Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Archive for March, 2008

For the funk of it

By awoodall

20080328_081728_peep1_gallery.jpgOn a lighter note, here’s the story about the “People Party“  at the Oasis club in Oakland in today’s Trib. It was a hoot. Someone e-mailed me asking what the clubs address is. The answer: 135 12th St.
Have fun if you go. The next one is April 26 — every fourth Saturday.

Posted on Friday, March 28th, 2008
Under: Night Owl, Oakland nightlife | 1 Comment »
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Gayles & Co.

By awoodall

I’ve been busy lately with the law enforcement side of my beat so have been less than energetic in the Night Owl blogging area.  But last night I caught the last minutes of the talk at Swarm Gallery with Marcus Shelby, Angela Wellman, Duane Deterville, James Gayles and other illustrious company talking about jazz and visual art. My colleague George Kelly taped some of the discussion, which I will post here when it’s available. The talk was the culmination of Gayles “Jazz Masters” series of portraits. 
By the time I arrived chairs were being put away and photos taken with the celebs. Then talk turned to Casper Banjo, the Oakland artist who was killed earlier this month. He was shot by police because he raised a gun (that turned out to be a replica) at police.  Deterville said the community was outraged because not only was an elder killed, but a few days later a teen boy was shot by police, who said he had turned a rifle on them.
No apologies came from OPD in either case, which angered Deterville. He was saying it felt like there was no justice — because Banjo was black. 
From what I understand, he was saying that racism makes pulling the trigger that much more likely because of racial profiling. I think Hershell West summed up best the anger and frustration I heard last night and have heard for years: ”Casper’s death seems so surreal and yet so familiar in an inner city community where black men are gunned down on a regular basis without consequence, without justifiable cause. The black community must need demand a full and accurate account on this unforgivable outrage. My hope is that casper’s life, his art, and his dignity, will require a more resolute action bv the community to demand unequivocal justice, not only for the humanity of casper, but rather, and more importantly, justice for the future of black manhood in the inner city of Oakland.”
Deterville’s wife said the elected officials need to be pressured to do something about the situation. I have no issues with OPD because I work with them. I’m a white middle class woman so one bothers me — police or otherwise — because even in the ”worst” parts of town everyone figures I must be lost driving around in my beat up old Toyota.  
But I hope to find out what effect Banjo’s meds had on his behavior (i.e. why was he out there on the street with a replica gun in the first place); whether he had an epileptic seizure while officers were demanding he drop the gun; whether the shooting was justified based on objective criteria; and, lastly, untangle the statistics to show whether black, Latino or other people of color are the majority of victims in police shootings.  So if I don’t write as often here, it’s because I’m hunkered down. Not much of a night owl but I’ll try to keep things going. If you have anything good to share send it on and pitch in to keep Oakland’s night life in the spot light.

Posted on Friday, March 28th, 2008
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Who’s Krazy?

By awoodall

iselyfe.jpgGood question. I think we all are right now. We’d have several good excuses in any case. East Oakland-raised rapper Ise Lyfe poses the question tonight at the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts (1428 Alice St., Oakland). The one-man show revolves around the question of expectations and traps.
The show starts 8 p.m. Tickets are $15-$20.  

Posted on Friday, March 21st, 2008
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A mouthful

By awoodall

spacecowboy.jpgThings got so busy here this week I forgot about the beatboxing event yesterday at La Pena. Good thing it’s a monthly affair. The next one is April 24. The advertisement says that “Speak the Music” is a new Bay Area group dedicated to the art of beatboxing. 
Art + Beatboxing?  Don’t get me wrong — I mean no disrespect, but since when did those two words come together? Something must be going around because there’ s also a bimonthly gathering of beatboxers in San Francisco at the Climate Theater over on 9th and Folsom. The next ”Vowel Movement Beatboxers“ is April 5. Okay these guys are hot, serious stuff but the name is uncomfortably close to another kind of movement. Might be intentional but picturing Bowel Movement Beatboxers grosses me out. Okay. I’m beat (no pun intended) and a little cranky.  Anyway, the La Pena venue is all ages $8 admission. The Climate gig is $10 general admission 21+ only.
Saturday is another event that caught my attention because I hadn’t heard of the group or the venue. The House of Stormz is presenting a trilogy of community, medicine and celebration from March 22 to May 24. I am so going to the Pyro-A-Go-Go fire dancing burlesque show on the 24th. But then the two-time Lip battle champ Talia this Saturday sounds good too. The club is in the unlikely location 1439 105th Ave. @ International Blvd.  Admission is $10 – strictly 21 and over.
(Photo by JS Moorman)

