The Week

Carol Denney


Flash: Fire at Berkeley's Chez Panisse

By Hannah Alvarisi (BCN)
Friday March 08, 2013 - 08:09:00 AM

A fire at Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley was brought under control by firefighters early this morning, according to fire officials. -more-

Bates Brainstorms Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue

By Ted Friedman
Saturday March 02, 2013 - 12:36:00 PM
Mayor Tom Bates, left, with a senior aide, Calvin Fong replacing chairs after the big brainstorm.

The Chron reported Thursday that Tom Bates was going to "makeover Telegraph" that night.

Calling the evening "a brainstorming session," Berkeley Mayor Bates presented other people's proposed makeovers at Willard School auditorium on Thursday from 6 to about 8.

One hundred Southsiders, who complained they had attended the same meeting for twenty years and were fed up with all the talk, showed up to hear five mini-presentations of Telegraph makeovers.

Afterward the audience made its own presentations. -more-

Updated: "The Bay Lights" Turned On at Bay Bridge

By Dan McMenamin (BCN)
Wednesday March 06, 2013 - 05:09:00 PM

About 25,000 LED lights were turned on last night as part of an impressive light sculpture on the western span of the Bay Bridge. -more-

New: Council Majority Denies Appeal of Wareham 740 Heinz Permit (News Analysis)

By Curtis Manning
Monday March 04, 2013 - 10:32:00 AM

On January 22, the Berkeley City Council denied an appeal of the Zoning Adjustment Board’s approval of modifications to a project 740 Heinz Avenue. The project, which would see the demolition of the landmark Copra Building and the construction of a 74-foot bio-lab by Wareham Development, was opposed by the Friends of the West Berkeley Plan. -more-

New: Discovering Simón Bolivar

By Ralph E. Stone
Wednesday March 06, 2013 - 04:43:00 PM

[Editor's Note: This article first appeared in the Planet on Friday, April 02, 2010. We are reprinting it because of the death of Hugo Chavez.] -more-

Berkeley Community Groups Concerned about Death of Mentally Ill Man in Police Custody

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday March 01, 2013 - 02:35:00 PM

Members of several community groups raised concerns today about the way the Berkeley Police Department handled an incident with a mentally ill man who died in a struggle with officers two weeks ago.

George Lippmann of the Coalition for a Safe Berkeley said Xavier Moore, 41, "had a history of mental health issues" but witnesses allege that the level of force used by officers when they confronted him at the Gaia Building in the 2100 block of Allston Way shortly before midnight Feb. 12 "seemed excessive."

Speaking at a news conference outside police headquarters, Lippmann said, "The community is in shock over his death and is gravely concerned about the lack of information" about it. -more-

Meteors and Nuclear Reactors: A Near Miss in the Urals

By Gar Smith
Thursday February 28, 2013 - 03:58:00 PM
1957 Mayak Plutonium Map

There are a lot of things that can spell trouble for nuclear reactors. They can be knocked offline or destroyed by earthquakes, floods, fires, drought, hurricanes and even solar flares. California's Diablo Canyon reactor once was shut down by tide of jellyfish-like salps. A reactor at Browns Ferry was set on fire by a worker using a candle to search for air leaks. And now there's a new, previously unseen threat on the horizon: supersonic rocks from outer space! -more-

Watch the Bay Bridge Light Up Tonight

By Dan McMenamin (BCN)
Tuesday March 05, 2013 - 09:01:00 AM

A light sculpture made up of 25,000 LED lights strung along the western span of the Bay Bridge will be turned on tonight after months of preparation. -more-

Graffitirazzi – Keep on Truckin'

By Gar Smith
Friday March 01, 2013 - 01:11:00 PM

                                Trucks are perfect rolling stock for urban artists.

What's the best canvas for a graffiti artist — better even than a wall? Answer: A wall that's on the move. That's why graffiti taggers target railroad cars and New York subway trains. But, while those kinds of artistic expropriations can get a tagger a ticket, there's nothing illegal about grabbing some spray cans and dressing up your own set of wheels. -more-



“Berkeley ponders Telegraph Ave. upgrade”? Well,maybe

By Becky O'Malley
Friday March 01, 2013 - 11:56:00 AM

This just in: Absolutely Nothing Happened.

Nothing. Zilch. Nada .

Film at 11: presumably blank.

Yet another posse riding into town to save Telegraph turned out to be a few old guys riding sagging nags.

