Tuesday, August 29, 2006

You know you're in Berkeley...

... when the bathroom graffiti compels you to write it down. This is from the women's room at Au Coquelet. Each color is a different, ahem, writer:

Don't ever antagonize the horn.
Pynchon references? Aren't we an erudite bunch.
What's erudite?
Pretentious fuck.

MP3s Killed the Record Store (sung to the tune of Video Killed the Radio Star)

Hunting for the Lovemakers CD to give my nephew back East, I parked at the nether end of Lakeshore Avenue and then walked down the row looking for the record store Earwitness Music. And walked. To the other end of the row.


That can’t be right, I thought, and retraced my steps. Where I thought the record store should be was an empty shop with papered glass. I was just there! (Well, a few months ago). How did it die so quickly? Very sad: Earwitness was owned by the same guy who owns Walden Pond Books and we all know how well bookstores are doing these days (I’m wearing black crepe for Cody’s on Telegraph and A Clean Well Lighted Place for Books on Van Ness. But WP Books looks like it’s thriving and may it have a long life.)

Well, I thought, I’ll go up to Montclair and hit the record store on Mountain Boulevard, Village Soundz. Guess what? It is also closed. Also fairly recently: I remember popping my head in not too long ago.

Record stores are like blacksmith shops. Livery stables. Telegraph offices.

I got a little nostalgic thinking about the record store in Montpelier, Vermont, where I grew up, and how freakin cool I felt when I walked inside and was hip enough to order a Depeche Mode album. Fred, the owner there, was very, very awesome. So I just had to google Buch Spieler Music and thank you God it is still open!!! Yah Buch Spieler!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A house I can afford

Starting Sept. 1 there will be an exhibit at Ego Park Gallery, a group show about real estate. Guessing from the very cool postcard (scanned in here) of Monopoly-esque miniature homes, I think this show will be more useful to me than looking at Polaroids in a REAL real estate office. Sad to say, a two-bedroom home in a decent Oakland neighborhood is a half-million dollar home.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lub Dub

Last Friday, Alan and I went to Oakland Art Murmur, where a dozen art galleries open their doors from 7 to 10 p.m. Equally exciting, Telegraph near 24th was completely blocked off to traffic, and twenty-somethings milled around drinking from their bottle-in-a-bag (you know, homeless chic) and there was a drummer’s circle and a fire dancer. It was so great. Oakland has so much creative energy: these kinds of things show it.

Jeff of Oaklandish was there broadcasting an HBO show “City of Rebels” about the A’s and the Raiders in the 1970s, screening onto the back wall of his tent where he sold Oakland love merchandise. Jeff’s a huge asset to Oakland, and he told me briefly about some of the things he’s tried to organize and how the city pushed back because they’re cautious and truculent and don’t get that people like him are good for Oakland. I’m going to interview Jeff at some point for the Montclarion about the events he is even now trying to organize with lots of resistance.

Anyway, back to the positive. We saw lots of fabulous art, and even two pieces I looked at the price list for. Someday when I’m a high roller….

Art Murmur happens every first Friday, so the next one will be Sept. 1.

P.S. I didn't even realize until I was creating a title for this post that Art Murmur is a play on "heart murmur." Those guys are so clever!

Monday, August 07, 2006

National Night Out

August 1 was National Night Out, a movement across the country for neighborhoods to throw small block parties. The idea behind it is that the more you know your neighbors, the better you can band together to keep the neighborhood safe.

This night was a mindblowing exercise in Let's see. I've seen this person getting out of their car a few times, and waved as I went by, but really haven't seen them very much. They must be new to the neighborhood. And then you ask them how long they've lived in the neighborhood and they say THIRTEEN YEARS.

And since you've lived there since 1995, you realize that you've been living, thinking, eating, sleeping, laughing next to this person for over a decade without even really recognizing them or learning their name.... and they live in the house that is kitty-corner to yours.
And this happened over and over again.

I grew up in a small town in Vermont where I not only knew everyone on my street and surrounding streets, but had basically been in every home many times and knew the floorplan. I guess it's different when you're a kid growing up on a block with many kids: when you're tired, you all troop into whoever's house and ask for kool-aid. There are kids on my block here in Oakland, and maybe (I hope) they too think of the neighborhood as their extended living room... but I kind of doubt it. I got the sense from Neighborhood Night Out that many of us were strangers to each other.

The police came by and gave us whistles and penlights... and best of all.... A's tickets! I didn't at first realize the import of the tickets. Since they were handed out to all of us, that means that when we all go to the game, we'll all sit together, yet another chance for neighbors to get to know each other. That game is tonight, and unfortunately I have a class to teach, but I passed the tickets to my friend Chris who USED to live in my duplex, so close enough!

The intent of the event was also to gather names and phone numbers to organize a neighborhood watch. I'm up for that. We are lucky in that our neighborhood is fairly safe. Crimes on surrounding streets have been car theft, but as far as I know, not on our street, and no break-ins or the like. My only experience of crime on this street has been that someone once stole swim goggles from my unlocked car. If you know of anyone in possession of black market swim goggles, email me.

And thanks to neighbors Sharon, Paula and Roger for organizing Neighborhood Night Out.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Go see Joe Quirk

My friend Joe Quirk will be reading from his book Sperm are from Men, Eggs are from Women in two days. Thursday, August 3rd @ 7:30 pm at Black Oak Books, 1491 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley. (510) 486-0698.

Why should you go?
  • Because Joe is wickedly funny
  • Because the book rocks
  • Because Joe uses an easel when he presents
  • Because that easel has funny flow-charts and pie charts he drew and labeled in his third-grade boy handwriting
  • Because Joe is super nice
  • Because how else are you gonna know about why the sperm come from men and the eggs from women?