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THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO TRANSFORM, Y’ALL
by Keila Diehl
An anthropologist went to a town hall meeting at Lakeshore Baptist Church and experienced her first encounter with the Chief of Police of a major American city. Impossibly shiny black shoes, crisp black uniform, four gold stars on each collar, gun, broad stance, hands on hips, red granny glasses. Overheard saying, ‘I love my Mama, but she put a lot of soap down my throat” in her lilting Memphis accent, Anne Kirkpatrick, whose father was a Baptist minister, is bringing tough love to Oakland to whip its deeply troubled police department into shape. The anthropologist, who worries about her city’s public safety challenges, is intrigued. She truly hopes the cavalry has finally come over the East Bay hills, but she can’t help wondering whether this petite dynamo from Tennessee knows what she has gotten herself into…and whether the OPD is ready to be saved.
GRAND AVENUE WEST OF 580
“Taste this Warriors Smoothie,” encouraged Muhammad Diaw, manager of 1888 Coffee Station at Bacheesos (opened April 2), as I walked to the carry-out window nestled next to Bacheesos Mediterranean Restaurant. It’s got avocado, mango, pineapple, carrot, spinach, kale, orange juice, and a little bit of agave syrup – but no ice. We freeze the fruits and vegetables but use nothing water-based, so the texture isn’t marred by melting.” His brilliant smile inspired joy even before I tried the smoothie – delicious!
Previous Grand Avenue West of 580 blogs are archived HERE.
Ten/11, billed as Oakland’s Premier Sneaker Store and located at 494 Wesley Avenue, had its Grand Opening on May 13th. I stopped in to check it out a week later and chatted with the owner, Peter Abramov, and his store manager, Qais Shaghasi.
This space, in the same building as the Leaning Tower of Pizza, was a dry cleaners for many years. More recently it was a bike shop with an occasional pop-up farmers market, but has been vacant for a few years. So it is great to have a new business there. The shop is narrow, but it does not feel cramped – the displays are on the side walls, with a table with T-shirts in the middle, and the checkout desk towards the back. Only one shoe of a pair is displayed, and each is shrink-wrapped.
A couple of Splash Pad News readers have asked me why the walks are titled, “Exploring Our Neighborhoods on Foot and with Camera.” That title is in homage to a book I bought at The Bookmark Bookstore, 721 Washington Street, operated by the Friends of the Oakland Public Library (disclosure, I am on the FOPL Board). “Through the Alimentary Canal with Gun and Camera,” a 1963 edition of a 1930 book, is an elaboration of a talk that Robert Benchley, the early 20th-century humorist, presented at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. Chappell’s book has chapter titles such as, “Into the Oral Cavern” and “Great Doings in the Peritoneum” and cartoon illustrations such as, “The One Man Sub with which I Navigated the Aorta” and “We Shoot the Rapids at the Confluence of the Gall and the Spleen.”
LAKESHORE AND LAKE PARK AVENUES
The saga continues at 3256 Lakeshore (the former Burrito Shop), prompting Netflix to negotiate for film rights – well not really, but they should. Last month’s lead story was a puff piece about the imminent arrival of the Falafel Stop. A week later, I heard from a highly reliable source that Falafel Stop owner, Jonathan Loar, had sold the lease to Peet’s to accommodate a major expansion of the existing coffee emporium, as was rumored two years ago. For the record, this was news to Peet’s store manager, who would be delighted if this comes to pass. My phone call to Peet’s corporate offices hasn’t been returned, however, and there have been so many “plot shifts” thus far that anything seems possible – except a Cholita Linda on Lakeshore.
The new Moroccan Palace restaurant continues to garner excellent reviews. It is open six days a week for lunch and dinner, and occasionally they have belly dancers. That said, I’m equally excited that co-owner Omar Abid has taken personal responsibility for keeping the curb space where the trash cans are stored relatively clean. The even better news is that the bike share station proposed for this area remains on track for installation late this summer – at which time the trash receptacles will have to go elsewhere.
Heart and Dagger Saloon is organizing a Vintage and Made Fair for Saturday, June 17 from Noon to 4 PM that will feature “A huge variety of vintage and handcrafted items! You can even get your hair done in vintage-inspired styles right on site! This is a FREE, 21+ event!”
