Thursday, July 31, 2014

upcoming Oakland events

Festival season in Oakland is in full swing with the Art and Soul Festival, and tomorrow is a First Friday, so there's tons of stuff to do. Note that Friday is a Spare the Air day, so while it's always a great idea to walk, bike or transit to Oakland happenings, it's an extra good idea on Friday. Bike East Bay will be providing free valet bike parking at Art and Soul on Saturday and Sunday.


Start things off with dinner at my favorite food truck gathering, Bites off Broadway. Friday is a First Friday, which means it's time for Art Murmur. Art Murmur has spread all over Oakland, from Uptown to Temescal to Jack London Square. There's also Jack's Night Market and Dancing Under the Stars (electric slide, anyone?) at Jack London Square.

Hanging out in Uptown for First Friday? Join The New Parkway Theater for a celebration of the completion of their new facade, with pizza, beer and live music from local gospel rap group Team Zoe.


The big event is the annual Art and Soul Festival, with food, fun, music, dance, family activities, and more. On Saturday, there's a special event, the Oaktown Throwdown BBQ Competition, featuring local BBQ celebrity Tanya Holland.

Saturday there's the annual Urban Wine Xperience put on by the East Bay Vintner's Alliance (get some pro tips from East Bay Dish's Christina Mitchell).

Art Murmur too busy for you? The Saturday Stroll is a chance to check out the art without the big crowds. There's also Baycation Day at Classic Cars West to celebrate the first Saturday Stroll of August.

There are also numerous art receptions at various Oakland galleries, including one for the artists of Project 275 at Gray Loft Gallery in Jingletown.


Sunday is the second day of the Art and Soul Festival, and its special event, The Whiskey Rebellion, a chance to taste a wide variety (60+) American whiskeys. It's a fundraiser for Oakland Grown and the Sustainable Business Alliance. Drink for a good cause!

Coming Up

Shakespeare in the Park at Peralta Hacienda, The Town's Half Marathon, Oakland Triathalon, and more!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Nerd Nite East Bay

Last night I attended Nerd Nite East Bay at the New Parkway Theater. What, you may ask, is Nerd Nite? Two to three speakers provide 18 to 20 minute long fun and informative presentations across a wide variety of disciplines. It's a bit like a TED talk, but can be about anything. You eat and drink and listen, and can ask questions at the end. What that doesn't tell you is how fun and interesting it is.

Last night's talks were:
  • Great Moments in Pedantry: The Modern Girl's (Or Guy's) Guide to the Seventh Century Easter Controversy by Alice Handley
  • How to Fix Climate Change for Free by Dan Miller
  • Crazymaking: The History of Mental Illness in the U.S. by Sharon Osterweil
As you can see, a wide variety of disciplines. What they have in common is that they're subjects the speakers are interested in. The results were sometimes funny, sometimes sobering, but in all three cases informative and interesting.

It's well worth the $8 admission price (plus any food and drink you consume). The New Parkway is a great location not just for movies, but watching sports and events like Nerd Nite. Nerd Nite is held the last Monday of every month, so check it out. Who knows? I may be speaking about Oakland history at a future event...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

signs: Foothill Square

Idon't have any pictures of the old Foothill Square shopping center sign, but it's great to see activity there again in any event. And I want to get a picture of this at night, too.

It's been a crazy couple of weeks with work, but I took a couple of minutes on the way in to take this picture and a couple of others for the Oakland Wiki, like this of Fire Station #26. Tomorrow I'm hoping to work on my book and maybe do another blog post, but we'll see...

Friday, July 18, 2014

signs: Marzano

Seems fitting this week somehow to post a sign for someplace that's going away. Apparently Marzano is due to be replaced with someplace called The Growler's Arms. K and I liked Marzano, and it always seemed to be busy when I went past, but I guess not busy enough.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cespedes and Donaldson help raise $465,000 for charity

