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A cheap, car-free New Year’s Eve in downtown Oakland

30 Dec

New Year’s Eve has never been one of my favorite nights to go out. Clubs and events are absurdly overpriced. Everywhere is at least twice as crowded as usual. It’s close to impossible to catch a cab. So many years I stay home or do something low-key with some friends.

But this year my wife and I decided we wanted to go out and when I found out that the Free Broadway Shuttle would be running its usual Saturday night schedule of 6pm-1am, I realized we could bar hop around downtown Oakland. Getting around will be super easy (and free), and if any of the places we go to are too crowded, we can move on.

I researched free or cheap bars and clubs in downtown and put together this list, which I figured I’d share here. Continue reading

Celebrate Plaid Friday – support local, independent Oakland businesses

24 Nov

Things have been pretty heated in Oakland for the last month. Many Oaklanders who have worked together in the past (some for many years) are now debating each other about Occupy Oakland. Some Oaklanders love it, others hate it, and others love the idea but have been turned off by recent actions. I’ve seen and been part of many heated debates online and in person about the effects of Occupy Oakland on our city.

Last week, I got into a particularly heated debate with a close friend of mine on Twitter that quickly devolved since there’s very little room for nuance or explanation in 140 characters. I left the conversation feeling very angry (and I’m sure he did too). Later that day I picked up the phone and called him, and I’m so glad I did. It turned out that though we had been talking past each other on Twitter, we actually agreed on quite a bit and respected each other’s perspectives.

I hope others are doing the same – having real conversations with each other about Occupy Oakland and what it means. We need to remember that after this phase of Occupy Oakland is finished, just like after elections when we might disagree, we all have to work together again. The problems in our city are not going away, and we can address them so much more effectively if we work together.

So on this Thanksgiving, I hope Oaklanders will come together and support each other. One easy way to do that is to shop locally on this Plaid Friday and this weekend. Continue reading

Occupy Oakland: Hours have no reverse motion

9 Nov

Last Thursday morning, the day after the general strike, I was overflowing with emotion. I reflected on the general strike and was so proud to see so many people in our city come together for what turned out to be a mostly festive and empowering day. I was incredibly angry at the small group of people who took advantage of the situation at night and vandalized many small businesses. Even more so, I was sad that these businesses had to deal with the damage, which they so clearly did not deserve. And I was confused because I knew a couple of the people who had been arrested, and I was certain that they had not vandalized any businesses nor attacked police officers.

Often at times like this, I look backward and wonder what could have happened differently. Could the vandalism have been prevented if police showed up earlier, when the Traveler’s Aid Society was first taken over? Would the confrontation have been less violent if more peaceful people like me had stuck around until late in the night? Would any of this ever had happened if we had a different mayor or if Jean Quan had made different decisions a few weeks ago? Continue reading

Check out the Temescal Street Fair & Oaklandish County Fair this Sunday

8 Jul

I’ve been going to the Temescal Street Fair for years so I was super bummed when I had plans for the date it had been scheduled for in June. Lucky for me (but not so lucky for the event organizers), it was rescheduled due to the rain for this Sunday, July 10. (You’d think it would be safe to schedule an outdoor event in June, but with the crazy weather this year, I guess not.)

I’m a big fan of street fairs and festivals. I love seeing normally car-jammed streets filled with pedestrians. I love having so many different food vendors and other small business vendors crammed together and so convenient. I love running into Oaklanders from the neighborhood and beyond.

The Temescal Street Fair is special to me though because for five years it was my neighborhood street fair and had to substitute for my neighborhood block party, since living on Telegraph, it’s not so easy to set up a block party.

This year, the fair has a similar structure to past year’s events, except for one awesome addition – the Oaklandish County Fair. But this isn’t your regular county fair. Instead of farm animals and pie eating contests, they’ll have pop-up soccer, bike dances, wrestling, a photo booth, and much more. Continue reading

Oakland showcased at Obama fundraiser rally last night

21 Apr

Last night, along with 3000 other people, I went to San Francisco to watch President Obama speak. I have to admit that I’ve been feeling pretty down on Obama’s presidency recently, particularly after spending this past weekend in San Diego with a friend of mine who’s a federal public defender. She deals with a lot of immigration cases and says Obama has been worse on immigration than Bush, which is pretty scary. She said she plans to vote for Obama again but is not excited about it.

I had her stories in the back of my mind as I reached the Masonic Auditorium last night, but even just as I arrived, the energy of the crowd infected me. I couldn’t help but feel a bit more optimistic.

