Dappled Light From Lake Temescal

Yesterday, the Temescal Regional Rec Area was a place of dappled-light beauty.  Your faithful blogger decided to take a quick walk around our old-time swimming and picnicking area,  and tried to capture some magic with her trusty camera-phone in hand.

Lake Temescal started out as an engineering marvel, when Anthony Chabot constructed the earthen dam and water supply back in 1868.  The oasis became a popular recreation spot, baptized into the East Bay Regional Park District family by 1936.

It’s pretty easy to forget about Lake Temescal because its right here.  The 48 acres may be accessed through Broadway or Broadway Terrace entrances which are well-signed.  In this classic view shot, taken yesterday, you can almost pick out the Highway 24 and 13 arteries.

Still there are plenty of peaceful spots within the park.  With Saturday picnics underway by the lake, I decided to check out the more remote hillside area.  Earlier this year, the Oak Bay Trail played host to the Oakland Marathon runners – but it was empty yesterday afternoon.

You know when the light seems absolutely perfect?  Yesterday, I wandered through the spectrum of nearly pitch black, greens of all shades, and blinding sunlight.  It was just one of those beautiful sites to behold, right in our Montclair backyard.

Happy 80th Birthday, Montclair Library!

Today was an Oakland-weather day, sunny and perfect for a quick celebration.  Locals and a couple city dignitaries stopped by the Montclair Branch of the Oakland Library to honor our octogenarian:  the Montclair Branch itself.

At today’s event, District 4 Council Rep Jean Quan was on hand to thank Montclair Library Assistant Geremie Celli and Oakland Library Director Carmen Martinez.  My ears perked up when Director Martinez mentioned they intend to reorganize our library’s layout, though we didn’t hear details today.  Then Aurora School’s Head for the Hills race organizers proudly delivered a $275 donation, to wrap up the proceedings.  And we all dug into some nice, fruit-filled birthday cake from Lucky’s.

Throughout May, the Friends of Montclair Library organized and held a series of library programs honoring this 80th year milestone.  The history presentation by Kathleen diGiovanni, an Oakland Heritage Alliance member and city librarian, was very interesting.  We also heard the other book readings and events were pretty well-attended too.

In these times, at least we can celebrate our local library!  Good ‘ole Measure Q requires minimum funding levels for city libraries, though the system did cut back service days last year.  Our Montclair Library is now open five days a week:   Tuesday (12:30 pm – 8:00 pm); Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday (10:00 am – 5:30 pm); and Friday (12:00 pm – 5:30 pm).

Montclair’s storybook library has been welcoming locals since the district started getting settled, and expanded over the years as well.  While it caters to kids, this blogger likes getting lost in the travel books and recently-arrived fiction.  The place is comfortable and inviting, not to mention properly de-molded last year.

So remember to stop by the library this summer to read a paper, check the aisles, hop on a computer or just read in a quiet place.  Besides the weekly story times, there’s a a knitting class for kids (May 26th) and lawyers in the library (June 8th) ahead – just check upcoming events.

A Rat For Montclair Mayor?

In the past, only dogs have served as Montclair’s mayor – and Little Bear serves us quite well as head woofer these days.

However the 2010 primary season is presenting fresh alternatives, like a rat named Twitchy.  We asked Re4m’s owner, Lisa Tana, why she supported this unusual prospect.  “It’s appropriate that a rat would enter politics,” explained Tana, “and she’s one of our two pets at home.”

We’re excited by this year’s slate of 20 primary candidates which includes 12 dogs and three cats – as well as Twitchy the rat, Sparky the gecko, Willow the pygmy goat, Penny the hen and Figaro the miniature horse.  Primary season voting is open now through May 30th.

Let’s look closely at the pooches. Jasper belongs to Bo Obama’s party, and that might attract voters.  Hershey points like Gracie, a past mayor who’s retiring as furst officer.  Alice and Rico bring Village experience, serving as bark ranger and deputy dog respectively.  Some larger crowd-pleasers include Oscar, Drake, Rupert, Kai and Murphy, while feistier runners are named Reuben, Jay Jay and Talulah.

The cats bring contrasting views. Chi is a kitten who jumped on the opportunity with a youthful zeal.  Hank is a Maine Coon involved in Broadway shows at Woodminster.  And Stella has a classic insider’s edge, sponsored by Montclair Veterinary Clinic.  Frankly, I’m concerned about whether the felines will be civil when they meet other species along the campaign trail.

Remember, voting is open now.  Do you want to stick with the species you know, or try out something completely new?  It might be worth checking out the scene at the Sunday Farmer’s Market, because candidates often make appearances there.  The 2010 primaries are intriguing, indeed.

P.S.  Each vote costs a buck, and goes to the Pet & Wildlife Fund.

May 22nd Update:  Our City Council rep, Jean Quan, has supported the fundraiser and ever-so-slightly tipped her hat.  In her weekly newsletter, Quan declared that “I have not yet endorsed but I do personally know Figaro, the miniature pony who often volunteers at Maxwell Park events.”

What Montclarions Said To Perata

When Don Perata held a community meeting at Montclair Presbyterian Church on Monday, we wondered what issues our neighbors would raise to this mayoral candidate.  Bar none, the biggest concerns revolved around the effectiveness of City Hall.

One Montclarion observed that the city government seemed bloated and employeers weren’t doing their jobs.  Another neighbor pointed to ethical, legal and honesty problems from the highest level down.  Yet another chimed in about the problems that were revealed by the city auditor, and the need to provide her with more funding.

There’s plenty of skepticism about mayors lately, at least from the people who turned out this Monday evening.  One neighbor declared, “the last two mayors wanted to do parts of the job.  We’ve all suffered from that!”

After getting thanked by an attendee for running, Perata replied that “most people think I’m crazy.”  He expects to adhere to the strong mayor form of government, making department heads more accountable and then backing them.  Crime, jobs and solvency are on the top of his priorities list.  “I’m not afraid of tough decisions,” he explained.

The mayoral role is imbued with our hopes and dreams (!) about Oakland.  The role is unbelievably challenging, and it makes me wonder what makes candidates Don Perata, Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan truly tick.  We’ll take a couple bleacher seats and watch them visiting the neighborhoods during the months ahead.

Blockbuster’s Leaving The Village

Blockbuster’s leaving Montclair Village!  After getting a tip earlier today, we confirmed that our very last video store is supposed to bite the dust on June 19th.

It’s easy to jump to conclusions:  this Blockbuster wasn’t “making it” due to seismic shifts in movie distribution.  After all, movie rental stores have been fading away and getting replaced by Netflix subscriptions, store kiosks and various on-demand options.  Our movie viewing behaviors contributed to this corporate decision.

On this rainy Monday, our local outlet still attracted plenty of locals.  The parking lot was full, people streamed in and out, and customers queued five-deep at the checkout.  You could find the latest releases, lots of popular flicks, evergreens and video games for the taking.

We understand that Blockbuster’s still out there.  Apparently the company offers movies first, during an exclusive, one-month window after leaving theaters.  And they provide a by-mail service, without any subscription requirement.  They are trying to compete for your now-fickle attention.

Good old Blockbuster in Montclair didn’t seem very troubled, so what gives?  When we spoke with a Blockbuster employee today, her emotions ran high.  Apparently, the building owner seeks to raise rent and intends to lease the building to yet another…bank.

So the end is near for Blockbuster.  No more video game release parties, like last year’s Beatles concert.  No more box office hits proudly stocked along the back wall.  No more browsing for an arcane movie that strikes your fancy.  Your movie habits are about to change, unless we rise up and try to save this outlet.