Gillette Brings #FLEXBALL To The 2014 Gillette Home Run Derby
(Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Gillette) (Photo courtesy of Gillette)
Say what you will about everything having corporate sponsorship these days, but not only did Yoenis Cespedes win the Gillette Home Run Derby at the All Star break, but he, Josh Donaldson, and the other participants raised $465,000 for charities in Minneapolis, including the local Boys and Girls Clubs. Pretty cool stuff. Though I bet Gillette is glad Sean Doolittle wasn't part of the derby...with his fearsome beard, it would have taken at least two cans of shaving cream to even notice.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Oakland Urban Paths: Golden Gate + Love Our Neighborhood Day

Saturday was an amazing Oakland Urban Paths walk through the Golden Gate district in North Oakland. It was also Love Our Neighborhood Day, with streets closed to vehicle traffic and opened to pedestrians and bikes, so in addition to the 70 or so people and 7 dogs who joined us for the walk, there were hundreds of people walking, biking, scootering, and skating in the streets.

The walk was organized by artist and cultural historian Sue Mark, who is working on a project called Finding Klinkner. She and her husband Bruce are probably better known as the creators of the 10,000 Steps Project in downtown Oakland, which placed dozens of sidewalk markers telling the stories of Oakland's parks and people in downtown.

We started the walk at the Golden Gate branch library, where we heard from Ruby Bernstein, Oakland Library Commissioner, about the library, its history, and the programs it provides. We headed up San Pablo (and enjoyed the use of the street!) to 59th Street, where Sue Mark told us about Charles Klinkner and Klinknerville, the name of the Golden Gate district for a time. She spoke near the Gateway Market, former site of Klinkner Hall.

A short distance away, we passed the de Rome House, the family home of Louis de Rome. The de Rome foundry cast the firehouse bell that is in front of the library, as well as the large elk statue in the Elk's Club plot in Mountain View Cemetery. We also passed the 59th Street Firehouse, a historic firehouse that was converted into condominiums in the mid-1990s.

Then it was over to the Destiny Arts Center where Beatriz Chavez told us about the youth and adult programs there. We took a brief tour through the space, which is entirely lit with natural lighting. Just outside Destiny Arts is the North Oakland Farmers Market run by Phat Beets Produce. Several speakers including Susan Park and Toveo Hill told us about Phat Beets' mission to bring affordable access to fresh produce to North Oakland, facilitate youth leadership in health and nutrition education, and connect small farmers to urban communities.

Further wandering (and one wrong turn by me!) led us past countless Victorians and other homes to the Golden Gate Recreation Center. It's home to several colorful murals, and provides various programs to the community in addition to the basketball court and baseball diamond. The building is apparently due for some retrofit work.

Back out on San Pablo Avenue, we heard from long-time resident and SPAGGIA (San Pablo Avenue Golden Gate Improvement Association) organizer Laura Ingram. She told us about some of the changes in the neighborhood over the years, early voter registration efforts in the neighborhood, and the formation of SPAGGIA. Up San Pablo a ways took us past various Love Our Neighborhood activities to St. Columba Church, where for many years the congregation has remembered victims of violence in Oakland with a white cross with each individual's name on it. St. Columba is across the street from Actual Cafe and Victory Burger, two local restaurants owned by neighborhood supporter (and one of the organizers of Love Our Neighborhood Day), Sal Bednarz. We'd seen him earlier on our walk, pedaling away on a bike-powered generator.

Winding around behind St. Columba, past A Place for Sustainable Living, and the headquarters of local non-profits Grid Alternatives and Rebuilding Together Oakland got us to a quieter spot where we heard from Joanne Dickerson Harper, who was born and raised in the neighborhood. She told us about growing up in the neighborhood, St. Columba Church and what its long-time involvement in the neighborhood, and the changes she's seen over her lifetime in the neighborhood.

Around a few corners, and along the border with Emeryville took us to The Compound Gallery and Studios, where one of the co-founders, Matt Reynoso, told us about the gallery, the studios, and their unique "art in a box" subscription service. Some people looked around the gallery and the studios in back, while others observed a letterpress printing demonstration going on in the street in front. Unfortunately, the sun and breeze were causing the ink to dry out too quickly, but it was still fascinating to observe. (If you stuck around for more of the Love Our Neighborhood activities, you may have seen one a project by one of the artists currently in residence at the studios, a wooden walking suit.)

