When a high school friend of mine returned from a concert in LA circa 1960, she remarked that Joan Baez was amazing but the introductory act was a weird guy that nobody had ever heard of and his lyrics were totally unintelligible. Within a very few years, Bob Dylan’s diction improved to the point that we all knew that “the times they were a changin”.
I’m pleased to report that the same applies to the Splash Pad website and newsletter. The most dramatic change to the latter is in the masthead that now incorporates a freeway-level view of Splash Pad Park compliments of Google Maps. In addition, you may note some subtle improvements in the fonts and formatting that improve readability. These were achieved with a bit of strategic cutting and pasting from an online html tutorial.
The changes to the SplashPad.org website include some alterations to the home page but more importantly, we now have a 10th Anniversary blogand thanks to “LZ” — a long-time subscriber and Adams Point resident, we now have a “Grand Avenue West of 580″ blog, as well. These changes reflect some of the input I’ve received from website guru, Raul Audelo, and represent a baby step towards a website that will eventually become far more interactive with regular changes in content.
GRAND LAKE MERCHANT NEWS
Last month, I provided a link to the raw results of the Grand Avenue survey. I can now also share a partial summation of the answers to Question 3: “What would you like in the way of new businesses?”
Of the one hundred thirty-one individuals who responded, fifty-three cited restaurants, cafes or coffee shops. Although there were five requests for a deli and three for a sandwich shop, fourteen people (like Oliver Twist) simply said, “MORE Please”.
Those wishes are, in fact, about to be realized big time. Susannah Blumenstock from The Star on Grand kindly gave me a quick tour of their dining area and kitchen last week. In keeping with their kid-friendly reputation, Susannah pointed out an area at the rear of the dining-room that will be partitioned off and used for birthday parties. Some of the elegant touches include custom woodwork over the bar and a set of thick glass window panes that were salvaged from the oldest library in Oakland.
Last month, I reported that The Star was “really close” and that a June 10 opening seemed like a “pretty firm date”. Under the circumstances, the only prediction I’m now willing to make is that you’re going to love their pizza and find the revamped interior, quite welcoming. As for an opening date, your best bet is to continue to watch for a formal announcement on their Facebook page.
Just down the street, I’ve been keeping tabs on Charlie Hallowell’s new project — Penrose & Sons Fine Meats and Spirits. The exterior work is pretty well complete while, on the interior, they seem to be rounding the home stretch. Peering through the open windows, my eyes were immediately drawn to the cast metal facade on the bar counter which was originally installed as wainscoting in a railroad depot. The other prominent feature is a massive grill which faces out towards the street.
The cheeses and other small plates that will be offered at The Red Whale wine shop and wine bar will help satisfy those thirsting for more food options — but their big contribution will be in “wine-drating” a populace that’s looking for a local establishment where they can sample, limited-release California wines and/or take home a bottle or two.
Red Whale’s owner, Bradford Taylor was quite pleased with the big turn-out for their “sneak peek” Open House on the First Thursday in June where I captured this photo of Bradford and his wife, Nicole. Watch The Red Whale’s Facebook page for an announcement of their opening date.
All the galleries participating in the June edition of the First Thursday on Grand seemed equally enthused. Unfortunately, the First Thursday this coming month is July 4th and the participating galleries have opted to wait for the subsequent First Thursday which falls on August 1.
For the June 6 First Thursday, Urban Boutique and Urban Furniture chose to stage a sidewalk fashion show. I was quite impressed by the poise demonstrated by the four young models and also by the sense of pride radiating from their parents and from the Urban Furniture staff. For the August First Thursday, they’re planning an outdoor, 70′s Dance Party.
By the way, new to the shop this week is this 1940′s Mohair Couch and Chair in remarkably good condition. It’s priced currently for $400. In addition, they recently received a truckload of children’s books which they’re selling for fifty cents each with more being unpacked daily.
