Oakland Blogger Showdown: Living in the O vs. A Better Oakland

30 Jun

OK, so the title of this post might be a bit misleading. V Smoothe and I won’t be duking it out in the Thunderdome or anything like that. But we are two of the three finalists for the Best of the East Bay best blogger award.

I hadn’t realized this previously, but East Bay Express is holding another round of voting, where the top vote winners for each category are facing off. For the blogger award, it’s Living in the O vs. A Better Oakland vs. Inhuman Eating Machine. I’m not going to ask you to vote for me, but please do vote for either me or ABO – it’d be a shame if an Oakland blogger didn’t win.

More importantly though, there are lots of Oakland businesses, artists, and community members that have made it to this final round of voting, and you should vote for them too. Here are my suggestions some with links to previous posts on these places, people, and events:

  • Best Artsy Cafe/Best Cafe: Awaken Cafe
  • Best Band: Damon and the Heathens (You can find my reasoning in my last post about voting.)
  • Best Club: Uptown
  • Best Performer/Singer/Musician: Kev Choice (Yeah, he’s up for practically every musical category and deserves to win several awards. Did you catch his set at Uptown Unveiled? It was incredible.)
  • Best Festival: Temescal Street Fair
  • Best Local Book: Bryant Terry, Vegan Soul Kitchen (Help stop Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food from winning. I love Pollan, but that was by far his worst book. It was written in a hurry and didn’t really say much. Terry’s book, on the other hand, braves new territory.)
  • Best New Culture Scene: Uptown Oakland
  • Best East Bay Product/Best Place to Buy a T-Shirt: Oaklandish
  • Best Farmer’s Market: Temescal (I know many won’t agree with me on this one, but I’m loyal to my local market.)
  • Best Salvage Store: East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse
  • Best City Employee: Jason Patton (Jason is one half of the City of Oakland’s bicyle and pedestrian team, the other half being Jennifer Stanley. Also, he’s up against Ron Dellums and a bunch of other elected officials.)
  • Best Community Organizer: V Smoothe (OK, so V Smoothe is not even her real name, but let that slide and show that blogging and community organizing can go hand and hand.)
  • Best Rising Political Figure: Sean Sullivan (I’m sticking with my initial choice, even though he’s up against Rebecca Kaplan and Van Jones. Why? Kaplan and Jones have risen already and are staying put for a while, while Sullivan is still moving up.)
  • Best New Restaurant: Sidebar (See why in my initial review when they first opened.)

That’s it for my recommendations. Share yours in the comments below. Voting closes on July 6th so take a few minutes to cast your ballot now.

21 Responses to “Oakland Blogger Showdown: Living in the O vs. A Better Oakland”

  1. Chris Kidd June 30, 2009 at 9:19 am #

    No Thunderdome?? Really?

    I know where the next blogoaksphere cocktail party should be….

  2. Caramida June 30, 2009 at 10:38 am #

    Recommendations? I can do that.

    Best Game Store: Endgame


    Best Place to Play Boardgames: (you might have guessed) Endgame

  3. Kevin Cook June 30, 2009 at 12:08 pm #

    I have it from solid sources that Ghost Town Gallery would rather not win that award.

    And Becks, The Temescal Farmers Market? Really? It’s second tier at best.

    • Becks June 30, 2009 at 12:28 pm #

      Hmm, I could see why they wouldn’t – I’ll go ahead and remove them from my list.

      As for the Temescal Farmers Market – my comment about some people not agreeing with me was aimed at you Kevin. And I cannot disagree that the Berkeley Saturday and Tuesday markets have a much better selection, but the award is not for best selection at a farmers market – it’s for the best market.

      Selection is not all that I value. I rlike the size of the Temescal market because it’s been easy for me to get to know all the people who work there and to get to know their produce extremely well. I also tend to run into a lot of people I know at the market, which I appreciate.

      It’s also invaluable for me to be able to walk to a market (but also to be able to take the bus back if I get lots of produce, as I did this past Sunday).

      I understand why you would choose other markets over Temescal, but like I said, I’m staying loyal to my local market.

  4. Colin June 30, 2009 at 12:12 pm #

    Inhuman Eating Machine is from Oakland as well.

    Just sayin’.

    • Becks June 30, 2009 at 12:33 pm #

      I glanced at the blog the other day (I hadn’t previously heard of it) and didn’t notice that he was from Oakland because I couldn’t really make it through the posts – they’re just too long. It looks like an interesting blog, but I prefer blog posts to be much, much shorter.

  5. Kevin Cook June 30, 2009 at 12:49 pm #


    I hear ya, the best market for most people is the one nearest their house. I pretty much can’t bear most of the clientele at the Berkeley markets, but the selection and quality there still gets me to ride my bike past the Grand Lake market every Saturday in order to brave the Berkeley crowds. The category should really be broken down into several subcategories:

    Best produce
    Least obnoxious crowds
    most attractive young vendors
    least annoying buskers

    • Becks June 30, 2009 at 12:54 pm #

      Yeah, I like those categories. Just curious though, since you frequent many markets, which one should win the “most attractive young vendors” award?

  6. das88 June 30, 2009 at 1:27 pm #


    I just don’t get it on the political front, I’m agree with you on most everything. Food-wise, though, it is all mixed-up.

    For best new restaurant, voting for SideBar above Flora and Camino seems wild and fantastical. I realize Awaken is all cool and hip, but the big problem is that their coffee sucks.

    I have to say the big thing about the survey that almost had me quitting in disgust was seeing Uhuru nominated for best furniture store.

    • Becks June 30, 2009 at 1:37 pm #

      Flora’s not new! Also, for vegetarians like me, it totally sucks. I’ve entirely stopped eating there and only go in for cocktails, though that’s difficult, since it’s so damn crowded. I’ve yet to try Camno, but I *love* Sidebar.

