downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Category — jacklondon

Bad luck or good spirits?

January 13, 2012

Some say Friday the 13th brings bad luck, but every Friday downtown brings good times. And on this star-crossed day, we definitely have good luck - in the form of a performance (held every Friday the 13th) by Damon and the Heathens at Cafe Van Kleef (1621 Telegraph). The band, which includes a few proprietors of downtown establishments, mixes horns-driven funk with subtle commentary on some of Oakland’s challenges. The Heathens’ performance is postponed until the end of the month. Acclaimed LA-based Spanish-language band Very Be Careful is playing at Vitus (201 Broadway), though.

Last night was Jack London’s 136th birthday, and literary enthusiasts toasted his work at his favorite watering hole, the gloriously distressed Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon (48 Webster). As Andy K. asked on Twitter, shouldn’t Jack London’s birthday be celebrated on a larger scale?

The East Bay Bike Party is leaving from Snow Park this month; its ski-themed social ride around Central Oakland begins at 7:30.

The Oakland Running Festival has also decamped from Frank Ogawa Plaza to Snow Park, announcing its route which has been carefully coordinated with AC Transit to avoid the traffic snarls that paralyzed the city last year. Check out OaklandMarathon.com for the course and to register.

The Wall Street Journal published a nice video on the suprising success of Old Oakland’s Pop Up Hood. Check it out!

Just outside of downtown, the Oakland Peace Center opens tomorrow at 29th off Broadway with a weekend of tree-planting, workshops on tolerance, children’s activities, and discussion. Check out the Facebook event for a full list of programs.

Enjoy your DTO weekend! I’ll see you in Uptown.

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The First Friday of 2012

January 6, 2012

It’s the First Friday of January, & the first First Friday of 2012. Shaking off the bad spirits of the past and embracing a hopeful vision of the future is an annual tradition, and the Art Murmur offers ways to enjoy the best of Oakland – our humble city which was just named a top five international travel destination by the New York Times. As long as few of the resulting hordes of tourists stay at America’s second-dirtiest hotel, new visitors will help invigorate the local economy and help Oakland turn the page on a year of disappointments.

January’s First Friday is usually the most mellow of the year, and with a few months to go before the crowds swell to kind of ridiculous levels, it’s a good time to check out some art! The official Art Murmur site has a comprehensive rundown of gallery exhibitions from their members (galleries in Greater Uptown) – check it out at OaklandArtMurmur.com. Watercolors seem to be the medium of the moment.

Outside of the official Art Murmur, the bars, restaurants and pop-up shops giving the DTO so much buzz will be slinging specialty cocktails, serving creative fare, or selling exciting works by local artisans. Check out the Oaklandish store and Oakcollective at 14th and Broadway, each open late tonight, and Oakcollectiv hosts the launch of a style blog. Though the holiday shopping season is over, the Pop Up Hood continues, so don’t forget to stop by 9th and Washington to enjoy what is perhaps the most elegant shopping district in the East Bay – certainly so if there were more shopping!

New restaurants for the new year

Speaking of Old Oakland, the former Levende East has a new tenant set to open a restaurant this Spring, and the arrival of a winery tasting room in Swan’s Market is eagerly awaited. In the last week Faz opened in the former Verbena space, and while I will mis the old Verbena crew, I’m glad that the DTO’s powerlunchers again have a place to occupy. If you stop by to enjoy the Persian-inflected Meditteranean cuisine that downtown denizens and Diablo Magazine are praising highly, don’t forget to check out the new outdoor patio.

Enjoy this lovely January day with art and hope for the future! See you in Uptown!

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