Yes, the long-awaited Lake Chalet is open. I didn’t really think the owners, Lara and Gar Truppelli, would make it by Aug. 17 a few weeks ago during the dedication of the boat house. I am going to stop by tonight or Friday. In other matters, KQED’s “Forum” hosted an interesting discussion about SF’s entertainment commission: the pros-cons, the pitfalls, etc. Oakland will eventually adopt a similar blueprint. Giving police so much power over entertainment venues is unwise because their priorities and entertainment priorities inevitably conflict. But an entertainment commission won’t materialize very soon, city officials say, because there’s no money. (Instead, the city is spreading the duties among current staff in CEDA. Barb Killey, of course, is still in charge of cabaret licenses.) That might be partly why the Mayor’s task force didn’t evolve into an entertainment commission as some members had hoped. They are, instead, seeking positions on the cultural affairs commission and the like — a good idea because some members have an agenda or are all gung-ho about having just discovered Oakland and want to impose their “vision” without really taking a step back and understanding the city as a whole. I would be worried if some of them got a seat on an entertainment commission. But we do need one — the sooner the better. Who will serve on it is another story. Maybe we can learn from San Francisco’s mistakes.
I ran into the new TheatreFIRST artistic director Michael Storm at the Art and Soul Festival today. Finally the theatre company will have an abode that they can call home: the black box 19th Stret Theatre in the Fox. Season opens in October with “In His Pockets” by Marie Jones and I’m looking forward to the quality of plays they put when the company was staging their shows in Old Oakland.
Or so it appeared this afternoon at least. I am planning to drop by and see what’s going on with all the wood and marble at the wine and champagne bar underneath the condos on the corner of 23rd and Broadway.
I hope the story in tomorrow’s Trib (online now) about the evolution of Oakland’s art scene doesn’t sound like I’m trashing Art Murmur-First Fridays. But I think it’s worth asking how they have changed and how the changes affect the overall picture.
Back in February, a group of artists, curators, gallery operators and commentators gathered in an empty Old Oakland storefront to discuss the state of the arts. The central question was how government (at all levels) can influence and support the local arts. On the agenda was the $50 million in arts funding included in the stimulus bill, which was still in the jello stage six months ago. I wrote a story about the town hall style meeting, but I don’t know what concrete steps were taken after the meeting. I think they are planning another forum. In the meantime, and this goes back to many of the comments made during the discussion, the National Endowment for the Arts has a new chairman, Broadway producer Rocco Landesman. In an NYT article about Obama’s appointment of the tough and evidently wealthy producer, Landesman said the arts are an economic engine and called the current appropriation of $155 million pathetic and embarassing, which is still less than agency’s 1992 budget of $176 million — before a Congress bent on destroying the agency got a hold of the federal pursestrings. So it sounds like more money might pour (or at least drip) from the federal faucets, but: ”Mr. Landesman said he expected to focus on financing the best art, regardless of location…There is going to be some push-back from me about democratizing arts grants to the point where you really have to answer some questions about artistic merit.” (Another art-scene story I seem to do about every 6 months – this time about Art Murmur and First Fridays – will be online shortly and in the Trib tomorrow.)
A drunken, half-naked, white trash dancer pummeled me with her silver pom-poms last night. It was after the 3-hour Tourettes Without Regrets show at the Metro on Third St. Jamie DeWolf warned us all: that the Extra Action Marching Band was nuts. They were. And they had all the rythm of a pregnant hippo. But they were also fun in a weird “I’m too f’d to drunk” kind of way. In other words, people who had already loosened their inhibitions with a few drinks may have enjoyed the band most. That would not include me. I will watch a spectacle but can’t say I’m a fan of exhibition for exhibition sake especially if it involves inflicting pain on me (my arms still hurt). Give me a little art with the main course(i.e. Kiss me on the mouth at least if you’re going to…). They supposedly arrived on a double-decker bus (I didn’t see it) and took over the building with their debauched brass and percussion. The players seemed lucid enough and I liked they played in the middle of the audience instead of on stage. But their “cheerleaders” started wailing on my boyfriend then me. I told her to get out of my face and she moved on to other victims.
The dancers made their way to the stage, did a bump and grind, then began circulating around the floor, writhing with each other, the crowd or with the ground. One of them — in a wig of course –had a lump near her bikini line that was visible from the stage. They all looked like junkies, which is probably the look they are going for. Strangely enough what bothered me about the hunky guy with shortest short shorts imaginable was that he was wearing 80s style boots (women’s of course with a slight heel). I hated the 80s.
A tame version of the Extra Action Marching Band:
On Friday, British electronic band Underworld will broadcast their concert live from the Fox Theatre over the Internet, iPhone or iPod touch. If you can’t beat YouTube bootleggers, join them. (As an aside, I noticed that on the band’s event page that the Fox Oakland Theater is in “San Francisco, USA.” Wrong, lads. It’s in Oakland, thus the name…) Anyway, Friday is going to be a busy night with all that music and art and partying. The East Bay Express is having their big Best of the East Bay fete (they disguise advertising so well) at the Oakland Museum and it’s the last Art Murmur of the summer.
Footage of an A’s game at the Coliseum where a man was tasered for his very unruly behavior. Then a foul ball lands nearby. And people say the Raiders fans are bad. Evidently, OPD is not messing around…Two recent officer-involved shooting and a tase. Or maybe people are just getting crazier.
As my dear, late mother would say: ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease.’ And all the squeaky, squawky drivers who wrote, called and emailed their elected reps to protest the new parking fees, fines and hours, have been heard.
Both Councilmembers Pat Kernighan and Ignacio De La Fuente are ready to sponsor legislation to do away with the 8 p.m. meter enforcement, rolling it back to the previous 6 p.m. cutoff (hooray, I say!).
“We have to admit when we made a mistake,” De La Fuente told me earlier today.
“After hearing from a great many outraged constituents, I have concluded that the City Council tried to impose too much at once regarding parking fees and fines… Consequently, I favor rescinding the 8 pm enforcement and going back to 6 pm. ,” wrote Kernighan in an email I just received.
Nothing can happen until the council gets back from break in September. And a word of warning: that revenue the city would have gotten has to come from somewhere. My advice: enjoy the moment of victory, it could be short-lived.
Turns out Kuwa opened but for lunch only until the Clay St restaurant-lounge gets going, according to New Orleans transplant and chef, Reign. I dropped in yesterday evening on my way to the Old Oakland National Night Out (small, but friendly in this district’s case). She was making lists for the next day while her husband entertained their little boy. Early this evening, I stopped by The Trappist for update on their plans for the extra space the owners took over a while back. The white walls and cement floors have been transformed with warm greens, wood floors and tables and brick accents. It’has been open for Th, Fri and Saturday crowds and will open the rest of the week soon. Same with Levende East’s plans for their 481 Washington St. boite. Target opening date — if all goes as planned – is the last week in November.