Category Archives: miscellaneous

Have a Spooktacular Halloween… mwah hah hah

I know I haven’t been keeping up with this blog lately… I’ll likely be retiring it for good soon.
But in the meantime, here’s some Oaktown neighborly Halloween fun for your frightful pleasure… Happy Halloween!

halloween, oakland halloween, haunted house, skeleton

halloween, oakland halloween, haunted house

halloween, oakland halloween, haunted house, halloween gore

halloween, oakland halloween, haunted house

halloween, oakland halloween, haunted house, skeleton

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

The Weekend What-To-Do List: this one goes to eleven!

It’s a big weekend people. It’s June. It’s Art Murmur. First Friday. AND Open Studios. And though it’s not technically summer yet, it’s going to feel like it this weekend. It’s gonna be hot!

So whether you’re motivated to take in the arts, bask at the beach, dawdle in the garden, or dance till the sun comes up, there’s something here for you. Check it out my list of ten what-to-dos for this weekend. There are some unique events that only occur once per year so if you miss it, you miss it. Till next year of course. I’ve even mapped something outside Oaktown–shock of all shocks–ready for the island mon? This may be the perfect weekend for it… Hope you enjoy.

10 WHAT-TO-DOS

1. Honeydrop Hometown Throwdown at The New Parish

Friday, June 6th – 7:30 pm
The New Parish – 1743 San Pablo Ave., Oakland
Cost: $20

The California Honeydrops, a self-described “party band” with a humble, down-to-earth dedication to exploring the vast spectrum of American roots music—New Orleans second-line, soul, funk, and Americana—will be throwing down at the New Parish Tonight. No doubt this will be a good time at a great little club.  Cajun blues band Tri Tip Trio and New Orleans-style brass band MJ’s Brass Boppers will open the show, and the food truck Roderick’s BBQ will be selling Southern food.

2. Art Murmur

Friday, June 6th – Most galleries open till 9pm

I don’t need to tell you about Art Murmur. It’s awesome. Just go. Here’s one of my favorite pics from May’s Murmur… I had an incredible time but never got around to posting about it. Sorry.

Art Murmur, Free Masks

3a) Emory Douglas: Artist for the People, Opening Reception And Artist Talk

Emory Douglas, Joyce Gordon Gallery, Artist for the People, Black Panther PartyFriday, June 6th  6-9pm
Joyce Gordon Gallery – 406 14th Street

Emory Douglas is a provocatively political artist. He was the designated Revolutionary Artist and former Minister of Culture of the Black Panther Party, and you’re likely familiar with many of his bold graphic posters and flyers, their stark aggressiveness emblematic of the “insurrectionary atmosphere of the [60’s and 70’s], with urban rebellions igniting from city to city and strikes from campus to campus.” Emory will be on hand for this event which should prove to be a fascinating look into the black history of Oakland.

3b) First Friday Shorts Presents: Youth Radio

Friday, June 6th – 6:00pm
The New Parkway – 474 24th St., Oakland
Cost: FREE

Tonight, Youth Radio will present a showcase of its youth videos, creatively portraying the everyday issues that most affect young Oaklanders today – community violence, relationships, education, and more. Also featured will be live performances by the young artists and a discussion about art, media-making and growing up during the height of Oakland’s major cultural and economic shifts. Don’t miss this provocative conversation with the next generation of Oakland artists, newsmakers, and leaders.

3c) Doomed and Misguided: Reggie Warlock and Chris Micro, Opening Reception

Reggie Warlock, Chris Micro, LoakalFriday, June 6th – open till 10pm
Loakal – 560 2nd St. (Jack London Square)

You may not have heard of Reggie Warlock and Chris Micro, but you’ve likely seen their character-based graffiti in murals and tags around Oakland. “A battle cry for underground counterculture’s place in fine art, the exhibition will feature new individual and collaborative paintings and a site-specific installation… Filled with neon colors, humor, and a cartoon-like aesthetic, their work celebrates the worlds of graffiti, hip-hop and skateboarding.”

 3d) 5th Annual Temescal Art Hop

Friday, June 6th  6pm – 9pm
Temescal

This year’s Art Hop features over 20 participating locations including galleries, shops, and cafes around Telegraph Avenue in North Oakland. 48th St (@ Telegraph) and the Temescal Alleys (@ 49th) will feature food vendors and live music.

