Monday, June 29, 2009

signs: Kasper's Hot Dogs


Kasper's is a chain, albeit a fairly small one, but the Kasper's on the point between Telegraph and Shattuck is the original. While I was taking the pictures, someone in a car said to his passenger, "That's not the original Kasper's." I asked where it was (I think he was surprised I heard him), and he said up the street. The light changed and he was gone before I could get more than that. This wasn't the original location, but it was here from 1943 until 2005, which is a heck of a run. There's a nice writeup on it over at Oakland North.

Friday, June 26, 2009

signs: Gallardo Glass

Gallardo Glass Co.

On West Grand next to 980 is Gallardo Glass Co. with this classic neon sign. Alas, it's got lots of broken tubes and is beginning to rust.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

support your local library

Temescal Library

Today I took advantage of Oakland's great library system for the first time. I've always loved books, but I usually just frequent the many bookstores in Oakland and Berkeley. I still haven't checked out any books from the Oakland Public Library, but I borrowed a belt sander for our kitchen renovation from the tool-lending library, and got some more info on the Williams Dairy milk bottle I found a while back (I'll post more on that later).

The Williams Dairy bottle I started with by emailing the library asking if they knew anything. They responded with some basic facts, and told me the Oakland Tribune had a run a feature on it back in 1974 when the dairy closed, and that I could look it up electronically from any branch for free. So armed with that info, I went to the Temescal branch (the Montclair branch is closed until July for mold abatement), and found the article in a few minutes.

The tool library at Temescal is an amazing resource. They've got a ton of tools (a mostly complete list is available on the website), and they're free to borrow for Oakland residents. There are hefty late fees, but you've got 3 days to use things, and free is a darn good price. I suggest calling ahead to make sure they've got the tool you need available, and you'll need 2 forms of ID (i.e., drivers license and utility bill) the first time you check something out.

After borrowing the belt sander and researching the milk bottle, I got some Peet's coffee beans, a Mythic paint swatch from Scout (and ogled over the decor), then headed over to the Ace Ellis hardware to get some sanding belts. Ellis hardware is a funky place, because 99% of what they stock is behind the counters. You ask for it, they go get it -- pretty much the exact opposite of Home Depot. Then it was on to Trader Joe's in Rockridge. I finished out my trip-linking frenzy with a quick stop at Safeway, the bank, and Petco at Broadway and Pleasant Valley. According to Becks over at Living in the O, that Safeway has big changes planned, and the Longs is closing. It is a handy place, so I hope it gets replaced with something useful.

Monday, June 22, 2009

signs: Creative Growth

Creative Growth
Art Center

Not far from the YMCA is the Creative Growth Art Center. I didn't know anything about it when I stumbled on the sign, but checked it out later. In the words of their website:
Creative Growth Art Center serves adult artists with developmental, mental and physical disabilities, providing a stimulating environment for artistic instruction, gallery promotion and personal expression.
Today I read on The Oakbook about a fundraiser they're having. Creative Growth opens its Summer of Love show on Thursday. Following the opening, Creative Growth will host a fundraiser at Pizzaiolo with guest artists David Byrne (yeah, David Byrne from the Talking Heads) and Cindy Sherman. Read more about it on The Oakbook.

signs: Merchants Parking

Merchants Parking

Near the Tribune Tower is a parking lot with this nifty sign.

Friday, June 19, 2009

signs: Uptown Club

Uptown Club

I've been fighting a cold or strep throat or something so I missed last night's Uptown Unveiled event. I'm very sorry I couldn't go -- the pictures and descriptions I've seen say it was great. But in honor of it, I'll post a sign pic from Uptown, the Uptown Club next to Sears, just up from Flora and the Fox Theater.

Some pictures and descriptions of Uptown Unveiled:
Be sure to check out Stephen's great skateboarding pic on the last link.
A late addition:

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Sigh. Once upon a time, not that long ago, the East Bay had a light rail system that worked, in the form of the Key Route. By 1948 the streetcars were gone, replaced by buses.

Its intra-city capability was augmented by BART beginning in the 70s. BART is good for getting from city to city, but not so good for getting around within a city unless both your start and destination are near a station. Synchronizing with other systems seems non-existent, which makes getting anywhere take forever. Then there's the whole Oakland Airport Connector debacle, when there are cheaper alternatives available that will get the job done for a small fraction of the price, with more flexibility to boot.

Cars, even hybrids (we've got a 2002 Prius) aren't a good long-term solution in their current form, but one potential good bit of news for the East Bay economy is that the NUMMI plant in Fremont might be used to produce Priuses. Particularly good news since one of the vehicles it current produces is a Pontiac, and the Pontiac line is going away as part of GM's bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, the new light rail system in Phoenix, AZ has 60% higher ridership than projected in its first year. (I doubt the BART OAC will have that good fortune, since air travel from Oakland is down, and the OAC goes one place.) Would light rail be the complete solution to the East Bay's transit problems? Hardly, but it'd be a good place to start. I wish the Key Route was still around. Regardless, the key for any transit system is good route planning.

My next form of transit (besides walking when I can) will probably be an electric bike from Pacific E-Bike. I test rode one the other week, and they're pretty amazing.

Monday, June 15, 2009

signs: G&G Hardware

G & G Hardware

Thanks to The Oakland Berkeley Journal, I found out about the G&G Hardware sign on Telegraph. I went over to the Oakland Library's Tool Lending Library at the Temescal branch today, and took some pictures while I was in the area.

