Hello friends. This friday is First Friday in Oakland, and we will be on “vacation” per-se. For the first time in over a year, we will not be working the corner of 23rd and Valley streets. why you ask? well, the Oakland Art murmur.org people decided they had had enough. I heard there was an altercation during the May event that disrupted our usually peaceful yet chaotic goings on quite considerably, drawing our rented security forces out into the street to deal with a protest action or something on 23rd street, leaving the street closure vulnerable. News travels slowly down the block, I heard this from others second hand. I think the .org peeps simply had enough, and after that, they let the event continue for one more month while they got their “words” together, then decided to end the permitted street closure that has been a nucleus of Art murmur for some time. Effective July 6th and beyond, no more food court and vending zone on 23rd street.
I ran into a good friend today outside my kitchen space, Rhassan Fernandez. Perhaps you’ve heard of Boffo Cart? I recall him telling me when I met him a couple years ago that he was partially to blame for making the 23rd street thing a permitted event. He used to set up his BBQ and tent or not, and just make food, selling it in between gallery spaces where he could find a decent spot. Totally renegade. Alongside other oakland notables, the Grilled Cheese guy. Rhassan started trying to work with Alameda County to get a permit and play by the rules. One thing led to another and the 23rd street scene was born out of R.P.S. and a handful of people. I remember eating Rhassan’s food before I “met” him at an art murmur that I happened to go to. He was Set up in the Zone on 23rd street, now probably fully permitted, doing calzones and flatbread creations on his Grill and I was like that’s really cool. I got this oven I’m looking to break into this place. How do i Do that? We figured that part out. Some of you may have tried our pizza.
Today he and his partner were like, so whadda ya think about the end of the 23rd street permit? Which brings me to the point of this blog. I’m quite relieved actually. Yes, for the last year +, art murmur has guaranteed me rent/bill payments, etc. It made us money, no doubt. But it was a hard gig in the end. Being at the end of the block lent itself to all kinds of happenings that involved angry drivers and lots of noise. Since we always had walls up around us we could never see what was going on, walking past us, making crazy sounds, or on occasion quite warm blasts of hot air from a Snail Car1. Like the accordion player who for over a year really only knew one tune. Sure he could play it for an hour, and it probably did vary a bit from month to month, but not enough for our crew’s sanity. The newest additions to the end of the block were a series of marching bands who became stationary bands right behind our tent. It just adds to the difficulty in taking orders and calling out names when we’re busy. Sure it adds to the festivities, but they are supposed to March, and move on you know. K.I.M. down the line.
Summer’s here. July Art murmur will still happen, with new food pods taking the place of ours. Particularly the newest addition to Friday nights, the Eatup will become the new mob scene to get food from. I know I missed the proverbial boat on this one. I got a call from the organizer asking if FOF would like to be a part of it. This was before I knew my spot was disappearing so I said I’ll stick with what’s been working for the last year. Oops. Shoulda coulda all day won’t change the conversation I had with that pod two months ago.
Someone else is in that new spot and no room for me now. Thats ok. Other Pods are forming, We’re hoping to be a part of something by August, back downtown, near where it all legally started for us in April 2011. For now, we’ll stick with catering and our regular string of events, doing what we do best, Making Pizza! The way I see it, we have one more day available to book a private event, and one less permit to get every month! See you out there. Somewhere