Tuesday, August 31, 2010

calling Oakland blogs

One feature here on Our Oakland is a blog roll of Oakland blogs (over on the left, below the list of maps), ranging from the journalism school-based Oakland North, to 38th Notes with news on local music, to Marleen Lee's Defending Measure Y, to various Oakland home-improvement blogs, and of course well-known blogs like VSmoothe's A Better Oakland. I found them linked from other Oakland blogs; on Twitter; searching Blogger's rolls (skipping a lot of one-post blogs); and, of course, by luck. Regardless of how I found them, the end result is a rolling update of what people in Oakland are blogging about.

By default, the list shows the 10 most recently updated, but you can view them all by clicking on Show All at the bottom of the list. If you do that, you'll see 95 blogs, some of that have fallen by the wayside, not updated in months or years. I know I haven't found all the active and semi-active Oakland blogs by any stretch, but I'd like to keep expanding the list. What Oakland blogs do you follow?

Monday, August 30, 2010

signs: 7 Seas

7 Seas

Not a great sign by any stretch of the imagination, but notable because it's gone. 7 Seas closed some time back and the sign disappeared with it. If you look closely, you can see a little "7C" on the truncated rhombus at the top,

Sunday, August 22, 2010

signs: Golden Bull

Golden Bull

It's currently home to Awaken Cafe, but not for much longer. They're in the process of moving across Broadway; the move is currently scheduled to be completed at the end of September. Then maybe I'll get to see the rest of the Golden Bull sign. Though it's doubtful it's a great as the requisite drink glass.

Monday, August 16, 2010

showing off Oakland!

Thanks for the ideas on showing off Oakland. After figuring out when we were both available, I arranged to meet my friend D Thursday morning at West Oakland BART as he was coming over from SF.

Brown Sugar Kitchen

The first stop was Brown Sugar Kitchen for breakfast. K and I went there earlier this year and loved it. I considered Mama's Royal Cafe (worth the trip for the napkin art alone) and Mama Buzz Cafe, but settled on BSK as more unique to Oakland and because it was close to West Oakland BART. We both had the cornmeal waffles, which are served with brown sugar butter and apple cider syrup. Maybe not the healthiest breakfast ever, but hecka tasty. We took our time drinking coffee and catching up, as we hadn't seen each other in some years. As we drove around, I told him about the Cypress Structure and the Loma Prieta earthquake, and a bit about the railroads before that.

City Center

We went over to Downtown and walked around. It was foggy (no great surprise there, given the weather this summer), but there were lots of great buildings to look at and interesting things to see. By European standards, even the oldest buildings are new, but they're still interesting architecturally.

City Hall and Frank Ogawa

Cathedral Building

Oscar Grant mural

Walking towards Uptown, there were Oscar Grant posters in various store windows, and this large mural. I told D about the killing of Oscar Grant, the protests, the trial, and the impending sentencing.

Fox Theater


We walked to Uptown to admire the Fox Theater, Flora, and various other buildings. On the way back, we passed Oaksterdam and talked about the ballot measure to legalize marijuana and the futility of 'the war on drugs'. In Switzerland, apparently marijuana is not legal, but generally the police won't make an issue of a small amount. Most police, at least; like California, it depends on where you are.

Chinatown church

Old Oakland

We then walked around Chinatown, enjoying the life and activity there. Not so much the cooked ducks hanging in the window, but the hustle and bustle of people going about their lives, going to shops, to work, etc. Then it was back to Old Oakland to admire the old brick buildings.


glass and steel, anyone?


kids playing

Lake Merritt colonnade

As we headed over to Lake Merritt, the sun finally made an appearance. D had been at a conference in San Francisco, and was dismayed to pretty much not see the sun the entire time. I told him the usual weather patterns, and while the basic pattern (foggy in San Francisco, foggy mornings and sunny afternoons in Oakland) was normal, the duration and amount of the fog was not. We walked around Lake Merritt, stopping in to check out the cathedral and bird- and people-watch as we walked around.

