Tag Archives: Elmwood Cafe

After brouhaha over Berkeley racism incident, Kamau Bell does comedy in his new hometown

Kamau Bell
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With two young daughters — Sammy, 4, and Juno, 7 months — W. Kamau Bell needs to be home early these days. Hence the name of his new stand-up show, “Home by 10,” running at The Marsh in Berkeley through Aug. 22.

The comedian, who is known for his unfettered jokes about race and racism — he hosted the FXX TV series “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell,” and his new CNN show, “United Shades of America” has just finished shooting — has supplemented his repertoire with funny stories about parenting and kids.

On the second night of the run, Bell riffed about the fine line between being a father and being a friend to one’s child, and related how he and his wife, Melissa Hudson Bell, picked a preschool for Sammy after they moved to Berkeley from New York about six months ago. (They are so happy with their choice that a portion of the proceeds of the show is going to Heart’s Leap Preschool on College Avenue.)

But race surfaces often: He also touched on how strangers wax lyrical about how beautiful his kids are — something he believes is likely an overcompensation through praise by white people to the fact the children are bi-racial (Hudson Bell is white).

“Why are we making such a great deal of it?” Bell asks rhetorically a few days after the show, as he sits drinking coffee at Au Coquelet in downtown Berkeley. He knows from the reaction of the audience, however, that this joke hits the spot. … Continue reading »

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At community forum in Berkeley, W. Kamau Bell and Elmwood Café launch ‘implicit bias’ training initiative

Kamau Bell Elmwood Cafe forum Photo: Pete Rosos
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At a community forum held in the wake of a well-publicized accusation of racism at a Berkeley café, a new initiative was announced to help train local businesses in handling implicit bias.

An estimated 300 people turned up to Willard Middle School Friday night to take part in the public discussion prompted by the incident which happened when comedian W. Kamau Bell and his wife, Melissa Hudson Bell, were at the Elmwood Café on Jan. 26 this year.

The comedian, who is African-American, made public on his blog how he was asked to leave the café on College Avenue while he was talking to his wife and her friends, who are all white, at an outdoor table.

After he read Bell’s blog post, Michael Pearce, the owner of the Elmwood Café and a social justice activist, reached out to the Bells and they agreed a public conversation would be a way to turn a negative experience into a teaching opportunity. Their goal was to achieve a broader understanding of racial issues, in particular the implicit bias that can explain micro-aggressions inflicted on people of color. … Continue reading »

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Date set for public forum with W. Kamau Bell and Elmwood Café in wake of racism accusation

Kamau Bell. Photo by Matthias Clamer Courtesy of FX
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A date has been set for a public conversation between comedian W. Kamau Bell and the owner of a Berkeley café where Bell says he was the victim of racial abuse.

The forum will be held on Friday, March 13 at 7:00-8:30 p.m. at Willard Middle School at 2425 Stuart St. after Berkeley Unified offered to provide a venue.

The event hopes to tackle “implicit bias and micro-aggression experiences in the East Bay.”

The need for a public conversation became apparent to Bell and Michael Pearce, the owner of the Elmwood Café on College Avenue, after the comedian, who is African-American, made public on his blog how he was asked to leave the café on Jan. 26. while he was talking to his wife and her friends, who are white, at an outdoor table.  … 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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Bites: More breweries to open; B-Side BBQ closes

Fieldwork growlers
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Openings, closings…

TWO NEW EAST BAY BREWERIES Two new breweries are getting very close to up and running. In Berkeley, Fieldwork Brewing Company, which we reported on in both April and August last year, is putting the final touches on its beers. Fieldwork will be sharing some of its brews during SF Beer Week, and will hold a few private tastings in the coming weeks. Further south, Park Street’s Alameda Island Brewing Company reports on Facebook that all of its tests and inspections of its brewing facility are complete. Its tasting room looks pretty spiffy, too. We’ll keep you posted on the opening days for both of these new spots. Fieldwork Brewing Company will be at 1160 Sixth St. (at Harrison), Berkeley. Follow Fieldwork Brewing on Facebook and Twitter, and on its website. Alameda Island Brewing Company will be at 1716 Park St. (at Eagle), Alameda. Connect with Alameda Island Brewing on Facebook.Continue reading »

