Tag Archives: Moe’s Books

Daughter aims to chronicle life of Moe’s Books founder

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His Telegraph Avenue bookstore, just four blocks from the UC Berkeley campus, became so famous that the San Francisco Chronicle once wrote: “India has the Taj Mahal. Berkeley has Moe’s.”

Moskowitz died in 1997, but his bookstore lives on. And now, his daughter, Doris Moskowitz, wants to commemorate her father’s life and the culture and politics that made Berkeley an essential part of the Free Speech and anti-Vietnam War movements. She has launched a Kickstarter campaign to publish Radical Bookselling: A Life of Moe Moskowitz.

The book, designed by Grégoire Vion, will detail Moskowitz’s life, and how he came to open a bookstore in 1959 (the precursor to the current store). It will be image-rich, with photos of what happened on Telegraph Avenue during the fight to stop the war and to create People’s Park; as well as posters of happenings at the store and around town. The book also recounts Moskowitz’s battle with Berkeley to retain the right to smoke his cigar in the store. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s independent bookstores survive, thrive

Photo: Nacio Jan Brown
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2016 BABF logoThis article is brought to you by the Bay Area Book Festival.

Fill in the blank: B–k. Maybe you read “Book.” Or possibly your mind extrapolated a bit and thought “Berkeley.”

Berkeley means books. There have been terrible losses: Cody’s (can it actually be eight years?), Shakespeare & Company (only last year), Black Oak Books on San Pablo (last month), and, back in 2011, the rambling Serendipity Books on University Avenue, of which the New York Times wrote: “The lack of direction was on purpose and in earnest. [Owner] Mr. Howard wanted people to search for books and find not just what they were looking for but the book next to it, which they might want more if they only realized it existed.”

But Berkeley still has one of the most thriving book scenes in the country. Founded in 1959, Moe’s Books lives on, all five stories of it, now led by Moe Moskowitz’s daughter Doris.  … Continue reading »

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Van with $350,000 of rare books stolen; man arrested but books are missing

Berkeley police lead away Joshua Anderson, whom they arrested in connecting with selling stolen rare books at Moe's. The books came from a stolen van that contained $350,000 worth of books. Photo: Ted Friedman
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Berkeley police have arrested a man linked to the theft of $350,000 in rare books, but the books and the van they were housed in are still missing.

Police arrested Joshua Anderson, 30, of Concord after he and a companion allegedly tried to sell four of the stolen books — worth an estimated $13,000 — to Moe’s Books on Telegraph Avenue. Anderson, who had two outstanding warrants for his arrest, was arrested on suspicion of possessing stolen property. He is being held on $45,000 bail in the Berkeley jail. His companion has not been apprehended.

The books belong to Lawrence Van De Carr, a Chicago rare-book dealer. Van De Carr had driven a 2008 silver Ford Econoline XLT van with 30 boxes of books to Pasadena last weekend for an antiquarian book fair. On Monday, he drove to Oakland to stay at a friend’s house. He parked the van outside the home in the 200 block of Whitmore St., near 51st and Pleasant Valley. When he got up Tuesday, Feb. 16, around 10 a.m., the van was gone, he said. … Continue reading »

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Tenants struggle after fire at Chandler building

The Chandler building fire in Southside Berkeley. Photo: Ted Friedman
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When a fire tore through 2449 Dwight Way the Sunday before Thanksgiving, about 30 tenants were displaced and the property owner was saddled with around $1 million in damages. The Nov. 22 disaster has brought to light what can happen in Berkeley in the aftermath of a destructive fire.

The displaced tenants describe two weeks dominated by confusion and uncertainty. After fleeing the building, which is known as the Chandler, the residents scattered, finding refuge in friends’ homes and at the Durant Hotel. The Red Cross provided some immediate financial assistance.

”Things were happening in a whirlwind,” said tenant Owen Hill. “Many of us went to a hotel because we expected it to be covered. We didn’t get solid information because we were in a panic.”

