Category Archives: Uncategorized

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!

A Tale of Two Cities

Is Oakland a world-class destination city, worthy of attracting visitors and new residents from afar? Or is it the robbery capital of America, 2nd in overall violent crime–bested only by the failed city of Detroit? Can it be both?

Wednesday night my Friends of Art Murmur gallery visit was disrupted by an unfortunate and all too frequent incident. My friend’s car was broken into, window smashed and a few items stolen that had been stowed out of sight in the trunk. At least one other car on the block–ironically enough, owned by an Oakland Tribune crime reporter–also suffered the same fate.

As the reporter and I chatted about our own experiences with crime in Oakland, a spate of recent crimes came up (81-year-old woman in my neighborhood shot in her home during an attempted burglary in broad daylight, East Oakland woman losing two sons to gun violence within one week, etc.) and I got to thinking… how can our city ever be a world-class destination when crime is so persistent and rampant, when residents lack the basic assurance of safety?

police-officersNow I’m certainly no expert on this topic and I understand it has long-standing historical and complex roots, including: gross income disparities, failing public schools, high unemployment (as high as 45% in pockets of Oakland, despite the overall rate of just under 10%), distrust of police, under-staffed and under-funded police force (see chart at right), and the list goes on…

And I also understand that the city is attempting to take steps to address the issue, with new programs like Operation Ceasefire and the recent engagement of external consultants to produce three reports to improve public safety in Oakland. The third and final report is here for those who are interested:  “Addressing Crime in Oakland, Zeroing Out Crime, A Strategy for Total Community Action” though it seems many were underwhelmed by this report and its lack of specificity.

It acknowledges that “Oakland currently is a community plagued by an unacceptable level of violent and non-violent crime. Perpetrators of the violence not only victimize individuals but create a sense of fear and disorder throughout the city.”

And it does affirm that police resources are lacking, but the overall message seems to be that we have many other resources at our disposal and if we can simply think more creatively, coordinate better, and get more citizens involved, that the situation will improve.

I know in my neighborhood of upper Dimond, neighbors are taking action through coordinated online communications regarding crime, and are considering the hiring of a private patrol service at a cost to be paid by residents. While this may help reduce burglaries and robberies in our neighborhood, I can’t help wondering why we should have pay for our own private security services, and how this might impact other neighborhoods that can’t afford to do so.

I don’t have any answers… but I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

PS – I did get to see some art last night, but only half the show.  Will post about that later…