July 2015


Is anyone else curious about those Hampton Creek ads that have been showing up every Sunday in the New York Times? They’re full page announcements with sweeping proclamations like “when you create a path that makes it easy for good people to do good things – they will do it” and they started at the beginning of the summer. Some are addressed to ‘Food Company Executives’, some to ‘CEO’s’ and some just to ‘You.’ Hampton Creek’s CEO, Josh Tetrick, seems to be a man not especially blessed with hubris. The folksy, first-person ads are written directly from Tetrick, and he lists an email address and cell phone number on each one, inviting people to contact him directly with feedback or questions.

The ads refer to the movement being built by Hampton Creek, which self-identifies as the fastest growing food company on earth. But they don’t really explain what Hampton Creek does. Luckily you can look it up. You’ll find that all this talk of revolution stems from a company focused on developing alternatives to animal protein, starting with the humble egg.



Summertime Posts are always full of letters from kids at Camp Augusta; I thought I’d turn the tables with a letter to a kid for a change. Here’s mine to Sadie. She, and all the other Session 2 campers, will return home on July 3rd to a markedly different world than they left on June 20th.

Dear Sadie:

Whoa Nellie, you picked quite a couple of weeks to be off the grid! I don’t know how much those superstar Camp A. counselors fill you in on the happenings of the world while you’re out in the wilderness, but just in case you’re entirely cut off, you should know there’s been a lot going on.

You already knew about the vicious shooting at the church in Charleston – that was right before you left and I know how horrified you were. It has caused lots of terrible repercussions since you’ve been gone – arguments over whether or not the shooter should be called a ‘terrorist’, glimpses into his racist website, and explanations of his despicable doctrine of white supremacy.



july 4th kids parade

We’re laying down the tarp in our driveway to begin the annual ritual of float building. We took a few years off, but this year, for the 50th anniversary of Dick Johnson’s wacky patriotic brainstorm we decided to enter one more time. No matter what your neighborhood, you should, too. You’ll make friends and memories to last a lifetime.

Say what you will about Halloween, Gold Rush weekends, and all those soccer games. I truly believe that years from now, when my kids close their eyes and remember growing up in Piedmont, they’ll picture building our trademark 4th of July Parade floats in our old neighborhood.

Shockingly, though we Mesa-Monte-Park-Pala’ers were obsessed with winning, our floats never got the respect they deserved. We never won Best in Show. Sure, the glorious chicken-wire-state-capitol building was named “most creative”. And we were awarded “best theme” for the little red schoolhouse Chad pulled wearing a graduation gown. Or was that the year he was a horse? I get confused. It doesn’t really matter. It was the journey, not the destination. And the journey was tremendous fun.


good kid bad kid

Everyone says that columnists are notoriously thin-skinned. Personally, I get lots of comments along the lines of ‘I really like your columns, except for the ones I hate.’ This never bothers me since I assume the hated columns are the quasi-political ones, and I’m not exactly shy about my political leanings. Trigger warning: this is probably going to be one of the columns that many of you hate.

It all stems from an op ed last weekend by Nicholas Kristof that gave me a golden nugget in my quest to differentiate Democrats and Republicans for my kids. Over the years they’ve been subject to plenty of lively family ‘debates’ that have left them wondering ‘what’s the difference?’ They understand where my loyalties lie and they know how strongly their grandparents, uncles and aunts disagree. They know which candidates each side supports. But I’ve never been able to explain the philosophical distinctions well enough to justify all the family drama.


lake merritt


Oakland is en fuego. And I don’t mean just because the Warriors are currently tearing it up on the court and in Riley-fueled press conferences. Or because Sunset Magazine recently announced it’s relocating their iconic Menlo Park campus to Jack London Square. Those are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s almost too much good news to capture.

Piedmont’s own Mr. Ghielmetti is leading the charge for Brooklyn Basin, a 65 acre waterfront development with exciting retail, residential and public park spaces that will reshape the city’s skyline. The old dumpy Safeway on College Avenue has been transformed to the anchor of a hip new shopping center (can you say ‘Cream’?), and the jumbo one on Pleasant Valley is soon to follow. Nevermind First Fridays, all manners of neighborhood festivals and farmer’s markets, and enough cutting-edge restaurants to fill a city 10 times its size. Did I mention the upcoming foodie-bait of Water Street Market (Jack London Square), Newberry Market (the old Sears building in Uptown) and Grand Fare (where the strange Monkey Bar place was on Grand Avenue)?


peter finch

There’s really no other way to say it: we’re sick of the shoplifting. Mulberry’s employees are tired of assuming every kid is about to snatch a soda. Chad is sick of devoting most of his evenings to parental conferences and come-to-Jesus meetings with kids we catch. And our friends must be sick of listening to us complain. We knew that shoplifting would be an issue when we opened the store.  But we thought that as we gained experience and our kids grew up, we’d feel even more of a connection to our pint-sized customers and that infamous Piedmont Upstander ethos would keep things in line.

Instead, we find ourselves engaged in disheartening, depressingly familiar confrontations with kids who we’ve known since they were in preschool. Kids who we’ve coached or driven on field trips. Kids whose siblings play on teams with our own children, kids our kids have babysat, kids whose parents we adore.