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New details in W. Kamau Bell/Elmwood Café storm

Kamau Bell. Photo by Matthias Clamer Courtesy of FX
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UPDATE, 7.07 p.m.: W. Kamau Bell says he is committed to attending the open meeting on race, and happy that BUSD stepped up to organize it. “I will be there. And my wife and kids will be there. This is about our families,” he said. Bell, who was out of town working when he spoke to Berkeleyside, said that as “a black comedian who talks about race,” his schedule is very busy this month, but that he is determined to be present at the forum. He added: “We never called for anyone to be fired.” He said he was aware of many of the new details reported by Berkeleyside today, and had talked to Elmwood Café owner Michael Pearce today to stress that he would be at the forum.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Elmwood Café employee who was fired after making a remark that was construed as racist did not just tell the comedian W. Kamau Bell to “scram,” or words to that effect. A customer had approached her to report that a man outside was harassing customers, which prompted her to tap on the window and indicate to Bell to “stop selling.”

But even though her words, which were likely not heard by Bell, were less inflammatory than the comedian recounted on his website, the employee was fired because she did not try to solve the problem or report it to management, according to Michael Pearce, the owner of the café.

The new details of the Jan. 26 encounter between Bell and the Elmwood Café employee came to light just as Pearce was making arrangements for a community forum on race in response to the incident. … Continue reading »

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Comedian W. Kamau Bell reports being victim of racism at Berkeley’s Elmwood Café

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By Tracey Taylor and Frances Dinkelspiel

UPDATE: 1.30.15: The Elmwood Café posted on its Facebook page around noon that it has fired the employee who made the unacceptable remark.

UPDATE, 1.29.15, 6:40 p.m.: Bell posted on his Facebook page at 4:48 p.m that he spoke to Pearce after this article was published. He wrote: “My wife & I just talked to Michael Pearce, the owner of Elmwood Cafe, & we’ve decided to have a public conversation about this. Details soon.” On its Facebook page, the Elmwood Café appears to have deleted its first post in which it expressed how horrified it was (see a screen-grab captured by Berkeleyside). At 5:31 p.m., it posted the following: “We have reached out [sic] Mr. Kamau Bell and expressed to him how truly sorry we are. He and his wife have graciously accepted our invitation to have an open dialogue about the incident, and what steps can be taken. This conversation will be forthcoming and transparent and public as to what went wrong, and what actions we take to rectify what happened.”

ORIGINAL STORY: A popular African American comedian took to the Internet on Thursday to complain that an employee of the Elmwood Café on College Avenue told him to “scram,” or words to that effect, Monday while he was talking to his white wife and her friends at one of its outdoor tables.

W. Kamau Bell, who performs regularly in Bay Area comedy clubs, said he was shocked when the employee tapped on the window from inside the café and indicated that he should leave the area. The employee apparently thought Bell might be trying to sell something. Bell said he was dressed in a dark Oaklandish-brand hoodie at the time.

“It is the definition of prejudice,” Bell, a Berkeley resident, said. “They looked at me, they judged me against other people, an idea they had in their head about what a person like me is going to do, and then they acted in stupidity and ignorance.” … Continue reading »

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Video: 36 hours in Berkeley, California

Screen shot 2014-10-10 at 11.47.24 AM
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This week, the New York Times turned its attention to Berkeley for its regular “36 Hours in…” series. It’s not the first time the city has been viewed through this lens. It was also featured in 2003.

This time, however, they also created a video to give readers a sense of life in the city (scroll down to watch it).

Many favorite local businesses and organizations are featured it the video and the accompanying article, including the Tilden Steam Train, the Lawrence Hall of Science, UC Berkeley’s Hearst swimming pool, Alchemy Collective, La Botella Republic, Cheese Board Collective, Chez Panisse, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Comal, Ici, Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, Ippuku, Elmwood Café, Mrs. Dalloway’s Bookstore, and the Berkeley Path Wanderers Association. (Prizefighter cocktail bar also sneaked in, although it is actually in Emeryville.) … Continue reading »

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Eat the Street: Elmwood Café defines community

Elmwood Cafe at xxxx College Ave. in Berkeley. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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In a new occasional series, Berkeleyside’s Siciliana Trevino sets out to eat, and report on, every restaurant on College Avenue — from Bancroft to Broadway, taking in the gourmet goldmines that are the Elmwood and Rockridge neighborhoods in between. First on the list? The Elmwood Café.

The intersection of College and Russell was oddly absent of the congestion that normally plagues it at dusk. DJ and I were on the sidewalk, at a crossroads about where to get a drink, or maybe have dinner.

DJ and I often wondered what it would be like to eat at every restaurant on College Avenue from Bancroft to Broadway. It was a what if…? that became a real possibility when I left New York City in April to live with him in Berkeley, where we both originate. But that night in June we vowed that if we ate out on College, we would go forward with our long-held plan. … Continue reading »

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Claremont branch library reopening delayed two months

Claremont library construction
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The reopening of the Claremont branch of the Berkeley Public Library has been pushed back two months because of construction delays.

The Claremont branch will now reopen in late March or April next year, rather than late January or early February, according to Donna Corbeil, the library director.

“It looks like it is four to eight weeks behind our originally anticipated schedule,” said Corbeil.

The delay is a result of some vendors not delivering items on time, Corbeil said. For example, the new windows are taking longer to arrive than expected.

So far, there are no cost overruns for either the Claremont or North branch projects. The North branch remodel is expected to be completed in March or April 2012 as well. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Monster puppets
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HOT TO TROT Hot sandwich restaurant Toaster Oven is crossing the bridge to the East Bay and opening soon on Telegraph Avenue. The chain, which has three locations in San Francisco, serves meat and vegetarian grilled sandwiches, as well as breakfast sandwiches, shakes and cookies. Toaster Oven Berkeley will be at 2309 Telegraph, right next to Chipotle.

LOCAL COFFEE FIX For Berkeleyans who can’t get enough caffeine fixes from Peet’s, let it be known that the city’s ninth store opened on November 14th at 3200 College Avenue (at Alcatraz) in the space formerly occupied by A’ Cuppa Tea — as previewed by us in September. … Continue reading »

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Berkeleyside

Were you a winner in our Caltopia raffle?

Baskets filled to the brim with gift certificates and pizza for a year from LaVal's
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The two days of Caltopia were quite a whirl for students, faculty and staff, as well as for exhibitors like Berkeleyside. From the tens of thousands who passed through the self-proclaimed “greatest days on planet Earth”, we were able to have conversations about local news with hundreds of people, we launched OneNews/Berkeleyside, our exciting new citizen journalism app, and we even found some potential new journalists.

But what about the Berkeleyside raffle? We partnered with a host of wonderful Berkeley businesses … Continue reading »

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News

Thousands of Cal students, staff flock to Caltopia

Students new and old come out in droves for the community-boosting swag-fest that is Caltopia
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UC Berkeley freshmen, some looking dazed, others excited, as well as more blasé seniors, turned out in their thousands on Sunday for Day One of Caltopia, the self-described “two greatest days on the planet”.

The event, held at the UC Berkeley Recreational Sports Facility at 2301 Bancroft Way, sees more than 100 exhibitors showcasing their wares and services to the Cal community, including the university’s staff and faculty.

It’s a combination of freebie-fest — with giveaways galore, be it bites of Clif Bars, T-shirts, pens and mouse pads and the chance to win covetable prizes like Kindles from big brand names like Pepsi  — and social mixer.

Berkeleyside made its debut at Calopia yesterday and we will be there again today. Find us at booth E104.

Continue reading »

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