Children are becoming snail mail pen pals with Fairyland "elves" in this time of social distancing

You might remember that when I'm not blogging for Boing Boing, I can usually be found at my other gig — Children's Fairyland. Of course, the Oakland, California kiddie theme park is closed now and will be until it's safe to reopen. But, we do have a skeleton crew of essential "elves" who are on site to care for the donkeys, miniature horses, and other animals. While there, they also water our plants and check our mail. That's when we got the idea to offer the children in our community a chance to became pen pals with these "elves." We already have stacks of super-fun, kid-sized stationery, so launching it was just a matter of announcing it on social media.

The offer:

Play with us! Have your child draw us a picture or write us a note, and then snail mail it to us. Our "elves" promise to write back (on special Fairyland stationery designed by Oakland artist Michael Wertz, no less).

Send to: 699 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610

Well, in just a week, the response has already been incredible. Local children, plus some as as far away as Texas and Utah, have been sending us snail mail like crazy. Read the rest

Tesla faces order to stop making cars at California factory, under coronavirus lockdown

Tesla has agreed to cut down on the number of active workers inside Elon Musk's electric vehicle factory in Fremont, CA, but authorities say they have yet to comply with other coronavirus lockdown measures, like not making more cars right now.

“Tesla needs to comply with the health order,” said a county spokesman Wednesday. Read the rest

California governor issues order allowing state to commandeer hotels for coronavirus patients

California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that will allow the state to take over hotels to house coronavirus patients in case hospitals are overloaded.

From The Los Angeles Times:

Under the order, the California Health and Human Services Agency and the Office of Emergency Services will be able to execute agreements to commandeer hotels, or medical facilities that are not in use, to quarantine, isolate and treat COVID-19 patients or those with a high risk of exposure, the order states.

The order also allows trained laboratory personnel to perform COVID-19 tests, which are ordinarily completed only by microbiologists.

I hope the Beverly Hills Hotel, owned by a gentleman who has expressed his desire to kill gay people, is the first place the state takes over. Read the rest

Disneyland closing due to coronavirus

Disneyland Park and California Adventures in Anaheim, California today said it will close on March 14 through at least the end of the month due to the coronavirus pandemic. Read the rest

California reports first coronavirus death, and Los Angeles county declares emergency

None of the LA cases are connected to “community spread”

Coronavirus: First possible person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 in California

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday confirmed a possible first person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 in California in a patient who is identified as a member of the general public. Read the rest

Meet Jackie Fielder, the recently homeless indigenous woman who's primarying a San Francisco Democrat in a state senate race

Until recently, Jackie Fielder was living in her van. At 25, the Stanford sociology grad couldn't afford rent in San Francisco. Read the rest

Woman whose vulva was probed by Burbank TSA "officers" who ignored her refusal sues

Last September, Jessica Lundquist passed through a body-scanner at Burbank airport and was told by a TSA screener that they wanted to conduct a "groin search" on her. Read the rest

Crowdfunding for Los Anarchists, a junior roller derby team in Sun Valley, CA

Anthony Gulino writes, "Los Anarchists Junior Derby is a nonprofit that takes a DIY approach to teaching roller derby to kids. It runs programs for all levels from the youngest, newest skaters to the highest level of competitive junior derby at its dedicated facility, Anarchy Hall, in Sun Valley, CA. Los Anarchists' travel team is the current Junior Roller Derby Association World Champions in the Female division and have been invited to The Big O in Oregon, as well as tournaments in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Tampa this season." Read the rest

California's housing bubble is spilling over into poor and exurban neighborhoods, creating waves of crises

California has such a huge undersupply of housing -- and oversupply of housing speculators -- that affluent homebuyers have effectively rendered the state's major cities unaffordable for all but the very wealthy, even pushing into neighborhoods that were historically undesirable due to poverty, poor housing stock and crime. Read the rest

Tiki bar pulls thousands of dollars from ceiling and walls, donates it

It started innocently enough. A single dollar bill was pinned to the ceiling of a tiki bar in California — with a tiny paper umbrella, no less. That lone bill soon inspired many more.

