Town Crier: Oakland Zoo walk will leave you purring


MONTCLARION NEWSPAPER – June 26, 2009

I LOVE A good dine-around. As one who can never decide what to order, it’s nirvana to nibble my way through a bounty of edible offerings. Add wine and cheese and I purr like a kitten — which is why I’m so fond of the Oakland Zoo’s annual Walk in the Wild.

Saturday night, more than four dozen popular restaurants plus a dozen or so wineries, breweries and artisan cheese makers will be set up along the winding pathways of our zoo. It’s the tastiest night of the year for Bay Area foodies, and comes complete with a show that rivals anything Siegfried and Roy can muster.

There’s something about this exotic fundraiser that brings out the best in the animals. Perhaps it’s the distant sounds of the live African music that make the monkeys perform wild acrobatics in the trees. The elephants trumpet to the primal beat and the birds strut and squawk as if they, alone, know the tune.

By the end of the night, when it’s time for dessert, I’m feeling frisky myself. I’ve had my Sky Ride across the Savannah and enjoyed the watercolor sunset, and am ready for the dessert tables. The animals are going to bed, but the homo sapiens are ready to swing. We dance under the stars and spread happiness throughout the land.

Guilty pleasure? I don’t think so “… especially when the proceeds go to one of the premier zoos in the country. The Oakland Zoo is a treasure, and if I can support it with a night of merriment — so be

it. Tickets can be purchased online at oaklandzoo.org.E-mail Bag: A bird’s eye view isn’t always a good thing. Consider the plight of the people who live above Montclair and have to look down on the backside of the buildings. Reader Christopher Bunn says his parents live in a lovely apartment on Lucas Street with a great view of Montclair and the hillside across Highway 13.

“Their view,” he writes, “has been diminished by an increasing amount of graffiti on the rooftops of the buildings on Mountain Boulevard.”

He hopes something can be done and urges folks to keep an eye out for vandals.

Old Growth: Just weeks after a block party heralding summer, things are not so merry on Merriwood. Only 40 percent of the neighbors on this winding hills street have reportedly cleared their brush in accordance with fire department regulations. Add to that the fact that the street is narrow and lined with parked cars, making it difficult — if not impossible — for emergency vehicle access. Fire inspectors say it’s one of the worst streets in the hills for compliance — and they hope residents will take the fire threat seriously.

About Town: A new shop has opened in the village, with some of the coolest clothing to come to Montclair in a long time. The Magpie is a boutique store with designer jeans and rebel tees and even a skateboard shop in the back.

“We did a lot of research,” says owner Kevin Benafield. “People said they wanted a really nice place to shop for higher-end fashion.”

Steve’s 19-year old-son, Ryan, helped a lot with the store. He’s a skateboarder, and an artist and a pretty good painter of magpies. Kevin’s two daughters helped pick out the women’s fashions and his wife, Cheri, added moral and financial support.

“Someone’s got to make some money,” says Benafield, who says Cheri hasn’t yet quit her day job as an elementary school vice principal.

Kevin, however, did quit his day job — and couldn’t be happier. He left the corporate grind and a long commute in a suit for a little store five minutes from his house in the hills. Now he’s having the time of his life with his youthful fashions — and even has a vintage red Honda in the front window, next to his Steve McQueen T-shirts.

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One thought on “Town Crier: Oakland Zoo walk will leave you purring

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