Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Archive for September, 2007

Moonbeam mayors

By awoodall

Was that you, Jerry Brown, walking at Lake Merritt, ear to cell phone, a few weeks ago? Would have been before you pulled out of the Sears building, down on lower Telegraph, and headed for the hills.

Now, there was a mayor I always associated with nighttime. Maybe it was Brown’s nickname from the Sacramento days: Governor Moonbeam.

Or maybe it was because Brown was said to roam the streets long after sunset  around his pseudo-downtown district (what Brown longed for to be a downtown) .

I don’t know if he ever did wander about after hours. But I definitely can’t imagine Mayor Ron Dellums walking lower Telegraph at night, tipping his hat to the prostitutes, junkies and sundry motley night owls. I can, however, picture Dellums in a cozy boite like Z-cafe or Bay Wolf. Of course, that’s where you’d see Brown, as well.

If Brown was moonbeams, then Dellums would be sunshine. Just sticks that way in my head (addled as my brain is).

Posted on Wednesday, September 26th, 2007
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Spotted and overheard

By awoodall

Overheard: “Why do you want to make more poop?” — a parks and rec worker on the idea of restoring the charmingly abandoned McElroy fountain in Lakeside park, which she feared would attract birds…and what they tend to leave behind.

Spotted: “Oakland: When San Francisco just isn’t good enough” — bumper sticker slogan.

Rumored: “The best thing about San Francisco is that you can see Oakland from there” — said to be another bumper sticker slogan by same artist.  

Posted on Monday, September 24th, 2007
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Prowling this week

By awoodall

Here’s a flick that makes film noir look red hot: Double Indemnity, a cynical 1944 masterpiece of poison passion starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck. They play rotten duo who try to off Stanwyck’s husband after she convinces the duped spouse to take out a big insurance policy _ with a double-indemnity clause. It’s a true crime story, undoubtedly steamier than the real thing carried out in 1927 by a married Queens woman and her lover. Stanwyck was never so sultry. The film is part of a weekly noir fest at the newly restored Cerrito Speakeasy cinema, 10070 San Pablo Ave. Showtime is 6 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday. The Web site is http://cerritospeakeasy.com.

Saturday is the PeaceOut World Homohop Festival, an annual Oakland-born festival of hip hop music and culture created in 2001 by LGBT folks. Check out the Web site www.peaceoutfestival.com for a rundown of the events and performers because some of their names are too naughty for this page. The all-ages funky fest starts 8 p.m. at the 21 Grand gallery, 416 25th St. Tickets are $5 to $10.

Dance to sizzling salsa Saturday under the stars at Jack London Square beginning 6 p.m. It’s free and it’s hot _ even if the temperatures aren’t. For more information, visit the Web site www.jacklondonsquare.com.

Sunday Tango No. 9 is at the Red Poppy Art House, 2698 Folsom St., San Francisco.  Doors open 7:30 p.m. and the show starts 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 to $15. www.redpoppyarthouse.org.

Back in Oakland, a jam session will be on at Bicasso’s Black Music Experiment, EastSide Arts Alliance-Oakland, 2599 International Blvd. To find out about what else is going on (and there usually is something) visit www.eastsideartsalliance.com.

On Monday, another jam session is happening 7 p.m., featuring trombonist Angela Wellman, New Earth Artist Cafe, 2008 Park Blvd. The Web site of this unusual little boite is www.newearthartistcafe.com.

How about a ”Fight Club” flick fundraiser? That’s what is going on Tuesday<cm 9/25>  at the Parkway Speakeasy Theater as a benefit for HEROES (Helpers Engaged in Reaching Oakland’s Excelling Schools), A volunteer placement program for the Oakland Unified School District. The creepy, macho existential cult fave starts 9:15 p.m. and admission is $8. The Parkway is located at 1834 Park Blvd. and the Web site is www.parkway-speakeasy.com. For more information about HEROES, visit the Web site www.oaklandheroes.org.

Tango forever, or at least Wednesdays at the Trio Bistro, 542 Grand Ave., where tango lessons are free, the wine excellent and the food delicious. Lessons begin about 6:30 p.m. but the dancing doesn’t stop until late.
Call (510) 444-8746 for more information.

The eclectic Manhattan Short Film Festival is coming to the Cerrito Speakeasy Theater for the first time Thursday<cm 9/27>. Showtime begins 9:15 p.m.
For more information about the festival visit the Web site www.msfilmfest.com.
The Cerrito is located 10070 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, and the Web site is www.cerritospeakeasy.com. Admission is $8.

And, lastly, happy hour starts late _ 9 p.m. _ all week long at Fonda, 1501 Solano Ave. in Albany. The after-hours menu features dishes such as duck tacos and Cuban mini-burgers. Cocktails _ including the likes of Cuba Libre, Que Sera-Serrano and Nahuatl’s Punch _ are $5. The Web site is www.fondasolana.com

And, lastly, a little announcement for you art lovers: René de Guzman has been named senior curator of art at the Oakland Museum of California. Currently director of visual arts at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), de Guzman joins the museum staff in mid-October. The guy sounds interesting.

