Oakland Idyll, Dec. 23, 2013 (4 Photos).

FAIL
Out of order parking meter reads "FAIL." Looking forward to seeing one that says "pwned."
Out of order parking meter reads “FAIL.” Looking forward to seeing one that says “pwned” next time.

 

The Buena Vista Social Club Pays a Visit

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If you're going to park on the front lawn, always try to block the walkway.
If you’re going to park on the front lawn, always try to block the walkway.

 

A SCANNER DARKLY.

Philip K. Dick, longtime Oakland resident, would understand.
Philip K. Dick, longtime Oakland resident, would understand all too well.

Look closely below the right tail-light. You’re starting to see these new square bar codes everywhere. Their design makes them easier to capture with a portable scanner, such as a smart phone. It only makes sense that they would now show up on vehicles.

Think about how old-school it is for cops to have to pull up close enough to read off a license plate into the radio Adam-12 style: “Alpha Charlie Diamond, One, Four, Six. Tags are current. Copy?” when instead they could convey all the information with a quick scan of the bar code.

Expect to see these on vehicles everywhere, sooner than you think.

Lotto Fever. Dec. 17, 2013.

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The last time I bought a lottery ticket this year was in April, but when I was driving in East San Jose yesterday afternoon and heard that the Mega Millions jackpot was up over $600 million, I decided it was time to buy in. Not because I thought I had any chance of winning, but because a jackpot like this is a social event that takes on a life of its own. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts, and I wanted to do my part.

A dollar won’t even buy you a donut in most strip malls anymore. So if that same buck can get you a pull on the one-armed bandit that will give somebody somewhere a $600 million payout (actually less than half that in a lump sum payout), why not?

There was no chance to pull off the road until I got out of East San Jose and into South San Jose and completed my last stop of the day. The sun was setting as I slid into a diagonal parking space in a strip mall alongside Interstate 85 that had a Safeway and an official lottery retailer.

It turned out to be a very dramatic sunset, which was nice because 2013 hasn’t been a great year for sunsets so far.

Red tail lights waiting to get on the 85.
Red tail lights waiting to get on the 85.

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I was not really surprised to learn that one of the two winning tickets for the Mega Million jackpot was sold in a strip mall in East San Jose. It’s one of the few good towns left for working class optimists.

I still haven’t checked my numbers, and I doubt I will. Having been in East San Jose hours before the lucky numbers were picked there is as close to winning the thing as I’ll ever come.

What I did manage to accomplish in East San Jose that afternoon was getting my first up-close gander at a biodiesel pump in a mainstream gas station.

 

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R.I.P. Harold Camping. Before the Mayans got all the glory, this Alameda resident predicted that the world would end on Oct. 21, 2011.

One of the great things about visiting Alameda is knowing that an old-school doomsday preacher like Harold Camping was going about his busy day on the very same island.

Sometimes I would even drive real slow by his house (pictured above) just to bask in his eminence and remind myself that the quiet, suburban tree-lined streets are often populated by people whose minds run deeper and wilder than we could possibly imagine.

The last time I drove past his house was on Wednesday, Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving, at 2:42 PM. That is when this photo was taken. He died 18 days later.

R.I.P. Good Reverend. I know that the world really did end on October 21, 2011, no matter what the others say.

THE WEEK THAT WAS. DECEMBER 10-13, 2013.

The Palm Tree and the Pine.

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A uniquely Californian pairing. I photograph them together every chance I get.

Easter Island Style

At this strip mall on the edge of East San Jose, I looked up at these trees and realized I was looking at the gangsta lean silhouette of the mysterious Easter Island statues.

 

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Note the white pinprick of the half-moon (top-center).

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East San Jose Lavanderia.

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Lake Merritt

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Alameda

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Magic Hour in San Jose.

As the entire street was engulfed in deepening shadows, this one house on the end seemed to light up.
As the entire street was engulfed in deepening shadows, this one house on the end seemed to light up.

Ford Falcon Ranchero. San Jose.

This was my last stop of the day on Thursday. I had never seen anything like this Falcon Ranchero before. It was good light for photography, but the old guys on the block were all gathered at the corner. I knew they would be watching me, so I settled for these two furtive shots from across the street.

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The Mission.

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It's good to see that parts of the Mission don't change.
It’s good to see that parts of the Mission don’t change.

Trees of San Leandro/San Lorenzo

 

 

 

 

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This thing is pruned to look like a Fram oil filter.
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Me and the tree.

Trees of December. Ygnacio Valley. Dec. 3, 2013.

