Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Archive for August, 2008

Takeover No. 10 strikes Friday night

By awoodall

 Not 24 hours had past since I finished a story about the Rockridge Pasta Pomodoro holdup when robbers strucks again Friday night (after my shift), bringing the toll of restaurant robberies to ten. This time they hit the Nomad Cafe on Shattuck near the Berkeley/Oakland border — while Rockridge residents were strolling down College Avenue in a community protest against crime.
There’s plenty to write about than restaurant robberies, especially since I wrote a follow-up already in June after things seemed to settle down after the first spate of restaurant hold-ups in April.
But the Chronicle’s article Wednesday about the Rockridge robbery was so far from reality I had to jump in. According to the reporter, restauranteurs and patrons were shaking in their expensive boots. Some of those same fear-stricken people complained they were misquoted and that reporter popped in during the morning and left. If he had stayed he would have seen people spilling out of the restaurants and bars, waiting for tables or just chatting.

Posted on Saturday, August 23rd, 2008
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Brothers bike to help raise money for Doctors Without Borders

By kbender

So, you think you’re a weekend warrior? Two 16-year-old twin brothers, Nick and Kyle Hodder-Hastrof, are in the process of completing a 200-mile bicycle trek from their home in Berkeley to northern Napa County and back to raise money for Doctors Without Borders.

The international organization has sent their older brother Christophe Hodder on assignments to Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the past two years.

Christophe Hodder returned in July from a six-month assignment as a project coordinator in Kitchanga, in the North Kivu province of the DRC. Intense fighting between different armed groups in the Kivu region has caused thousands of people to flee their homes since August 2007.

A team of people is working to provide basic health care, medical care for children with malnutrition, and surgical care.

The team also supports a Kitchanga centre providing assistance to victims of sexual violence.

Last year, the U.S. component of the group raised about $152 million, representing about 20 percent of the network’s private funding, according to information from the group’s Web site. So even charity bike rides like the one Nick and Kyle are doing help raise funds for the nonprofit.

The Hodder brothers were on the road on Friday, on the third day of their four-day bike trip and could not be reached for comment. But Outtakes will check back with them to find out how much money they raised and how they are feeling after 200 miles on the road.

Doctors Without Borders is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. The organization provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect or catastrophe, primarily due to wars, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care or natural disasters.

Meanwhile, I’m off on a bike trip of my own _ to New Mexico. I’ll be back after Labor Day. Keep sending in those news tips and blog ideas. KB

Posted on Friday, August 22nd, 2008
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What’s up in O-Town

By awoodall

Oakland’s Convention & Visitors Bureau Web site has been updated. Some of the upcoming events:
New Vision Exhibition – August 28 – October 23; ProArts Gallery
Art & Soul Festival – August 30 – September 1; Downtown Oakland
Montclair Jazz & Wine Festival – September 7; Montclair Village
Pirates of Penzance – September 5 – September 14; Woodminster Theater
15th Annual Dias de los Muertos – October 8 – December 2; Oakland Museum of California
Oktoberfest – October 25; Dunsmuir Historic Estate

Posted on Thursday, August 21st, 2008
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Farewells and reunions

By awoodall

Uptown district impresario Peter Van Kleef left me a message the other day about a reunion involving his sister and his sister’s closest childhood chum. So I went by Cafe Van Kleef’s last night thinking it would be a good blog and, anyway, I was nearby doing research for a story.
I found there Van Kleef and several of his regulars mystified and saddened by the sudden suicide of the cafe’s first bartender, Vincent, who they described as a tall, lanky 31-year old.
Van Kleef speculated it might be money troubles that drove him to take his own life. Another guy thought it might be money and women worries.  I never met him but thought I would mention him here, since he, a bartender, was nearly by definition a night owl.
On the flip side, Van Kleef told me about the chance reunion after 47 years of his sister Gerda with her childhood friend, named Shirley Tankini or something.  I said it sounds like a alcohol-based Shirley Temple. The friends were separated when the Van Kleef clan moved from the area to the suburbs and met up for the first recently time in nearly five decades at the cafe, which to quote a quote, is like a mix of Friends and Cheers on acid.

Posted on Wednesday, August 20th, 2008
Under: Night Owl, Uptown | No Comments »
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The Ike & Tina and other journeys

By awoodall

Here are some cocktail concoctions I ran across while looking for Oakland’s signature cocktail, a quest that will continue in Sept.  They are kind of outtakes that I couldn’t fit in the column.
Veteran bartender Nichole Watson explained the “Ike & Tina,” a drink she said is popular in West Oakland. Combine 1800 Silver tequila, Triple Sec, Apple Pucker, Sweet ‘n Sour liquor and Blue Curacao. “The Ike and Tina,” she Watson said, “mean somebody might get in trouble.” In East Oakland, which is where Apt. C and thus we were located — patrons are popularizing the “Incredible Hulk,” made with Hypnotic and Hennessey.  The Hypnotic turns the drink green when it’s mixed.
The “59 Tangy,” a North Oakland favorite is made with Seagrams and Apple Twisted (I think this is a Smirnoff product) with gin and lime juice. I’m not sure if I wrote the recipe correctly. Sounds mightly strong.

