Tag Archives: Parkway Speakeasy Theater

The Blogoaksphere in 2009: The Biggest Stories

2 Jan

You’re probably wondering what happened to the three-part series I promised about the blogoaksphere in 2009. Well, I was initially hoping to get this post up on the 31st, but it turned out to be a much bigger project than I had realized. There were hundreds of blog posts to pour through and many of the big stories of 2009 were heavy and filled with emotion. I pushed on and finally finished the post yesterday evening, but when I hit publish, I received an error message and my many hours of work over several days disappeared. I have no idea how this happened because WordPress automatically saves drafts as you write, and I’ve never lost more than 10 minutes of work in the past.

Unfortunately, there’s no way I’m going to be able to recreate that post. It took an immense amount of energy and time to write, and I just am not up to doing all that research and writing again.

But I’m not looking for sympathy here; I’m looking for help. Something that happened this past year, which I had not seen as much in previous years, is that big stories emerged in the blogoaksphere. In some cases, a couple bloggers would pick up the story and then many more would join in (like the Uptown parking lot fight), and in others, everyone jumped in at once (like the shooting of four Oakland police officers). What amazed me is how many different perspectives were shared on issues and how much these perspectives filled in the gaps of reporting in the mainstream media.

Here is the list of what I thought were the biggest blogoaksphere stories of 2009.

  • Riots in response to the killing of Oscar Grant (January)
  • The Oakland Airport Connector boondoggle (February-December)
  • Tragic shooting of four Oakland police officers (March)
  • Stopping the Uptown parking lot (March-May)
  • The abrupt closure of the Parkway (March, ongoing)
  • The parking rebellion & its aftermath (June, ongoing)
  • New restaurants opening & thriving throughout Oakland (Yearlong)

Since I’m not going to be able to fill in the dozens of links and excerpts that I originally compiled, I’m asking you for some help. You’re a blog reader and probably remember some posts written about these stories. Post links, excerpts, or just thoughts on these stories (or other stories) in the comments below. If you’re a blogger, feel free to post links to your own blog posts about these stories.

I’ll get this started by posting an excerpt to one of my favorite blog posts of the year, “Thoughts on a fractured city” at City Homestead, which reflected on the killing of Oscar Grants and the riots that ensued in downtown Oakland:

The shooting and its aftermath disturb me deeply on so many levels. There are countless layers to it: fear in its many forms, anger, prejudices and quick judgments, weighty decisions with life-altering consequences. We may never know exactly what was going through that officer’s mind in those early morning hours. Although the many videos make it clear to me that there was no need to fire, those of us watching on YouTube have the benefit of hindsight. We’re not standing inside that scene, weighing our options, uncertain. That’s not to say the officer is any less accountable for his actions, as we each live our lives by the decisions we make in the instant. It’s only to say that we may never know what emotions ran through his mind as he made that choice or in the moments afterwards.

I never expected what followed, though. The protests and vigils made sense, of course: BART’s leadership was remiss in their initial response to this tragedy, I think, and in the months to come, the agency will probably dissect these days one by one, trying to determine what might have been done differently. And given that the shooting happened in Oakland and BART’s headquarters are here, it was only logical that gatherings should be here as well. But the riots stunned me. How can the destruction of our neighborhoods possibly further the cause in any way? What’s worse is that the riots do not even seem to have been wholly Oakland-grown—many of the media reports and images profile young people from San Francisco and Berkeley and places farther afield attacking OPD cruisers, torching dumpsters, smashing windows. “I feel like Oakland should make some noise,” one protester from San Francisco told a reporter. “This is how we need to fight back.” And of the Oaklander whose small business had just had its windows smashed: “She should be glad she just lost her business and not her life.” This is the way to fight back? Is the killing of a young black male truly avenged by the destruction of black-owned businesses—and in someone else’s city, no less?

She continues, reflecting on all the positive things that Oakland has to offer and ending by explaining why we continue to live here:

To the world: we are not trapped here in this city; we have chosen to be here. We are here not because it is the only place we can afford living, but because it is the only place we can imagine living. I believe in this city, in its vast potential and its vibrant communities—and I love it, with all its imperfections. As a community, we will work through the anger and the violence, unearthing the very roots of it. Then, together, we will rebuild trust across the city and create from the fragments a single unified community. There’s a long road ahead, but I have faith that it is one that the people of this city will travel together.

It is Oakland, after all.

Exactly. So please join in below and share some of your favorite posts of the year on these big stories, be they inspiring, funny, informative, or simply enjoyable. It would be a huge New Years gift to me and would help me forgive WordPress for eating all of my work.

March 23-29 Oakland Political & Community Events

22 Mar

Monday, March 23rd – East Bay Young Dems Monthly Meeting

Join the East Bay Young Dems for an in depth discussion about the California Democratic Convention and to endorse key races that directly impact young people: California Democratic Party (CDP) Controller and California Young Democrats (CYD) President. Candidates for CDP Controller were invited to make brief presentations to the membership at the 3/23 meeting. All four candidates received a questionnaire, and you can see their responses to the questionnaire on EBYD’s website. EBYD will send an announcement and link once they are loaded to the web. This meeting will be held from 6:30-7:45 pm at the Greenlining Institute, 1918 University Avenue, Berkeley. For more info and to RSVP, check out the Facebook page.

