Category Archives: east oakland

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

Oakland Treehouse by Griffin One

There’s been a hubbub of art activity in my Dimond neighborhood in the past few months… new murals and mosaics popping up along our little stretch of MacArthur. This was one of the early installments.

It went in late last year and I simply love it–love how the large canvas of this building is used as a portal to transport us from the urban “hectivity” of this busy boulevard to the peaceful pastoral delight of northern California farmland surrounded by gentle foothills.

Mural is by Griffin One, Oakland-based muralist, fine artist, illustrator and digital designer.
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Blog Restart. Giving it another go…

So I’ve been thinking for awhile about restarting this blog. I miss it.

For all intents and purposes, I stopped working on it around July of 2012, which is when I started working double-time for a brief spell, finishing one gig at the same time I was starting a new one.

My old job had been part-time for a small tech startup in Emeryville, close to my old West Oakland digs… I was working 25-30 hours a week, so I had another 10-15 to spare which I devoted to this blog.

I didn’t realize when I first started how much time I was actually putting in. I had the time so I used it. It was only when I was interviewed by some folks from the Oakland Library for a piece about the blog–I had done a series on independent bookstores, including theirs, so they, in turn, were covering me–that I realized how much time I was putting in.

She asked, “How many hours would you say you put in each week in the production of your blog?”

I started counting… well, there’s the actually going out and experiencing and photographing stuff, there’s the editing and processing of photos, there’s the research to augment what I write, and of course there’s the writing. It all adds up rather quickly.

And so while I thought I’d continue the blog once my brief double-time stint ended, the reality was that my new gig was full-time, and I no longer had the 10-15 hours to spare each week. I kept thinking I’d get back to it, things would slow down at work, I’d post more photos and less writing, etc. But weeks stretched to months and months to beyond a year and the further I got from the last post, the less likely I was to write a new one. It seemed too far gone.

But now with newly acquired time on my hands, I’ve decided it’s not too far gone. It’s never too late.

So here I am. I am going to try again…

I don’t have a wealth of material stored up so I’m going to start things off with a piece of my own art below, newly created for a recent graduate school application. If you have any thoughts about it, or about this blog in general, or what you’d be most interested in seeing in future posts, or if you just want to say hi, I’d truly love to hear from you…

CherryBlossoms

Hope

Today I am feeling hopeful.  More hopeful.  Perhaps it’s because my car’s driver-side door lock miraculously fixed itself after a few annoyingly troublesome weeks.  Perhaps it’s because the Supreme Court handed down some good decisions this week.  Perhaps it’s because I have a three day weekend ahead of me and summer is here and it’s Friday afternoon and I have a cool beer waiting in my fridge for me. Or maybe it’s just my own conscious decision to embrace optimism.

Whatever the case, I’ve been meaning to post this for awhile.  It’s a sweet little installation.  Wish I had posted it before it got tagged…

Have a great weekend y’all!

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bird mural, hope mural, 14th avenue oakland

Laurel Summer Solstice Music Festival!

Tomorrow marks the 7th annual Laurel District Summer Solstice Music Festival.  It’s an all day event featuring 25 bands, DJ’s, artists, and kids activities, focused truly on the cultural & artistic microcosm that is the Laurel District.

Festivities begin as early as 9am (enjoy your morning coffee from World Ground Café over the acoustic bluegrass and bluesy/folksy stylings of the Clusterpluckers – you’ve gotta love that name!), and will run well past the official 8pm close of the festival as a few special acts move indoors (“King” Sunny Ade’s band will be featured at West African restaurant Miliki, and one of Todd Huth’s current outfits, The Knuckles, will perform at Lounge 3411, which gets nearly 5 stars on Yelp, and according to one Yelper, is “a secret magical place in the hood.”)

The festival is being hosted by the Laurel Village Association (LVA) with a great deal of support from Acme House of Music – a veritable institution to local musicians (check out my post from last year’s festival for a short download on Acme:  Support Local Music in Oaktown – bring your lawn chairs and dancing shoes!).