My optimism grew throughout the night, particularly as Oakland was showcased at this San Francisco event. Peggy Moore, California Political Director for Organizing for America, and a longtime Oakland LGBT activist, opened up the night with a rousing speech, which had everyone in the crowd shouting “I’m in” by the end of it. Continue reading

Andy Read: Support Oakland Public Music & Get Free Symphony Tickets!

7 Apr

This guest post was written by Andy Read, the Managing Broker of Caldecott Properties who was a founding partner when Caldecott Properties began in 2005. He manages a team of 30 licensed sales associates and has brokered $170MM+ in sales and 250+ rental transactions for Caldecott. Andy was born in Berkeley, raised in Orinda, and is a graduate of U.C. Davis with B.A. degrees in Sociology-Economic Organizations and Philosophy. Andy donates a portion of each of his sales transactions to Berkeley’s East Bay Humane Society, the East Bay’s only no-kill animal shelter.

The Business in the Arts Networking Circle (BANC) is a network of local businesses that have joined together with the Oakland East Bay Symphony to promote a lively arts environment and support vital public music education programs.

Caldecott Properties and BANC are proud to support Oakland East Bay Symphony’s Music for Excellence Program. Music for Excellence’s In-School Mentor Program and After-School Program bring music education and enrichment to nearly 2,200 young people in 19 of Oakland’s public schools, providing students in grades 4 – 12 with continuous, sequential instrumental music instruction tuition free. Continue reading

Oakland Standard Launch Party – another fun late night at the museum

3 Feb

When the Oakland Museum reopened last May, I loved that they threw a weekend long party that went straight through Saturday night. There’s something kind of magical about being at a museum past midnight. Missed out? Not to worry – tomorrow (Friday) night, they’re holding another late night event – the Oakland Standard Launch Party.

The evening will start out with tag team talks by Oakland artists and writers, like Novella Carpenter the West Oakland farmer who’s blog – Ghost Town Farm – you should really be reading, and Walter Kitundo, inventor of the phonoharp. That will be followed by a performance by the Turf Feinz, super talented Oakland turf dancers who’s YouTube videos you’ve likely seen. If not, here’s their most famous video:

And from 10pm-1pm the party will turn into a dance party, with music by DJ Mia Moretti.

Sounds like fun, huh? Entrance is free, so there’s no reason not to at least stop by to check it out. Plus, the East Bay Bicycle Coalition will be providing valet bike parking.

And if you’re wondering what the Oakland Standard is, you’re not alone. Even after reading the description on OMCA’s website I didn’t quite get it. The Bay Citizen interviewed curator Rene de Guzman about it, and the interview explains not only what it is but why OMCA is doing it. I highly recommend reading the interview if you’re interested.

See you at the museum tomorrow night!

Disco Volante opens for dinner this Wednesday!

1 Feb

If you went to the blogger party a month ago, you know how awesome Disco Volante is. And if you missed the party, chances are you’ve heard about what you missed out on and wished you could drop by Disco Volante another night but couldn’t because they were only open for lunch. Well, this is your chance to finally check it out or stop back in, as Disco Volante opens for dinner this Wednesday night.

Disco Volante is in an incredibly beautiful building on the corner of 14th and Webster, and the owners have done a great job renovating it. Their vision includes more than a restaurant – several nights a week they plan to feature jazz bands and other live music. If Alt Tal, the band that played at the blogoaksphere party, is any indication of what’s to come, we should all be very excited because they were very talented and the perfect accompaniment to the night. And they’ll be playing again at Disco Volante on February 25th.

But don’t worry – the focus on atmosphere and music does not detract from the food. Everything I’ve eaten there has been delicious. I absolutely love the avocado tacos – the perfect small plate to accompany a cocktail, and Disco Volante serves up some very tasty cocktails. For the blogger party, they came up with this special menu:

I somehow managed to make it through the night without tasting a Living in the OJ, probably because I quickly got hooked on Dirty Eighth Notes. My guess is that their regular cocktail menu is not quite as entertaining but is equally delicious.

Here are some photos from the blogger party to give you a taste of Disco Volante’s style. First, a couple taken by Jimmy Kwong of the beautiful stained glass and the band from above:

And some photos taken by Genie Gratto of Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan and AC Trasit Director Elsa Ortiz, and of the bar:

For more photos of the blogger party, check out Genie’s Flickr collection.

Stop into Disco Volante soon for dinner or drinks and to enjoy some music. Starting tomorrow night they’ll be open until midnight Monday-Wednesday and until 1:30am Thursday-Saturday. Soon entertainment will be listed on their website, but until then, they update their Facebook page frequently.

