Splash Pad News – September 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: Although we’re not exactly sure what prompted a sudden surge, we are absolutely delighted to welcome several dozen new subscribers this month. A big share of the credit goes to Alex Jacobs, who (along with his wife, Emily Kirsch) are my newest neighbors. Alex emailed us several weeks ago to point out a problem with the “SUBSCRIBE” link at the top of the page. Namely: a black font on a black background, making the link totally useless. Some of the credit also goes to Eve Lurie, who helped build the current WordPress site and continues to come to our rescue whenever we get in a jam.

Banner Days at Lakeside Park
by C. J. Hirschfield

Lakeside Park is Oakland’s Central Park—embodying the heart of the city. The first designated wildlife refuge in America, it contains a small world of many wonders—exotic gardens, a nature center and bird sanctuary, a bandstand, a climbable mid-century sculpture, an art and science center, and the nation’s first storybook theme park. It is a place where all Oaklanders can come to recreate in their own special way—and they do.

On August 6, Lakeside Park unfurled eight whimsical and colorful new banners to celebrate the pride we take in our community jewel. The artist? Someone who has lived in the Lakeshore neighborhood for 20 years, and has been enchanted by Lake Merritt since he was a kid. Michael Wertz grew up in Fremont, and his mom worked at the lakeside Kaiser Building. He would visit her often, as well as nearby Children’s Fairyland. “I was fascinated by the park’s Magic Keys,” he recalls.

The grownup, but still playful, Michael Wertz now serves as assistant chair of the illustration program at the California College of the Arts…


Reflection on the Murder of Darius Brazell
by Pastor Jim Hopkins

Jerry Williams Photo

It is with sadness that I write about another vigil on Mandana Green. In mid-July our neighborhood gathered at the “Know Justice, Know Peace Memorial” after it had been vandalized. We gathered in order to rededicate it, as well as ourselves, to its call for justice.

On August 10th we came together to mourn the murder of Darius Brazell and to recommit ourselves to ending the scourge of gun violence in our city. Darius, a fifty-five-year-old handyman, was sitting at the bus stop across the street from the Chevron station on Saturday evening August 8th when, at 5:56, he was shot and killed. A suspected assailant was seen running from the scene.

The most recent vigil was important for several reasons. Every human life is significant. In theological language each and every one of us is created in the image of God, imbued with breath, love and eternal significance. As such, every death deprives the human family of a valued member.


For Darius Brazell’s Daughters – Give What You Can
by Ken Katz

Katrina Williams Photo

The murder of Darius Brazell on the corner of Lakeshore and Mandana on August 8 was especially poignant for a number of reasons. Like a poke in the eye, it occurred immediately adjacent to the “Know Justice, Know Peace Memorial”and just down the block from homes that display “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” banners. In addition, it occurred in the heart of the Grand Lake neighborhood, which many of us had assumed to be insulated from gun violence. More than anything it was the realization that this tragedy appears to have been totally senseless. A 55 year-old man—law-abiding and hard-working, beloved by an extended family—gunned down for no apparent reason.

Darius Brazell was laid to rest this past Friday and he leaves behind a son and three daughters. The eldest of the daughters, Darianna, recently graduated from high school with plans to attend college, while her younger sisters, Breanna and Arianna, are both into dance. Understandably, they are all having a hard time dealing with the sudden loss of their father. One of Darius’s siblings, Katrina Angel Dixon Williams, who now has custody of the youngest, Breanna, has been attempting to raise $10,000 to create a savings account designated for the future needs of  Breanna and Arianna.


Music as Accompaniment – Our AIM Cooking Class Experience
by Eric Hughes

Rewind to the 1960s when I was a sprout in small-town Northern Indiana. There were two restaurant food choices in town—papa burgers and fries at the A&W Root Beer stand and fried chicken at the “Corner Tavern.” I had no idea what I was missing.