Pick up an official Art Hop Map from one of the participating locations and collect stamps to enter a raffle drawing to win one of a slew of cool prizes.

4. Urban Farm Tours

Saturday, June 7th  10am – 4pm, tours at each site start every hour
4 sites in Oakland, 4 in Berkeley
Cost: $5 per site ($3 for kids under 12), pay at the door on the day of the event
NOTE: you must contact/register in advance – email iuh@sparkybeegirl.com at least one hour before the event to receive details and locations.

Have you wanted to check out Novella Carpenter’s Ghost Town Farm? Well, now’s your chance!  Her plot, as well as 3 others in Oaktown and 4 more in Berkeley, will be featured on the Institute of Urban Homesteading’s Annual Tour. If you want to learn out how to implement low-water food-production systems or even set up a goat dairy operation in your backyard, this is your chance to hear from the experts. The largest farm on the tour is Full Harvest Urban Farm in East Oakland, spread across 3 lots comprising nearly 27,000 square feet. It’s a super sized full service farm with 25 chickens and 8 ducks for both meat and egg production, 3 kinder dual-purpose goats, dispersed orchard and vegetable plots and a potbelly pig!

Ghost Town Farm is the setting and inspiration for Novella’s well known memoir, Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer. It’s an amazing story of the little farm she’s set up on a empty lot in West Oakland, not far from my old loft (I wrote a post about my first visit here). The other two Oakland farms are Kansas Street Farm in East Oakland, a small food farm with free-range chickens and rain catchment on a rental property, and Lower Bottom Strange Grange in West Oakland, with ducks, bees, aquaponics also on rental property.

5. 48th Annual Sand Castle & Sand Sculpture Contest

Saturday, June 7th  Registration 9-11am, Judging starts at 12noon, Awards Ceremony at 1pm
Robert Crown Memorial State Beach – Westline Drive & Otis Drive, ALAMEDA
Cost: FREE

It’s going to be 80 degrees on Saturday… what a perfect day to hit the beach! But to participate in this event you’ve gotta get up pretty early. For those who plan to tear it up tonight, it may be more realistic to stroll by midday… you’re sure to be astounded by the fantastic creations whipped up in just a few hours. It’s amazing. And oh so temporary.

 

alameda sand castle contest

photo courtesy of Alameda Journal blog

6. East Bay Open Studios (weekend 1)

June 7th & 8th  11am – 6pm
Multiple Cities throughout the East Bay

What can I say? Open Studios is hosted each year by Pro Arts. They’re an institution and this year they’re celebrating their 40th anniversary! How fabulous is that? Four decades of community building, pushing boundaries, and supporting the artists of the greater East Bay. This weekend (and next) is an incredible opportunity to see a seemingly limitless smorgasbord of art in super intimate settings. I think my favorite part of Open Studios is getting to see each artist’s workspace… so different from seeing pieces displaced to a pristine gallery.

This year over 400 artist studios are included during the two weekends of self-guided touring. Media include book art, ceramics, conceptual, digital, drawing, furniture, glass, installation, jewelry, metal, mixed media, mosaic, painting, paper, pastel, photography, print-making, sculpture, textiles, watercolors, and wood! You’ll need the directory and maps to guide yourself. If you don’t already have one, you can download the East Bay Open Studios Directory here.

7. 38th Annual Redwood Heights Block Sale

block-saleSaturday, June 7th  9am – 3pm
Enter sale at Redwood Rd & Jordan Rd. Sale continues on Bennett, Guido, Norton & Retig.

This is the mother of all garage sales. My girlfriend is participating and will be selling off gorgeous mid-century furniture, dining items, barware, and more. With over 20 families participating,  you’ll also find tons of kid and baby stuff, kitchen items, books and lots more all at great prices. Tons of treasures in an easy three or four block area. Sale wraps around Jordan Park (AKA Avenue Terrace Park) so the kids will have something to look forward to after you are done shopping.

