Jamal, owner and operator of both Banana Sam’s and Hummingbird Cafe on Euclid Avenue, emigrated from Syria to the United States in 1985 at the age of 24. Jamal left Syria to study in the United States and escape the country’s escalating violence, but was unable to return for 20 years.

The Smoothie Man

Berkeley smoothie store owner watches the war back home in Syria from afar

Editor’s Note: Jamal’s last name has been removed from this story in the interest of his family’s safety.  By the time the customers start arriving in the morning, Jamal has been up for hours. He woke at 5 a.m. and drove from his home in Richmond to an Oakland wholesaler
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THIS IS REAL: A photo essay of Hoodslam

More than 1,000 fans crowded around a wrestling ring in the packed Oakland Metro Opera House on March 7. Hoodslam, a monthly night of staged wrestling, is rowdy. It’s rough, sweaty, loud and, at times, unbelievable. But the dedication of the wrestlers, combined with the absolute thrill in the eyes
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As a teenager, night after night, I climbed out of my window on the second story, crawled across the roof and then dropped down into the yard, where my family’s German Shepherd, Schultzy, slept. I tried not to rile up too many dogs as I crept through my neighborhood to
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Banishing Buzzwords

The other day, I found myself at an information session for Ernst and Young, a “professional services” firm. Walking in, I had no idea what that meant. An hour and a half later, I still didn’t. Somewhere between “enterprise intelligence” and “risk appetite,” I realized that the presenter’s words were
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Plenty of fish in the sea

A few weeks ago, I took the girlfriend to Mexico for our anniversary. Get some sun, lie on the beach, maybe drink a little, you know. I was expecting it to be a nice time. So we’re sitting on the beach, sipping on some margaritas, things going great. Then she
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Weekender Picks

1. GIRLS star Jemima Kirke will show a collection of her paintings at the Fouladi Projects in San Francisco, opening March 21. Her work has been described as “imbued with real pathos.” Learn more here. 2. March 22 is National Corn Dog Day, the celebration of a classic American culinary
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What We’re Reading

Get out your index cards. The Oxford English Dictionary officially added a number of new words this month, including “cuntish,” “demotivated,” and “do-over.” See the full list here. — Curan Mehra George Packer came to campus Wednesday night, giving a lecture about his 2013 book, “The Unwinding: An Inner History of
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Living in the boonies

Here’s a situation that happens to me not irregularly. (conversation turns to housing) “Where do you live?” “Cedar and Milvia,” I say. “Where’s that?” “You know where Cheese Board is?” “What? How do you live that far away?” And so on. I’m well aware there are people who live even
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