The Brothers and Sisters Flower Shop will be opening a second outpost inside Xolo Taqueria at 1916 Telegraph Avenue in mid-July. The new location is wildly appropriate given that the building is commonly known as the Floral Depot and is right next door to Flora restaurant. Owner Freya Prowe says that she’s really excited to stay here in the Grand Lake community (which she loves) and simultaneously reach a wider audience. To accommodate the transition, the Grand Avenue location will be closed for the first two weeks in July – but they will continue to do weddings and special events during that period.
Freya also shared some news about the Grand Fare Market patio. Charlie Hallowell from Penrose (and Boot and Shoe) will be doing barbecue pop-ups and movie nights throughout the summer and will also be hosting the Little Sprouts cooking camp.
Alchemy Bottle Shop has a new show of photographs by Kerry Higuera in their second floor gallery and, for this Saturday afternoon’s tasting, they will be pouring Del Maguey Mezcal.
Studio Grand’s calendar is chock full of some wonderful events this month including the Source Trio with percussionist, Jon Santos on Friday, June 23. And, this Saturday you can join Naima Shalhoub and friends for “a night of soulful music and conversation inspired by the principles of restorative justice – free thanks to an Oakland City Cultural Arts grant.” What has me really excited, however, is a “Son Jarocho Festival” in September, made possible by a $7,500 grant from the Akonadi Foundation. Plans include a series of free music and dance classes for children and adults concluding with a fandango celebrating Mexican Independence Day. Last year Studio Grand had a full month of Son Jarocho music featuring two fandangos that were so fabulous I traveled to San Diego this past weekend in support of the annual Fandango Fronterizo on the border between the U.S. and Tijuana.
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The author of the flyer and petition that are being distributed at the farmers market has created what is essentially a work of pure fiction and a point-by-point response is warranted.
The “few people in the neighborhood” who are leading the campaign for an RFP that would solicit bids from other management teams includes Jerry Barclay, the Chair of the Splash Pad Farmers Market Advisory Group, who was appointed by Pat Kernighan, and me, who served as community liaison during planning for Splash Pad Park construction and who, until fairly recently, was the Farmers Market’s biggest booster. We have significant community support for our RFP request.
The author of the flyer claims that we don’t “like the market’s popularity.” To the contrary, we love the market’s popularity but hate the congestion that’s driving a significant number of our neighbors to shop elsewhere. We’ve presented the market management with a list of simple fixes that they’ve declined to implement.
The claim that we don’t want (prepared) food vendors or crafts is just totally preposterous. The overwhelming consensus supports the current market mix and variety.
What motivates Jerry and me so strongly is our experience in dealing, for over a decade, with a Marin-centric organization that has been reluctant to do much of anything to protect the park and serve the community. With the distinct possibility that they could lose what’s been a cash cow, the Agricultural Institute of Marin (AIM) has suddenly begun to “get religion.”
Two years ago, AIM’s attorney told the City they could only afford to pay $800 per month. Now they’re apparently also promising to contribute a six-figure sum for park improvements in return for a five-year lease. The management team that chose not to provide Oakland school children with the same opportunities they offered to kids in Marin has suddenly announced that they’re bussing two classes across the bridge for a farm tour – which they claim is coincidental. Same goes for the fact that, for the first time in eighteen years, they hired an Oakland resident to work the Grand Lake Market – who also happens to be the first person of color. This is just a sample from a long list of accommodations that AIM has made under duress. If they’re granted a lease, we have little confidence in their willingness to go the extra mile.
Regardless of who ends up with the farmers market lease, the city has to establish stringent and comprehensive operational guidelines to protect the park infrastructure and ensure that the market is more people-friendly and less congested. Just as importantly, they have to provide strict enforcement, which has been totally lacking since the market moved into the new park in 2003. A community-based, non-profit board would have those two goals as a top priority. In addition, it would be in a position to utilize the substantial profits from the market for much-needed park repairs and also pay a monthly rental fee in keeping with the City’s Master Fee Schedule. A community-based, non-profit board would also be more inclined to support local institutions, neighborhood businesses, and the community as a whole. I’d add that I believe we’re also better prepared to support the Grand Lake Market vendors than has AIM. To wit, the only list of Grand Lake vendors is THIS ONE on the Splash Pad website.
