Wednesday, March 13, 2019

signs: McCaulou's


Not the best sign ever by any stretch, but definitely a sign of the times. After who-knows-how-many-decades, the McCaulou's in Montclair Village is moving out of its distinctive building on Medau Place for smaller quarters nearby on Mountain Blvd.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Town Folk Project

There's a relatively new photo project / blog called the Town Folk Project: A photo project focused on the people & stories that made Oakland what it is today. Includes photos and short interviews with people all over Oakland—go check it out! townfolkproject.org

Thursday, January 31, 2019

52nd California International Book Fair - Feb. 8-10

The following is a guest post from Denise Lamott. I love history, and I love books, so what's not to like about old books?

Purchase Tickets
The 52nd California International Antiquarian Book Fair, recognized as one of the world's largest and most prestigious exhibitions of antiquarian books, returns to Northern California, Friday, February 8 through Sunday, February 10, 2019 at the Oakland Marriott City Center.

Sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (ABAA) and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) and featuring the collections and rare treasures of nearly 200 booksellers from dealers from around the world, the three-day Book Fair offers a rich selection of manuscripts, early American and European literature, modern first editions, children's books, maps and autographs, as well as antiquarian books on history, science, law, architecture, cooking, wine and a wide range of other topics.

Book Club of CA

This year's Book Fair will include a special exhibit by the Book Club of California, an active association of over 800 major California collectors with interests in rare books and manuscripts of all types. Founded in 1912, the Club's library is dedicated to collecting and sharing works of California fine printers; resources on book making, book design, and book history; and books of historical significance. One side of this bi-faceted exhibit will display a selection of materials by California women printers and book artists, with a spotlight on Jane Grabhorn's test prints for the illustrations of the Grabhorn Press' Shakespeare plays. Also on display will be some of the Club's oldest and most sought-after publications.

L. Frank Baum

Joel Harris, a local member of the International Wizard of Oz Club, will be loaning a portion of his collection for a curated exhibit of first edition books by L. Frank Baum and the subsequent authors of the "Wizard of Oz" series. The theme of a Saturday lecture jointly sponsored by the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America and the Bibliographical Society of America will be Cyclone on the Prairies: The Magic of the Land of Oz.

Other highlights of the Book Fair include an interactive and entertaining exhibition that showcases local artists and organizations specializing in book arts. Calligraphers, bookbinders and a small press operator will once again be creating unique souvenirs for attendees to take home.

The Book Fair is the perfect introduction for those new to the world of rare books. Sunday, February 10, will present a variety of seminars and discussions. During Book Collecting 101, visitors can learn to create a strategy for collecting books, as well as how to spot a "first edition," judge a book's condition, and learn bookish terms and jargon. Presented by ABAA president Vic Zoschak, Jr., Tavistock Bookshop. During What's This Book Worth, Zoschak will discuss the primary factors that give books commercial and monetary value, as well as strategies for appraising and selling books. Discovery Day is the public's chance to discover if those old books gathering dust are worth something. The public will receive free, expert oral appraisals on up to three books. Appraisals are limited to a first come, first served basis – within the scheduled times.

Designed with the budding collector in mind, "Book Fair Finds" is a program in which dealers spotlight items priced at $100 or less. Visitors can look for the Book Fair Finds sign in participating booths.

For the full schedule, visit cabookfair.com and plan your visit today!
February 8th 3 - 8 | February 9th 11 - 7 | February 10th 11 - 5
Oakland Marriott City Center, 1001 Broadway, Oakland, CA.

Tickets are available online or at the door. Friday admission tickets are $25; Saturday and Sunday tickets are $15 and all tickets allow return admission for the remainder of the fair. For more information about tickets or exhibiting, visit cabookfair.com.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Oakland Urban Paths: Walk of the Dead


After the smoke from the fires up north forced a reschedule, we had a small but "lively" group for the Walk of the Dead. In addition to clearer skies in December, we also had great weather—sunny and not too warm. After talking a bit about customs around death like the Day of the Dead, a brief glossary of terms, and some of the symbols we might see on grave markers, we headed off.

Our first stop was Chapel of Memories, also known as the Oakland Columbarium. It opened in 1901 as an independent business, but now is run by nearby Chapel of the Chimes. The buildings are mostly full of smaller niches. While a few are tagged "before need", most are occupied.

Just up Howe St. is Oakland's oldest existing cemetery, St. Mary's Cemetery, a Catholic cemetery which started a bit before nearby Mountain View Cemetery. There were earlier cemeteries closer to downtown, but as Oakland grew, they got in the way of development. The Oakland Cemetery (1852-1857) was at 8th and Oak. The Webster St. Cemetery (1857-1867) was between Webster and Snow Park. Most of the residents
moved to Mountain View or St. Mary's c.1872-76, but not all:
An excavating machine hit a metal coffin and spilled the contents: “the left hand and arm
nearly to the elbow protruded from the ground, the hand drooped over gracefully from the
wrist. Portions of the coat and vest were visible, as were the outlines of the face, but over these
still rested a coating of fine earth.”
Oakland Tribune April 28, 1877

After a brief stop at 4460 Howe Street, which was home at different times to a superintendent of St. Mary's, a florist, and a granite and marble showroom, we went in the top entrance of Chapel of the Chimes. That took us into the newer areas, but down some flights of stairs and around a couple of corners, and we were into an older part, which was designed by noted architect Julia Morgan. Five different architecture firms worked on the structure over the years. The oldest part was originally a station for the streetcar which stopped at the top of Piedmont Avenue.