Posted on Thursday, March 20th, 2008
Under: Night Owl, Oaksterdam | No Comments »
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Jingle-town, Jingle-town, Jingle all the way

By awoodall

Something is brewing Thursday evening. In two art galleries that sit side-by-side. And it ain’t even the first Friday Art Murmur.
The art show, “JazzMasters,” opens to the public at the Swarm Gallery, (560 Second St.).  Marcus Shelby — whose likeness is painted in blue against an old review of a Duke Ellington show — will be on hand for the reception with his quartet and Faye Carol.
Next door at the ProArts Gallery (550 Second St.) comes the artists’ reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for “Jingletown Junction,” a series of photographs, paintings, sculptures, mixed media and even furniture (did I mention live music, too?) revolving around the section of the city between the Fruitvale District and Alameda bridge near 29th Avenue. Legend has it that Jingletown got its’ name in the 1930s from the mostly poor Portuguese mill workers walking the streets in their Zoot Suits with hands in pockets jingling the coins they earned picking cotton. The other story is that the area got the name from the jingling bells worn by dairy cows.
For those that can’t make either event, Shelby be part of an artists panel discussion planned for 6:30 p.m. March 27 at Swarm with “Black Artists in Oakland” co-author Duane Deterville; photographer and musician Kimara Dixon; Oakland Public Conservatory of Music dean and trombonist Angela Wellman (whose portrait also is in the show); and arts columnist Wanda Sabir. Greg Bridges from KCSM and KPFA will moderate.
At ProArts,  there will be an artists’ talk 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. April 5 about the Jingletown show. 

Lookin’ good.

Posted on Thursday, March 20th, 2008
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New beginnings and sad endings

By awoodall

Today was a day of celebrating the start of a new Oakland locale and the mourning the death of Oakland artist Casper Banjo, who was shot and killed Friday night. It was quite a contrast to go from talking on the telephone to Banjo’s grieving niece, who was in shock over her uncle’s somewhat mysterious death, to the chatty crowd at Awaken Cafe’s sneak preview of the 14th Street Downtown java house – in less than five minutes. I hate to juxtapose the two. Awaken Cafe is readying to open a scaled-down, coffee-to-go version of the cafe by the end of the month. Maybe sooner. The owners transformed a Korean barbeque joint into a light, airy cafe. Renovation of the Golden Bull bar, which they also took over, into a full-scale cafe, night spot, gallery and performance space is still in progress but it looks grand even now.
That’s Oakland for you: The city giveth and taketh away. 
It was just Friday that I was leaving the gallery opening for a show by Oakland artist James Gayles, who was a colleague and had done shows with Banjo, when I found out that someone had been shot by an officer. All I could write for the Saturday paper was the skeleton of a story because only the scantest information was available. But today the details were clearer.
Police said Banjo was waving a gun Friday night on 73rd Avenue outside the Eastmont Mall precinct, near his home. Officers ordered him to put down the firearm, which turned out to be a replica. No idea where he got it or why he had it. Everyone agreed, however, that for Banjo to be out waving a gun at night didn’t gibe with the man they knew, that he had been complaining about side-effects of the medication he was taking after major heart surgery a year ago and that he feared losing his low-rent apartment.
There will be more in Tuesday’s Trib story, which isn’t online yet. 
What bothers me after writing the story is that a 71-year-old man could be poor, reliant on Section-8 housing and ailing not only from poor health but from his medication. He kept working in his small apartment because he was too ill to travel to a studio. He made do, in other words. What a sad ending to a talented artist.

Posted on Monday, March 17th, 2008
Under: Night Owl | 6 Comments »
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Marathon of the mind

