This is the second half of the two-part series of photos taken in Oakland, CA (aka "the O"), shot over the past few months. Like the previous set, most of these are simply shots of random objects and things that grabbed my attention at the moment I snapped them. One of the reasons I love taking photos is that it offers me fresh new insights into everyday objects and things. Whenever I look back at a photograph of some scene or image, no matter how commonplace or how many countless times I might have walked by and noticed it with the naked eye, I always manage to view it in a whole fresh new light after capturing it on camera. And so, for me, taking pictures is not just a fun hobby but it also enables me to start looking at life's little things, and hence life itself, in a whole new light.
These photos were taken in and around downtown Oakland and near the lake (Merritt), including the above shot of the beautiful outdoor ceiling near the ticket booth of the Grand Lake Theater. Not only is the Grand Lake an absolutely beautiful structure both inside and out, complete with its own mighty Wurlitzer organ, but its politically aware owners regularly post some topical and relevant message on the marquee outside in letters large enough to see as you drive by on 580. Meanwhile, below, among the dozen more photos is another one of the Grand Lake's outside sign. Also in the pictures below is a shot of the sign above the nearby legendary Oakland greasy burger spot -- just down the block a bit from the Grand Lake Theater-- Kwik Way, which some longtime music fans might remember was also the name of a short-lived Bay Area mid-eighties punk band who jacked not just the name but also the logo of the take-out only eatery as the cover art for their sole album back in the day.
When I last went by that Lakeside Kwik Way (the last remaining one of the three of the locations unique to Oakland) it was still closed. Rumors about it reopening clashed with rumors about it being closed for good and reopening as a Fat Burger spot. Bummer! That would be kinda sad because to me this is an Oakland landmark -- one where, over the years, I have eaten more dubious, greasy late night munchies than I would care to admit or remember, and one that most Oaklanders have some story to tell about...Like how one time someone's fries came complete with a bonus deep fried mouse. It was also immortalized in rhyme by Oakland rapper Too $hort who cross-referenced it on his 1990 album $hort Dog's In The House in the hometown anthem "In The Oaktown." At that time all three of the Kwik Ways in "the town" were still fully operating, including the one over on Telegraph, where, I remember, the staff were always so rude and snappy with the customers it was endearing in a twisted kinda way. I liked it because the grumpy staff, unlike the fake niceness of McDonalds, were at least being honest and truly just being themselves -- miserable in their hot, greasy work.
It's like comparin' Mickey D's and Kwik Way
You only got 3 stores I got the whole wide world
I get beeps everyday from your favorite girl
- Todd Shaw
Speaking of Too $hort, like many rap artists from Oakland, he too has often addressed the issue of violence and murder, especially black on black crime, in the East Bay city. And while this year's Oakland murder rate isn't quite as high as last year's (which totaled 148 by year's end), it still is ridiculously out of control with close to 100 homicides committed at the time of writing this AMOEBLOG, and that's just plain fucked up! Homicides include the well-publicized murder of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey (who I knew from working with at Soul Beat years ago -- may he rest in peace!), but also a great many more lesser publicized, but no less tragic or significant, murders in Oakland this year already. One, or rather a memorial to one, is captured in the very final photo (scroll down to the bottom of this gallery). This photo of a makeshift altar created for a homicide victim on 29th Street (near Harrison) in late June was one I took to accompany an AMOEBLOG I wrote at that time about this very sad and tragic reality that is also a part of Oakland, California.