Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between


A mouthful

By awoodall

spacecowboy.jpgThings got so busy here this week I forgot about the beatboxing event yesterday at La Pena. Good thing it’s a monthly affair. The next one is April 24. The advertisement says that “Speak the Music” is a new Bay Area group dedicated to the art of beatboxing. 
Art + Beatboxing?  Don’t get me wrong — I mean no disrespect, but since when did those two words come together? Something must be going around because there’ s also a bimonthly gathering of beatboxers in San Francisco at the Climate Theater over on 9th and Folsom. The next “Vowel Movement Beatboxers” is April 5. Okay these guys are hot, serious stuff but the name is uncomfortably close to another kind of movement. Might be intentional but picturing Bowel Movement Beatboxers grosses me out. Okay. I’m beat (no pun intended) and a little cranky.  Anyway, the La Pena venue is all ages $8 admission. The Climate gig is $10 general admission 21+ only.
Saturday is another event that caught my attention because I hadn’t heard of the group or the venue. The House of Stormz is presenting a trilogy of community, medicine and celebration from March 22 to May 24. I am so going to the Pyro-A-Go-Go fire dancing burlesque show on the 24th. But then the two-time Lip battle champ Talia this Saturday sounds good too. The club is in the unlikely location 1439 105th Ave. @ International Blvd.  Admission is $10 – strictly 21 and over.
(Photo by JS Moorman)

Posted on Thursday, March 20th, 2008
Under: Night Owl, Oaksterdam | No Comments »
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Super fat Tuesday

By awoodall

Not only was today Super Tuesday, but it also was Fat Tuesday so I stopped in at Cafe Van Kleef’s to test the temperature as the votes were being tallied and the pre-Lent drinks hoisted. I was hoisting a Seven-and-Seven in honor of my much-missed mister. 
Fat Tuesday was on Saturday  at the Telegraph Avenue lounge with the Blue Bone Express. The Express, “a real New Orleans band,” as founder Peter Van Kleef put it, played with the Hot Pink Feathers — a “very tasteful” Las Vegas burlesque troop (also Van Kleef’s description).
Uptown is becoming the burlesque strip, I remarked.
Van Kleef’s, the Uptown and recently the Stork Club have added ladies of the tassle to their weekly lineup. “If this is the strip, Van Kleef’s is the MGM,” quipped patron Andrew Jimenez, who was immediately introduced by Van Kleef not by name but by distinction of having had his film “I’m with the Band” nominated for an Academy Award two years ago. The story is that he was oblivious to the fact Keira Knightly was sitting next to him making conversation at the Academy luncheon. Not surprisingly, Jimenez said he “wasn’t much for political talk,” but Van Kleef was wearing the oval “I Voted” red, white and blue sticker on his lapel. So I just had to ask the Who Question. The answer: Obama. 
The Rotterdam, Holland native (he immigrated to the U.S. as a six-year-old boy) also said he had a ballot at the bar so people could read and vote before they drank, then celebrate.
“When you talk to Obama, tell him I said ‘Keep going,’ remarked a man on his way from the bar. “Okay. I’ll tell him you said hello,” replied Van Kleef, adding that he met Obama and heard him speak at a campaign event. He said his choice was cemented by the thought that Hillary Clinton’s nomination would galvanize the Republicans and send them into overdrive just to beat her. “And the last thing I want to see is more of the same,” he said, referring to the possibility of another four years of a Republican-led executive office that, under Bush, led to what he described as an oil-fueled war in Iraq. I’m summarizing here.
Personally I didn’t make up my mind until I was standing befuddled by yet another ballot style (how many different ones can we possibly go through in a decade?). “Is this the latest ‘hanging chad,'” I asked the poll station worker, my Bic pen raised midair. Cynicism mingled with a real sense that I could easily go either way and be okay with the result. Not Van Kleef, though. He sounded like a believer.
“Obama is not a political campaign,” Van Kleef continued. “He’s a movement. He brought people together.”  Not enough in California, though. At least from what I read a few minutes ago, Clinton took California for the Dems. But, Super Tuesday or not, there’s still a chance for Obama. Read for yourself: “Neither Clinton nor Obama proclaimed overall victory on a Super Tuesday that sprawled across 23 states, and with good reason. Obama won 11 states and Clinton eight plus American Samoa. Shortly after 1 a.m. EST, winners were still to be declared in Missouri, New Mexico and Alaska,” according to the Associated Press. We’ll see.  Meanwhile, there’s still Valentine’s Day to celebrate and a long way to go until November. We’ll need those drinks. Next time I’ll have a Manhattan, Van Kleef’s specialty (“I’m the king of Manhattans”) . Cheers.

Posted on Tuesday, February 5th, 2008
Under: Oakland nightlife, Oaksterdam, Uptown | No Comments »
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Stepping out Uptown last night

By awoodall

So I decided to swing by the Uptown since the new owners took it over and reopened in November.  The place is lookin’ good. And the vibe is much less dark and doomy than it used to be. Going out was a sort of celebration on my second day without crutches and first day wearing something besides flat shoes in five months (Yes I am healed, people! I can walk!). I ended up staying until late, really late. I just couldn’t leave after Los High Tops took the stage, followed by Deke Dickerson and the Ecco-Fonics, who totally rocked the place. The crowd was way too small but made up for it in O-town-style enthusiasm. Things are bubbling over there by the Uptown and the (soon-to-reopen) Fox Theatre. I had just finished a call outside when who should stop by but co-founder of the soon-to-open Awaken Cafe, Cortt Dunlap avec wife. They were just peeking in the door to see the place on their way home from the new IT restaurant, Flora. The One review said the Mexicali restaurant was “not yet blooming” (keyword YET).  Dunlap and his wife said they really liked it.  Tim, who runs the Easy Lounge over on Lakeshore and co-owns Radio and the Ruby Room, showed up at the Uptown a while later with a Radio bartender. They put the dancefloor to use and I think they shut the place down. Last I saw they were standing outside with Dickerson and his band mates Jimmy Sutton and Jason Smay. Night Owl or not, I had to head home, but decided to stop by the Stork Club on the way. It was too late (did I think I was in New York?) and the swarm of kiddy grunge punks on the sidewalk just didn’t appeal. But it was good to just walk right up and turn around on my own two legs! Cheers.

Posted on Friday, February 1st, 2008
Under: Oakland nightlife, Oaksterdam, Uptown | 6 Comments »
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Uptown rides again

By awoodall

Hey — the Uptown is back in business again. Last time I went by in November, the Everyone Else Is Doing itOaksterdam night club over by the Fox Theatre on Telegraph was still dark and the new owners were about to go to the city for a cabaret license. They got it. Paul Van Kleef over at Cafe Van Kleef told me the other night that the new owners were a different breed than the old ones, who got out of Dodge when the Uptown went south. (BTW, I found this very cool shot of the Fox on Gwen Harlow’s Flickr site. So the credit goes to her, whoever she is.)

Posted on Friday, January 4th, 2008
Under: Oakland nightlife, Oaksterdam | No Comments »
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