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