Thursday, December 31, 2009

signs: Fratellanza Club

Fratellanza Club

As the year comes to a close, it seems only fitting I end with another sign posting. I chose the Fratellanza Club sign because of the handshake, reflecting the new friends (both virtual and actual) I've made over the past year.

Seems hard to believe it's been almost a year since my first post on Our Oakland. A special thanks to City Homestead, whose post in the wake of the Oscar Grant shooting inspired me to start my own Oakland blog. And thanks to other established bloggers like V Smoothe and Becks who've been very welcoming into the blogoaksphere. And thanks to DC of Fragmentary Evidence and others who've scouted out various Oakland signs for me.

(Just to round out the info on the sign, the Fratellanza Club is a couple blocks from Actual Cafe, about as far north as you can go in Oakland before you're in Berkeley. The neon is in good shape, but I don't know if they light the sign or not.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

food: Actual Cafe

Actual Cafe

Anew cafe at the corner of San Pablo and Alcatraz is my kind of place. Actual Cafe is made for cyclists. Not only do East Bay Bike Coalition members get a discount on tea and pastries, but there's indoor bike parking.

Indoor bike parking and a pedal-powered jukebox aren't the only interesting things about Actual Cafe. It gets its name from the manifesto of the founders:
Living in this modern world, driven primarily by the movement of dollars and (more recently) bits and bytes, we're losing our sense of neighborhood and neighbors. Instead, we're relying more and more on "virtual" ways to communicate and socialize.

Here at ACTUAL, we heart technology and all, but prefer the real thing. That's why we like real china cups, instead of those paper sippy-lidded landfill-multiplying ones. It's why we buy our supplies from local businesses ... from real folks who live nearby and care about their neighborhoods like we do. It's why we stay open late. Why we have local art on the walls. Why we have comfortable furniture and communal seating. Why we want you to have your group meetings here.

the bike rack

I had a mug of (Oakland's own) Numi Organic tea while I perused the cafe. Besides various tables and a long bar to sit at, there's a reading area in the back stocked with various books and magazines. I read on their Facebook page (and confirmed in person) that they've gotten a license to sell beer, so they'll soon have beer on tap, too.

The menu isn't online yet, but I grabbed one while I was there today. Besides the standard coffee drinks and the aforementioned teas, they've got sodas, house-made sodas, and ice cream sodas rounded out with iced coffee and tea. Breakfast stuff (until 11 M-F, noon on weekends) includes granola, toast, empanadas, egg sandwiches and various pastries. I didn't try one, but some empanadas came out of the oven while I was there and they looked and smelled great. It brought back memories of Argentina, where K and I sampled empanadas everywhere we went.

Non-breakfast stuff (after 11) includes sandwiches (turkey, ham, tuna, grilled cheese, PB&J), an empanada plate, and a "real big salad" which I can confirm looked real big, and the couple I saw eating theirs seemed to be enjoying it.

Beer, bikes and Oakland -- what's not to like? They're having an opening shindig on Friday, January 8th, 2o1o (eek! 2010?) from 6pm-10pm, with drinks, snacks and music, and the opening of "Composited Neighborhoods", photography by Allan Ayres. Beer, bikes, Oakland and art? Even better!

Additional reading:

Monday, December 28, 2009

signs: Burris Window Shades

Burris Window Shades

The neon on this sign is long gone, but the sign lives on in painted form.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

signs: Mexicali Rose

Mexicali Rose

Across from the jail in the Old City is the faded Mexicali Rose. The day I took this picture there was plastic bag stuck in the sign, flapping in the breeze.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

signs: J. Miller Flowers

J. Miller Flowers

In honor of the much-needed rain which brings life to California, today we have flowers. J. Miller Flowers is on Piedmont Avenue up from Pleasant Valley. Not far away Oaklandish has their truck parked if you're looking for good Oaklandish gifts for Christmas.

J. Miller Flowers

Thursday, December 17, 2009

signs: The Graduate

The Graduate

Near the fun-filled 6-way intersection of College, Claremont, 62nd Street and Florio is The Graduate bar. I ride past it on my way to the Red Cross to donate platelets. It's across from one of the Oakland Safeways that is due for redevelopment. One of the comment threads over on Living in the O talks about the difficulty of crossing the street there, and I can attest to that. There are signals, but with multiple streets to cross and Claremont being so wide, it takes a bit of doing and more than once I've seen close calls with cars vs. pedestrians. Eric Fisher suggests a good alternative on his journal, closing off the ends of 62nd and Florio.

getting a new coat of paint

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

signs: Alpine Hotel

Alpine Hotel

In the Fruitvale not far from Rossi's Flowers is the Alpine Hotel. The neon for 'Alpine' appears to be intact, but 'Hotel' is in bad shape, so I don't know that they light the sign any more.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Splish Splash

party in the bird bath

The birds were happy about the warmer weather and the break in the rain. A bunch of them celebrated by taking a bath, something they couldn't do during the colder weather because the bird bath was frozen solid. I'd have set up the tripod and taken better pictures, but they came, they splashed around long enough for me to take a couple shots with the point and shoot, then all left at once. It was fun to watch while it lasted, though.

Habitat home dedication

The birds weren't the only ones happy about the warmer, drier weather. I took advantage of the break in the weather to take some pictures over to the Habitat for Humanity office. Saturday was a dedication ceremony at the Edes Avenue building site. Twenty families received the keys to their new homes, and I took pictures at the Thrivent Builds sponsored house. Fortunately the rain held off for the ceremony.

bike full o' beer

On the way home I did some grocery shopping, and did my usual load up of the e-bike. Yes, that's a case of beer on the back. Lucky's (at least the one in Montclair) is having a special on a Gordon Biersch winter sampler. It includes a winter bock, a blonde bock, a märzen, and a Czech-style pilsner. The bocks and märzen are very good; the pilsner is just OK. But for $20.99 for a case of good beer, it's a great deal while it lasts. And while they're not in Oakland like Linden Street Brewery, they are local to the bay area.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I hope you're staying warm in this unusually cold weather. Some frost in winter isn't unusual here in the hills, nor is a bit of snow every once in a while. But this has been cold and not warmed up much during the day. Our birdbath froze solid over night, and only thawed around 2PM or so. It's on its way to freezing again tonight, so spare a thought and more if you can for those who have less shelter than you.

Apparently (but alas, not surprisingly) it's cold in Oakland's classrooms, too.

And City Homestead has some good info for caring for your plants and house in cold weather. Frozen pipes are not out of the realm of possibility if this cold sticks around. It should warm up some when the next storm comes through...I hope!

Monday, December 7, 2009

signs: Kasper's Hot Dogs

Kasper's Hot Dogs

Another Kasper's Hot Dogs, this one on MacArthur in the Dimond. This one makes no claims about being the original, though.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

signs: Paramount Liquor

Paramount Liquor

On Foothill in the Rancho San Antonio neighborhood is this great sign. I've asked before...why do liquor stores have so many of the good signs? Sigh.

signs: Colonial Chapel

Colonial Chapel

Another from the posted-the-daytime-version-before department is Colonial Chapel. Unfortunately they didn't have the second sign on the building lit, just the main sign in the parking lot.