Boulevard Bites

by Sheila D\'Amico

### If you haven’t signed up to have a National Night Out party at your house or on your block, take a walk between 7 and 9 p.m. the evening of August 7, and stop at a neighbor’s party. Mayor Quan says Oakland had 550 NNO parties last year and says, “This year, we’re aiming for 600.” So you should find somewhere to drop by and say, “Hi, neighbor.”

### The Alameda County Registrar of Voters is calling for poll workers to work on election day. Workers will be trained and will receive a stipend. ROV also is calling for High School students who are interested in organizing mock elections. Find out more about both at

Michael Erdman, founder of Erdman Observatory in Oakland, photographed these recent astronomical events: solar eclipse on May 20, lunar eclipse on June 4, Venus transit on June 5. Image ©2012 Erdman Observatory/Michael Erdman

Click to enlarge.

### Once again a spree killing reminds us of the violence in our society and easy access to weapons and what is being reported as “tons” of ammunition. We grieve with the victims and families and friends. Of course, we have seen the same crime in our own city earlier this year, and see the tragic effects of gun violence every day in our neighborhoods. We are good in this country at coming up with compromises, why is it we are unable to deal with assault weapons while, on a national level, still protecting Second Amendment rights?

### Local listservs continue the reporting of home burglaries, and suggestions to protect homes with alarms, dogs, cameras, and security patrols.

### Neighbors on listservs are also reporting good things, including neighbors helping neighbors, block parties, art and music, and the occasional lost or found cat and dog. Join your local listserv and your Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council to be in the loop.

### Meanwhile, while the Metro was on July hiatus, the Summer Solstice Festival happened in the Laurel and the mosaic committee put the finishing touches on the Maxwell Park restroom. Read more about those events in the Laurel and Art Beat columns.

### Adelle Foley asked us to be sure to wish “good luck to tireless maitre d’ and chef Terrell Santiago and his great staff.” In July, Terrell shuttered Trattoria Laurellinos. The closing was especially sad because Terrell originally opened his restaurant after reading the Laurel survey and discovering that an Italian restaurant was what neighbors wanted. Aside from home cooking, any place in our neighborhoods now for Calamari?

In the Dimond Lydia Walker closed her Bay Leaf restaurant. Bay Leaf is the only place I’ve actually liked Okra. Sorry not to be able to go back to see if it was just a fluke or if I was ready for Gumbo. Lydia sent word, though, that she’s not completely out of business. She’ll concentrate on catering.

We wish both restaurateurs our best and urge readers, if you have a local restaurant you like, do your best to patronize it.

### Local Literary Lights will return next month. Onions & Orchids may return in the late fall if readers have complaints or kudos and want it back. Garden will be back in October. See you at the Laurel Street Fair in August.