Mama’s Royal Cafe

Pull up a wooden chair at the front counter of Mama’s Café Royal, close your eyes, and this is what you’ll hear: The bubbling rise and fall of dozens of conversations. The slam of the register. Staff calling hellos to familiar customers. The sizzle of fat in the kitchen. The swoosh and creak of swinging doors. And Etta James, occasionally eclipsed by crashing plates, singing “At Last.” It’s Wednesday morning, 9 a.m. The hump of the rush is nearly over,…

Roller Derby in Oakland is only for the rough and tough

Some families hand down dishware and handmade quilts. Other families hand down aliases, casino luck, and hip-smashing, hard-hitting, skirt-rocking roller sports. Jane Hammer’s family falls into the second category. Hammer is team captain and coach for The Oakland Outlaws roller derby team – a group of women athletes who represent, “tenacity, fire, and drive.”

Veterans honored aboard the USS Hornet

Veterans and their families from throughout the East Bay gathered aboard the USS Hornet on November 11th, 2009 to celebrate Veterans Day. They celebrated the freedoms fought for by America’s armed forces, honored the fallen with a moment of silence and–with a single bugle playing Taps–remembered those killed at Fort Hood the prior week.

A year after Prop 8: the state of gay marriage law

A year ago today, California voters approved Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment that bars same-sex marriages in the state. Maine voters yesterday approved a similar ban, leaving five states–Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and New Hampshire–in which gay couples may legally wed. This interactive map (scroll over to get more information on each state), designed and reported by Oakland North’s Shannon Service and Tasneem Raja, shows the current state-by-state array of marriage and civil union law around the United States.

40th St bike lane plan sets off hot neighbors’ debate

An ambitious east-west bike plan proposal set off agitated debate at a meeting Tuesday in North Oakland’s Longfellow district, where one speaker likened the neighborhood to a bride on her wedding day. The plan to remove medians, he said, is going “to take her dress, smear her make-up, shave her head, and pare her down to a tank top.”

Choir competes for gospel gold

Eight choirs. One night. Fifteen thousand fans. Watch the singers of Oakland’s Genesis Worship Center as they take the stage in the “Best Choir in America” competition.

Frank Snapp and the not-so-secret guerrilla garden

Frank Snapp walks up 40th Street, just east of Broadway, with a wheelbarrow full of plants and a plastic green garden hose slung in rounds over his shoulder. His olive sunhat shades denim blue eyes. It’s a 78-degree day in North Oakland and the heat rising off the asphalt makes it seem even hotter, but the fair-skinned, red-haired Snapp is in his element. He is a gardener like many gardeners, but three things set him apart: He has a remarkable depth…

Update: Crack in the Bay Bridge may delay reopening

Updated Sept. 7, 9 a.m. At an 8 a.m. press conference on Monday, Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney announced that the Bay Bridge may not reopen tomorrow at 5 a.m. as scheduled. Ney cited unanticipated repair work on a cracked eyebar as the main source of uncertainty. “It will be a monumental challenge to have it finished by 5 a.m.,” Ney said. “This is going to take what it takes. As soon as it’s done, we’ll open the bridge.” Ney will…