Lookout Point & Elephant Barn: Music & Memories

Most days I spend here are in solitude, but today in the park it was practically a party. Celebrating my friend Suzette's completion of her Master's Degree, we got Muffalletas and tea from L’Acajou Bakery & Cafe (Epiphany! Must try!) and picnicked in the park. There was the sound of a horn, from far far away. Suzette had never been to the Park before so I gave her the tour. When we arrived at Lookout Point and peered over the rocky edge, there was a fine young man with a gleaming trombone, smiling up at us. Soon we were chatting in English and in Spanish.

Cuban trombonist Obrayan-Calderon (Obryzon), plays in bands all over the Bay Area and even recorded with Fantastic Negrito. Soon Suzette, who sings backup with Nott the Hoople, was chatting him up and networking about music gigs. I hummed a few bars of "Joaquin Miller Went Walkin'" and he tried a lick or two.... now I think we'll need a MAMBO version...! Then Suzette and I started brainstorming how to get some little mini-concerts going up in the park. 

I showed Suzette the Elephant Barn (part of the former "Sequoia Mountain Park" in "Joaquin Miller Hights," which housed the Oakland Municipal Zoo from 1925 to 1939). The crumbling building has the words 415 SOCIETY painted on the side. I told her this group used to rehab criminals in the 1970s.  A man standing on the hillside offered up a story from his youth (and a photo of his Shawn Cassidy feathered hair), in which he came up to work off his fines cutting firewood for some teenage dereliction. 

Mark and his companion Jesus turned out to be the City Plumbers. (Yes, the City of Oakland only has TWO plumbers on staff! And Jesus used to do aviation engineering for United.) They had just finished removing the sink that fell off the wall when I was working on my book illustrations at the Ranger's Station on Sunday. 

Mark also remembered there being an elephant in the building, temporarily, for some reason. I wondered if it was the elephant actor who played Tiny in Made in America. We puzzled over this movie vs. Coming to America with Eddie Murphy and I had to go look it up online. Miraculously, I had an internet connection. 

We marveled at the tree that had weirdly snapped in two and managed not to fall on the building but right along it's side. Seems like a miracle...as if it were meant to be saved, not smashed, in spite of the gaping hole in the roof. I got them to hold still for a photo, then they had to go fix something at a fire station. 

There's a special kind of spark that comes from socializing in safety after so much serious solitude!


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