I first met Ryk Groetchen when I signed my son up for Music Together classes which he teaches. Because I live across the street from where the classes are held, we continued to cross paths, literally, on the sidewalk, for a long time. He lives in Berkeley with his partner Lisa and their son Harlan. Today Ryk is sharing his local favorites with us:
What is your favorite playground?
Lately it's been about a split between Doyle Street Park in Emeryville and Codornices Park. When we can get there, the playground in Golden Gate Park is a big favorite. Oh yeah, and Yerba Buena Gardens. The big slides are popular right now.
Where do you like to go on a date night?
We seem to make a point of going somewhere different every time, usually to hear a band in the city. The last ones I can remember have been at the Make-Out Room. the Great American Music Hall, The Independent, Cafe du Nord. It's fun to plan the music but then leave the dinner and drinks up to chance. The First Friday Square Dance with the Squirrelly String Band at the Niebyl-Proctor Library on Telegraph near Alcatraz is a good time, too.
Tell us about a great birthday party you've been to.
Our son Harlan has a best friend, Delilah, whose birthday is close enough to his that we have a big party for both of them. They are both really into two-wheeled vehicles, so we've done skuut parties two years in a row. Last year we did it at Inner Harbor Shoreline Park near the Port of Oakland. We had a skuut/bike rally out to the observation tower, there was kite flying, skateboarding, ball playing, sand play, watching the giant cranes, boat watching. That is truly one of the best parks I've been to (well taken care of, litter-free, clean [except for the goose poop]), and there is rarely anyone there. I'm almost afraid that it will get popular.
How do you like to spend a Saturday morning?
Music Together class with Mr. Ryk at the Crowden School, of course! Then a family bike ride, maybe out to the Albany Bulb or Cesar Chavez Park.
What discovery have you made as a parent that you want to tell every new parent about?
You HAVE to get your kid a skuut or a like-bike or one of the other balance bikes. If not so that you a) can avoid training wheels or b) get places in a good amount of time when you're walking, then just so you can hear certain gentlemen in your neighborhood say, “That's badass!” about your kid.
What's your favorite family dinner out?
Lately either House of Curries in Elmwood (but now that we've discovered the buffet at Naan and Curry on Telegraph that may change) or Cafe Colucci on Telegraph. It used to be Lanesplitter, but Lisa can't eat wheat anymore. Cafe Colucci will give you wheat-free injera if you call ahead. Yum! We're lucky, because Harlan likes spicy food.
Wait!!! I forgot to mention La Familia Taquería in Berkeley. Lisa and I met there. It's like forgetting my own family!!
What is your neighborhood known for?
I'd like to say the Lorin District (South Berkeley) is known for the wonderful murals, both by Youth Spirit Artworks and by Epic Arts Collective; the Ashby Stage and the Ashby Arts District; for the edible garden at Malcolm X School; for several long-lived and successful cooperative houses and community gardens; for Sweet Adeline Bakery and Addie's Pizza Pie; for the Ed Roberts Campus and the Ashby Flea Market. I'm kind of in denial about the less wonderful things that my neighborhood is known for, but I try not to pass up an opportunity to make things better. Stay tuned.
How Berkeley can you be?
Not as Berkeley as I was in 1992, that's all I can say. See “fave dad alone time” below.
What's your favorite way to spend some dad alone time?
Is this too dorky? Walking to the library, checking out books of poetry, then going to Jupiter and having a beer and reading some good poems.
Tell us about an amazing class your child has taken.
Circus class at Kinetic Arts Center. Harlan asks to go back all the time. Maybe when we're done paying for pre-school.
What a great list of inspirations for East Bay parents! Thanks, Ryk!