Oakland Election Not Even Close

That Oakland Special Election was over quickly!  All four measures passed last night, which means that the City of Oakland has a few more million at hand – money the city fathers and mothers already figured would be voted into our coffers.

Of course, the taxing of medical marijuana is making the news because it’s the first time any city will directly tax weed.  Here’s an early TV report on that measure, approved by 80 percent of the voters.  It won’t solve Oakland’s budget gap, but it should ease the pain.

CBS5 - Pot Tax

Remember there were four separate measures included in this Oakland election – so let’s recap what voters overwhelmingly approved and did:

  • Measure C – 77% – Let our hotel visitors chip in and help pay for the zoo, museum and observatory
  • Measure D – 72% – Fixed things from November election, when we spent too much on kids funding
  • Measure F – 80% – Declared reefer madness is officially dead, with our first tax of medical cannabis
  • Measure H – 75% – Ensured better sleep, knowing that corporations pay transfer taxes when sold

Apparently many of you didn’t bother with this special mail-in election.  Less than a third of Oaklanders who voted in the November prexy election turned out.  According to the Chronicle, about 23 percent of registered voters cast ballots versus 80 percent in November.  Were you part of the silent majority?

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Montclair Virtual Art Gallery: Janette MacKinlay

Montclarions are a creative bunch, and we like to display local talents like Janette MacKinlay.  She had been studying Japanese flower arranging for years, following the tenets of the Sogetsu School.  Somewhere along the way, she decided her sculptural works would look even better without flowers and fresh materials at all.

MacKinlay calls her work “organic assemblage,” because she uses dried materials that reflect nature and the universe.  When we saw some of her sculptures, they seemed nicely calming and needed to be shared with a wider audience.

So we asked MacKinlay to select pieces that communicated her experiences living here.  “I’ve picked out four pieces that reflect the mood of living in Montclair’s serene environment,” explained the artist.  “All of my work was created here in my Montclair studio and I believe being here has allowed me to capture the spiritual nature of much of my work.”

For The Love Of Pine

This first piece, above, is entitled For The Love Of Pine, because it’s not all pine (!) and yet represents what we  all see outside anyway.  It’s my favorite due the the simple and sparse elements, and fits that zen-thing well.

From My Garden

Next we have From My Garden, where you see something seasonal growing with the leaf.  I’m not exactly sure what the base element is supposed to reflect…maybe it’s the good earth?

Life In The Clouds; Oakland's New Day Dawning

Finally we have two works reflecting Montclair and Oakland, respectively.  The white vase sculpture is called Life In The Clouds, and that’s definitely true in our hills and dales.  Oakland’s New Day Dawning is the more colorful arrangement on the right.  I’m trying to decide if the sea-fan top reminds me of sunny days, filled with potential energy for the city.

Who is Janette MacKinlay? She’s a  Bay Area local through and through.  After graduating years ago from California College of the Arts, MacKinlay embraced the local art scene as an artist and gallery manager.  Then for a change of pace creatively, the Westerner packed up and headed to the Big Apple where she lived across the street from the World Trade Center on 9-11.  There but for the grace of god, she’s fine…and has returned home.

Do You Realize How Lucky You Are?

Last night, guitar virtuoso Michael Gulezian performed at a house concert in Montclair.   As the performance began, Michael looked out at the hills and declared, “Do you realize how lucky you are?”

He waxed poetic about the eucalyptus, pines, redwoods…plus the fresh breezes and fogs.  Then he blurted that his Nashville home base is an (expletive deleted) by comparison.  We all kinda replied “yeah, we know.”

Guitarist Michael Gulezian

Why did Michael Gulezian show up here?  Well, you just have to chalk this up to kismet.  Montclarion Andy Kleiber discovered the guitarist via Pandora Radio, noticed he played a few house concerts, and asked him as a lark.  Sure enough, Gulezian decided to pay a house call while touring the Bay Area!

Though he’s not exactly obscure, we didn’t know much about Gulezian before.  He takes acoustic guitar playing to another dimension, and his creations envelope you.  Listen to his MP3 radio station, and select Michael Hedges Goes To Heaven (#10) as an example of transcendent music.

You should also see this virtuoso in action, as he literally plays the whole guitar.  While the audio isn’t stellar, watch him perform the removed, ethereal Whale In The Sky.  Or check out his most popular video (nearing 20k views), which is the straight-ahead, cheerful Little Meggie.

In person, Gulezian seems amazingly humble and pure.  He thought about making money and even earned an MBA, but chucked it away in favor of music-making.  Now he creates music that’s to his own liking, and it shows in the joy on his face while playing.  We were lucky to meet him.

