Monday, November 30, 2009

signs: Foot Clinic

Foot Clinic

It's not a great sign and it's not old, but it looks great lit up so it gets points for that.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

signs: Sage Motel

Sage Motel

On MacArthur just after it finishes winding around Mills College is the Sage Motel. The sign is in good working order, probably because it's visible from the freeway at night, and it makes for good advertising.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

signs: Oaks Motel

The Oaks Motel

Another sign I've posted before, The Oaks Motel on MacArthur. It's a great sign, and is better still when lit up so it's worth another look.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

BART under civil rights investigation

I figured the OAC was a done deal after the city council inexplicably went along with BART's plans, but according to Living in the O, BART is under a civil rights investigation by the Federal Transit Administration. In part, this is because BART's EIR (Environmental Impact Report) is based on 2002 data, the OAC including multiple intermediate stops (the OAC plans currently have none), and a $2 fare (the OAC plans currently call for a $6 fare vs. $3 for the current AirBART). The cost for implementing the OAC will also likely be borne in part by higher BART fares and/or reduced service.

I've noted before that BART could build a new station at 98th to better serve the residents of East Oakland and implement TransForm's proposed RapidBART bus plan with intermediate stops for a good deal less than the OAC's $500 million (and climbing) price tag. This won't necessarily stop it, but it's a huge step in getting others to take a look at some alternatives.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

signs: 1/4 lb. Giant Burgers

1/4 lb. Giant Burgers

I've shot this sign before, but during the day. It takes on a whole new quality at night. For variety I was going to shoot the 1/4 lb. Giant Burgers sign from the Laurel district further down MacArthur, but it wasn't lit up last night.

Friday, November 13, 2009

new blog on the block

where is it?

At the open house for Central Station in West Oakland the other week, I happened to chat with a new Oakland blogger. Her blog is OakSnap. The Oakland snapshot mystery game, and the premise is simple: she posts pictures from around Oakland, and readers try to guess where it is. Some are easy, some are a bit harder, but regardless it's a fun visual tour of Oakland. Check it out today!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

signs: Rhea's Salon of Beauty

Rhea's Salon of Beauty

Just off Lakeshore Avenue on Mandana is Rhea's Salon of Beauty, with its painted and neon sign of interesting colors. It makes me think of ice cream (brown chocolate, white vanilla, and pink strawberry -- very Neapolitan). cream.

Neapolitan is an interesting word: "of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Naples." Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, confectioner's shops in the U.S. were frequently run by Italian immigrants, so ice cream came to be known as "Italian ice creams" or "Neapolitan ice creams". Whether they had much ice cream in Naples at that time is beside the point. The association with the specific combination of 3 flavors came towards the end of the 19th century.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

blog pulse: urban farming

City Slicker Farms

If you've been reading Our Oakland for any time, you'll know I'm a big fan of urban farming. We haven't done much yet here, besides some potatoes grown in a trash can and compost, but there's lots I'd like to do after I'm done with major home improvements. Bees for honey, chickens for eggs, and of course a proper vegetable garden. It's not so much about saving money, but having more control of where are food comes from and what goes into it.

Central Oakland has a host of farmer's markets to shop at, but East Oakland and West Oakland not so much. And West Oakland has no large supermarkets, just a plethora of corner stores. So for much of Oakland's population, urban farming is about food security. That's where groups like City Slicker Farms come in. They grow vegetables in West Oakland for West Oakland residents. Right now it's fairly small, but they're expanding, both on their own lots, and in people's 'backyard gardens'. And they plan to have chickens for eggs soon.

The great thing is that it can be expanded much further. recently release a report created with the support of City Slicker Farms and HOPE Collaborative that says that Oakland has 1,200 acres of public land that could be used to provide fresh vegetables for its residents. Obviously the soil in many area would need to be tested for contaminants first, but that's still a huge amount of acreage that could provide fresh, healthy food. And it's not just about physical health; eating right helps young minds grow and learn better, too. The report is long, but worth checking out.

Shoutout to The Ethicurean where I saw it first. But the report has gotten wider attention and is written up on TreeHugger, too.

Friday, November 6, 2009

signs: 10 Speed Bicycles

10 Speed Bicycles

I shot this a while back, but went past it the other day and saw there was scaffolding around the building. It's probably getting a much-needed paint job. Hopefully they won't just paint over the sign but fix it up, though it does need a lot of work.

It's located near Lake Merritt where the avenues begin, at the corner of 1st Avenue and the very short 1st Avenue Place.

10 Speed Bicycles

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Oakland is a wonderfully diverse city, which is part of why so many of us love it.

Thursday I was over to Village Bottoms for an open house, a follow-up of sorts to a workshop at West Coast Green where people from a wide variety of backgrounds brainstormed ideas about how to recreate the area. It's gone through a lot of changes from a terminus of transcontinental railroad to a reemerging neighborhood today. Two of the biggest changes were the building of the Cypress Structure in the 1950s which cut off the area from the rest of Oakland, and its subsequent collapse in the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. Since then residents have been working to reshape the area. We started with a tour led by Marcel Diallo, community activist and businessman in the Bottoms:

I was also there to check out an open house for Central Station, a multi-part housing development in the area, centered around the 16th Street Station that once formed the hub of the Southern Pacific Railroad in Oakland.'s Chip Johnson was there and has a nice write-up on the project. There are even some nice green features in parts of the development, like a living roof on the apartment building.

Nearby to the apartments and lofts are The Blackdot Cafe, The Soul Foods Cooperative Grocery Store, and other burgeoning businesses. Food and drinks for the event were provided by Linden Street Brewery, Brown Sugar Kitchen, and other Oakland businesses. There's still a lot of work to do such as cleaning up the old Phoenix Ironworks site, but Village Bottoms is looking up.

Then last night, K and I attended an interfaith service at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, 'Keeping the Faith'. People from a wide range of faith traditions in Oakland, from Jewish to Christian to Buddhist to Native American spoke about the keeping the faith towards a day when Prop 8 will be overturned. It was an amazing service, and a reminder for all that not all people of faith are against gay marriage. Oakland city council-member Rebecca Kaplan spoke about her experiences of being a lesbian and growing up in an orthodox Jewish household, reps from the Episcopal Church and the ELCA (Lutherans) spoke about recent decisions to open the churches to the LGBT community, and Sheilagh Brooks read a powerful poem about her struggles. Around the sanctuary there were banners about different aspects of the struggle and successes. We spotted one that told the story of a former co-worker of K's and her partner. And we all prayed for the elections today in Maine and Washington, that the LGBT communities in those states might have the freedoms that were briefly enjoyed here in California.