Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bikes, Queen of Clubs: DJ Black, Punk Funk Mob, & Speakin' Easy Vulcan

Biking Oakland
During last year's parking wars I got slammed with tickets. I reluctantly parked my girl 'Niti (that's her name) and took to walking and riding public transportation. It was amazing to see how much money I saved and how much better I felt-reduced my waistline and carbon footprint in one fell swoop! Still, riding Aunt Clara and BART most definitely lack spontaneity factor for making impulsive moves. In response, I dusted off my '90s era Bianchi Eros (Baby B), and solicited assistance from my good friend and riding "G", C. Brooks. After a few adjustments- two new tires, an inner tube, and some chain oil-CB got me on the road and I've been pushin' it like a 15 year old ever since.

During our visits to local bike shops to pick up parts and advice, I noticed an overwhelming attitude (not mean) just a look that says, "you don't know what you need, I do. Just shut-up and let me solve your problem!" I'm familiar with this attitude since my riding enthusiast (bike SNOB) of a son deals with me in much the same way. My logic: I need bicycle parts, service, and advice. Maybe I should visit a place that provides parts, service, and advice. I'm just getting reacquainted with biking and if I need to spend the money anyway, why can't I just get some questions answered without that condescending smirk?

While rollin' around on Baby B, I found...Manifesto Bicycle on 40th @ Webster. These folk have managed to create a shop that exemplifies Oakland-inclusivity. I was met with smiles (not eye rolls) and genuine interest in helping me get the right gear for MY NEEDS. My needs? I like that.

"We want you to come in and talk about bikes" explained co-owner Mackay. "We (she and her partner Sam) wanted to create a bike shop that feels like a skate shop." "Sam has been a bike enthusiast and mechanic his whole life and I'm an entrepreneur. When we started riding together it was like "ta da" this makes sense." To top it all off, these partners are Oakland Lovers and the rest is his(and her)story. They offer a nice selection of city rides and accessories as well as a complete mechanic's shop. Check out Bike Church on Sundays from 11-12. "Services" are held to empower riders to fix "your own" and share experiences with the local riding community. There's even coffee, live music, and vegan doughnuts. Hallelujah Baby B!

Visit Manifesto's website for more info and bicycle love.

For more biking fun, peep these Oakland biking originals as well:

The One Woman (Bicycle) Street Team: DJ Black
Earlier this year DJ Black got clipped by a car while on her bike while promoting Hella Gay or one of the many sets she throws in Oakland. The next day, girl was back on the streets promoting wearing a silk headscarf and some big shades. A true warrior DJ!

Last year Mr. Oakland and DJ Oliver hosted Black's 17th annual Halloween set. All I can say is, damn, damn, damn!! Almost 500 attendees and beautiful fun had by all. This year is Black's 18th Annual Halloween Extravaganza is being held this Saturday October 30th @ The Oasis 135 12th Street. DJ Black's Allstar DJ Crew for the night include Abeldee, Vladamir Computin, Miggy Stardust, fflood, Oliver, and of course, Black as Black! Also Aima the Dreamer will be performing. Be festive because there will be a cash-prize costume contest hosted by Mr.O! Be ready the throw dat!
For more info, see the invite @!/event.php?eid=149531578378

"Welcome To the Freshness"

Punk Funk Mob: New Bar-Raising Video
Oakland based Punk Funk Mob have released the first installment of their latest music video Andie's Flowers. I'm intrigued: Beautiful woman, palpable angst, and a pocket knife? Leila could snap @ any moment. Will this end happily? New pieces to the puzzle will be released everyday @ 11:01 AM until 11/1/10. Can't wait to see how this all plays out. Check out Leila Chapter 1: The revolution may not be televised, but the web will do just fine. Quincy and Femi: Don't stop! PFM's latest release, Revolution, is available on itunes and @ Amazon.

Vulcan Blind Tiger Speakeasy November 6th
Think: Interactive dinner theater meets a prohibition-era set. Become a "one-nite member" of the Lucid Dream Lounge and soak up champagne, good food and 12 live acts with talents ranging from a french cabaret singer to an aerialists to 3 live bands to a opera singer (bravo to my girl Michelle Jasso) and more-intimate and flavorful. The stage winds throughout the audience and the menu includes fried chicken and even grilled cheese to exemplify this family home style joint. Real theater that's on the edge. The "donation" is $20 or $10 (if you arrive in a period costume). Attendance has exceeded 125 @ previous productions so get out. It's a speak easy, so you gotta do a little work to connect. Ya mean? Details @!/event.php?eid=126653270722574653270722574

Until next time...Oakland Stand Up!