More info:  Michael Gulezian is performing all over the Bay Area, and you can catch him in these places:  Santa Cruz (7/23) – Santa Clara (7/24) – Larkspur (7/25) – San Rafael, Darfur benefit (7/29).

Hella Hot, Hella Hot!

Oakland’s always perfect, when it comes to weather.  However today we are watching everyone wilt and complain, due to our elevated temps.  In true Oakland fashion, folks are twittering “hella hot, hella hot” quite madly!  It almost sounds like a communal choir out there:

Hella hot in oakland – Hot in Oakland! – is it hella hot in oakland right now – its @##$% hot in oakland double u tee eff lol – is it me or is it hella hot in Oakland today wtf? – DAMN hot summer days in oakland i got caught in a water fight – Why Oakland Hella Hot? Damn! – hoT dAYy iN OaklanD – hot in oakland

Yes, we’re restless and panting along with our dogs today.   At least some clouds are coming into view, so this heat spell should not last forever.

Oakland Weather - July 18, 2009

What’s the weather now?  Our micro weather stations are registering very hot numbers and zero winds to boot.  Usually the hills provide relief from the flatter areas, but today it seems like an inverted situation.

On Indian Way, the temperature is close to 90 degrees right now.  At Skyline and Snake, it’s over 87 degrees.  You get the picture when you step outside.  It’s not much better anywhere else, so just get a little soda, beer, or ice cream… and chill out.

Montclair Library Returns, Needs Help

Montclarions are pretty relieved to have the Montclair Library reopened and thriving again.  We decided to check in with Leon Cho, Montclair branch librarian, and hear how things are going.

“We had a very busy opening day, with about a 25% increase in circulation over what we do on a regular Monday,” said Cho.  “People were really glad to have us back, which was really gratifying.”

Montclair Library

Kids Have Returned

We think parents are celebrating, actually.  Everyone missed the place, which was closed from late March through early July for mold abatement.  That’s a long time to keep your kids away from their library, and traveling to nearby branches was not cutting it.

Librarian Cho reported that children have returned in “full force” to the branch.  Story time has resumed on Thursdays at 10:30am, with stories, songs and fingerplays for pre-schoolers.  For all kids, there’s a Summer Reading program and they are being encouraged to read for fun.

As part of Summer Reading, Drummm (yes, three m’s) will appear this Wednesday, at 10:30am.  These performers plan to make plenty of loud noises at the library, through their group drumming, African percussion demos and rhythm connections.

Budget Cuts Hit Montclair Library

Like all things Oakland, Montclair has been impacted by budget cuts and staff shortages – notably the children’s librarian position.  Unfortunately the second weekly story time, especially for toddlers, has been scrapped for now.  You may take your tiny tikes to the Rockridge branch (map) on Saturdays, at 10:30am.

As part of your civic duty, come support the Montclair Library!  This Saturday, the  Friends of Montclair Library are holding a grand Re-opening Party from 11am-3pm.  The party features a short welcoming ceremony at 11am, light refreshments and a bargain-basement book sale.  All proceeds help our library directly.

Of course, sweat-of-the-brow volunteers are also welcomed at the library.  There are a lot of things that need to get done, so please reach Librarian Cho about openings for adult and youth anytime.

More info:  Montclair Library is located at 1687 Mountain Blvd (map).  It’s opened daily except Sundays.  Hours are Mon from 12:30pm-8:00pm; Tues, Wed, Thurs and Sat from 10:00am-5:30pm; and Fri from 12:00pm-5:30pm.  Branch Manager Leon Cho may be reached by emailing lcho@oaklandlibrary.org or calling (510) 482-7810.

Practical Considerations, We Want Longs

There’s buzz lately about Safeway and their redevelopment plans for Rockridge Shopping Center.  As a first step, they intend to occupy the Big Long’s Drugs site and have already put the wheels in motion for mall modifications.  Many Oaklanders seem to be chatting about urban renewal possibilities there, so we wondered about your reactions in particular.

Long's Drugs, North Oakland

Well, Montclarions seem to be focused on practical considerations and their everyday, last-minute needs.  A nicer shopping venue would be great and all, but we have hella-love for this Long’s location and don’t want to see the place die:

The Long’s at Pleasant Valley is the only place where Oaklanders can go for a one-stop variety of things – drugstore, hardware, garden center, shoe repair, fabric, furniture, and appliances.  I’d hate to see it go.  Our city needs a general store, no matter if it’s in an auto-centric mall.