      Awaken’s coffee sucks? I’ve never, ever heard someone claim that. I actually don’t drink much coffee (I go there for the chai and vegan donuts), but my friends who do drink coffee say it is some of the best you can find in Oakland. I don’t like Awaken because it’s “hip and cool”. I like their vision for a community space, which unfortunately has not yet been completely realized, and their focus on sustainability. I also like it for the same reason I like the Temescal Farmers Market – I’ve gotten to know the staff well and often run into people I know there.

      • das88 June 30, 2009 at 1:54 pm #

        ok, I’ll agree with you on Flora not being new. I also agree that Vegan Soul Kitchen is fantastic (I sent my veggy-sister-in-law a copy).

        I like going to SideBar. Menu is good, room is nice, they take their cocktails seriously. The food, though, just disappoints. In fact, the only bigger disappointment in over-hyped new restaurants is Barlata.

        Still, I digress. What we really need to be discussing is coffee. Awaken is similar to Brown Sugar Kitchen and a host of other places in the belief that a French press somehow magically creates a wonderful cup of coffee. In reality, a French press imposes a larger burden on the coffee maker in terms of grind, water temperature, and pressing. Awaken lacks the skills and brews up a cup of sludge. Ironically, Flora does a really nice French Press.

        The best cup of joe, though, in the DTO is a block away at Crema.

        • Becks June 30, 2009 at 1:59 pm #

          You think Barlata is over hyped?! Wow – I don’t think we’ll ever be able to have a meal together, as our tastes are apparently exactly opposite. The food at Barlata is delicious and very reasonably priced. I’ve also been very happy with the wine, and I finally had a couple of their desserts last time I went and was blown away.

          I really can’t fight you on the coffee, as I’m not a big coffee drinker and am not super picky. I can understand where you’re coming from though, since I’m just as picky when it comes to tea. I like the coffee at Crema and used to go there frequently before Awaken opened.

        • erocking June 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm #

          Barlata has the most authentic Spanish-style tapas I’ve had in the Bay Area. Braised ox tail, cured white anchovies, stuffed squid in ink, etc. And they have cava! Reminds me a lot of long lunches in Madrid. I highly recommend this place.

    • Chris Kidd June 30, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

      I voted “anyone but Uhuru”

  7. Crimson June 30, 2009 at 1:42 pm #

    “Help stop Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food from winning. I love Pollan, but that was by far his worst book.”

    Michael Pollan used to be rad. But now he has become the very thing he rails against: an intellectual monoculture, churning out the same thing over and over for mass consumption.

    I’m pretty proud of that little observation.

  8. Sean Sullivan June 30, 2009 at 2:34 pm #

    Hey thanks for the shout out! I think voting for V Smoothe as the best community organizer is the best solomonic way of handling this dilemma. In the mean time vote for ME!

    Sean Sullivan

  9. artemis June 30, 2009 at 2:39 pm #

    I’m with you on the Temescal market! We actually live much closer to Grand Lake (walkable, whereas Temescal would be a stretch at two miles) but still bike to Temescal most weeks. I just like the vibe there better, and love running into lots of friends there (which oddly rarely happens at Grand Lake, even though we have plenty of friends who shop there regularly too). Blue Bottle and the proximity to Hardy Dog Park seal the deal.

    Also—not only is Flora not new, but it won best new restaurant (and best cocktails) in *last* year’s EB Express Readers’ Poll!

  10. Karen Hester June 30, 2009 at 8:20 pm #

    Becks you are so right about the Temescal market as it’s hard to find organic produce like they have at the Pinnacle stand–HUGE heads of lettuce for $1 and I’m oh so partial to the lovely woman who sells her homemade pot pies. I always know lots of friends there and the vibe is great. Just wish more folks would walk and bike as opposed to having to have the huge parking lot for cars.

    And thanks for the plug re: Temescal Street Fair. I have no objectivity on that one since I’ve been organizing it for its 6 years but we do try and make it a community organizing event as well as just a good comfortable time for the neighbors and their kids.

    Also, glad to see Burma Superstar nomintaed for best Thai/Burmese food. I still adore Nan Yang on College but Burma is so very fresh to have right in the heart of the Temescal. I have gone there at least once a week since they opened and feel like it has me in its cult-like grasp.

    And choosing between you and V Smoothie–well I had to just flip a coin…

    • Becks June 30, 2009 at 8:24 pm #

      I sadly have not made it to Burma Superstar yet. I tried to go a couple weeks after they opened, but there were about 20 people waiting outside to get in so I went to Barlata instead. I’ll have to make it over there sometime soon.

  11. Coolhand Luke June 30, 2009 at 8:40 pm #

    Congrats Becks and V on the run off! Ima try to give yall a run for your money next year, lol.

    Im glad you are giving Kev Choice some shine. I’ve been talking him up a lot on 38thNotes but I want word to travel faster!! Check out this link to download his latest mixtape “The Bailout.” http://www.38thnotes.com/2009/04/why-bay-needs-to-support-kev-choice.html

    Also all this talk about The Temescal reminds me that it is featured in the July 2009 issue of Sunset magazine! It was sparked an interesting debate on development vs gentrification over at http://www.38thNotes.com. Might want to check it out.

    But again, congrats Becks!

  12. Noah July 5, 2009 at 11:39 am #

    Awaken has simply the best iced coffee I’ve ever had. And I’ve tried a lot of different iced coffees. I also don’t think it’s even that hip. I just like the atmosphere.

    Oh, and Becks, let me know if you want me to do an attack ad against A Better Oakland to help you win the election! I heard V Smoothe pals around with terrorists!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: