Monday, August 17, 2009

Oakland Boathouse and Lake Chalet Restaurant now open

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On Thursday, August 5th, a well-attended dedication was held to honor the newly restored Oakland Boathouse and welcome a much needed shot in the Lake Merritt arm, The Lake Chalet at 1520 Lakeside Drive. The event, which you can relive minus the long speeches, in this video, attracted about 300 people just by eyeballing it.

It was a kind of reunion of Oaklanders. There was Mayor Ron Dellums, the Oakland Rowing Club (The Oakland Strokes) members, staffers from the City of Oakland Parks and Recreation Department and other offices and a lot of onlookers on a sun-drenched day. But the feature attraction was the Lake Chalet.

If you've been to the famous Beach Chalet and Park Chalet in San Francisco and enjoy the fun, festive indoor-outdoor setting, then the Lake Chalet will be like Heaven. Unlike the other two great eateries, it's right on the shore of Lake Merritt at the dock, basically part of it. Inside, the room is marked by a very long bar.

The bar's estimated to be the longest one in Oakland, if not the East Bay or the Bay Area (well, ok, someone go on a tour and check!). But take a look for yourself and let me know. As a whole, Gar and Lara Truppelli, the owners and operators of the "Chalet group" as I call it, hit this one out of the park. It's right for Lake Merritt and fills a need a long time in coming.

Food wise, Executive Chef Jarad Gallagher promises offerings that are as diverse as Oakland itself. I'm headed over there now to meet a friend and check it out; all this blogging's making me hungry.

Michael Vick 60 Minutes interview - what do you think?

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Michael Vick appeared on 60 minutes Sunday, in an interview with CBS Correspondent James Brown. Vick answered Brown's questions in a straight-forward way, and actually got me when he said "football's not important" but I still wonder about the "crowd issue" and hope he does work to surround himself with a better group of friends.

I think in these "event interviews" people expect and perhaps want to see the interviewee cry as a way of proving his or her realization that what they did was wrong (remember the old ESPN Roy Firestone cry sessions?) but I'm not sure that would make a difference here. Some would say "Oh, it was fake" and "They told him to cry" so it was better for Vick to just sit there and talk, which he did do.

Even with that, the views are mixed. According to Ben Carlson at The Atlantic Monthly, there seems to be an even split between people who believe that Vick's "rehabilitated" and those who don't. But what do you think? I created a poll to gauge your impression of Vick's interview, but since I think there are some who didn't see it, I'd like you to actually watch it first below and read the transcript before voting. Of course, I have no control over this - although I could have installed a javascript to hide the poll I suppose - but why bother.

With that, here's the Michael Vick interview in video and transcript form, followed by my poll.

Video of the Michael Vick Interview - Part One:

Video of the Michael Vick Interview - Part Two:

For more of the interview visit 60 Here's the transcript, provided by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and CBS.

MICHAEL VICK: The first day I walked into prison, and he slammed that door, I knew, you know, the magnitude of the decisions that I made, and the poor judgment, and what I, you know, allowed to happen to the animals. And, you know, it’s no way of, you know, explaining, you know, the hurt and the guilt that I felt. And that was the reason I cried so many nights. And that put it all into perspective.

JAMES BROWN: You cried a number of nights.



MICHAEL VICK: What I did, you know, being away from my family, letting so many people down. I let myself down, you know, not being out on the football field, being in a prison bed, in a prison bunk, writing letters home, you know. That wasn’t my life. That wasn’t the way that things was supposed to be. And all because of the so-called culture that I thought was right -- that I thought it was cool. And I thought it was, you know, it was fun, and it was exciting at the time. It all led to me laying in a prison bunk by myself with no one to talk to but myself.

JAMES BROWN: Who do you blame for all of this?

MICHAEL VICK: I blame me.

CBS Voiceover: Michael Vick was a human highlight reel, with a powerful arm, blazing speed, and an uncannity ability to elude tacklers. He’s the only quarterback in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season though he was injured a lot, and never lived up to the high expectations in Atlanta.

Very few people knew what was happening in his life off the field. When police raided a farm he owned in rural Virginia in 2007, they uncovered an interstate dog-fighting operation called “Bad Newz Kennels.” They removed 66 dogs and exhumed the bodies of eight more. They also found dog fighting paraphernalia and a pit where fights were held.

The dogs that were saved, raised and trained to be vicious fighters, are now being rehabilitated in hopes of being adopted...all at the expense of Vick, who was ordered by a judge to pay nearly a million dollars for the effort.

JAMES BROWN: And the operation, Michael, that you pleaded guilty to bankrolling, to being a part of, engaged in barbarous treatment of the animals -- beating them, shooting them, electrocuting them, drowning them. Horrific things, Michael.

MICHAEL VICK: It’s wrong, man. I don’t know how many times I gotta tell, I gotta say it. I mean, it was wrong. I feel, you know, I feel, you know, tremendous hurt behind what happened. And, you know, I should’ve took the initiative to stop it all. You know, and I didn’t. And I feel so bad about that now. And I know, you know, that I didn’t I didn’t step up. I wasn’t a leader.

JAMES BROWN: In any way, for those who may say it showed a lack of moral character because you didn’t stop it, you agree or disagree?


VO: For six years, Vick ran Bad Newz Kennels with his childhood friends, breeding, buying, selling and fighting pit bulls.

JAMES BROWN: Was there an adrenaline rush? Was it the sense of competition? What was it that gripped you about what you engaged in with the dog fighting?

MICHAEL VICK: Regardless of what it was – don’t even matter.

JAMES BROWN: Do you know what it was?

MICHAEL VICK: I know why. You know, I know why. And regardless of what it was -- and why I was driven, you know, by what-- you know what was going on, you know -- whether it was because of the competition or -- you know, whatever it may have been, it was wrong.

JAMES BROWN: Were any of those reasons, though? The competition? The adrenaline?


JAMES BROWN: Do you understand why people are outraged?

MICHAEL VICK: I understand why. And I’m going to say it again. Sickens me to my stomach. And it was, you know, the same thing that I’m feeling right now.

JAMES BROWN: And the feeling you’re feeling right now is?

MICHAEL VICK: Disgust. Pure disgust.

JAMES BROWN: When did you arrive at that feeling of disgust, Michael? When did the light go on?

MICHAEL VICK: When I was in prison. When I was in prison. I was disgusted, you know, because of what I let happen to those animals. I could’ve put a stop to it. I could’ve walked away from it. I could’ve shut the whole operation down.

JAMES BROWN: But you didn’t. Why not?

MICHAEL VICK: But I didn’t.

JAMES BROWN: What was keeping you going?

MICHAEL VICK: Not being able to say, or tell, you know, certain people around me that, “Look, we can’t do this anymore. I’m concerned about my career. I’m concerned about my family.”

JAMES BROWN: So for the cynics who will say, “You know what? I don’t know. Michael Vick might be more concerned about the fact that his career was hurt than dogs were hurt.”

MICHAEL VICK: I don’t-- I mean, football don’t even matter. You know, I mean, that’s-

JAMES BROWN: Losing a $135 million contract -- doesn’t matter --

MICHAEL VICK: It don’t matter. It don’t matter. I deserve to lose that because of what I was doing.

JAMES BROWN: You deserve to lose it?

MICHAEL VICK: Yeah, I deserve to lose it. I deserve to lose the $130 million. Why would a guy who was making a $130 million and, you know, on the flip side, you know, killing dogs or doing the wrong things, why would-- you know, he don’t -- he don’t deserve it.

VO: We met Michael Vick in Virginia. He wasn’t allowed to cross state lines without permission from his probation officer. He was accompanied by two men, former NFL Tony Dungy, who has been asked by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to mentor Vick... and someone you might never expect, Wayne Pacelle, president of The Humane Society of the United States.

JAMES BROWN: Why would you put your reputation on the line in working with Michael Vick?

TONY DUNGY: I’ve visited a lot of prisons. That’s something that I do. And I know that there are a lot of young men -- especially African-American young men, who need a chance, who made a mistake, who did something wrong, who had a problem -- but are looking to bounce back. That’s what I’ve always been concerned about. Not just for Michael Vick. But for hundreds of guys that I’ve talked to.

VO: Pacelle’s relationship with Vick is even more unlikely. His organization provided evidence that helped put Vick in prison. While Pacelle says he remains skeptical, he nevertheless enlisted Vick as an anti-dog-fighting ambassador.

WAYNE PACELLE: If we just punish Mike indefinitely and don’t pivot to this problem in the communities, where kids are victimizing these dogs and then going down a dead-end street themselves -- because there are no heroic dog fighters -- we will not be doing our job. And I felt we needed to get involved and we needed to do some creative things to reach these kids. So that’s why we have our community based programs. And I am really hopeful that Mike sticks with this and really reaches these kids because he can turn some of them around. I really do believe that.

VO: Their first effort was in Atlanta last weekend, where Vick talked to children in neighborhoods like the one he grew up in.

MICHAEL VICK (AT EVENT): I encourage you to love your animals. -- whatever animals you have, whether it’s a dog, a cat, a reptile, if it’s a horse. I encourage you to love that animal dearly and with all your heart.

