Thursday, June 21, 2007

The East Bay Today: June 21, 2007

Thu, Jun 21, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Today's Top Event: Bosoms and Neglect plays at the Aurora Theatre in Berkeley.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: Pleasanton Explodes: The Growth Years. Panel discussion covers the 1960s-era housing boom, and urban planning issues of the '70s at Lynnewood United Methodist Church.

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: The New Zealander in Alameda.

On the Town: Going out tonight? Anticon Records' Odd Nosdam is spinning soul, R&B, and indie at the Missouri Lounge.

Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out this weird converter.

Feed Us: Got an East Bay news tip, photo, video, or link we need to know about? E-mail us.

Solstice Arrives, Festivities Not So Much

by Jeremy Singer-Vine
Thu, Jun 21, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Blow up your beach balls and start packing your picnics, today is the longest "day" of the year. Sunset is at 8:34 p.m and twilight ain't till 9:06, but if the prospect of applying sunscreen after dinner doesn't do it for you, just imagine how much energy your solar panels will generate today. Beware, though, it's all downhill from here. The East Bay has surprisingly few solstice events, but here's what we could scrounge up:

There's a Summer Solstice Gathering at 7:45 p.m. at the Interim Solar Calendar in Cesar Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina. If hiking is more of your thing, check out the 6:30 p.m. hike to Red Hill Top in Fremont's Coyote Hills Regional Park. If you can wait it out, Saturday will provide 65 musical acts at the 2nd Annual Laurel Village Summer Solstice Music Festival.

Philanthropist's Death Saddens Students, Colleagues

by John Birdsall
Thu, Jun 21, 2007 at 12:10 AM

On Tuesday, Bread Project cofounder Lucie Buchbinder of Oakland was struck and killed by an Amtrak train at the crossing in Jack London Square. Buchbinder, 83, was crossing the tracks in late afternoon with a small group, but was the only pedestrian struck. "It appears she did not notice the train heading toward her, said her husband of 20 years, Martin Dreyfuss," said a report in the Oakland Tribune.

The nonprofit Bread Project provided job training and placement for low-income adults, teaching baking, cooking, and job-readiness skills in classes at the Oakland and Berkeley Adult Schools. Buchbinder was 83 and a native of Austria who fled the Holocaust to settle in Sacramento. The Trib reported that Buchbinder worked as a public housing specialist for HUD. In retirement she focused on philanthropy, launching the Bread Project with Susan Phillips in 2000. Project board member Laura Wallan recalled that Buchbinder would occasionally accompany students to job interviews. "She did not want to see people in poverty," said Adrienne White, owner of A Beautiful Swan Custom Catering in Oakland and a Bread Project graduate. Buchbinder stepped down for the Bread Project's board at the beginning of the month, but was continuing to court donations. Her latest project was an ongoing series of dinners -- called the Guest Chef program -- pairing current students with high-profile chefs in upscale East Bay restaurants. The first event was June 10 at B Restaurant & Bar; the next dinner is scheduled for September 9. "She leaves such a huge legacy behind," said Adrienne White.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

You Write Too Long -- This Week's Cover Story Bite-Sized

by Kelly Vance
Wed, Jun 20, 2007 at 4:55 PM

This week, "Summer Guide": The annual roundup of summer tips 'n' activities seems to be telling us: Calm down. Do it yourself. Get in touch with the Earth. Except for those darn Segway polo games, that is. Otherwise, you're advised to pick your own fruit in Brentwood, raise your own chickens in the backyard (marvel at the fresh eggs), ride your mountain bike, take in a stage show at Walnut Creek's Playhouse West, read some of the many books about siblings, or, when all else fails, get your psy-trance on with DJ Bassnectar, bomber of the stars.

The East Bay Today: June 20, 2007

Wed, Jun 20, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Today's Top Event: Psychedelic popsters the Quarter After plays at Blake's.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: Mike Singletary discusses issues of parenting for dads.

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: The Ruen Pair in Albany.

On the Town: Going out tonight? Visit the eclectic Cafe Van Kleef for performances by Sonic Camouflage, Colin Gleason, and more.

Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out these strange maps.

Feed Us: Got an East Bay news tip, photo, video, or link we need to know about? E-mail us.

Atari Artwork Gets a Bonus Round

by Kara Platoni
Wed, Jun 20, 2007 at 4:55 PM

In 1985, Pleasanton resident Cort Allen bought $80 worth of used cabinets at an office equipment sale held at Atari. For free, he got what was inside: 350 pounds of original cartridge and game manual artwork for classic Atari games like Dig Dug, as well as prototype renderings of Atari versions of Nintendo characters like Donkey Kong.

