Uptown Wednesday night

Couple crosses Telegraph Avenue

It’s empty out. I’m coming back from a long day at the newsroom. I’m eastbound at 19th Street, stopped at Telegraph Avenue and waiting for the light to change. Then I notice this couple, her in a lovely summer dress, him suited and booted, standing on the corner and waiting for the light to change.

Times like this, I wish my Nokia N82 still worked. Best cameraphone I ever had, quick on the draw, easy to just swing up out of my pocket and into my hand, flick the lens protector aside with a fingernail tip and pop, just like that, a picture. But the maxim about the best camera in the world being the one in your hand still holds.

So up comes my Samsung Captivate, and there I go frantically touching icons and sliding panels to get the app I want activated, and there goes the shot as the couple steps off the sidewalk and are halfway across Telegraph when the shutter finally goes click.

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Meeting Travis

Travis Campbell at The Commonwealth

More talk today with an unexpected connection (re-)made over the weekend: I got to have a beer at The Commonwealth and an extremely interesting conversation with Travis Campbell. I used to read one of his sites, The Black Informant, back in 2006 after I’d started Negrophile.

It turns out he’s moved from Southern California to the East Bay, and he was free to meet me after work today before I had to go to choir practice. He was full of questions about the sites I read nowadays, the opinions I have about certain high-Klout score-holders and the potential of black media and rich content plays. I think

Tacking into the winds

Luke Stangel of Tackable shows off TapInBayArea iPad app

In the wake of last week’s announcements about the coming changes at the newspaper, all sorts of interesting people are appearing. The first one I saw this week was Luke Stangel.

How news stories appear in TapInBayArea app TapInBayArea iPad app home page

Now, like many folks at the paper, I don’t own an iPad. But I do use the Web, play with a smartphone and consider myself open to looking in on and making content for other people to use online. So when Luke came up to Walnut Creek and showed off the app that his company Tackable has created for the Bay Area News Group, I had to hear more.

Offering a bounty on pictures in Alameda

I asked a lot of questions. Luke gave me the answers he could give at that point. I have a feeling I’m not done here.

How to dominate a sub

The Breakroom cafe

Speaking of places I like to go eat? Ankita and I have had brunch here several times, and she still likes to go by during the day when she can for hot chocolate. I envy her the times she’d stop in and someone like DJ fflood would be spinning.

The Breakroom sign PETA approved veggie meatball sub

So it’s Sunday and I wind up running around downtown and my corner of Lake Merritt with laundry and returning a library book and running into a fellow choir member. It’s a wonder I even had time to eat!

I’ve been eating the meatball sub for several years here, but I don’t think I’d ever looked up at the wall and noticed this award. Come here, buy one and give it an order and you’ll see just what can happen.

Bending and blending

Scream Sorbet chandelier

After brunch at one of those places I can never stop going to (Lynne and Lu’s Escapade Cafe on Grand Avenue — know how I know it’s one of those places? I used to be its Foursquare mayor, and my former boss took someone he was interviewing there, looked it up and saw it and told me, and I hadn’t set foot in the place in weeks), I went over to Scream Sorbet with the homie Amy Gahran.

Scream Sorbet

I’m glad places like this exist. Sure, people would get along just fine without a place where flavors like vanilla and almond, orange and rooibos, lavender and lemon bend and blend together.

Scream Sorbet

But on a day when you feel like stepping outside of typical culinary profiling, I’d miss not seeing the lime-mint combo (which I didn’t see, and would’ve gladly tried) in a scoop — or the plain-but-fancy chocolate I went with, or even Amy’s melon.

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I do deny them my essence

"Dr. Strangelove" at Paramount Theater

Outside in:

Going to see Dr. Strangelove at the Paramount tomorrow night. Tempted to sneak in a camcorder and bootleg it, just to see the reaction.


Rod VonFleischhammer

Oh. My. God. Dr. Strangelove is playing in downtown Oakland. MUST. FIND. FRIEND WITH CAR!



Happy weekend everybody! I’m hitting Dr. Strangelove at the Paramount tonight – see you there?



Dr. Strangelove (or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) at The Paramount! #nofightinginthewarroom #preciousbodilyfluids


Tim Snelling

Great crowd for Dr. strangelove tonight. Including organist playing “we’ll meet again” (@ Paramount Theatre Oakland) http://t.co/m3JXGfp


Amy Gahran

About to see one of my favorite movies: Dr Strangelove, at the Paramount. I think I know 1/4 of the people here! Hello pals! #mineshaftgap


Anca Mosoiu

Best overheard at Dr. Strangelove screening in Oakland: 30 years later and it’s still true!


