Little Bear Bought The Mayoral Seat

The Montclair mayoral race is now over, and Little Bear has been elected as our new village leader.

Little Bear’s supporters bought the mayoral seat, as is customary in the dollar-a-vote system used locally.  The American Eskimo Mix received overwhelming support from village voters, with some 5,898 votes representing 30 percent of ballots cast.  In addition, Bear received 32 percent more votes than second place finisher Bella.

Our incoming mayor attributes the win to good looks and smarts, and guidance by campaign committee members from the Montclair Women’s Cultural Arts Club and Crogan’s Restaurant.  Bear is new to local politics but quite experienced in private industry leadership roles, and will put those pack skills to work quickly.

The 2009 Pet Mayor Team

Official Election Results

According to the registrar’s blog, some 19,637 votes were cast and this represents nearly a 25 percent gain over last year’s election.  Clearly the Montclair electorate was energized about this race and wanted to bring in fresh leadership during 2009-2010.

Little Bear garnered 5,898 votes to become mayor.  The other candidate tallies included:  Bella (4,473), Molly (2,240), Gracie (2,017), Alice (1,858), Alex the turtle (1,126), Rico (1,070), and Nitro (954).

Runner-Up Plans

Outgoing Mayor Gracie recently tweeted that “I am now officially taking suggestions for doggie vacation spots. It has been a long campaign, & I’m ready to kick back and put the paws up.”  When she returns, the former mayor will take a more advisory role in Montclair politics and serve as furst officer.

As expected, Bella will stay active in village governance.  After serving as mayor back in 2007-2008, Bella has ably served as vice mayor and will continue in this new administration.  One local resident declared, “she is really like our city manager, with so much experience that helps incoming leaders.”

It will be interesting to see how Alex contributes to the new administration.  Montclair’s first turtle in office, Alex will become the conservation commissioner and we expect he will ensure that the local ponds and creeks continue to be restored to pristine condition.

The election is seen as a win-win for domesticated candidates and their wildlife cousins.  All election proceeds go to the Pet & Wildlife Fund, which supports medical care for both injured and orphaned wildlife.

Last Minute Call: Trail Workers and Campers At Dimond Park

Hey if Michelle Obama can get down and dirty while helping to build a playground, then you can volunteer too.  The Volunteers For Outdoor California (V-O-Cal) are making a last-minute call for volunteers at Dimond Park this weekend, and looking for able-bodied trail workers.

Dimond Creek

Anyone 14 years or older is welcome to sign up, camp Friday and Saturday nights at Dimond, and join this full-on push to restore canyon trails.  Everything is free, including the food!  If you can’t devote a weekend, then sign up for a day or a few hours:

  • Friday night arrival and camping – from 5pm – 10pm
  • Saturday work day – from 8am – 4pm
  • Saturday dinner & entertainment – from 4pm – 8pm
  • Saturday night camping – arrive 8pm – 10pm
  • Sunday work day – from 8am – 2pm

V-O-Cal has very specific goals this weekend, namely to “build sustainable access trails to Sausal Creek, repair several fences to improve safety and restore some overgrown and unstable trails.”  While there’s work ahead, it will be in the company of many like-minded volunteers.  (Learn more about the weekend, and then register and sign up here.)

The real reason for showing up comes from insiders, who say there’s a great camaraderie when volunteering en masse.  We also understand that V-O-Cal rewards their volunteers with gourmet grub, especially on Saturday night.  That’s unlike any kind of trail and camping experiences we have, even in the Sierras.

Update: The Friends of Sausal Creek (FOSC newsletter) also support Dimond Canyon on a regular basis.  Following this weekend’s event, they have scheduled restoration efforts on Tuesday, June 30th from 6-9 pm.  Volunteer work includes removing invasive species and cleaning up litter near the creek.

To kick things off, FOSC will host a welcome potluck dinner starting at 5pm.  Please bring some edibles over to the Scout Hut at Dimond Park, along with your family and friends.  This is a chance to mingle with FOSC Executive Director Kimra McAfee and other devoted Sausal Creek supporters.  (RSVP to or 510-501-3672.)

Fine Art Returns To Montclair Village, This Weekend

The 34th Annual Fine Arts Sidewalk Festival is returning to Montclair Village this weekend, when our sidewalks come alive!  Stroll along Mountain, La Salle and Antioch to appreciate the artwork or acquire a treasure.