 

16 hours after returning to the Bay Area, I am called off my normal delivery schedule ¬†and rerouted to handle the Ygnacio Valley stops. Comprising parts of the cities of Walnut Creek, Clayton, Concord, and Martinez, it’s a district I seldom visit.

Though technically part of the San Francisco Bay Area, this region feels palpably distinct from other Bay Area communities. Geographically, climatically, and socially, it conjures the Central Valley more than the San Francisco Bay, thus affordiing an opportunity to collect some unique Bay Area Driver photographs. Unfortunately, my Iphone only had enough available memory to record a handful of shots, but sometimes less is more.

Walnut Creek.
Walnut Creek.
Concord, CA.
Concord.

 

Concord.
Concord.
And an obligatory shot of Detroit muscle.  Concord.
And an obligatory shot of Detroit muscle.
Concord.

 

 

Up The Coast. A Glimpse Of The Channel Islands. Dec. 2, 2013.

LAX. The journey begins.
LAX. The journey begins.

 

Foreground: The southern tip of the ghost town of Surfridge, a community of typical tract houses right under the LAX flight pattern. With the advent of jet engines, the neighborhood was deemed unsafe for habitation. Under eminent domain, the residents were bought out and the houses destroyed. All that remain are the roads and some foundation slabs.
Foreground: The southern tip of the ghost town of Surfridge, until the 1960s, just another community of suburban tract houses that happened to be right under the LAX flight pattern. With the advent of jet engines, the neighborhood was deemed unsafe for habitation. Under eminent domain, the residents were bought out and the houses destroyed. All that remain are these roads and some foundation slabs.
At LAX, they take off two at a time.
At LAX, they take off two at a time.

 

Using me as an example, it’s quite possible to grow up your entire life in L.A. and not know that there are any other islands offshore besides Catalina. In fact there are seven more. A fringe benefit of flying from LAX to Oakland on Southwest Air and sitting on the left side of the aircraft is a chance to view a majority of these islands in rapid succession and realize just how nearby they are.

Catalina Island in the foreground, San Clemente Island in the rear. The other airplane is visible just above Catalina's isthmus; it's heading south, we're banking north.
Catalina Island in the foreground, San Clemente Island in the rear. The other airplane is still visible just above Catalina’s isthmus; it’s heading south, we’re banking north.
Leaving L.A. County. The contours of Point Dume are in the foreground; Ventura County is the inlet beyond the mountain range; and Santa Barbara County is the vanishing point on the horizon. Note the Channel Islands National Park offshore to the left. I believe all four islands might be visible: Anacapa (nearest), followed by Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa (far left), and possibly San Miguel (far right just behind Santa Cruz).
Leaving L.A. County. The contours of Point Dume are in the foreground; Ventura County is the inlet beyond the mountain range; and Santa Barbara County is the vanishing point on the horizon. Note the Channel Islands National Park offshore to the left. I believe all four islands might be visible: Anacapa (nearest), followed by Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa (far left), and possibly San Miguel (far right just behind Santa Cruz).
Closeup of the previous photo: Channel Islands off the coast of Ventura County. The three little ones in the foreground are the Anacapa Islands; the large "C" shaped one behind it is Santa Cruz Island; behind that and to the left is Santa Rosa Island.
Closeup of the previous photo: Channel Islands off the coast of Ventura County. The three little ones in the foreground are the Anacapa Islands; the large “C” shaped one behind it is Santa Cruz Island; behind that and to the left is Santa Rosa Island.
Above Ventura County.
Above Ventura County.
Close-up of Anacapa Islands (left), Santa Cruz Island (center), and Santa Rosa Island (rear) from above Ventura.
Close-up of Anacapa Islands (left), Santa Cruz Island (center), and Santa Rosa Island (rear) from above Ventura.
Drinks are served. When did bloody mary mix become the color of sweet and sour sauce? Since this one was free, I'm not complaining.
Drinks are served. When did bloody mary mix become the color of sweet and sour sauce?
Since this one was free, I’m not complaining.
Commuting via the stratosphere. 35 minutes after takeoff, the Bay approaches.
Commuting via the stratosphere. 35 minutes after takeoff, the Bay approaches.
The familiar site of evaporation ponds.
The familiar site of evaporation ponds.
San Mateo Bridge and the newly restored wetlands of the Hayward bayshore. Next up: Oakland International.
San Mateo Bridge. Reentering the realm of the automobile. Note the one-way direction of the commuter traffic at approximately 5 pm. Next up: Oakland International.