My mom, by the time she got to me—the fourth child —wasn’t a frequent cook, but she did watch “The French Chef” on WTTW-TV from Chicago. So did I. I thought Julia Child was funny, and it seemed an unreachable dream to be able to cook like she did. Saturday morning became a time to look forward to, not only for a neighborhood game of kick-the-can, but to catch Julia Child reruns, and then Jacques Pepin’s “Everyday Cooking.”

Fast forward past college and a couple of jobs to 1982—when the way to a woman’s heart was through her stomach. My new wife and I moved to California where we bought our first VHS video recorder! The first shows blissfully recorded were cooking classes.


EDITOR’S NOTE: The article below is the second in what we hope will be a continuing series about home-cooked meals using at least some homegrown and/or locally sourced products. Please submit your proposals to info@splashpad.org.

Cooking From the Hermark/McCormick Garden – The Real Meal Deal
by Sheila McCormick

Paul Herzmark Photo

We have plenty of raw materials for recipes just outside our door. Fruit trees: apricot, fig, Meyer lemon, nectarine, peach, persimmon, and plum. Vegetables: climbing and bush beans, lettuce, zucchini, yellow squash, acorn squash, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, swiss chard, onions, leeks, cucumbers, bitter melon. Herbs: thyme, cilantro, rosemary, parsley, basil, oregano.

Why no tomatoes?  Last year we had about 18 plants, but they didn’t do well (disease?). This year we traded for them with neighbors. Gotta have tomatoes because for us summer = gazpacho.

This recipe was acquired by my parents in 1967, when they were on a bus tour in Spain. The story goes that they liked it so much they asked the chef for the recipe (probably with some help from the tour guide, since they didn’t speak Spanish).


New on Lakeshore – September Blog
by Kira Pascoe

Outdoor dining is picking up on Lakeshore! The Cat House finished their outdoor corridor and socially distanced outdoor patio (patio seating is first-come-first-served, groups of no more than 6 people per bubble). Enjoy a sweet lineup of food and drinks Thursday–Sunday. Enjoy tamales by Chancho’s tamales on Thursdays and Sundays from 4-9 pm and by Miss Arepita Friday and Saturday 4-9 pm. This is in addition to their cocktails and drinks crafted with house-made syrups and tinctures with fresh and local produce and spices from Oaktown Spice Shop. P.S. If you miss Chancho’s tamales, they are also at Heart and Dagger Saloon on Saturdays from 2-8 pm.


Grand Avenue Business Report
by Ken Katz

A couple of weeks ago, we picked up a delicious brioche loaf and some scrumptious pastries from Wild Rabbit Bakery. During the Covid crisis, they’re only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 am–3 pm and orders have to be placed no later than 3 pm the day before. The order process and online payment were first rate and, if you call when you arrive, your purchase will be brought to the door or out to your car.

Walden Pond Books just announced that they have a new online gift shop where you can order online and pick up curbside.

Alkali Rye, which opened in late July, was the subject of a major article in the San Francisco Chronicle on August 10. The main focus was on the extent to which they aren’t a typical “liquor store” and instead offer a wide variety of beverages including wine, spirits, tea, and coffee. In addition, much of their inventory is produced by Black, Indigenous, People of Color, women, and queer producers!


Splash Pad Park Improvements
by Ken Katz

Under the supervision of Craig Pon, a City of Oakland Capital Improvement Project Coordinator, an almost complete overhaul of the lighting systems at Splash Pad Park was launched yesterday. The initial $35,000 in funding from a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) was facilitated by Councilmember Nikki Fortunao Bas. In order to complete the full scope of work required, Craig was able to access an additional $90,000 from Minor Capital Improvement Project funds.

The work list includes the following:

  1. Remove the heads on the six existing light poles and replace them with LED fixtures that are brighter but use less energy (45 watts vs. 250). The LED lamps are also longer-lasting, which will reduce maintenance costs. The old head being removed is on the right.
  2. Install five additional matching light poles, one of which will be replacing a light pole that was demolished in an accident four years ago. The other four are going to replace the original bollard lights that kept falling over and didn’t provide much in the …


August Grand Lake Neighbors Meeting Minutes

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following information was provided to us by Grand Lake Neighbors Co-chairs David Flack and Eric Hughes. The next meeting via Zoom will be Wednesday, September 16 beginning at 7 pm.