Mr. Oakland

Happy Halloween Ya'll!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Get Your Vote In

Campaigning For Oakland
Three years ago, a business mentor advised me to "become politically active in Oakland". My response? Dry heaves. Nah, I'm cool with that. During this period we all have experienced frustration and anger (both justified) over all affairs pertaining to our city. Today I concede the validity of my mentor's wisdom.

Oakland is a city built on activism and,therefore, political by nature. This spirit of activism is what makes us look like weirdos on some days and masterfully united on others: It's who we are as a city. Since the city is run by politicians (insert growling stomach sound) isn't it time I took an ACTIVE(ist) roll in improving MY Oakland first?

This past week I witnessed why Oakland is so lovely and special. Oddly enough, our unique political environment shapes our city's beauty. Note: I have no intention of presenting a political head trip in this dispatch. All I can share are my own observations, and (current) conclusions about what I have personally experienced.

Remember This Guy?
Who better to take Oakland to world-class city status than a internationally known son of the city than Ron Dellums? Um....BUST!

I love Ron. Born and raised right here, he is Oakland through and through. Unfortunately, he created a force field between himself and The People. It seems he forgot the value of street credibility while doin' his thang (quite well I might add) in the US Congress. High profile is cool only when the benefits reach the lowest.

As a lame duck mayor, I give him credit for trying to limp out on a high note. Thursday night, he honored Oakland-based Pandora Radio CEO Tim Westergren with a city proclamation during InOak's (see Mr Oakland 7/22/10) final meeting of the year at the crazy beautiful Kaiser Bldg Rooftop Garden. The setting was classic Oakland. Unfortunately it felt like too little... Isn't this the type of presence we needed almost 4 years ago? (Sigh)

Walking With Rebecca
On Saturday I volunteered to walk precincts for mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan. It was tough taking my activism to the streets. Forecasts called for beautiful Bay Area fall weather and I even considered faking to bask in the glow. The goal: Canvas neighborhoods and get the word out that she was the only candidate presenting a plan for improving Oakland. "Nice!", I thought. What a great way to spend a Saturday in the sun and "do my part".

Oddly, I was perplexed at the number of people who knew very little about an "elected" official who has served Oakland for the past 9 years as a city council member and on the transportation board. On numerous occasions I asked residents, "Are you familiar with Rebecca Kaplan?" Most responses went like this: "Who?" or "I've heard of her, but I don't know much about her." By the end of my shift I had internalized the importance of getting the word out about the candidates most aligned with my vision and goals for what I want for Oakland. Equally important, I saw that we (and I) could WIN!

A 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Choice
Oakland is ready for change. For that change to be effective, we must elect officials that have a history and track record for working with The People of Oakland. In my opinion, there are only two candidates with this type of experience: Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan.

This is the first year Oakland will utilize Ranked Choice Voting. How it works: All voters get a 1st, 2nd, & 3rd choice for mayor. I only mention Ms. Quan, current council member for District 4, not as a lesser evil, but as a viable second choice. I make no mention of a third choice simply because there are no other candidates with any real experience effecting positive change for the majority of Oakland's residents.

My Candidate For Mayor
So without further prognostication, here is my choice for mayor: Rebecca Kaplan. I firmly feel that Rebecca Kaplan should be the next Mayor of Oakland for the following reasons:

1. I have personally observed her rally a cross-section of people and causes for the betterment of all of Oakland's residents.
2. Experience serving all of Oakland.
3. A Blueprint for the Future of Oakland. Check it out for yourself:

Some of my closest friends have questioned whether getting openly involved is a good thing for me. I say ABSOLUTELY. Check it, I'm not asking that you agree with me. Just do your damnedest to get what you want by getting involved in the process. Ultimately, we can't judge Ron, Jerry, Elihu or anyone else for our failures or successes. In the end, we are the ones judged by the outcome. You. Me. The People.

Oakland Stand Up!

Mr. Oakland

See the NY Times article on how Oakland's clergy has embraced Rebecca Kaplan as a symbol of positive change for Oakland.

Learn more about Rank Choice Voting from V Smoove at A Better Oakland