That’s all for now, ladies and gentlemen. But if you have a cool shindig e-mail me at awoodall@angnewspapers.com.

Posted on Friday, September 21st, 2007
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The blind leading the blind

By awoodall

 A group of Minutemen — those anti-illegal immigration crusaders — showed up last Thursday evening to protest Oakland’s safe sanctuary immigration policy to the City Council.

Problem was, City Council doesn’t meet on Thursdays. Ooops…wrong day.  The mistake had several white men and one woman trapsing confused through city hall with brows furrowed in bafflement as they were told by the security guard that, no, there was no meeting.

Later they all — about a dozen — mulled outside in the plaza, probably trying to figure out how the mistake happened and what to do about looking so idiotic. Luckily for them, only this humble reporter showed up, wondering all the while why Minutemen were showing up to complain to city councilmembers who would not be there.  They had invited the TV news folks, who must have been too busy that night to shlep down to a phantom event. Maybe it just wasn’t worth it.

The man who organized the “rally” (I guess they expected more turnout to protest what they called Oakland’s illegal policy of not pursuing illegal immigrants) blamed the mistake on wrong info from someone in city hall.  But they pledged to return Tuesday, except that they just postponed the effort.  We will be informed, however, “once the time and date has been established – Thank you.”

Can’t wait.

Posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
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Baggy’s By the Lake

By awoodall

It’s not a dive bar.  No, Baggy’s By the Lake is better than that.The neighborhood watering hole on the east end of Lake Merritt is a lounge lizard’s paradise. Call it a place for the incognito rendezvous, a spot for beer nursers and cocktail sippers or a night owl’s roost. Call it what you want — except dive bar.

Local legend has it that the co-owner bartenders didn’t like it when a newspaper that rhymes with barnacle applied that description to the East 18th Street drinkery.

So, how about, say, unintentionally retro with a splash of punk?

That’s how I would sum up the decor that combines pastoral paintings of cowboys, lavishly romantic bronze statues of angels (or some celestial creature) and a gaming contraption that was a cross between a slot machine and TV game show.

Bleep, bleep, bleep.

The hurricane candles on the worn, shiny oak tables were reminiscent of a Las Vegas bar at the end of the strip, circa 1975.

Then there was the signs that read “Business hours are subject to change during fishing season,” and “Enjoy Baggy’s By the Bay happy hour.” ($2 PBR pints — short for Pabst Blue Ribbon — $3 well drinks and $3 microbrews.)

“We’re the only ones here,” said a man at the more dignified bar as I pulled up a stool and stared right into the face of an angel sculpture that doubles as a clock.

The angel was resplendent under a huge photograph of Baggy’s that looks old enough to be from the days when pioneer Moses Chase pitched a tent on land that would become the Clinton Park (aka Eastlake) neighborhood.

Local legend also has it that Clinton was the last name of the love of his life, a Massachusetts lady who broke his heart.

That’s a story to ponderwhile riding in a gondola on Lake Merritt, or over a martini sitting in one of Baggy’s highback chairs near the fireplace.

Another story is that Gertrude Stein lived at the Tubbs Hotel, which was nearby on East 12th Street. She’s the famous writer who gave Oakland the painfully misunderstood slogan “There’s no there there.”

Well, Tubbs probably was gone before Baggy’s ever opened.

The bar is not that old, but it did make it past the old days, the bad times and the better ones that began with the opening of the Parkway Speakeasy Theater, which hipped up the neighborhood and drew in residents, in turn drumming up business for Baggy’s.

Too bad the kitchen closed down a while ago. The next-door Vietnamese restaurant has saved many a hungry patron, but this night owl settled for a bag of nacho cheese Doritos (don’t ask) to go with her martini — a petite one served by a sympathetic, pixie-cute bartender with three, count them, three olives.

They were itsy-bitsy olives, though.

Bourbon and water is the drink of choice by day, the bartender told me. Manhattans are the after-hour pick, however.

“I’d have to say more people drink Manhattans than martinis,” she added.

Right, I thought, and said, “They’re not for everyone.”

“You have to like vermouth a little bit,” she said.

Still, the martini is the bar’s mascot (we share so much in common).

On the facade, a neon martini glass shines in all its alcoholic glow over Baggy’s written in neon cursive lettering.

There’s another neon sign. The one in the window that reads “OPEN.”

Posted on Friday, September 14th, 2007
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Owl on the Prowl this week

By awoodall

If the Night Owl were going to be hanging out from tonight to Sept. 21 (how time flies!), here is a list of places where she might be.

