Michael Ray Wisely: Grand dramas on everyday stages

Michael Ray Wisely. Photo: courtesy Alter Theater
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Known in local theater circles as a deep-thinking actor’s actor—and by fans of the DIY Network as host of the ever-practical Home Transformations—Michael Ray Wisely has built himself a DIY career.

Wisely is inaugurating the Aurora Theatre Company’s new second stage performance space, Harry’s UpStage, as the predatory “Director” in a fully staged production of John W. Lowell’s The Letters, which opened on April 17 and runs through June 1.

The 51-year-old veteran of stage, film and television has always gravitated to grand dramas on everyday life stages.

Wisely’s first theatrical platform was the town he grew up in: Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, a deep South tobacco and bible-belt town of barely 4,000 people. His hometown’s fancy French name labeled a rural location named after a white man who co-opted native American Indian land and bewitchingly adopted a local woman’s nickname to complete the hyphenated moniker. “We weren’t very poor, but we were close,” Wisely said in an interview. … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 04.21.14

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Berkeleyside Blotter: Crime in Berkeley, April 10-16

Selected calls for service to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. (Scroll down for maps of burglaries, auto burglaries and auto thefts.) Click the map for the full list. See the map key here.
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This is a partial list of recent crime in Berkeley, compiled by Berkeleyside, and based on reports to the Berkeley Police Department unless otherwise noted. See recent Berkeley crime coverage here.

The following items represent just a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate. From April 10-16, there were 13 burglary reports26 auto break-in or theft from a vehicle reports, and 15 stolen vehicle reports to the Berkeley Police Department, according to CrimeMapping.comThree robberies and 15 assaults, domestic violence incidents or batteries were reported. These numbers are subject to change. Click the previous links for the most current information.

[Editor's Note: We always appreciate photographs and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at tips@berkeleyside.com or via Facebook or Twitter; please let us know when you write if you prefer to be anonymous.] 

Wednesday, April 9

Police tracked down and arrested a hit-and-run suspect after he reportedly rear-ended the vehicle of a 67-year-old Albany woman at a stop sign on University Avenue just before 5:15 p.m., authorities said. (The woman complained of pain but was not taken to the hospital.) The driver who struck the woman’s car left the scene, but a witness gave police the man’s license plate number, which officers linked to Obie Lee Rigmaiden, 59, of Berkeley. Police went to Rigmaiden’s home on Ninth Street and, according to court papers, he resisted when officers tried to take him into custody. He was taken to the Berkeley Jail and, during booking, told officers he had cocaine hidden in his sock. He was charged with cocaine possession, leaving the scene of an accident and resisting arrest by the Alameda County district attorney’s office. … Continue reading »

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Op-Ed: Think, ask questions, before signing a petition

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It’s spring which means there’s an election season on the horizon. That also means, in the weeks ahead, we can all expect to be approached by petition signature gatherers on our street corners, in front of Peet’s, the Bowl, the Cheese Board and the Farmers Market.

In an Opinionator column published today on Berkeleyside, Berkeley councilman Laurie Capitelli urges us to pause, and think carefully about our signatures and their importance before committing them to paper. He advocates asking a few pertinent questions to … Continue reading »

Are you ready to help kids, pets when disaster strikes?

The Berkeley Emergency Prep Fair is aimed to help residents know what to do with pets and little ones in case of a disaster. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A brand new interactive fair is coming to Berkeley this weekend, aimed to help residents get prepared for disaster with a focus on children and pets.

The free event, at the North Berkeley BART station, takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 26. There will be food and music, kids’ activities, prizes and games, as well as first aid and CPR training, pet evacuation workshops, a blood drive and much more.

“It’s really geared toward the empowerment of individuals in our community,” said Gradiva Couzin, a Berkeley resident and CERT volunteer who has been helping organize the event. “Our goal is to help everyone recognize their own strengths, and what they can contribute and bring to disaster response.” … Continue reading »

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Photos: All catered for on spring weekend in Berkeley

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If it’s a spring weekend in Berkeley you can guarantee there’s something  going on for everyone. Among the many activities of this past weekend, contributing photographer Ted Friedman caught 4/20 day on the Cal campus, when marijuana fans celebrate their passion; the Solano Art Walk; and Record Store Day at Rasputin Music on Telegraph Avenue. … Continue reading »

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4 Berkeley stories you will not want to miss

The smoke from the West Berkeley warehouse fire   as seen from Delaware Street. Photo: Raph Levien
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Every week, Berkeleyside publishes dozens of articles about what’s going on in Berkeley. Some of them might have passed you by. Here are four stories we think you’ll want to catch up on. 

