Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between


Eating Oakland up

By awoodall

Sounds like the Uptown club booking some hot players. “Here’s to Oakland! My fucking family!” So the May San Francisco Magazine article quoted Matt Pike, singer and guitarist for Oakland-born metal trio High on Fire. Used to be, you’d have to pay the magazine to print a story this city. It was, to quote a freelance SF Magazine writer, a black hole in terms of coverage from that side of the bay — like the only city was THE CITY, San Francisco. Instead, next on the Oakland tour in May’s issue was Flora, Brown Sugar Kitchen, and, as part of the Sabor Mexicano centerfold, the Fruitvale’s Tortas Ahogadas Mi Barrio, Nieves Cinco de Mayo, Mariscos La Costa, Mi Pueblo Food Center, Taqueria La Gran Chiquita, Taqueria Campos.

Posted on Tuesday, August 5th, 2008
Under: Night Owl, Uptown | 4 Comments »
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Stop the spray and visit the artists

By awoodall

Okay. These aren’t your regular night owl haunts but there are two evening events that might be of interest to folks. And remember, tonight is the First Friday Art Murmur & Extravaganza. Galleries, clubs, restaurants, cafes, pubs…many of them in Oakland have something going on tonight. I’m caught between the Oakland Museum, the Linden Street Brewery, Awaken Cafe or the Stork Club’s burlesque show. What a dilemma! I have more to tell about the Old Oakland — or rather New Old Oakland as the marketing magicians are touting it now — Thursday night summer concert series. I’ll save it for a little later.

Monday, June 23, 2008 7:00pm-9:00pmLocation: Lakeside Park Garden Center at Lake Merritt, 666 Bellevue Ave. Sponsored by Stop the Spray-East Bay and Pesticide Watch Toxic aerial pesticide spraying by the California
Department of Food and Agriculture is still planned for the Bay Area this summer. Successful lawsuits have stopped the spraying temporarily in Santa Cruz and Monterey but so far not in the Bay Area. For more information: www.stopthespray.org and eastbayinfo@stopthespray.org.

Scores of local artists will be showing their work at the Pro Arts East Bay Open Studios coming up the first two weekends in June. To see a sample of participating artist’s work visit the Pro Arts Gallery, 550 Second St. in Jack London Square – across from Cost Plus. Pick up a brochure for a guide to participating artist’s studios.

Posted on Friday, June 6th, 2008
Under: Art Murmur, Night Owl, Oakland nightlife, Old Oakland, Uptown | No Comments »
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Rockabilly Uptown

By awoodall

This Saturday (May 31) Los High Tops are back in town with The Chop Tops at The Uptown, over on 19th and Telegraph. Can’t vouch for The Chop Tops but Los High Tops were a hoot last time I saw them at the Uptown — they were opening for Rockabilly prince Deke Dickerson. Getting folks warmed up before the dancing and drinks did.

Posted on Tuesday, May 27th, 2008
Under: Night Owl, Oakland nightlife, Uptown | 1 Comment »
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Oakland paper, Oakland people