SPLASH PAD PARK
Weeding and more weeding and, maybe, just a bit of planting is on tap for this month’s 4th Sunday work day on June 25, beginning at 9 AM and ending with lunch at Noon. New volunteers are always welcome – experienced gardeners or not. Tools and gloves are provided.
GRAND AVENUE FIRST THURSDAYS
Jau Jou Studio has a show of artwork by Dominic Fontana, whose “canvas” consists of galvanized sheet metal and whose “paints” consist of brightly colored reflective tapes. Thus the show’s title, “Taped Metal Canvas.”
Studio Grand is hosting “Que Siga La Fiesta: A Celebration of Queer & Trans Resilience In Times Of Crisis” from 5:30 – 7:30.
Ruth Stroup Insurance will be hosting an Opening Night Reception for a show of paintings by Zach Cotham. Complimentary beverages and small bites will be served.
Panorama Framing is exhibiting “Wooden Icons, Works by Laura Schatzkin.” Complimentary beverages, refreshments and live music.
Baraka Gallery is continuing to highlight its inventory of beautifully crafted tiny beads from all over the world, but particularly from Africa and Asia. Sip a cup of tea while you browse, as Shiffen always has the teapot on.
The Libertine has an ongoing show of extremely tasteful nude photographs by Josh Stevenson.
San Francisco Fiber: Hands-on spinning and weaving with Lou Grantham.
510 Brand‘s walls are liberally covered with paintings by shop employees Culling Cahayag, Nina Simi, and Natasha Reh – supplemented with a handful of original drawings by Connor Burke, who works next door at Modigliani, plus wonderful prints by a student at the Oakland School for the Arts known only as “Skye.” A DJ will be in the house and complimentary beverages and snacks will be served.
A complete list of participating businesses offering special First Thursday discounts is posted at: www.grandavenuefirstthursdays.com
ODDS AND ENDS
The May edition of Oakland Magazine has a wonderful article about the rebirth of Lake Merritt, thanks to the passage of Measure DD. Kudos to then-Councilmember Danny Wan, who originally suggested passage of a bond measure for this precise purpose, and kudos as well to all the community members and city staff who served on the DD oversight committee.
On May 16, Berkeleyside’s Nosh column reported that the Oaktown Spice Shop would be opening a second location on Solano Avenue. As we’re about to go to press, we’re awaiting confirmation that the shop will be called “Berzerkeleytown Spice Shop,” or is that just wishful thinking on my part? In any case, congratulations to the owners and also to the folks up on the Berkeley/Albany border who will be soon sharing some of the many edible treasures that nature provides.
The Oakland Walking Tours restarted in May and go through October. The free tours are offered Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. Tour options include Old Oakland, Chinatown, Uptown to the Lake, and Preservation Park. More information, including details on the eight different tours, can be found at THIS LINK.
One popular community event in Oakland is National Night Out, set for August 1st. As the city posted on its website: National Night Out is “a time for neighbors to get together to have a block party, ice cream social, potluck, or other outdoor event to build neighborhood spirit and unity, which is the first defense against crime.” More information is available HERE. Registrations, which close on July 14th, can be filed at THIS LINK.
If you want to focus your public safety community-building less on the police and more on the community, consider participating in Oakland’s own Ella Baker Center’s National Night Out event – also on August 1.
Town Biz II, which is at Splash Pad Park on Sunday, June 4 from Noon to 5 PM, will feature “Food, Fun, Music and Arcade Games,” plus some sixty vendors, including Alyce Preston from Alyce on Grand. Details are in this article in the East Bay Express.
- Thursday, June 1: Grand Avenue First Thursdays
- Friday, June 2: Art Murmur Downtown
- Sunday, June 4, Noon – 5 PM: Town Biz II at Splash Pad Park
- Wednesday, June 21, 7 – 8:30 PM: Grand Lake Neighbors meeting in Lakeshore Baptist Church Family Room
- Sunday, June 25, 9 AM – Noon: Splash Pad Volunteer Work Day