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Temperatures dipped into the 30s in Oakland last night, causing snow to drop in the hills. It sprinkled over much of the East Bay, from Danville to Mount Diablo. No storms to report; just a dusting, like a layer of powdered sugar. Below is a photo taken this morning just blocks from Skyline High School:

Mayor Ron Dellums, who lives on this street, was undoubtedly as surprised as other Oaklanders; snow is a rarity here. Whether his limo (reportedly seen by a neighbor on occasion) carries chains is unknown.

Tonight, Oakland lows will dip down to freezing. Time to bust out the winter blankets and sip on White Christmas Dream cocktails.

Slow shopping isn’t just organic, it’s good for you.

It’s a lot better than heading to the mall, anyway. Holiday highway traffic and box store crowds are hard on your health. Take a look at Black Friday, with its long tradition of Cabbage Patch Kid stampedes and Tickle Me Elmo crazes. This year shoppers didn’t hit stores in their usual rabid fashion, though. Black Friday sales rose only 0.5 percent higher in 2009, even as Americans spent $10.66 billion the day after Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday brought up online purchases by 14% from 2008, indicating people stayed indoors after turkey day, pointing-and-clicking.

Let Oakland suggest a more festive alternative. Whether you wore black or plaid last Friday, this week bring out the green; find holiday gifts made and sold in Oakland. You’ll get out, stretch your legs (earning you an egg nogg) and see the streets decked out in holiday decor. Crisp air and sparkling lights beckon more brightly than the glow of a computer screen.

In a time of year when instances of road ragers and QVC sales increase, shopping locally will lead you to the perfect gift in little time. And it will help keep your neighbors in business. Here are some spots to check out…

December 5–6:

Holidayland Reception
Blank Space and Compound galleries continue their Paul Bunyan-themed artist sale, featuring the artwork of over 100 local artists, designers and craftspeople. In case you missed the sale launch last week, stop by for Oakland Art Murmur this Friday and take your picture with Paul’s ox Babe; your $5 mug shot goes to support Oakland high schools. Also in store for First Friday are tamales by Tina Tamale of La Borinquena. Sip on Mexican Hot Chocolate, munch on a green bean tamale and peruse the fine art for sale. Emily Sevier creates ornaments to wear on site.
Reception: Fri., Dec. 4, 6 p.m.–10 p.m., Sale through Dec. 20, Blankspace Gallery, 6608 San Pablo Ave., 510-547-6608, blankspacegallery.org.

CCA Holiday Fair
Students and alumni of the California College of the Arts, will turn the campus into an arts bazaar Saturday morning. Have your pick of original paintings, jewelry, textiles, paper media and more. As you browse, enjoy complimentary jazz and treats.
Sat., Dec. 5, 11 a.m.–2:40 p.m., California College of the Arts 5212 Broadway, glee@cca.edu, cca.edu.

Piedmont Avenue Tree Lighting Ceremony & Holiday Stroll
Merchants along one of the city’s oldest business districts show some holiday flair for the shopping season. L’Amyx sells its quality teas (and accoutrements) at a 10–25 percent discount, and feature musician Michael Grandi plays jazz guitar and Cascada de Flores some Cuban folk tunes from 6 p.m.–10 p.m. The tree lighting ceremony (one of three scheduled in Oakland this week) begins the festivities, near the clock tower towering over the Mexican-American diner, J’s Hamburger & Such.
Sat., Dec. 5, 5 p.m. to closing, 41st St. and Piedmont Avenue, piedmontavenuemerchants.org.

Annual Pottery and Craft Sale
Studio One Art Center offers the best of both worlds during the giving season: gifts and a good cause. Purchase any art piece and all the proceeds go to fund Oakland’s youth programming.
Sun., Dec. 6, 12 p.m.–4 p.m., 365 45th St., 510-597-5027, oaklandnet.com/parks.

Fourth Annual Holiday Reception & ArtWalk
Back in the days when corporate plants dominated the landscape, the factory workers used to jangle their pay in-pocket, earning the neighborhood the name “Jingletown.” These days the arts drive the industry here instead of Ford Motor Company, and the products are more climate-friendly. Don’t miss photographer Jan Watten‘s portraits, Sarah Swell‘s metal-wrought jewelry or the Institute of Mosaic Art, whose gorgeous tile murals tag the warehouses on Chapman Street. Download an ArtWalk map here.
Reception: Fri., Dec. 4, 6 p.m.–9 p.m.; Gallery 4:20, 420 Peterson St.; ArtWalk: Dec. 5–6, 12–13, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., when you’ve reached the intersection of Peterson and Ford streets, you’re in the epicenter of ArtWalk, jingletown.org.

