Tientsin, China, he headed to San Francisco aboard a Japanese ocean liner en route to attend UC Berkeley.

During World War II, Grossman served as artillery observer with the 731st Field Artillery Battalion during the Battle of the Bulge and completed his war duty in Czechoslovakia. … Continue reading »

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Anne Rumrill Culver, 96, Navy Wave, tennis lover

Anne Rumrill Culver and her husband Robert L. Culver. Photo: Culver family
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Got old Tennis Balls?

Anne Rumrill Culver entered eternal life on Saturday, July 26, 2014. Her spirit is carried on by her three children, three grandchildren and an extended family of relations and friends from every walk of life.

We were blessed to learn many valuable lessons from Anne during her 96 years, among them: Never throw away old tennis balls. Use the old ones as door jams, hanging garage guides, hand-exercisers, gutters-plugs in the event of a fire, swimming tools to be tucked under the chin to better learn the breaststroke and butterfly techniques or bumpers for your younger brother’s sailboat.

In her lifetime, Anne had more adventures than Huck Finn. She fell in love with her husband, Bob, in fifth grade at Long Beach school. They would meet again later in life at their Alma Mater, Cal Berkeley and eventually marry.

Anne received her orders to serve in World War II literally on her wedding day, and joined the first group of Navy Waves as a Lieutenant in electronics, chaperoning 400 men and women on a troop ship bound for Pearl Harbor. … Continue reading »

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Eva Bluestein, Holocaust survivor, teacher, social activist

Eva Bluestein
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Eva Bluestein, 90, Holocaust survivor, teacher, social activist, loving mother and grandmother, died peacefully in her home on June 12, 2014.

Born on April 21, 1924, in Berlin, Germany, Eva relocated to France shortly after the Nazis gained power in 1933 and lived in Paris until the Germans conquered the north of France. The family obtained false identification papers and fled south to Lyon in Vichy France where they lived as fugitives until the end of the war.

Eva immigrated … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Berkeley restaurant has been approved: Let it open

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I am a homeowner on Russell Street just below College, and thus an Elmwood resident. A year ago, I heard that the owners of Comal on Shattuck Avenue were proposing a restaurant for the old Wright’s Garage space on Ashby and I was thrilled. It sounded like just the ticket to round out the dining options in our little neighborhood. Finally, we would have an upscale spot with a nice atmosphere and a small bar space — just what … Continue reading »

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Sharing the music in a Berkeley backyard, Cajun-style

Cajun music. Photo: Dorothy Brown
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By Dorothy Brown

It is Monday evening and five folks with fiddles are seated in a circle in the backyard. Four of them are learning a traditional Cajun tune, The Milk Cow is Dead.* There is no sheet music in sight, and nobody expects any. You learn this music by ear.

Joel Savoy is sharing his intimate knowledge of the song, and his expert techniques with the instrument and the style. He plays the tune through, and then breaks it down into phrases that he invites the group to repeat. The notes themselves are the easy part. What makes a good Cajun fiddler is nuance and flair, and Joel breaks that down too.

“You want to get those pulses in there.” “…a little bit bouncier there. Slide into that last note.” This tune has a lot of that, and Joel enjoys that part. “Just slide up to C# and stop when you get there!”

This is how Cajun music has been shared and taught for generations. After a long day’s work, people gather together to play. It is easy to imagine this scene is taking place in Southwest Louisiana, but this is a backyard in Berkeley, California.  … Continue reading »

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Snapshot: Evening in a southwest Berkeley neighborhood

The African Rain tree in Jeanne Pimental's South-West Berkeley neighborhood which appears pleasingly diverse on the eve of July 4th. Photo: Jeanne Pimental
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By Jeanne Pimentel

Wednesday, 8 p.m. Time to catch up on today’s World Cup results, but first some exercise before the sun sets.  

