Cheryl Leonard brings melting glaciers, kelp to Berkeley

Cheryl Leonard brings her rocks, kelp, ice, and penguin bones to the Bower Center on Wednesday for "Polar Landscapes" a program of original music with Phillip Greenlief. Photo by Cheryl Leonard.

Cheryl Leonard brings her rocks, kelp, ice and penguin bones to the Brower Center on Wednesday for “Polar Landscapes” a program of original music with Phillip Greenlief. Photo: Cheryl Leonard

Cheryl Leonard followed a long winding path from the Berkeley Hills to the polar regions, but her ability to make arresting music using the sounds of melting glaciers flows directly from an epiphany she experienced hiking near Tilden.

Leonard has spent a good deal of time over the past eight years in the Arctic and Antarctic, making field recordings and collecting materials that she transforms into musical instruments. She performs “Polar Sounscapes” 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Brower Center on the closing night of the multi-media exhibition “Vanishing Ice: Alpine and Polar Landscapes in Art 1775-2012,” which examines some two centuries of artists inspired by frozen landscapes. The event is co-presented with Other Minds. … Continue reading »

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Bankrupt Premier Cru not run in ‘reliable fashion’

In December 2011, John Fox was all smiles as he held large scissors to cut the ribbon for the grand opening of Premier Cru's new retail store at 1011 University Ave. Photo: Premier Cru
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An analysis of the books and inventory of the bankrupt Premier Cru wine company shows that it collected $45 million in wine orders but had no bottles associated with those orders in the warehouse at 1011 University Ave in Berkeley, according to court documents.

In addition, the company had $42 million in customer deposits on hand in December 2014 — most of which was no longer there when the company filed for bankruptcy in January 2016, according to court documents.

Those two startling numbers, along with some statements from a former employee and an accountant hired to examine the records, reveal chaotic business practices at the Berkeley wine company owned by John Fox and Hector Ortega. Those dealings have prompted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate whether Fox ran a Ponzi scheme.

Court documents also show that Fox managed a company that often sold bottles it did not have, mortgaged its building at 2011 University Ave. to the max, and deliberately tried to prevent its bank from attaching some of its funds. In addition, business records were sloppily kept.

“For the most part, I have determined that the Debtor’s books and records were not maintained in a reliable fashion,” Richard Pierotti, a certified public accountant hired by the bankruptcy trustee, wrote in a court declaration. … Continue reading »

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Big Screen Berkeley: ‘The Wait,’ ‘Another Dawn’ and ‘Smashing the O-Line’

L'Atessa (The Wait) opens in Berkeley on
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It’s not always easy to find interesting films to review or write about, but this week is different. Call it a picture show potpourri, or perhaps a cinematic smôrgasbôrd: this weekend, Berkeley filmgoers have plenty to choose from.

On the new release front, consider L’Attesa (The Wait), opening at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas on Friday, May 6). Directed by Piero Messina, the film is a lovely-to-look-at chamber piece about two women and the man who’s brought them together.

Jeanne, Giuseppe’s French girlfriend, has been invited by her beau to meet the family at their Sicilian villa. Arriving from the airport, however, she discovers her visit has come at a rather awkward time – coincident with the mourning period for Giuseppe’s recently deceased uncle, who (we presume) has died on extremely short notice.

Giuseppe’s mother Anna (Juliette Binoche) tries to be a gracious host under trying circumstances, and as the days pass the two women begin to develop an understanding, if not a close relationship. But as the wait continues – and as Giuseppe stubbornly refuses to make an appearance – Jeanne begins to wonder if there’s more to the story than she’s been told. … Continue reading »

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News

The Berkeley Wire: 05.04.16

Avett Brothers at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. Photo Kelly Owen

Avett Brothers at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley on April 30. Photo: Kelly Owen

Two minimum wage initiatives for Berkeley ballot (Express)
New effort to solve Berkeley cold case murder (KTVU)
Progressive voters meet to endorse city council and mayoral candidates (Daily Cal)
UC Chancellor faces skeptical Academic Senate (SF Chronicle)
How my disability helped me thrive at Cal’s computer science program (Medium)
At Shotgun Players, a game of ‘Hamlet’ roulette (Express)

Get the latest Berkeley news in your inbox with Berkeleyside’s free Daily Briefing. And make sure to bookmark Berkeleyside’s pages on Facebook and Twitter. You don’t need an account on those sites to view important information.

