Ramblings of a Reticent Blogger…

[NOTE: If you're dreaming about the weekend and dawdling at work and have some time to linger over this lengthy post, wonderful... start at the beginning. If, however, you're pressed for time, just skip to the end. That's the important part. Happy weekend everyone!]

So you may have noticed I’ve been a bit remiss lately. I feel bad.

It’s a mix of issues really. Part of it is the thought that I just don’t have that much to say… much of interest anyway. You see, it’s hard to get out as much as I used to… now married and ensconced in the relative suburbia of Oakland’s lower hills. Instead of hopping on my bike to sail in any given direction from the flats of West Oakland, an explorer bent on exploring, I now find the pedal from the hills slightly daunting… the discoveries farther from reach. And after all… wouldn’t it just be easier to water the garden or stream another episode of True Detective?

So I guess I’ve gotten a bit lazy. But then I think, NO. Don’t do that to yourself. You have been busy. You were traveling for your friend’s wedding. And then you had your wisdom teeth out… and recovery took awhile (you’re not 20 anymore!) Plus you’ve done all that volunteer work. And you prioritized spring cleaning your office and garage… donating your storage carts to the sculptor, your fabric bolts and wedding leftovers to the creative reuse center, your old cameras and film to the photojournalism student, you’re your computer cast-offs to the local school vice-principal… all in support of the ARTS, remember? And let’s not forget that your beautiful gleaming Mac Pro tower, despite its ever-youthful exterior, was slowly crumbling within to the point where it shat itself, gasped its last breath, and then… DIED. Cleaning up that mess was a serious time (and money) suck. So take it easy on yourself, k?

The other thing, and yes I realize this is completely contradictory, is that I feel like I have stuff to say all the time, but am simply unable to capitalize on the temporality of it all. I spent a good chunk of time redesigning the blog with a new theme to be mobile-friendly in anticipation of having much to say… did you notice? All that work, but then scant few posts to follow. The problem seems to be that despite having an abundance of ideas, I just can’t to get them out fast enough to be timely (I’m a terrible tweeter). And once the moment’s passed… well, then what I had to say seems… irrelevant. It’s a conundrum.

Best Music, Best Music OaklandFor example I wanted to tell you about Best Music going out of business. A downtown Oakland institution for over 80 years (80 years!!!) I took photos and everything. It’s gone now.

I wanted to share my latest dining delights on a perfect little stretch of Grand… the Grand Tavern (the ambience, the service, the food!), and The Star (hello deep dish meatball and ricotta pizza, you are to die for!), and Penrose (Charlie’s done it again). But my photos were lame and the moments passed, so I remained silent.

makai ukuleleI wanted to post about the Ukulele get-togethers at Actual Cafe (I got a ukulele for my birthday last month) but now I don’t even know if these gatherings are happening anymore. If you know, please let me know… I’m looking to expand my current repertoire of three songs.

I wanted to write about the new beer garden (Lost and Found) in Uptown, but now it’s not new anymore. I made plans to meet friends there, but there was a miscommunication and we ended up meeting at the old beer garden in Uptown. So much for modern technology… we humans can still fuck it up.

pollinate farm gardenI wanted to tell you about my visit to Pollinate earlier this summer in preparation for planting my garden… the orchard, the chickens, the farming & gardening supplies, the beekeeping stuff, and the incredible library of books, plus their slew of cool DIY classes (I’m waiting for pickles!) I interviewed the owner, I took photos. Alas, where is the post?

I could go on and on… but I’m figuring I’ve probably lost most of you by now, so I’ll just wrap up by talking about one more meaningful posts I meant to write and sadly let slide.

It’s about the art space Studio Grand, which I wrote about once before. The first time I stepped into the space I knew it was something special… the music was moving, the acoustics were perfect, the curated paintings that hung on the walls beautifully complimented the performance, and the vibe was, well… LOVE. I guess that’s the best way I can describe it.

The space was inspired and founded by Holly Schneider with the mission of supporting community cultural engagement through programming that reflects and serves the diversity that is Oakland. I began taking classes there and, one day upon arriving for class, learned that Holly had suddenly and most unexpectedly passed away at the far-too-young age of 42 from a very rare form of cancer. It was a shock. And a reminder of how precious each day is… not to be wasted on petty things or grumpiness. A solemn reminder for me, someone who often feels grumpy. Holly was an artist, musician, wife, and mother whose passion for art, music, and community can be viscerally felt in the space she has left behind, which I visit often.

