Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Fun Stuff to do in Oakland

Velvet lounge hits a few snags

By awoodall

Lounge 3411 has replaced Velvet, perhaps the world’s only Raiders friendly gay bar. What is this world coming to?

Posted on Thursday, December 17th, 2009
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The best way to get to Encuentro (finally open!)

By awoodall

The “Holiday Buy Night” waterfront bazaar tonight on Jack London Square does not lack for creative indie merchants. But the food was a bit on the scarce side Thursday night. So here is my suggestion for making the most of the scene. Start with a tour of the bottom level of the market hall (given over to the bazaar for Thursday and Friday) then head upstairs for a glass of beer or wine and a tamale. Then circle the second floor. The shopping and credit card swiping will help you burn off the tamale and work up an appetite so that when you have found the perfect (PERFECT!) gift for all — even a Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig or Raiders action hero doll for Uncle Joe — you can glide by the nearby Oakbook gallery shopping-for-art show opening tonight, then stroll (or waddle if you have stopped off at Bocanova, Miss Pearl’s etc.) to Encuentro, the latest venture of Oakland entrepreneur and developer Merritt Sher, his daughter, Lacey Sher, and his fellow Metrovation real estate brain trust Linda Braz. The tapas cafe/wine bar opened Dec. 4 and has Millennium chef Eric Tucker at the helm. The boite on 202  Second St. has been in the making for quite some time and behind schedule at least a year, if I recall correctly, proving that the hurdles are high even for a three people with sway and experience. I have heard from others that the biggest hurdle is a certain Alameda County health dept. inspector. More on that later. The wait sounds worth peppered portobello mushrooms with caramelized fennel and onions and smoked goat cheddar or smoked pecan cheese with caper aioli (!!!).  I am such a sucker for capers. And, speaking of waddling, Miette’s retail store is open for cake orders and will open fully soon soon soon!

Posted on Friday, December 11th, 2009
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First Friday arts, Constant Drummer

By awoodall

This weekend featured one of those nights when the art takes a backseat to the flourishing spectacle of First Friday. Constant Dancer was replaced by Constant Drummer, who provided the musical backdrop on his drum and suitcase to the bustle along with the band on the bus parked halfway down 23rd Street.  It was very Grateful Dead meets Cheech and Chong, or is that redundant?  
A woman lifted her arm to swig down the last gulp of whiskey from a pint as she passed me by. Luka’s and Franklin Square Wine bar were so full we couldn’t get a seat for dinner. We ended up at Levende East, which is not a bad compromise. Success is a double-edged sword, of which I was on the wrong side Friday. Rock Paper Scissors locked visitors out for some reason. Hatch was so packed that even if I could have squeezed in I wouldn’t have had a chance to look at the work on the walls before being propelled forward into the mass of humanity, of which a few smelled less than fresh.  Next door, a few pieces next door caught my eye but again it was so busy I didn’t have a chance to stop long enough to write down the titles and artists. The newest installment of gallery to fill the old Esteban Sabar space seems more commercially viable and abstract than I am used to seeing in that corner of Art Murmur. I see a lot of cartoon and illustration influence in the work of contemporary Oakland artists. I am seeing the effect rub off on my daughters’ work, which is a strange process to observe. One of them was part of the Oakland School for the Arts show Friday, which was about the only First Friday venue downtown (Fox Theater annex) to focus on…art. The students produced six or more pieces for the show, titled and priced them. And I have to say they turned out some work that rivaled other galleries. I am biased and fairly unqualified to make that judgment. But even I could see the distribution of talent Friday night was not even across the city.

Posted on Monday, December 7th, 2009
Under: Art Murmur, Fun Stuff to do in Oakland, Night Owl | No Comments »
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Taste of the Paradiso

By awoodall

That was fast! Paradiso Lounge is up and running complete with cabaret license. The lounge on Telegraph Avenue near West Grand opened weekends this month. But Friday night was the official launch with a band that sounded like Fishbone and had heads bobbing to a pre-gangsta rap hip-hop mixed with Ska 80s sort of sound.  It was pure coincidence that I landed there Friday. My boyfriend and his family, who had come down for a bit of Oakland sightseeing, actually stumbled across Paradiso on the way to Tel and 22nd, where indie merchants and musicians had set up for First Friday. I thought I was supposed to meet them at 2022. I realized my error pretty fast: there was one group inside.  But I happened to strike up a conversation with the owner who was standing outside 2022 and who mentioned his club was having an opening night party. Of course, it was Paradiso where I was headed. I want to go back and see what the space looks like on regular nights. It was pretty crowded Friday night so I only got a taste of Paradiso, so to speak. I spent most of the time at the back of the main downstairs bar. Another smaller bar is upstairs in a separate room. Will reveal all in Friday’s Night Owl.

