Aided by the economic recovery, the gentrification of the part of West Berkeley once devoted to light manufacturing and warehouse space continues apace. On June 16 architect David Trachtenberg filed an application for a use permit for a 5-story mixed use building on the site at 2001 Fourth Street now occupied by Grocery Outlet, a discount retail store which is part of a more-than-200-store chain.
Long-time Berkeleyans remember that the market used to be called Canned Foods. It has filled an important niche for the financially strapped West Berkeley shopper, specializing in packaged food items that had dings and dents, were close to their pull date, or were marked down for some other reason that didn’t affect safety or nutritional value. It will be sorely missed if it closes, patrons say.
An obligatory large yellow sign has been hung on the back wall of the store facing University Avenue, but it lists only the architect, not the owner. Yesterday, the City of Berkeley’s Planning Department posted the full application and accompanying plans on its current zoning list. A number of variances from height and density zoning regulations are requested. -more-
City of Berkeley officials today at least temporarily called off their threat to remove property at a homeless encampment under the Gilman Street overpass adjacent to Interstate Highway 80, saying some of the people who lived there have been able to find housing elsewhere. -more-
Late Thursday night, July 10, 2014, the City of Richmond Planning Commission voted to certify the Environmental Impact Report for the Chevron Modernization Project. CBE had previously highlighted the flaws of this EIR; despite the millions of dollars and consultant resources spent on drafting the EIR, it still presents a project with clear climate, pollution and safety implications. -more-
The Rotary Club of Berkeley, California announces the 2014 Rotary Peace Grove Awards Ceremony to honor Ed Roberts and Judith Heumann, leaders of the civil rights movement for the disabled, on July 16, 2014 at 4:00 p.m., at the Ed Roberts Campus, 3075 Adeline St. in Berkeley.
Ed Roberts, a native Californian, and Judith Heumann, a native New Yorker, are the bookends in the story of the independent living movement for disabled persons in America. Both contracted polio as children, both fought for their right to attend school, and both gained post-graduate degrees from Cal Berkeley. Their combined tenacity energized the civil rights movement for the disabled, established laws to provide access, and created organizations that helped countless individuals around the world find ways to reach their potential. -more-
Much pro and con has been written to date about the sad and threatening business of the recent Berkeley redistricting. From one District 7 resident’s vantage point, here is the view: -more-
Dear Planning and Development Dept;
After receiving your mailer announcing the proposed modifications to Use Permit #2014-0005 on Grayson and San Pablo I became aware of the condo project. I run a small automotive repair in the neighborhood just north of this development. The City installed parking meters out front of our business a couple years back greatly changing the ability of my customers, vendors and employees to find close parking and most days it's difficult to find any around the block. Bear in mind I operate an AUTOMOTIVE repair therefore my customers do not walk, bike or skateboard here - they must drive or tow in their vehicles. I feel if you allow this developer to build a 23 condominium mixed use project with only 13 parking spaces my business will be negatively affected when the occupants seek local street parking for their vehicles. I figure at least 33 cars looking for street parking not to mention any businesses that may be included in this project whose customers may need street parking. -more-
It is unconscionable that Prime Minister Netanyahu should blame Hamas with the vile killings of three Israeli teenagers without offering any proof of their guilt. His wild accusations were largely responsible for the tragic death of 8 Palestinians and hundreds more arrested without charge. Netanyahu should present his evidence and those responsible must be fully punished. -more-
The Berkeley Tenants Convention will be held on Sunday, July 13th, at 1:30 pm at the South Berkeley Senior Center. All Berkeley residents are invited to this historic grassroots event, where we will select the progressive Rent Board slate for the November 2014 ballot. -more-
They’re off and running! Endorsements are coming thick and fast for Berkeley’s City Council races.
The official candidate’s filing period opens on Monday, July 14, and extends until August 8. A number of councilmember wannabes have already taken out the necessary papers and are collecting signatures which can be substituted for the $150 filing fee, and incidentally prove to the doubtful that the candidate actually has a few friends. -more-
Our society keeps jobs and wealth away from those who can not keep their pace up with the rest. However, in order for companies to maximize profits it isn't actually necessary to exclude people with disabilities. Many of us have a great deal of potential that is being wasted. The work ethic as it currently exists excludes people who may have a few problems or a few differences. And it doesn't have to be this way. -more-
Recently, my wife and I have been looking through photographs and notes from our various trips. One trip, our longest, was a two-month's long In 2002 to countries in eastern and southern Africa: Botswana, Namibia, Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. We especially enjoyed our safaris in Botswana. A "safari" refers to a trip to observe and photograph wildlife.. -more-
Arts & Events
Around & About Music: The 28th Annual Mendocino Music Festival & Susan Waterfall's Festival-Within-A-Festival, the Bach Fest
This weekend, the Mendocino Music Festival starts up its 28th annual season, two weeks of music of all kinds, with afternoon and evening programs every day ... -more-
"Don Murray." If a bell rings when you hear the name, you are probably (1) a die-hard fan of ancient, edgy, noirish cinema and (2) more than 50 years old.