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December 12–13:

Holiday Buy Night
Pro-local Oakland Unwrapped and Oakland Grown are just two of the merchant organizations sponsoring this “Mall-ternative” to box store shopping. Products at this evening fair have more variety than a box of See’s candy, with everything from candles to kayaks for sale. Linden Street Brewery keeps customers warm with the launch of its Bleeding Heart Lager, a name that characterizes the most die-hard of Oaklanders.
Dec. 10–11, 5 p.m.–10 p.m., Jack London Market, 55 Harrison St., oaklandunwrapped.org.

Holiday Gifty Art Sale
The Crucible, largely responsible for the upsurge in the Oakland’s art scene, hosts more than 70 Bay Area artisans for this annual gift fair. Each booth standing on their 56,000 square foot space holds new surprises without the high retail prices. Also, sale-goers see demonstrations of what makes the Crucible tick year-round; glass blowing, metal casting and blacksmithing demonstrations wow crowds (11 a.m.–3 p.m.), between live performances and Santa’s appearance (1 p.m.).
Dec. 12–13, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., 1260 7th St., thecrucible.org.

Winter Arts Fair
Join Mercury 20 gallery to select artfully rendered pottery, mixed media, tote bags, jewelry and more. One of the several artists to participate is Chela Fielding, who brings her mixed media to the sale. One of her installation pieces, the charming and stark “Memory Drawers,” was pictured in a book called “Memory Boxes” by Anna Corbin. The hidden objects give the work a nostalgic feel, like a well-loved advent calendar. No chocolate Santa Clauses here, though. Cheer and refreshments however will be served.
11 a.m.–5 p.m., 25 Grand Ave., 510-701-4620, mercurytwenty.com.

Second Annual Temescal Holiday Skate & Stroll
The outdoor ice skating rink takes center stage at this neighborhood fair, with sales proceeds benefiting Good Cents for Oakland and the Emerson School. Once you’ve reprised “The Nutcracker” on ice, peek into the charming stores in the Temescal. All weekend long, hear carolers and dunk candy canes in hot chocolate. On Sunday, artist Mark Brest van Kempen unveils his city-sponsored art series—“Views of the Greenbelt”—sculptures that reflect the flora and fauna of the Rockridge-Temescal neighborhoods.
Dec. 12–13, 12:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m., Telegraph Avenue and 49th Street, temescaldistrict.org.

Local Love
Manifesto Bicycles is just one of the retailers spicing up 40th Street for holiday consumption. On Saturday it fetes 40th Street with the Local Love collective, a band of block merchants, including the Rowan Morrison Gallery, 1-2-3-4 Go! Records and the city’s premier mag shop: Issues.
Dec. 12, 6 p.m.–9 p.m., 40th Street and Broadway, 510-595-1155, wearemanifesto.com.

Fourth Annual Holiday Reception & ArtWalk
Back in the days when corporate plants dominated the landscape, the factory workers used to jangle their pay in-pocket, earning the neighborhood the name “Jingletown.” These days the arts drive the industry here instead of Ford Motor Company, and the products are more climate-friendly. Don’t miss photographer Jan Watten‘s portraits, Sarah Swell‘s metal-wrought jewelry or the Institute of Mosaic Art, whose gorgeous tile murals tag the warehouses on Chapman Street. Download an ArtWalk map here.
ArtWalk: Dec. 5–6, 12–13, 11 a.m.–6 p.m., when you’ve reached the intersection of Peterson and Ford streets, you’re in the epicenter of ArtWalk, jingletown.org.

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Out-of-town & Ongoing:

Renegade Craft Fair
Oaklandish represents The O in SF with its line of pop-historical wear. This homegrown outfit makes the best threads for those tapped into Oakland’s cultural underbelly. And Oaklandish is just one of hundreds more Bay Area vendors setting up shop at Fort Mason, which hosted the wildly successful Slow Food Festival two summers ago. Renegade’s combination of small businesses and big markets provide ample tasting of the region’s indie art.
Dec. 19–20, 11 a.m.–7 p.m., Fort Mason Center, Herbst Pavilion, San Francisco renegadecraft.com.

Berkeley Holiday Artisans Open Studios
This recurring gallery crawl has an Oakland Art Murmur feel, and this winter it comes in holiday dressing. A self-guided tour leads you through every type studio shop and material imaginable, from leather to glass to semi-precious stones.
Dec. 5–6, 12–13, 19–20, Berkeley, 510-845-2612, berkeleyartisans.com.

Holiday Warehouse Sale
Fair trade goods are in abundance at this warehouse sale. It’s hosted by the World of Good, an organization and think-tank that works to improve living conditions for women living on less than $2 a day. World of Good helps millions of women and adolescent girls in the developing world. You can help by purchasing a gift at the sale; items are as little as $5 and discounts as great at 90%.
Dec. 5–6, 9 a.m.–6 p.m., 6315 Doyle St., Emeryville, worldofgood.org.

