Tag Archives: Downtown Berkeley
By Peggy Lee Scott
Personal identity has been discussed since philosophy began, and for most of us, the answer evolves as we grow. How did I get to be who I am, and what am I doing here? Nature versus nurture? We ponder these questions ourselves, and for those of us with children, the wild ride of watching them become their own persons is an adventure all its own. We get myriad clues that we cannot control much, and it makes us wonder even more how the heck we ended up who, and where, we are.
Such are the questions raised by four teenagers in Linda Goldstein Knowlton‘s thoughtful, sometimes heart-wrenching documentary “Somewhere Between,” opening for a one-week run at Berkeley’s Shattuck Landmark Theatre (and at the Opera Plaza in San Francisco) on Friday, Sept. 21. … Continue reading »
Businesses in the Gourmet Ghetto are keen to jump on the parklet bandwagon — bringing outdoor seating to the streets for espresso sippers, pizza eaters, and world watchers in lieu of parking spots — but must first wait for the city to come up with a process for making the spaces available.
So-called parklets — slivers of open space sprouting in cities around the globe — are a big trend in urban design, with San Francisco’s Pavement to Parks leading the way locally, and Oakland following suit (a pilot program is under review there.) Berkeley is a little late to the take-back-the-public-space movement but eager to come up with its own ideas to beautify public areas where community members can congregate. Leading the charge is the North Shattuck Association, which is helping businesses in its café- and restaurant-heavy district organize around the concept.
“The parklets pilot project was conceived by the association based on our experience with hosting temporary parklets during past years on Park(ing) Day and the Spice of Life Festival,” said Heather Hensley, executive director of the association.
Park(ing) Day is an international movement conceived to help city residents around the world reimagine the humble parking space. One day each fall, D.I.Y., creative urbanistas are encouraged to transform parking spots into parks, playgrounds, pop-up cafés — anything other than a lowly (though coveted) place for cars. Park(ing) Day parklets have sprouted in Berkeley in past years in front of the Cheese Board Collective and the late Amanda’s Feel Good Fresh Food. … Continue reading »
A few weeks ago I reached (and, thankfully, passed) one of those horrific chronological landmarks that remind us of our inevitable, coming-soon-to-a-crematorium-near-you demise. About the same time, The Expendables 2 – the sequel to 2010’s unforgettable muscle-fest The Expendables – opened in cinemas nationwide. Coincidence? I think not.
The characters in the series are, after all, played by long in the tooth, well past their prime action stars that should be collecting Social Security instead of truckloads of stolen plutonium. As for me, I’m an over the hill film critic who should probably be spending his golden years watching old Nelson Eddy-Jeanette MacDonald musicals instead of over the top shoot ‘em ups. (Anyone wanna buy me a ticket for the next TCM Classic Cruise? Mickey Rooney’s gonna be there!)
One horrific thought festered in my mind as The Expendables 2 began: I could succumb to a fatal heart attack at any moment. Could there be a less dignified death than popping one’s clogs during a matinée screening of a film in which the bad guy’s last name is ‘Vilain’? Dear Lord Baby Jesus, Great Tree Spirit, or Ever Expanding Black Hole of Nihilistic Non-Belief, I silently begged, please don’t let it happen to me! … Continue reading »
The second annual Berkeley Coffee & Tea Festival took place on Saturday morning at the Hotel Shattuck and, if you attended, you’re probably only now coming down from the caffeine- and sugar-induced buzz it induced.
Hundreds of people wandered the hotel’s elegant ballroom and exterior patio, sampling espresso drinks and fine teas, miniature bundt cakes, chocolate bites and gelato… not a bad way to spend a lazy weekend morning, many participants agreed.
The Coffee & Tea Festival was orchestrated by the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and included a program of talks, and both coffee and tea ceremonies. Exhibitors included Berkeley Coffee & Tea, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Café V, Twenty Twenty Studios, Madecasse Chocolate, Genuto Gelato, Jade Chocolates, Five Mountains, Café Clem, Nothing Bundt Cakes and Tisano Tea. … Continue reading »
Two brown-shingle homes located in the heart of downtown Berkeley have been put up for sale. The asking price? Just $1.00 apiece.
