Community

Waiting at the Greyhound bus depot

The bold sign over the Greyhound station in Oakland says “BUS” in big letters, each bigger than a man.  There are no windows, only doors to buses.  The doors lead to terminals where the buses pull in and stop.  During the day, the doors are the only source of sunlight. At 7 a.m. on a Wednesday, the station is already warm despite the emptiness. The security guard gets up from his stool. He  waves a metal detector over my body…

18 years in, a theater group continues to surprise

When the Shotgun Players staged Shakespeare’s “Richard III,” about England’s bloody War of the Roses, they did it without Elizabethan costumes, stage props, elaborate sets, or even seats for the playgoers. Makeshift propane lamps lit the stage – a windy parking lot at King Middle School in North Berkeley.  Audience members perched on plastic, five-gallon buckets or tried to get comfortable on the concrete for the nearly three-hour production. Actors wore a random assortment of street clothes, which the audience…

Safeway silent as some residents criticize building plan

Safeway supermarkets plans to demolish its Pleasant Valley shopping mall  — which at 185,000 square feet is about half the area of the Great Pyramid at Giza — and replace it with one almost two-thirds larger. The new mall would be 304,000 square feet with 1,066 parking spaces, or 50 percent more spaces. Neighborhood critics say the new mall, which would include Long’s Drug and other retailers, would be too big, attract too much traffic and therefore endanger pedestrians accustomed…

A day with AC Transit

  Ever since I moved to Berkeley from Japan a year ago, my friend, Josh Allen keeps asking. “How can you survive without a car?” Allen,  an associate movie producer, who drives his three-year old Mercedes convertible everywhere he goes, will never understand. But those who ride the buses and need the buses do. AC Transit serves more than 230,000 of us a day. When Privately owned Key System started its streetcar and bus services in East Bay in 1903,…

Decoding the buzz around Mama Buzz

The Morning Shift. The flat, wide stretch of Telegraph Avenue that runs through the Koreatown-Northgate district is mostly empty when I arrive at Mama Buzz café a few minutes after 7:00 a.m.  A man pushes a shopping cart and some bags of bottles and cans down the sidewalk. A lone woman loads up her car with groceries in the parking lot of Koreana Plaza Market.  One helmeted biker has already beat me to the door of Mama Buzz; he tries…