 This fever you’ll want to catch: Dengue Fever, an indie band that sounds like a Cambodian pop rock psychedelic dance party. Huh? Better to hear it straight from the source: MySpace.com/denguefevermusic. The free show starts 6 p.m. tonight at Rasputin Records, 2401 Telegraph Ave., in Berkeley. For more information: (510) 848-9004 or http://RasputinMusic.com.

“I used to be Snow White… but I drifted,” is a quote from burlesque’s local Honey Lawless, who be joined tonight by other ladies of the tassle for their debut as the Stragglerettes.  They will be Go-Go dancing beginning 9 p.m. at the Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph Ave., in honor of the Straggler CD Release Party.  They promise food, fun and rock and roll.  The cover charge is $5.  Anyone younger than 21 need not apply.

Latin Explosion Mexican Independence Weekend Celebration kicks off tonight at Bench and Bar beginning 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. The address is 2111 Franklin St., the Web site is www.bench-and-bar.com and the phone number (510) 444-2266.   
Slip on those flip-flops and puka shells for a night of retro tropical paradise at The Conga Lounge, home of the Gilligan’s Island signature cocktail and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. hour. The Conga Lounge is at 5422 College Ave.

The wrecking was not long in coming when the International Hotel, a rundown residential hotel on the border of San Francisco’s Chinatown that anchored the city’s “Manilatown,” got in the way of redevelopment. Despite the human barricade of several thousand people, 300 baton-wielding, mounted police evicted 50 elderly tenants in the pre-dawn hours of August 4, 1977. The film “Fall of the I-Hotel,” showing 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Oakland museum, tells the story of the fight to save the I-Hotel. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Emil deGuzman, Curtis Choy, Al Robles, and Dr. Estella Habal, who were involved in the fight to save the I-Hotel. The event is free. Visit the Web site www.museumca.org for more information.

That’s all for now, ladies and gentlemen. But if you have a cool shindig e-mail me at awoodall@angnewspapers.com.

Posted on Thursday, September 13th, 2007
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Who would Pam Grier play?

By awoodall

–Get Pam Grier and a local unknown rapper and you got a movie!

Posted on Wednesday, September 12th, 2007
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By awoodall

“Just tell them you’re from Oakland” — the response to a woman in an elevator describing her fear of being singled out as a tourist and mugged in New York.

Posted on Tuesday, September 11th, 2007
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From the Fight Night Department

By awoodall

The Bay Area Derby Girls are steamrolling their way Wednesday to San Jose for a bout between the Oakland Outlaws and the San Francisco ShEvil Dead. The brawl starts 8:30 p.m. at the San Jose Civic Auditorium, 135 West San Carlos St. Doors open 7:30 p.m. Admission is $17 in advance or $20 at the door, and is restricted to 18 and older. Tickets are available at www.bayareaderbygirls.com

Then it’s fight night Thursday in San Jose when O-town’s homeboy Tony Hirsch _ a junior middleweight who is 2-0 with one knockout under his belt _ takes on Doug Lilly in the ring 7 p.m. at the HP Pavillion.
It’s all part of “American Metal and Iron Fight Night at the Tank” boxing series, with Jose “Cuate” Celaya and a host of other Bay Area boxers. For more information, visit the Web site www.fightnightatthetank.com. Individual tickets can be purchased at the HP Pavilion ticket office, at Ticketmaster ticket centers, online at ticketmaster.com or charge by phone at (408) 998-TIXS, (415) 421-TIXS or (510) 625-TIXS.
 BTW, the ritual weigh-in of the boxers is 6 p.m. Wednesday in the
Clarion Hotel at the San Jose Airport, 1355 North Fourth St., (800) 838-4913.

Posted on Monday, September 10th, 2007
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Oakland punkified

By awoodall

Punk may have been born in London, but it lives on in Oakland.  
Wednesday night one of punk rock’s original practitioners _ The Vibrators _ will carry the torch right into town, landing at the Metro Operahouse, 201 Broadway.
Although the band shares its name with a naughty toy, The Vibrators is way louder. In the glory days, The Vibrators shared the stage with punk legends _ the Sex Pistols, whose “God Save the Queen” made the punk scene explode 30 years ago, the Buzzcocks, The Clash, The Ramones.  The list goes on. Wednesday they’ll be playing with San Francisco’s “Yes Go’s” among other hard-driving, neo-punk bands.

For those more inclined toward the soft and bubbly, Pink Martini is a 12-piece orchestra appearing 8 p.m. Tuesday<cm 9/11> at the Paramount Theatre, not a drink. But the group’s style, described as romantic Hollywood musical of the 1940s with a global twist, is just as sweet. Doors open 60 minutes before show time and tickets are $39.50 to $75. The Paramount is located at 2025 Broadway. Tickets are available online at www.paramounttheatre.com, by phone at (415) 421-8497 and at the Paramount Theatre Box Office (Broadway and 21st Street).

Posted on Monday, September 10th, 2007
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