Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Archive for February, 2008

Oscar Night

By awoodall

In case you haven’t heard and in case you care, we’re back on for the Oscar’s since the writers’ strike ended. Feb. 24 is the red carpet day.  
I am thinking of going to the Parkway or Cerrito, where the Academy Awards will be shown on the big screen and the dress code is fancy. Love that stuff. I’m partial to the film JUNO, as anyone who knows me has heard ad naseum.
What about you guys? I’d like to know what you’ll be doing that night. Going out, staying in or just ignoring the whole thing? Anything special happening in Oakland? What film are you rooting for? Which one should be sabotaged?
And, btw, what’s your all-time favorite Oscar memory? (Did David Niven streak across the stage during the 1974 awards or was it that a naked man ran behind Niven while he was on stage?)

Posted on Monday, February 11th, 2008
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Firstborn Fundraiser

By awoodall

Here’s something folks might be wanting to know about: a fundraiser for the film “Firstborn,” about a spiritually gifted 15-year-old girl struggling to keep her family together after her mother’s death. The benefit begins 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Eastside Arts Alliance, 2277 International Blvd. Folks get a sneak preview of the film and can meet the director. Eddie Gale will provide the jazz.
Hosted by Greg Bridges of KPFA & KCSM and admission is free.
For those who want to send money in their stead or otherwise want to contribute, visit this link to the Bay Area Video Coalition’s sponsored project page.

Posted on Monday, February 11th, 2008
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The Creole Cowboys tomorrow

By awoodall

Tuesday, February 12
JEFFERY BROUSSARD AND THE CREOLE COWBOYS
Doors at 7:30 p.m., Cajun/Zydeco dance lesson with Diana Castillo at 8:00 p.m., Show at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $12.
Southwest Louisiana’s Jeffrey Broussard & The Creole Cowboys return with their fresh approach to the Creole dance music traditions they are dedicated to preserving. Its leader, accordionist, fiddler and singer Jeffery Broussard, was a mainstay in the famous Zydeco Force, a group that took zydeco and Cajun roots and updated them for modern dance crowds without losing the feel of the original Creole zydeco gumbo. Broussard’s Creole Cowboys take the music into the next generation, still linked to the great roots music of such masters as legendary fiddler Canray Fontenot and Jeffery’s well-known accordionist father Delton Broussard. Joining Jeffery in the band’s frontline is fiddler and guitarist D’Jalma Garnier III, a one-time student of Canray Fontenot. With Fontenot’s passing in 1995, Garnier has made it his mission to keep alive and spread this unique style of fiddle playing. The band’s debut CD, “Keepin the Tradition Alive,” was named top zydeco album of 2007 by Blues and Soul magazine.
www.jefferybroussard.com
. Advance tickets are available during evening shows, or (for a fee) through Ticketweb, http://www.ticketweb.com or 866-468-3399. http://www.ashkenaz.com.

Posted on Monday, February 11th, 2008
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Adieu Kingfish, Hello Weimar New York

By awoodall

Many thanks for a tip about two events sent by a reader:

Nightowl,
I was going to pass on an interesting tidbit — the monthly Drumm Circle event at the Kingfish Cafe and Bar (on Claremont Ave).  Sadly, however, when looking further into it I found the Kingfish is now closed. The Drumm Circle, in case you have not heard of it, was a monthly event at the Kingfish which happened every 2nd Tuesday evening.  Here is the website about Jeni Swerdlow and her Drummm activities: 
http://www.drummm.com/index.htm
I stumbled onto the one in December and was amazed at what I saw.  Jeni brought in 15 – 20 drums of all types (from different countries and of different sizes) for people who showed up to use (people could also bring their own implements of destruction).  She then guided the entire group through their initial cautious rhythmic attempts onto higher levels and more challenging tempos over the next couple hours.
Her website indicates some local events coming up and hopefully she will find another venue like the Kingfish where would-be drummers can pound away.  Any suggestions?
At the SFMOMA from Tuesday (2/12) through next Friday (2/15) various aspects of Weimar New York: A Golden Gate Affair will take place.  There will be two shows — 8:00pm on 2/13 and 10:00pm on 2/14 — along with other supporting events during the week.   Here are two websites about it:
http://www.sfmoma.org/calendar/calendar_event.asp eventid=1148&etype=2&func=repeat
http://www.weimarnewyork.com.
 

Posted on Monday, February 11th, 2008
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Super fat Tuesday

By awoodall

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.