Oh no!  I was just at this Long’s tonight.  Diapers, vitamins, pie tins, swimming gear, a birthday card, and some groceries.  I love it for being so vast and exhaustive.  Everything’s there.  Even Top Dog.

Love that Long’s – 24 hours a day, with everything you could ever need.  Nothing else in the area comes close.

Apparently Montclarions are not alone in their Long’s adoration.  On Yelp, some 172 Oaklanders have even awarded 4.5 of 5 stars to this location.  You can read about shoppers who arrive at odd hours for things they need or didn’t know they needed.  One reviewer, on hearing about the closure, exclaimed: “Where else are we Oaklanders supposed to go during the Zombie Apocalypse?”

Regardless of the pro-Long’s contingent, reviews of mall changes are underway.   Oakland’s Planning Commission is soliciting comments on the scope of the environmental impact report tonight.  Many cool ideas have been surfaced by Oaklanders about transforming the entire mall footprint and creating a friendlier urban hangout.

Yet one thing seems clear:  your cries to save Long’s Drugs will fall on deaf ears.  You should start preparing for the loss of this geriatric and well-loved Long’s, due to expire sometime next year.  Getting a CVS or other drug store replacement simply isn’t the same thing.

More info:  A Better OaklandSan Francisco ChronicleLiving in the OTransbay BlogOur OaklandSafeway Redevelopment ProjectJuly 15th Meeting News

Where To Walk When It’s Too Hot

Today we’re supposed to hit 88 degrees, even in Oakland.  Yes, we know more robust East Bayers from the other side of the Caldecott Tunnel can take triple digits, but these temps are plenty hot for us.

To honor and respect the heat, the Montclair Hiking Club called off their weekly hike which had been planned for a distant red-hot spot.  That makes some sense, but you can always walk – even in the worst heat imaginable – in our local hills.

Typical Huckleberry Relief

Assuming you aren’t getting out there by dawn, don’t give up hope on Spare The Air Days!  The not-so-secret trees, and their fantastic shade, never disappoint the mid-day walkers.  Here are our favorite, reliable paths even in summer doldrums:

  • Huckleberry Relief – 90% shade – Take Huckleberry Path on the left (.05), turn right on Bay Area Ridge Trail (0.37) and saunter for a while in the woods (1.33).  Then veer right to return on Huckleberry Path (2.39).  See trail map and trail head.
  • Huckleberry-Sibley Traverse – 65% shade – Take Huckleberry Path on the left (.05), turn left on Bay Area Ridge Trail (0.37) and take another left (0.49).  Then zig right (1.30) and zag left (1.38) to land on a paved road (1.41).  Proceed uphill to take in a Mt. Diablo view and finally reach Round Top (est 2.0).  Retrace steps to Huckleberry (est 4.0).  See trail map and trail head.
  • Redwood Stream Trail – 90% shade – From Skyline, take the classic Stream Trail out and back, even when there’s zero running water.  Stay in the shade by sticking to this valley floor until trail’s end (1.93), and return the same way (3.86).  The walk can be shortened, since it’s an up-and-back route.  See trail map and trail head.
  • Redwood Classic – 75% shade – From Skyline, take West Ridge Trail and turn left on French Trail (0.59).  Make a left on Tres Sendas (1.19), right on Star Flower (1.43), left on French (1.60) and left on Chown (3.28).  At bottom, take a left on Stream Trail (3.82) and return back (5.75).  See trail map and trail head.
  • Redwood Peak – 95% shade – Park at Chabot Space & Science lot.  Take West Ridge Trail through Redwood Bowl and follow signs to Redwood Peak, even though they feel like side trails.  Yes this is all redwoods, all the time here (est 1 mile, round trip).  See trail map and trail head.
  • Joaquin Miller Park – 65% shade – Start at Sunset Loop and turn left on either Wild Rose or Fern Ravine.  Make a right on Sequoia Bayview Trail, and then head down Sunset Trail to return (est 2 miles, round trip).  An alternate route takes you left on Sunset Trail and Palos Colorados Trail along the stream, and then heads back (est 2 miles, round trip).  See trail map and trail head.
  • Leona Canyon Escape – 50% shade – From Canyon Oaks, take Leona Trail past the vestiges of a running stream.  Take a left on Pyrite Trail (0.73) and head upwards until trail’s end (1.53).  Return back to Canyon Oaks (3.06).  See trail map and trail head.

Now we have removed all the excuses, as you can luxuriate in Madrones or Redwood trees which pretty much snuff out the sunlight all year.  Feel free to suggest some of your own favorite escapes from the heated days too.