A partial settlement has been reached in a lawsuit prompted by the death of six students and the injury of seven others when a balcony collapsed in Berkeley in 2015, lawyers for the plaintiffs said today. -more-
A Berkeley man was sentenced today to 40 years to life in state prison for fatally shooting a childhood friend during a dice game in South Berkeley in 2015 in what a prosecutor said was a callous and unfeeling act. -more-
Citizen Jane: Battle for the City:Shattuck Cinemas, from April 28 for two weeks (or longer based on demand.)
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs, Modern Library 50th Anniversary Edition, 2011
How invigorating to see the continuing relevance of Jane Jacobs’ observations on the life of the city. Her genius was to understand what makes cities vibrant and humane and to demonstrate how insensitive development can render them inhospitable to the people who live in them. Jane Jacobs analyzed city parks and sidewalks, those that are successful, used and enjoyed by all sorts of people at different times of the day, as opposed to those that attract few people and become desolate, unsafe places, no matter how grand the adjacent buildings may be.
In many cities around the country tens of thousands of activists gathered to protest the destruction of our planet. To emphasize how serious the situation is, one sign in the Washington D.C. rally reminded the public; "There is No planet B". Lake Merritt in Oakland was the among the sites of a well attended rally, about 3,000 Bay Area residents who are committed to environmental justice -more-
Once again the CSI management appears to have instituted a policy which is adverse to residents' needs by issuing an edict that no chairs are permitted in the lobby of Redwood Gardens for persons waiting for appointments with Myra Wallace and Donna Miles or other staff. This is an act of inconsiderateness against the residents if not an act of cruelty. Redwood Gardens is a Section 8 housing facility for the elderly and people with disabilities every office in the world where individuals have appointments provide chairs for waiting persons to be seated. This is an atrocious decision and we at Redwood Gardens demand that it be revoked, and also that the atrocious decision not to accept packages for residents also should be revoked. We are lease-holding tenants and tenancy means the right to have safe delivery of mail and packages. -more-
Smoking at a bus stop in Berkeley became illegal in 2004. Smoking in a commercial area in Berkeley, an area with stores and shops, became illegal in 2008. Using e-cigarettes in those places became illegal in Berkeley in 2014. And the people who know this are a rarified group which wouldn't fit into a canoe. -more-
President Trump seems to be obsessively warm and effusive to some of the most brutal dictators in the world. Following his inauguration, he reached out to Vladimir Putin in the hope of warming relations with Russia and perhaps thanking him for the role he played in torpedoing Clinton’s efforts. Earlier this year he invited President el-Sisi of Egypt to the White House. El-Sisi He imprisoned judges, prosecutors, academics and journalists. -more-
I believe that all Americans ought to back Trump's efforts on the issue of dealing with North Korea. And then, as soon as that situation is stabilized, we ought to impeach Trump. -more-
What is happening to the bus stops? -more-
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This is a Very Good Deal. Go for it! -more-
Well, the first hundred days of dread have passed, and as yet no nuclear war, so that’s the good news, right? The record of what Gail Collins calls “can’t do” has been made, and this week it has been exhaustively reviewed in the major and minor media. David Remnick in the New Yorker has a very complete accounting of A Hundred Days of Trump, so I don’t need to add anything.
I find among my scribbler friends with longterm political involvement a sentiment analogous to compassion fatigue: Outrage Exhaustion. Many of us just can’t seem to say OMG one more time, as we learn that this president is unimaginably worse than we could ever have expected.
The good news is that a lot of people who have previously preferred to devote their time to watercolor sketching or madrigals or organic vegis have now awakened from their slumber and are carrying the ball. It seems that what some grandly call “The Resistance” is in good hands, so I’m going to leave it there for now. Thanks, guys, and more power to you!