I’ve known a couple of the owners for a while and am so excited about what they’ve done with this place so I’ll definitely drop in soon, and I’m sure I’ll be adding Disco Volante to my regular bar/late night restaurant rotation.

June 21-27 Oakland Political & Community Events

21 Jun

Tuesday, June 22nd – TRANSFORUM: Problems & Solutions for Public Transportation in the Bay Area

TransForm’s next TransForum will look at the harsh realities transit agencies currently face across the Bay Area and discuss potential solutions. Speakers include Carolyn Clevenger (the project manager for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Transit Sustainability Project), Lewis Clinton (AC Transit’s CFO), Stuart Cohen (TransForm’s executive director), and Carli Paine (TransForm’s transportation program director). Joel Young, a member of AC Transit’s Board of Directors, will moderate a lively discussion and Q&A session. The TransForum will run from 6:00-7:30pm (with time for networking after) at AC Transit’s headquarters, 1600 Franklin Street. Drinks and snacks will be served. TransForums are free for TransForm members and $5 for non-members. RSVP at TransForm’s website.

CANCELED – Wednesday, June 23rd – Zoning Update Committee Meeting

At this meeting, the ZUC will review the proposed zoning text and maps, as part of the Citywide Zoning Update. The agenda includes consideration of changing the zoning to the commercial and residential areas of the neighborhoods in West Oakland, North Oakland, and the North Hills. To read the staff report and to see the maps of the proposed zoning, please visit the ZUC’s website, and look at the “Upcoming Meetings” table. This meeting takes place at 4pm at City Hall, Hearing Room 1, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Wednesday, June 23rd – Oakland Boosters & Bloggers for Libby Party

If you know Libby Schaaf, you know Libby loves Oakland! Join her fellow Oakland boosters, including some stars of Oakland’s growing blogosphere, to help out Libby’s campaign for City Council, District 4 Oaktown-style – with some great art, music, locavore cocktails, and the beautiful diversity of people that makes us love our Town. Hosted by Becks, dto510, Vsmoothe, Zennie62, Ratna Amin, Amanda Brown-Stevens, Annie Campbell Washington, Justin Horner, Doug Johnson, Adam Van De Water, and other bloggers and boosters to be named. The party takes place from 5:30pm – 7:30pm at Era Art Bar & Lounge, 19 Grand Avenue. Big Booster Host Committee: $100 / Guests: $35. To join the host committee, email For more information and to RSVP, visit Libby’s website. (Disclosure: I am working for Libby’s campaign.)

Wednesday, June 23rd – AC Transit Board Meeting

At this week’s meeting, among other items, the AC Transit Board will be voting on BRT (sans Berkeley) and discussing the agency’s fiscal emergency. This meeting will take place at 6pm in the 2nd floor board room, 1600 Franklin Street. You can read the agenda and see the relevant memos here and you can listen online here.

Thursday, June 24th – California Young Democrats Black Caucus Bay Area Kick Off

You are cordially invited to join East Bay Young Dems and the California Young Dems Black Caucus for the Bay Area leg of their kick off tour on Thursday June 24th. It will be a perfect opportunity to not only meet the members of the Caucus, but connect with many young and emerging leaders as well as seasoned community advocates from around the Bay Area and beyond. This event takes place from 7pm – 9pm at AIR Lounge, 492 9th Street (at Washington). RSVP and find more info on Facebook.

Thursday, June 24th – Temescal Street Cinema

The Third Annual Temescal Street Cinema returns to 49th and Telegraph (Bank of the West Building) this summer for another year of great, free, locally made films! There’ll be live music and free popcorn at every show, with events getting started at 8 PM every Thursday from June 11-July 16. Movies will start when it gets dark, no sooner than 8:30 PM. Come early or bring a chair! This week features Etienne!, in which a young man in San Francisco learns that his hamster will soon die and decides to take the beloved pet on a last road trip. This quirky and deadpan comedy for the whole family mines several veins of unexpected poignancy as the two meet a rich cast of characters on their travels. Find out more details at the Temescal Street Cinema website.

