Finding the Spirit


By Ginny Prior

Since biblical times, folks have enjoyed the fruit of the vine and other

fermented juices. After all, it’s the spirit that warms the body and

soothes the soul. So it’s no surprise that the Kerry House is hosting

twice-monthly discussions on religion in its Irish pub. It’s a “six-pack

of presentations,” if you will, that begins with a happy hour and evolves

into lively talks on God.

There’s no doubt, this is geared for the young at heart. Pints flow freely

at the Piedmont Avenue bar as folks congregate to share ideas and listen

to speakers. Priests from local Catholic churches talk openly about

Christianity today, providing a forum for new thoughts. And perhaps it’s

the spirits that allow for such free-flowing conversation — ideas you

might not share in the hallowed halls of your own church. For a schedule

of upcoming Tuesday night talks and more information on Theology on Tap,

log on to http://www.eastbaytot.org.

Shop talk

Montclair has three new shops on La Salle Avenue, next to Movie Express.

Two are jewelry stores, which are great for window shopping. The sparkling

beads and baubles catch your eye as you pass by Jewel Box of Montclair and

Meridian Jewelry and Design. There’s a new clothing boutique, Le Rouge, on

the block, too, where Special Tees used to be.

Next to the post office, Nelly’s Java has been remodeled in warm colors,

with a high-tech feel. The coffee shop is offering free wireless Internet

access to customers now, so I think I’ll set up shop there. Oh, and one

last thing. New garbage and recycling cans are springing up in the

Village. They’re definitely an improvement over the badly stained

containers we’ve had for the past few years.

Oakland listens

Here’s a lesson for anyone who thinks you can’t fight City Hall. Reader

Jill Broadhurst says she’s finally talked the Public Works Department into

making some pedestrian safety changes at La Salle Avenue and Liggett Drive

in Montclair.

“After much back and forth and feeding me the line of ‘there is no

collision history,’ they finally put down a crosswalk and posted signs for

zooming motorists,” she writes, adding that it’s time to give Oakland

credit where credit is due.

Timeless art

At 76, hills artist Fred Martin has a passion that shows no signs of

aging. In fact, he has several exhibitions up right now, including a

brilliant retrospect at the Oakland Museum of California.

It’s fun to see how Martin’s work has changed over the decades. In the

late ’50s he painted San Francisco’s decaying Victorian homes. In the

decade of “free love,” he played with collages and fertility themes.

>From early urban landscapes on masonite and board to large pastel drawings

of his travels, Martin’s work is thought-provoking and often deeply

spiritual. He’ll be giving a slide lecture at the Oakland Museum at 2 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 12. For more information, log on to http://www.museumca.org.

Great night out

After years of hearing about the fantastic performances at Alameda’s

Altarena Playhouse, I finally made it to one the other night. What a gem!

This intimate Park Street theater offers A-1 entertainment for about the

same price as popcorn and a movie.

The playhouse’s rendition of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was

riveting, and I really felt like part of the asylum. Next up is the

perfect Halloween offering: “Jekyll & Hyde — The Musical.” For more

information, log on to http://www.altarena.org.

Modern-day shepherd

The weed-munching goats have left the Oakland hills for greener pastures

in Dixon. Modern-day shepherd Jose Surichaqui goes where his flock goes,

living in his little trailer and tending the herd with the help of three

ranch dogs. How appropriate that he spends time each summer on Shepherd

Canyon Road.

And how serendipitous, too, that a contractor doing a remodel in the hills

recently found this in the home’s wall: A 1937 newspaper with the

headline, “Goats for sale in the Fruitvale area.” Some things never

change, thankfully.

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