VO: It’s a message Vick says he never heard when he was a kid in Newport News, Virginia, where he was first exposed to dog fighting when he was eight years old.

MICHAEL VICK: I was introduced very young, so I didn’t think it was wrong because I’d seen older guys, you know, condoning it and then, you know, doing it.

JAMES BROWN: You shared with me the story about, even the police riding through the neighborhood and seeing what was happening. Explain that situation.

MICHAEL VICK: When they got out the car and seen that, you know, it was two dogs fighting, they got back in the car and they roll -- they left. So that right there kind of made me feel like, “Okay, you know, this ain’t -- it -- it is not as bad as it may seem.” We didn’t think it was bad at the time. And, you know, that kind of put a stamp on it.

WAYNE PACELLE: We knew it was a huge issue before Michael Vick was prosecuted, but the public didn’t know. We estimate there are 40,000 professional dog fighters in the country and perhaps 100,000 street fighters. We’re talking about something that’s occurring in every part of the country, rural and urban, white, black, Latino. It is an industry.

JAMES BROWN: What’s the attraction?

WAYNE PACELLE: People enjoy watching these animals compete and fight. They get excited by the bloodletting. They gamble on the outcomes. The fights may last 10 minutes, they may last three hours. Dogs die from shock, they die from blood loss. They suffer, if they survive the process, to maybe fight again. All for what?

VO: When the allegations of dogfighting first arose, Vick made another monumental mistake — he lied about it to everybody: police, his family, his coaches and to NFL Commissioner Goodell.

MICHAEL VICK: I was scared. I knew my career was in jeopardy. I knew I had an endorsement with Nike and -- and I knew it was going to be a big letdown. I felt the guilt and I knew I was guilty, and I knew what I had done. And, not knowing at the time that, you know, actually telling the truth may have been better than, you know, not being honest. And it backfired on me tremendously.

VO: He told us one of his biggest mistakes was lying to Atlanta Falcons’ owner Arthur Blank, who bet the future of the franchise on the young quarterback, awarding him the largest contract in the history of the NFL at the time, $130 million, and stood by him as the charges piled up and Vick fell from grace.

JAMES BROWN: Fair to say that you broke his heart?

MICHAEL VICK: Definitely.

JAMES BROWN: How did that make you feel, given that he was still sticking with you when everybody else turned their backs on you?

MICHAEL VICK: I can’t, you know, describe the feeling. You know, the hurt deep inside, hurt that I never felt before, knowing that I disappointed him, knowing that he’d given me every opportunity to come to him and reach out whenever I needed him. And he cared about me and I took it all for granted.

VO: He also took his own talent for granted. Known for traveling with a large entourage of friends from Virginia, going on wild spending sprees, not focusing on football.

JAMES BROWN: You know what your reputation was like when you were playing?


JAMES BROWN: What was it?

MICHAEL VICK: I was lazy. You know, I was the last guy in the building, first guy out. I know that. You know, I hear everything that people say. And that hurt me when I heard that, but I know it was true.

JAMES BROWN: It was true?

MICHAEL VICK: It was true.

TONY DUNGY: I think everyone looked at it that way -- tremendous athlete, tremendous talent. Very, very gifted guy, who relies on his natural ability . He was exciting and probably didn’t scratch the surface of his potential. And he and I talked about that for a long time in Leavenworth. He talked about not working out, not training, not studying. You know, kind of taking things for granted -- gifts that the Lord had given him. Just really living on that and not working at it.

MICHAEL VICK: I just reached the point in my career where I just totally lost touch with my Lord and savior. And you know I thought I could do it on my own. And I couldn’t. So I had to -- I had to resurrect that back into my life.

JAMES BROWN: Now, you know, most people who get in trouble, all of a sudden they find God. And you say?

MICHAEL VICK: It’s the only way I made it through prison. It’s the only way I could live life is having faith and believing in -- in the higher power, believing in God.

VO: Vick also put his faith in the hands of a powerful group of attorneys, agents and media advisors who are trying to rehabilitate his image and resuscitate his career, and help him through interviews like ours.

JAMES BROWN: Michael, is this you talking? Or the Vick team of attorneys, image-shapers and the like?

MICHAEL VICK: This is Mike Vick. People will see my work out there, my work in the communities and my work with the Humane Society and how I really do care now, how I care about animals.

VO: And a lot of people will be watching. The NFL commissioner’s decision to permanently reinstate him is pending, and the Humane Society [of the United States] has high expectations.