By awoodall

This week just has not been going well, which is strange because it should be considering how beautiful the weather is. Friday night Oakland felt like it was about to blossom after the foul rain and wind that battered us for what seemed like forever. I was out at Flora — my first time, but seeing as it is THE hot-spot right now and I’m writing a follow-up story about the Uptown area, I pulled up a stool at the vintage-style bar and ordered a “Dark and Stormy” cocktail, which would describe this week so far. Maybe it was a sign of things to come?
Enough has been said about Flora, good and bad, so I’ll only comment that it felt like Bogart and Bacall might show up any minute. That’s the kind of vibe the bar and exterior have. The restaurant is different.  So there I was, a little tired, leafing through the Trib when Ira, who’s on the Fox team sidled up to the bar. I have to say the New Yorker brightened the mood. So did seeing a young man and his father sitting next to us reading a story about the reopening of the Fox Oakland theater I had just written in the Trib. What a grand sight. Oakland paper, Oakland restaurant, Oakland folks.
I was testing the renaissance hype about how Flora and the Fox, along with the Paramount, are going to ignite the area and draw people to the existing clubs, like Van Kleef’s and the Uptown, where I headed next. People were indeed out in numbers and looking good that balmy evening for a Jill Scott/Raheem Devaughn show at the Paramount and the band at the Uptown (sorry, forget the name of the band but people were definitely rocking out). The place was packed with night owls, including a reader — a librarian from the East Coast — who was there for the first time having won tickets for the show. It’s interesting to get a perspective from folks that have recently moved here because, seems to me, things are changing fast.  They’ll never know the experience of bountiful parking the way it used to be. Okay, I’d rather sacrifice parking (which I did that night) for some nightlife. But that’s just me. Anyone else noticing this? Are you ready for the trade-off?

Posted on Wednesday, February 13th, 2008
Under: Oakland nightlife, Uptown | 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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Supersnooze Saturday

By awoodall

I spent Saturday inside — out of the rain — writing about the Fox Theatre for a story that will be in Friday’s Trib. Read all about it folks. Part I in the ongoing drama of Oakland’s rebirth as “the New San Francisco.”

Posted on Sunday, February 3rd, 2008
Under: Oakland nightlife, Uptown | No Comments »
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Adding beer and babes to First Fridays

By awoodall

85356963_a9db8fecde_m.jpgI popped into the Stork Club last night on the last stop of my Night Owl-First Friday roundup. The place was packed like I’ve never seen and things were positively hopping for the Friday Night Follies — a new attraction on the ever-expanding Art Murmur tour. That’s what can happen when you put near-naked girls on stage, especially if they can sing and dance and otherwise entertain a la burlesque (va va voom!). I nearly headed out bc it was so packed until I saw an old college friend of mine in the front row appreciating the talent. She looked pretty happy.  Folks said Uni and her Ukelele was a big hit. A school teacher in town from the Central Valley was more partial to Ophelia Coeur de Noir. The Stork Club’s owner, Tom Chittock, looked pretty pleased and tired as the crowd surged to the bar in search of refreshments. He was standing in front of a wall of Barbies still in their packaging that belonged to his mother. “I call it my inheritance,” said Tom, who also inherited the bar — Micki and Wes’ Stork Club — from his folks and has set about turning it into a hot spot. Originally, way back in the day, the club opened as a country and western bar. Instead, as Tom put it, “This place was founded on punk rock.”  
And I finally met someone I introduced you all to a while back here on the blog: “Constant Dancer,” so named by my daughter who created a comicbook character based on him. His real name is Corey it turns out and he danced the whole time. Everyone was loving Roger That on his electric ukelele, too, especially when he took off his shirt between acts to reveal a canvas of tattoos worthy of a sailor. “Apparently I get to kill some more time so I’m going to ROCK,” he told folks after a fiery rendition of “I’m going to walk right out your door” (how many times have you seen the words fiery and ukelele together?).  Then came the highlight, the Belles du Jour. “Make way for tap-dancing titties,” the MC announced. It’s too cool that the Belles are back after a hiatus of some months, especially (as I found out last night), their leader “Honey Lawless” fought down cancer. She looked great and seemed surprised and delighted at the turnout. She said later that it was the first show where the venue had to hold the line at the door. The mood made up for missing the band of merry pranksters over at the Linden Street Brewery, where I had begun my rounds. The tale is that they set out in a double-decker bus from the brewery on First Fridays to hit the Art Murmur venues, which now also include the Stork and the Uptown and who knows how many others. Roger That said it best: “We need more shows like this,” meaning the Stork’s Friday Night Follies. “Typically I’d have had to go to San Francisco. Not any more.”
(Photo by pbo31)

Posted on Saturday, February 2nd, 2008
Under: Oakland nightlife, Uptown | 1 Comment »
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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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