Monthly Archives: May 2009

Back from Tokyo!

Back in town after a nice two-week vacation across the pond in and around Tokyo. I’ll share an insight or two this month, as well as start digging into City of Oakland’s disaster prep capabilities and likely future orientation. (Plus the usual “sustainability” long-term planning stuff…which includes the above, because i’d rather have this city plan ahead for that than end up in a Katrina-like situation anyday.)

Japan: It was great because I’ve lived and worked there before. My friend and I know the tongue, trains and so on. Except this time, we had lots of free time and more dough. Finally made it to the Tokyo fish market, checked out all kinds of trends, caught up with tons of old friends and colleagues, enjoyed warm weather every day and even at night — and even on the few rainy days. No coats needed even once, unlike Oakland this time of year!

You too can rock out and sally forth from cheap digs in Tokyo, at Kimi Ryokan. It’s only $65 a night for a double. Reminded me of a hostel with shared gaijin (foreginer) lounge and wifi, but slightly luxe. Sleeping on tatami and futon was nostalgic. Ah… the sight, the grassy smell, and, somehow, no itchy bugs in the tatami mats. (They seemed to bite my friend instead, though we couldn’t prove it. But that’s what muhi is for!)

Loved the vending machines and kiosks on train platforms, built up/down/out train stations, 24hour konbinis (ie 7-11), helpful koban (police box) guys, uniforms (hey bakesale betty!), smoothe trains, bikes everywhere, general cleanliness… and didn’t miss the pre-recession volume of eye popping ads in train stations and trains (just like in bart stations here). More mental fresh air.

* * *

Agenda 2009.

Will be looking into Oakland’s financial messes, social and natural capital, sustainability, crime and redevelopment for the rest of this year.

The most important things are going to be: emergency planning, planning for reduced city finances/services (ability to truly serve and protect), reduced support from state/federal institutions; sustainability as our ethnic/class-based shopping cart of spatially disconnected communities fits into “Oakland” as a whole; a look at the larger regional, state and world picture and impact on “Oakland.” Heck, maybe even an “Escape from.”

Really, looking out at the larger national and global financial/commercial collapse, I wonder how this country will handle institutional/social collapse. How is Oaktown being affected by part one, and what would happen in a potential part two? I saw this ad in SF Bloomingdales two months ago with a Suzie Orman look-alike that said “The FDIC is very safe, your money is guaranteed” or some bullcrap. I laughed. (Now peep this FDIC propaganda ad with the same woman.)

More Bike News

My contact in Monterey says they are going to start collecting restaurant compost by bike hauling. I saw some bike hauling going on in Tokyo too (Ikebukuro to be exact) though for other types of delivery. The high transportation fuel prices of 2008 impact us to this day (see figure 1: the greater depression) and will be back for a reprise in ’09-10. Sort of like how the Terminator has returned already. (Haven’t seen it yet.)

No updates…

I haven’t updated the blog recently. That’s because I’m in Tokyo. Ttyl!

Local Currency in Oakland, Revisited

There’s an SFChronicle story about an East Oakland local currency, done by tracking hours of labor:

FOX Atlanta vs FOX Oakland

Fox Theatre in ATL has a 5-star yelp rating with 72 reviews. Didn’t know that was possible on yelp 😉 Maybe ATLiens are less discerning?

What’s funny is someone has the same complaint about sound there, similar to complaints about Oakland’s FOX on yelp. That is definitely more of an issue with this venue than parking availability.

Speaking of the empty lot next to the FOX, it’s great that the City of Oakland decided to NOT approve a paved parking lot there after all. Now it’s time to help guide the city with a great list of focused, well thought out alternatives. If that’s not being done already, that is.

The Saturday May 9th show of “The Shins” looked packed and sold out like the rest of the crowds here. Nobody complained about parking that I heard of. As I stopped in front right after the show let out with my bike taxi, some bridge and tunnel people asked, “Are you willing to take us to San Francisco?” Never thought I’d see crowds of San Franciscans humping it over to Oaktown in BART’s flying plastic boxes for some good nightlife!

Speaking of nightlife, I’ve seen Universal film crews filming scenes in Chinatown and on Broadway, mostly at night. Anyone know what film they are doing? There’s also a possibly unrelated film being done in Oakland, about roller derby girls.

The city/RDA, FOX renovation donors and APE deserve credit for bringing another good institution back to life. Oh yeah — and the high oil prices of 2008 too! The only way to break the back of unsustainable Suburbia.

Public Works Audit released

This is interesting, from our city auditor. 

PWA audit (PDF)

Only 577 pages!

See more audits here.