I walk up the block to Strawberry Creek Park, but instead of turning left to the creekside lawns where birds, children, and dogs prevail, I turn right to the series of sports courts that line the rear of the block of apartment houses uncharacteristic of our neat, single-family-home neighborhood, and sometimes called the projects or the “barri-ghetto.”

On the first open basketball court, just vacated by Berkeley Youth Alternative’s “Twilight Team” of local, mostly African-American schoolgirls, is a middle-aged white woman practicing Tai-Chi. On the second, a local father and son are shooting hoops. In the first of the enclosed courts it’s soccer, played on asphalt partly covered with the shredded remains of green surface material. … Continue reading »

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Obituaries

Beth Cobb O’Neil: Devoted to social justice and education

Jennifer Cobb
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Beth Cobb O’Neil (née Elizabeth Ellen Pendleton), of Berkeley, California, a respected educational administrator known for pioneering minority admissions policies throughout her long career, died on May 22 at age 79 in Jackson, Wyoming from the effects of vascular dementia.

In the early 1960s, when a request went out to the Junior League of Oakland-East Bay seeking volunteers to work with disadvantaged youth in North Richmond, Beth was the only member who was not afraid to go. She quickly became … Continue reading »

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Hershey Felder: A master entertainer’s food journeys

Master entertainer and virtuoso pianist Hershey Felder returns to Berkeley Rep with his popular and critically acclaimed one man show Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro.

Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com
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By Aleta George

Hershey Felder’s hands are small considering what he asks of them. In his one-man show, Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro, now playing at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, they glide across the keys of a baby grand, conduct an orchestra with grace, and accentuate Bernstein’s father’s scorn.

Felder uses his hands just as ably offstage, especially in the kitchen. He’s known for his cooking, a passion that he inherited from his mother, Eva, while growing up in Montreal.

“My mother was a foodie of sorts,” says Felder. “She loved to prepare a beautiful table and make a beautiful warm home. I was there as a kid over her shoulder and learned to have a great deal of love for food.” … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Parks bond needs strict accountability and vision

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At its meeting tomorrow night, the Berkeley City Council will consider again how to raise funds for Berkeley’s parks.

In an Opinionator op-ed published today on Berkeleyside, parks advocate Marc Beyeler argues that the best path for the Council — and for the city and its residents — will be to place a Mello-Roos combined funding measure on the November ballot. A Mello-Roos measure would provide both capital and continued operating funding, but it also demands a two-thirds vote for passage. … Continue reading »

Opinionator

Op-ed: Big vision and strict accountability required to save Berkeley parks

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On Tuesday, June 24, the Berkeley City Council may choose to place a combined Mello-Roos financing measure for Berkeley parks on the November ballot. It is vital for the Berkeley community — elected officials, city staff, residents and voters — to embrace this big vision for the future of Berkeley parks, playgrounds, and pools and support this “gamble” by the Council. The arguments in favor of investing in saving our … Continue reading »

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Obituaries

Dr. Frances Cohen: An accomplished career and a rich life

Dr. Frances Cohen
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Dr. Frances Cohen, Professor Emeritus in Psychology, University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco (UCSF), died on May 28, 2014 after a short but valiant battle with pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Cohen, Fran to family and friends, had a rich and varied life, was devoted to her family, and had an accomplished career in the field of health psychology. She was raised in Boonton, NJ; moved to Berkeley in 1967 to pursue graduate studies in Psychology at UC, and … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-ed: Minimum wage plan is raising bar too far, too fast

Poster produced by the Berkeley Alliance of Small Businesses
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The Berkeley Small Business Alliance supports the need to raise the minimum wage in Berkeley. There is a longstanding history of support for small business in Berkeley as evidenced by its lack of corporate retailers and big-box stores. Berkeley residents are known for their devotion to sustainable restaurants whose chefs buy seasonally from local farmers and ranchers. It’s the small mom and pop shops that make Berkeley feel like a small town and are the backbone of the local … Continue reading »

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