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Crime

Man held to answer in Berkeley murder, carjacking case

A 2011 photograph of Kamau Berlin. Source: Facebook
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A 20-year-old man accused of murder with special circumstances was ordered Wednesday morning by an Alameda County Superior Court judge to face nearly all of the charges filed against him as the case moves ahead to trial.

 dismissed one count and one special circumstance related to rape allegations, and said the prosecution had not presented sufficient evidence to support those charges.

Kamau Berlin, who was a student at Berkeley Technology Academy at the time of his arrest, was ordered to return to court May 18 for arraignment as the case proceeds. He will continue to be held without bail, Burgess said.

Berlin told his mother he had just needed a ride home the day he was arrested near the car where 72-year-old Nancy McClellan was found bleeding from the neck due to a stab wound. Police testified that, when his mother insisted during a jailhouse interview that he tell her the truth of what had happened, he said he had seen a woman in a car, started hitting her to get her out of the car, and then threw her into the backseat.

He also mentioned to his mother having used brass knuckles during the attack, which ultimately helped police track down the murder weapon in the days after Berlin’s arrest.

At the time of his arrest, in September 2014, he told police a red substance on him that looked like blood was actually “fake blood for Halloween.” … Continue reading »

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Nosh Guide: Dinner

Homestead, August 2013, Oakland, CA. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Some live for weekend brunch. Others can’t wait to jump out of the office for a mid-week lunch. Us? We know dinner is the best meal of the day. It doesn’t matter if that dinner is an elegant prix fixe affair at Chez Panisse, a takeout pizza from Emilia’s, or a big platter of fried chicken from Miss Ollie’s. It’s all good. We’ve collapsed all of our dinner picks, whether they’re casual or high-end, into the following list. Our readers picked their favorite weekday spots as well as splurge dinners. Either way, we think you’ll be able to infer where you’ll need to get a reservation months in advance and where you can pop in at 7:30 p.m. on a Wednesday.

In today’s installment of the Nosh Guide, we take a look at our favorite spots for our evening meals.

Read our Nosh Guide to Dinner.

The Nosh Guide is Berkeleyside’s authoritative, dynamic listing of our favorite spots for eating and drinking in the East Bay. We’ve included picks from Nosh editors, writers and, importantly, readers. We will add new favorites as they appear and may (sadly) have to take some away as they close. At its core, we hope that the Nosh Guide will be a helpful way to navigate our dining scene, no rankings necessary. … Continue reading »

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Locals celebrate 10 years of Schoolhouse Creek Common

Schoolhouse Creek Common celebration on May 1, 2016. Photo: courtesy: Brad Smith
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On Sunday May 1, neighbors in North-West Berkeley came together for a day to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Schoolhouse Creek Common. The gathering was also an occasion to thank Jamie Day, who is described as “the guiding light and spark plug” for the development of the park by the neighborhood, and his wife, Phyllis Orrick, both of whom have done so much to create and maintain this open space.

The common, which is on the corner of Curtis and Virginia streets, is a 9,000-square-foot park that is both loved and maintained by local residents. It is located near the site of an elementary school that was built there in 1856.

The original school was replaced by the San Pablo Avenue School and then, later, the Franklin Elementary School. In 2003, Franklin was closed, and a year later the Berkeley Adult School moved into its remodeled buildings.

Schoolhouse Creek Common, created by citizen volunteers with the help of the Berkeley City Council — including then councilwoman Nancy Skinner — and the Berkeley Unified School District, opened on May 13, 2006. It continues to be supported by BUSD. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Attorneys spar over evidence in death penalty case

Relatives and friends of Anthony Medearis III mourned at the site of his shooting on Thursday night. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A trail of 15 cartridge casings led from the scene of a dice game in West Berkeley toward the corner where Anthony “Tone” Medearis III was struck by a bullet, fatally, in the back.

The 22-year-old was running for his life and pleading for mercy as his killer followed behind him, walking, as he fired his gun over and over. It was Sept. 8, 2013, at about 5:40 p.m.

Two witnesses, including his own 7-year-old nephew, identified Darnell Williams Jr. as the shooter. Williams of Berkeley is facing murder charges for Medearis’ death, and what authorities have described as the retribution killing less than two months earlier of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine at a sleepover in Oakland.

Read complete coverage of the case.

Closing arguments took place Monday and Tuesday, as prosecutor John Brouhard walked the jury through his evidence, and Williams’ defense team urged jurors to question that evidence and keep their emotions in check.

“Means, motive and opportunity,” said defense attorney Darryl Billups. “I question all three of those things and I think the evidence raises an alternative to what the DA is alleging happened.”

After final instructions from Judge Jeffrey Horner, which are scheduled to conclude Wednesday morning, the jury is expected to begin deliberations in what could result in a death penalty sentence. … Continue reading »

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Where in Berkeley?

