Posted by Billyjam, September 22, 2007 09:30am | Post a Comment

I love Oakland, CA and I have always enjoyed taking random pictures around and about "the Town," as it is fondly known by locals. These photos, the first in a two-part series (shot over the past few months),  were all taken within about a mile radius of downtown Oakland. Thematically disconnected, they are merely various images that appealed to my personal sensibilities, such as the above shot in Chinatown Oakland one Sunday morning when it is a-bustle with folks grabbing dim sum from the numerous eateries dotted throughout the area (Well worth a visit if you've never been. Meanwhile, just down the street on Broadway, at Jack London Sq, is the farmer's market, although the Saturday-only farmers market over near Grand Lake Theater is a much more fun market, in my opinion). The above shot is about the only one of a person I took, as I gravitate more towards inanimate objects. Plus, I don't like to invade peoples' personal space. And if I ever do take pics of people, I always ask their permission first -- as with the gentleman above.

The shot below is by Lake Merritt, and while art-cars might be a common sight around the Bay Area, it is only when you travel outside to other states/places you realize that it is not quite so commonplace to see such intricately decorated vehicles. I have spent many hours just stopping to admire and study the countless art-cars I have seen around Oakland and Berkeley. They're amazing. I love the detail and the creative use of various found and recycled objects (including lots of toys) that people put into decorating these cars and I admire their makers for not wanting to adhere to the strict, bland uniformity of merely leaving their cars exactly as they rolled off the assembly line. These are truly unique vehicles. The picture below with the koala bear is the roof of this particular art car while the second last picture is of the hood of this same auto, which is just so creatively and lovingly decorated with keys, beads, and cocktail drink stirrers -- all cemented into a perfect form and design. 

Fans of art-cars should check out this site for info on this coming week's Art-Car Festival (Sept 27 - 30th). And be sure to check out the cool slide show of colorfully decorated art cars (look for car number five, which is the Amoeba Music art car). Related to this festival (the biggest on the West Coast) is a big opening event happening at Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley this Thursday (9/27) called Art Cars Under the Stars. In fact, Amoeba Music is a sponsor of this coming week's event. Click for more info on the Amoeba to Amoeba Caravan, which will span from the San Francisco Amoeba to the Berkeley store.










This shot above is down on Broadway a couple of blocks or so up from Jack London Square, just outside the Oakland Metro. I always love how flowers and weeds manage to persevere and pop out of the concrete. It's like nature always winning out over development. It reminds me of years ago after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake when the elevated Embarcadero Freeway (aka 480) along the waterfront in San Francisco (since compelely knocked down) that connected the Bay Bridge and 101 with North Beach down the end of Broadway. Anyway, for the period after it was closed off to all traffic (due to unsafe conditions) and before it was totally dismantled only, skateboarders and graffiti artists would sneak up there. It became their private playground. It was great. I used to sneak up there too -- on my bicycle usually -- using it as a quick and adventurous route to get from where I lived in North Beach to the radio station I worked at at the time on Harrison Street. SFPD would always try to chase after people up on the abandoned freeway, but they rarely caught anyone. (It just added to the excitement.) But what I always noticed and thought was a real trip was how on this once-major freeway (traveled by thousands and thousands of vehicles daily), now weeds and wild flowers were popping up all around between any cracks in the concrete structure. 

Relevant Tags

Grand Lake Theater (2), Oakland (70), Art-cars (1), Loma Prieta Earthquake (2), Chinatown (7), Graffiti (52), Farmers Market (1), Embarcadero Freeway (1)