The most recent performance I attended was a solo guitar concert by Chuck Johnson this past Tuesday. I’d never heard of Chuck Johnson, but that didn’t matter. I knew the show would be amazing because the community of artists supporting this space is amazing. My sweetie couldn’t attend the show with me and asked me later what it was like… I said it was hard to describe but sort of like early Americana folk guitar picking but with a modern twist… a more delicate and sublime sensibility. Here’s one of the gorgeous tracks he played:

Studio Grand continues on in Holly’s honor, carried forward by the work of countless volunteers and artists. I encourage everyone to check out their eclectic program offerings, and/or attend the closing reception of the current art installation: Susan Matthews’ Rhythm & Spirit.

Friday, August 22, 2014
6:00pm – 8:00pm

This will be a very special reception as it marks the close of the last show that Holly curated. She was drawn to the work of Susan Matthews captured the spirit of the people of Cuba and the rich tradition of Rumba, and knew these pieces would fit beautifully into Studio Grand. They do.
Susan Matthews

Tuesday Tidbit: Post-it Street Art

post it note, post it art, graffiti post it

Saw this little beauty on my way to get a fried chicken sandwich. It got me to wondering… if I were going to leave a message for some random stranger to find, just exactly what would I want to say? Hmmm…

What would you say?

Closing shop for a bit of maintenance…

So I recently realized that much of my blog’s functionality and content doesn’t display on mobile. I can’t believe it took me this long to realize it… my first post published nearly 5 years ago. Doh!

While my basic post content is visible, all the cool little widgets that appear in the sidebar on the desktop version–Upcoming Events, Most Popular Posts, Recent Comments, Search & Filter–are missing. It’s like a cake with no frosting. How dull.

It seems the WordPress Theme I chose back in 2009 was not designed to be responsive. Honestly, I don’t think any themes were designed to be responsive back in 2009. But now there are lots of options, and I’m planning to take the next couple of weeks to update the site and see if I can get everything working optimally on all platforms.

So stay tuned and I’ll be back soon… And if you haven’t checked out the site on a larger screen recently, please do take a look. There are some fun Upcoming Events including summer musicals at Woodminster and classic movie night at the Paramount. Happy Summer!

blog maintenance

Celebrating Oakland: Neighborhood Love Today & Lit-Crawl Tonight!

I love Oakland. You do too, right? Here are two fun ways to celebrate your love today…

Love Oakland

Love Our Neighborhood Day – 11am to 3pm

The first is North Oakland’s Golden Gate Love Our Neighborhood Day, an Open Streets event that closes off approximately 30 blocks of Oakland and Emeryville streets from car traffic to open them for walking, dancing, bicycling, skateboarding and all-ages fun from 11 am to 3 pm. Nearly a dozen restaurants are participating and  food trucks will be on site, as well as roller derby, bicycle tuneups, a healing hub, a park zone, music & dance, arts & crafts, and so much more.

The event is part of an Open Streets Initiative, Oaklavia, produced by Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO) to encourage people to play, move, and exercise on safe auto-free streets.  It’s a great opportunity to meet your fellow Oaklanders, and get to know local businesses & community resources along the route. Here’s the best map and a list of event activities.

For more info, Oakand Local has a nice writeup about the event and the Golden Gate neighborhood at large: Oakland’s Golden Gate Neighbors Build Community…


Beast Crawl – 5pm to 9pm

Next up is Uptown’s third annual Beast Crawl: a free festival that showcases the literary diversity and talent of performers with deep roots in the East Bay. It takes place across dozens of venues throughout Uptown (map here) which you are encouraged to support with your hard-earned dollars.

The event is structured as three separate 1-hour “legs” and during each leg (5-6, 6:30-7:30, and 8-9) there are nearly a dozen readings to choose from. There’s no way to attend all of them, unless you know how to replicate yourself or time-travel, so check out their list of events to see what interests you most. It should be a ton of fun!

 

Happy Fourth of July!

The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays… it’s the official blastoff of summer: grilled goodness, ice cold beer, picnic blankets, parades, and pyrotechnics to light the night and blow the mind. What’s not to love? There are tons of fairs, festivals, and fireworks to choose from all around the Bay Area this holiday weekend… here’s a very comprehensive list.

fireworks, happy 4th of july, happy fourth of july

For those looking to get the hell out of the city for something quirky, rustic, and homespun, my hands down favorite 4th of July event is the Bolinas Independence Day Parade. I know I shouldn’t be advertising it because Bolinas-ites are a tad touchy about too many tourists taking over their tiny town, but this event is such a quintessentially hippy-skippy California experience (NOTE: I grew up on the East Coast where the parades don a distinctly more conservative patriotism) that it’s simply not to be missed if you can rally to the North Bay early enough to snag a parking spot close by. The day kicks off at 9am with the annual Tug-o-War across the lagoon between the towns of Stinson Beach and Bolinas, followed by the adorable eclectic parade that begins in downtown Bolinas promptly at 11am and slowly winds its way to the beach where festivities continue till nightfall. Don’t miss the the Tell-A-Joke-Get-A-Free-Beer stand (I love this!) and come wearing your Stars & Stripes finest… you won’t be overdressed, I promise. Here are a handful of photos…