One last note about Urban University. Director Tracey Weaver can’t stop smiling as they were just honored as the Nonprofit of the Year by The Oakland Youth-Friendly Business Network AND they were similarly honored by the California State Assembly. Here’s a photo of the the latter certificate.
For the June event, Panorama Framing hosted an opening night party for a show titled the “Lost Toys of Kevin Keul”. Here’s a photo of Kevin Keul and his wife, Lili Smith taken that evening. The show will be up until sometime Tuesday, July 2 when it will be replaced by “Distant Sun” — oils and collages by Raymond Wong. The opening night party for Raymond will be Thursday, July 11 beginning at 6:00 pm.
There’s more good news on the retail front. With very little fanfare, Knimble opened their doors to the public this past Monday. According to shop manager, Brittany Allinger, they will have a formal Grand Opening Party on July 12-14 with “DJs, Treats and Great Deals”.
When I was there earlier this week taking photos, I was pleased to see a constant stream of customers who were delighted to find an extensive collection of gently used men’s and women’s clothing plus shoes, accessories and home decor items. I’ve posted two photos. This one of the elegant and quite spacious ground floor interior and a second one of the recessed doorway which is flanked by display windows.
The one photo I didn’t get is of the second floor where the overwhelming majority of their clothing is displayed. With natural light streaming in from banks of windows on each end, it’s a great place to shop–but taking photographs is a bit more complicated. As an aside, Knimble has a lot going for it beginning with the building that the Saribalis brothers lovingly restored plus the inventory and the decor. Also, in their favor, clothing ranked quite high (with twenty-four comments) on the list of new businesses requested by participants in the Grand Avenue survey.
The Alchemy Bottle Shop (which has signed a lease for the space next to Knimble at 3256 Grand) will have its application for a Major Conditional Use Permit tentatively heard by the Planning Commission on July 17 at 6:00 pm on the first floor of City Hall. If you can’t attend in person, comments should be directed to Dave Valeska (dvaleska@Oaklandnet.com). For more information about what they plan to stock and how Peter and Tova envision the entrance and interior of their shop, check out their updated Facebook page.
Andy Matinog’s Red Crow Yoga has a “For Lease” sign in the window but, for the time being, classes are still being offered for $10. The reasons for its impending closure were reported in this article in the Piedmont Patch by Michael Hsueh, the chief honcho at SpotMojo.com. After reading the article, please consider posting your suggestions for the space via the included link.
As an aside, Michael Hsueh alerted me to this blog post by former Grand Avenue resident, Jennifer Pahlka who is the founder of Code for America and currently the Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the United States. Jennifer’s post was prompted by the closure of Ford’s Fine Furniture.
What she envisioned for the space was an old-fashioned, Bodega or neighborhood grocery — a vision not unlike that voiced by many in all of the surveys we’ve done over the last five years. While I’d quibble over some of the details (for example, the reason Ford’s Fine Furniture closed), it’s still a very thoughtful analysis with potentially a big impact — especially since it’s been viewed by over sixty thousand followers.
Here’s an excerpt from the Japanese edition of the United Airlines in-flight magazine. I assume it’s a glowing review but my Japanese is a little rusty.
Uhuru Furniture is celebrating its 25th year on Grand Avenue in mid-July with two events. The first will be at the Kehilla Synagogue (1300 Grand Avenue) on Saturday, July 13th from 6-9:30 pm. Shoppers, donors and volunteers are invited to what they’re calling a “give back” celebration featuring food, African culture and a silent auction. The second half of the weekend event will be an Open House on Sunday, July 14th from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Uhuru Furniture store.
Over on Lakeshore, the latest prediction was that Scarecrow Popcorn should be open in about six weeks but I’m not sure about the opening date for what I’ve been referring to as Petco — the new tenant in the Blockbuster space. For the record, the correct name is Unleashed by Petco which is a scaled-down neighborhood version of the original.
In her debut Grand Avenue, West of 580 blog, “LZ” writes about the Grand Lake Coffee House and the Oakland Municipal Band’s Sunday concerts.
