Category Archives: Uncategorized

Officially Shutting Down

I thought I could keep this baby going, but have failed miserably, so I am officially shutting it down today.

I will leave the site up since it does seem folks tend to find the archives useful and interesting from time to time (hooray for tiny achievements!)

Until we meet again… Love Oakland.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Seeking Artist Submissions for Mills College Art & Literary Journal

The English Department of Mills College (of which I am now a proud member) produces an annual literary & arts journal called 580 Split. This national journal includes innovative and risk-taking fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and art. It is one of the few literary journals carried by the Oakland Public Library and is also distributed in well-known Bay Area bookstores.

We are seeking submissions for this year’s journal which we’re envisioning as a status update on the Bay Area in five primary areas:

  1. Technology
  2. Labor
  3. Education
  4. Environment
  5. Art

If you are an artist, please consider submitting your previously unpublished visual, written, sonic, or video work if it speaks to the local conditions of any of these categories. (Sonic or video work will appear on the associated website.) Though we cannot pay you if accepted, you will receive a free copy of the publication, as well as the recognition of being published in this prestigious journal. For more info, and to submit, go here: 580 Split Submissions. Deadline is November 16th.

To view a previous issue, visit:  580 Split: issue 15: Obsession (2013)

literary journal, mills college

Oakland Is… another installment by TDK Crew

This is a happy story. It’s a win-win. It’s a collaboration between art and business and it’s a boon for the local community and our beloved city. We’ll start at the beginning…

Wrist Ship Supply is the business. According to their website they are “the world’s largest ship supplier,” providing goods and services to support the shipping vessels & crews that transport goods around our planet. Pretty cool. About two years ago they acquired a new location in West Oakland on Peralta Street (between 16th & 17th) and it looked like this:

photo courtesy FGP

photo courtesy FGP

As you can see the building was a bit of a mess. Through a desire to be good stewards of their new neighborhood, they decided to invest in a building makeover that would honor the spirit and tradition of Oakland.

This is where Sage comes in. Sage is the founder of Fuming Guerilla Productions (FGP), a production company that specializes in “matchmaking” between artists and clients wishing to commission works. Sage was the middleman: developing the proposal, handling the budget, and managing the project so Wrist could rest easy knowing their makeover would come in on time and under budget, and, of course, finding the right artists for the job.

Meet Oakland graffiti artists and members of TDK Crew, Norman Chuck (aka “Vogue”) and Mike “Bam” Tyau. Vogue was the lead artist for the project and the mural concept and design is all his. A long time Oakland resident, he knew of the neighborhood’s important railway history, and chose that as the driving theme.

I wrote a bit about this here, but basically in the late 1800’s, Oakland was designated as the western terminus of the Transcontinental Railway. The trains ran all the way across the country to land in West Oakland, turning Oakland into a major transportation hub early in its development. Just blocks from Wrist’s building, the old 16th Street station was built in 1912 and served as the major disembarkation point for a large population of African Americans migrating from the South for jobs and better lives. It resulted in a major transformation of the city, and it’s that history that’s being honored here.

oaktownart_20140821_1The mural is huge, spanning three sides of the building, and has been several weeks in the making, with work still continuing. While Vogue and BAM are leading the effort, several guest artists and interns are contributing as well, adding a level of complexity to the project, as Vogue noted it’s important to assess each artists’ skill level and determine how best to put their talents to work. Additionally, this work is all done with aerosol spray paint which is typically applied to relatively smooth surfaces, so the building’s walls of textured brick and metal screened windows proved challenging. But the results are absolutely beautiful!

Here is the 17th Street side of the building which features a massive ship and the iconic Oakland shipping cranes as a nod to Wrist’s industry and Oakland’s importance as a major port. The top reads “Oakland is… ” which is a series the TDK Crew has begun in an effort to highlight the history and unique flavor of our great city. This is the third installment of the “Oakland is… ” series.

oaktownart_20140821_9 oaktownart_20140821_10

The first was painted across from Brown Sugar Kitchen on Mandela Parkway and is an homage to the old Cypress Freeway that once existed there before being damaged by the ’89 Loma Prieta Earthquake. It reads “Emerging from the rubble and dust clouds of tragedy is the spirit of Oakland: bright, abundant, and relentless!


The second was painted in Jack London square near Kimball’s as a tribute to the Oakland A’s and in an effort to sway the team to “STAY” here in Oakland, which thankfully, is now resolved. Go A’s!

photo courtesy TDK Crew

photo courtesy TDK Crew

These efforts are the TDK crew’s way of showing that graffiti isn’t just a nuisance. It really is Art (with a capital A) that can be used for positive purposes such as beautifying neighborhoods and building civic pride. Their goal is also to act as role models for young graffiti artists, showing that aerosol art can be used for much more than simple tagging.

And on that note, let’s see the rest of their latest homage to Oakland… The longest wall (running down Peralta) features a series of railcars, complete with graffiti tags for “authenticity”.