DAVID FLACK: No information about the Darius Brazell homicide was revealed in the meeting. The investigation is in progress, and Captain Bolton was not at liberty to reveal any details that might impede the investigation. He had hoped to be able to say more yesterday, but I got an email from him saying he was still waiting to receive some information. I suspect we will get more information next week. Other topics discussed…

Walker Lot: There is more homeless activity in the lot, and some of that activity is impacting the building next door at 711 Walker. Special Resource Officer Gonzalez is meeting with residents of that building.

The Lake: Councilmember Nikki Bas attended and there was discussion about the vendors, large crowds, and loud music around the lake.


EDITOR’S NOTE: The article below about a water park in New Jersey is well beyond the scope of what we usually cover, but we’re going to justify it as our way of demonstrating just how incredibly safe Children’s Fairyland is by comparison. Also, it’s a great read.

Class Action Park: A Crazy Ride
by C. J. Hirschfield

The huge success of the Tiger King documentary series showed that we love watching a story about a park that is badly run by an eccentric/unsavory person, is dangerous, and ends up being an unqualified train wreck. The new HBO Max documentary Class Action Park may be about a waterpark and not an exotic zoo, but the basic elements are the same, and its death count is much higher. It is a story of greed, corruption, coverups, bankruptcy, the 1980s, and ironically, some really good times as well.

My perspective on the film is unique: I ran the Children’s Fairyland storybook theme park for 17 years, and was one of the founders in 2003 of the California Attractions and Parks Association, a group organized to work with the state’s ride safety oversight regulators. I can honestly say that I watched Class Action Park with a heightened sense of horror, repulsion, and dread. But just like riding a roller coaster, the experience was ultimately positive.


Odds and Ends

How’d you like to help shape the future of traffic and traffic safety on Grand Avenue between Mandela Parkway and MacArthur and maybe also lobby for a free shuttle on Saturdays to and from the Farmers Market? The Grand Avenue Mobility Plan is giving you the perfect opportunity to do so by clicking on THIS LINK.

The Splash Pad News has previously shared Damon Tighe’s incredible photos of living organisms that thrive in Lake Merritt’s waters. He’s the main focus of a fabulous Oaklandside article titled, “What’s lurking beneath Lake Merritt?” that we highly recommend–unless, of course, you don’t like creepy-crawlies.

Last week, we got to wondering why the chain link fencing around the electric vehicle charging stations to the left of the freeway parking lot entrance had been removed. Jonah Eidus from EVgo had the answer, but he began by apologizing for the long delay in completing the installation process. As we’ve reported in the past, the initial delays were caused by PG&E, which needed to run new high power lines underground. Then the contractor working for EVgo hit an underground gasoline storage tank adjacent to Vegan Mob, which the city’s contractor has not yet removed. The onset of the Covid virus has now further complicated matters. According to Jonah, as a net result,



The Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Performance & Poster Launch will be broadcast live on Facebook this Friday from 7-9 pm. For more info or to log in, click on THIS LINK.

Isaac Kos-Read just released the Rotary Club of Oakland’s list of featured speakers for the month of September. If you watched “Last Chance U – Laney College” (reviewed by C.J.Hirschfield in last month’s News), you won’t want to miss John Beam this week. Remember that their weekly Thursday meetings are now all held online and open to the public. Here’s the lineup for this month:

  1. This Thursday, September 3 – John Beam of Laney Football, especially famous given their current Netflix special
  2. Next Thursday, September 10 – Lori Fogarty from OMCA to share the latest on the Oakland Museum of California
  3. Thursday, September 17 – Arabella Martinez, current Port of Oakland Commissioner and long-time Oakland community leader
  4. Thursday, September 24 – Karen Monroe, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools, on how public education is faring in these turbulent times 

Get all the details HERE and you can always connect with Rotary on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

The monthly Grand Lake Neighbors meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 16th beginning at 7 pm. Look for the agenda and the Zoom login info on the GLN Facebook page.