Speisekammer Showcases Western-Swing Group

On New Year’s Eve, the Speisekammer Restaurant, at 2424 Lincoln Ave, will host a show by the Saddle Cats, an American Western swing four-piece ensemble, which is set to perform from 9 a.m. to midnight. Guests also can order German food and beer usually found on the menu, as well as some New Year Eve’s specialty items.

“It’s a local band that plays here regularly and is really a lot of fun,” said Cindy Kahl, a co-owner of the Lincoln Avenue establishment. “The Saddle Cats play vintage Western Swing, like what you hear from Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.”

The musical group features Bobby Black on steel guitar, Richard Chon on fiddle and vocals, Gordon Clegg on guitar and Bing Nathan on bass. The members also plan to perform at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, which will take place from Jan. 28-Feb. 2 in Elko, Nev.


Special Comedy Shows at Rhythmix

At Rhythmix Cultural Works on Blanding, Bay Area-based comedian Josh Kornbluth will present his Red Diaper Baby show at 7 and 10 p.m. on Dec. 31. The New Year’s Eve program features “a poignant celebration of a neurotic child’s awkward yet heartfelt journey into adulthood,” Rhythmix staff members say.

“Josh received a standing ovation for his October show at Temple Israel” on Bay Farm, said Ruth Belikove, who helped put that event together. “It will not be the same monologue, and I hope many Alamedans will come to see him again. His material is autobiographical, which makes him so amusing and very funny.”

According to Kornbluth, a man with “a deep fear of transitions,” the show highlights “thorny subjects as sex, politics and the possible overuse of baby powder,” along with details about a young boy who believed he was destined to grow up to lead a communist revolution in America.

Tickets are $30-$40, and the 10 p.m. show includes a champagne toast. (See www.rhthymix.org or call 510-865-5060.)


Alameda Theatre to Show “Hobbit” at New Year’s Fund-Raiser

Alameda businesses and organizations have put together a wide range of options for Islanders looking to go out on the town this evening. That means that residents can find lots of fun close to home — and leave their cars behind while ringing in the New Year.

The Alameda Theatre & Cineplex will host a New Year’s Eve celebration by showing “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” at 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 31. For $10, guests can see the movie and enjoy a New Year Eve’s countdown at 11:45 p.m., during an intermission. Event organizers invite community members to come “enjoy an alcohol-free evening for all ages.”

The Alameda Theatre will share the proceeds of half of all tickets sales with local charities, including the Alameda High School Music Booster, Alameda High School DECA (a marketing and business club), Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter, Encinal High School PTSA, Alameda Civic Ballet, Greater Alameda Business Association, Park Street Business Association and West Alameda Business Association.


North Park Street Area in Focus

The City of Alameda’s planning board will discuss zoning issues, plan amendments and draft design rules for future development of the North Park Street Area at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 15, at City Hall.

North Park Street is bordered by the Oakland-Alameda Estuary, Tilden/Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street.

Printed materials are available for review at the Community Development Department Office, Room 190, 2263 Santa Clara (in City Hall).

The project is being ed by Andrew Thomas, planning-services manager.

Public input can be shared starting Jan. 2, when the staff report and recommendations will be available for review on the city’s website.

Residents can also make comments in person at the public hearing on Jan. 15 or in writing before the meeting via e-mail (nmcpeak@ci.alameda.ca.us).

To share comments at the meeting in print, bring 12 copies of letters to the Jan. 15 discussion.

A link to the North Park Street documents will be available here on Jan. 2, once they are posted by the city. Documents from November 2012 are available online.


Two Charter Schools Open for Visits

The Alameda Community Learning Center and Nea Community Learning Center have information nights and school tours slated in January, before the Jan. 25, 2013, application deadlines.

ACLC, 210 Central Avenue (Building 603) is open to Alameda residents for middle and high school, and its programs focus on college readiness. Students can also participate in sports, arts and drama programs at Encinal High School.

There is a parent information meeting set for 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10, for the middle school and 7:30 p.m. for the high school. School tours of the facilities are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 11, for the middle school at 9:30 a.m. on the same day for the high school; the tours last one hour.

Go to the school’s website or application site, and call 510-521-7543 for more details.

Nea Community Learning Center is open to Alameda students in grades K-12, and the middle and high schools are hosting a parent information night on Tuesday, Jan. 22. The middle school discussion starts at 6 p.m., with the high school forum beginning at 7:30 p.m.