From there it was through the gates of Mountain View Cemetery, but into Home of Eternity Cemetery, a Jewish cemetery run by Temple Sinai. They purchased land from Mountain View in 1865. Besides more familiar religious symbols on the grave markers, there we saw some kohanim hands, which mean the person was of the priestly tribe of Aaron. Leonard Nimoy used a modified version of the gesture as the Vulcan greeting in Star Trek.

Stepping past a row of trees took us into Mountain View Cemetery, which at 224 acres, is by far the largest cemetery in Oakland.

First we went into one of several large mausoleums on the Mountain View grounds, which contains the remains of Oakland city council member Frank Ogawa and his family. He and his wife were imprisoned in an internment camp along with other Japanese Americans during WWII. Their daughter, Nancy Lynne Ogawa, was born in the Topaz camp and died there. That mausoleum also contains the remains of my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, and my aunt's father, Dr. Edward Lundegaard. Dr. Lundegaard served as a surgeon in the county coroner's office from 1946 to 1954, and then was elected coroner in 1954.

We wound our way up the hill to "Millionaire's Row", where the likes of "Borax" Smith, mayor Samuel Merritt, and the Crockers of Crocker Bank fame are buried in some sizable and lovely mausoleums. The air quality was better than November, but it was hazy enough it didn't show off the great view. That view, plus the park-like setting (MVC was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York City) are part of why people used to visit their grave sites before they needed them, and countless Oaklanders still walk, run and admire the views today.

We finished by the Infant's Plot by the Main Mausoleum, in view of the Pauper's Plot. We didn't have time to continue down Piedmont Avenue and check out the cemetery-related businesses, including florists, grave marker carvers (former), and funeral homes, but we got a nice overview of part of Oakland inhabited mostly by the dead.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Oakland Urban Paths: downtown murals


Saturday was a walking tour of some of the murals downtown, organized by Oakland Urban Paths and our parent organization, Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, and led by local artist and organizer Sorell Raino-Tsu. The walk was originally scheduled for March, but rescheduled for this month because of the weather. And the weather definitely cooperated—it was warm and sunny, not too hot, perfect for a walk around downtown.
After an introduction and safety reminder by WOBO president Chris Hwang, Sorell led us up Telegraph to view the first mural.

On the back of the Cathedral Building is the United Nations Mural. Sorell told us about the challenges in getting permission (separate permission for every floor of the building) and painting it (the height caused the crane to start tipping). And in an echo of the past, the mural was originally intended for San Francisco. But the artist Zio Zigler wanted to do it in Oakland, and Sorell helped make it happen. The mural was probably intended for San Francisco because that's where the United Nations Conference on International Organization was held in 1945. But in 1966 when it came time to fly the UN flag, San Francisco said no, and the flag ended up in at Jack London Square in Oakland.

Then it was up a ways and over to Broadway to view another large piece, by far the largest of the Beacon Mural Series by Joshua Mays. On 19th near Flora is a smaller piece by Argentinian artist Pastel (aka Francisco Diaz), featuring his trademark deadly flowers. On Thomas L. Berkley Way on the back the I. Magnin building is a large, striking mural of flowers by Jet Martinez. it's painted in shades of green to echo the green terra cotta tiles of the building shown at the start of the post. On Franklin St. there are two notable murals on opposite sides of the same building: Water Writes on one side, painted by Estria and crew, and a striking human rights mural on the other, painted by Ricky Lee Gordon from South Africa. Over on Webster, there's a combination fence and ground-based mural by Brett Flanigan. Brett broke his foot during the painting, and finished the job with help from others while he was in a wheelchair!

Near 19th and Webster is a large mural sponsored by the Oakland A's, painted by Illuminaries. Going down Webster a bit we passed a temporary mural by Sorell on a construction fence. Across the street on the back of Howden Market is another piece by Zio Zigler. It was painted shortly after he broke up with his girlfriend, and so fittingly, it features a man with his heart being ripped out. A couple doors down on the side of the former Oakland Business and Professional Women's Club building is a piece by Irot. And across the parking lot is a work in progress called Elevate. And next door to that was our final mural, a somewhat disturbing rabbit mural painted by Nychos, an artist from Austria.

Thanks to WOBO for organizing the walk, and to Sorell for sharing his knowledge!

See the Athen B Gallery website for lots more photos, including some of the murals in progress.
See here for more photos from the walk.