WAYNE PACELLE: You know, Michael is somebody who needs to continue to demonstrate a commitment to this issue. I told him that we were not interested if this was going to be a flash in the pan involvement. And if Mike disappoints us, the public’s going to see that. So it’s not going to reflect badly on me or the Humane Society. It’s going to reflect badly on him.

JAMES BROWN: Will you be committed to all that you said -- that folks are hearing you say today?

MICHAEL VICK: Still. Still. And I’m going to let my actions continue to speak louder than my words. And I’m going to still be involved in the community, because I still -- regardless of football -- would have a voice that can have an impact on kids -- because I’ve been a living example of what not to do.

The poll:

More free quizzes on

Miley Cyrus rumored to be in "Sex and The City 2" after pole dance

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The sex-based selling of "Hanna Montana" star Miley Cyrus continues after her controversial song and dance number at the Teen Choice Awards, which featured her use of a "stripper pole"as a key part of the production. Now, it's rumored by some and confirmed as true by other media outlets that the 16-year old pop star is to have a roll in the "Sex and The City" sequel.

I am frankly amazed over how this obvious marketing campaign is unfolding with amazing success. First, in June she signs with WalMart to have her own special line of clothing for sale designed by Max Arela, then there's the dance poll matter, and now this. That's buzz and to intensify the issue, WalMart's running commercials announcing her clothing line. It's clear just from a glance at Google Trends, Cyrus is on a buzz tear and she's taking WalMart,

The Vanity Fair photo issue still ranks as the highest buzz generator in her history, but 2009 has seen more sustained internet chatter and content related to her than ever before. And the formula is clear: music, fashion, and sex in different variations fed as a steady diet to a hungry public and to drive teenage girls into WalMart just in time for "back-to-school". With all the attention paid to the discussion of her Teen Choice Awards dance routine and her use of the pole, one would thing Cyrus drew the attention of older men - actually she, in political terms, solidified her base: the YouTube videos on the subject all have captured the 13-17 year old female demographic group and the male group.

What this proves is not so much that sex sells, but we've gotten to a point where we're using teenagers to do it, openly. Equally amazing is the development bothers few, certainly not to the point of even putting a dent in the buzz machine she's got going. It's wild.

Given some of the stories my friends who are teacher have told me about what goes on with students and sex in middle schools, we may be totally out of touch with what's normal to that group. To them the poll dance was nothing and Miley can do no wrong at all. But where all of this is going is that that same group of teenagers will flock to see her in Sex and The City 2 (if the rumors are confirmed), drawing them into a movie that would seem to have nothing to do with them. I've got to get a hold of that movie's script because it's can't play to the form of the past and have Cyrus in it, right?

What are they going to do, work in the whole Vanity Fair photo controversy all over again with Sam as the PR client for Miley? Hmmm...

Perhaps they should add Perez Hilton to the cast if only to keep her tweets honest. Witness this Twitter exchange:

@mileycyrus Maybe. But it seems more like selfishness/personal issues than sharing wisdom. Just saying what it can be perceived like.
about 5 hours ago from web in reply to mileycyrus

@PerezHilton I don't see the harm in sharing someone else's wisdom.
about 5 hours ago from UberTwitter in reply to PerezHilton

@mileycyrus Can you go 24 hours without quoting something? If you're quoting yourself, that's okay then. xoxo

Stay tuned.

Meet The Press - The Health Care Debate

The nationwide debate on the future of America's health care system took center stage on Meet The Press Sunday. Host David Gregory was joined by former senator Tom Dashle, former representative Dick Armey, Republican Senator Tom Colbern of Oklahoma, and NSNBC's Rachel Maddow.

Maddow more than held her own against the gray-beards but I've got to admit statements like other of Colbern made her work easy. The Oklahoma Republican ran off at the mouth saying that people who disrupted town hall meeting were justified because they were angry at their government. Then he brought up a bunch of garbage examples like earmarks and other factors he mumbled. What Colbern was doing was using "Meet The Press" as a playform for encouraging the people who go to these events to keep acting silly.

Yes, "silly."

Silly because many of the people captured on video have said our country's going to you-know-what and give reasons that have nothing to do with health care. One person said "it's all here" raising the Bible, and while I read the good book, I know when and where it applies; not here. And in another video in Arkansas a rather thin and wild-haired woman cries that she's wants her country back.

That was the dumbest comment I've heard in this whole episode. It caused some in the media to think she was talking about America having elected its first African American president, and caused me to recall Harriet Christian, the woman who called then-Senator Obama an "inadequate black male" after the Democratic Party's rules committee voted for Obama over then-Senator Hilary Clinton.


Personally, I wish we'd ignore those town hall meetings. The health care issue is much more complex than being presented.