Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Archive for June, 2007

Come for a float, stay for the art

By awoodall

Via my esteemed colleague, Kristin Bender, who covers Berkeley, comes word of an art show called “A Question of Belief” at Oakland’s Float, the only flotation center and art gallery in the San Francisco Bay Area. The show will run through July 14.

A group show of paintings, photography and sculptures featuring artists Cherie Raciti, Nina Glaser and Marianne Hale showcases artists who express the power of belief through sculpture, writings in the sand and mixed media art.           

Raciti, a professor of art at San Francisco State University, has had her work included in permanent collections at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and other venues.

At Float, Raciti presents acrylic, mixed media paintings of simple shapes and patterns derived from both the sacred and the secular found in many cultures as well as the Buddha Head series, a different take on traditional views of the Buddha figure, organizers said.

Glaser, who had a 20 year photography career that included teaching at the Academy of Art University, will show a private collection of the Float curator at the gallery.

Hale, an amateur photographer, has photos of messages of “empowerment and belief” written in the sand, organizers said.

Float is located at 1091 Calcot Place, Unit No. 116 in the historic Cotton Mill studios in Oakland. Float offers new, public exhibits of local artists monthly. Their motto is “come for a float, stay for the art.” For more information, call Allison Walton at 535-1702.

Posted on Friday, June 29th, 2007
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Psst…Hubba-Hubba Girls

By awoodall

I couldn’t fit this event in The Night Owl calendar, but just thought you might wanna know about the Hubba Hubba Revue #3 (the third time is a charm…).

“One by land, two by sea, three if you’re lucky,” is the slogan in keeping with the patriotic theme of the July 3 burlesque show featuring Lee Presson and the Nails, Sparkly Devil, Peekaboo Burlesque, Your Little Chernobyl and others.  It is just so fun to write names like those.

Tassles start swinging 9 p.m. at the DNA Lounge, 375 Eleventh St., San Francisco.  Tickets are $15, but only with legit ID that proves you’re at least 21 years old.   The Web site to visit for more details is www. dnalounge.com.

Have fun!

Posted on Wednesday, June 27th, 2007
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From the Department of Redundancy Dept.

By awoodall

Word has it that Oakland Councilmember Nancy Nadel has her hackles up because of the East Bay Rats’ Fight Night in West Oakland, which is part of her territory. After reading about it last week in The Oakland Tribune — and seeing a larger than life photo of a chick with a seriously bloodied nose — Nadel started breathing down OPD’s neck to put a stop to the oh-so barbaric event. (See “Oakland Biker Club Serves up Friday Night Special: Knuckle Sandwiches” http://www.insidebayarea.com/search//ci_6163783)

Evidently, the councilwoman didn’t know about Fight Night until she read the article. Memo: you can scarcely miss it weekends. And, it’s on the East Bay  Rats Web site, as well as about a dozen fan Web sites.

Hello…ya’ get around West Oakland much, Ms. Nadel?

So the question, now that she knows about the fights, is whether Nadel plans to go after the Rats to try and shut the clubhouse down.

Was she was outraged that people were slugging each other silly in the ring…instead of brawling on the street, or worse?

The same weekend Nadel was trying to figure out which technicality could be used to shut down Fight Night , there was a shooting outside the @Seventeenth nightclub, which is just blocks from the Rats’ prostitute and crackhead-ridden neighborhood that the clubhouse actually improves.

Nadel hauled the @Seventeenth folks into City Hall for a meeting, and was sending a letter to the Rats until founder Trevor Latham preempted her with an e-mail, which set the record straight about being in compliance with state licensing requirements for prizefighting, as well restrictions on serving booze.

Now, it might just be me, but why would a council member want to go after something slightly naughty but that works. Wouldn’t be the first time — those party poopers. The Rats are no angels by any means. But at least Fight Night puts people in the ring instead of in a coffin.

Posted on Tuesday, June 26th, 2007
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An underbelly weekend: BAD Girls and worse fighters

By awoodall

This weekend gave me the feeling I was a cross between Nellie Bly and Charles Bukowski. Or, a Margaret Mead of the degenerate, as my co-conspirator in the underbelly adventures put it.

Actually, I admit, it wasn’t all that raunchy Friday at the East Bay Rats clubhouse, where the Oakland biker club hosted fight-night. It was a melting pot of  the roughest stew, definitely rowdy, but surprisingly well-mannered.