Posted on Tuesday, February 5th, 2008
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El Grupito Feb. 6

By awoodall

A Spanish conversation group meets 7:30 p.m. every other Wednesday (next one Feb. 6) at Diesel Books on College Ave.  You’ll be in good form for Cinco de Mayo.

Posted on Monday, February 4th, 2008
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Iron Ladies of Liberia

By awoodall

Don’t let her nickname Mama Ellen fool you. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – Liberia’s president and Africa’s first freely elected female head of state — is one tough lady.  Not that I’ve met her, but she’d have to be to take up the reigns of the devastated West African country. Oh, and the late ( as in dead-in-a-coup) Liberian ruler Samuel Doe imprisoned her for mouthing off about his misdeeds then the former (as in he’s-in-the-pokey-for-war-crimes) dictator Charles Taylor accused her of treason (mouthing off again).  Get to know the woman behind the country who knows her way around economics Tuesday, Feb. 5, in a documentary + discussion 6:30-9 p.m. at the Oakland museum, 1000 Oak St. www.museumca.org. Free event with free parking in museum garage (entrance on Oak Street).

Posted on Sunday, February 3rd, 2008
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Supersnooze Saturday

By awoodall

I spent Saturday inside — out of the rain — writing about the Fox Theatre for a story that will be in Friday’s Trib. Read all about it folks. Part I in the ongoing drama of Oakland’s rebirth as “the New San Francisco.”

Posted on Sunday, February 3rd, 2008
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Adding beer and babes to First Fridays

By awoodall

85356963_a9db8fecde_m.jpgI popped into the Stork Club last night on the last stop of my Night Owl-First Friday roundup. The place was packed like I’ve never seen and things were positively hopping for the Friday Night Follies — a new attraction on the ever-expanding Art Murmur tour. That’s what can happen when you put near-naked girls on stage, especially if they can sing and dance and otherwise entertain a la burlesque (va va voom!). I nearly headed out bc it was so packed until I saw an old college friend of mine in the front row appreciating the talent. She looked pretty happy.  Folks said Uni and her Ukelele was a big hit. A school teacher in town from the Central Valley was more partial to Ophelia Coeur de Noir. The Stork Club’s owner, Tom Chittock, looked pretty pleased and tired as the crowd surged to the bar in search of refreshments. He was standing in front of a wall of Barbies still in their packaging that belonged to his mother. “I call it my inheritance,” said Tom, who also inherited the bar — Micki and Wes’ Stork Club — from his folks and has set about turning it into a hot spot. Originally, way back in the day, the club opened as a country and western bar. Instead, as Tom put it, “This place was founded on punk rock.”  
And I finally met someone I introduced you all to a while back here on the blog: “Constant Dancer,” so named by my daughter who created a comicbook character based on him. His real name is Corey it turns out and he danced the whole time. Everyone was loving Roger That on his electric ukelele, too, especially when he took off his shirt between acts to reveal a canvas of tattoos worthy of a sailor. “Apparently I get to kill some more time so I’m going to ROCK,” he told folks after a fiery rendition of “I’m going to walk right out your door” (how many times have you seen the words fiery and ukelele together?).  Then came the highlight, the Belles du Jour. “Make way for tap-dancing titties,” the MC announced. It’s too cool that the Belles are back after a hiatus of some months, especially (as I found out last night), their leader “Honey Lawless” fought down cancer. She looked great and seemed surprised and delighted at the turnout. She said later that it was the first show where the venue had to hold the line at the door. The mood made up for missing the band of merry pranksters over at the Linden Street Brewery, where I had begun my rounds. The tale is that they set out in a double-decker bus from the brewery on First Fridays to hit the Art Murmur venues, which now also include the Stork and the Uptown and who knows how many others. Roger That said it best: “We need more shows like this,” meaning the Stork’s Friday Night Follies. ”Typically I’d have had to go to San Francisco. Not any more.”
(Photo by pbo31)

Posted on Saturday, February 2nd, 2008
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Wild sound Serb

By awoodall

djordje_stijepovic_2_m.jpgYou guys gotta check out this guy Djordje Stijepovic (pronounced something like Dyordge Steeyepovich). He’s a Bay Area Serb upright bass player with a wild sound — something between Mingus, surf, rockabilly and classic Balkan (which I LOVE). Throw in some gypsy and swing touches and there you go. Other songs are straight on rockabilly but sung like a story in a hepcat deep voice.  He’s playing Feb. 27 at Ashkenaz and at other Bay Area locales etc. I know I have the most eclectic taste in music ever, so I’d like to hear what you all think. And send me your favorites!  
(Photo by Nebojsa Babic)

Posted on Saturday, February 2nd, 2008
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