1. The West Berkeley fire and its aftermath

A multi-alarm fire in West Berkeley last Saturday night destroyed the Wooden Duck warehouse and damaged and destroyed numerous local businesses.

2. Federal report calls to stop post office sale

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation issued … Continue reading »


The Berkeley Wire: 04.18.14

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Bites: New cupcake shop, beer spot, fermenting help

Screen shot 2014-04-18 at 3.08.13 PM
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CUPCAKIN’ BAKE SHOP Lila Owens is in the final stretch to get her Cupcakin’ Bake Shop open on Durant Ave. in Berkeley, (we first talked to Owens  about her plans in August last year). She’s looking for a little financial help to clear the final hurdles, as a loan from the city has been delayed, she said. “We need a fridge, some working capital and other small equipment to open properly,” she reports on a GoFundMe site she launched today to garner support. Owens, a former caterer, will be selling a wide variety of cupcakes, including gluten-free, vegan, and mini-cakes. Her fundraising goal is to get 100 people to donate $100 in 14 days. But she said any amount helps. A donation of $100 or more will land you VIP status in the bake shop for a year. Cupcakin’ Bake Shop will open in the Sather Lane retail complex at 2435 Durant Ave. (just west of Telegraph). … Continue reading »

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What goes around comes around: ‘Vinyl’ at OMCA

Photo: Courtesy of Raphael Villet
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Vinyl, it’s not just for DJs anymore. The Oakland Museum of California’s new interactive exhibit Vinyl: The Sound and Culture of Records, highlights the resurgence of the LP and the enduring appeal of leafing through a bin of albums searching for unexpected aural pleasure.

Opening on Saturday, which is also international Record Store Day, the exhibition features listening stations, a newly commissioned art work by MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Walter Kitundu, hundreds of albums, and thematic playlists — dubbed “curated crates” — by an array of cultural figures, including BAM/PFA’s Steve Seid (remembrance of life as a teenager), actress and spoken word artist Aya de Leon (musical influences growing up and becoming a parent), and Berkeley-based novelist Michael Chabon (growing up as a nerd).  … Continue reading »

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New craft brewery, restaurant slated for Berkeley

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A large craft brewery capable of producing over 310,000 gallons of beer a year is set to open in West Berkeley, assuming the owners secure final planning permissions. The plan also calls for a restaurant and barrel-aging facility.

Far West Brewing already has a permit from Berkeley to manufacture beer at the 10,212-square-foot industrial building at 1150 Sixth St. (at Harrison).

In its application to the city for restaurant and retail operation permits, Far West, which was formed specifically to open this business, said it would brew six year-round beers, limited release beers, and a series of barrel-aged sour beers and American wild ales. … Continue reading »

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Federal report calls to stop sale of Berkeley post office

Post Office by DH Parks
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Local officials and preservationists are heartened by a new report that calls for the United States Postal Service to suspend the closing and sale of all historic post offices, including the Main Post Office at 2000 Allston Way.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), an independent federal agency that advises the President, Congress, and other federal officials on how to preserve the nation’s historic resources, issued a critical report Thursday. It said the USPS had not been following the law when it ordered that dozens of historic post offices – often the core of communities – be shuttered and sold. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

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There’s an exciting new sports retail hub emerging in North West Berkeley around San Pablo Avenue and Gilman Street. A cycling/triathlon and a cycling bag store are moving in, both close to the emerging Gilman Crossings development which will include a soccer shop and a running store. Gilman Crossings developer Matt Holmes of Retail West says it’s all part of a plan to create a community of sports enthusiasts in the area, which is also close to the Tom Bates soccer fields, Harrison Park, Berkeley Skate Park, and bay trails.

BEYOND AERO A new store focusing on cycling and triathlon is getting ready to open at 1411 San Pablo Ave. (one block south of Gilman) in a newly renovated space. Beyond Aero will cater to cyclists and triathletes of all levels and abilities, and is scheduled to be ready mid-May. Expect to see bikes on offer from brands like Cervélo (pictured above), Boardman, and Guru (pictured left), as well as apparel, parts, and accessories. Beyond Aero will also offer a full-service bicycle repair center, and a fit center. Owner Andres Douzoglou told Berkeleyside he is very excited to be opening the store. “We’re new residents to the area (two years) and have loved every second of our time spent here and have no intentions of moving. The Bay Area has the country’s healthiest, most diverse, and inclusive cycling and triathlon communities and we’re thrilled to be in the center of it.” Douzoglou added that he is hoping to foster a retail environment in which people can find what they need while “incorporating the community feel we all enjoy while out on the road or at the races.” For more information about Beyond Aero, visit Beyond Aero online. … Continue reading »

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