Tag Archives: oakland

Hmph! The New York Times is Digging Oakland

It might be expected that the New York Times would pick up on such high profile stories as the murder of Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day 2009, or the murder of four Oakland police officers in March.  But Oakland the tourist destination for Times readers?  I have to admit it was a bit unexpected.  About a month ago the Times published “36 Hours in Oakland California,” which sells Oakland as a sort of multi-culti-city-of-the-future-hidden-gem-artists’ haven.  Since then there has been a relative spate of Oakland-based reporting in the times that might challenge the old Gertrude Stein adage that “there is no there there.”

“36 Hours in Oakland California,” gives New Yorkers some great tips such as the Grand Lake Theater–my hands-down favorite place to see a movie by myself (or with anyone else for that matter), the Washington Hotel (my mother’s personal favorite hideaway),  and the Morcom Rose Garden, which truly is a hidden gem.

grand lakeGrand Lake’s Auditorium 3 (picture from their website)

03venue_morcomrosegarden1_395Marcom Rose Garden, photo by Eros Hoagland for The New York Times

Then, just a few days ago, the Times gave us the popular “Neighbor, Can You Spare a Plum?” about fruit foraging, beginning with a profile of Asiya Wadud, a Chez Panisse alum who pioneered Forage Oakland, an organization/movement aimed at viewing urban fruit as collective wealth, with potential for community building.  While Wadud and Forage Oakland seem laudable, the Times article leaves a lot to be desired.  If anything it brought on the painful memory of someone harvesting my “collective wealth”–the roses in my front yard, by simply lopping off the top of all the bushes–and convinced me not to plant that plum tree in front of my house.  All fruit isn’t everyone’s fruit–the law and I believe Wadud agrees–but Kim Severson, the author of the article, glosses over this point a little too much for my taste.  What would Randy Cohen say???

10fruit500.2Asiya Wadud by Noah Berger for The New York Times

But no need to get too serious, Oakland knows how to party, the Times’ bastion of style T Magazine reminded us yesterday, June 10, 2009 on their blog “The Moment.”  What is a forlorn Williamsburg hipster refugee to do after the Sonic Youth show at the Fox TheaterThe Moment says hit Cafe Van Kleef!  The Moment’s description of the place hits the nail on the head.  Van Kleef is kind of Brooklyn meets Nawlins meets Oakland–in decor if nothing else–and they do pour excellent cocktails (they often have great fresh fruit involved) but overall the place is a little to Park Slope c. 2002 for me with their earnest burlesque and cabaret, but maybe they Williamsburg kids will come and shake it up (they do serve some purpose you know).

What the Times obviously needs is a little dose of good ole Rockridge style soothing…and I’m working on it.  In the mean time, you can consider co-housing opportunities in the Temescal neighborhood, or just keep track of Oakland news by setting up a Google news alert here.

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A Dangerous Link

Harvey Clars is a small auction house just a hope skip and a jump from Rockridge on Telegraph underneath the 24 (the fact that I call it the 24 as opposed to “24” reveals my Southern California roots apparently).  I’ve heard that one can cultivate a serious addiction between the random, “fun,” and odd items in their catalogs and the extremely low prices.   Honestly I’m a little scared to step foot in the place lest I succumb to the addiction and turn my house in the Rockridge version of the Winchester Mystery House stocked with memorabilia from Clars, but I may not be able to resist the temptation of the spectacle much longer.  What’s catching my eye in this weekend’s catalog (buyers beware!):

marotte folie

Lot 15: Marotte Folie German bisque head doll

Marotte Folie German bisque head and shoulder plate with a curly blonde wig and hand-painted features with fixed blue paperweight eyes, and an open mouth revealing four teeth, the head sitting atop a music box concealed within a drum shaped torso on a celluloid handle that also serves as a whistle, dressed in a jester’s costume, impressed 3200 AM (Armand Marseille) 12/0 DEP, with origninal box, 11” to hat

Pretty psychotic looking I know, but there’s something about the combination of heavy eyebrows, big earrings, and prominent chompers that makes this girl my totem and taboo all rolled into one.  You must read the description carefully–the celluloid handle also serves as a whistle!

blue and white

Lot 106: Chinese Underglazed Blue Porcelain Vases/Lamps

(lot of 2) Chinese blue-and-white porcelain vases, now mounted as lamps, the first encircled by stiff leaves to the neck, with the body further decorated with stylized patterns on a leiwen ground, vase 17.75”h; the other painted with mock animal head handles to the neck above dissolving archaistic mythical beasts, vase: 17.5”h

There is only one bedside lamp in I.’s and my marital bedroom.  A year and a half later we are still married, but two moderately matching bedside lamps would be a welcome addition to the family.

bookshelf

Lot 519: Multi-tiered, sectional circular bookshelf

Mahogany multi-tiered, sectional circular bookshelf having shaped finial, faux classic literary selection dividers, rotating top, with lion bask ring pull handles and paw feet, 66”h x 34”d

Either so wrong it’s right or simply wrong wrong wrong!  I’m still fascinated by it either way.  I can’t imagine where in the world it would go, either in my home or any other, but the fact that Clars has it has me tickled.  The strange lion’s head at the base–is that a door knocker?  Is this bookcase in actuality a vortex to another world?  Will C.S. Lewis meet me on the other side with a tray of Turkish Delight?