Where in Berkeley?

WIB

Know where this is? Take a guess and let us know in the Comments, below. (Also, while you’re at it, we still don’t have a correct answer for our April 6 contest! We’ve added a couple more photos as clues — go see if you can figure out where it is…)

Photo: Jim Rosenau.

Send your submissions for “Where in Berkeley?” to tips@berkeleyside.com. The more obscure the better —  just as long as the photos are taken in Berkeley. Thanks in advance.

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News

The Berkeley Wire: 05.03.16

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One to watch: Berkeley drummer James Small

Drummer James Small

Photo Courtesy of: Andrea Kash
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At only 23 years old, James Small is about as seasoned a drummer as they come. He’s been a member of over 10 bands, opened a nationwide tour for a Grammy-winning artist, and attended one of the nation’s top music colleges. Yet Small’s journey hasn’t always been filled with success and achievement. The drummer has experienced his fair share of hardships and struggles along the way.

Small left school to chase a dream, experienced the rise and fall of a band, and, at one point, found himself teaching kindergarten at a performing arts school in Ohio. Through it all, he remains confident in his ability and excited about his future, however.

“It has all been worth it,” he said, smiling.

Now, as the drummer in four bands and working as an after-school program counselor at Emerson Elementary School, Small is intent on not only becoming the best drummer he can be, but the best person as well. … Continue reading »

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Police offer $10K reward in Grizzly Peak murder case

Police are investigating a homicide on Grizzly Peak Boulevard early this morning. A reader shared this photograph, just above the kids train area, and said cars are not being allowed to pass. Photo: A citizen reporter
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The University of California Police Department is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the murder of Alberto Santana-Silva, a 21-year-old Fremont student who was shot and killed after he intervened in an argument or disturbance between two groups of strangers on Grizzly Peak Boulevard three years ago.

Early in the morning of Sunday, May 12, 2013, Santana-Silva and his friends were in a vehicle turnout along the west shoulder of Grizzly Peak, overlooking the bay. Santana-Silva intervened in what appears to have been a fight among a group nearby that included the suspect, according to UCPD, who released a statement about the reward Tuesday.

The suspect and his friends left the area but returned a short time later with a handgun. The suspect confronted Santana-Silva as he sat in his own vehicle, preparing to leave. The suspect shot Santana-Silva, who drove a short distance before dying. His car came to rest in a ditch on the side of the road south of signpost 16 on Grizzly Peak, said UCPD. … Continue reading »

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‘Treasure Island’ at Berkeley Rep is solid entertainment

(l to r) Demetrios Troy (Israel Hands) and John Babbo (Jim Hawkins) in Mary Zimmerman’s Treasure Island at Berkeley Rep.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Berne/Berkeley Repertory Theatre
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A new play by MacArthur Fellow and Tony Award-winner Mary Zimmerman is always a reason to celebrate. Her Metamorphosis, Arabian Nights and White Snake have thrilled Berkeley audiences, myself included. These plays represent her sublime ability to take timeless, legendary tales and imbue them with stage magic and emotional resonance. Yet her adaption and direction of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, a co-production of Berkeley Rep and Chicago’s Lookingglass Theatre Company, for all of its achievements, never reaches the heights of her most brilliant productions.

Treasure Island (1881-1882) was one of the first adventure stories written for boys, and it’s still a terrific yarn. It’s a coming-of-age story set in the mid-1700s in which young Jim Hawkins, who is also the narrator, (excellent John Babbo) sails on the schooner Hispaniola seeking pirate treasure (X marks the spot). Jim ultimately uses his courage and wits to challenge that most infamous brigand, the amoral yet amiable peg-legged, crutch-toting, parrot-shouldering Long John Silver (great Stephen Epps, Tartuffe, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, The Miser). … Continue reading »

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Now available — Nosh Guide: Lunch

Sandwich from Analog. Photo: Analog/Facebook
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From pizza-by-the-slice to perfectly prepared fried wild shrimp tacos, there is a wide selection of delicious lunch options across the East Bay. Some of our Nosh Guide picks for lunch may require going off your beaten path a little, but we think it’s worth it if you have an extra half an hour. Most are also open for dinner, but they’re included here because their casual nature or speed of service lends them to a noontime nosh.

In today’s installment of the Nosh Guide, we take a look at favorite spots for lunch.

Read our Nosh Guide to Lunch here.

The Nosh Guide is Berkeleyside’s authoritative, dynamic listing of our favorite spots for eating and drinking in the East Bay. … Continue reading »

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