Bolinas Fourth of July, Bolinas 4th of July, Bolinas Independence Day parade

Bolinas Fourth of July, Bolinas 4th of July, Bolinas Independence Day parade

Bolinas Fourth of July, Bolinas 4th of July, Bolinas Independence Day parade

Bolinas Fourth of July, Bolinas 4th of July, Bolinas Independence Day parade

Bolinas Fourth of July, Bolinas 4th of July, Bolinas Independence Day parade

For those interested in something a bit more conventional, the closest biggest city-sponsored festivals and fireworks displays are in San Francisco and Berkeley:

  • San Francisco 4th of July Celebration at The PIER
    Pier 39 in San Francisco, 12-10pm
    PIER 39 celebrates Independence Day with fun for the whole family featuring live musical entertainment and activities from 12pm onward. An elaborate fireworks display over the bay begins at 9:30pm.
  • Berkeley 4th of July Fireworks & All Day Festival
    Berkeley Marina, 12-10pm
    The Berkeley Marina will host an all day festival with tons of events including free dragon boat rowing (from 12-5pm), massages, pony rides, mechanical carnival rides, an inflatable bouncy area, mini-train rides, giant slides, and water bubble ball rides all culminating in the grand fireworks at 9:30pm over the water from the end of the Berkeley Pier.

And though the city of Oakland doesn’t have its own “official” fireworks display, there will be plenty of unofficial explosions to be sure. Everyone stay safe out there… a nice option (especially if you’re already Murmuring) is Farley’s East’s annual Safe and Sane Fireworks Show, which starts just after sunset.

Happy Independence Day everyone!!

On the Road: Street Art – Greek Style

Now that we’re home and the jet lag has dissipated, I thought I’d share some of the street art we encountered while in Greece. We spent most of our time on the islands for our friends’ wedding and saw little street art there, so it wasn’t until our time in the capital city of Athens, a scant 48 hours, that we saw anything really noteworthy.

The political unrest in Athens has mostly died down since the violent demonstrations of 2012, but you can still see remnants of it through the graffiti and street art that activists have left behind. I only documented a couple of the smaller pieces (the largest ones were seen from the window of a taxi whizzing by at 95km per hour on our way to the airport), and focused on those in which stencils were deployed rather than haphazardly scrawled writing which, while political, weren’t particularly artful in my opinion.

This first one is a take-off of the iconic WWII image “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima” by Joseph Rosenthal. Note the anarchy symbol on the flag.

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, Greek Graffiti, Iwo Jima Stencil

WWII, Joseph Rosenthal

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima by Joseph Rosenthal

This one speaks for itself…
greek graffiti, athens stencil graffiti, fuck the system stencil, fuck the system
We saw this next one around town quite a bit. I assumed it was related to the economic unrest in Greece but it turns out it’s a political statement of a different flavor. A local Greek friend translated it for me – it says “Every sexist/homophobic deserves to be thrown off Lycabettus”. I thought this was pretty funny, but my Greek friend thought they took it a bit too far. For those who don’t know, Lycabettus Hill is the highest point in Athens, a sharp peak that stands 277 meters above sea level. See pictures below: the first was taken from across the city at the Acropolis, and the second is from the top of Lycabettus itself, with its perched 19th century chapel on the left and downtown Athens below.
anti-homophobia graffiti, greek graffiti, athens stencil graffiti
Lycabettus Hill, Athens highest point

view from Lycabettus hill

View from top of Lycabettus Hill


This next image has two separate stencils… I know this because I tried my darndest to translate the Greek under the image of the child and found a photo of just that stencil without the pixellated heart underneath, which must have been added later. The best translation I could come up with was something along the lines of “the ego ate”, but I’m not sure if this is a statement, or the artist’s tag.

greek graffiti, athens stencil graffiti

We saw a lot of non-political street art as well and the rest of these fall into this category. This next one, as it says, is a poem. It’s part of a “poetry game” in the city where QR codes scattered throughout Athens “invite you to discover the poetry hidden in unexpected places.” How cool is that? Scan it and you’ll see…
QR code graffiti, greek graffiti, this is a poem graffiti

This one was spotted on our way to the Acropolis.
greek graffiti, athens graffiti, athens street art

And we saw this little painting on our way to get cappuccino freddos at Clemente VIII, what the NY Times called “the best.” And I have to say, they were pretty darned delicious.
greek street art, athens street art
These last two are really cool wheatpastes…
greek graffiti, wheatpaste, greek wheatpaste, athens graffiti

This final one was actually the first piece I spotted, just a couple of blocks from our hotel, but I’ve put it last because I love it so much. End with a bang!
greek graffiti, wheatpaste, greek wheatpaste, athens graffiti