Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Archive for August, 2007

Night Owl prowls for Aug. 31-Sept. 7

By awoodall

If the Night Owl were going to be hanging out from Aug. 31 to Sept.7, here is a list of places where she might be.  And she’s still looking for good dance places, so, come on folks, chime in with your faves.

 First of all, Saturday kicks off three days of art and soul in Oakland. Well, we always have plenty of those ingredients, but from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday through Monday, the city is putting on Oakland’s Art & Soul<cm cq> summer festival, complete with music, dancing, art, food and libations. Kids get their own Family Fun Zone with rides, hands-on activities, entertainment and special performances. There is way too much to include here so visit the Web site www.artandsouloakland.com for a list of events, to figure out the logistics for the venue (including a map) and to plan your visit. Admission is $10 at the door, $5 for youth ages 13 to 18. Admission is free for youth under the age of 12.

 The Oakland Metro Operahouse, 201 Broadway, is where you’ll find “Tourettes without Regrets” _ described as one of the premier poetry slams and MC battles in California. Think Lennie Bruce meets modern spoken word styles. The slogan is “the fight club of underground art.” It happens on the first Thursday of the month beginning 8 p.m. For more information, the Web site is www.oaklandmetro.org and the e-mail is oaklandopera@yahoo.com.

Move over Little League, real sport is coming and it’s called democracy. “Please Vote for Me,” a documentary showing at the Oakland Museum Tuesday is almost as good as a soap opera: a trio of eight-year old students _ a charismatic challenger, a ruthless incumbent and a thoughtful outsider _ all vie for the coveted position of class monitor in a third grade classroom in Wuhan China. There’s hot debates, backstabbing and strategic alliances. The documentary in Mandarin with English subtitles also launches the 2007-08 season of the ITVS Community Cinema. A reception before the film begins 6 p.m. in the James Moore Theatre, followed by a 6:30 p.m. screening. The Oakland Museum is located at 1000 Oak St.

Sept. 7 is Artmurmur for all you artlovers and gallery fiends. For info and a map of the galleries throwing open their doors after hours visit the Web site www.oaklandartmurmur.com<cm cq>. The Art Night shuttle will be running. The Oakland museum, also part of the gallery crawl, has  a host of hot goings on: http://www.museumca.org.
Swarm Gallery is hosting an artists’ reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sept. 7 for the group exhibition, “Artifice of Form,” that runs Sept. 1 to  Oct. 14. Swarm Gallery is located at 560 Second St. The Web site is www.swarmstudios.net.
 Mercury 20 Gallery also is hosting an reception at 25 Grand Ave., for a new show of work by in-house artists Jo Ann Biagini and Cathy Perillo. The Web site is www.mercurytwenty.com.

Sept. 7 is the Berkeley premier of the documentary “War Made Easy:
How Presidents and Pundits keep spinning us to death.” The show starts at La Pena 8 p.m. and tickets cost $8. The address is 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. The Web site is www.lapena.org and the telephone number is (510) 849-2568.

And there’s always something going on at the Black New World Social Aid and Pleasure Club in West Oakland. Web site: www.blacknewworld.com.
That’s all for now, ladies and gentlemen. But if you have a cool shindig e-mail me at awoodall@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Posted on Friday, August 31st, 2007
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Visit to Raider Nation

By awoodall

There is perhaps no good way to introduce someone to the Raider Nation. But the Friday exhibition game against the Rams was probably one of the mildest forms of first contact with fans reputed to be some of the baddest but most faithful in footballdom. No, I take that back…in all sportsdom.

“Raider Lite —  not as intense but still fun,” said one fan, who earlier looked like something out of a commercial as he ran toward the coliseum entrance while flinging off his polo shirt in favor of a Raiders jersey.  

But is the reputation deserved? Don’t know. I mean, one burly guy was talking about the film “The Devil Wears Prada.” And the couple in matching #34 Jordan jerseys definitely looked benign.

They are colorful, though, even in black and silver.

“I’m the phantom,” said one man trying to scalp some last minute tickets. From the smell of his breath, he had evidently been working himself up for the game with a hearty helping of libations. The phantom part referred to a silver mask that covered most of the right side of his face, accentuating his black and silver Raiders contact lenses. “I’m the 12th player on the field that you don’t see,” he added as an explanation. Okay…

I wanted to go to the last night game of the season dressed as a pirate and hang out with the ultimate Raiders fans, The Black Hole gang. But I got caught at the last minute and barely had enough time to don a black turtle neck. It was cold and black was the safest bet at not getting caught wearing the wrong colors. I’ve heard bad things can happen to those who make that mistake in Raiderland. 