Tacos Sinaloa

After working up an appetite, we headed over to Tacos Sinaloa for a late lunch. Discussing favorite taco trucks can be like discussing politics or religion, but Tacos Sinaloa (well, technically the Mariscos truck) is my favorite. After lunch I drove him through San Antonio and the Fruitvale, again noting the life and energy present there.

Loard's Ice Cream

As lunch was on the small side, we stopped by Loard's for some ice cream, and to view the Mormon Temple. D said there aren't many Mormons in Europe, but there are fair number in South America where he's traveled.

Joaquin Miller Park

Despite the ice cream to cool us down, it was getting on the warm side, so we headed for the hills. We walked around Joaquin Miller Park and nearby Roberts to check out the redwoods. Proximity to various parks is a big part of why I bought our house here (and I'm glad I bought when I did). D lives near some parks, too, so he felt right at home. We stopped by the house (D reads my home improvement blog) to meet the cats, check out the improvements in person, and talk some more.

Julia Morgan designed church

We checked out the view on the way down from the hills, and went to Rockridge. All this touring and talking was thirsty-making work, so we headed to Barclay's for a pint and more talking. I was considering various options for dinner, but one pint turned into three, so we had dinner there and talked some more. After more talking, I put D on a BART train back to San Francisco, and headed home myself.

A long, tiring, fun tour of Oakland. I know I had a good time showing off Oakland -- I hope D enjoyed it at least half as much as I did. I think he did, because typical tourist things in San Francisco (e.g., Fisherman's Wharf) aren't his favorite, so a somewhat non-typical tour of Oakland was more his speed.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

signs: Loard's Ice Cream

Loard's Ice Cream

Venerable ice cream parlor Loard's on MacArthur (just across from Fruitvale Presbyterian, formerly of Monteskewed fame). It's a newcomer compared with Fenton's, but has darn good ice cream.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Oakland mayor's race

In a move that should have surprised no one, last week Oakland mayor Ron Dellums announced he wasn't going to run for re-election. That automatically extended the filing deadline to Wednesday.

After a flurry of activity, we now have 13 candidates running for mayor:
  • Arnie Fields
  • Don Macleay
  • Don Perata
  • Greg Harland
  • Jean Quan
  • Joe Tuman
  • Lionel Young, Jr.
  • Marcie Hodge
  • Niki Okuk
  • Rebecca Kaplan
  • Sharika Gregory
  • Terence Candell
  • Tim Brown
OaklandSeen has a good rundown of the activity, plus the various elections for council districts 2, 4 and 6; SFGate's Matthai Kuruvila has a brief rundown of the 13 candidates.

I'm a long way from deciding who I'll vote for, other than Anybody But Don. I've heard Rebecca Kaplan and Jean Quan speak at council meetings and other city events, and Kaplan and Joe Tuman were amongst the people who stopped by the EBBC bike parking at the Best of the East Bay party in Jack London Square, but there are a lot of candidates to educate myself about before deciding.

According to the East Bay Express, Perata is nearing the campaign spending cap, and we're still a long ways from the election. The article also talks about the spending of Kaplan and Quan, which has been fairly limited so far. Tribune reporter and The Education Report blogger Katy Murphy has an article on late-comer Marcie Hodge, a Peralta college trustee. Rounding out recent coverage is OaklandLocal's article about the response of various candidates to the the idea of a local currency for Oakland, and a different view of the event from Oakland North.

I'm sure there will be lots more coverage in the weeks and months to come, and I'd be surprised if all 13 candidates are still actively in the race by the time the election rolls around. Whether they all are or not, I'm glad we're going to have ranked voting / Instant Run-off Voting this time. With this wide a field, it'll be easier to pick a 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice and hope one of them wins, rather than have no clear winner and require a run-off in a separate election requiring more money.

