Newsletter for October 31st




The photos above (provided by long-time Lake Merritt advocate, John Klein) offer a small glimpse of what transpired at Splash Pad’s 10th Anniversary Celebration.  A audio sample of the offerings on the main stage is available in the form of a 5.5 minute video posted on You Tube by the Medicine Ball Band’s David Sturdevant.  Still more photos are posted on my Flickr page.

The overwhelming consensus was that the party was extremely successful on many different levels.  Tons of work went into making this event happen and I can’t possibly thank everyone individually for their contributions, but here’s some of the highlights:Splash Pad Dance Poster

  • The 10th Anniversary Steering Committee began meeting in January and everyone contributed. The letterhead in the congratulatory email I sent to the group includes a list of all the members.
  • Eric Hughes was chiefly responsible for the main stage.  Faced with a limited budget, he put together nearly seven hours of non-stop music that (with the assistance of his sons Justin and Gavin) came off without a hitch.
  • Kim Kerry-Tyerman was responsible for all the graphics and did amazing work under often trying circumstances.
  • Ilya Pinsky loaned us the 30-foot diameter yurt that was the centerpiece of the kids’ zone in the plaza. They are available for sale in models designed for special events or for year-round living.  Sizes range from 12 to 30 feet. Prefabricated platforms are also available. Email for Ilya is or phone 510 414-1978.
  • Miriam Medow (the Children’s Librarian at Lakeview) coordinated all the story-time activities inside the yurt.  By the way, Miriam has a group of devoted followers and, having caught just a snippet of one of her animated stories, I know why.
  • All thirty-plus volunteers who showed up beginning at 7:00 a.m.  Some were long-time friends like Sid and Fern Lehner but many more, were folks I was meeting for the very first time.
  • Our major sponsors included Ruth Stroup Insurance, the Lakeshore Business Improvement District, the Henry Levy (accounting) Group, Realtor Rick Richetta, neighborhood advocates, Gordon Shell and Jim Maranan, the Parks and Recreations Department and Silver Sponsor, the Agricultural Institute of Marin.
  • The Department of Public Works for their support.  The gardeners working under Crew Leader Christian Boyle had the park looking great in advance of the festival and cleaned up the loose ends after its conclusion.  We were especially grateful for the 50amp circuit PWA  installed allowing us to power the stage that would have otherwise required use of a diesel generator.
  • The local businesses that donated to  the Silent Auction.  One late addition was this wonderful painting of Splash Pad Park by  Samuel Renaissance  who frequently sets up shop on Lakeshore Avenue on Saturdays offering prints of his highly original paintings.
  • The local businesses that contributed goods or services.  That list includes Trader Joe’s for sodas.  Ken Betts for bottled water.  Lydia at Grand Flowers for this wonderful floral centerpiece and Elida Scola at Galleria Scola for professionally dry-mounting 40 signs and bid cards.
  • The neighborhood organizations that actively participated including Adams Point, Cleveland Heights, Eastlake and the Grand Lake Neighbors group.   I’m hoping that this pioneering effort will lead to more coordination in planning future events and addressing problems they have in common.

The only factor that kept the celebration from being an unqualified success was a disappointing turn-out — about half of what I had expected.  It’s unfortunate that so many people missed out on an amazing,  free concert on an Autumn afternoon that was absolutely gorgeous but the low attendance also had financial repercussions.  The sales of beer, wine and t-shirts weren’t sufficient to cover our costs.

To help close the financial deficit, I’m launching an online Facebook auction that begins today and ends at the stroke of Midnight. next Wednesday, November 6th. To participate in the auction, please place your bids in the form of comments on individual auction pages.  Tax is included.  Postage, if required, is not.J & WT-shirt

First item on the auction block is a Extra Large, t-shirt we purchased for $300 from J & W Enterprises. As part of the deal, they also cleaned the porta-potties under the freeway the night before our 10th Anniversary Celebration.  This is a unique item not available in stores. Be the first in your neighborhood to sport this limited-edition t-shirt depicting a porta-potty riding the curl.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  If you’re interested in this particular item, the bidding may be intense.  I’ve long been mulling over the possibility of dyeing my hair (what’s left of it) blonde, getting my ear pierced, purchasing a genuine woodie and becoming part of the surfer, beach scene.  This t-shirt would be the perfect accoutrement.

