Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Archive for May, 2008

The silk road to Pam the Funkstress

By awoodall

Quite a turnout Thursday at City Hall for The Silk Road, a slick Vietnamese restaurant at Broadway and Embarcadero. I wrote last week the Silk Road had booked Pam the Funkstress to spin some R&B but had to cancel last minute for lack of a cabaret license. So that’s what about a dozen or more folks — including if I am not mistaken Pam’s partner in funk Boots Riley — were doing at City Hall for a cabaret license application hearing. The Silk Road owner and the music bookers want to play light jazz Monday and Tuesdays until about 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday would be jazz, blues and rock&roll. First comes first: Before a license can be approved building, fire and electrical inspections must be passed.

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008
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Camino a go go

By awoodall

I was supposed to meet up with a pal last night at the new trend-o-meter spot of the month, Camino, a self-consciously posh restaurant that just opened May 19 on upper Grand Avenue, next door to La Taza de Cafe. I’m sure a lot of people are going to go gaga over Camino, but count me out of that crew. For one, the bar is standing only unless you can land a table near the window, which takes some persistence. The aging bleached blonde with skin-tight jeans and a black halter to show off her full back tattoo (I think men get cars and women get tattoos for their midlife crises) finally got one. I went for an out of the way table, like sitting in the blind spot at a baseball game.
The restaurant area — like a big, drab mess hall — is packed so the chances of getting a seat Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008
Under: Night Owl, Oakland nightlife | No Comments »
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Journalists from Angola to Zimbabwe visit Tribune, admire view

By kbender

I collected 22 new business cards today.

Made 22 new friends.

I’ll probably never see any of them again but we share a common bond _ we are journalists. 

The Institute of Internataional Education, an educational and training nonprofit, organized a trip for the 22 international reporters and writers to the Oakland Tribune Friday.

The group was from Angola, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Latvia, Macau, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, the People’s Republic of China, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Eight were women.

The international delegation had been in the United States for 10 days by the time they got to the ninth- floor Oakland Tribune newsroom by the airport.  

They seemed to like the Tribune _ at least they oohed and awed over view from the office building where we’ve worked for the past year.

They told me to skip the tour. They’d seen the newsroom of the Washington Post. Wonder what the view is like there.

Locally, they’d been to Wired and Mother Jones magazines in San Francisco. And they’d visited the Center for Investigative Reporting in Berkeley to hear about the Chauncey Bailey Project, a consortium of newspaper, radio and TV reporters continuing the investigation of Oakland Post Editor Bailey’s murder and the connected probe into Your Black Muslim Bakery in Oakland.

The San Francisco Chronicle didn’t return their calls, one of the organizers told me. They have no view.

The group was visibly awestruck by the fact that we cover every Oakland murder and that Oakland is ranked as the fourth most dangerous city in the United States. 

Some of the women told me that females only get to cover light news, education or health care in their countries. They seemed surprised that a woman was allowed to cover homicides. They asked me if I’d ever been scared covering the bloodshed in the kill zones. I said I’d only been threatened once in my 15-year career. They seemed happy to hear that.

They also wanted to know if we covered suicides (we generally don’t unless the person jumps off our building, which happened four years ago when we were at Tribune Tower), kidnappings (yes) and how we get the police to cooperate with us.

Many of the journalists said they aren’t able to cover such news events under strict regulations from their governments.

We talked about the death of the newspaper “scoop” because of online news sites and how multi-media has changed the way we work. They  heard more about the Bailey project from long-time Tribune reporters Cecily Burt and a few tales of woe from crime reporter Harry Harris.

They took business cards from us. One invited me to Sri Lanka to visit.

They thanked us profusely and then got back on the elevators and left. 

I’ll likely never see them again. But I’ll hold on to those business cards. You never know when you might get sent to Tanzania on a story.   

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 2008
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Snap, crackle, you’re popped…

By kbender

Berkeley Police bicycle Officer Frank Landrum was on routine rolling patrol Tuesday around lunchtime when he spotted a woman riding her bicycle on the sidewalk in the 2100 block of Shattuck Ave. That’s a city no-no and Landrum headed toward the woman to tell her to stay on the street.

But as he got closer, he noticed a man approaching the woman and witnessed the hand-off of a small, green Cellophane-wrapped ball. They looked like round Rice Krispies treats.

Munchies that give you the...munchies

Asked about what was inside the plastic wrap, she said, “It’s edible,’’ according to police spokesman Officer Andrew Frankel.

Further probing revealed that the snack was a marijuana-laced Rice Krispies treat. Seems that eating one could lead to a vicious cycle. Eat the treat, get the munchies, eat the treat… you get the point.