For over 10 years now, patrons of Forbidden Island, a popular tiki lounge in the island city of Alameda, have been leaving legal tender suspended above their rum-filled cocktails. Using their drink's umbrellas, or swizzle sticks, the bar's customers stick the cash up, but not before they decorate it in some way. Some pen their name and the date, while others get more elaborate and make their offering a rectangular piece of art.

It's become such a popular pastime, the bar keeps a bucket of markers and unused umbrellas for those who want to leave their mark.

But it recently got out of control, at least in the eyes of my pal Michael Thanos, the bar's owner. He invited me down to get the whole story.

"There was simply no more room to put the money in the ceiling," Thanos told me. "So people started sticking money all over the place," motioning to the Lauhala-matted walls and tapa-covered light fixtures.

"It was just too much."

Before (photo by Alex T./Yelp) and during (photo by Michael Thanos)

So, in October, he and his staff spent an entire day carefully pulling the cash off of everything.

It was a bigger job than they had first realized. As it neared opening time, they had to stuff the cash in four big garbage bags to deal with at later time. Read the rest

Bob Ross couple's costume and other Halloween night surprises in my neighborhood

This Bob Ross "painted" happy little trees onto their partner's face all evening.

I've lived in Alameda, California going on 10 years now and I'm always surprised by what I see on Halloween night — it's a real circus! Each year, thousands of revelers head to my neighborhood in the Fernside district to trick or treat. And my neighbors go all out with decorations, costumes and candy. I've heard from friends in the busier parts of the neighborhood that it's easy to hand out over 1,000 pieces of candy in that one night.

This year I decided to document the madness. Here's what I captured.

This giant faux spider dropped down from a tree to frighten folks.

I didn't end up making it to this "Haunted Cave" but I sure do love its sign.

There was a line of people with kids waiting to get photo opps with this pretend Goofy.

I saw many Jack O'Lanterns, including this toothy one.

Two years ago was when I first spotted a couple of vendors selling light-up toys. Now, they're everywhere and they've graduated from small push carts to actual tables.

This was the first year I saw vendors selling hot dogs and sausages. Business was brisk. (A neighborhood friend reports that he's seen them in other parts of our 'hood in past years._

This family must dig Shakespeare.

Every year, this family truly brings it. This year their display contained a fire element in the pirate ship's cannon.

This skeletal pirate and his gold were on the other side of the lawn, behind the ship. Read the rest

Burbankers! Help put an eviction-protection measure on the 2020 ballot!

The passage of AB1482, which limits annual California rent-increases to 8%, is an important step to solving California's urgent housing crisis, but thanks to lobbyists for the massive private-equity landlord industry, the bill contains a huge loophole: if landlords evict their tenants before January 1, they can effectively escape the bill's strictures. Read the rest

Burbank! Come to an emergency City Hall meeting on 10/29 to deal with the city's eviction crisis!

On Jan 1, 2020, AB1482 comes into effect, capping rents at their rates as of March 15, 2019 plus an above-inflation; in response, the state's greediest landlords are evicting their tenants, either by raising their rents to levels they can't afford to pay between now and Jan 1, forcing them out, or by staging "no cause" evictions in cities that permit them. If those tenants are gone on Jan 1, the landlords can set a new rent floor that ignores the rates as of last March. Read the rest

Berkeley city council unanimously votes to ban facial recognition technology

Berkeley has joined the swelling ranks of cities (pioneered by nearby Oakland) that have passed ordinances banning the government's use of facial recognition technology, after a unanimous city council vote. Read the rest

A San Diego Republican operator ran a massive, multimillion-dollar Facebook scam that targeted boomers

Asher Burke died in March after a helicopter he'd chartered to visit the Kenyan ranch he'd invested in as an "entrepreneur playground" crashed in high winds; his stateside obits called the 27-year-old deputy political director of the Republican Party of San Diego as an entrepreneur, the founder and CEO of Ads, Inc, "on a mission to disrupt the lifestyle industry with our advanced approach to product creation and marketing." Read the rest

The first-ever mandatory California drug price report reveals Big Pharma's farcical price-gouging

In 2017, California passed a state law mandating disclosure of wholesale drug prices, something the Big Pharma companies fought tooth and nail. Now, the first of those disclosures has taken place, and it reveals spectacular levels of price-gouging from the pharmaceutical industry's greediest monopolists: an overall rise of 25.8% in the median drug price since 2017. Read the rest

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