Opening bid for this item is $5. Please  place your bids for the t-shirt HERE!

7CDsThe second item is a sealed set of 7 CDs recorded by the Pacific Boychoir Academy which is located on Ridgeway just off Piedmont Avenue.   The CDs were poorly presented at the Silent Auction on the 20th and failed to draw any bids.

Coincidentally, a few days later the choir was featured in this glowing review in the East Bay Express. Little known here in Oakland, the fifteen year-old choir has been on fifteen international tours and has been honored with three Grammy Awards for performances with the San Francisco Symphony.  For a sample of their work, check out this YouTube video of their rendition of “All You Need is Love” performed at the Candelaria Cathedral in Rio de Janeiro.

This item is valued at $110 and the opening bid price is $25.  Please place your bids for the CD collection HERE!

Light SwitchThe third item up for auction is of significant historical interest.  It is a large-scale mock-up of a light switch that I put together for the ceremonial lighting of the Names in Lights panels in the Splash Pad Plaza ten years ago.  The painting was courtesy of students in Keith Williams art class at Oakland High. The switch plate was constructed from 3/4 inch plywood and measures 26-1/2 by 46-1/2 inches.  The toggle switch does move but this object is otherwise totally non-functional. Rumor is that the Smithsonian is looking for a suitable space.

This item is absolutely priceless – but since we have to start somewhere, your opening bid will be $25.  Please place your bids for the light switch HERE!

mockfrontWhile we welcome your bids on the above auction items,  the deficit from the anniversary celebration will hopefully be closed with the sale of the remaining event t-shirts at a greatly reduced price. The shirts are gorgeous and would make great presents for the upcoming holidays.

Weather permitting, we’ll be at the Farmers Market a week from Saturday (Nov. 9th) from 9:00 to 1:00 with a stack of shirts in sizes ranging from kids’ Small to an adult’s XXX Large.  Price will be $12.  If you purchased a shirt for full price previously, wear it to the market and get a second shirt for $7.


Over the course of many months, we had announced so many different target dates for the Grand Opening of Penrose and Sons Fine Meats and Spirits, we gave up trying.   I’m pleased to report that, in a terse email that included nothing but the date, building owner, Richard Weinstein, proclaimed it to be November 15th.

A couple of days ago, I saw folks inside in what appeared to be a staff training session.  Earlier in the week,  while I was out getting a take-out dinner from The Alley, the lights were on and the floor to ceiling windows glowed like a welcoming beacon.  Moreover, a peek through an uncovered window revealed leather-upholstered bankers’ arm chairs that complement the elegant “fan” that’s suspended over the open kitchen.  Both contrast nicely with the antique cast iron wainscoting under the bar and the rustic heavy wood beams.

In short, this is going to be another fabulous addition to the avenue and, like its next-door neighbor, Monkey Forest Road, the interior is going to make it a destination in its own right.

Grand Avenue businesses  reaped tons of positive press this past month as has frequently been the case.

As the “New Kid” on the block, Ordinaire enjoyed most of the attention with half a dozen flattering articles and blogs.  One of the best examples:  this article  published by the Inside Bay Area news group that also picked up on the Grand Avenue Renaissance theme that I’ve been repeating for well over a year.   In the weeks since their Grand Opening, Bradford has introduced a weekly event that features wineries and importers on alternate Saturdays accompanied by food pairings.  More often than not, that’s been oysters on the half shell.

The “Old Kid on the block” happens to be Marshall Curatolo at Walden Pond Books.  Their forty years on Grand Avenue were recognized last week with a big article in the Montclarion.  Congratulations Marshall!

Another Grand Avenue business that qualifies as an institution is The Alley.  They were Numero Uno in Visit Oakland’s List of Best Dive Bars. Coming in second (just around the corner) was Heart and Dagger Saloon.

Meanwhile, The Star on Grand was featured in this Barbites Article in the Chronicle.

Left Coast Yoga at 3702 Grand has just announced plans for a trunk sale on Saturday, November 16.  Details are on their Facebook page.

The Alchemy Bottle at 3246 Grand has crossed their first milestone – approval of their building permit.  You know the drill: the wait is on and you may keep track on their Facebook page.


