Halloween made its first appearance on Lakeshore at the Juniper Tree. Their window is a great combo of scary decadence, and their store is chock-full of goodies for women and the home. But Lakeshore has always been a fun place to go for holiday window shopping.

How many of you remember the days of Grandlake’s true variety store, the Dime and Dollar? My kids would crowd into the movies and cartoons with their friends at the Grand Lake Theatre’s noisy matinee while I marked homework for my junior high classes sitting outside at the Coffee Mill, the first coffee house east of College Avenue. Eventually we would find ourselves in front of the gory/funny displays on Lakeshore. I’d always wonder if the kids would get nightmares from the unique Halloween displays like the beating human heart in a box or the rubber monster masks. Then we’d rummage through the shelves and boxes for a glimpse of a special mask, wig, or cape from which inspiration would often flow for their costumes.

Now, of course, Lakeshore and Grand Avenues overflow with good coffees as gingerbread lattes proliferate in the lead up to the holidays, and things are really starting to pop on both avenues. A new home décor and upscale variety store has opened in Earwitness’ previous slot. It’s called Urban Indigo with very interesting and sophisticated ware for the whole family. Earwitness, by the way, has moved in with its parent company, Walden Pond, and still stocks CDs and albums and they’ll begin taking special orders in November. We’re awaiting an early December opening for L’Amyx Tea Shop. The owners are now traveling in Asia looking for even more delightful teas to bring us. I neglected to mention, last time around, that Easy has opened where the 5th Amendment reigned supreme for very many years. We’re glad they’re bringing nightlife back to our suddenly too quiet street.

But back to Halloween. Many Oakland denizens remember that we have been having a kiddies’ Halloween Parade for too many years to count. This year our traditional October 28th parade will start around 9:30 or so (when enough kids are in line and can’t wait anymore) at the Mandana Green. We’ll parade down Lakeshore and back up again to the Mandana Green where the children will receive mini pumpkins and be invited to trick or treat on the Avenue and visit the Farmers’ Market for more fun.

Grand Avenue has traditionally been the site of Lakeview School’s Halloween Day Parade. The well-costumed elementary school children like to make the rounds around lunch time. Keep your cameras handy!

Many of you have emailed me to remark on businesses on Grand Avenue, both above and below the freeway. Let me explain my bias for Lakeshore. I am the Director of the Lakeshore Business Improvement District. The BID is an organization of property owners on Lakeshore and Lake Park Avenues who voted to assess themselves extra property taxes in order to provide services the City could not (or chose not to) afford. It was the first of its kind in Oakland and now there are quite a few more throughout Oakland. We pay for and monitor the blooming gardens in the tree wells, planters on Lake Park (not always blooming due to some merchants who’ve forgotten their promises), daily sidewalk sweeping, monthly steam cleaning, a security guard, banners, more money for pocket parks, and assistance to the merchants on our annual Easter and Halloween parades, plus Christmas festivities, etc.

As a BID, we have direct access to many city staff, most of whom (plug for Niccolo de Luca), are very receptive to our needs and wants. It’s a great collaboration between landlords, merchants, neighbors, and City government. But it only extends from Mandana on Lakeshore to the KFC on Lake Park. The last time we reupped our District, we tried to expand to include Grand Avenue from Lake Park to the Piedmont border but were stopped dead by a couple of determined landlords. More’s the pity, as I really thought it would make us a stronger, more cohesive shopping district, powerful enough to rival College and Piedmont Avenues.

As to your comments and concerns about the Grand Avenue shopping district, as a former merchant and president of the Grand Avenue Business Association, I’m all for promoting my old home away from home. So let me know your tips and preferences on Grand and I’ll get them out there. For instance, Joe from Adams Point thought we should drum up business for the Trio Bistro, a family-run French restaurant that is open evenings and late nights for scrumptious food with a good wine list. I agree that, except for occasional slow service, its location with a view of the lake and interesting entrees makes it a must-try on Grand. John Di Bartolo, longtime coffee brewer up Grand Avenue, opened his new Italian restaurant next door and I hope it goes well.

As for the resident writing from around the corner in Adams Point who complained about the proliferation of liquor stores, I get it. Years ago when I was the chief of staff to an Oakland city councilman, we passed, against heated opposition, a ground-breaking ordinance to clean up the problems around liquor stores. It’s called the ABAT (Alcoholic Beverage Action Team). I would give you the number from the City directory but after searching for a good half hour, I can’t find. Don’t know if that’s just my lack of expertise; but if I, who know about the program can’t find it, I don’t know how the average resident whose being kept awake at night by rowdy bar patrons hanging out on the corner, could be expected to. Just call the City Attorney’s Neighborhood Law Corp at 238-6628 for help.

On another subject but pertaining to the marketing of Oakland, I was saddened but not surprised to read in the local paper that a well-known non-profit, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which had been planning an anti-violence rally in downtown Oakland, had its program cancelled at the last minute. There was expected to be moving testimony from victims of violent crime and local musical acts. According to the article, it had been planned for two months and “had been granted all necessary permits” by the City. The sticking point may have been the music. It was billed as “Get Hyphy Against Violence,” which the Tribune describes as linked to “alcohol and drug use.” According to my sources, it’s mostly about a particular style of frenetic dancing. Oakland has branded this particular development in the hip-hop movement, and it’s just another product that’s been marketed without Oakland kids getting their fair share of the profits.

Now rather than engage in all the arguments around youth, police, and failed festivals in Oakland, maybe it’s time us older folks stood up and became part of the solution. This is our younger generation that we’re raising and who are doing the dying here in so many of our neighborhoods. Back when Richard Word was the Chief of Police, I suggested something everyone thought was a good idea, but nothing came of it. So I’m issuing a challenge. All those folks who go to Neighborhood Crime Prevention Councils, block parties, the Community Policing Task Force itself, or who have or care about kids, let’s go out and get some training as facilitators, guides, etc. from the many local organizations that offer this training (please do email); and then go out and offer ourselves to youth organizations to staff their events.

In the 60s we had a saying, “we are the people our parents warned us about” because we rebelled, we protested and, well, you know the rest. I hope we haven’t become the parents we warned our kids about. Youth in our town will never be allowed to get together and celebrate, discuss, or even grieve unless we stand up for them and from a bit of a distance (and with the police a bit farther away) with them. We must be willing to model what we want for them and then let them have something of their own. Let me know how you could take part in this effort.