The tenants say they received conflicting information from the Rent Board about what kind of assistance they were entitled to immediately and in the long run, causing uncertainty about what kind of housing to seek. (A crowd-funding campaign set up to help the displaced has so far raised just $65.) … Continue reading »

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Story of Berkeley’s Moe’s Books comes to big screen

Siciliano Trevino held a screening Aug. 27 of her new documentary at the Elmwood Theater. Photo: Ted Friedman
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The film that was found at the Berkeley dump of the 1965 opening night party for Moe’s Books on Telegraph Avenue now has a film of its own.

Thursday night was the premiere of New Mo’ Cut: David Peoples’ Lost Film of Moe’s Books, produced and directed by Siciliana Trevino. Dozens of people who had backed the film on Kickstarter, worked on it, or supported it in other ways, crowded into the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood for a screening. The general public got to see it at 8 p.m. … Continue reading »

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Rent increase may force Poetry Flash to move

Richard Silberg and Joyce Jenkins stand in the offices of Poetry Flash on Fourth Street. The 43-year old publication may have to find a new home because the landlord wants to raise the rent more than 70%. Photo: Francesca Paris
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Poetry Flash, a Berkeley-based poetry magazine established in 1972, faces a threat to its existence from a rent hike that could be as high as 27%.

According to editor and publisher Joyce Jenkins, the landlord has sent her a letter stating that he intends to charge “market rate” and increase rent as much as $600 per month. Jenkins has not yet received final details about what the rent will be. … Continue reading »

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Shakespeare & Co. closes after 51 years in Berkeley

Shakespeare & Co. on Telegraph Avenue and xxx closed on June 2, 2015. Photo: Ted Friedman
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Shakespeare & Co., a used bookstore that has been operating on Telegraph Avenue since 1964, closed its doors for good this week.

The owner, Jon Wobber, said the store was not earning enough income for the time he was putting in. He made the decision to shutter yesterday, on June 2, and served his last customer before locking the door for the last time around 8 p.m.

The building that houses Shakespeare & Co., at 2499 Telegraph Ave., on the corner of Dwight Way, was bought last year by Telegraph Partners, LLC, which plans to extensively remodel the building. Telegraph Partners managing member Ito Ripsteen said the company was open to the bookstore remaining, said Wobber. But the store would have had to close for three months, so Wobber thought the time was right to close the business. … Continue reading »

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New film will tell the story of salvaged Moe’s Books film

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First there was the remarkable salvaging from the city dump of a reel of film shot at Berkeley’s venerable bookstore Moe’s in 1965. Then the discovery that the film was shot by none other than Academy Award nominee and Bladerunner screenwriter David Peoples. Result: one happy bookstore owner, Doris Moscowitz, who has been able to relive some of the glory days of the store founded by her father, Moe. And one great story, in two parts, that was reported by Berkeleyside.

Now local film producer (and former Berkeleyside staffer) Siciliana Trevino has set out to make a short film of her own about the whole, compelling tale. Last week, Trevino launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $8,500 that will enable her to finish shooting (she’s already done two of the three days she needs), and get the film through editing and post-production.

“It’s such a sweet, romantic story,” Trevino said recently, talking about what inspired her to take on the project. “It took throwing the film away for Doris to see it. It shows us how objects are the source of memories, how they are imbued with meaning but not necessarily valuable.” … Continue reading »

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‘Blade Runner’ screenwriter made lost film of Moe’s Books

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The film of a 1965 party at Moe’s Books that was recently discovered in the Berkeley dump was made by an Academy Award nominated screenwriter who was just starting out in the business when he shot the footage.

David Peoples, who arrived in Berkeley with his wife Janet in 1959 to attend Cal, shot the film of Moe Moskowitz arriving at his store on Telegraph Avenue in a Rolls Royce, dressed in a top hat, tails, and white gloves. Peoples had not watched the film in decades, and was surprised when a friend, who had seen the footage on Berkeleyside, contacted him to say it was on the Internet.