Nine Grand Avenue businesses will be providing gallery space through the month of November for select artists.   The First Thursdays art walk from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. typically includes artist’s receptions and refreshments.   Details for each gallery are listed below and latest updates are provided on the First Thursdays on Grand Website.  A printable list of galleries and businesses offering special discounts (when you have your hand stamped at a participating galleryzzzz0 is available HERE.

    • Studio Grand  will continue its show of  Teri Saul paintings from her Water and Bicycle series.  Teri will be present to meet and greet studio visitors from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.  An intimate performance will begin at 9:00 p.m. featuring songwriter Diana Gameros followed by the Patrick Wolff Trio.  More details are available at this link.
    • Jaujou Studio  will continue its show of paintings by  Luis Aguilera who has been participating in the Creative Growth Arts program since 1997.  Treats will be served along with a 15% discount on all merchandise.
    • Better Homes and Gardens will be hosting “Illuminating Moments” – a retrospective exhibit of nature photography by the late Don Hazen – curated by his wife, Mollie. Refreshments will be served.
    • “Lines” – an exhibit of large-format photographs by Shane Gidcumb will debut at Panorama Framing on November 7th.  A preview of the artist’s work is posted on the Panorama web site and they will be hosting a reception for the artist on November 7th and also for the First Thursday in December.
    • Galleria Scola will be featuring new assemblages by gallery owner, Elida Scola.  Music will be provided outside by Harry Best and his steel drums.  Inside, Micah will be pouring your choice of wine or rum and cokes.
    • Rebooty, will be showcasing the incredibly creative lamps made by 4 F Lighting’s Leslie Tilley who will be present during event hours.  Sangria and snacks will be served.
    • Kingman’s Lucky Lounge is currently exhibiting the works of five different artists through Halloween and a new show has not yet been announced. On First Thursdays, Lucky Lounge pours half-price beers, wine and well drinks from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. for art walk participants.
    • Urban Furniture will be exhibiting screen prints by Craig Baxter mostly depicting vintage neon signs here in Oakland. Between 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., meet the artist; partake of refreshments and take advantage of a 15% discount on all merchandise in the store and boutique.
    • The Keegan Luttrell show at Backstock Gallery  has closed and a new show has not, as yet, been announced.


Maurice at the bar at Mezze where he's held court for nearly 14 years.
Maurice at the bar at Mezze

A couple of months ago, I wrote about a Kickstarter campaign for a new restaurant in the Grand Lake area to be called Shakewell Bar and Kitchen.  Until recently, the exact location was under wraps but Maurice Darwish has now confirmed that he has sold Mezze.

For the benefit of newcomers to the neighborhood, Maurice was the Grand Lake, restaurant pioneer.  Long before there was a Camino or Boot and Shoe Service, Mezze introduced high quality ingredients and refined service to an avenue where dining out likely meant The Imperial or Ann’s Cafe.  For nearly fourteen years, he dished out great meals and remained an exemplary member of the Lakeshore Avenue business community.

Maurice says that Mezze’s Last Hurrah will probably come around December 5th which gives us all about five weeks to offer him a fond farewell and thank him for breaking ground for all the new establishments that have followed his lead.  Beginning just before Thanksgiving, look on Mezze’s Facebook page and website for a series of drink and other specials as they winnow down their inventory of foodstuffs, wines and distilled spirits.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Just after publishing this, Maurice and Solange emailed a gracious message I’d like to share.

One of those new establishments will, of course, be Shakewell Bar and Kitchen which will carry on the previous focus on a Mediterranean cuisine but with a larger bar and extensive remodeling. As you may recall from our July newsletter, the co-owners, Jennifer Biesty and Tim Nugent are Top Chef Alumni .  Jennifer in Season Four and Tim in Desserts – Season One. For five years, they worked together respectively as executive chef and executive pastry chef at Scala’s Bistro in San Francisco.

An article yesterday on has more details about their remodeling plans and their menu.

Facade on Lakeshore with a New Coat of Paint

In addition to the impending change in ownership at Mezze, the gorgeous building that houses three other tenants has been a beehive of activity.  The facade has a brand new coat of paint.  Moreover,  the small space that housed Feel Good Fitness for a scant eight months has been re-leased.