By awoodall

What began as an innocent foray last night to Van Kleef’s to gather some material for a St. Patrick’s Day story became a mini-marathon. I was ready to unwind a little after spending the day on a story about the bicyclist run down over the weekend. Updates were flying at me from reporters working the story faster than I could put them together. Then Code Pink decided they were going to start up their protest at the Berkeley Marine recruiting center. That was after an AC Transit bus flipped over trying get around a crash between a car and a train by Jack London Square.  The driver illegally passed the railroad crossing gate and the bus jackknifed.
So I was pretty weary by the time I got to Van Kleef’s. But the owner Peter was in top form. the guy knows everyone and plays social matchmaker like the conductor of a fine-tuned symphony. On hand were the owner and a bartender of the Oasis, which I have been wanting to visit to sample the “People’s Party.”  Then in came Peter Robertson (or Robinson?), an “affordable” housing developer with decades and well-known projects behind him. I am incapable of flipping the off switch to my curiousity-driven brain so I had to ask all sorts of questions about development, the future of the city, the market, etc.  I should have just talked about the weather and given everyone a break.
A few other minor characters entered the set, including two who nearly came to blows over Barbara Lee, Ron Dellums and Jerry Brown. Ah, politics. No finer way to heat up an otherwise civilized conversation. One guy was complaining to me about Lee’s inacessibility, which I compared to Dellums, her mentor. At least Jerry Brown was highly visible, which I think Oakland could use some more of from Dellums (visibility, that is).  But a gent sitting nearby overheard and took it as a slight against Dellums, whom he said inherited a city whose economy Brown had “run into the ground.” Needless to say, they both had a drink in their hands and I went inside while a couple stayed to chuckle at the spectacle. I thought for sure they were going to rumble. But it evidently ended peacefully. There’s only been one fight that I know of at Van Kleef’s and it was between (so I heard) two punks that didn’t belong there.
So, I left way too late but with the news that come Thursday, a bagpiper will be on hand and Bass beer will be $2 (a stunt to herald the arrival of Anheiser Busch reps). People always ask if bagpipers are wearing anything under their kilts. Well, Thursday you can take a peek and find out. At least the girls can. But I’ve rarely seen a Scotsman whose skirt I’d like to peek under.
For St. Patrick’s Day at Van Kleef’s, when we can all be Irish, the beer will be green and the draft beer $2. Cheers and for me Pionta Guinness, le do thoil.

Posted on Tuesday, March 11th, 2008
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The dept. of political chuckles

By awoodall

I don’t get to write politics much on this beat but the past Friday I got some material from comedian Paul Rodriguez that gives me just the excuse.
At the fundraiser for the Spanish Speaking Citizens Foundation, Rodriguez said he has met the gov (Schwarzenegger) and talked with him a few times – through an interpreter.  Talk about English as a second language…
About the presidential race: Iraqis will surrender if Obama is elected, according to Rodriguez. They’ll say ”We want to stop now. A brother’s in office.”
The White House has been two white for too long, he continued. ”I’d like to see some color in there. That means we’re just a shade away.” 
Hoots and hollers rang out when Rodriguez mentioned the news last week that Republican candidate John McCain was born in Panama. “We just found out McCain is illegal.” Close call. He was born on a military base in Panama,  technically U.S. soil. Sorry Aahnie.
I bet you can’t guess the direction of my political winds… 
Speaking of comedy, I missed the comedy show last night at Simone’s Jazz and Soul Cabaret on Second Street. But tonight is “Pizza and Love Comedy Showcase” at Spud’s Pizza and Brew over on Telegraph in Berkeley. I could use more of both in these very unfunny times.  Admission is $7. 
OTOH, Sunday is the benefit for Babatunde Lea’s Educultural Foundation at Yoshi’s in Oakland. No comedy that I know of but there should be some fine music to be heard. Who is Babtunde Lea? His MySpace page probably says it best.
Okay, here is the last of the jokes I am swiping for you from Rodriguez:
“Tequila — another thing Mexican Americans have gifted to us. It’s Viagra for the unattractive. You drink enough and everything looks good.”
Cheers and happy weekend.

Posted on Friday, March 7th, 2008
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Parkway ticket prices bumped up

By awoodall

Some of you may have heard that as of March 1, Oakland’s Parkway Speakeasy Theater prices will match the Cerrito: $7 GENERAL ADMISSION — $5 MATINEES.
The Speakeasy folks called the increase a “last minute fiscal decision” due to the “topsy turvy economy.”

Posted on Monday, March 3rd, 2008
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Save the date for

By awoodall

gameoverpostfront1.jpg…a show straight from the heart of Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company — “Game Over: Escaping the dropout factory.”
7:30 p.m.  March 7 and March 8; March 14 and 15.
3 p.m. Sunday, March 9; March 16. 
Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St., Oakland
Tickets are $12-$20 sliding scale for adults;  $6 for youth 18 and younger; Group rates available
ASL Interpreted (available if requested by March 1)
Wheel Chair accessible (call for special instructions)
Advance tickets available through brown paper tickets at (800)838-3006 OR www.brownpapertickets.com
For more information contact Destiny Arts Center at(510)597-1619 OR  www.destinyarts.org.

Or hit the road for an art trip Friday when nine Bay Area artists will transform the Uptown Body and Fender shop in Oakland’s Northgate neighborhood into a painting exhibition called…”Road Trip.” The show begins Friday 6 p.m. with a free public reception, music and refreshments and continues until Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Uptown is located at 401 26th St. For more information, call (510) 251-8009 or visit the Web site.

You all know, of course, that this Friday is the first one of the month, which means the Art Murmur stroll after a long winter slog. It’s almost spring!

Posted on Monday, March 3rd, 2008
Under: Art Murmur, Oakland nightlife | No Comments »
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