Author Archives: Guest contributor

Op-ed: Schools need to stop our friends from making us fat

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Obesity is contagious. If I am obese, my friends, my friends’ friends, and my friends’ friends’ friends are more likely to be obese.

These obese social networks are growing, as evidenced by American children being three times more likely to be obese today than they were in the 1980s. How do we combat this staggering trend?

Research shows that food preferences and eating habits are shaped early in life. Children are more willing to try and accept new foods when … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Bias and racism pervade society, including in Berkeley, and may happen unconsciously

Gibor Basri and Jessica Broitman hike Claremont Canyon every morning
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Gibor Basri and Jessica Broitman have been married more than 40 years and have a 24-year-old-son. Basri is a professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley and the vice-chancellor for equity and inclusion. Broitman is a psychoanalyst who runs a non-profit, low-fee psychotherapy clinic in the Presidio. As a biracial couple (Basri is Jamaican/Iraqi/Jewish and Jessica is white and Jewish), they have seen prejudice and bias first-hand, even in Berkeley. Berkeleyside asked them to write about their experiences. 

It has been both disturbing and fascinating … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: A tale of two waterfronts — why Albany is on verge of making a mistake

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Ask anyone around the Marina if they think the City of Berkeley made the right decision, back in the early ’60s, when they planned the waterfront for mixed-use development.

“Should all the marina landfill have been reserved for open space, parkland and protected habitat, with no commercial, recreational or maritime facilities?”

“Of course not,” is the universal response. “That would have been a huge mistake.”

Albany is about to make that mistake.

The Berkeley and Albany waterfronts are similar in … Continue reading »

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The barber’s dog: Kindness of strangers ends the tale

photo credit Melani Schweder
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This is the third and final part of the barber’s dog story. Read Part 1 and Part 2.

Leslie Smith volunteers at the Berkeley Animal Shelter. One day she stumbles upon a Fella. He’s filthy, smelly, and appears to be neglected. Smith starts visiting the dog in her lunch-hours, playing with him through the chain-link fence and bringing him treats. Her ministrations are noticed, and, eventually, she is asked if she wants to take Fella home. Smith can’t bring Fella to her own home so sets out to try to find someone who can. Read more about the shelter in past Berkeleyside coverage.

By Leslie Smith

Oakland, a week before Christmas. The wind is insane and the sky spews giant marbles we’re supposed to believe are raindrops. All I can think of is the barber’s dog, seeking cover under the truck or crouched at the back of his door-less doghouse, no bedding or insulation of any kind. My only solace is knowing that this miserable stretch for him has an expiration date.

I call him the barber’s dog because he lives on a cement lot next door to a barbershop, but if you want to get technical, Fella doesn’t belong to the barber. The owner of the shop — a young woman — rents the space from the dog’s legal owner, a man who doesn’t even live in Oakland. It’s through her that I leave notes for this absent guardian, offering to walk his dog or drop off flea powder. And she’s the one, back in September, who gives me the only message I’ve ever gotten back: “You can have Fella if you want him.”

I want him badly, but my house is at capacity, animal-wise. So the search is on.

It’s early December when Nancy emails, asking if I’m still looking for a home or group to take the barber’s dog. Nancy runs one of the most highly-regarded pit bull-focused rescue and advocacy organizations in the nation — ColoRADogs — out of Fort Collins, Colorado. We’d met in person only a couple of times, but she’d been following his story. … Continue reading »

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Black Repertory Group’s Langston Hughes production ‘Mulatto’ aligns with the theater’s longstanding mission

Sean Vaughn Scott and Carla Hardiman thank the audience after the Black Repertory Group's production of Mulatto. Photo by Phil James
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By Phil James

The Black Repertory Group, a community theater initiative based in Berkeley, is currently halfway into its production run of Langston Hughes’ Mulatto: A Play for the Deep South, a play about a black mother and her children torn apart by her uncivil union with a Georgia plantation owner.

The play is one of many significant works by Hughes who, among other things, was a pioneer of black literature and a leader of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Set in 1935, Mulatto focuses on Cora, the mistress of an abusive plantation owner in the Jim Crow-era South. With mixed-race children, Cora’s children must deal with the reality of having a “neither-nor” identity — that is, being neither fully black nor fully white.

But for Sean Vaughn Scott, the owner and artistic director of the Black Repertory Group, the production is about far more than educational entertainment. Far from being a leisurely side-project, the play brings together a diverse tapestry of actors old and young who use performance as a way to mend personal and social problems. … Continue reading »

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The barber’s dog, it turns out, has another friend

Fella, the neglected dog, on a lot behind a fence in Oakland. Photo: Leslie Smith
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This is Part 2 in a three-part series. Read Part 1.

Leslie Smith volunteers at the Berkeley Animal Shelter. One day she stumbles upon a dog who, as she describes it, is filthy, smelly, and appeared to be neglected. Smith takes pity on the sorry-looking dog. She identifies its owner as the barber whose shop is on the lot where Fella, the dog, spends his days. She begins visiting Fella, bringing him toys. But, when she asks if she can walk him occasionally, she is turned down. Read the final part of the story tomorrow. Read more about the shelter in past Berkeleyside coverage.

By Leslie Smith

The barber’s dog has fleas.

This is a recent development and the situation has begun to impact our time together. We used to while away the lunch hour playing a game. (I toss a treat through the fence. He sniffs around earnestly to find it. Repeat.) These days, he’s only good for a few tosses before he goes back to biting at his hind legs. Or wriggling on his back against the gritty cement.