Now, MediaNews reports, Allen is cleaning out his garage -- his Atari artwork collection is being auctioned by Sotheby's. For those of you with fond memories of days at the arcade who might be tempted to make a bid, we hope you've been saving your quarters: It's expected to command a price between $150,000 and $250,000.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Congressman Stark Paid Wife $176,800

by Kathleen Richards
Tue, Jun 19, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Fremont Congressman Pete Stark paid his wife Deborah $176,800 during the last three campaigns to be his campaign treasurer, according to a recent report released by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

In an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Stark said his wife is well qualified and saved him money from having to pay a fund-raiser, lawyer, or campaign manager. However, his wife quit after November's campaign to "spend more time with their three young children." And also because "all that fussing with the campaign reporting ... became an annoyance to her."

Stark was one of 337 members of the House of Representatives that the report, entitled "Family Affair," examined over the 2002, 2004, and 2006 election cycles, to see whether they used their positions to fill the pockets of their family members. In total, the report found 96 members from 33 states (41 Democrats and 55 Republicans) paid family members $1.6 million.

Also named in the report is San Jose Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who paid her husband lawyer John Marshall Collins' two law firms $350,000 over the last six years. While it's illegal for members of Congress to hire family members to work on their congressional staffs, it's not illegal for them to pay relatives for campaign work as long as they're qualified and paid a fair market value for their service. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington hopes the report will spark debate about the ramifications of such practices.

Of course, our very own state Senator Don Perata puts Washington to shame. As previously reported by Robert Gammon in the Express, his various campaigns and those closely associated with him paid his son Nick Perata more than $1.2 million from 2000 through 2004.

The East Bay Today: June 19, 2007

Tue, Jun 19, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Today's Top Event: Hacksaw to the Throat stages a massacre at the Stork Club.

Brainiac: Learn something new every day. Today's lecture: Secret Mind of Babies. They're not babbling, they're thinking!

Is It Lunch Yet? Express food critic John Birdsall recommends: Platano in Berkeley.

On the Town: Going out tonight? Jam to blues, folk, and country with R.J. Mischo at the Mojo Lounge.

Hardly Working: You've got time. We know how to waste it. Check out this dancing pipe-cleaner.

Feed Us: Got an East Bay news tip, photo, video, or link we need to know about? E-mail us.

Oakland School Tries Meditation to Combat Playground Aggression

by Kara Platoni
Tue, Jun 19, 2007 at 4:55 PM

The New York Times picked an Oakland school, Piedmont Avenue Elementary, as the focus of its article on how some schools are teaching students "mindfulness training." The series of techniques, derived from Buddhist meditation, are designed to help young students stay calm and focused in class, and overcome stress as well as aggression on the playground. The article examines whether or not these exercises lead to any practical benefits, (one teacher refers to Piedmont Avenue Elementary's five-week pilot program as "Cloud Nine-groovy-hippie-liberals bringing 'enlightenment' to inner city schools,") and whether kids so young and over-stimulated by the ordinary drama of the school day can stick out a 15-minute meditation session. Then again, when one student tells the reporter that, to him, mindfulness means "not hitting someone in the mouth," you kind of have to root for the Cloud Nine hippies.

Horrific Tilden Murder-Suicide

by Anneli Rufus
Tue, Jun 19, 2007 at 4:55 PM

After distraught dad Kevin Morrissey shot his wife and two daughters to death before killing himself in Tilden Park's Mineral Springs picnic-area parking lot on Monday, the Berkeley police forced entry into the family's home at 1357 Northside Avenue to see whether anyone might be injured or deceased inside. Finding no one, they waited for East Bay Park District police to arrive and continue the investigation.

EBPD chief Timothy Anderson doesn't think the two girls -- eight-year-old Nikki and six-year-old Kim -- knew in advance what their father was planning when he drove them to the park. "I wouldn't have thought in a thousand years that anything like this would ever happen in Tilden," muses Anderson, who grew up in nearby El Cerrito and spent countless childhood days in the park. In his mind, "it's always been an innocent park for little kids to go to."

A crime-scene-cleaning company was called to the Mineral Springs parking lot early this morning.

Morrissey's wife, Mamiko Kawai, was a popular local doctor. As long ago as 2004, former patients were praising her at the Berkeley Parents Network Web site.

One satisfied patient wrote: "I highly recommend Dr. Mamiko Kawai at 500 San Pablo Ave in Albany. She is AMAZING! Super smart, kind, caring, thoughtful, scientific. Sometimes she does run a little late, but that is because she is a very thorough doctor. The office staff is wonderful, as well."

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