Posted on Tuesday, August 19th, 2008
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Playwrite Itamar Moses returns to Berkeley to speak to student journalists

By kbender

In the spring of 1994, Itamar Moses was a teen-age journalist working on the school newspaper at Berkeley High School. Now, at the ripe old age of 31, he’s a nationally recognized playwright who has produced five plays, including “Yellowjackets” which opens at Berkeley Repertory Theatre on Sept. 3.


The play, set around the halls of Berkeley High School, focuses on what happens when the school newspaper publishes a story about an on-campus fight, including the fact that the boys allegedly involved in the brawl are African American.


The fact that race is included at all angers students and teachers and there’s a  proposed boycott of the school newspaper, some reasoning with the teachers by the editor in chief (a character based loosely on Moses himself) and an examination of what happens when race and class collide.

The events in the play are based on some actual events that took place when Moses was in school,  he said.

On Monday, Moses, who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a place he calls “the new Paris,’’ was back in his native Berkeley to talk about his two loves _ play-writing and journalism _ with a group of 25 aspiring writers and journalists from 14 schools across the Bay Area. Moses wants to encourage more young people to take an interest in theater and writing.

`It’s important to make (young people) aware that theater is and can be by, for and about young people,’’ he said Tuesday.


The half-day workshop also included a panel of journalists, including freelance theater critic Chad Jones, (http://www.theaterdogs.net/ )San Francisco education Chronicle reporter Nanette Asimov and yours truly speaking to teens about why journalism is important in the community, how it’s changing, what constituents editorializing, where journalists find their stories and other trade secrets we rarely divulge.

In a time when nearly 6,000 newspaper journalists nationwide have lost their jobs in recent months, it was inspiring for me _ a 15-year veteran of newspapering _ to see 16 and 17 year olds pondering a career in the print and Web media.


The workshop was the brainchild of Genevieve Michel, a 19-year-old Albany High School graduate who is headed into her second year at New York  University. She’s studying arts management and politics, a major she created herself.

Before she left for college she did an internship at Berkeley Rep and when she returned for a summer job, she was charged with finding some programs to link to the play “Yellowjackets.”


“ We wanted to get a chance to bring kids to the school of theater who wouldn’t normally come,’’ she said. “Because the play is about high school journalism, it seemed like a good chance to bring (professional) journalists and students together to talk about ways journalism can be used as a tool to change the community,’’ she said.

Michel said the teen journalists said they learned a thing or two, and at the end of the day they decided to form a network to stay in touch and share ideas during the upcoming school year. Who knows, maybe one of them will break a story that will someday become a play.

Posted on Tuesday, August 19th, 2008
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Dunsmuir scene of the crime

By awoodall

Friday, August 22: MOVIES FILMED @ DUNSMUIR ESTATE, “So I Married An
Axe Murderer” movie comedy with Mike Myers & Nancy Travis. A dedicated
SF coffeehouse poet is convinced he’s found the perfect woman in
Harriet, a meat butcher with a heart of gold.  With the 1899 mansion
as your backdrop, you are invited to bring a picnic supper,
blankets/chairs and relax on the 50 acre estate with your family &
friends. Popcorn & snacks available. $5 admission. Grounds open @ 6pm,
movie begins at dusk. 510-562-0328 2960 Peralta Oaks Court. @ Foothill


Posted on Tuesday, August 19th, 2008
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Berkeley High School student tries to Swim English Channel

By kbender

Last Friday, Delia Solomon, a 16-year-old Berkeley High School student, did something that few people will ever attempt: she tried to swim 21 miles across the English Channel from England to the shores of France.

She did not succeed. But she said she may try again.

“I was disappointed that I didn’t completely finish. But at least I made an attempt,” she wrote on her blog


“After I mull things over a bit, I’ll decide where I want to go next. I may swim it again, and I’ll definitely know what to do differently. I may try to swim across Lake Tahoe. But whatever I do I know that I will have my family and friends to support me, which I greatly appreciate. Thank you to everyone for your comments of support, it means a lot to me,” wrote Delia, who will be a junior.


Delia and a friend (above) go out for a practice swim.

 Since 1875 when Matthew Webb first donned a 10-pound bathing suit and fueled himself with eggs, bacon and beer, 772 people from all over the world have succeeded in swimming from England to France, according to the Channel Swimming Association, which is the official body that monitors the swims.

Delia’s boat pilot was Reg Brickell, an experienced pilot with the association. She met Brickell at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the harbor and said getting on the boat “was an amazing feeling.”

“All this hard work completed, and now it was reality, I was going to swim the English Channel. The ride over to Shakespeare Beach was as smooth as glass. (An) observer commented how it was like a mill pond. Nearing Shakespeare Beach I saw two other boats with swimmers starting off. That excited me. I wasn’t going to be the only one out there trying to swim.”

