Clowning For A Cause


What’s a birthday party without a clown? That’s probably what director Julie Jones was thinking when she planned the party for Oakland’s Ascension Senior Center. She picked, perhaps, the Bay Area’s most famous clown to entertain her group – the cosmic cut-up Wavy Gravy. “I’m an activist clown and a frozen dessert,” Wavy laughed, referring to the ice-cream flavor that bears his name. But he’s also something else. A trooper. Despite 7 back surgeries that left him clearly in pain, he showed up to entertain the crowd last week. Looking out over a sea of gray hair, he told a few jokes and then laid himself down on a bed he’d brought into the room. And why was it so important for him to show up for the 26th anniversary? You’ve probably heard, the Senior Center is in danger of losing is funding. It’s fate, like that of other Adult Education programs, is tied to state funding for the Oakland Schools. Jones says she’s doing everything she can to keep her center alive, since it serves hundreds of hills seniors with lunch and dozens of activities each week. She sees Wavy Gravy as one person who can bring attention to her plight.

Building Facelift: It seems like just yesterday that Albertons opened in Montclair, but already the store is getting a facelift. A 17 week remodeling project started this week, that will add another aisle of frozen foods and pump up the produce department (with more organic fruits and vegetables). The final touch will be new paint through-out.

Column Comments: My column on crime (February 25th) prompted reader John Marquette to ask why Oakland Police don’t cut down on their paperwork by using voice recorders? He knows of a police department in Ohio where patrols use voice recorders and have civilians transcribe their notes, freeing up manpower. With that system in place, maybe John would have gotten a better response when he reported 2 vehicle vandalisms on his street (Clemens Road) last month. “Every police number I called had either been disconnected or no-one answered,” he says. John’s wife finally got a live person to mail out a crime report form. But police were apparently too busy to come out and take fingerprints off the rock that was used to smash the car windows.
Meanwhile, reader Nick Solli sees a solution for a different kind of manpower crunch – at the local libraries. “When I went to the Oakland Animal Shelter recently, I saw they had a lot of volunteers,” Nick says, wondering why the Montclair Library couldn’t have volunteers supplement their staff. He says he would help out, and thinks a lot of other folks, especially retirees, would offer their services too.

Shop Talk: Wheels of Justice in Montclair just finished up an 8 week internship with 2 middle school kids from the Canyon School. The boys learned everything from tagging merchandise to changing a flat tire in their ninety minute sessions each Wednesday afternoon. While working in a bike shop was fun, the guys may have been “trumped” by their classmates who landed the internship at Chez Panisse. They got to taste that great food each week.

Punny Plate: The Volkswagen Beetle is the cutest counter culture car I’ve ever seen. So it caught my eye when I spotted a lime green bug, last week, with the personalized plate HIP PEA.
All it needed was that popular bumper sticker “Imagine Whirled Peas”.

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