We were running a bit late, so we skipped going past the Fratellanza Club, a long-time Italian-American social club. Heading west brought us quickly into Emeryville, where we strolled along past more Love Our Neighborhood Day activities.

Our last stop was back in Oakland, at the Stanford Avenue Native Garden. There, environmental educator and semi-retired Merritt College professor Robin Freeman told us about what the area might have looked like before the Spanish came, as well as other bits of area history. Robin and his wife very kindly hosted us for water and watermelon in their backyard. Some people headed back to our starting point at the library, while others went to check out more of Love Our Neighborhood Day and get some lunch.

Many thanks to all the speakers, and thanks for your patience with the lack of a sound system and the difficulties of shepherding such a large group. It was great to have many of the streets closed down so we could walk where we wanted. But we don't usually get that on Oakland Urban Paths walks, which occur the 2nd Saturday of every month, in various locations around Oakland. Check the calendar for the date and location of upcoming walks.

Lots more pictures from the walk and from Love Our Neighborhood Day:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Temescal Street Fair

Last Sunday was the 11th annual Temescal Street Fair. It seems to be bigger, busier and better every year. There were tons of people with kids, and lots of dogs, too.

Lots more pictures from the street fair:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Art Deco Architecture

Saturday I went on part of a walk focused on Art Deco architecture in Oakland. The walk was sponsored by the Sierra Club (it's true—they do urban hikes, too) and led by Guy Mayes. The walk started outside the Oakland Museum of California, and was scheduled from 11AM to 5:30PM, followed by an optional dinner gathering. I only stayed until about 3:30PM, but it was a very interesting walk.

I know a lot about Oakland, but not that much about Art Deco architecture other than I tend to like it a lot. Guy told us about some of the different categories of Art Deco architecture, and pointed out some of the common features like zig zags, botanical swirls, stacked ziggurats, and bas relief sculptures. I won't attempt to describe the entire walk, but some of the places we visited (not all of which feature Art Deco architecture) and topics discussed include:
Oakland Museum of California
"Anansi" sculpture
Alameda County Law Library
Alameda County Court House
Camron-Stanford House
Municipal Boathouse
Scottish Rite Center
Snow Park
Schilling Gardens
Regillus Apartments
Lake Merritt Hotel
Islamic Cultural Center
Hill Castle Apartment Hotel
Oakland Main Library
Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts
Chauncey Bailey
Hotel Oakland
Disco Volante
Income Securities Building
Jewish Cultural Experience Mural
Oakland Title Insurance and Guaranty Building
Mural Lane
Oakland YWCA Building

Lots more pictures from the walk:

Thanks to Guy for leading the walk and his lovely wife Nancy for helping him and telling me about her 31 years(!) teaching in Oakland public schools. And shout out to the young music artist we met near the YWCA, IllumiNate.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Compound Gallery & Studios

Friday afternoon I test walked the route for the upcoming Oakland Urban Paths walk in the Golden Gate district in North Oakland. On Saturday, July 12, we'll be exploring the Golden Gate district with artist and historian Sue Mark, who has lined up a number of great speakers. Sue and I walked past The Compound Gallery and Studios, where co-founder Matt Reynoso gave us a tour of the gallery and studios.

The gallery in front has varying displays, as well as a couple of more permanent fixtures like Ye Old Art Machine, which dispenses small artworks for a dollar, and the headquarters of the Art in a Box program, a unique subscription art program, where locally made, hand selected artworks get delivered to your door. The studios in back are impressive, with letterpress printing equipment, a metal shop, a wood shop, and numerous private studio spaces. Besides being available to the artists who rent studios, Compound also teaches classes on techniques and how to use the different equipment.

The Compound Gallery is expanding, and doing an IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds for it. They'll be moving the wood and metal shops, and making a larger area for creating pottery, as well as adding new studios. There are some interesting donation perks, so check it out.

Next time you're in North Oakland on a Wednesday through Sunday, check out the latest show at The Compound Gallery. It's a short walk from Actual Cafe and Victory Burger, a couple of great local options for a bite to eat.

More pictures:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

signs: High St. Bridge Storage

No idea if they have good service, or are even still in business, but High St. Bridge Self Storage gets serious points for a memorable sign. Even if it has nothing to do with the High Street Bridge.