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

Trail_Crest by Christopher Woodcock 2015
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A CELEBRATION OF OUR NATIONAL PARKS Writer and historian Wallace Stegner famously called our national parks “The best idea we ever had.” The opening reception for the David Brower Center’s new juried group exhibition, Common Ground: A Celebration of our National Parks, is tonight, Friday May 20, and the exhibition runs through Sept. 8. On the 100th anniversary of the National Park System, the multimedia exhibition observes art’s crucial role in preserving our parks, as well as the notion that parks are America’s best idea, through the lens of 20 Bay Area artists. They are: Alexis Arnold, Jenny E. Balisle, Tony Bellaver, George-Ann Bowers, Mariet Braakman, Hopi Breton, Kimberley D’Adamo-Green, Marshall Elliott, Tanja Geis, J.M. Golding, Jeff Greenwald, Andras Ladai, Malcolm Lubliner, Kara Maria, Kim Miskowicz, Karen Preuss, Ansley West Rivers,Caroline Seckinger, Paul Taylor and Christopher Woodcock. The jury is composed of recognized West Coast curators Stephanie Hanor (Mills College Art Museum), Katrina Traywick (Traywick Contemporary), Sean Uyehara (Headlands Center for the Arts) and the Brower Center’s Executive Director, Laurie Rich. The Brower Center has also curated a series of public programs in conjunction with the exhibit. For full details and opening times, visit the David Brower Center. (Berkeleyside is a media sponsor of Common Ground.) … Continue reading »

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Berkeley lawn bowler is 2016 Men’s Champion

2016 PIMD Men's Singles Finalists
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Jim Corr, Berkeley lawn bowler — and a periodic contributor to Berkeleyside — won the 2016 PIMD Men’s Singles Championship title last weekend at Sunnyvale Lawn Bowling Club. (PIMD is the Pacific Inter-Mountain Division of BowlsUSA, comprising clubs in Northern California, Utah, and Hawaii).

The competition was a two-day affair involving 16 players from all over the Bay Area. The semifinal featured Jim and Cris Benton, a fellow Berkeley bowler (as well as a noted kite aerial photographer), which turned into a nail-biter.

Read more on Berkeleyside about the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club.

Corr took an early lead only to see Benton draw level and then surpass him to reach 17-13. With 18 points being the winning goal, Corr had to dig deep, but eventually managed to prevail by the narrowest of margins, eking out an 18-17 victory. … Continue reading »

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The Berkeley Wire: 05.19.16

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Agreement on housing breaks out at Berkeley council

Housing
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There were unusual happenings at Tuesday night’s special City Council meeting on housing. Comity broke out in a series of unanimous votes, and public comment was civil and largely complimentary to the council’s actions.

The council passed unanimously an ambitious list of items for a city housing action plan. The list consolidated proposals from Councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Laurie Capitelli and Mayor Tom Bates. It also passed unanimously proposals on the “housing emergency” from Councilmember Jesse Arreguín. And Councilmember Lori Droste’s proposal on workforce housing also passed unanimously.

When the council tried to discuss housing on April 5, chaos ensued, with a raucous crowd, disputes among councilmembers and lengthy arguments over the order of the agenda. At that meeting, it took nearly three hours for the council to reach the action items on the agenda.

On Tuesday night, in contrast, even when some in the small crowd hissed Livable Berkeley’s Eric Panzer, they were quickly disarmed by his quip, “Hissing is just applause from snakes.” (Droste recognized it as a RuPaul allusion, something that flew over the head of Berkeleyside and many others during the meeting.)

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Maker’s Common to ‘geek out’ on local producers

Cheese plates like this one will be served at Maker's Common. Photo courtesy: Maker's Common
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Sarah Dvorak, Oliver Dameron and Eric Miller weren’t thinking of Berkeley when they first began planning the expansion of Mission Cheese, their popular Valencia Street cheese and charcuterie bar. They expected to open their new spot — called Maker’s Common — somewhere in San Francisco.

But, as has been the case with other restaurants like Millennium, which relocated to Rockridge, and Pal’s Takeaway, which opened in Uptown Oakland, finding affordable space in San Francisco proved impossible. The three founders started looking further afield in the East Bay. And when they had a look at the large, light-filled space at 1954 University Ave., just east of MLK Jr. Way, in downtown Berkeley, they were sold.

With plenty of space to build out both a market and a restaurant, plus outdoor dining space and zoning permits already in place for beer and wine service to boot, the Rose Garden building was too good to pass up.

“When we first saw the space its layout just said ‘THIS IS IT!,'” wrote the founders on the company’s blog. “We all walked and and knew where the retail market would be and where the kitchen would go for the eatery. When we brought an architect in they said the exact same thing — we knew we were onto something.”

Plus, as Dameron says, “It’s a great time to come to Berkeley. There’s lots of change going on here.” … Continue reading »

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Getting busy with pianist/composer Satoko Fujii

Pianist/composer Satoko Fujii performs at the Berkeley Arts Festival performance space Friday on a double bill with Larry Ochs, and plays a solo recital Saturday at Maybeck Studio in honor of Paul Bley
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When Satoko Fujii describes herself as lazy, take it with a grain of salt. Better yet, make it a shaker-full. Since recording her first CD in 1996, the Japanese pianist/composer has left even her most prolific peers in the dust, releasing a veritable torrent of albums documenting a dizzying array of ensembles around the world. And it’s not like she’s sacrificing quality for quantity, as Fujii is widely considered one of the most consistently vivid writers in jazz.