The houses are on the site of the proposed Acheson Commons development that would impact the building that houses Ace Hardware on University Avenue. As part of the review process, developer Equity Residential is required to try to sell the properties before demolishing them.
The Moore/Acheson House and the Baldwin/Acheson House at 1922 and 1924 Walnut Street date from 1905. Neither house is landmarked or a designated historic resource, and they have been vacant for many years so are in a state of disrepair. A buyer would be required to pay for the removal of the two homes, one of which was originally a single family home, subsequently converted into a duplex. The larger of the two was designed multi-residential property when it was built. A buyer would also need to move the homes to a suitable site within Berkeley on a deadline of May 2013. … Continue reading »
Todd Solondz has quite a lot to answer for. His 1996 art-house hit Welcome to the Dollhouse laid the foundation for the late 20th century ‘American Indie’ style, and we’ve since had to contend with countless screen tales of awkward social outcasts or beautiful losers trying to adapt to the unreasonable expectations of mainstream American society.
The vast majority of these films were gratingly arch or painfully camp, but Solondz possessed tools the copycats lacked: a sharp pen and an uncompromising commitment to truthfulness. Avoiding the too clever by half, nudge-nudge wink-wink style of such indie scribes as Diablo Cody, the Duplass brothers, and Andrew Bujalski (among many others), Solondz’ scripts tackled uncomfortable topics with refreshing honesty — and his newest film, Dark Horse (opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, July 20th) , is no exception.
Abe Wertheimer (Jordan Gelber) is the stereotypical All-American man-child. Balding, overweight, and in his 30s, Abe works at the realestate firm owned by father Jackie (Christopher Walken, here looking even more ghoulish than usual), and still lives at home, where his bedroom walls remain lined with mint-in-box action figures and Gremlins posters. … Continue reading »
A new art piece featuring garden-inspired photography has been installed in the windows of the Downtown Berkeley BART station entrance. The project, called the Rose Pavilion, was unveiled on Monday afternoon and is part of the continuing efforts to revitalize Berkeley’s downtown area.
The piece features vertical panels of faux stained glass with images of roses and excerpts of poetry. Artist Deborah O’Grady explains that she was inspired by the architecture of the BART station. “I was asked if I could find a way to bring the garden into the center of the city. At first, I wasn’t sure, but as I walked around the downtown I was struck by the BART entrance pavilion. I decided to turn it into a rose arbor.”
The project is a collaboration between BART, UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, and the Downtown Berkeley Association. It is part of a larger exhibition at the Botanical Garden called “Natural Discourse,” which features work by 17 artists, poets, and scientists. “We came together to convey poetry and the beauty of the garden in a variety of mediums,” O’Grady says. For her, inspiration came in the form of roses: “Roses are a source of beauty and spirituality, a food, and a transmitter of light.” … Continue reading »
The Helios Building, a new addition to downtown Berkeley, is in the very final stages of construction and the scientists for whom it has been built are expected to move in over six weeks, starting on July 30.
The $133 million, 133,000 sq ft building, which stands five stories high on a two-block lot bounded by Oxford, Hearst, Berkeley Way, and Shattuck, is home to UC Berkeley’s Energy Biosciences Institute, a collaborative project between Berkeley Lab, UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois. BP (British Petroleum) has committed $500 million over the next 10 years to the institute, whose mandate is to explore the application of modern biological knowledge to the energy sector. Scientists working in the building will be exploring cellulosic fuels and bio-products among other things, including developing non-food crops to produce fuel and power.