Last month, I wrote glowingly about the Oaktown Spice Shop. For more kind words on the subject, check out this blog post by Doug Fuller.
Surveys have been a hot topic here for the last several months — but one that I haven’t mentioned recently is the poll Grand Lake Neighbors did when word got out that Good Vibrations was looking at the space on Lakeshore Avenue. Roughly two-thirds of the survey respondents supported their application for a Conditional Use Permit while those who were opposed predicted that awkward moments were sure to ensue.
Last week, much to my delight, I witnessed one such scenario as grandparents escorted their two grand-daughters down Lakeshore. The older child, who was about seven, stopped in her tracks while tugging at her grand-mother’s hand; pointed to the prominently-labeled box in the display window and excitedly announced, “Look, Grandma. They have a magic wand.” Awkward, yes — but funny as hell.
SPLASH PAD PARK
Plans for our 10th Anniversary Party are rapidly taking shape. If you haven’t already done so, please check out our new 10th Anniversary Celebration blog for details. The concept we’re pursuing is to make this an “Oakland-Centric” celebration of our diversity featuring local foods, beers, wines and Oakland-based musicians. David Sturdevant and Eric Hughes have played major roles in scheduling the entertainment and four local bands have already signed on for the October 20th party. I’m especially pleased to have Jim Grantham’s Jazz Quartet on board since his group performed at the park’s opening day. Although nothing’s definite, there’s also a possibility that we will have additional events on Friday and/or Saturday — but, currently, our focus is largely on the 20th.
Our Planning Committee is meeting tomorrow (Monday, July 1) at my home and we’d love to have you join us — particularly, if you have experience with event planning, fundraising, sales, graphic design, and so forth. We start with an informal meal at 7:00 pm. For directions and “dinner reservations”, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you work for (or know of) an individual or corporation that may be interested in becoming a sponsor, please email us at the same address. Event sponsorships are going to be absolutely critical considering what we’re likely to be spending for musicians, a full stage, sound equipment and a host of other equipment.
While we’re busy planning the celebration, we’re continuing on a parallel track to do what we can to spruce up the park as much as we possibly can before October 20. In addition, we’re also about to reach out to potential partners in our proposed expansion of the California Native plant bed. If you’re not already on our gardening volunteer email list, please send an email to the above address with “Garden Volunteer” on the subject line.
While looking for an entirely unrelated document in my email archives, I recently came across this early edition of the Splash Pad Newsletter dated December 15, 2004. I’d completely forgotten that Michael Zelner (a neighborhood IT consultant, musician and photographer) and David Gans (another neighborhood musician and photographer best known, perhaps, as the host of the Grateful Dead Hour) had signed us up for the SplashPad.org domain. For me, ten years ago, this was a big deal as I didn’t have a clue as to how one registered a domain name. In any case, heartfelt thanks to David and Michael –without whom we may have ended up SplishSplash.org or something equally inappropriate.
Attendance for the Splash Pad Farmers Market Advisory Committee meeting on June 19th was less than I would have hoped — but the meeting was quite productive, nonetheless. Group Chair, Jerry Barclay shared his concerns over the terms of the proposed contract with the city that would specify a one-time, $30,000 payment to the City of Oakland for the resurfacing of the decomposed granite walkway that traverses the park. His concerns are two-fold. Number one, that nothing in the contract specifically guarantees that the city will use it for that purpose. Number two, that the $30,000 is likely insufficient to actually do this work. His position is that the original encroachment permit with the city (which is still in force) mandates that the market management (the Agricultural Institute of Marin) is obligated to repair any and all damages incurred on market days and the city should be enforcing those terms.
While I wholly support Jerry’s stance, I have two additional concerns. One is over the amount AIM has agreed to pay as a monthly fee. The negotiator representing AIM said all they could afford to pay is $800. Taking into account the average number of exhibitors and the amount each pays for their booth fees, AIM can and should pay more. It makes no sense to me that any and all profits from our Grand Lake Market should be helping to subsidize an educational center and covered market in Marin while Oakland struggles to fund anything close to adequate staffing for basic services.