I don't believe I ever actually caught any of Don Murray's performances but I always associated him—erroneously it turns out—with a string of serviceable B-movie productions. Au contraire, Roxie Theatre programmer Elliot Lavine points out. "Don Murray was as big a star in the late 50s as Paul Newman." He starred alongside the likes of James Cagney, Eva Mary Saint, Henry Fonda, Charles Laughton and James Earl Jones. Now, after two decades of oblivion, San Francisco's Roxie Theater has resurrected 14 of Murray's greatest films for a three-day run on July 11-13. As a bonus, Murray himself—still energized and whip-smart at the age of 84—is coming along for the party!
A "Very Special Weekend with Don Murray" will serve as a rich cinematic prequel to the scheduled November release of Unsung Hero, a new feature film on Murray and his extraordinary career. Directed by Don Malcolm, Unsung Hero, recounts how one of Hollywood's great careers wound up derailed by the politics of the day. "What happened to him is one of the truly baffling events in Hollywood history," says biopic director Malcolm. "It's a story that's just begging to be told." -more-
San Francisco no longer has a lock on international film festivals. Moviegoers, start your engines: it's time for the second roll-out of Oakland's Matatu Film Festival which is set to run from July 16 to 19 at The Flight Deck (1540 Broadway) and Impact Hub (2323 Broadway).
First order of business: what's a "matatu"? Well, matatus (it's a Swahili word) are popular and highly decorated minibuses that fill East Africa's busy streets with color and the blare of onboard music. The connection? As festival founder Michael Orange explains, both movies and matatus transport people to new (and sometimes surprising) destinations. "These different films spotlight a unique journey, regardless of age, geographical bounds, sexual preference, race, and socio-economic status."
Here's the line up: -more-
Composer André Previn’s opera A Streetcar Named Desire, based on the play by Tennessee Williams, received a scaled-down presentation on Thursday, July 10, as the opener of Merola Opera Program’s 2014 season. Previn’s Streetcar, which was commissioned by San Francisco Opera under former General Director Lotfi Mansouri, received its world premiere at the War Memorial Opera House in 1998 with a huge orchestra of 70 instrumentalists. Peter Grunberg, who serves as Michael Tilson Thomas’ personal music assistant and also as a musical coach at San Francisco Opera, thought Previn’s top-heavy orchestration of Streetcar was both unnecessary and a formidable obstacle to performances of this opera. So Grunberg, at the urging of conductor Mark Morash, undertook to reduce the orchestra from 70 to 40 players. It was this new, scaled-down version that was presented, under the baton of Mark Morash, at Everett Auditorium in the Mission.
I must confess that I have never understood the admiration many people profess to have for Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire. It combines an over-the-top hysterical woman, Blanche Dubois, and a brutally violent man, Stanley Kowalski, in a farrago of lies, deceit and downright stupidity that culminates in a brutal rape. In creating an opera from this unwholesome hodgepodge, Composer André Previn was very faithful to the play’s text. And therein, as I see it, lies half the problem. Previn composed jazz-inflected ‘conversational’ music; but it is extremely difficult music for the vocalists to sing, for they are forever singing against rather than with the orchestra.
This being said, however, it was the singers who came out best in the opening night performance of Merola’s Streetcar. As Blanche Dubois, a role written for Renée Fleming, soprano Julie Adams was a vocal standout, hitting all the right notes, and offering an appropriately affected acting style that summed up the character of Blanche as a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. In the role of Stanley Kowalski, baritone Thomas Gunther made the best of the few extended passages his character gets to sing; but he was dramatically believable as the brutal husband of Blanche’s sister, Stella. Adelaide Boedecker had some lovely moments as Stella, her soprano voice giving eloquent expression in a wordless vocalise to the sexual fulfillment she finds in her marriage with Stanley. Tenor Casey Candebat was outstanding as Mitch, the workmate of Stanley’s who falls naively in love with Blanche only to learn the truth about Blanche’s past when the suspicious Stanley ferrets out his sister-in-law’s dark secrets. The ensuing confrontation between a drunken Mitch and Blanche is the highlight of the opera, for when Mitch shouts that he has never really known her and now sees the reality, Blanche retorts, “Who wants the real? I want Magic.” -more-