8. Shapeshifters Cinema

Sunday, June 8th, doors 7:30, show 8-9pm
Temescal Art Center – 511 48th St (@ Telegraph)
Cost: FREE

“Shapeshifters Cinema is a monthly expanded cinema series featuring experimental filmmakers and video artists presenting moving image work live with accompaniment from musicians and sound artists. Dovetailing off recent programming at the Exploratorium, Shapeshifters is excited to present the work of pioneering light artists Dennis Keefe and (the late) Glenn McKay who are two of the artists responsible for creating the famous psychedelic light shows of the 1960s. Working together under the name of the Headlights Light Show, Keefe and McKay performed at many west coast venues, including the Fillmore, and also toured extensively with the Jefferson Airplane. The highlight of the program will be a live light art performance by Dennis Keefe with collaborators Jim Baldocchi and Lori Varga and musical accompaniment by Chris Musgrave (Lumerians) and Sarah R. Brady.”

Ok everyone, I know what you’re saying to yourself… that only looks like 8, and she promised 10. But I think if you’ll look back… you’ll see I did some pretty tricky stuff with #3. This one actually goes to eleven. Have a great weekend y’all!

 

Sweet Parking Job

Ok, so this photo has nothing to do with art.  It wasn’t Art Murmur and I wasn’t on my way to a cool creative performance happening or a show at the Fox.  I was just out walking around town. And I think it’s hilarious. And I wanted to give a little heads up that I do have some art-related posts headed your way shortly, about which I am very excited.  Yay!  see below…

tightest parking spot ever, parking in oakland, oakland parking

Later this week I’ll be not only featuring pics of the new West Oakland San Pablo mural, which is awesome, but also my first artist interview in over a year (yikes). Last one was the Few & Far Mural Project back in June of 2011. Where oh where has the time gone?!?

I’ve also got a great Guest Post coming up on 9th Floor Radio. And if you don’t know what that is, well then, stay tuned…

BANG! Happy Birthday Ol’ Gal.

Last night I witnessed the culmination of the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th birthday celebration from the deck of a tugboat, bobbing on the undulating bay.  Life is sweet.

I didn’t participate in any of the month-long or day-intensive events leading up to the evening’s pyrotechnics show, but I was inspired to not miss the grand finalé by the email blast of a friend, quoting another friend who was actually on the pyro crew for the event.

His words encapsulate the sheer awesomeness of the display far better than mine could…

I am working on the pyro crew for the event and we are putting on the largest display I have ever worked on or seen. The entire 4000 feet of the Bridge will be covered with pyro positions.  Numerous barges will be on the bay loaded to the gunnels with huge, beautiful and expensive shells that make me weep to handle…

Wow, I can not say enough about this one.
Except. You would be F—ed to miss it.

And so I went.

Here are a couple pics… not my best work, but I’m a bit out of practice and feeling quite rusty.  Maybe I need some International Orange slapped on this ol’ girl’s joints.

golden gate bridge, 75th anniversary, fireworks display, golden gate bridge celebration, golden gate bridge fireworks
fireworks on golden gate, golden gate bridge, bridge 75th anniversary, golden gate bridge birthday
golden gate bridge anniversary 2012, golden gate bridge, bridge fireworks 75th anniversary

Some great pics & history on the bridge for others, like myself, who may have missed out on the bulk of the festivities: The Color, Romance, and Impact of the Golden Gate at 75 (The Atlantic).

the wild wild west…

I’ve said it before… the thing I love about West Oakland is that you never know what you are going to find. On a recent sunny stretch down the Mandela Parkway, I came across this muraled building on an empty lot (determined to be an environmental clean up site upon closer inspection of the posted sign and related fine print), next to what appeared to be a small chicken farm… beautiful birds with their own fancy red house and a huge yard in which to strut their stuff.

west oakland, environmental clean up site, mandela parkway

For those too young to “get” the reference in the mural above… see the original photograph and a brief description in my post Diversity is the one thing we all have in common.

rooster in the hen house, red hen house, west oakland chicken farm

west oakland rooster, cockadoodle doo, west oakland chicken farm

west oakland art, mandela parkway mural,

west oakland mural, west oakland pink building with green robot, power salute

A short summer break.

sign on door, back in 10

Hey kids. I’m taking a break. Just a short one. A short summer break.

Some events have conspired to make me very busy in the next month or few… namely a new job, and an old one.

So since I’ll be working double time, I’ve decided instead of feeling guilty and inadequate for each couple of days that go by without a post, I’ll just let myself off the hook in advance.  I can’t do it all dammit.

So I hope you guys have a great summer.  If you want to write any guest posts, let me know.

And I’ll plan to be back in September (August 31 will be two years!)