Rockridge’s Lawton: a trick-or-treater’s oasis

Story by MAGGIE FAZELI FARD, slide gallery by SAMSON REINY Oct. 31 — They come from the hills and they come from the east. Every year on Halloween, children from all over Oakland descend in the hundreds on Rockridge’s Lawton Street. Spare in its decorations — just days before the holiday only a handful of homes had adorned their homes with plastic ghosts, skeletons and cobwebs, with most opting to forgo the traditional macabre regalia — Lawton is not an…

To cheers, “Gecko Girl” scales Oakland building

Story and slideshow by MAGGIE FAZELI FARD Oct. 24 – It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No ­– “You’re Gecko Girl!”  A rousing cheer burst forth from a dirt-covered lot in downtown Oakland this afternoon as “Gecko Girl” – a.k.a. Lyn Verinsky, an amateur rock climber and general manager of Oakland’s Great Western Power Company climbing school –  became the first person ever to scale a smooth, vertical wall using technology that mimics none other than a wily lizard. “I have…

Farmer’s market both hurt & helped by money crisis

By BAGASSI KOURA At first it looked like a great Sunday for Samuel Lunes. Just after 9am, when the Temescal Farmers Market opened, customers lined up by the dozen before his produce stand. For hours, working with his son and his son’s friend, Lunes was busy selling organic fruits and vegetables. But by the end of the day, Lunes said the sales could have been better.

Crucial young voters are targets in weekend push

By MARTIN RICARD Oct. 17 — On most days, you can usually find 19-year-old Lajon Collins at the Bushrod Recreation Center, playing basketball, lifting weights or just hanging out with friends. But come Nov. 4, there is one place you probably won’t find him: at the polls. Collins isn’t registered to vote. And he doesn’t plan on voting in the upcoming election either.

Halloween fun and fund-raising at Children’s Hospital

video by CLARE MAJOR Oct. 14 — Scary was fun at Children’s Hospital Oakland this afternoon. At a costume party, sponsored by national retailer Spirit Halloween, the kids decorated pumpkins and played games. Donations collected at Spirit Halloween stores will be presented to hospitals around the country, including Children’s Hospital Oakland, in early December.

Playground’s “4-square” goes grownup in BART lot

Video by MARTIN RICARD Every week, young adults and the young at heart gather at the Rockridge BART station to play one of the most hallowed of playground games: four-square. With cars and trains zooming by above, the group — known as 4 Square of the East Bay — takes over a row of parking spaces, sharing the lot with medieval sword fighters and bike polo players, to compete for fun and for camaraderie.

Choirs rock the house in gospel music contest

story and audio slides by KRISTINE WONG and BAGASSI KOURA Thousands of fans packed Oracle Arena to cheer on six church choirs vying for a spot in the finals of “How Sweet the Sound,” a competition for the best church choir in the country. As the choirs sung, shimmied, and swayed their way through the evening, the groundswell of music moved the multigenerational crowd to clap, dance, and raise their hands in devotion.

New owners struggling to resurrect Eli’s Mile High

Story and audio slides by MARTIN RICARD It was a little after 7 p.m. on a recent Monday night at Eli’s Mile High Club, and a slow, celestial song by the British space rock group The Telescopes was blasting over the speakers to an empty room. Jason Herbers, the assistant to Eli’s owner, who manages the day-to-day operations of the club, was visibly frustrated by the lack of customers as he strolled back and forth throughout the place.

Competing chefs sweat out Crabby Chef cookoff

by MAGGIE FAZELI FARD Oct. 12–If crab legs and butter sauce are a match made in heaven, consider the annual Crabby Chef competition the ultimate home-wrecker. Hosted every year by Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto in Berkeley, the Iron Chef-style fundraiser has paired King Crab’s sweet, succulent legs with surprising mistresses like papaya and pumpkin for the past eight years. This year was no different, as Spenger’s drew a large crowd today, eager to ring in the start of California’s crab…