Note: locomotive above only outlined. This wall still in progress. oaktownart_20140821_5 oaktownart_20140821_6 oaktownart_20140821_7

And here’s the 17th Street side:


These guys will be putting the finishing touches on the mural over the next couple of weeks. Stop by and check it out…

Also, there’s an event happening tomorrow called Dream Day 2014 to honor the life and legacy of Mike “Dream” Francisco, an original member of the TDK crew. There’ll be live painting, music performances, DJ’s, food, and more. Here’s the scoop:

Saturday, August 23rd from 2pm to 7pm
Greenpeace Yard
955 7th street, Oakland

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

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!!

Ernest Doty in the Dimond

I’ve been a bit lax in posting this past week or so… I came down with a nasty cold/flu which has kept me moving at the pace of a three-toed sloth. Actually slower.

But the universe has an interesting way of providing when we need it most, and as a result, I’m excited to tell you that I’ve got a guest post coming up later this week. Please stay tuned.

In the meantime, here is a continuation of the focus on a cool multi-artist installation site in my local hood, with the foreground image below by street artist Ernest Doty. I’ve actually featured his work on this site before without realizing it (see Art Murmur is cool. And it’s tonight. which I now know includes one of his multi-eyed creatures, another regular theme in his work.)

I love this piece for its focus on the bird, more specifically a raven (at least that’s what it looks like to me).

The Bird

I recently completed a small body of photographic artworks that, while focused on various themes and settings, all had one feature in common: birds. In the process of developing this body I did a bit of research for an accompanying essay and discovered that throughout history, images of birds have been used to symbolize the link between the spiritual realm and the physical world.

A Raven

Just last week I read a short creative nonfiction work called The Raven by Barry Lopez. It’s an allegorical meditation on the differences between crows and ravens, but really its meaning is much deeper, exploring issues frequented in his works: the relationship of human culture to the physical landscape, identity, ethics, etc. Here is a short excerpt:

Finally there is this: one morning four ravens sat at the edge of the desert waiting for the sun to rise. They had been there all night and the dew was like beads of quicksilver on their wings. Their eyes were closed and they were as still as the cracks in the desert floor.

The wind came off the snow-capped peaks to the north and ruffled their breath feathers. Their talons arched in the white earth and they smoothed their wings with sleep, dark bills. At first light their bodies swelled and their eyes flashed purple. When the dew dried on their wings they lifted off from the desert floor and flew away in four directions. Crows would never have had the patience for this.

You can look up the PDF if you want to read the full piece (it’s quite short at just three pages). I found its beauty echoed in the imagery of this mural.

Ernest Doty, Dimond Murals, Bird Murals, Ernest Doty Mural, MacArthur Murals, Dimond Murals

Many of Doty’s works incorporate bird imagery (see another below, from West Oakland) and since his Facebook profile describes him as “a mystic”, I have to believe he’s got some similar intent at work with this symbolism. Very cool.

bird mural, ernest doty, bird graffiti

Photo by Graff Hunter

Housekeeping: Where have all the bloggers gone?


Since restarting my blog last month I’ve decided to slowly chip away at some housekeeping on the site and will post about this from time to time to see if you folks can help me make some improvements. Please. Help me!

My first order of business was to take a quick stroll through my blogroll and see what my fellow Oakland bloggers have been up to. I was surprised to see how many of the blogs I previously perused have gone quiet.

And then again, I wasn’t so surprised. Because this whole blogging thing takes a lot of time and if you’re not getting paid to do it, it’s amazing how quickly other priorities (kids, work, school, etc.) can take over.

I’m eager to find new favorites to add to this list. So tell me… what Oakland blogs do YOU peruse? Please send my way!

Below is a list of my old blogroll with the status of each. To those that have passed on… I thank you for your service and wish you well in your current endeavors.

  • 38th Notes – full media website
  • A Better Oakland – officially closed November 2011
  • Back to Oakland  – last post April 2013
  • City Homestead – proclaimed “dead”, last post March 2013
  • Fragmentary Evidence  – last post October 2013
  • Living in the O – on extended hiatus, last post April 2013
  • Myrtle Street Review – last post December 2011
  • O-Scene – defunct
  • Oakland Daily Photo – still going strong! kudos.
  • Oakland Geology – still going strong! kudos.
  • Oakland Grown – blog converted to website
  • Oakland Local – full news website
  • Oakland North – full news website (UC Berkeley)
  • Oakland Space Academy – last post March 2012
  • Oakland Swee(t)Art – last post April 2013
  • Oakland’s Own – going strong. kudos.
  • Only in Oakland – last post June 2011
  • Our Oakland – going strong. Gene is a machine!
  • Scenes from Oakland – last post July 2013
  • Sweet Oakland – blog officially closed July 2013
  • the DTO – last post July 2012
  • Today In Montclair – last post June 2012
  • Walk Oakland Bike Oakland – full organizational website
  • We Fight Blight – last post March 2011

I’ve updated the blogroll to show the ones that are now solely archives, but eventually I’d love to have a list of all active thriving blogs about Oakland. I’m assuming some are out there, but maybe everyone’s just too busy facebooking,tweeting, and instagramming.

If you have some favorites about anything Oakland related, please send my way. Thanks!