A tour of the school is available at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24. And the school is located at 500 Pacific Ave., near the corner of Buena Vista Avenue and Poggi Street.

Both schools focus on project-based learning. Their deadline for priority admission is 4 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25. Lotteries will be held for slots, if needed, on Monday, Jan. 28
See the school’s application website and school website, or call 510-748-4008 for more details.


Art Shows End Today at Library

The Alameda Main Library, 1550 Oak Street, is wrapping up three art shows today–Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012.

The first, entitled Inspired by Poetry, is a display of acrylic paintings and prints by Luis Octavio Valdez, who studied printmaking at the University of Guanajuato in Mexico and now lives in the area. It is located on the first floor of the library in the Regina K. Stafford Meeting Room.

The second show is found in the same area. It includes portraits and landscapes by Felix Fortuna, another local artist. Fortuna was born and raised in the Philippines, but joined the U.S. Navy in 1946, when he began studying art.

Fortuna paints in acrylics using vibrant colors, which reflect his love of the Arizona desert, cactus plans and red rocks. He spends time there on a regular basis.

Up on the second floor of the library, Alameda-based artist Jon Kerpel has a series of assemblages that reflect his interest in the environment and our stewardship of the natural world.

Kerpel combines gently used objects, animal imagery, jewels, and other recycled or re-purposed materials to create shrines to animals, fish and other vulnerable members of our environment.


Film Fest Coming to the Island

The Albany FilmFest will take place in Alameda on Friday, Feb. 8, at Rhythmix Cultural Works on Blanding.

The event is a juried festival of short films made by emerging independent local and national filmmakers of all ages.

“This family-friendly special selection is a quirky and eclectic mix of animated, narrative, and documentary shorts highlighting winners and favorite films from the past two years,” according to event organizers.

The third-annual Albany FilmFest is also coming to Albany on Saturday March 2.

There will be (free) popcorn for all guests.


Kids Holiday Art Camp on Tap at Rhythmix

Rhythmix Cultural Works has organized a second Winter Wonderland Art Camp for children ages 6 to 12 from Wednesday to Friday, Jan. 2 to 4.

The camp is led by Aliea Wallace, who will teach students how to create their favorite winter characters and places in both two- and three-dimensions. The program focuses on new projects to be completed during the special winter camp, including snow globes.

Born in South Hadley, Mass., Wallace earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting from the Massachusetts College of Art and currently resides in Alameda.

Rhythmix, at 2513 Blanding Ave., offers art classes for children and adults on an ongoing basis.


Group to Host Forum on Organized Labor

Alameda Public Affairs Forum will present a discussion on the crisis in the American labor movement from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan 12, at the Main Library at Oak Street and Lincoln Avenue. The event is being co-sponsored by Labor Notes.

Michigan, the home of the modern American labor movement, recently passed a “right to work law.” According to the two groups. This law is likely to undermines the power of organized labor, and its passage signals a broad attack on organized labor.

At the Jan. 12 event, Alameda Public Affairs Forum will present the views of three long-time Bay Area labor activists. They will lead a discussion about what new strategies and ideas are needed to counteract anti-labor legislation and build a labor movement that can revive the voice of working people.

The panelists are Tenaya Lafore, an organizer representing teaching assistants with the University of California; Mike Parker, formerly of the United Auto Workers and now with the Richmond Progressive Alliance; and Steve Early, who has worked for the Communications Workers of America and has written two books on the labor movement.

For more information, send e-mail to AlamedaPublicAffairs@comcast.net, see www.alamedapublicaffairsforum.org or call (510) 814-9592.

At the event, suggested donations of $5-$10 will be requested, but no one will turned away due to a lack of funds.

Also, guests are invited to bring juice, desserts, cheese, snacks, etc. to share with others for a potluck from 6:30 to 7 p.m.


Free Winter Concert & Upcoming Fund-Raiser Set for Alameda High

The music department of Alameda High School will present its annual Winter Concert starting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 20, at the
Kofman Auditorium, 2200 Central Ave. (Doors open at 7 p.m., and music begins at 7:30 p.m.)

Several groups are slated to perform, including students in the jazz, symphonic and concert bands, as well as those in the choir and guitar programs.

There is a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 students, and concert organizers encourage all members of the Alameda community to attend.

Coming up next month, the music department will host its annual fund-raising event, Musical Masquerade, a night of “great food, fun auctions, and fabulous entertainment” provided by AHS music students on Jan. 26, 2013, at the Alameda Elk’s Lodge, event organizers say.