You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2009.

Leave your old electronics this afternoon at Glenview Elementary School. You’ll have a chance to get rid of your old computers, TVs, printers, phones, PDAs, wire and cable. And you’ll be helping out the school by purchasing a few baked goods for sale.

For a full list of acceptable items, visit the Glenview PTA website and scroll down to “Free E-Waste Drop-Off.” Download the form and complete it with your e-waste inventory.

Note that they don’t accept old batteries. But Alameda County Waste Management does; just visit their Think Green from Home webpage.

Drop-off is in the lower play yard at Woodruff and Glenfield. The event is co-hosted by GreenLight Recycling.

The e-waste purge ends at 4 p.m. today, so hurry over! I’ll be the one unloading broken office phones and helping myself to a cookie or two.


The headline in the Oakland Tribune today read, “House Passes Stimulus Bill.” Seems like our new President isn’t wasting any time in enacting change from the nation’s capitol. It’s a far cry from progress in Oakland’s City Hall, whose mayor fails to present any plan at his address this week. Then police chief Wayne Tucker resigns. The Chauncey Bailey Project unearths incriminating documents regarding a fatal brutality case. And in my little neighborhood, reports of a “suspicious” character in the district stirs deeply-held resentments. Everyone seems to be running scared in a city whose leadership is as stimulated as two sticks rubbing together.

I’ll admit I felt alarm at some of the entries I read on the Glenfriends listserv this past week. I won’t quote my neighbors here. To do so would be like outing a family member in the town square. But I’ll paraphrase a few comments:

Neighbor 1: Oscar Grant was killed and there were riots in the streets. How come there’s no outrage when a couple of high schoolers are attacked by a gang? Is it because someone who’s not African-American perpetrated Oscar Grant’s murder? Why not be outraged when anyone in Oakland is killed?

Neighbor 2: I agree that we should always be outraged, but the perpetrator was a police officer, who, regardless of color, is supposed to protect our citizens.

Neighbor 3: Yes, we should always be angered by each homicide in our city. But we need to focus on how to regain control of our communities. Poverty, crime and devastation are on the rise. If I had an answer to solve these problems, I’d run for mayor.

Neighbor 4: What’s up with protestors calling Grant’s death an “execution”? Where were the videographers when Grant and his friends were acting up? Most of the cities murders were a result of black-on-black crime. Where is the outrage in this segment of our populace?

Neighbor 5: I think the city council members and county supervisor jumped the gun when they called Grant’s death an “execution.” If those detained had acted lawfully in the first place, none of this would’ve happened. Why should we short-circuit due process?

Neighbor 6: Ultimately, the key question is whether the BART cop took appropriate action at the time of arrest.

Neighbor 7: Should we only address crimes through the filter of our respective races? I would argue that we could all approach these issues—by volunteering for community programs. Brothers on the Rise is one group; Girls, Inc. another. These are some good ways to turn good will into actions. Certainly, it’s in the spirit of our new President’s call to Americans.

Neighbor 8: It’s important to note that, in the Glenview, there were at least two “suspicious persons” reports last summer that only contained a description of a “black male.” Since when is it suspicious to be walking while black?

Neighbor 9: One post on this listserv in 2007 reported “suspicious” teenagers by the bus stop. The person who made this post also called 9-11. For what? One of the persons reported was my son. He was just waiting for the bus.

These are the input of some unnerved people. And some nervy people. In this sad time in Oakland, folks seem paralyzed by anxiety. All the cop shows and urban dramas on the network are happening now, on our streets. None of it entertains. All of it alienates. And the result is a community that feels alien onto itself.

For some perspective, here’s a glimpse into history courtesy of the Glenview News. Long before the neighborhood became a diverse community, this city suburb housed mostly white residents. The Glenview Improvement Club, for instance, led a campaign against what it coined as an “Oriental Problem.” A news item from the August, 1935 issue reads:

“During the past several weeks residents of Glenview and particularly those living on Randolph Street have been very much disturbed with the prospect of our district being invaded by orientals. A dwelling at … Randolph St. had been leased to an Oriental family.

The matter was brought to the attention of the Editor of the Glenview News. He immediately contacted the owner of the property, and after a lengthy conference secured the consent of the owner to cancel the lease, if the Orientals could be persuaded to surrender his rights.

A committee called on this man in his office in San Francisco, at which time he advised them that he would take the matter under consideration. We have been reliably informed that he has since cancelled the lease, and through the efforts of our local realty dealer Mr. Clevenger, the property has been rented to a family now living in our district.

We feel that this matter was handled in the best possible manner, and that far better results were obtained, then would have been the case if we had ignored the principals in this deal and held indignation meetings and that sort of thing. We have found that if a thing is gone at in the right manner, a peaceful solution can be worked out for the best interest of all parties concerned.

We feel that the action of the Glenview News in forestalling the invasion of our district by Orientals proves the worth of the paper and of the Glenview Improvement Club to the District, and we invite any one living in [the] Glenview to immediately contact us when they learn of anything that would tend to jeopardize property values in the district and we will be glad to use all our efforts to see that our interests are protected.”

The Glenview Improvement Club went on to carry a motion as “opposed to the living of Orientals” in the district (reported in the same issue). They acted with a mob mentality, rallying realtors and attorneys to harass owners into compliance. Their grounds? “The intermingling of oriental people with white people … is not for the best interests of people of both races” (July, 1933).

