Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Super fat Tuesday

By awoodall
Tuesday, February 5th, 2008 at 11:30 pm in Oakland nightlife, Oaksterdam, Uptown.

Not only was today Super Tuesday, but it also was Fat Tuesday so I stopped in at Cafe Van Kleef’s to test the temperature as the votes were being tallied and the pre-Lent drinks hoisted. I was hoisting a Seven-and-Seven in honor of my much-missed mister. 
Fat Tuesday was on Saturday  at the Telegraph Avenue lounge with the Blue Bone Express. The Express, “a real New Orleans band,” as founder Peter Van Kleef put it, played with the Hot Pink Feathers — a “very tasteful” Las Vegas burlesque troop (also Van Kleef’s description).
Uptown is becoming the burlesque strip, I remarked.
Van Kleef’s, the Uptown and recently the Stork Club have added ladies of the tassle to their weekly lineup. “If this is the strip, Van Kleef’s is the MGM,” quipped patron Andrew Jimenez, who was immediately introduced by Van Kleef not by name but by distinction of having had his film “I’m with the Band” nominated for an Academy Award two years ago. The story is that he was oblivious to the fact Keira Knightly was sitting next to him making conversation at the Academy luncheon. Not surprisingly, Jimenez said he “wasn’t much for political talk,” but Van Kleef was wearing the oval “I Voted” red, white and blue sticker on his lapel. So I just had to ask the Who Question. The answer: Obama. 
The Rotterdam, Holland native (he immigrated to the U.S. as a six-year-old boy) also said he had a ballot at the bar so people could read and vote before they drank, then celebrate.
“When you talk to Obama, tell him I said ‘Keep going,’ remarked a man on his way from the bar. “Okay. I’ll tell him you said hello,” replied Van Kleef, adding that he met Obama and heard him speak at a campaign event. He said his choice was cemented by the thought that Hillary Clinton’s nomination would galvanize the Republicans and send them into overdrive just to beat her. “And the last thing I want to see is more of the same,” he said, referring to the possibility of another four years of a Republican-led executive office that, under Bush, led to what he described as an oil-fueled war in Iraq. I’m summarizing here.
Personally I didn’t make up my mind until I was standing befuddled by yet another ballot style (how many different ones can we possibly go through in a decade?). “Is this the latest ‘hanging chad,'” I asked the poll station worker, my Bic pen raised midair. Cynicism mingled with a real sense that I could easily go either way and be okay with the result. Not Van Kleef, though. He sounded like a believer.
“Obama is not a political campaign,” Van Kleef continued. “He’s a movement. He brought people together.”  Not enough in California, though. At least from what I read a few minutes ago, Clinton took California for the Dems. But, Super Tuesday or not, there’s still a chance for Obama. Read for yourself: “Neither Clinton nor Obama proclaimed overall victory on a Super Tuesday that sprawled across 23 states, and with good reason. Obama won 11 states and Clinton eight plus American Samoa. Shortly after 1 a.m. EST, winners were still to be declared in Missouri, New Mexico and Alaska,” according to the Associated Press. We’ll see.  Meanwhile, there’s still Valentine’s Day to celebrate and a long way to go until November. We’ll need those drinks. Next time I’ll have a Manhattan, Van Kleef’s specialty (“I’m the king of Manhattans”) . Cheers.

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