According to the LVA…

Unbeknownst to many, our neighborhood is represented by some of the world’s most well respected artist/bands within a myriad of musical genres including rock, electronic, soul, jazz, hip-hop, punk, metal, experimental, blues and beyond.  And so, this year the festival has a line-up composed solely of talent from our diverse microcosm of Oakland.  Believe it or not, the outstanding entertainment showcased this year is being provided by your neighbors!

From Carl Lockett (Bay Area legendary jazz/rock/funk guitarist), to Matt Payne of chiptune band The Glowing Stars (for those who don’t know, chiptune is a genre of music created using limited sound cards, usually from retro gaming machines such as the NES, Atari ST, and the original Game boys) to surf-rockabilly outfit Trivalve, to the alt-country stylings of The Rogers… the list goes on and on.  See full list of musicians here.

I’m not sure what else to say, except Go!

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Support Local Music in Oaktown – bring your lawn chairs and dancing shoes!

Summer Solstice Music Festival & Acme House of Music… in the Laurel

acme house of music, acme music oakland, acme music laurel

This Saturday, June 25th, the Laurel Neighborhood Village Association will be hosting its 6th annual Summer Solstice Music Festival.  Inspired by Fete de la Musique in France, where both amateur and professional musicians play in the streets on the summer solstice, the Laurel Festival will feature over two dozen local Bay Area musicians performing inside stores or cafes, or out on street corners and parking lots… all FREE.

Performances will begin as early as 9am and will continue throughout the day with the Fete Jam wrapping things up from 7:30-8pm at the main stage, located on Patterson Street which will be closed off to through traffic. MacArthur, though not closed to traffic, will likely be very crowded… best to walk, bike, or take public transit. And don’t forget your dancin’ shoes!

Nearby venues hosting musical acts include:

  • Ace Hardware – 4024 MacArthur
  • Acme House of Music – 3715 MacArthur
  • Kids n Dance – 3840 MacArthur
  • Laurel Bookstore – 4100 MacArthur
  • Monique’s Clozet! – 4140 MacArthur
  • World Ground Café – 3726 MacArthur

See map below, plus the full festival schedule here.

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Of special note is the Acme House of Music, a neighborhood institution for over 40 years!

The music shop was opened in the early 70’s by jazz drummer Jay Rose, who manned the shop during the days, selling sheet music & instruments and providing lessons to a large roster of students, and spent nights playing gigs in San Francisco in his bow tie and black tuxedo. He kept up this routine for decades until 2004 when a fire destroyed a portion of the store, much of the equipment housed there, and part of the business next door. Needless to say it was devastating and Jay never fully recovered from the loss.

Jay is still a fixture in the shop (I know this because – personal disclaimer – I’ve been taking drum lessons here for the last couple of months), but now he visits as a guest of honor.

Acme was taken over by husband and wife (and friends of Jay’s) Annette & John in late 2009 when it became clear that he needed help… he was then 83! Both music lovers, they were at a transitional time in their lives as well with a new toddler added to the family… they decided to ditch their more conventional day jobs and take on the project of updating Acme into a modern day independent music store. Not an easy task in the day of cheap goods from China readily available with the click of a mouse or big box stores like Guitar Center.

But John & Annette are providing something that you can’t get at a box store or over the internet. It’s SOUL.

Their philosophy revolves around making music accessible to everyone, and providing great value in the services they offer.  Their goals are to provide:

  • A family friendly environment for learning – They’ve spent quite a bit of time clearing out decades of clutter, renovating the space with additional storage and larger practice rooms; and their roster of teacher musicians is quite impressive…  professional working musicians like Donald Duck Bailey (yes, the Donald Duck Bailey).
  • Unique offerings – John is an audiophile with a particular interest in vintage equipment; he’s always on the lookout for hard to find gear and unusual used equipment, and repair services are offered as well (see rave reviews on Yelp)
  • Customer oriented service – They pride themselves on pointing customers to what feels and sounds best rather than a one size fits all approach that’s focused only on the bottom line (often used equipment can be less expensive and sound better than new)
  • Supporting the community with integrity – They are truly part of the Laurel community and take pride in supporting other local business…  getting haircuts at the neighboring salon, flowers at the local florist, etc.  They also pride themselves on being “green” – and repurposed items from Goodwill and the local Hollywood Video that went out of business in their recent renovations.

