Monday, June 29, 2015

West Oakland afternoon

Sunday afternoon K and I went to the open studio of Oakland-based artist Anthony Holdsworth. You'd likely recognize his work, as it's hung in numerous cafes and galleries around Oakland. He started painting urban landscapes in the 1970s when he lived in North Oakland and his pickup truck wasn't in good enough shape to drive him out to the countryside. I ended up buying a couple of limited edition prints (originals aren't in my budget), one of Lake Merritt and one of Esther's Orbit Room, a jazz and blues club in West Oakland that has disappeared like all the rest.

We stopped by the Shorey house, where William Shorey, "the Black Ahab" lived with his family when he wasn't leading a whaling trip. A couple of guys asked what I was taking a picture of, so I told them a bit about William Shorey, and the warehouse down the street where Green Day crashed for a while early in their career. Then it was a late lunch at 10th and Wood a short distance away.

The weather was warm and beautiful, and it was still early, so we headed out to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park after lunch. The park is tucked away amongst different parts of the Port of Oakland. The land is all fill, but it didn't happen at all at once. The Western Pacific Railway had a 'mole' which extended the railroad tracks out to a ferry slip. Just beyond that was the Oakland Harbor Light. The lighthouse building was later sold for $1, moved up the estuary, and is now Quinn's Lighthouse, a bar and restaurant. We strolled around the point and saw lots of birds, including a flock of California brown pelicans that flew past us. We wrapped up the afternoon with a beer at The Beer Shed. A lovely way to spend the afternoon.

More pictures from the afternoon:

Friday, June 19, 2015

Confucius Would Have Loved The Warriors

The following is a guest post from journalist, author and legendary local William Gee Wong.

If Confucius, China’s legendary ethicist, teacher, and philosopher who lived more than 2,500 years ago, saw the Golden State Warriors’ journey to a National Basketball Association championship, he would be pleased. The team embodied some of the great Chinese sage’s teachings.

For instance, one guiding principle of Confucianism is “social harmony,” which is defined as “every individual knowing his or her place in the natural order, and playing his or her part well.”

That is precisely what the Warriors did this season, especially during the Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Directed by brilliant first-year coach Steve Kerr and his staff, team members, whether star starters like Stephen Curry or reserves like Andre Iguodala, knew their roles and played them well.

Selflessness was a hallmark of the Warriors this season. That is remarkable in a sport that worships superstar individualism.

One thing that Confucius was determined to eradicate was “egotism.” As egotistical as some of the Warriors’ stars could be, there was virtually no outward evidence of that through their championship season.

Other Confucianisms that apply to the Warriors are: “The humane man, desiring to be established himself, seeks to establish others; desiring himself to succeed, he helps others to succeed.”

Here’s another: “The gentleman seeks to enable people to succeed in what is good…”

I would say that all the Warriors who played a lot this season, particularly in the Finals, sought to enable each other to succeed, and were not self-absorbed in their individual accomplishments.

Yet another: A core Confucianism is something called “humaneness,” which is defined as a person "wishing to be established himself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged himself, he seeks also to enlarge others."

Again, sounds like the 2014-2015 NBA Champion Warriors to me.

That includes Coach Kerr. When he played at the University of Arizona in the 1980s, Kerr grew into a sharpshooting guard specializing in the three-point shot. One of his former Arizona teammates told USA Today that Kerr “was just a great dude, in every way. You can say something good about somebody because they’re nice, but it was more than with Steve, it went deeper. He wanted the best in you, to help you find it.”

“He wanted the best in you, to help you find it.” If that doesn’t embody Confucianism, I don’t know what does.

Filial piety is another well-known Confucianism. Filial piety basically means being good to and respecting one’s parents. Another Confucian value is family loyalty.

Certainly one of the best feel-good features of watching the Warriors during their championship run were scenes of Stephen Curry’s father, Dell Curry, who played 16 seasons in the NBA; and his mother and wife cheering from the stands, and his cute-as-a-button daughter Riley stealing the show at post-game news conferences. Curry also explicitly acknowledged his father’s guidance and support.

Other Warriors’ players showed filial piety and family loyalty as well: Klay Thompson to his former NBA player father, Mychal; Harrison Barnes to his mom; and Draymond Green to his female elders, who told him to shape up after Green’s poor performances in the first three games of the Finals. Green listened: in the last three games, he played like the star he’s become.

While Coach Kerr didn’t say anything publicly during the recent playoff period, as far as I know, about his late father, Malcolm Kerr, I sense that his memory was always there.

Malcolm Kerr was a highly respected academic who was assassinated in 1984 in Beirut, Lebanon, where he was president of the American University. Steve Kerr was a freshman at the University of Arizona at the time.

The son quietly internalized the loss, but his respect for his father never wavered. He recently told the San Jose Mercury News, “I feel his full impact on my whole life. It’s there every day.”

Confucius would have embraced that sentiment.

William Gee Wong is writing a book about his father, who came to Oakland, California, from China as a teenager more than a century ago, during the Chinese exclusion era in the United States. He is author of Yellow Journalist: Dispatches from Asian America, and Images of America: Oakland's Chinatown. Visit his website at

#Warriors #DubNation #StephenCurry #SteveKerr #DraymondGreen #AndreIguodala #Confucius #Confucianism #MalcolmKerr #DellCurry #RileyCurry #KlayThompson #MychalThompson

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Oakland Urban Paths: Laurel to the Redwoods

This past weekend was the monthly Oakland Urban Paths walk. Saturday a group of about 60 people (and 6 dogs) joined us for a strenuous, somewhat less urban hike from Laurel up into the redwoods of Leona Heights Park. The walk was led by local historian Dennis Evanosky.

As we wound our way along streets and pathways, Dennis told us about some of the local history including the granting of Rancho San Antonio to Luis Maria Peralta by the Spanish government. Peralta never lived on the nearly 45,000 acre land grant, but his four sons did. Peralta was given everything from the water's edge to the crest of the hill, except for the port and the redwoods which the government kept for themselves.

Our route took us through George E. McCrea Memorial Park, which is home to some fly-casting pools. The park was originally nearby next to the McCrea family home on what is now part of Holy Names University. A pedestrian bridge took us across Highway 13, and it was into Leona Heights Park. The trail follows the stream, and starts off fairly wide and easy to walk on. At one point, the WPA crews didn't go any further, and the trail becomes narrower, steeper and unsurprisingly, less well maintained. But most people (and dogs) stuck with us. We stopped at one point to look at an albino redwood tree, and Dennis told us about the cutting of the redwoods and how they were transported to the sawmills.

More climbing took us up to a fire road, and from there we could see out across the bay. We also saw the Old Survivor Redwood Tree, one of the few trees in the area to not be cut 150 years ago. A core sample was taken years ago by city naturalist Paul Covel, and it's estimated the tree is about 450 years old. We followed the fire trail down the hill, past the old sulfur mine, and got views of the previous location of the Chabot Observatory. The newer Chabot Space and Science Center near Redwood Regional Park opened in 2000, but the first location of the observatory was downtown, in what is now Jefferson Square Park.

The return to our starting point took us past the Home of Peace, which was started by the Montgomery family in 1893 as a waystation for missionaries. Special thanks to Dennis for leading the hike, and thanks to everyone who came out for it! Be sure to look for Dennis' various local history books next time you're at Laurel Bookstore downtown at 14th and Broadway.

Lots more pictures from the hike:

An approximate map of our route on Google Maps.