Tuesday, March 24th – Vigil for the Oakland Police Officers Shot & Killed this Weekend

The City of Oakland is organizing a vigil on Tuesday night for the Oakland police officers who were shot and killed this weekend. From the press release: “After yesterday’s tragic events, the Oakland City Council and Mayor Ron Dellums
believe this is a time when everyone in Oakland needs to come together to support the families of the officers who were shot and all our police officers. Our police officers protect us everyday, putting their lives on the line for us. In this horrendous moment, the City Council and Mayor Dellums stand in complete solidarity with the Oakland Police Force. We are working with them to provide all of the assistance we can. As Chief Jordan has said, the Oakland Police Force is out in force on the streets of Oakland protecting us, doing their job today and everyday. It is a time for all of us in Oakland to express our support for our men and women in uniform.” The vigil will be held at 6pm at the site of the shootings at 74th Avenue and MacArthur. There will also be a condolence book at City Hall Monday, March 23, in the main lobby, from 10:30 am to 6:00 pm for community members to share their thoughts.

Tuesday, March 24th – Walk Oakland Bike Oakland Monthly Meeting

Last month WOBO volunteers brainstormed and picked our next pedestrian campaigns. This month we will focus on the next steps – what it’s gonna take to turn our ideas into a reality: campaign planning, outreach messaging and upcoming volunteer opportunities including Bike to Work Day. Come out and show your Oakland bike/ped love! (and bring yo’ friends!) And did we mention free food…? This meeting will be held from 6:30-8:30 pm at Bay Area Wilderness Training, 2301 Broadway, Suite B – enter on 23rd Street. For more info, visit WOBO’s website.

Tuesday, March 24th – Charter School Debate

Last month, Oakland Unified School Board Director Chris Dobbins attempted to organize a debate about charter schools but got a lot of pushback fromt the community so it was canceled. He was commited to holding the debate though so it’s back on for this Tuesday. Charter schools are a hot topic in Oakland, and this debate will be a face off between pponents and advocates of charter schools. Arguing that charter schools are part of a new Jim Crow system of education that forces an increasing number of black and Latino students into separate, inferior schools will be Ms. Shanta Driver, National Chairperson of BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), Ms. Yvette Felarca, Teacher, Berkeley Public Schools, BAMN Organizer, and Ms. Kim Shipp, Educator, Parent Activist. Arguing that charter schools provide students with an education to enhance their academic skills  in order to compete and be productive members of society will be Dr. Ben Chavis, Executive Director and former Principal, American Indian Public Charter School, Oakland, Ms. Kristin Gallagher, Principal, Millsmont Charter School, and Mr. Hugo Arabia, Principal, Oasis High School Charter School. The public is invited to attend and will have ample opportunities to pose questions to the speakers in what is sure to be a hotly contested debate. The debate will take place from 5:30-7:30pm in the OUSD Administration Building, Hunter Hall, 1025 Second Avenue. You can find more info at the Oakbook.

Wednesday, March 25th – Swearing in of Joel Young to the AC Transit Board of Directors

Join the AC Transit Administration for the Oath of Office of its newly appointed member of the AC Transit Board of Directors, Joel B. Young. A reception will be held on the 2nd floor immediately following the ceremony. The swearing in ceremony will take place at 3:30pm in the AC Transit 2nd Floor Board Room, 1600 Franklin Street.

Sunday, March 29th – Brainstorm Session to Save the Parkway

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, the Parkway closed its doors today, and many in the community are very upset by this. So upset that some are taking action. A Facebook group that was created just this past Thursday to save the Parkway has already reached 4,000 members, and some members of this group are organizing a brainstorming session to discuss options for saving the Parkway. Here’s how the organizers describe the event: “Let’s keep the groundswell going and meet to brainstorm and collect ideas on creative solutions to the Parkway’s future. This will be a structured brainstorming session so we can achieve some real results.” This meeting will be held from 2-5pm at Rooz Cafe, 1918 Park Blvd. You can find more info and RSVP on Facebook.

A bittersweet morning in Oakland

19 Mar

I woke up this morning feeling good. Maybe a bit fuzzy from all of that bourbon tasting, but I was still reveling in Pican’s grand opening party that I attended last night (thanks dto510 for inviting me!). Pican is  gorgeous, large, and comforting, yet elegant. I think it will soon become a destination restaurant.

But then I checked my email and read that the Parkway will be closing its doors this Sunday night. My heart sunk. I started feeling guilty, since I haven’t been there in several months. And then I started feeling hurt, since I don’t think I’ll make it there again before they close.