Jon Korn

Just saw Dr. Strangelove at The Paramount in #Oakland. Honestly need some time to take it all in acting-wise. #PeterMotherEffingSellers


emasita c

Inside out:

I have to wonder what it says about the city, that we can have events like this one along a particular continuum of taste and vision and affinity, and that these events tend to occur in certain neighborhoods at certain times. Even if the crowd looks and sounds diverse, it doesn’t always feel that way.

I miss the Parkway Theater. I want a new Parkway. I want movies like this all over Oakland, not just on Friday, and crowds clamoring like this, not just on Broadway, and I want it all by tomorrow.

Even if you don’t love me anymore


I thought I was going to get to go hang out with geek comedian Heather Gold, who was in town for several days. We keep trying to meet up to go out and sing karaoke. I made it over to the Deco Lounge around 8 p.m. so I could get right on at 9 p.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the Deco plays host to Eileen Murphy, who can sing anything and whose Annie’s Social Club stints made many TechKaraoke SF monthly singalongs all the more memorable.

"The Boys of Summer" karaoke

Things I remember:

  • Leading off the night with Radiohead‘s “Nude” (I don’t sing or often hear slow songs that aren’t already standards; I can get through it pretty passably as long as I remember to pace my breathing the longer the song lasts) and Toto‘s “Africa” (I tried it on during the sendoff for an Oakland Soft Rock Choir member last weekend; the conversational-register verses turned out to contrast well with belt-along choruses).
  • Getting annoyed at the guy who guessed I’d be singing Michael Jackson songs in honor of what would have been his 53rd birthday.
  • The usual lovely and sublime experience of seeing people sing songs I didn’t necessarily expect to hear.
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The feed and the live chat

Purple Platybus at Wal-Mart

Purple Platybus at Wal-Mart

I need to remember to make the decision — the next one, the fateful one, the one that means retaining control of myself when it is the right thing to do or relinquishing control when it is the right thing to do or both.

After yesterday, I had two reminders of that need. I was heading east on Highway 24, uphill toward the Caldecott Tunnel, when I saw this big purple schoolbus with a platypus painted on the back. Its school-bus door on the passenger side was flapping open. In the backup before the tunnel, I managed to pull up to it in slow traffic, roll down my window and holler “Can I ride?”

The driver double-took at me. Then his friend leaned out the door and hollered if I knew where a Walmart was. I said “Follow me.”

I led the bus through the tunnel, then east along 24, north onto 680 and west along Highway 4 to Martinez, off at Muir and then along a frontage road to Arnold Road where it was. The bus followed me into the lot and the two men aboard bounded out of the bus and over to my car to give me bear hugs. They had Australian accents. They had driven overnight up from Los Angeles, and they said that their GPS system had started acting up when they left I-5 and headed over along I-580 and into Oakland and onto 24 where I saw them.

Steve Jobs resignation on Twitter

Steve Jobs resignation on Twitter

Then I go to the office and, later on, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announces his resignation. We set up a live chat using the tool we’ve used so often, Cover It Live. But then I did something I shouldn’t have done. I added Twitter hashtags #SteveJobs and #Apple to the feed so they would automatically show up. Naturally, the screen is just spewing a firehose of tweets and retweets and lame jokes and scammers posting links hoping for random clicks.

Then a would-be commenter said:

Comment From Guest

this “live chat” is simply spam from twitter. there is no interaction or conversations. boo times. is this what is to come of the consolidation?

I took the hashtags out of the chat setup. Then I started trying to talk to the dozen or so viewers who remained. They were staring at the screen, I guess, just waiting for someone to say something. For the firehose to stop spewing. For anything real to happen. So I started throwing out a few links and asking a few questions, and eventually one person asked a question and another one joined in, and something like a dialogue, something better than a feed came into view.

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Killer quake

Killer quake

I walked out the door of the Oakland Tribune office on Oakport Street earlier today after looking at this front page. Without a doubt, it stands as a Bay Area newspaper’s finest hour — so says the Pulitzer Prize committee.

I know I should be saying something practical and serious, something in keeping with the very real bloodshed on the way, the undesired separation many talented reporters and editors and photographers and online folks face from their livelihoods and community standings.

But I left to go over to the Contra Costa Times building in Walnut Creek and attend the all-hands meeting explaining what management could explain, and as I went, all I could think about was the ground trembling underneath my feet and the ceaselessly blue Tuesday sky overhead.

What I’ve been eating and why

Spaghetti and sauce

Any Sunday night, you can salt and bring water to boil, break strands of spaghetti into halves and toss them under the surface of a now-roiling pot.

Swiss chard Ankita chopped up for spaghetti sauce

You can find the Swiss chard from the Berkeley farmers market that Ankita chopped up, add them to the organic marinara spaghetti sauce and the absolutely amazing vegetarian Italian sausages you’ve probably eaten more of than anything this year.

You can eat well for an entire week, if you pack a Tupperware container every morning before you leave for work, and the cafeteria workers will ask you if you’ve been on vacation when they see you pass through randomly.

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