If you’re one of the old-timers who still reads the print Chronicle at home, you may have seen the big photo above the fold in Thursday’s paper, complete with big headline:

Seedy Street may blossom

Telegraph Avenue changes ahead

It was accompanied by breathless prose: -more-


Odd Bodkins: The Making of a Conservative (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday March 01, 2013 - 01:26:00 PM

Odd Bodkins: Take me out to the ball game. (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday March 01, 2013 - 01:19:00 PM

Bounce: Blending in. (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Friday March 01, 2013 - 01:30:00 PM

Public Comment

New: Design is Not Telegraph's Problem

By Kirk Peterson
Tuesday March 05, 2013 - 07:46:00 PM

At last year's Telegraph Avenue Charette I reminded everyone at the beginning that the 'problem' with the Avenue's commerce is not design. We designers like to imagine that we can change the world, but the built environment generally expresses social/cultural reality with a real-time lag. Of course better lighting, street furniture, trees, etc. would be great, but nobody wants to countenance a big part of the short term solution - getting rid of certain types of people, and their behaviors. I've been visiting regularly Telegraph since the 60s, and it still works for me (I love used actual paper books) but we hear that the Telegraph Avenue 'brand' has a bad connotation. I propose no big solution: all I can contribute is thoughtful design. Perhaps when the anticipated construction of lots of new apartments reaches a critical mass, then a new mix of people will emerge, and a different 'vibe' will develop. The changes anticipated and promoted by the South Side Plan - which took a decade or so to be adopted - are just going to take time. -more-

New: Letter to Diana Alvarado, USPS

By Victoria L. Peirotes
Tuesday March 05, 2013 - 07:39:00 PM

Ms. Diana K. Alvarado

Facilities-Implementation Area

U.S. Postal Service

RE: Proposed Sale of Berkeley CA Post Office Building

Dear Ms Alvarado:

I write with a unique perspective as to why the Postal Service should reconsider authorizing an immediate fire-sale of the downtown Berkeley Post Office facility to private developers. Alternatively, I suggest that USPS should take time to explore and partner with other public entities (federal, state, county, or city) to find creative alternatives so that this historic building remains in the public domain.

I draw your attention to a remarkably successful example of how this kind of effort can succeed by citing the San Francisco Main Post Office at 7th and Mission streets. Its conservation and conversion to the seat of the US Ninth District Court of Appeals won universal accolades in the late 90's, and now sits as a positive bastion of public investment and presence in San Francisco. As a result of that "magnet" effort, the new SF Federal building was built next door. -more-

New: Berkeley City Council Considers Dropping School Board Appointees from Peace and Justice Commission

By Noah Sochet, Chair of Peace and Justice Commission
Tuesday March 05, 2013 - 08:58:00 AM

This Tuesday, March 5, the Berkeley City Council will consider a proposal by two city council members (Gordon Wozniak and Darryl Moore) that would dismiss the School Board appointees from the city's Peace and Justice Commission, and ban the School Board from making appointments in the future. -more-

New: Economy

By Romila Khanna
Tuesday March 05, 2013 - 08:26:00 PM

Our legislators get their pay in time while poverty stricken citizens worry whether they can scrape together enough to feed their families. The legislators forget they were sent to the Washington to fix the broken economic system; they were not sent to Washington to enjoy the good life. The legislators must solve the problem of an economy where the rich get richer and poor become poorer. Access of the very poor to schools and colleges gives them a ladder on which to climb from poverty into the middle class. Assurance of continued health care and social security gives our poor elders the safety net they need to live in dignity. -more-

Update: Death During Police Contact, February 12, 2013

By Officer Jennifer Coats, Public Information Officer, Berkeley Police Department,
Friday March 01, 2013 - 01:02:00 PM

We received some additional inquiries regarding the recent death of a person during contact with our officers. Though we are limited in terms of sharing specific details of this ongoing investigation, we wanted to offer some context where we can, as hopefully this may be of some use to you. -more-

Eating Horses In Paris

By Michael Parenti
Thursday February 28, 2013 - 04:31:00 PM

In 1951, only five years after World War II ended, I managed to make my way to Paris where I landed a job as a courier diplomatique (messenger boy) for the United Nations Sixth General Assembly. Despite the years of war and deprivation, Paris still was a special place with its history, its cafes, galleries, bridges, ornate edifices, and narrow winding cobblestone streets, some seemingly as old as the city itself.

