Our Ducks Are City Slickers

Montclarion ducks seem to be city slickers, who are quite used to meeting visitors at the park.   Click on the image (or right here) – and watch what they do!

The video story of two Montclair ducks goes something like this:

  1. They are on dry ground, seeking sustenance.
  2. They have no trouble getting close for bread.
  3. They pant like dogs while waiting for treats.
  4. They grab for more, shocking the videographer.

What happened to genteel ducks who knew their place?  Who calmly ganged up on you, but kept their distance in the water?  They’re not in Montclair anymore.

Montclair is Feltre, Italy

Through Flickr, I recently discovered a European woman who shared photos of her U.S. travels.  Vittoria had visited with her Montclair friends, and loved the morning fog and clear days here.

“It reminds me of an American version of a little town in Italy called Feltre. For those of you who know Feltre have a look at the other photos and tell me if you agree.” Vittoria Vieceli

Feltre is a sub-alpine town located in Northern Italy, halfway between Venice and Innsbruck. The hills do look strangely familiar.

European places have long histories, and Feltre comes with the requisite walled city, cool churches, and frescoed homes.  The town has been under French, Austrian and Italian control over the years.

The most famous son was Vittorino da Feltre (1378-1446).  He’s a well-regarded educator, who believed kids from all economic strata should be taught together.

According to Vittorino’s biography, “Many of his methods were novel, particularly in the close contacts between teacher and pupil and in the adaptation of the teaching to the ability and needs of the child.”

All in all?  We’d be honored to call Feltre our sister city.

Celebrating New Civil Rights

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you know that same-sex couples can now be legally wed in California.  Gays may experience the rights and responsibilities of wedded bliss.

Our city rep, Jean Quan, says that District 4 is “home to one of the largest concentrations of LGBT residents, couples and families in the country.”  So she has arranged a local tribute this weekend.

Everyone is invited to a civil rights celebration and teach-in:  Sunday, from 4pm-7pm, at Velvet Lounge (3411 MacArthur Blvd, map).

The celebration will feature speaker Emily Doskow, a noted expert in lesbian and gay domestic matters.  A potluck dinner is also planned, so bring a contribution or two.

Doskow specializes in LGBT family law, helping couples with partnerships, parenting, adoption and other legal rights.  She has written several books for Nolo Press, including co-authorship of A Legal Guide fo Gay and Lesbian Couples.

I think Emily’s take on the continued morass will be very interesting to hear.  The airwaves have been filled this week with confusion.  With marriage, what rights have actually been granted by the State?  How do these conflict with other jurisdictions?  Time for the teach-in.

Pastor Has Good Karma

Well, the pastor has good karma after all.

Earlier this week, we learned about an unnamed pastor whose car was stolen while he went grocery shopping.  At the scene, the Safeway manager said this was a first-time event for his Montclair store.

There’s a surprising ending to this story, because the pastor’s 1993 Honda station wagon was recovered yesterday.  It’s fully intact, except for a broken window.

Apparently the thief needed some East Bay transportation, as the police found the car down in Hayward.  My take?  It pays to have a “direct line” with a higher order – you get justly rewarded.

Pastor’s Car Gets Ripped Off

When the pastor’s car gets ripped off, we have proof that Montclair Village is not “heaven on earth” anymore. His good old Honda could not have been worth much, at least intact.

The theft was reported recently on the Montclair Crimewatch Group message board.  Apparently, an unidentified pastor wanted to buy a few groceries this week and drove to Safeway.

“Our pastor went to shop at the Montclair Safeway for 10 minutes Monday afternoon.  One of the few times he felt he did not need to put a club on his 1993 Honda Station Wagon, which did not have a remote locking fob and alarm system.”

There was a Safeway guard on duty, too! The store manager said it was the first time anyone has stolen a car from the lot, and he’s been working there for ten years.

It’s too bad for the pastor, but we can learn from his misfortune.  Lock up tight if you have an earlier model car.  Or else try Lucky’s – how ironic – as an alternative market.

Where Are the Montclair Creeks?

The news of 500-year floods in the Midwest was amazing, with Iowan cities submerged from levee breaks.  That’s one catastrophe which won’t visit the Montclair Hills anytime soon.

Yet I became curious about our water flows through the Village.  After all, we experience our own special brand of mudslides, sink holes and floods each rainy season.

Where are the Montclair Creeks?

Our main creeks are partly hidden from view.  They aren’t conforming to Mother Nature’s direction anymore, especially as you drive through sections of Thornhill, Shepherd Canyon, and the Montclair shopping district.

The Temescal and Shepherd Creeks flow into culverts and storm drains, as noted by the dotted red lines below.  Solid blue lines indicate visible streams, such as the Palo Seco until it reaches town.

Typical rainy seasons have caused problems in Shepherd Canyon.  It’s logical that above-average rainfalls would overwhelm the hidden and visible streams, too.

The Oakland Museum of California has full-sized detail of these watershed maps – so you can study exactly where you live among the Montclair (and other Oakland) creeks.

Also take a closer look at the Temescal and Sausal Creek Watersheds, as many tributaries flow from the Montclair Hills into the San Francisco Bay.  Mother Nature still prevails!

New Song for Oakland

Should we reach out to Bruce Bratton, for a new Oakland theme song?

When asked to identify a city theme song, Oaklanders proudly point to Bruce’s historical kitsch: Oakland, We’re For You. While this song is undeniably catchy, it received radio airplay over 40 years ago.

Back then, we were honoring the Alameda Tube, Nimitz Freeway and Tribune Tower with Tin-Pan stylings. How about a rap or jazz piece instead?

A UC Berkeley alum, Bratton organized the trio who wrote and performed the ditty. He remains quite fond of his Oakland music-making days – even mentioning those “15 minutes” when interviewed last year.

In the negative column, Bruce transferred his allegiance to Santa Cruz years ago. Currently he pens a weekly column and hosts a radio show there.

While we could tap Bruce, it’s time for a new generation to share their talents. Anyone out there?