As I stood surrounded by every flavor of tough, rough biker types, I wondered which part of the brain (brain disorder, as it were) tells people that it’s a good idea to get boozed up then climb into a boxing ring. Talk about a hangover.  The fighters looked like human windmills gone amok, all arms flailing in the air. They evidently did some damage — blood was spattered across the referee’s white T-shirt from bloodied noses and the like. But the bouts ended mostly after two very short rounds with a tie and a hug, both fighters exhausted. After one bout, the two women who just tried to knock each other silly kissed — then kissed again and again. They were getting into it. That’s something you don’t see every day in the ring.

 The ladies dominated the ring as one woman straddled the rope post during a lull, prodding the “real men” to step up. she seemed to think there were some impostors lurking, because she told them to prove their masculine authenticity by checking if a certain body part could be found between their legs.  It didn’t take long for two men heed the call, although they declined to display the manhood proof so vigorously demanded — screamed — by the woman. Instead they wailed on each other.

One fan remarked that the ring gave folks a place to take their saloon-silly aggression. No bar-room brawls over stupidly hurled words or looks. Anyway, the boss — head-shaved, tattooed,  big-guy Trevor — would be enough to dissuade anyone from acting too stupid anyway. Then again, maybe folks are just thankful to have at least one gritty, underground scene to flock to that they don’t want to jeopardize a good thing.

Much less ladylike was a benefit concert to raise money for the Bay Area Derby Girls _ those vixens of the roller rink. Girl Band (whose lead singer almost got booted out of the club because she gave the bartender such a bad time) played a song written for the B.A.D. girls with good hearts — “Anything you want, I’ll do it better. Sock me in the face,  it only makes me w……” Well, you can guess the rest. The derby darlings look like Betty Page gone Hells Angels (so you can forget the 1970s roller babes in satin short-shorts, feathered hair and lip gloss).

How could you not love women who go by the name of “Injured Rogers” or “Ms. Moxie,” drink Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, looks Charles Bronson-tough as she takes out another gal in the rink without batting a perfectly mascara-painted eyelash. 

 “It’s not the chick factor,” said one fan. It’s their “feisty, feisty spunkness,” he loved.  

Spunkness indeed. Word had it that night that the gals were even auctioning off their panties to raise money for their own portable skate floor. They lost their rink, the Dry Ice arena in East Oakland, in March just days before a match. Every venue they sought since has fallen through. So the gals are applying their DIY attitude to the dilemma like red, red lipstick.

They put the word out that they needed help and folks responded, lending a hand to keep them in their skates — “so they can keep on whipping up on each other,” as the B-Cups lead singer said as she took the stage. 

Posted on Monday, June 11th, 2007
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Guardian Angels in Oakland — again

By awoodall

Don’t be surprised if you see the trademark red berets that signal Guardian Angels volunteers are on patrol. They’ll be out starting 11 a.m. Friday along Grand Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard.  

That’s right: Oakland is getting its own chapter of the Guardian Angels, the volunteer group famous for its red berets that was originally created in 1979 to combat widespread violence and crime on New York City subways.  Meanwhile, city councilmembers gave a conditional OK to putting safety escorts in and around Oakland BART stations.

It won’t the first time the organization sets up patrols in Oakland to combat crime. This time Grand Lake neighborhood residents invited them, saying that there has been a dramatic rise in robberies in stores, homes and on the streets.  Residents in the Rockridge district also have invited them. 

Erick Wong, the Guardian Angels California regional director who lives in San Diego, said the group would consider patroling some of Oakland’s tougher areas, such as West and East Oakland, if they were invited. They haven’t been — yet?

The Guardian Angels are seeking Oakland volunteers and will be on hand tonight at the Grand Lake Neighborhood Center, 530 Lake Park Ave.

For more information call (415) 987-2960. 

Posted on Thursday, June 7th, 2007
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Let the women fight, BAM!

By awoodall

Someone is going down Wednesday at the U.S. National Championship boxing tournament and it ain’t gonna be local fighter Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton _ at least that’s what her team wants to be saying tomorrrow when she faces Jennifer Han.

If Julaton is victorious, she’ll become the No. 1 amateur featherweight, having pummeled her way though five opponents — women who know how to throw a punch. Prevail Wednesday and “The Hurricane” will become the first Bay Area woman to ever win the U.S. National Championships and the first Filipina-American to ever be ranked No. 1 since U.S.A. Boxing recognized women fighters in 1993 (something the organization that governs amateur and olympic boxing did kicking and screaming).

