Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Archive for May, 2010

Where can I get a drink around here?

By awoodall

The perennial question. But would it surprise you to know that there are 1.52 bars on average for every 10,000 people in the United States? In Oakland there are more bars than grocery stores, book stores or museums. We are not alone, according to FloatingSheep.com, which shows the states that make up what they call the beer belly of America. Those are states in which bars outnumber grocery stores. It’s startling when you see it on a map.
Starting in Illinois, the beer belly expands up into Wisconsin and first spreads westward through Iowa/Minnesota and then engulfs Nebraska, and the Dakotas before petering out (like a pair of love handles) in Wyoming and Montana, according to FloatingSheep. Northern and Southern California are among the few locations on this coast to share the dubious distinction.

Posted on Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
Under: Night Owl, Oakland nightlife | 2 Comments »
Leave a comment

Repeat after me: Taxi! I got a $5 voucher.

By awoodall

I used to spend about a dozen days out of the month in Liege, Belgium.  This week someone stole the sign belonging to Liege, the lounge on Washington Street in Old Oakland. Thankfully the lounge is much closer than the town. Tonight I traveled all of a block to hear about the taxi promotion about to hit the streets of Oakland tomorrow for First Friday/Art Murmur.
Jonathan Bair, who was there to tell me about it, has become the marketing consultant for Friendly Cab, which is offering $5 vouchers available at The Layover lounge (15th and Franklin); Penelope (11th and Clay); and Era (Grand and Broadway). You can grab the voucher and hail a taxi later from wherever you are. Or you can hail a cab from Era, The Layover or Penelope. In any case, you are supposed to be able to apply the voucher to any cab fare: If you are bar or gallery hopping the coupon will cover most of your costs downtown. If you’re going farther you’ll pay the extra. But you have to find a cab first.  In Oakland, that could complicate the plan considerably. 
And even Jonathan would agree that this won’t improve the reputation for invisibility that taxis have in this town. He and Friendly owner Dahr Mann, as well as Kapsack & Bair (no relation to Jonathan) DUI attorneys who pitched in to sponsor the event, are hoping it’s a step in the right direction by enticing cabbies to cruise for fares, thus increasingly their visibility and retraining people to take taxis.
Speaking of right directions, Liege lounge replace the sign tonight. Now if we just had some signs pointing to the taxis.

Posted on Thursday, May 6th, 2010
Under: Fun Stuff to do in Oakland, Night Owl, Oakland nightlife | 2 Comments »
Leave a comment

Invisible taxis

By awoodall

You already know I have an issue with Oakland’s taxi service. I keep hearing from the owner of the largest fleet about the company’s shiny new hybrid vehicles as shown in billboards (or at least one on 8th and Washington). The city is supposed to be tracking the city’s taxi coverage: are cabbies covering the areas they are supposed to. But they don’t seem to be tracking anything. I can’t even get an analysis conducted last summer (by an intern). Not that I need them to tell me that the service has not improved much. They cruise around the Fox on show nights and, as always, are readily available at the 13th Street stands and outside the Marriott. But despite thousands of people coming in and out of the Oakland Museum on Saturday night not a single taxi was to be found.  Not there and not anywhere along the strip between Oak Street and downtown. I just don’t get it.

Posted on Tuesday, May 4th, 2010
Under: Night Owl, Oakland nightlife | 1 Comment »
Leave a comment

Uptown Cafe & Crepes joins Bakesale Betty

By awoodall

Savory crepes and cafe au laits (the American style). They were available for a millisecond in restaurant time at Cafe Noir. Rumor has it that Mua’s Hisuk and Sanju Dong are taking over the space where they will offer a wood-fired oven menu. The previous owners abandoned the oven and the cavernous space just a month or two after opening next door to Mua on Auto Row.  
Uptown crepersIn the meantime, the Uptown Cafe & Crepes opened today on 21st Street, a block above Broadway (next door to IB’s Hoagies). The cafe caters to the breakfast and lunch crowd but owner ”Chuck” Juha said he will stay open late for Paramount Theatre performance nights.  The same approach is taken by Cafe Madrid, which Uptown Cafe & Crepes resembles somewhat in terms of decor and theme.
Around the corner Bakesale Betty added to the downtown food landscape with a soft opening in late April. The new store is on Broadway and 22nd.  Just Look for the ironing boards.

Posted on Monday, May 3rd, 2010
Under: Fun Stuff to do in Oakland, Night Owl | 1 Comment »
Leave a comment

Oakland Underground Film Fest

By awoodall

There were a lot of saggy skinny jeans and black denim last night. Even a pair of roller skates. But relatively few people at the Oakland Underground Film Festival in Jack London Square. That’s too bad. Not because the documentary about Sonic Youth’s stop in Reno on an old tour was a “must see.” (Unless you’re a die-hard Sonic Youth fan.) The high-school made doc was aimless (exploratory) much like Sonic Youth’s riffs. So “Sleeping Nights Awake” matched the subject well. It’s just that it could have been half as long and twice as interesting. But kudos on effort.  It just didn’ t belong in a film festival that began 20 minutes late. I don’t know why that band continued to play until 8:15 p.m. even though the acoustics in the old Barnes & Noble bookstore rendered the band — and all music  and ambient sound at events held there — to a thudding could of loudness that sent most movie-goers out on to the patio until “Sleeping Nights Awake” began. Inside a bar was set up and snacks were available but more movie-goers were outside than in the warm cavernous hall.  The festival doesn’t need to be run like Cannes. But organizers need to tighten some of the bolts.
The next film on May15 is “Remembering Playland,” resurrecting the memory of the long-gone amusement park that stood near Ocean Beach in San Francisco. I would go if only because of the weird side effects manufactured by the set up of the screen in the Barnes & Noble. Images of Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore’ at the guitar from the neck down reflected onto the lower half of the window next to the screen. The American flags waving outside the upper half of the windows merged with the reflection to make it look like Moore was playing the guitar but a U.S. flag was waving in the place where his head should have been.  It was the perfect 80s Reagan-era emblem!

Posted on Saturday, May 1st, 2010
Under: Fun Stuff to do in Oakland, Night Owl, Oakland nightlife | No Comments »
Leave a comment