Sunday, June 27th – Oaklavia: Come Play in the Streets

Walk Oakland Bike Oakland is hosting Oaklavía, which will shut down streets to cars and open them up to pedestrians and bicyclists, allowing residents to experience the city’s best natural and architectural assets, outdoor activities, and arts in some of our most well-loved and unique streets and neighborhoods. There will be organized activities spaced out along the route. Explore the vibrancy of Old Oakland dancing to live Latin music, and enjoy the urban landscape of West Oakland with circus arts at Kinetic Arts Center. You’ll also find dance classes provided by the YMCA, bike repair classes by Love Your Bike, bike safety classes led by the East Bay Bicycle Coalition and food carts. This event will take place from 10am-2pm from Broadway and Grand to 7th Street and Market. For more info, including route details and activity information, visit the Oaklavia website.

June 14-20 Oakland Political & Community Events

14 Jun

Monday, June 14th – Oakland Community Budget Forum

Even after drastic cuts, layoffs and furloughs, we still face a $31.5 million deficit for FY 2010-2011. How we solve it will shape arts & culture, recreation, senior and youth services and public safety for years to come. Hear the options from City Councilmembers and the City Administrator and give your input. The forum will take place from 7-9pm at Eastmont Substation, 2651 73rd Avenue.

Tuesday, June 15th – Oakland City Council Meeting

At this week’s meeting, the Council will be discussing several taxes and fees, vacating part of Peralta Street and giving it to the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency, Measure Y, issuing layoff notices to 200 police officers, sewers, billboards, and more. See the full meeting agenda and check out my post about how to watch and understand City Council meetings if you need some guidance on how or where to view the meeting. The non-ceremonial parts of the meeting start at 6:30pm in the Council Chambers in City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Wednesday, June 16th – Happy Hour Fundraiser for Rebecca Kaplan

Please join Rebecca Kaplan and supporters at Somar Bar for drinks to celebrate the work of her Exploratory Committee for Oakland Mayor. This is an opportunity to talk to Rebecca about her vision for Oakland and to learn about how you can get involved. The event takes place from 5:30-7pm at Somar Bar, 1727 Telegraph Ave. RSVP at Rebecca Kaplan’s website.

Wednesday, June 16th – Oakland Rising’s Young Progressives Party

Oakland Rising educates and mobilizes voters in the flatlands to speak up for and take charge of the issues impacting their lives. Oakland Rising is teaming up with Oakland’s Young Progressives to usher in a new era of political power that is committed to building an Oakland for everyone. Oakland has a long history of progressive activism and, like you, we want to see our legacy grow. We have an amazing group of young progressive leaders who are proud to serve as a Co-Hosts for Oakland Rising’s first Young Progressives Party and we want you to join us and Oakland Rising as part of a new vanguard of progressive leadership ready to lift Oakland to new heights. The event takes place from 5:30-8pm at The Den, Telegraph at 19th Street. Suggested Donation: $25-250. No one turned away for lack of funds! Find more info at Oakland Rising’s website.

Thursday, June 17th Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting

Oakland’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meets monthly to discuss bicycle and pedestrian issues. This month the BPAC will discuss MacArthur BART Bicycle/Pedestrian Access and High-Capacity Bike Parking, Bicycle-Friendly Communities, MacArthur Blvd Bikeway, High St-Midvale Ave, Design Review, and Fruitvale Pedestrian Wayfinding Signs. The BPAC is extremely inclusive – any Oakland resident who attends three consecutive meetings becomes a voting member of the committee – so if you’re interested in bike and ped issues, you should consider attending. The BPAC will be meeting from 5:30-7:30pm in Hearing Room 4 of City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Thursday, June 17th – Temescal Street Cinema Opening Night

The Third Annual Temescal Street Cinema returns to 49th and Telegraph (Bank of the West Building) this summer for another year of great, free, locally made films! There’ll be live music and free popcorn at every show, with events getting started at 8 PM every Thursday from June 11-July 16. Movies will start when it gets dark, no sooner than 8:30 PM. Come early or bring a chair! Opening night will feature Pelada, in which former U.S. college stars looking for a soccer fix travel the world to play in pickup games ranging from converted landfill tournaments in Africa to rooftop Japanese club games. Find out more details at the Temescal Street Cinema website.

Saturday, June 19th – Make Oakland Better Now! Budget Strategy Meeting

If you are a Make Oakland Better Now! Facebook member, you already know the City Council is talking seriously about eliminating 200 Oakland Police Officers in order to balance Oakland’s budget. And if you are a member of Make Oakland Better Now!, you already know our response is going to be “absolutely no way!” There has to be another way. Work with Make Oakland Better Now! to formulate a practical, achievable alternative we can present to City Council. The meeting takes place from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at Rockridge Public Library, 5366 College Avenue. Find more info at the group’s website.