Let's start the year on an upbeat note -- a musical note, at that. Readers have solved the greatest whodunit in the history of 45 rpms. Or not.
Last week, I put out a plea on behalf of a reader who found a 50-year old radio recording of a novelty song about Oakland. He sent a copy to the folks at Visit Oakland, and they sent it to me. None of us could identify the band that played that whimsical tune, but my readers sure could.
"It was recorded by The Good Time Washboard Three, a local band of little renown," writes Edmund Clausen, who says "calling it a folk song is gilding the lily in the extreme. It was just a happy little local-booster ditty."
On the flip side, remembers Charles Konigsberg, was the song "Don't Blame PG&E." He says the end of the song had "a big old explosion." Well, just the mention of that little Oakland ditty goosed the memories of Montclarions near and far. Reader John Nicoles says he not only remembers the song, he remembers the band -- Peter Arnott on banjo, Wayne Pope on washboard and Harold Nachtrieb on tuba. He thinks KSFO morning host Gene Nelson played some of their songs, but in the 10 years I did the morning news with Gene -- I don't remember hearing them anywhere on radio.
But it was Katherine Graves who put the whole puzzle together by finding an article about the band at http://www.ibabuzz.com/westcounty/2013/05/01/the-goodtime-washboard-three-and-the-oakland-song-live-on-in-el-cerrito. And here's the funny part -- my Hills Newspapers colleague, Chris Treadway, wrote that article earlier this year in the West County Times. The Goodtime Washboard Three are alive and well and living in El Cerrito. All I can say is -- some of us Oakland folks didn't get the memo.
Off the wall: When it comes to crime -- Oakland has to think outside the box. The new 'i do it 4 oakland' mural project does just that -- by inviting young taggers to come back to the buildings they marred and create contemporary art pieces. The project has exceeded its $4,800 funding goal on kickstarter.com, and an East Oakland building will get the first makeover. If it works, we could be a model for other cities that struggle with graffiti and blight in their neighborhoods.
Body beautiful: If the holidays have packed a few pounds on your frame, there's a new fitness studio in Oakland that can help you trim down. Pilates ProWorks (3303 Lakeshore Ave.) will have its official grand opening from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 25 with free mini massages, healthy treats -- even tastings of handcrafted tequila and juice elixirs.
If it sounds like a Hollywood experience, you're right. Not only does this boutique exercise studio have more than 200 classes a month, they've got celebrity trainer Skipp Swoope, whose client list includes Nicole Kidman. I'm no Nicole Kidman, but I got to work out with Skipp a few weeks ago, and he's a great motivator and down-to-earth guy. For more information see www.pilatesproworks.com/oakland_lakeshore-faqs.