Turns out, Berkeley’s finest found that the woman, Tiffannie Cushing, 18, had nearly two dozen of the individually wrapped snacks on her.

She was arrested for giving away marijuana (who knew there was such a charge?) and possession for sale of marijuana. The 35-year-old male buyer was cited for possession of marijuana. The officer did not cite Cushing for riding on the sidewalk, Frankel said.

Posted on Thursday, May 29th, 2008
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Running Wolf speaks and “Come up and see my nuts”

By kbender

A shout-out to Save the Oaks at the Stadium member Doug Buckwald who told me several weeks ago that The Economist magazine was looking into a story about the longtime tree sit outside Memorial Stadium at the University of California, Berkeley.

Buckwald was right.

The most recent edition of The Economist gives ink to the most outspoken and possibly the most hirsute (their word) tree-sitter Zachary Running Wolf. The mag story also carries an Associated Press shot of two naked people (not Running Wolf) in the trees with the caption. “Come up and see my nuts.”

Running Wolf, (above) one of the original inhabitants of People’s Perch, tells The Economist reporter his reasoning for the 17-month tree-sit.

“There are `thousands of bodies underneath us’ of the Ohlone tribe, he says, and construction on this sacred burial ground amounts to `a hate crime; we call it Guantánamo Berkeley’”. “The secret truth, he explains, is that the Illuminati and Masons are behind the idea to build on the site, because the grove is at the intersection of compass lines connecting the Haas School of Business (money) with Alcatraz (state violence) and the Lawrence Berkeley lab that gave America nukes.”


Of course Running Wolf’s statements are well worn. But what is shocking is that Running Wolf talked to a real live news reporter. Running Wolf stopped talking to me more than six months ago after I wrote a story about his fine-dodging and drug charges and fantasy to recall the Berkeley mayor. He also told me that thousands of other Native Americans would do the same.

I also have it on good authority that he no longer speaks to a few Chron reporters.

Strangely, there is no byline on the Economist piece on page 49. But UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof assures me that he was interviewed by a flesh and blood reporter.

In the story, Mogulof sites the university’s reasons for wanting to raze the trees to make room for the $125 million sports training center.

“For every tree we cut down we will plant three new ones,” he says. What’s more, he says in the story, archaeologists have found “no evidence” that the grove is a burial ground but will carefully monitor all excavations.

Publishing the story of the tree-sit this month was timely. Alameda County Judge Barbara Miller is expected to rule on the three lawsuits against the university by June 19. At that point, campus police will bring the tree-sitting to “a safe and certain end,” says Mogulof.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, May 28th, 2008
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Rockabilly Uptown

By awoodall

This Saturday (May 31) Los High Tops are back in town with The Chop Tops at The Uptown, over on 19th and Telegraph. Can’t vouch for The Chop Tops but Los High Tops were a hoot last time I saw them at the Uptown — they were opening for Rockabilly prince Deke Dickerson. Getting folks warmed up before the dancing and drinks did.

Posted on Tuesday, May 27th, 2008
Under: Night Owl, Oakland nightlife, Uptown | 1 Comment »
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Crime is in full bloom in Berkeley

By kbender


One of our intrepid Berkeley reporters, Doug Oakley, has been following the crime beat in Berkeley this week and he reports that crime has been sprouting like bad weeds in a spring garden.

A man was arrested for a home-invasion robbery and attempted sexual assault, and a masked bandit did his ninth takeover robbery of a Berkeley business _ all in the last week.

At 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, Berkeley police officers were spotted rifling through bushes and in garbage cans for evidence near Mathews and Blake streets after police arrested a man who entered a woman’s home nearby and attempted to sexually assault her. The police returned the next day to canvass the area further.

The assault was thwarted “purely on the strength of the victim,” said police spokesman Officer Andrew Frankel. Frankel declined to released the circumstances surrounded the crime or the name of man who was arrested because the cause is still under investigation.

And on Tuesday, a man going around holding up businesses and their customers in Berkeley finished his ninth job at Berkeley Wireless on Ashby Avenue.

Takeover style robberies, where someone not only robs the business’ cash register  but also empties the pockets of patrons who have the bad luck of being inside at the time, is a relatively new kind of crime in Berkeley within last year, police say.

Police are asking anyone who knows the man to turn him in. But police understand it’s often difficult to get victims to positively identify someone who wears a mask while committing a crime.

And finally for the good news, sort of: Last Saturday night a 17-year old student at Berkeley Technical Academy turned himself in to police after he allegedly shot a fellow student May 15 at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Dwight Way.