I asked Annette what the biggest challenge has been, and not surprisingly, she said so much to do with so little time (and a limited budget), plus a 3-year-old in tow!

But more importantly I asked her about the greatest rewards they’ve experienced through Acme. She said it’s the connection they’ve established to the neighborhood and local residents… “It’s our community.  It’s our family.”

John, who has over 25 years experience DJ’ing and recording music, is donating all of the sound equipment for the festival’s main stage, literally saving the Laurel Association thousands of dollars.

Do check out the festival, and don’t forget to pop into Acme Music to say hello.  They’ll have their own set of performers out front, including many of the amazing musicians who teach lessons at their shop.

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BEAT the HEAT: Five best swim spots in Oaktown

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Lyons Pool – Dimond Park

[NOTE: I updated this post in 2014 with new links and current schedules. See updated post here.]

It’s hot.  Too hot.  This is why I left L.A. many years ago.  Well… just one of the long list of reasons really.

But back to my point. It’s expected to top out near 90 today, so if you’re like me and you’re melting into a puddle of gritty discontent, here are a few sweet spots to cool you down and freshen you up!

  1. Lake Temescal – For some, the thought of swimming in non-chlorinated water is not appealing (I’m thinking of my boyfriend’s daughter who said, “EWW! it’s slimy!”) But for me, it’s simply the best. No burning eyes, no itching skin, and you get to swim with the ducks & fishes.  What could be better than that?? See last year’s post Sum Sum Summertime! for more detail and the history of this urban oasis.
    $3 for beach access; $2 for kids/seniors; parking can cost extra

    Open daily 5am to 10pm; lifeguards on duty 11am to 6pm
  2. Lyons Pool (Dimond Park) – This outdoor pool set amidst old growth oaks & buckeyes is heated year round and is delicious to step into, especially on cool evenings or foggy mornings. Serious lap-swimmers seem frustrated by its unconventional lanes and warm temperature, but I think this spot is just right, and nowhere near as crowded as Temescal.
    $5 to swim; $4 with multi-pass
    public swim: 2:45pm – 4:15pm M-F; 2:30pm – 4:30pm S/S
    lap swim: 6:30am – 9am/12pm – 2pm/7:30pm – 9pm M-F; 11:15am – 2:15pm S/S
  3. Trefethen Aquatic Center (Mills College) – Another lovely outdoor pool complete with hot tub and lawn areas for lounging, I haven’t been to this one in awhile but used to go frequently when friends lived in San Leandro. I’ve heard the pool isn’t chlorinated but uses another technique (oxygenation?), but I can’t confirm this. This one’s also a tad more expensive than other options, but many folks claim this is the nicest pool in Oakland.
    $7 to swim; $5.60 with multi-pass

    check their schedule here, ‘cuz it’s complicated and will be changing next week.
  4. Temescal Pool – This one’s a north Oakland favorite for it’s year round heated waters and easy access location. Featuring salinated water which means less chlorine (yay!) and lots of props to modify your swim routine (kickboards, fins, etc) this pool is extremely popular and can be quite crowded when the weather’s nice.
    $5 to swim; $4 with multi-pass

    public swim:
    2:45pm – 4:45pm Sat only
    lap swim:
    6:30am – 8:30am/12:30pm – 2:30pm/5pm – 7pm M-F; 11am – 2:30pm S/S
  5. Roberts Pool (Roberts Regional Recreation Area) – Another glorious heated outdoor pool, right in the middle of a redwood grove. I only put this one last because, sad to say, I haven’t been here yet. But from the descriptions I’ve read, it sounds like best spot for a lazy summer day of play. Fewer lap swim hours and far more public/recreational swim hours.
    $3 for public swim ($2 for kids/seniors); lap swim is $3.50 or $2.50 with multi-pass
    public swim: 3:30pm – 5pm M; 12:30pm – 5pm Tu-F; 11am – 6pm Sat/Sun
    lap swim:
    7:15pm – 8:15pm M-Th