Happy bidding!

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Things that Soothe: Apartment Therapy (I know)

Honestly, I’ve never really gotten into Apartment Therapy.  Like many sites that I want to LOVE, it’s just a little too Real Simple-y for me sometimes.  But I decided to check out the SF site today and it’s soothing the hell out of me.  Especially these posts:

  • Urban Indigo-a seriously soothing Oakland boutique in the Grand Lake neighborhood
  • Black Flowers-who doesn’t love them?  Apparently “gotard”
  • Garden Inspired Interiors-not great examples all of them, but that lead image is enough to make it one of my faves:

garden-interior1

Here is an arrangement featuring my favorite “black” flower: chocolate cosmos (and two of my other favorite flowers muscari and hellebore).

cosmos

Discovered at Southern Accents, arrangement by Greg Campbell of Memphis

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Upping the Ante in Oakland–but No One’s Calling

This week’s East Bay Express contains an examination of some of the “new Oakland;” the real estate development known as the Uptown.  Unfortunately for lawmakers and current residents, the Uptown isn’t drawing new blood to Oakland in spite of LEED certification, “a 24-hour concierge, a state-of-the-art gym, access to Zipcar service, a game room, pool and spa, an on-site Oakland Police Department office, a chef’s kitchen, and a private screening room, all available with a lease.”  Click here to read the full article and reader’s comments.  

I happened to visit the Uptown myself recently.  The lack of rentals certainly isn’t for lack of landscaping.  The Uptown’s “town square” features red bud (cercis canadensis) and tons of wisteria.  The wisteria is young still and will take forever to mature, but I love the effort.  Check it out:

landscapeWhere the wisteria will grow

wisteriayoung wisteria

red-budA row of red bud

red-bud-closeRed bud up close, the Uptown in the distance

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Farmer’s Market Ranunculus

Soother1978 and I went to the Temescal Farmer’s Market at the Oakland DMV this morning with a mission for beautiful, full, even FAT ranunculus.

We got three bunches for $10.  I got to use my new basket/vase for the first time!  Here are the results:

ranunc1

ranunc2

ranunc3

It’s still early in the season so the ranuncs aren’t AS fat as I like them, but they’ll get there.

Soother1978 soothed himself with a fried chicken sandwich from Bakesale Betty’s while we were in the area.  We love the sandwiches, but we discussed the inherent unsoothingness of places with a single, great thing that everyone has to cue up for–the Magnolia Bakery vibe–great products but so much hype!  Hype doesn’t soothe.  And Oakland, as much as I love it, has that small-town vibe where there’s always a line for anything good because there isn’t enough competition (think Ici and Blue Bottle Coffee).  Bring your business to Oakland!  If you build it we will spend!  We need a Blue Barn to soothe in the East Bay!

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No Green Guilt and No Traveling and Scavenging for “Local” Food

This looks potentially soothing:

feastbayYour own private mini-field of crops!

Feast Bay Farming

Imagine looking out of your window looking at a thriving food forest, an environmentally friendly landscape. This what Feast Bay Farming is committed to offer the residents of Alameda county.

I already have a small patch of my own, but managing and optimizing a home kitchen garden is no simple task.  I’ve worked at it, and consulted such sources as the beautifully illustrated and highly-specific Self-Sufficient Gardener by John Seymour, but to do it well takes more man hours than my full time graduate school/work schedule allows.  As it stands now, my little raised bed has gone to seed.  

If I get lucky (and a spare hour or two one of these weeks) I’m hoping to consult with FBF to turn my little plot into the local feast of Michael Pollan’s dreams.  My dream crop: escarole. 

Related:

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Trip to Koreana Plaza in Pictures

 

prepared1

Every type of fish-, soya-, and seaweed-based product pre-pickled and packed for take-home

bulk

In bulk

kim-chee

These objects are smaller than they appear

armenianWho knew that Koreans were such fans of Armenian Brandy?  Or that it came in such fun containers? (cork is at the derriere)

Koreana Plaza, 2370 Telegraph Ave at 24th Street in Oakland, 94612

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