The student is being held at Alameda County Juvenile Hall, according to Frankel.
Police said a teacher at the school picked up the student who was shot and started to take him to the hospital, but then flagged  down a cop who got an ambulance for him.

The boy underwent surgery and is recovering, according to police.


There is also somewhat of a silver lining to the murders that have taken place in Berkeley in the last three weeks. Police detectives solved both recent murders_ of Christopher Wootton, 21, and Maceo Smith, 33, within 48 hours.

Doug Oakley

Posted on Saturday, May 24th, 2008
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Berkeley ponies up $90,000 to help military men and women

By kbender

Several months after the City Council sparked the ire (read: pissed off) the right, the left and just about everyone in between by calling the United States Marine recruiting center “uninvited and unwelcome intruders,” the council showed its’ patriotic side this earlier this week.

The council approved $90,000 to supplement city employee’s military pay and health benefits when they are away from their jobs serving in Iraq. Nine city employees, mostly Berkeley cops, have served in the Middle East since the war began more than five years ago.

Berkeley has spent more than $300,000 paying for the difference between their city pay and their military pay and covering their health benefits, said Mayor Tom Bates.
Of course, Bates said, the city is still against the war.

‘But we want to distinguish between the warriors and the war. We are just very proud of the people who have served (the country),” Bates said.

One of those people is Earl Elzy, a Berkeley public works employee, who recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq and was honored by the council this week.

“I’m very thankful for the appreciation I get from the city of Berkeley,” he said at the meeting. “I am proud to serve my country and the city of Berkeley.”

Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
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Piedmont man will run for boy who can’t walk

By kbender

Like so many people in the East Bay, Steve Sidney doesn’t know Christopher Rodriguez, the 10-year-old Oakland boy who was paralyzed by a stray bullet during a piano lesson earlier this year.

Still, Sidney wants to help.

He’ll do his part on Sunday, running 59 laps around Piedmont’s Witter Field track — one lap for each of the years he’s been alive — and asking for donations for his efforts running about 15 miles in 2 ½ hours.

Child’s play.

“I generally run 30 to 35 mile a week,” he said. “It will be work but it’s not like I’m starting from zero.” He said he may do the 59 laps alone or with a few buddies from his informal running group.

He’s raised $4,500 so far but hopes people will donate at http://christopherrodriguez.blogspot.com/. Click on the Run Steve Run fund-raiser to pitch in .10-cents a lap, $59 or whatever you can afford.

Christopher was taking a piano lesson at the Harmony Music School in Piedmont on the evening of Jan. 10 when a bullet pierced the wall of the music school, tore through a piano and hit him, damaging his spleen and kidney and severing his spine, doctors said.

He spent nearly eight weeks in the hospital recovering and returned home in March.

The man who police say shot him, Jared Adams, is awaiting trial on charges of attempted murder and robbery, among other felonies.

Police say fired the gun during a botched robbery at the Chevron accross the street. In a split second, he ruined his own life and dramatically changed the life of a boy who will likely never walk again.

Since getting out of the hospital in March, Christopher has returned part-time to Crocker Highlands Elementary School where he is a fifth grader. He started taking piano lessons again — at new school — and was filmed recently by Nickelodeon cable TV for a show on gun violence.

Sunday’s event — “Run, Steve, Run” or the Rodriguez Rehab Run will go from 8:30 to 11 a.m. on Sunday at Witter Field at the bottom of the Piedmont High /Middle Schools complex, which is located at 800 Magnolia. Ave. From Grand Ave., take Wildwood Ave., then Magnolia, and finally El Cerrito Ave. The parking lot is at the end of El Cerrito Ave.

Posted on Wednesday, May 21st, 2008
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Jesso’s to go

By awoodall

fatlady.jpgYou might have noticed Jesso’s on 9th Street hasn’t been doing too much business lately. That would be because it closed May 13, or rather moved Downtown to 14th Street between Broadway and Franklin.  Jesso said he wasn’t sure what would replace the seafood restaurant in Old Oakland. I couldn’t help yelping at the thought of a take-out joint, which was an idea he said he had considered but dismissed (I think) bc it would not fit with the little gourmet corner of the city. I’m not sure why he moved Downtown. I was reporting on another story  and was in a hurry when we talked a few months ago. But he sounded excited about the new location, which would give him the space for bigger dining and drinking. I haven’t been there yet, though.

Posted on Tuesday, May 20th, 2008
Under: Night Owl, Oakland nightlife, Old Oakland | 2 Comments »
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