For Doris Moskowitz, the daughter of Moe and the current owner of Moe’s Books, finding out who made the film of the legendary party was a satisfying ending to a story that began when a scavenger brought the found footage into the store in November. … Continue reading »

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Film of famous Moe’s Books party found at Berkeley dump

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The film was stuffed in an old cardboard box at the Berkeley dump, resting next to other rolls of footage documenting long-forgotten events.

But when the scavenger pulled out the reel, he saw “New Mo Cut” written on a piece of tape on the film. Could that be a reference to Moe’s Books, the scavenger (who asked not to be named) wondered? He took the film home to find out more.

When he unraveled the black-and-white, 16mm film he saw images of a man in a black top hat and tails getting out of a vintage Rolls Royce affixed with a sign that reads “Moe’s Books: To the Trade Since 1965.” The scavenger recognized the man as Moe Moskowitz who founded Moe’s Books on Telegraph Avenue. The man had never met Moe, who died in 1997 at the age of 76. But he was a regular at the bookstore and had seen a photo above the front counter depicting Moe dressed in a top hat, tails, and white gloves — an image that looked similar to what was on the film. … Continue reading »

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Mrs. Dalloway’s to give Berkeley teachers $100 in books

Mrs. Dalloway's books
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Every kindergarten and first grade teacher in the Berkeley Unified School District will soon have the opportunity to buy $100 worth of books, thanks to an offer made by Mrs. Dalloway’s bookstore and the best-selling author James Patterson.

The bookstore at 2904 College Ave. applied for a grant from Patterson to distribute gift certificates to teachers. It learned this week it had gotten $8,500, according to Marion Abbott, one of the store’s owners. That means 85 teachers will get $100 apiece.

“It’s very exciting,” said Abbott. “Unlike some book stores that are putting in new floors or buying vans, we are putting the money into teachers’ hands. I think it is really going to make a difference.” … Continue reading »

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Jake Silverstein, new editor of New York Times Magazine: ‘The East Bay shaped my view of the world’

Jake Silverstein: the recently appointed editor of the New York Times Magazine grew up in the East Bay
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In March 2014, Jake Silverstein was tapped for one of the top jobs in journalism: the editorship of the New York Times Magazine. A 1993 graduate of Berkeley High School, Silverstein, 39, has deep roots — and a deep affinity — for Berkeley. Surprisingly, he didn’t write for the Berkeley High Jacket, but he did pen stories for the high school’s literary magazine and acted with an independent theater group. His first real professional journalism piece was an East Bay Express story on Ed Gong, the famed piano mover.

Silverstein is a poet, author of the 2010 fiction/non-fiction hybrid book, Nothing Happened and Then it Did: A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction, and a barbecue lover. His deep love of long-form narrative nonfiction took him from the Big Bend Sentinel in Marfa, Texas to the editorship of the Texas Monthly which was nominated under his stewardship for 12 National Magazine Awards. It won four, including one for general excellence.

He grew up in an intellectual family in Oakland. Silverstein’s mother, Marsha Silverstein, is a psychotherapist in Berkeley who also works with the Ann Martin Center. His father, Murray Silverstein, is a poet and an architect with the Berkeley firm JSWD Architects. He is also the co-author of numerous books, including Dorms at Berkeley: An Environmental Analysis and Patterns of Home: The Ten Essentials of Enduring Design. (Silverstein used his father’s business address to get into Berkeley High.)

Silverstein was in Berkeley recently to give the keynote address at The Latest in Longform: The Berkeley Narrative Journalism Conference 2014. For many of the journalists in the room, there was one overriding question: will Silverstein’s West Coast upbringing (and his years in Texas, another sort of western frontier) give a different spin to the Gray Lady? … Continue reading »

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Moe’s Books gets $7,000 from author James Patterson

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The bestselling author James Patterson has given a $7,000 grant to Moe’s Bookstore on Telegraph Avenue, part of his pledge to donate $1 million to support independent bookstores.

Patterson is on a mission to increase childhood literacy and to help kids find books that will make them love reading. He created the grant program to strengthen independent bookstores to help them compete against chains and on-line book retailing. … Continue reading »

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