So you can imagine how jealous I was of the Voodooman Raider fan with what appeared to be a shrunken skull and shark teeth atop his wide-brimmed western hat. Real or fake, I wondered. You just never know around here.

Or the Viking Raider couple, although I couldn’t tell if they were together or just happened to be sporting his and hers spiky shoulder pads and horn-rimmed hats. 

By the time I got to my seats in the second tier the Raiders had already scored their first field goal against the Rams and the Raiderettes were shaking their black and silver to hometown boy MC Hammer’s “Oaktown.”  

Football is such an American sport, one fan explained to an Italian woman seeing her first game. “The men are on steroids, the women’s breasts are fake, it’s violent as hell and everyone gets drunk.”

As I sat back and let the experience wash over me, I decided the fans’ slogan should be “the agony and the ecstasy.” No matter how well the Raiders were doing, the fans complained…like demanding parents.

“They look pretty good,” said one man.

“At least they’re moving the ball,” the other man replied. That was shortly before a touchdown that people (including the fan wearing a “Real Women Wear Black” T-shirt)  to their feet, handslapping, hooting and hollering. Once the excitement settled down, the man decided the team should be up by at least another 10 points, even though they were blowing the Rams out of the astroturf.

Fans’ abuse was not reserved for their team.

“So far, so fun” said a mustached fan before bellowing insults (“You suuuuck!!!”) at the Rams’ quarterback.

“What the Fxxx is going on down there,” shouted a gentleman when the Rams blocked a Raiders pass, as if he could not believe the nerve of those guys.

So, that was just a warmup for the real deal when the season starts Sept. 9.

Already that night, as the Raiderettes were “Bringin’ Sexy Back” with their pompoms, I bet the fans were wondering when the Raiders were going to be bringin the Superbowl back.

Posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2007
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Night Owl vanishing act

By awoodall

Okay, I admit to being way out of the picture for the past few weeks. It was a combination of a very, very nasty streak of bad luck. Yeah, that right. Not just bad luck but nasty bad luck. I hope the universe is done messing with me now.

And I just wasn’t sure how many people were reading the Night Owl blog. Turns out plenty, to which I say thank you, fellow prowlers. Let’s get better acquainted, though. How about some feedback?

Invisible as I may have been in the blogosphere, this gal was out and about in our fair city.

Wednesday past I was in Old Oakland, checking out the Home Grown Blues Series. I wouldn’t have gone again but I happened to interview Ms. Esther Mabry, the founder of legendary Esther’s Orbit Room on 7th Street in West Oakland. The Grand Lady of the City of Oaks was set on visiting the music fest local Blues man Ronnie Stewart has been hosting on 9th Street every Wednesday during July and August (Aug. 29 is the last one). Since there was no one else to drive her, I offered…nervously. Escorting her made me feel like I had been entrusted with the crown jewels of Oakland: I would have been in BIG trouble if anything happened to her.

 “We have a very special guest tonight,” Stewart called out over the mic when he saw Ms. Mabry — or should I say Queen Mabry — approach. She’s definitely Blues royalty around here. Of course, she took her rightful place next to Jay Payton, who was the Orbit Room’s first act in 1963.

Mabry’s club is about the only place left on 7th, Stewart said. “She helped make Oakland what it is.”

Her presence was proof that the Blues fest was a hit, he continued. “We must be doing well — we got Esther Mabry here,” he boasted to the crowd that took up about half the block sitting, standing, shuffling or swaying. Several thanked me for bringing her. Others asked for her autograph or to pose with them and their children for pictures.

Mabry’s gold-sandaled feet were tapping to the tunes, including a rocking version of “Knock on Wood” that even got about a dozen bodies moving, including several homeless men. “Mustang Sally” (“I think you better slow your mustang down.”) prompted a line of dancers to do a sassy shuffle. As a couple, which I dubbed the Astaire and Rogers of 9th Street Blues, took to their feet, I began to get a sense of what it must have been like when 7th Street was lined with jazz, blues and assorted clubs.    

“Somebody take me to the river and drop in some muddy water,” as one of the singers put it.

Read on tomorrow for the continued adventures of your Night Owl…

Posted on Monday, August 27th, 2007
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