Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Oakland - The Good

This past weekend I went to the The Knit and Crochet Show in Oakland. This was one of those group trips where a bunch of us from my stitch and bitch group go to buy and sell yarn. It's nothing short of a total fiber orgy.

This was a very comfortable, medium-sized show. I was working a booth, and it was an easy, steady crowd of friendly and enthusiastic knitters and crocheters (aka hookers). One thing about knitters is they are nice. Really nice. And it's always a pleasure to talk to them, see what they are working on, exchange ideas, and share the craft with them.

Another set of people I met in Oakland were public transportation workers. This guy pictured here was a real character. I was taking my walk, looking for things to shoot (with the camera), and this guy came out of his bus and asked, "don't you want to take my picture?" I told him I absolutely wanted to photograph him, and as you can see, he willingly obliged, posing like a true professional.

One of his colleagues from another bus was nearby (apparently, I had chosen "bus driver park" in which to walk), but when I turned the camera on him, the man literally ran and hid behind a tree, begging me not to take his picture.

Of course, like most people, one of my favorite things to do in a new city, or even an old one, is eat. One night, a big group of us went to Caffe Verbena, right across the street from the hotel. It was delicious, and I dined on (get this) pan-fried emerald gnocchi with peas several ways and mint pistou. They literally served peas several ways - in pods, shelled, and pea shoots. Each had its own sauce, and they were all delicious. I'd never had gnocchi (a favorite of mine) pan-fried before, but I recommend it. One side was crispy, and the other side was the usual consistency. Everything on the plate was green, from the gnocchi (in spinach pasta), the peas, the mint pistou, and the pesto the shelled peas were served in.

Also green is this fantastic deco building, the former home of I. Magnin (click it to see the fantastic detail). It was a few blocks from the hotel, not too far from the Paramount Theater, also pictured. I discovered that Oakland has a handful of totally gorgeous deco buildings, I style I love, but I didn't get the chance to shoot them all because I was on my way to dinner with a dear, old family friend, and we were very hungry. She took me to a wonderful neighborhood right above Lake Merritt (five stars), just below Piedmont, and we dined at the Grand Oaks Restaurant, where I had prawns in angel hair. I believe it was here that I lost my sunglasses, but so far, my phone messages have remained unreturned, so perhaps not. The important thing to note is that I loved this particular neighborhood. It's one I could re-explore in the future. Just sayin'.

Another Lake Merritt hot spot for the children is Fairyland. Yes, that's right, you heard me. Fairyland. You actually can't enter Fairyland unless you have a child with you. I hadn't met the screaming kid on the airplane yet, so unfortunately, I was forced to skip this attraction.

After dinner, we had coffee over in Jack London square which has become a pedestrian area not unlike The Grove in Los Angeles. The coffee house was very, very urban, and I wasn't 100 percent certain the woman I was with, who is my parents age, would be comfortable there, but she totally was. It was really cool that she was, and we talked about old times with our families.

All in all, it was a great trip. In the next post, I write about my little run of bad luck and the subsequent hissy fit I threw upon returning home, but I'm past that now, and cooler heads (mine) are prevailing. But don't expect my disposition to remain serene and placid for long. I'm going to Las Vegas in two weeks, my least favorite city ever, and I'm sure to bitch and complain heartily about it. In the meantime, I will focus on the charm and character I discovered in Oakland. It's there, you just have to be open to seeing it.


At Wednesday, April 26, 2006 7:06:00 PM, Blogger GetFlix said...

LA, you're so cryptic. Do I sense a new hometown for Lani?

At Wednesday, April 26, 2006 9:47:00 PM, Blogger LA said...

Flix - I didn't mean to be cryptic, I just didn't have time to write what I wanted to write about "The Good" before I went out tonight, so I saved the space to write about it tonight. The good definitely outweighed the bad, and so I didn't want to leave everyone thinking it was all Bad and Ugly.

As for a new hometown... it's really not that much different price-wise than Long Beach. I wouldn't rule it out, of course, but my first choice would be to stay here with my family in the area I consider home. If I make a radical move, it will be to get a lot more for my money, and I don't think I could accomplish that in the Bay Area.

At Thursday, April 27, 2006 1:27:00 AM, Blogger Ffleur said...

Those are some incredible buildings LA. Glad you managed to capture the beauty of the city.

And that bus driver was SO hitting on you!

At Thursday, April 27, 2006 7:01:00 AM, Blogger GetFlix said...

Staying near family, in my opinion, is the wisest choice, LA. (I was only joking about being cryptic. As always, your posts are great!!)

At Thursday, April 27, 2006 7:07:00 AM, Blogger Softball Slut said...

Why did you call them hookers? What did they do to you? :)
Sounds like you had a good time, though I am waiting for the rest of the story to come out. And what's a BART station? I read the last of the post. I understand about the sunglasses. I think my ex's ex took them out of his car, and then last July my purse was stolen with my RX glasses. My glasses cost like $500 cause I am blind, and seeing eye dogs cant drive. Well at least that is what I am told.

At Thursday, April 27, 2006 7:49:00 AM, Blogger LA said...

Putas - BART is the train system, and those are the under-ground train stations.

Ouch on losing $500 glasses! That SUCKS! Do you have insurance that will cover it? My insurance will replace my glasses, but it's a pain to go get an eye exam, pick out glasses, and wait for them to arrive. I just want my old ones back that I know I like and I know I can see through.

At Thursday, April 27, 2006 8:17:00 AM, Blogger Mike V. said...

Bay Area Rapid Transit. Clever, eh?

Great photos!
And that gnocchi sounds awesome, by the way.

At Thursday, April 27, 2006 8:49:00 AM, Blogger Softball Slut said...

Ahh very clever. We dont have things like that here in Austin. There was a lightrail thingy but I havent heard anything more about it since we voted.

At Thursday, April 27, 2006 8:50:00 AM, Blogger Softball Slut said...

jkytsmmz that was my last password. My new one is yatctbwh. How smart do they think I am? They are in the weird bubble letters and it makes me seasick looking at them.

At Thursday, April 27, 2006 2:09:00 PM, Blogger anaKonda said...

LA, I’m so glad you have the sensitivity to capture these beautiful photos with your camera and the generosity to share them with us.
I’m thrilled to see your personal views and thoughts about a place I've never seen, makes me feel a little worldlier…;-)
Keep up with your wonderful photo-blogging. I’m your fan.
Hope you find your glasses!

At Friday, April 28, 2006 6:18:00 AM, Blogger prunella jones said...

I love the bay area. I wish I could afford to live in SF. How do people do it? It's nice to see some pretty pics of Oakland.

At Friday, April 28, 2006 11:45:00 AM, Blogger LA said...

Thanks everyone, and especially Ana, for the extremely kind words. I am touched.


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