Uncommon Sign Of Liquors and Cleaners

We pass by the Crown business empire constantly – it’s right on Moraga (map) and you can’t miss it.  I always liked the juxtaposition of these two businesses, Crown Wine & Spirits and Crown Cleaners.  The free parking is a real draw, too.

However, I didn’t consider the place in artistic terms, until a Walnut Creeker named Kelly (aka WalledIn) snapped the sign when she passed through the Village recently.  “I’ve always been intrigued by the structures of days gone by,” she explained.

Given the push from this image, I decided the Crown business sign could be transformed rather easily into pop art.  It’s possible to invert this image into an Andy Warhol-like piece, pretty cool.  See the “before” and “after” images here.

Beyond the facade, what do Villagers think about the Crown businesses?

For the liquors, it’s a tough crowd especially with other outlets for wine.  Yelper Patricia still gave props: “Crown Liquors is our go-to store for wine and other libations… The guys who work there are great and always have a joke and a smile for their customers.  Factor in the parking lot, and you’ve got 5 stars!”

The cleaners seems to be doing well, lately.  Yelper Christophe P. explained: “This place seems to be under different ownership than in years past.  The owner and those who work for her are all very friendly… I like these people, they have always done a good job with our clothes, and they haven’t lost a piece of our clothing.”

So the Crown businesses are filling the everyday needs of Villagers.  Yet it’s nice when someone notices something uncommon about them – even if it’s simply the signage.

60 Music Acts Playing Oakland

For Oaklanders, Labor Day weekend is a great time to stay home!  The Art & Soul Festival features 60-plus music acts performing blues, jazz, culture jam, gospel, latin, hip-hop, world music, and more.

After reviewing the acts, I’m most attracted to the Art & Soul Stage, which will be located at 12th and Clay Street.  Click to preview these headliners: The Matches on Saturday, 4:45pm; Indigo Girls on Sunday, 4:00pm; and Stephanie Mills on Monday, 4:30pm.

Who are these headliners?  First, The Matches are local guys who went to Bishop O’Dowd High School and made it as successful, punky alt-rockers.  Welcome back to the 1980s in this mini-concert:  Their CityDecember Is for Cynics; Violent Love; Dog-Eared Page.

Indigo Girls are Atlanta singer-songwriters, who have been touring for years.  Love ’em!  According to their website, “Amy Ray and Emily Saliers have politely declined the opportunity to mellow with age.”  Feel the 1960s in this mini-concert:  Galileo; GhostPower of Two; Land of Canaan.

Finally, Stephanie Mills has a powerful voice.  Years ago, she played Dorothy in the original Broadway production of The Wiz.   She also dated Michael Jackson for a brief time, what a claim.  Get that 1970s vibe in this mini-concert:  Home; The Medicine Song; Sweet Sensation; Starlight.

More Info:  The Festival runs from Saturday through Monday, 12 noon to 6pm daily.  The music, art, kids zone and food options are scattered throughout downtown Oakland (directions).  Tickets cost $10/day for adults, $5/day for teens (13-18) and seniors (65+), and are free for kids.

Oakland Wins On Restaurant Heists

Check out this robbery map from the San Francisco Chronicle.   You can locate some 22 restaurant heists throughout the Bay Area this year, and read specific details about each one.

Oakland is disproportionately represented, which is a bit humiliating.  There were 15 hold-ups in Oakland, including one at Cybelle’s in Montclair.

Although the newest handful of robberies hit up patrons as well as restaurant tills, there’s really no reason to curtail visits to your favorite dining spots.  Clearing of the throat:  “All we have to fear is fear itself.”

As a percentage of all restaurants, these hits are a rounding error.  I recognize we’re experiencing a new crime that’s particularly depressing, but it’s a little like getting struck by lightning.

Still, you have to wonder why most of these robberies are around here.  I’ll attribute this to copy-catting but want to know your theories!

Local Empty-Nesters Tell All, Wed at 7pm

When Oakland parents bid their kids farewell, they share and bond over the experience like any other new empty-nesters.  What’s unique is this trio started curating the experience and ultimately produced this bittersweet tome of loss called Writin’ On Empty.

Whether you are an empty-nester or not, the writing really grabs you.  Editor/writers Joan Cehn, Risa Nye, Julie Renalds and 23 contributors have created a heartwarming snapshot of this separation experience.   Their book is an anthology of “how it feels” when kids leave home.

In the Montclarion (register here), Ginny Prior explained the genesis was a newspaper ad:  “Thinking it would help to talk with someone, [Julie Renalds] ran a notice in The Montclarion advertising a discussion group and got seven calls in three days.”

Julie met Joan first, when they shared sorrows with other local mothers.  Then Julie thought they should write a book, and Joan asked experienced author Risa for help on the tome.  The rest is local Montclarion history in the making.

They begin their Bay Area book tour with a first stop, appropriately, at  A Great Good Place for Books (map) on Wednesday night, at 7pm.  Come support your neighbors!

Our Own Guardian Angels

Did you know that Oakland’s Guardian Angels chapter is led by someone with deep ties to Montclair?   Christina Fernandez worked for 17 years as a pharmacy technician at Longs Drugs, until last year.  She then signed up for the Angels and became their first Oakland chapter leader.

“To me, the Guardian Angels were like superheroes, out there to protect you, fighting crime.  I used to look up to them,” explained Fernandez to Inside Bay Area.  “Once people see them, they walk away.  I believe our presence in Oakland is starting to have an effect.”

The Guardian Angels have received a lot of attention by Oaklanders lately, as a group that can help protect citizens and keep things calm.  They are seen by Oakland government as a positive force, to fill in policing gaps.  They are also looking for patrol volunteers now.

(Sorry, that recruitment video is no longer on YouTube, as of December 2008)

Angels were first deployed to Grand Lake last year, at the request of shopkeepers.  With the recent spate of restaurant heists on Piedmont, Rockridge and elsewhere, they have been asked to expand their patrols.  Most recently, the Angels have begun weekend duty in Rockridge.

The Montclair Village Association (MVA) has invited them to patrol during Montclair’s Jazz & Wine Festival on September 7th.  Roger Vickery, MVA Director, said “when you see them at the Jazz Festival, you’ll be impressed with how they conduct themselves, both as helpful ambassadors for the Festival and as maintainers of order.”

Vickery noted “how dedicated and sincere [Christina] and her Angels are in trying to bring order to our City.  Her husband is on duty in Iraq and when she says she is ‘beginning to take it personally’ she speaks from the frustration of seeing crime and disorder here while her family is making sacrifices on our behalf.”

Since the Angels are a volunteer organization, they need help to buy sleeping bags, uniforms and other basic items.  Donations can be made by reaching Christina and her group:  5375 Walnut St, Oakland, 94619 or 510-459-9566.