Whew, Oakland Looks Pretty Good

At the Moneyball movie premiere,  we received kudos from the stars.  Brad Pitt, who plays Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane, declared  “Man, I hope [all Oaklanders] like it.  I think it’s a love letter.”  His Oakland A’s number-cruncher, played by Jonah Hill, added “I love the Bay Area, I love Oakland.”  That’s great, but we needed to see the love letter for ourselves.

After watching Moneyball this opening weekend, we felt uplifted about the A’s and pretty good about Oakland.  The Coliseum is a central backdrop, where Billy Beane places his bets on affordable hitters and their performance plays out.  Other city locations were used sparingly, and here’s the line-up:

  • The Coliseum – Yes, it appears realistically during most of the movie.  You see the playing fields, the locker room, offices and entry ways.  We think the locals who filled the place did a great job.  The real footage of the decade-old games looks just fine, too.
  • The Home – Billy Beane lives in a quiet, nice home.  The scenes take place in a comfortable-looking kitchen that would fit well in our Montclair homes.  One misfire?  There are collectible plates on the walls, which seems strange in an earthquake-prone locale.
  • The Port – Of course, when Beane is trying to figure things out, he goes for a drive and ends up in an open, empty lot.  The Port’s cranes are right there, trying to tell him that he’s protected in Oakland.
  • The Bridge – Yes, our Bridge just had to be in the movie, with the lights twinkling from San Francisco.  (We can’t wait until the new bridge emerges and there’s a view of our hills in future flicks.  Wishful thinking here.)
  • The Airport – There are a couple scenes at the gate, when Beane collects or drops off his daughter.  These small bits could have been filmed at Oakland or anywhere, and thus were too neutral for our tastes.

Moneyball primarily sticks to its Oakland A’s storyline, including the immediate business and sporting activities at hand.  There were no place-setting efforts to show off downtown landmarks or other great spots around the city.  Beane could have taken his daughter to Chabot Science, Lake Merritt or even the Zoo.  Alas, this movie isn’t a Oakland tourism promotion.  As Brad Pitt promised, it’s a true-love note to the Oakland A’s.

P.S.  Did you see District 4 Rep Libby Schaaf’s recent love letter to Oakland?  It does articulate the charms and challenges of Oakland quite well.  Check out Oakland:  The Self-Made City and find Schaaf’s letter in the right hand column.

Another Death On Grizzly Peak Boulevard

On Saturday, just before noon, a 53-year-old bicyclist lost his life on Grizzly Peak Boulevard.  The unidentified accident victim was riding with a group, fell as he pedaled downhill, ditched his bike and then got hit by an oncoming car.  Apparently an uphill driver had rounded a blind turn, with little time to react.

Here’s the grim news, first reported by the Oakland Tribune:

The collision happened at 11:30 a.m. on Grizzly Peak Boulevard about a mile west of Claremont Avenue, Oakland police acting Lt. Robert Chan said. The bicyclist, who has not been identified pending notification of his family, was pronounced dead at the scene at about 11:48 a.m., Chan said.

We could argue about whether the driver was cruising too quickly to take action.  Particularly on nice days, like Saturday, Grizzly seems like the filming location for car commercials that warn “professional drivers” only.  The boulevard invites speeders beyond the 25 mph posting, so this driver could have been above the limit.  However this accident happened right after a blind spot, which makes the speed issue a bit moot.

More importantly, there’s a history of near-misses, bad accidents and deaths on Grizzly.  Remember last year, when a women drove off the ridge and died, due to fog and slippery conditions?  There could be more barriers to prevent drivers from falling down the ravines and hills.  Maybe there could be more signage, too.  It’s hard to know exactly how to fix the winding road.

Grizzly Peak Boulevard is a marvel, with amazing views and a feeling like you almost live in the mountains.  Anyone using the curvy or exposed portions of this ridge line road surely knows they are accepting higher risks and responsibilities up there.

Fifteen Minutes For Our Eco-Volunteers

Restoring and preserving natural habitats is a long-term, altruistic pursuit for many Montclarions.  There are many locals who show up, ready to dig, pull, clear, re-plant and otherwise care for our nearby canyon and creek ecosystems.  Depending on where you live, you may be well-acquainted with Beaconsfield Canyon, Butters Canyon, Shepherd Canyon, or other nooks and crannies.

Now one of our success stories, Shepherd Canyon, will get the Hollywood treatment.  The National Science Foundation has funded videographers who will visit the site tomorrow morning, along the Oakland Museum and The Friends of Sausal Creek.  They intend to document all the ecological progress made through the years.

To greet them, the Shepherd Canyon Eco-Pullers and Planters will celebrate “Creek-to-Bay Day” a week ahead of other Oaklanders.  Mike Petouhoff, president of the Shepherd Canyon Homeowners Association (SCHA),  has invited anyone and everyone who’s ever worked in Shepherd Canyon to join them.  “This is a great opportunity for an SCHA eco-puller’s alumni reunion,”  he explained.

If you show up tomorrow, then you should be prepared to work from 9am – noon.  Meet up at Escher Gate, ready to pull or plant under the expert guidance of Adrienne and Herb Bryant.  You might get your fifteen minutes of fame, whenever that happens.

Interfaith Group Honors 9/11 Here

We are headed into the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.  Yes, there’s something you can do to mark the anniversary.  Something more than sitting and soaking up all the TV documentaries.

On Sunday, from 10am to noon, you’re invited to an interfaith service with neighbors.  The Montclair Presbyterian Church (map) will play host to the Kehilla Community Synagogue and Islamic Cultural Center, in a celebration of local spirit.  Even if you’re not religious, why not join them?

These Christian, Jewish and Muslim houses of worship have a lot in common.  After all, congregants reside in Oakland and want to live in peace and harmony (let there be peace on earth, but we digress).  Take a look at these invitation excerpts:

So much violence, hatred, and estrangement is carried out in the name of religion.  Often overlooked, however, are the reconciling efforts made at local levels between people of various faiths who truly have a lot in common.  On 9/11 we will mourn all that has gone wrong, but will also celebrate all that contributes to peace and understanding among us.  Rabbi David Cooper and Imam Rahim Nobahar will join with Pastor Beth Buckingham-Brown in leadership.

The September 11 attacks of ten years ago were a work of hatred designed to drive people apart from each other and foment intolerance and discord.  Too much of the response to the violence of 9/11 has furthered intolerance and hatred.  

Both spiritually and pragmatically, ending the cycle of violence and hatred must begin with ourselves and what better way to do so than to pray as Muslims, Jews, and Christians together.

We pray that we should understand that prayer is not enough and that we will need to work and struggle together and also, play and celebrate together if we are to be effective in making peace a more likely reality and also if we are to be the change that we seek.

On Sunday, this Montclair service seems like a simple way to commemorate the Al-Qaeda attacks — and how we should work, struggle, play and celebrate together.  It’s an opportunity to reach out.