She returns to Berkeley this weekend for two very different concerts that are part of her year-long celebration marking the 20th anniversary of Libra, the label she runs with her husband, trumpeter Natsuki Tamura (aka Kappa Maki). On Friday, Fujii plays the Berkeley Arts Festival performance space in a double bill co-sponsored by the Center for New Music San Francisco. She opens with Maki and special guest drummer Gino Robair, followed by Berkeley saxophonist Larry Ochs, bassist Jason Hoopes and drummer Jordan Glenn (with all the musicians coming together for a brief third set). And on Saturday she plays a free improv solo piano recital at Maybeck Studio, offering a tribute to the late pianist/composer Paul Bley, a mentor who joined her on the first Libra album in 1996, Something About Water. … Continue reading »

UC Berkeley students build new bridge in John Hinkel Park

Blackberry Creek  bridge. Photo: Rene Davids
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By René Davids

This spring, as the result of a collaboration with the City of Berkeley, students enrolled in a multidisciplinary seminar at UC Berkeley’s Department of Architecture designed and built a pedestrian bridge for the upper portion of Blackberry Creek, one of the most attractive natural features in John Hinkel Park.

Located on a steep hillside in North Berkeley planted with oaks and other native species, the 4.9-acre park, which was donated in 1919 to the city by businessman John Hinkel, also includes a clubhouse, a large native-stone fireplace, a network of paths and a playground. The small bridge is intended to improve the safety of park visitors who were previously forced to either jump over the creek, or tread carefully across a slippery stone during periods of increased water flow.
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The Berkeley Wire: 05.18.16

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One to watch: Berkeley model, fashion producer Tiana Lee

Tiana Lee
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Model and fashion producer Tiana Lee doesn’t believe in sitting around waiting for change to happen, she believes it is each person’s duty to create the change they want to see.

This past weekend, the Berkeley native took a step towards change with her fashion show, ‘Controversy.’ Lee used the show as an opportunity to address many social issues that people encounter on a daily basis. Topics represented through the fashion on display included animal cruelty, race inequality and support for the LGBT community.

Lee said the fashion shows she produces are a first step — she hopes she can continue to use fashion to make a positive difference in the world in future. When asked why she does it, Lee simply responds, “Why not?”

Lee’s introduction to fashion came by way of family. Her mother, Regina Frazier, was once a model; her aunt, Sheila Frazier, is a stylist; and her cousin, Cherilyn Gibson, is a photographer. These influential women gave her the initial push to get started. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s Franklin Bros. Market gets a makeover

Owner Jennifer Freese at Franklin Bros. Market. Photo: Alix Wall
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Jennifer Freese has lived on Bancroft Way, west of San Pablo Avenue, since 1998. And, like many in the neighborhood, she came to rely on Franklin Bros. Market, on the corner of Bancroft and Seventh Street, especially when she was in a pinch.

The store was never much to look at. The windows were boarded up with plywood, and it made most of its profits as many corner markets do — selling cheap beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets.

Freese used to suggest to Franklin Bros.’ previous owners that they spruce it up a bit, but they never listened. And she’d joke with them: “When you retire, I’m going to buy your store and fix it up.”

So, when they decided to sell the business after 40 years, it wasn’t surprising that they gave first dibs to Freese. And after giving it some thought, Freese, who formerly worked for arts-related nonprofits, realized a job ambition she never knew she had. … Continue reading »

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After armed robbery, car-jacking, reckless driving, police arrest 2 Berkeley men with loaded handgun, puppy

IMG_0285
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Exclusive: Berkeley Police arrested two Berkeley men after an incident early Wednesday morning in which a victim was robbed at gunpoint, forced into a bathroom in his own home with the suspect, and then had his car stolen, according to authorities.

BPD received a call at 7 a.m. about a robbery and car-jacking in the 2200 block of Seventh Street (between Bancroft and Allston Way) in West Berkeley, according to Officer Byron White of the Berkeley Police Department.

White said a male 24-year-old victim told officers that he had just come home, to the house he shares with his 77-year-old grandmother and a 22-year-old companion of hers. The victim was driving his grandmother’s car. After getting out of the car, he was confronted by a man holding a handgun who emerged from from the shadows near another apartment building.

The suspect demanded the victim give him his keys and cellphone. He then demanded to use his restroom. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: ‘In the Palm of Your Hand,’ ‘High-Rise’

inthepalm
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A huge star in Mexico, Arturo de Cordova never made much of an impression elsewhere. Though he spent the mid-1940s in Hollywood (more often than not cast as a Frenchman!), de Cordova couldn’t match the Tinsel Town success of fellow ex-pats Pedro Armendáriz and Dolores del Rio, and soon returned home. Ironically, he’s probably best known today by American cinéastes for his performance as an unhinged husband in Luis Luis Buñuel’s brilliant shot-in-Mexico parable El (1953).

Pacific Film Archive’s ongoing series ‘Mexican Film Noir’ provides a rare opportunity to appreciate some of this fine actor’s less familiar work, much of which was never released in the United States. Screening at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, director Roberto Gavaldón’s En la palma de tu mano (In the Palm of Your Hand, 1951) features the star in top form as a fortune-telling grifter who gets himself in too deep with a wealthy widow. … Continue reading »

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Two men robbed at gunpoint on Grizzly Peak Boulevard

Grizzly Peak Blvd near Signpost 14. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Two men were victims of an armed robbery near Signpost 14 on Grizzly Peak Boulevard Monday at 10:40 p.m., according to authorities.

The UC Police Department said the two victims, a male student and a male friend not affiliated with the university, were standing outside of their vehicle when they were approached by two suspects, both of whom were holding hand guns. They demanded the victims’ property which the two men gave them. One of the victims suffered minor injuries during the encounter.

The suspects were last seen driving southbound on Grizzly Peak. UCPD officers searched the area but could not locate the suspects or their vehicle, which is described as a sedan, color unknown. … Continue reading »

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