With that, Brickell sounded a horn and Delia dove into the water. “It took a few strokes before it really sunk in. I was REALLY doing it, I was really swimming the English Channel. I began to get into the groove, putting one arm in front of another moving myself forwards towards France,” she wrote.

The calm didn’t last. The wind picked up, there were waves, two to three-feet high and the water was cold, about 62 degrees, according to her blog.  She said she saw seaweed and jellyfish. “After four hours the wind had not subsided so the waves kept shoving me around.”

Delia was swimming with friend and Berkeley High school graduated Leore Geller, 18,  and at that point the pacer got into pace. “It was kind of scary because they kept wanting me to move closer to the boat, but the boat was pitching around like it was a little toy.”

At around 7 hours I puked because I had ingested so much salt water,” she wrote. But then came a silver lining:  “I saw the French shoreline. That made me perk up and keep moving forward.”

But the waves were “seriously huge” and made it difficult to swim. Sometimes the boat would tip so far it seemed as if it was going to capsize.

Her pacer had been getting in and out of the water pretty consistently since the 4-hour mark, but after a while Delia said she realized she hadn’t been in the water in again. “I figured she was taking some extra time out, which of course was fine. But apparently when she had wanted to get back in, the pilot said no.”

“I decided not to worry about it. It started to get dark and I switched on my lights. The waves were growing larger by the minute with no sign of slowing down. At ten and half hours my dad told me that the pilot wanted to pull me. Of course, I was like “WHAT?!!” and when he asked me if I wanted to keep going for a bit I said, “yes.”

Delia wrote that the last 30 mintues were the worst.

“I  was crying in my goggles and trying to swim as fast as possible despite the waves. At this point it was completely dark, yet I still was not cold. I kept hoping that if I swam faster and kept going I would be able to make it. At my 11-hour feeding they (her folks) pulled me out. They wouldn’t let me keep going. I got onto the boat reluctantly. The ride back was horrible.”

What followed was seasickness and a nap in a very uncomfortable position and the stench of fish on the dock. Delia said she went to bed quite upset and feeling like she was still moving.

But I hope Delia is proud too. What she did took courage and stamina and guts. And if nothing else, she’ll definately have the best “what I did on my summer vacation story” to tell back in Berkeley High classroom. And I know the student journalists at `The Jacket’ are planning big story on her attempt.


Posted on Monday, August 18th, 2008
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Angela Davis then and now Part 3

By awoodall

 Part 3 about the weekend of Aug. 1, which I wrote about in the following blog entry because I was covering a Night Owl event that was intensely political and thought provoking. The entry turned out way too long for one post so I am breaking it into sections.
Aug 2: Culture plays a vital role in politics, said Mark Tribe, creator of the Port Huron Project, responsible for staging the Angela Davis speech.  Culture creates conditions for emancipation, autonomy and democracy, was the way he put it.
Tribe said the political climate – or lack thereof — at Brown University in 2005 when he began teaching led to the project. People seemed to feel resistance was futile.
I asked a woman at the Angela Davis speech recreation at DeFremery Park if she thought people were disillusioned and less active than the 1960s and 70s. “There is not as much opposition because you don’t see body bags,” said Annette Santos, a former Black Panther in the New York and Oakland branches. She was talking about the opposition to the Vietnam War, which spurred a generation to intense protest. In contrast, the Bush Administration has blocked images of U.S. soldiers’ caskets being shipped back to the United States from Iraq. No one was dying at the start of the war in Iraq, Santos said. “Wen they did, we didn’t hear about it.”
Media have been banned from covering the arrival of remains at Dover, according to a USA Today articleRead the rest of this entry »

Posted on Sunday, August 17th, 2008
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Angela Davis then and now Part 2

By awoodall

Here is more about the weekend of Aug. 1, which I wrote about in the following blog entry because I was covering a Night Owl event that was intensely political and thought provoking. Art and resistance together. The entry turned out way too long for one post so I am breaking it into sections.
Aug. 2: “Port Huron Project 5 — The Liberation of our People” was about taking texts out of history, reanimating them to engage people and inserting them into contemporary politics, the creator Mark Tribe said.
He also wants to turn “depoliticized space” like DeFremery Park into a place for participatory democracy.
But not everyone saw it that way. A young woman stood up to ask what Tribe was doing to be more than just a cultural carpetbagger who rides into town to capitalize on its history then rides right back out without leaving so much as a tip. She wanted to know what he was going to do to keep the momentum going after the speech to make it more than a “creative intellectual exercise.”
West Oakland Lower Bottoms impresario Marcel Diallo said it’s up to the community to ride the energy Tribe creates by creating events around the event. “I’m not trippin’,” Diallo said. “Anyone who come in I’m going to find a way to ride it.” He showed up Saturday at the park with T-shirts, paintings and other items for sale. 
Just like when Davis made the speech, the park Saturday was full of people from all walks of life, colors and ages, Black Panther Minister of Culture Emory Douglas recalled. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Saturday, August 16th, 2008
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