Recent reports about how horsemeat has been smuggled into certain meat products in England, Sweden, and elsewhere remind me of one of Paris's unusual features of 1951: the numerous butcher shops that sold horsemeat. Such a shop usually sported a mounted life-sized horse head (made of metal or wood) above the store entrance to advertise unequivocally that the butcher specialized in the sale of horse flesh.

I ate horsemeat at a small neighborhood Parisian restaurant a number of times. It was smoothly textured and more gamy than beef. I wasn't particularly fond of it but it did have the virtue of being affordable. In those post-war days, low-income Parisians were more inclined to eat horses than ride them.

All the talk today about how undesirable it is to consume horses carries the implication that our immense ingestion of other livestock is perfectly acceptable. We are advised not to eat horses, nor dogs, rabbits, or cats---no matter how close to starvation we might be. But devouring limitless numbers of cattle, pigs, sheep, lambs, chickens, turkeys, and ducks is quite all right. -more-

New: West Berkeley’s Voting District Boundaries

By Curtis Manning
Monday March 04, 2013 - 10:43:00 AM

The move to carve out student districts in East Berkeley has caused some to ponder a re-alignment of voting district lines in West Berkeley. West Berkeley’s land is currently divided into two different districts at University Ave. There is no reasonable justification for dividing West Berkeley into two different districts. It should be united into a single voting district -- Council District 1. -more-

Big Tobacco’s Unlikely Allies in the Effort to Keep the Poor Hooked on Cigarettes

By Carol Denney
Saturday March 02, 2013 - 03:18:00 PM

Imagine a committee meeting where California legislators gather to consider AB746, Congressional Representative Marc Levine’s proposal to protect people in multi-unit housing from secondhand smoke. Picture the table, the chairs, the people milling about shaking hands and making introductions. -more-

Letter to Diana Alvarado, U.S.Postal Service, re proposed relocation and sale of Berkeley Main Post Office (NEPA)

By Antonio Rossmann
Friday March 01, 2013 - 01:09:00 PM

Dear Ms. Alvarado:

Several of the historic and civic individuals and organizations testifying before your hearing this evening have asked me to provide comment on the applicability of the National Enviromnental Policy Act (NEPA) to the proposed relocation and sale of the Berkeley Main Post Office.

By way of qualifications a brief biographical summary is attached. As an individual I am familiar with the Berkeley Main Post Office as a frequent user of it, most recently to obtain passport renewals for my daughters, who attend Berkeley High School within one block of the building.

In my opinion NEPA applies to the proposed action of the United States Postal Serivce (USPS), under NEPA the relocation and sale represent a major federal action affecting the human enviromnent, no categorical exclusion can lie, and therefore before taking any official decision on relocation or sale, an enviromnental impact statement (EIS) must be prepared and circulated for public review. -more-

March Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Friday March 01, 2013 - 01:37:00 PM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available.

You can view it absolutely free of charge by clicking here . You can print it out to give to your friends.

Grace Underpressure has been producing it for many years now, even before the Berkeley Daily Planet started distributing it, most of the time without being paid, and now we'd like you to show your appreciation by using the button below to send her money. -more-


SENIOR POWER When you are in your forties…

By Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Saturday March 02, 2013 - 03:53:00 PM

When you who are in your forties or younger, look back with curiosity on that dark time, as I think occasionally you should. It will do no good to search for villains or heroes or saints or devils because there were none; there were only victims.” Robert Man-from-Uncle Vaughn (1932- ) relied on American screen-writer and novelist James Dalton Trumbo (1905-1976) for the title of his University of Southern California PhD thesis and for his 1972 book, Only Victims; A Study of Show Business Blacklisting. -more-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Italy’s Election: Lighting The Lamp

By Conn Hallinan
Saturday March 02, 2013 - 03:13:00 PM

On the eve of the World War I the British diplomat Sir Edward Gray is purported to have said, “The lamps are going out all over Europe.” In the wake of the recent Italian election one might reverse that phrase: after years of brutal austerity, collapsing economies, widespread unemployment and shredding of the social welfare net, Italians said “basta!” “Enough!” -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: Sequester: the Rise of Republican Anarchists

By Bob Burnett
Friday March 01, 2013 - 12:59:00 PM

The March 1st sequester budget cuts are yet another product of crises manufactured by the ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party. These Tea Party extremists have one objective: crush the federal government. Motivated by a strange brew of Old Testament Christianity and Ayn Rand’s “Objectivism” they’re a lethal force within the GOP – Anarchists. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Obesity is a Common Health Risk