More than 90 professional artists from across the western US arrive here, after getting selected for this juried festival.  What we like best is the scale of the event, because it’s possible to meet the artists and learn what makes them tick.

You can expect a variety of painters, sculptors and jewelry makers in our nabe.  Below are some artists we discovered before, to whet your appetite for this year’s three-day show.

The sculptor, James Moore, hails from San Rafael.  He exhibited in Montclair last year, right in front of Le Bon Bon.  Moore’s pieces are all about guys who are unbalanced – or are balancing things.  Many of the sculptures are massive, and I want all of them.

Painter Kelvin Curry is from Oakland.  I think this piece above is elegant, don’t you?  You can see a video interview with Kelvin, who was inspired by his grandmother to become an artist.  He also likes to work in series, trying certain things over and over.

Jeweler Sica Roman wants to “create wearable art that can be recognized as symbols of our interconnectedness.”  This isn’t a piece you are likely to see everywhere, and I think it contains an evil eye and a serpent, hhmm.

We treat the Montclair Village Festival as a gallery or museum-quality stroll, and usually plan on spending a few hours wandering our streets.  This free exhibit is one of the highlights of living in the hills, where strollers are lucky to see the good stuff up close.  We also like to stand back and watch how other folks react to the art!

More info: Our 2009 festival takes place from June 26th – 28th. On Friday and Saturday, the hours are 10am – 6pm. On Sunday, the hours are 10am – 5pm.  It’s presented this year by the Montclair Village Association and Bay Area Newsgroup.

No Brad Pitt In Oakland?

We’re not sure if you follow all the celebrity and movie news, this being Oakland and all.  However Moneyball was supposed to start shooting here this summer, a cool Steven Soderbergh-version of Billy Beane’s life – as played by Brad Pitt.  Oakland was going to be blessed with Brad and his entourage.

GM Beane's Parking Spot

As the Oakland A’s general manager, Billy Beane probably would have been too busy this summer to pal around with Brad and hang out on the set.  His story – Billy’s and not Brad’s – is an interesting one, as we all know.  He’s still hard at work trying to make the A’s productive this season.

But the real news came out this morning:  the $50 million picture may be kaput.  According to Variety, Columbia Pictures head Amy Pascal didn’t like the final script.  The film is getting shopped to other major studios this weekend.  Otherwise, the production goes on hiatus until things get worked out – or likely not worked out.

Even though Brangelina sells magazines, the Brad half isn’t seen as the sole driver of box office.  The movie studio now fears this newfangled movie about baseball and whether it has sufficient worldwide appeal.  We think Billy and Oakland are worth risking $50 million, don’t you?

Newcomer Magpie Sells Must-Haves

Finally there’s a great place for teens and college kids to stock up on their jeans, tops, tees and more – without shlepping to Walnut Creek or other shopping mall meccas.

The Magpie (map) aims to be “a boutique that offers comfortable clothing and fashionable styles” and showcases “quality, hip apparel from prominent and cutting-edge designers.”  Yes, we can confirm that’s what you will find on La Salle Avenue.

The Magpie

The Magpie opened their doors in early June, after months of preparations.  Owner Kevin Benafield sought advice from his son and daughter on what to stock right now.  This seems like a wise move, as any baby-boomer can tell you it’s awfully hard to keep up with hip-versus-passe things.  Benafield now wants to hear from all their customers, and fill the shelves with more popular and less stodgy fare than what you typically find at department stores.

What impressed me is that everything seems really wearable too, even for young-at-heart older folks.  I have to tell you that Magpie’s clothes are nice but not cheap, with a strong selection of boot cut, flair, skinny and ultra-skinny jeans from brands like DL161, Paige and soon-to-arrive Joe’s Jeans.  There are nice women’s tops including those old peasant shirts now back in style.  You’ll find a mix of bathing suits, shorts and flats too.

On the guys’ side, there’s skateboard paraphernalia and chic everywhere – like Chocolate shorts or Santa Cruz swim trunks.  What caught my eye were all the Retro Brand tees that have a broken-in appeal and the Just A Cheap Shirt button-downs, in many colors and patterns.  I also liked the hoodies, shirts and socks made partly from hemp.

Since the 1960s are definitely “in” again at The Magpie, you’ll have no trouble picking up something for Father’s Day.  Give ’em a try.