Another female fighter was representing the Bay Area at the competition: Isabel Salinas, a San Leandro light bantamweight who trains at King’s Gym in Oakland. Lookin’ good, baby.

Victory in the finals could make Julaton a contender to represent the United States in the 2012 Olympics — if there is a U.S. team, that is. And it’s a giant IF because of the resistance in the past to making women’s boxing an olympic event. It’s already too late for the 2008 games. That means boxing is the only olympic event without a female equivalent.  

Why the foot-dragging? “That’s the million dollar question,” said Christy Halbert, the chairwoman of the U.S.A. Boxing’s task force on women’s boxing. Right now, fingers are pointing at the International Olympic Committee officials.

Come on. Maybe they should take it outside — wager that if the women can take out the IOC officials, they can fight in the olympics.

Posted on Tuesday, June 5th, 2007
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Put a pricetag on it, Dellums and De La Fuente

By awoodall

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente proved you can put a pricetag on just about everything, including rivalry.  Just make sure it comes with nice packaging.

The two former bitter rivals for the city’s top position just months ago showed up Saturday for a swanky soiree at the Claremont Hotel.  The public servants may have been in the same room, but you would have thought they were orbiting different moons on separate planets: they never crossed each other’s path.  

Dellums and De La Fuente, however,  had one thing in common. They were determined to raise money for the Oakland East Bay Symphony’s youth education programs.  A power lunch with Dellums fetched $2,800 during  the silent fundraiser auction.  So great was De La Fuente’s generosity that he spontaneously offered himself for a power lunch — and tied with Dellums at $2,800.

Pfew! A collective sigh rose among the audience that the two were worth the same amount.

Posted on Monday, June 4th, 2007
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The Constant Dancer Superhero Club

By awoodall

It wasn’t a bird or a plane, but something was definitely in the air Friday. Ah, yes. It was — ta da — Oaklandish, that zany group that is still trying to polish our fair city like the diamond in the rough that it is. The polishing cloth is Oakland’s art and culture and history.

Oaklandish members remind me of benign aliens sent to protect the city from its less inspired leaders. Maybe that’s what we need: a collection of folks, each with their own special power, like the Super Friends cartoon I used to watch as a kid. Wonder Woman, Bat Man and Robin, Flash.

Okay, back to reality.

Oaklandish kick-started its summer schedule Thursday, but made a very public splash Friday night at the monthly Art Murmur.  The gallery crawl is always a hoot, but Oaklandish added some zest by setting up its Mobile Operations Unit, which is an official-sounding name for a big, white camper that is the group’s roving headquarters. Oaklandish lost its building two years ago (like other such semi-rogue groups, the city shut them down over building code violations), so now its little museum/store of Oakland mementos, memorabilia and collectibles is carried on wheels.  The vehicle is like a big taco truck,  as one member, Jeff Hull, put it. “But instead of tacos, we serve up Oaklandish.” Take that, you forces of bland, sterile, indistinguishably uniform evil.

The group also was serving up tunes that added extra zest to the Art Murmur. In that block of 23rd and Telegraph, which often turns into a spontaneous block party outside the cluster of galleries, folks were silk-screening t-shirts — custom-made, come-and-get-it style for $5. Other tables had wares to hawk. Bodies entered and exited the galleries in a steady stream like they were going through revolving doors. A woman sat breastfeeding her baby in the Rock Paper Scissors Collective boutique. Toddlers stared wide-eyed at paintings, sculptures and intallations in the galleries. Parents gently bounced babies they were carrying in that instinctive, almost absent-minded way.  A few adherents of Critical Mass showed up (the citoyens of all such spunky civic gatherings) with bicycles seemingly melded to their bodies. Everything revolved around that one block of 23rd Street, where the Oaklandish truck parked, giant speakers perched atop like mutant Mickey Mouse ears. 

If I could make my own Oakland superhero I’d choose “Constant Dancer,” a real man so christened by my daughter because he is contantly in rhythmic motion where public music is to be found. Or at least, I’ve seen him twice now — at the Rebirth Brass Band gig in the Black New World club, then the Art Murmur — and he never stopped dancing. His stiff but infectiously fun spinning, bobbing, weaving around 23rd Street inspired my daughter to create a Manga cartoon character fashioned after “CM,” as she nicknamed him.

Hey, wait a minute. He was wearing a Superman t-shirt the first time I saw him and he dons a red sweat jacket.  Perfect.

Posted on Sunday, June 3rd, 2007
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