Losing La Toya


I’M NOT MUCH for jumping on bandwagons. I usually wait until they’re flying down the highway, then I throw myself on and hope for the best. But I’m proud to say I got on board one band wagon early. I’ve been rooting for Oakland’s “American Idol” star, La Toya London, for months. That’s why I can’t believe she was eliminated from the competition Wednesday night.

London was the odds-on favorite. She’d been singing since she was a child, according to her step-dad, Bill Morse of Oakland. “She always had a beautiful voice,” he told me, “and she was raised in the church, singing with the youth choir at Allen Temple Baptist.” Morse, had been putting out an “Idol update” each week for his co-workers at the California Department of Veterans Affairs.

Oakland Realtor Susan Jones is a friend of London’s who says the singer has a lot of other interests, including being a real e-state agent. The money is the appeal, says Jones, who adds that London also likes the flexible schedule.

Now that her “Idol” competition is over, London can pursue other dreams. Whether it be real estate, or music, or some other endeavor, Oakland is proud of her efforts. It’s the best publicity we’ve had since the Raiders were in the Superbowl. Too bad the outcome was the same.

Strange bedfellows

Dieting and dessert — they go together like a girdle and a bikini. But somehow, a Montclair chocolatier has managed to forge a friendship with the Weight Watchers franchise next to his new candy shop.

Michael Mischer Chocolates is now open at 3352 Grand Ave., between the diet center and Dominos Pizza. A pastry chef from Germany, he makes dreamy chocolate in seductive shapes like diamonds and pears.

“When people come in from next door, I greet them with the words ‘two pieces for three points,'” he says, referring to the point system these dieters use.

And it works. While I was there, a woman came in and said, “This is a hell of a location.” Then she ordered a gelato.

Armchair travels

Round and round the big wheel goes, and where it stops, Jeff Greenwald goes. He’s the Oakland journalist who uses a wheel of fortune for his one-man travelogue.

Without giving too much away, his stories include the bizarre tale of the time he hitchhiked a ride with two people who turned out to be escaped murderers.

When the wheel lands on Iran, he weaves a yarn of romance in a strange land, during a total eclipse of the sun. And then there’s the story of the sea captain who went out of his way to make his pores reek of garlic.

Each symbol (the wheel has 30) triggers a story, and each evening is like a journey.

You can catch Greenwald’s “Strange Travel Suggestions” May 19 and 26 at the Marsh in San Francisco. For more information, check the Web at http://www.jeffgreenwald.com.

Stepping up

Thanks to reader Perry Graham for filling me in on the community spirit at the Village Market. He says owners Jim and Janie Trimble welcomed the opportunity to sponsor his Babe Ruth/Cal Ripkin baseball team, the Grizzlies, by paying for equipment and other necessities.

More and more, this league relies on small-business donations, since so many major donors have moved out of the area. In return, Babe Ruth has given us some of our greatest all time sports heroes, including Willie Stargell, Joe Morgan and Frank Robinson.

Punny plate

Spotted on a new green Mercedes in Oakland, the vanity plate: NDULGNC. Jeff N. says with the price of gas these days, it’s indulgence every time you hit the highway.

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