When I introduced myself to the new owners late last week, I was quite pleased to hear that it was going to be a retail establishment — one that might actually serve the needs of people like me and the surrounding neighborhoods.  Those hopes were dashed when signs up went up identifying it as an outlet for Five Pawns Signature Vapor Liquid.

With apologies to the property owners who’ve been having problems finding a suitable tenant for this space, this is a step backwards For Lakeshore Avenue and one that, I suspect, is bound to fail in approximately the same time frame as its predecessor.

If you’ve been wondering what’s delaying construction and opening of the Unleashed by Petco outlet in the former Blockbuster Video space, they’re going to include a pet grooming facility which has required additional permits. No word, at this time, when they are expecting to open.

The bedding store next to Silver Lining remains available. Please pass the word to anyone who might be interested — especially, vendors of men’s and women’s walking and/or dress shoes. This was a need that was identified in the GLRAG survey five years ago.

Owner Gary Rizzo continues to upgrade Kwik Way’s exterior.  Months ago, they added a considerable amount of seating under the front canopy which will be in even more demand as cold, wet weather begins to set in.  More recently, they began to jazz up the iconic sign with a new coat of paint covering previously bare metal.  Over half the job is already complete.

As an aside, Gary has a new landlord as does the Bank of America.  Alex Hahn, who hasn’t been a good steward for his properties,  sold both to Ted Dang.   Earlier in the year, he sold the former Serenader property to Eric and Allison Sagauskas, the owners of Heart and Dagger Saloon, which Visit Oakland just named the city’s Second Best Dive Bar.

Speaking of which, Heart and Dagger’s Facebook page alerted me to a Playboy Magazine blog which described a 12 hour visit to Oakland’s high  and low lights.  One of the former was quite naturally, Heart and Dagger Saloon. What caught my attention, however,  was they they mentioned the residential neighborhood at this end of the lake and linked to the Grand Lake Neighbor’s website with last month’s newsletter as the cover story. Trust me: it’s the first and last time I’ll ever be connected to Playboy – no matter how tangentially.

Editors Note: Beginning next month, the Lakeshore and Lake Park news will be reported by Pamela Drake, the Director of the Lakeshore Avenue Business Improvement District.  Pamela’s reporting will join the Grand – West of 580 blog as an independent feature.


This month’s West of 580 blog is about the Lake Merritt Supermarket at 346 Grand Avenue.

Previous West of 580 blogs are archived here.


It’s the end of the season for three farms.  Kashiwase and Lucero will return in May.  Brad Gates from Wild Boar Farms sometime next summer with a brief interlude when the Lilacs are in bloom.   Once the Christmas Tree Lot is up, check with the market’s Information Booth if you can’t find a vendor that’s been temporarily re-located.

Music for November includes:

November 2nd:  Singer/Songwriter Matthew Stewart
November 9th: Keenan Webster from Talking Wood
November 16th: Singer/Songwriter Brian Bergeron
November 23rd: Kris Votruba bluegrass band
November 30th: Flowtilla


Community outreach was one of the goals enunciated for Splash Pad’s 10th Anniversary Celebration and I’m happy to report that Grand Lake Neighbors signed up twenty-nine new members for its Yahoo List Serv and the Splash Pad Landscaping group signed up half a dozen.

A volunteer work day has been scheduled for this Sunday, November 3rd from 9:00 until Noon.  Weather report calls for temperatures in the mid sixties. Before the cold, wet weather hits with a vengeance, we’d like to rid the existing California Native Plant bed of any remaining weeds and also begin expansion of the California Natives into the smallest of the adjacent Dogwood beds.  Please bring gloves and tools, if you have them.  If not, we’ll bring a supply of our own.


The Lion and the Scarecrow

The annual Lakeshore Halloween parade (which is produced  jointly by the Lakeshore Business Improvement District and Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church) was bigger and better than ever.  Attendance was up considerably and there was a noticeable increase in the  number of merchants handing out candy.

The kids and their costumes seem to be getting cuter as well. The scarecrow  got my nod for best home-made costume – particularly since he came paired with the adorable, cowardly lion.  In case you’re wondering, my sources claimed that the Tin Man was dropped off on the way to the parade for a Jiffy oil change and lube job.  As for Dorothy, she was sighted over at Monkey Forest sipping a double latte and nibbling on a gluten-free scone.