Quite the contrary. The Glenview has only benefitted from diversity. (Homogeneity seems a fragile thing.) And since the 2008 race for President began, it has been hundreds of thousands of communities—that were diverse, at least when taken together—that elected Barack Obama. This intermingling was our country’s saving grace.

Despite our lack of leadership, I think we can all agree that diversity makes Oakland strong. Fear (particularly “executed” by those in power), are what depresses our potential. This makes it most crucial to come together more often. Say good morning to people on the street and in doing so, chip away at the fear that keeps us from acting like family. I take what Obama said at the Neighborhood Ball last week to heart:

We got the idea for the Neighborhood Ball because we are neighborhood people. And I cut my teeth doing neighborhood work. And this campaign was organized neighborhood by neighborhood. And if you think about it, neighborhood starts with neighbor, because it indicates a sense that we as Americans are bound together. That what we have in common is more important than what drives us apart. That’s why—of all the balls that are taking place tonight … this one captures best the spirit of this campaign. We are going to need you. Not just today, not just tomorrow, but next year, and for the next four years and who knows after that. Because together, we are going to change America.

Looks like Oakland can expect some more rain this weekend. Or at least some grey cloud-cover. But I’m not complaining; a recent report of the Bay’s lack of precipitation has me looking for conservation tips even amidst the latest storm. While the reservoirs are filling—and my Christmas tree stand outside filling about an inch deep with rainwater—I’m enjoying the sound of drops on the rooftop. Things also slow down a bit in rainy weather. Cars along Park Blvd. aren’t racing like it’s the Indy-500, as alluded to in a recent Oak’logger post.

It’s also a great time to check out some indoor activities. Check out some of these events I wrote up for Oakland Magazine:

Betrayed (Jan. 23–Mar. 1) This West Coast premiere by George Packer started out as an article in The New Yorker. Since the story “The Assassin’s Gate: America in Iraq” ran, its content has been adapted for theater-goers. The cast of characters includes Sunni and Shi’a Muslims who form a rare friendship and a woman who refuses to bow to Islamic law. Directed by Robin Stanton. 8 p.m. Wed.–Sat., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sun., $28–$50, Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison St., (510) 843-4822,

The Aurora is a great place to see theater. The space is intimate, so no seat is a bad seat. Nice intermission treats, too. Since it’s the opening weekend, I’d give a call before dropping by.

Smokey Robinson (Jan. 24) Known for such hits with the Miracles as “Shop Around,” “You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me,” “Tracks of My Tears” and “Tears of a Clown,” William “Smokey Joe” Robinson became the godfather of “Quiet Storm” after his mid-1970s solo hit. At 67 he can still make a crowd swoon with his soulful crooning. 8 p.m., $39.50–$85, Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, (510) 465-6400,

I’m not sure if the tix are sold out. But it’s great to see a show at the Paramount. I tried to get Bjork tix there once and didn’t get so lucky. The last show I saw, in fact, was En Vogue, with Arrested Development as the opening act. Whoa. It’s been a while.

White Elephant Preview Sale (Jan. 25) Rummage for treasure at the Oakland Museum’s White Elephant Preview Sale, where choice vintage pieces raise more than $1 million for programming and collections every year. This preview sale is your chance to get first dibs before the official sale in March. Tickets are available in advance at the museum or at the door; seasoned bargain hunters bring folding chairs and coffee for the line that inevitably wraps around the warehouse. 10 a.m.–4 p.m., $12.50 in advance, $15 at the door, children under 12 free (no strollers), WES warehouse, 333 Lancaster St. (at Glascock), (510) 238-2200,,

Note: line up early! This Jingletown sale ROCKS. I found a vintage, two-piece skirt-suit that I adore. It’s wool, with a rust-colored, herringbone pattern. I can tell by the seam work that it was hand-sewn. There’s also tons of awesome furniture, books and art on sale for cheap. My mom, who’s a docent for the Oakland Museum, works in the sale’s toy department. She always sets aside some cute items for my nieces. One find was an old plastic doll I call “Girl, Interrupted” because of her half-mast eye condition and mussed hair. Anyway, my nieces love it as much as their American Dolls.

East Bay Games Day (Jan. 26, Feb. 23) Drop by Endgame every last Saturday for board game marathon action. Bring your own game or try on a strategy game for size; you don’t have to know the rules for Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan, because someone will be on site to teach you. Limited snacks available for sale. 10 a.m.–7 p.m., free, 921 Washington St., (510) 465-3637,

Dungeons and Dragons, anyone? You could always get an Orca’s Stout across the street at the Pacific Coast Brewing Co.

Tonight, I’m going to see what all the hype’s about with “Slumdog Millionaire.” My roomie and I are going to see it in the historic Alameda Theatre. It’s been restored it to its original glory, with replica carpet and the original light fixtures. The phone booths don’t work anymore and the attached cineplex boxes are just as cramped. But for this film—screened in the same theater sailors used to frequent in WW II—we’ll have 185 seats from which to choose. It was also built by Art Deco genius Timothy Pflueger, who designed the Paramount. Wish the refreshments were still at 20th century prices, though. I’ll have to smuggle in my own chocolate.