Oakland Artisan Marketplace
For those who miss this year’s slow shopping events, swing by this marketplace year-round. Each weekend Oakland artisans open up their folding tables and display their wares. More often than not, you’ll find Paula Chan among the vendors; her line includes handcrafted jewelry and frame-worthy cards and she’s always working on something new.
Fri., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. at Frank Ogawa Plaza; Sat., 10 a.m.–6 p.m. at Jack London Square; Sun., 10 a.m.–5 p.m. at Jack London Square, oaklandculturalarts.org.

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For now, the Parkway’s dreams of reopening are deferred. This week news broke that Motion Picture Heritage Alliance, a Midwestern-based cinema company, moved its business elsewhere.

It’s bad news for Oakland, and for Park Blvd. neighbors who wanted the boards on the storefront taken down. It appears then that the “Curious Case of Benjamin Button” poster will remain for the next while; Brad Pitt’s visage seems to mock passers-by that he’s the starring role in the forthcoming film based on the book “Money Ball,” by Michael Lewis. It’s about Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s (and presumably how we let players like Eric Byrnes go to other teams). Whatever you think about Pitt’s acting, it brings to mind an Oakland tendency: losing a good deal to somewhere else.

Recent developments show that while the Parkway’s closing felt sudden, it really suffered a slow financial death. Reportage of how the Cerrito theater bankrupted the Parkway reminded me of how it went down at Cody’s Books. Then and now, expansion proved too big for business. In another development, Oakland Focus blogger Zennie posted a heart-wrenching interview he had yesterday with the Fischers. No word from Pat Kernighan about the potential investors, or from the pro-Parkway movement at iliketheparkway. Its site remains quiet and has not been updated as of this posting. Blight, wherever you find it, is a sad thing.

But as reported, former Parkway programmer and host Will “The Thrill” Viharo remains optimistic about the theater’s fate. In an email announcement today, Viharo has said that talks between the city (District 2’s Pat Kernighan) and the potential investor (Mark Haskett) are officially on:

“Mark has very specific ideas on how to streamline the original business model. He shares my view that the overhead should be split between a team with specific theater experience and one with restaurant experience, working in concert under one roof. This has always seemed the most cost effective and efficient way to operate this kind of business, as far as I’m concerned.

“Anyway, some of the players have changed but the goal remains the same: let’s get this damn thing reopened. The longer it stays dark, the harder it will be to light up again.”

It would seem that the Parkway dream may come out of deferment. It did, at any rate, for a movie house outside of Pittsburgh, PA. Viharo mentioned in another email this week that the Motion Picture Heritage Alliance has revitalized another movie house called The Hollywood Theatre. It opened last weekend in Dormont, a southern suburb of the Iron City.

The Hollywood Theatre in Dormont, PA

On Opening Day: The Hollywood Theatre in Dormont, PA

It all started when Dormont’s city council president John Maggio approached Bill Dever at MPH to reopen the Hollywood after it shuttered last June. Months later, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Hollywood will once again operate as a cinema and also as a live performance venue. (Plans for the brew-and-view will go into effect once they obtain a liquor license.) It’s an inspiring success story, and one that Oakland could take into account the next time new business rolls into town. Then we could save all the drama for the “Gentlemen of Leisure.”

Here are some archival photographs of Oakland’s fave speakeasy in brighter days. I unearthed them at the Oakland History Room and found a lot of images by Vernon Sappers, Oakland’s own railway historian who wrote a book on the Key System Streetcars. When Sapper took these images, the 18 streetcar passed the Parkway on its hill-bound route.

"Construction of Parkway Theatre," Vernon Sappers (ca. 1925)
“Construction of Parkway Theatre” photo from the Vernon Sappers Collection (ca. 1925)

…Interesting to see a view of the Parkway in pre-Kragen times. The homes to the right of the construction site gave way to a co-op, which later gave way to the auto parts store chain.

"Construction of Parkway Theatre," Vernon Sappers Collection (ca. 1925)
“Construction of Parkway Theatre” photo from the Vernon Sappers Collection (ca. 1925)

…Here’s a view facing Park Blvd. and the Brooklyn neighborhood to the north.

Parkway Theatre's initial storefront, Vernon Sappers Collection
Parkway Theatre’s initial storefront, Vernon Sappers Collection

…The theater started out, an older resident told me, as an independent arts cinema.

"Parkway Theatre - Oakland," Gary L. Parks, spring 1986
Photo by Gary L. Parks, spring 1986

…Gotta love Oakland in the ’80s.

Photo by Mark Koehler (ca. 1980s)
Photo by Mark Koehler (ca. 1980s)

…The Parkway marquee here touches on themes of the present-day closure.

The Parkway this spring
The Parkway this spring

…Thank you to the Fischers for creating the dream, Viharo for stewarding it and to those who, in a campaign for the Parkways’ survival, showed their Oaktown love in reviving it.