The Parkway is such an important part of Oakland, in fact, so important that I’ve included it on my list of essential Oakland experiences. There’s nothing else like it. I guess the small silver lining is that the Parkway’s sister theater, the Cerrito (in El Cerrito), will remain open, but that theater never held the same charm for me.

But the larger silver lining here is that even as some of our treasured Oakland businesses shut down in the face of this deepening recession, new places are opening up that are likely to become important parts of the Oakland community. We now have the chance to create new memories at two new bars in Uptown – Ave and Somar. And next week we’ll be able to enjoy the comforts of Southern food with a California twist at Pican while sipping on one of the 80 bourbons the restaurant features.

So goes the bizzaro results of this recession in Oakland. Somehow many new businesses thrive as old ones crumble. And I’m afraid there will be much more of this to come…

(Check out City Homestead for a sweet write up on the Parkway, complete with some pictures and the full email the owners sent out this morning.)

Free Super High Me Screening at the Parkway Tomorrow

19 Apr

I have to admit, I’m not big on stoner culture and I think the celebration of 4/20 is kind of ridiculous, but be that as it may, there’s a great documentary being shown for FREE tomorrow at the Parkway so if you’re going to celebrate, this is a good cheap way to do it.

Tomorrow, Super High Me is being shown for free at 1,100 locations throughout the country. Yes, you read that number correctly. The movie creators decided the best way to publicize the film was to encourage free screenings of it from 4/20-5/20. After that, you’ll have to pay to see it. One of the screening locations will of course be at the Parkway. Strangely, the Parkway doesn’t have any information about the showing on their site, but I’m sure it’s happening. The movie will be shown at 5pm but if you want to see it, I’d get in line around 4pm (yes, that does mean you’ll have to spend 4:20 standing in line, but at least there’s plenty to munch on once you get inside).

As the title suggests, this movie is a spin off of Super Size Me, wherein comedian Doug Benson smokes copious amounts of marijuana for 30 days and does all sorts of tests to see how it’s effecting him. He also spends thirty days abstaining from marijuana use and does the same tests. Not surprisingly, even the huge amounts of cannabis he smokes don’t have big negative effects on him (besides causing him to gain a bit of weight).

But the movie’s not all comedic. I was a bit skeptical about the movie before I saw it, even though I’m friends with and have great respect for the producer, Alex Campbell. But the movie is ultimately very political, in a way that’s not heavy handed (and often very funny). Alex shot tons of footage of LA area dispensaries and DEA raids, and the movie draws attention to the conflict between federal and state law and how activists are standing up to federal attacks.

Interestingly, Alex knew little about the medical marijuana movement before working on this film, but he’s now a dedicated medical marijuana activist. He mostly lives in Oakland now (maybe that will be permanent soon because he’s always talking about how much better Oakland is than LA) and has volunteered his time for protests, meetings, phone banking, etc. My hope is that this movie will encourage others to follow the same road as Alex and become active in this movement.

So if you need a lot of laughs tomorrow mixed with a fair amount of political education, check out Super High Me. If for some reason you can’t make it to the screening at the Parkway, the film will be shown at locations throughout the Bay Area and the country so check out the map to find a screening near you.

Cerrito Speakeasy Theater: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

23 Aug

Cerrito Speakeasy Marquee

Cerrito Speakeasy Theater Marquee, photo courtesy of the Cerrito

On Tuesday, I went to the Cerrito Speakeasy Theater in El Cerrito for the first time to see The Simpsons Movie. I’m sure if I had never been to the Parkway in Oakland, I would have really enjoyed the Cerrito, but I couldn’t help comparing it to its sister theater.

The Good…

– Just like the Parkway, the Cerrito offers a large menu of beer, wine, pizza, and other yummy food. I ordered the Mediterranean appetizer. The hummus and babaganush were tasty, and the pita bread was still warm.

– It’s much cheaper than most theaters – $6 for a movie.

– There are some couches, which are fairly comfortable, at the front of the theater.

Parkway Speakeasy Interior

The Parkway Theater Interior, photo courtesy of the Parkway Speakeasy

The Bad…

– The couches are scrunched together at the front of the theater, and they’re not nearly as comfortable as the ones at the Parkway. Plus, the tables are heavy and far away from the couches, which makes for awkward reaching to grab your beer.

– The theaters are much smaller than at the Parkway, and I’ve heard they sell out on weekends so you better show up early.

– The screens are also MUCH smaller.

The Ugly…

– The guy sitting behind me laughed obnoxiously loudly, but that wasn’t the worst part. He laughed during parts of the movie when everyone else was silent, sometimes during sad moments (like when Marge leaves Homer). I know, this wasn’t the Cerrito’s fault, but it was still annoying.

– It’s in El Cerrito, which is kind of far from Oakland and just doesn’t have the same feel.

So, unless you live in El Cerrito, or the Cerrito’s playing a movie that’s not playing at the Parkway (like the Simpsons), head over to Park Boulevard, grab some beer and pizza, sink into a couch, and enjoy a movie at the Parkway.