CHEAP EATS While everyone else in Oakland was occupying Oakland, Hedgehog and me took a vote and decided unanimously to occupy Montclair Village. Oscar Ogawa Plaza didn’t scare us, head-wound-wise; it was just that, from the sound of it, we didn’t think there’d be room to play catch.
Whereas Montclair Playground has a whole empty ball field, and a pond with a fountain, and birdies. And the Montclair Egg Shop is only just a block away.
It feels and sounds like its own little town, but Montclair Village is still technically Oakland, after all. So, OK, we occupied it. If anyone interviewed us, we would say that our protest was peaceful — so peaceful it didn’t even include any signs or slogans. Just mitts. Our demands were simple: a catch, and some yummy egg dishes. (I had wanted to hit her grounders, too, but we couldn’t reach a consensus, so the bat stayed in the car.)
While we warmed up our arms, we talked about what we always talk about: Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, where Hedgehog was borned and breaded. Like New Orleans — where she was, of course, fried — Bloomsburg has a bad habit of getting underwater up to its kitchen cabinets, and this fall’s flood, as reported in this very column, was its very worst one ever.
Another worst-ever thing about Bloomsburg, turns out, is its daily paper, the Press-Enterprise, whose sophisticated online version consists of unsearchable, unshareable PDFs of the paper paper, and (get this) you have to pay to see them!
Actual quote, from that paper’s publisher to a Poynter reporter: “If it’s important to people, they can go out and pick up a newspaper.”
As a result of such forward thinking, for a time the most extensive “national” news coverage of Hedgehog’s home town’s historic calamity could be found (gasp) in Cheap Eats! Because we was there, and I was personally and catastrophically affected: The fair was cancelled, and with it my first taste of what Hedgehog calls “real” chicken and waffles.
She and a handful of news hungry ex-Blooms, realizing their beloved hometown’s story was in absurdly incapable hands (i.e. mine, and the Press-Enterprise’s) accidentally started their own on-line rag, the Bloomsburg Daily, which has ever since been scooping the living daylights out of Mr. If-It’s-Important-To-People-They-Can-Go-Out-And-Pick-Up-A-Newspaper — live-streaming public meetings, posting original and professional quality videos, reporting on both sides of the great flood wall debate, and just generally kicking ass.
Problem: It’s Bloomsburg. Fucking. PA. I get tired of hearing about it, frankly, and now maybe you can relate.
I mean, I would like for my girlfriend to occupy Oakland with me, so long as we’re here.
“Hey,” I say, whenever enough gets to be, in a word, enough. “Let’s live where we live.”
We live down the hill, closer to the Dimond District, in Glenview, but I have always been fascinated by Montclair Village the same way Brisbane grabs me in San Francisco. I guess I’m a fan of anomalousness over quintessentiality.
Speaking of which, my old friend and favorite country song singer Hambone, she’s who told me about the Egg Shop. She lives in West Oakland but cleans house up in Montclair. “The Egg Shop!” she said.
So I invited her to occupy the Montclair Egg Shop with us one morning. She showed up fashionably late, and even more fashionably sporting the most farmerly overalls I ever seen on a cleaning woman. Driving a red pickup truck, to boot. Which is to say, our Hambone is the real deal, exactly.
And she was exactly right about the Egg Shop: excellent, and odd! A model BART train scooting back and forth along a track behind the counter. A real motorcycle in a Plexiglas case upstairs amidst a collection of antique rolltop desks, homemade apricot jam centerpiecing each table, and ham and cheese potato pancakes with cilantro and tomatoes. They were more like fancy hash browns than what Hedgehog would call “real” potato pancakes. But what the hell? I love hashbrowns! And eggs . . .
MONTCLAIR EGG SHOP
Lunch: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner: Sun.-Thu. 4:30-9:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 4:30-10 p.m.
6126 Medau Place, Oakl.
Beer & wine