G & G Hardware

I took a better picture of the sign when the light was right. It really is a beautiful sign.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

history: Williams Dairy

Williams Dairy bottle

I was preparing for fire season by weed-whacking the yard today, and came across a buried bottle. It's from the Williams Dairy in Oakland, but I can't find much out about it. The format of the phone number, OL2-2816, suggests a date somewhere between the 40s and 60s. Googling suggests the exchange name was OLympic, and was probably north Oakland somewhere. Beyond that, I'm drawing a blank. Anyone know anything about it?

signs: Club 2101

Club 2101

We got yer iconic bar sign elements right here: neon, drink glass, and an arrow (is that in case you're too drunk to find the door?) All conveniently located in the Dimond district on MacArthur. I cut off part of the awning, but it says "open 6AM til 2AM". Starting at 6AM? That's some hardcore drinking.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

signs: Oakland Imported Cars

Oakland Imported Cars

There looks to have more to this sign along MacArthur near the Oaks Motel, but 'service' and 'carburetors' are all that remain.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

signs: Stork Club

the Stork Club

While discussing the original Bonanza sign which has some sort of bird on top, Dave of Fragmentary Evidence mentioned Oakland has its own, less-famous Stork Club. I found it via Google Maps on Telegraph just up from West Grand. I like the touch of the bubble-like holes in the sign, though they don't fit with the martini glass.

For some more nice signs, check out this post on The Oakland Berkeley Journal.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

signs: Village Market

Village Market

In upper Rockridge near the Mountain View Cemetery is the Village Market. It being a well-to-do neighborhood, the sign is well maintained. I always think of the area it's in as Rockridge, or Upper Rockridge if you prefer, but their website says:
Village Market is an upscale independent grocery store located in the Monclair District in Oakland, CA.
Huh? Even if you include Glen Highlands on the other side of 13 as part of Montclair, Village Market still isn't in it. Maybe they moved at some point?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

a very Oakland Sunday

Tribune tower

My wife and I have been church shopping for a while now. We visited Fruitvale Presbyterian where monteskewed is currently pastor, and our neighbor's church in Berkeley, but we've got a fairly long list of ones we want to check out.

So today we visited Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, which was celebrating the 25th anniversary of its formation via the merger of two other UMC churches. The congregation is very Oakland -- diverse. On a church media website I frequent, you'll often hear the phrase "the church is not the building" (we even sang a song about that today), usually when someone wants to include the building in the new church logo they're designing. Churches aren't buildings, they're communities of faith, (hopefully) with a common mission of spreading the Word and living it.

Tiffany mosaic

But Lake Merritt UMC has a nice building overlooking the south end of the lake, with some astoundingly beautiful art, a 3-panel Tiffany mosaic titled Te Deum Laudamus. Each panel is 17' high by 8' wide and made of millions of pieces of opalescent glass. Together they dominate the sanctuary, overshadowing the great view of the lake (even on a beautiful day like today.) Ironically, while Lake Merritt UMC is very diverse, and open and affirming, the mosaic suffers from the same flaw as many classic works of art: everyone in the image is white. Regardless, the pictures don't do the art justice, so it's well worth seeing in person.

After church, we drove around the lake, hoping to find one of the restaurants on our list to check out that was open. Rico's, The Red Door Cafe, etc. were closed, but Golden Lotus was open. The food was great, and it was real treat for me being able to order anything on the menu. We'll definitely go there again. We walked around a bit admiring the beautiful buildings in Oakland, and I had my camera for taking more sign pictures.

Next we continued around the lake and did our grocery shopping at Trader Joe's. While I parked the car K went and got some coffee beans at Peet's. We looped back across the freeway and down MacArthur to Park, and came home to enjoy the rest of this beautiful Oakland Sunday.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

signs: Blue Bird Liquors

Blue Bird Liquors

In the shadow the California Hotel is Blue Bird Liquors. Why is it that so many liquor stores have classic signs? Probably because they've been around for a long time (business is always good, whether the economy is or not), dating back to the era of great signs.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Jackson Pollock at the checkout line

Yesterday at Lucky's a couple of clerks were talking about the younger clerk's classes. One was an art history class. The younger clerk sounded sort of ho-hum as the other rattled off names she might have encountered like Monet, Manet, Renoir, et al. She recognized the names and said they looked at lots of pictures, and the instructor talked about why this thing was worth millions and this thing was "clean that $#@* up." The other clerk mentioned Jackson Pollock, and she didn't recognize the name, but when I said, "you know, the splatters of paint guy -- it looks like the kind of thing you get in trouble for as a kid", she knew exactly who I was talking about, and perked up. The two were still animatedly talking about art when I collected my purchases and left.

Jackson Pollock's Blue poles

signs: Art's Crab Shak

Art's Crab Shak

On Broadway not far from George Kaye's is Art's Crab Shak. The sign has been altered over the years. Art's has neon, and the martini glass at the bottom has the classic flashing bulbs, but lunches and dinners and Crab Shak are in different fonts. Crab Shak is in the dread Comic Sans font and so is probably the newest part.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

signs: George Kaye's

George Kaye's

We interrupt your irregularly scheduled thunderstorm (rain? in June? with thunderstorms?!?) to bring you this picture showing yesterday's lovely sky. George Kaye's is along Broadway. I've never been in, but I've been tempted by the Guinness sign in the window. According to an online review, it's got a great mix of songs on the jukebox, from Pavarotti to punk.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

signs: Donut Time

Donut Time!

Hey kids, what time is it? It's donut time! Fortunately there's a handy clock to let us know. The building itself was a nice one originally, but rebuilt windows and doors have removed a lot of its character.

the Donut Corner building