My other focus is on the extent to which the footprint of the market has increased over time — creating excessive congestion, blocking access to the built-in seating and, in general, leaving less and less room for people — particularly in the plaza where people have traditionally gathered.
The good news is that Chris Blackburn, the Market Manager has heard our concerns and is attempting to resolve some of them. A janitorial service is hopefully steam-cleaning the plaza within the next two weeks. Chris has moved Bicycle Coffee out of the area that had traditionally served as the Plaza Stage and, in cooperation with our assigned city gardener, is planning to reseed the most heavily worn sections of the lawn. Nonetheless, if top management is insisting that he maximize profits, there’s a limit to what he can accomplish.
Either way, at this point, the ball is back in the hands of the Oakland City Administrator’s office and I haven’t a clue as to what the end result will be.
ODDS AND ENDS
As I’ve mentioned previously, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church’s Hunger Task Force maintains a food pantry and annually provides Thanksgiving baskets to those in need. These efforts are funded in large part through the collection of cans and bottles that are deposited in the recycling collection bin in front of their pre-school. Please consider this as another option for your recycling needs. They’re also looking for additional volunteers to help unload the bin and sort the contents. If you have some free time available, please contact the church at 893-2484.
As I’ve reported previously, the cardboard Ganesha sculpted by Charles Granich now resides in Namaste Yoga. A couple of weeks ago, Charles got married and the wedding flowers later ended up artfully arranged on and around the Hindu deity. Congratulations to Charles (and his bride) on their marriage and also for getting Kickstarter funding for the debut album of La Misa Negra, the group in which Charles plays clarinet and saxophone.
The informal service that Rev. Hopkins performed in memory of Ron Williams was much appreciated by those who knew him and wished to pay their respects. One of the mourners was Joe Provost who later sent me this tribute.
When we were planning the original California Native Garden at the Splash Pad, Michael Sasso was a major resource and, in the ensuing ten years, he’s often advised us on planting and maintenance issues. Recently, Michael embarked on an entirely new venture — the Sasso Bar — the Twenty-First Century version of the candy bars he and I used to eat as kids. It’s quite scrumptious — but, as I pointed out to Michael, the candy bars I ate as a kid were a nickel. On the other hand, a new car was like $1,200.
Volunteering For Oakland is sponsoring its 5th Annual Volunteer Day at Lakeview School on September 7th from 11:00 am — 2:00 pm. Parking for attendees will be available on the playground behind the school building.
The Deadheaders who help maintain the Morcom Rose Garden were the subject of this very nice June 28th article in the Montclarion.
This past Wednesday afternoon, a car traveling westbound on Lake Park skidded out of control on the rain-slick asphalt — destroying one of the Queen Palms on the median. From my past experience, I know that the city too often fails to aggressively pursue restitution in such circumstances — which means that either we taxpayers pay for the palm’s replacement or, more likely, that it never gets replaced. I filed a complaint via SeeClickFix asking that the city file a claim with the driver’s insurance company. I also asked that the Traffic Engineering Department look into ways to slow down traffic on Lake Park since this is not an isolated incident. In the past several years, the palm directly across from KFC was destroyed (and never replaced) and three of the remaining palms have been heavily damaged. Please take the time to voice your support on these issues. You can do so by clicking on this link and voting to fix.
Thursday, August 1, 6:00 – 9:00 pm: First Thursdays on Grand
Friday, August 2, 6:00 – 9:00 pm: First Friday Art Murmur
Saturday, August 3, Noon – 8:00 pm: Art & Soul Festival
Sunday, August 4, Noon – 6:00 pm: Art & Soul Festival
Friday, August 16, 7:00 – 10:00 pm: Oaklandish presents Fairyland 4 Grownups
Saturday, September 7, 11:00 am – 2:00 pm: 5th Annual Volunteer Day at Lakeview School
Sunday, October 20: Splash Pad’s 10th Anniversary Celebration