Posted on Monday, December 7th, 2009
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Holidayland on San Pablo Ave

By awoodall

As I mentioned, I stopped by the Compound Gallery on San Pablo Avenue Friday night to check out “Plaid Friday,” which was just one day in the span of the holiday market running until mid-December. Here Obi Kaufmann talks about showing his work for the first time in the gallery he operates Swee(t)Art Drawing Gallery. The show is called Mercurius and Obi can explain the work better than I can.

 

Otherwise, BlankSpace and the other galleries that make up the “Golden Gate Art District” are offering a bonanza of holiday gift items and for $5 you can have your picture taken with Babe, Paul Bunyon’s giant blue ox. The money goes to the East Oakland School of the Arts (one of the Castlemont small schools) and Skyline High. As I understand it from Kerry Johnson, both schools are in dire need of donations to their visual arts departments for supplies. So check it out. East Oakland School of the Arts (one of the Castlemont small schools) and Skyline High. As I understand it from Kerry Johnson, both schools are in dire need of donations to their visual arts departments for supplies. So check it out.

Posted on Monday, November 30th, 2009
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Plaid Friday

By awoodall

I am possibly the lamest shopper in the history of this consumer-mad society. I didn’t even know what Black Friday was until a few years ago when an editor sent me out to do a story on shoppers that day. Things haven’t improved by much judging by my futile, some would say naive, attempt to cash in on a bargain displayed in the mountain of glossy ad inserts contained in Friday’s papers. (WalMart’s insert was more like a friggin catalogue and rivaled the thickness of post Thanksgiving newspapers.) At about 11 a.m. I called a store about the item I looking for (I can’t give the secret away) and the clerk laughed at my question whether the item was still available. So I called two more and got the same response. OK fine, but I refuse to spend the night outside a store no matter how good the bargain is. (Does anyone remember when people camped outside for Ramone tickets instead of a sale?) Oakland indie merchants are taking an alternative approach: Plaid Friday. They are offering discounts and specials as a way to avoid the big box retailers that gobble up dollars. The money spent at Oakland stores stays local and it’s safer than getting trampled by shoppers stampeding their way to big screen TVs. And Penelope’s is hosting an after-shopping party with special $3 shots, $6 cocktails and $6 tamale plates from La Borinquena until 11 p.m. Wear plaid and receive a 1 cent Indie Special shot. I am heading to the Compound Studios and Gallery where the artists are getting into the spirit.

Posted on Friday, November 27th, 2009
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Happy Thanksgiving

By awoodall

Remember, singletons or ones who do not wish to cook, the Spice Monkey cafe is hosting Thanksgiving dinner in exchange for can food donations for charity. I heard Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley might be open as well, which would only be fitting.

Posted on Wednesday, November 25th, 2009
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Celebrate the repeal of night meters

By awoodall

 You’d think it was the end of prohibition. Instead shops are staying open later on Oct. 23 to celebrate the City Council’s decision to roll back parking enforcement to 6 p.m. (from 8 p.m.)

Follow the money, as they say. For businesses participating in the city-wide open house visit http://shopoakland.com/events.html.
The theme is “We’re Here for You”.

Posted on Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
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Theater season open in downtown Oakland

By awoodall

For many months I have been trying to work up the courage to begin writing art reviews. They would be very simple: what is this, why is it in this gallery, what does it mean, etc. But everytime I read Dewitt Cheng or Theo Auer I cave in. Then I realized that I’ve been trying to drive a square peg into a round shape. The revelation came to me Friday night after I sat through an hour and a half of the play “Stones in his Pockets.” I LOVE the theater, a fact I didn’t really grasp until recently when TheatreFIRST moved back to Oakland after three years of roaming the Bay Area. It sucks me in like reality TV shows captivate others. Anyway, I may be no better at writing theater reviews than I am at art reviews but you can judge for yourself here in the Trib story. As far as I am concerned, the show — at the black box theater inside the Fox complex on 19th Street — was first rate.

Posted on Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
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Thrilling the world post Michael Jackson

By awoodall

Did you ever want to dress up like a zombie, dance like Michael Jackson and try to break a world record all at once? If you answered yes, Oct. 24 is your lucky day. That is when the Thrill the World 2009 tribute to Michael Jackson happens in Oakland and elsewhere. Dance lessons included.  In other news, Def Leppard cancelled their North American tour, Beyonce postponed her show in Malaysia and a handful of what was said to be Elvis’s hair sold for $18,300 at a Chicago auction.

Posted on Tuesday, October 20th, 2009
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