By the way, I uploaded forty-five new photos to my Halloween Flickr set and this one of a beautiful butterfly clutching her father’s hand is my personal favorite.

I get thanked a lot for publishing this newsletter and, in general,  am credited for all kinds of things I really didn’t do.  In this case, I want to make it crystal clear that all the credit for revamping the Splash Pad website and the platform I’m using for the newsletter goes to Raul Audelo who worked it on for months while holding down a full-time job and simultaneously meeting his obligations as the father of a very active toddler.  Honestly, I don’t know how he did it – but I’m very thankful that he did.

My end of the bargain is that I have to learn how to use Word Press.  So far, I’m making more progress than I thought possible — but there’s still lots of loose ends I’m not nearly ready to tackle.  One of those conundrums is that every post is attributed to me including the West of 580 Blog.  Please bear with me while we work out the kinks.

By the way, the new formatting in the form of a series of blog posts makes it more conducive than ever to parceling out assignments.  AZ has already been posting the “Grand – West of 580 Blog” for several months.  Beginning in November, Pamela Drake, who is the Director of the Lakeshore Business Improvement District, will assume authorship of the Lakeshore and Lake Park Avenue news.  In the near future, I’m looking for volunteers  willing to maintain a formal neighborhood calendar and also begin in depth reporting on the Farmers Market.

One other advantage of the new website is that it is potentially a thousand times more interactive.  We look forward to your comments about the website and about individual posts.


Every Thursday, 7:30 – 10:00 pm: Jim Grantham’s Jazz Quartet at Monkey Forest Road.

Friday, November 1, 5:00 – 9:00 pm: First Friday Art Murmur

Thursday, November 7, 6:00 – 9:00 pm: First Thursdays on Grand

Thursday, November 14 – Saturday, November 16:  Four performances of “In Red and Brown Water” at Oakland Tech

Thursday, November 28:  Thanksgivukkah

If you have friends or neighbors who may be interested in receiving this newsletter, please forward a link to the newsletter and invite them to subscribe by sending an email to

All newsletters from 2007 to the present are archived HERE.



6 responses to “Newsletter for October 31st”

  1. […] October 2013 Newsletter […]

  2. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you so much for these wonderful newsletters. I have been reading since before you started and you have brought vital and interesting information about the area…BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY..your enthusiasm for this part of the world is catagious. So THANK YOU TO YOU AND TO ALL THE WONDERFUL PEOPLE WHO VOLUNTEER CONSISTENTLY TO KEEP SPLASH PAD PARK THE GREAT PLACE IT IS!!

    1. Ken Katz Avatar

      May I, in turn, thank you for your ongoing support for the park. As I recall, you have a Names in Lights panel in the plaza.

  3. Ken, the Splash Pad Anniversary Celebration overlapped with the East Bay Mini Maker Faire at Park Day School, and I think that affected attendance. My family and I wanted to attend both, but after about four hours at the Maker Faire we just wanted to go home and rest. I was sad to miss the Splash Pad event, but since I had bought Maker Faire tickets in advance I chose to go there first.

  4. Thanks so much for your informative newsletters. I do enjoy finding out about what’s going on with regard to Grand and Lakeshore businesses. I also go to the farmers’ market frequently and have to drive there. We used to park in the (ex)lakeview school lot, but the last couple times I tried, it was closed off. Has it re-opened? If not, can arrangements be made for it to be open? Because parking is so difficult I’ve started going more often to the temescal and montclair markets on sundays even though this one is closer and larger. Thank you for all your efforts promoting this wonderful area of Oakland!

    1. Ken Katz Avatar


      Thank you for your support and also for your thoughtful comment. This subject has actually come up previously in SplashPad/Farmers Market Advisory Committee meetings and should also be part of the negotiations that are taking place between the City and the market management. Oakland Public Schools began chaining off the lot after the school was occupied by protestors. They are willing to re-open it on Saturdays but want to impose a fee for doing so. I’m going to copy your comment and forward it to Jerry Barclay who chairs the Advisory Committee and also to the market managers.