When he’s close enough for me to assist, I reach in and scratch that flea-infested dermis. I doubt a veterinarian would say that’s the healthiest approach for him in the long run, but I’m desperate for the barber’s dog to know some relief.  … Continue reading »

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Where in Berkeley?

Where in Berkeley?

WIB

Know where this is? Take a guess and let us know in the Comments below.

Photo: Sandy Friedland.

Send your submissions for “Where in Berkeley?” to tips@berkeleyside.com. The more obscure the better — just as long as the photos are taken in Berkeley. Thanks in advance.

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The barber’s dog, and one woman’s bid to save him

Through the fence. Photo: Leslie Smith
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Leslie Smith volunteers at the Berkeley Animal Shelter. One day, while walking in Oakland, Smith stumbled upon a dog who, as she describes it, was filthy, smelly, and appeared to be neglected. He relished her attention, however. Below is the first part of the story of what happened after Smith took pity on the sorry-looking dog. We will publish the next two parts over the next few days, serial-style. Read more about the shelter in past Berkeleyside coverage.

By Leslie Smith

The barber’s dog has no hair. Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But there are big bald patches on his back and hind legs and his right eye is practically crusted shut. The dog is so filthy I can smell him in the open air from behind the chain link fence. I reach my hand close enough for him to sniff. He’s shy at first, almost disbelieving, but pretty soon we’re pals. He makes pig-like, happy cooing sounds as I pet him. I make happy cooing sounds too.

It’s early in the morning and a woman on a bike stops at the curb and looks at us.

It’s awkward, so after a moment I ask, “Do you know this dog? Do you know who he belongs to?” … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Average pay not good enough for valued Berkeley teachers

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This past Thursday, February 19th, Berkeley teachers visited businesses across the city as part of our annual “Teachers Across Berkeley” event. We brought them a new placard to join or replace last year’s model — designed by King Middle School teacher Julie Searle. This year’s placard features a quilt motif and the sentiment that Berkeley and its teachers are “United For Our Children.”

The dedication of Berkeley teachers is no secret at this point. From Transitional Kindergarten to Berkeley High … Continue reading »

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Locals object to extended hours at McDonald’s

McDonalds
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By Rob Arias / E’Ville Eye

Residents in Oakland’s Golden Gate neighborhood are rallying to prevent a proposed renovation at the McDonald’s at 6623 San Pablo Ave. that would also expand the restaurant’s 24-hour drive-thru to seven days a week.

Neighbors are concerned with the increased litter, traffic and violence this might bring to the historically troubled stretch of San Pablo Avenue. The restaurant currently opens 24/7 on three weekend nights. A reported 50 neighbors were in attendance for a Feb. 5 community meeting with the franchise owner, Ed Smith, his development consultant, and a representative of McDonald’s Corporation.

The restaurant rebuild is being required by the corporation as part of a nationwide modernization effort. This particular franchise was identified as the oldest in Northern California. The owners are arguing that the increased hours are necessary to offset the cost of the rebuild, and that the bigger building and longer hours would actually benefit the community by providing needed food at all hours and by “attracting police as customers”. Mr. Smith reported that roughly 60-65% of the restaurant’s revenue is generated by drive-thru customers and estimated the restaurant itself clears approximately 1,100 transactions per day. … Continue reading »

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Le Bateau Ivre hopes loan will kickstart revival

Le Bateau Ivre is still struggling, despite raising about $13,000 from an Indiegogo campaign. Photo: Naomi Nishihara
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By Naomi Nishihara

Le Bateau Ivre (The Drunken Boat) a French restaurant, bar and coffeehouse in an 1898 home on Telegraph Avenue, has witnessed decades of first dates since it opened in 1972. But after the recession, its co-founder’s death and dwindling foot traffic, the fabled Berkeley hangout is losing money and struggling to survive in a changing landscape.

Owner Arlene Giordano, who founded the restaurant 43 years ago with her late husband, Thomas Cooper, launched an Indiegogo campaign in September, hoping to crowd fund $60,000 to pay bills, replace kitchen appliances and get the business back on its feet. But the campaign, which ended in November, raised less than one-quarter of her target. Now Giordano is seeking a small business loan from the city to keep her restaurant alive. … Continue reading »

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William “Sam” Craig August 30, 1924 – February 7, 2015

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Longtime Berkeley resident, Sam Craig, age 90, died peacefully in his sleep at home on February 7. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Marjory, four daughters, Janet, Susie, Audrey, and Laura, two grandsons, Justin and Matthew, and two great-granddaughters, Stella and Daphne.

Sam was born and raised in Warren, Ohio. He served in the Army as a meteorologist during World War II, and came to California to attend college. Sam and Marjory met at U.C. Berkeley, which … Continue reading »

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Cal Human Rights Center gets $1 million MacArthur Award

The Human Rights Center’s Kim Thuy Seelinger discusses findings from sexual violence research with colleagues in Kenya. (Photo by Stephen Smith Cody)
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By Andrea Lampros

The MacArthur Foundation has recognized the Human Rights Center at the UC Berkeley School of Law for its investigations and research on war crimes and human rights abuses with a 2015 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

The UC Berkeley Human Rights Center is one of nine nonprofit organizations worldwide receiving the award, announced on Feb. 5. The award comes with $1 million, which the center will use to establish an endowment and to expand its sexual violence program.

The MacArthur Foundation, known for its “genius awards” to exceptional individuals, also honors extraordinary organizations that tackle some of the world’s most challenging problems. In honoring the Human Rights Center, the foundation cited decades of work on war crimes and abuses in more than a dozen countries, spotlighting recent research on wartime sexual violence. … Continue reading »

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