By Jack Bragen
Thursday February 28, 2013 - 04:05:00 PM

Obesity is a medical issue and frequent cause of premature death faced by a large proportion of persons with mental illness. The medications that we must take often have an effect on metabolism, directly causing weight gain and sometimes diabetes. The medications often make it more difficult to get physical exercise because of the sedation (which is common among numerous classes of these drugs.) Many psychiatric drugs also increase appetite. -more-

Arts & Events

Theater Review: 'My Recollect Time'--Inferno Theatre at South Berkeley Community Church

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday March 06, 2013 - 04:48:00 PM

" ... the life we couldn't see, but always wanted—wanted so terribly."

'My Recollect Time,' Berkeley playwright Jamie Greenblatt's humane little play about emancipated slave Mary Fields—who posed as a riverman on Mississippi steamers, later working for an Ursuline convent in Montana, where she made a deep bond with the Superior, Mother Amadeus, then (at 60), driving a team of horses to deliver the mail in the wilderness —is in its final week of a premiere by Inferno Theatre, in residence at the historic Arts & Crafts South Berkeley Community Church. -more-

Opera Review: Virago’s “Don Giovanni” at Hillside Club well-sung and charming

By John A. McMullen II
Wednesday March 06, 2013 - 04:46:00 PM
Angela Eden Moser, Anders Froehlich, Elizabeth Baker, Eileen Meredith

Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” produced by Virago Theatre Company at the Hillside Club, is a well-sung, charming few hours. -more-

EYE FROM THE AISLE: Impact Theatre’s “AS YOU LIKE IT”---I like it, we like it, you’ll like it!

By John A. McMullen II
Friday March 01, 2013 - 01:26:00 PM
Phebe (Luisa Frasconi, center) attempts to woo Rosalind (Maria Giere Marquis, right) as Celia (Alexander Lenarsky) and Silvius (Brandon
                Mears) look on.

“AS YOU LIKE IT,” as envisioned and reinvented by Melissa Hillman and the cast and company of Impact Theatre is invigorated and invigorating, a refreshing approach that is out and out funny. When’s the last time you had an honest to god guffaw at Shakespeare? They take the best kinds of liberties with the Bard, and liberty is what it’s all about. -more-

Yes to "No"! The True Story of How a PR Campaign Ousted a Dictatorship Opens March 8 at the Shattuck Landmark Threaters

By Gar Smith
Thursday February 28, 2013 - 04:13:00 PM
Gael Garcia Bernal

The first thought an audience is likely to have as Pablo Larrain's exceptional Chilean docudrama begins to screen is: "What kind of cheap, low-budget production is this?" -more-

AROUND AND ABOUT OPERA: World Premiere of 'The Secret Garden' in Berkeley

By Ken Bullock
Thursday February 28, 2013 - 04:11:00 PM

'The Secret Garden,' a new opera by Nolan Gasser and Carey Harrison, adapted from the Frances Hodgson Burnett cildren's book, will have its world premiere, produced by San Francisco Opera and Cal Performances, March 1-10, various times, at Zellerbach Hall on the UC campus. Conducted by Sara Jobim (presiding over a chamber ensemble drawn from the SF Opera Orchestra) and directed by Jose Maria Condemi, with designs by Naomie Kremer, and a cast including soprano Sarah Shafer, tenor Scott Joiner, 14 year old tenor Michael Kepler Meo as Colin, bass-baritone Philippe Sly and mezzo Laura Krumm. There will be family workshops and other special events around the premiere. $30-$80 ($5 workshops), 642-9988; or Discount tickets at: -more-

AROUND AND ABOUT MUSIC: Ustad Farida Mahwash, Homayoun Sakhi & the Sakhi Ensemble--Afghan Song & Music; Berkeley Chamber Performances Presents The Lee Trio On Tuesday

By Ken Bullock
Thursday February 28, 2013 - 04:08:00 PM

Famed Afghan singer Ustad Farida Mahwash, the first woman to be given the title Ustad ("Maestra") in 1977, and composer-rubab virtuoso Homayoun Sakhi & the Sakhi Ensemble will present an evening of Afghan music and song Saturday, March 2 at 8 pm, at Wheeler Auditorium on the UC campus, under the auspices of Cal Performances. -more-