Instead, I’m going to focus on another first term, now about six weeks more than 100 days in the saddle. That would be the dramatic change (fingers crossed) in Berkeley’s City Council fostered by the new Berkeley Progressive Alliance and its fellow travelers, some of whom were already incumbents in the 2016 election. -more-
Donald Trump continues to be unpopular with voters, in general. However, his base overwhelmingly supports him. Why? -more-
With the final approval of the 2902 Adeline Street project by the City Council on Tuesday night, Berkeley is 50 units closer to meeting our RHNA goals (pronounced ree-na: Regional Housing Needs Allocation). It was a thumbs-up night with approvals from all the Council members except Cheryl Davila, who abstained. -more-
ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Random Events Versus Conspiracy Theories, and, Hard Delusions Versus Harsh Realities
Most "delusional systems" tend to make the affected person believe he or she is special. For example, delusions of being Christ or being some other messiah are not uncommon, also delusions of some special role to play in the world, such as the belief that our actions alone could save the world. Other delusions could include the belief that we will be President, that we are about to write a bestselling novel, or also, a delusion that we will become a billionaire. -more-
On the eve of the election, Trump promised to "massively cut taxes for the middle class, the forgotten people, the forgotten men and women of this country, who built our country." During a town hall meeting on NBC's Today show, he was asked if he believed in raising taxes on the wealthy. Trump replied, "I do, I do — including myself. I do." -more-
Arts & Events
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma has stated publically that he grew tired of playing the same old classical repertoire of music for the cello, so he decided to branch out into other areas of music. In his many crossover recordings he has done so. Sometimes, as in his recordings and concerts with the Silk Road Ensemble, the results are good. At other times, the results are, well, a bit hokey. For his concert at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre on Sunday evening, April 30, Yo-Yo Ma joined forces with Chris Thile on mandolin and Edgar Meyer on bass to perform new and unusual scorings of music by Johann Sebastian Bach. Chris Thile, a mandolin virtuoso who plays bluegrass and jazz as well as classical music, recently took over from Garrison Keillor as host of A Prairie Home Companion. Edgar Meyer is both a virtuoso bassist and a composer. -more-
Dmitri Shostakovich’s struggles with the Stalinist bureaucracy are well known. The composer was denounced in Pravda for his 1936 opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, which was vilified as an offense to good Soviet principles. However, with his immensely popular Fifth Symphony in 1937, Shostakovich was reinstated into official favor. This period lasted until World War II, when Shostakovich and other Russian composers were summoned by the government and had to make public apologies and pledge henceforth to write music for the proletarian masses. When Nikita Kruschev issued a denunciation of Stalin in 1960, a certain thaw ensued in the artistic circles of the Soviet Union. However, when the young poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko published in 1961 his incendiary poem Babi Yar and lifted the veil on anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, bringing into the open the Soviet silence over Nazi Germany’s wartime massacre of 34,000 Russian Jews at the ravine of Babi Yar near Kiev, Kruschev lashed out at Yevtushenko and launched a new campaign for “ideological purity” in the arts. However, this did not stop Shostakovich, who had been deeply moved by Yevtushenko’s poem, from deciding to set Babi Yar to music. Shostakovich composed the opening section of his 13th Symphony to Yevtushenko’s poem, and he had already completed it when he met with Yesvtushenko to request permission to set Babi Yar to music. Yevtushenko not only granted Shostakovich permission, he also penned at the composer’s urging a new section entitled “Fears” to be included in the poem and the symphony. The result is a searing portrait of official unwillingness to acknowledge anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union and the fears the Russian people felt about speaking out on any controversial subject. -more-
Imagine the leading French composer of the mid-18th century, Jean-Philippe Rameau, combining forces with the period’s leading French writer and thinker, Voltaire, in an opera intended to provide for King Louis XV of France an allegorical object lesson in what it takes to be a great ruler. Then imagine that this opera was first staged not in an opera house or a palace but rather in a temporary theatre in the stables, La Grande Écurie, at Versailles in 1745. To top it off, imagine that the original score of this 1745 premiere was lost for centuries and then discovered in UC Berkeley’s Hargrove Music Library. Finally, imagine that Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale would combine forces with the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles and with New York Baroque Dance Company to mount a fully staged production of this opera in Berkeley. What you get staggers the imagination, as we saw when the opera Le Temple de la Gloire opened on Friday evening, April 28, for three performances April 28-30, at Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall. -more-
"It's a live oak.
" Her branches extend forever. Did I use the right pronoun?"
"People here can be picky about pronouns."
Jamie Greenblatt's play 'Female, Ashkenazi with a Sewing Machine,' opens with a musical, sweet and humorous courtship vignette, a couple at an old tree. Anna (a strong, affecting performance by elissa Clason) has appeared on Benjamin's (a debonaire and humorous Benoît Monin) "Jewish radar." But she knows nothing about being Jewish, in every sense. She was adopted, an old Singer sewing machine her only link to her otherwise unknown birth mother.
As the play unfolds, like a parable being worked out, a diagnosis of ovarian cancer leads to revelations about identity, community, origin ...
'Female, Ashkenazi ... ' comes from Jamie Greenblatt's own experience, though both the playwright abd her actual circumstances are different from her protagonist. The play is, in fact, playful, without neglecting the seriousness of the disease it turns on, and that is where the excellent collborative production by Inferno Theatre expands on the playwright's vision. -more-
San Francisco's Roxie Theater, May 10, 7pm. Film screening and panel discussion.Filmmaker David Lavallee's documentary To The Ends of the Earth begins with playwright Arthur Miller's sobering observation: "An era is said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." One of our basic illusions is that cheap oil will always be available. Prepare to be exhausted.