Monday, August 9, 2010

showing off Oakland?

city hall

Say you had a visitor coming from not just out of town, but from out of the country. If you had a day, how would you show off Oakland to them? A friend from Switzerland is in town for a conference, and while he's been to California before, he didn't spend much time in the Bay Area and none in Oakland.

The first ideas that came to K and I were:
- Lake Merritt
- downtown/uptown
- eat at a taco truck
I asked a similar question before about the Greetings from Oakland postcard, but this is a little different. How do you show off Oakland to visitors? Unfortunately he won't be around for the Art + Soul Festival or any of the other Oakland festivals coming up.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

biking and seeing

image courtesy of kikashi

Longtime readers may (a) know that I'm a fan of biking as transport and (b) have been wondering why I haven't been posting so much of late.

No, I haven't run out of signs to shoot or even pictures of signs I've already shot, nor have I dropped off the face of the earth. I have been continuing to bike, though not as much as during the Car Free Challenge.

In part, I've been busy working. Yesterday I was out in Pleasanton (via BART and bike, thankyouverymuch), and was programming away when the great news about Prop 8 came out. I've been continuing to volunteer at Habitat for Humanity on Fridays and donate blood platelets on alternate Tuesdays, mostly by bike, too, but some actual income is a good thing.

There's lots to like about biking as transport, the low cost compared with a car and health benefits being high on the list. But I also (re)discovered that by moving more slowly through an area, whether on bike or on foot, you see a lot more than if you rumble by in car. Something DC of Fragmentary Evidence has known for a long time. There's a nice piece over at KALW featuring David Colburn and fellow Car Free Challenge participant Andrea Osgood. Yesterday on my ride to and from Fruitvale BART, I saw several scenes I wish I could have captured with my camera: kids playing, a couple of guys playing dominoes at a table on the sidewalk, an older couple working in their yard. They're all scenes I would have missed if I'd been driving.

Tomorrow I'll be volunteering at Habitat again, though I'll have to leave a bit early for another volunteer gig, helping East Bay Bike Coalition with the free bike parking at the Best of the East Bay party in Jack London Square.

Finally, next week is Scraper Bike Week here in Oakland. Scraper bikes are an Oakland creation, and some are pretty darn cool. Read more about them on TreeHugger. The events for Scraper Bike Week are aimed at kids 7-13, and are being held in a variety of locations around Oakland, but all are welcome.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Celebrate Oakland!

Even if the cooler than normal weather doesn't quite feel like it, summer is in full swing. In Oakland, that means lots of festivals!

First up is the National Night Out (NNO), tomorrow, Tuesday, August 3rd. There are hundreds of parties around Oakland; there's hopefully one near you. My council member, Jean Quan, sent out a list of NNO parties in district 4, but I can't find the updated version on her website, nor can I find a list of NNO parties in Oakland. If you're looking for one near you, ask a neighbor, check the city of Oakland NNO page, or call 238-3091.

Next is The East Bay Express' Best of the East Bay Party in Jack London Square, Friday, August 6th, from 5pm-11pm. It will feature "best of" winners from Oakland and all over the East Bay. It's free, and you can ride your bike there (free valet bike parking from EBBC!) or take the new Broadway shuttle.

New festival on the block is FreshFestival 2010 in Mosswood Park on August 14th. Oakland blog OaklandLocal is helping sponsor it. A good writeup at The Oakbook.

edit: Add to the list the 11th annual Laurel Street Fair. Music, food, vendors, fun for kids, and more.

In a few weeks is Oakland Art & Soul in Downtown / City Center, August 21st and 22nd. I enjoyed last year's Art & Soul, and this year looks to be a fun time again.

The week after that is the Eat Real festival in Jack London Square, August 27th-29th. K and I had a great time at last year's Eat Real. This year's is supposed to be even bigger and better!

Looking further ahead, there's Oaktoberfest in the Dimond on October 9th.