The wedge-shaped building — which is now formally known as the Energy Biosciences Building – will also house Cal’s Synthetic Biology Institute, whose bioengineering research focuses on applications for health, food and the environment. … Continue reading »
Don’t be fooled by the opening credits or poster art for Nobody Else But You (opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, July 6th): despite appearances, it’s neither an erotic thriller nor a sexy fabric softener commercial. Despite these misleading first impressions, it’s actually a murder mystery in which Marilyn Monroe’s infamous fling with John F. Kennedy – and the ensuing tragedy — is recreated in a Gallic setting.
Released in France as Poupoupidou (conjuring visions of a biopic about former French President Georges Pompidou), the story begins as crime novelist and James Ellroy wannabe David Rousseau (Jean-Paul Rouve) travels to Mouthe, the coldest town in France (its nickname is Little Siberia) to claim his inheritance. Unfortunately, David’s legacy turns out to be no more than a rather moth-eaten family heirloom, but he stumbles into a mystery that provides him inspiration for his next book. … Continue reading »
In Five Broken Cameras (opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, June 22) you’ll see overzealous security forces hurling tear gas canisters at civilians, fences being torn down, protesters throwing rocks, and a courageous camera operator recording it all for posterity. It’s not, however, the latest livestream from “Oscar Grant Plaza,” but a remarkable documentary culled from the video archives of a Palestinian “citizen journalist” who’s been filming in the Occupied Territories since 2005.
A self-described falah (peasant), Emad Burnat was born and raised in the West Bank village of Bil’in. A free spirit who preferred roaming nearby hills to picking olives with his father, Burnat acquired a new appreciation for Olea europaea after Israeli surveyors and bulldozers arrived to clear trees and prepare the way for the construction of the West Bank Wall.
Acquiring his first camera shortly after the birth of his fourth son in 2005, Burnat initially used his new toy to film village parties and family events. That same year, however, residents of Bil’in began marching each week to protest the construction of the Wall and the loss of their land to hastily built apartment complexes for ultra-orthodox Jewish settlers. Burnat and his camera were soon tagging along. … Continue reading »
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates is asking that the City Council consider putting a sit-lie ordinance on the November ballot and the issue will be discussed at the council’s June 12 meeting.
“We’ve been making substantial progress making our streets more civil,” Bates told Berkeleyside. “We want to have people feel comfortable when they walk in the city.”
Bates said an ordinance could be similar to those in force in Seattle, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Santa Monica. Unlike the San Francisco ordinance, however, his intent is to have an ordinance that would only apply in Berkeley’s commercial zones from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Berkeley law currently makes lying on sidewalks an offense, but Bates said “it’s very difficult to enforce” that provision. … Continue reading »
Which is the real Paris — the one seen in last week’s grimy child abuse epic Polisse, or the one depicted in A Cat in Paris (Une vie de chat), a delightful Academy Award-nominated animated feature opening this coming Friday, June 1, at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas? My money’s on the former, but the latter is definitely the City of Light as we imagine — or hope — it might be.
Directed by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol, A Cat in Paris relates the tale of Dino, a pampered pet who lives a double life. By day, Dino is the loyal companion of mute youngster Zoe, who collects the dead lizards he brings her in an old sardine can. At night, however, Dino lets his hair down and accompanies Nico (Matthew Modine), a cat burglar who specializes in stealing valuable jewelry from under the sleeping (and sleepwalking) noses of wealthy Parisians. … Continue reading »
The stories depicted in the French drama Polisse are, the film’s prologue assures us, based on real-life cases handled by the Paris Sûreté’s Child Protection Unit. I’ve no reason to doubt that claim, but, despite its factual provenance and shelf load of awards (including the Grand Jury Prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival), Polisse (opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, May 25) is more grindhouse exploitation flick than hard-hitting arthouse exposé.
Written and directed by Maïwenn (born Maïwenn Le Besco) , the film is an episodic ensemble piece in which a group of morally compromised, manipulative, and incredibly grumpy police officers humiliate people, abuse suspects, and generally get on each other’s nerves. This is probably not surprising, as their job basically consists of separating parents from their children. … Continue reading »