Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

Thursday nite live in Old Oakland

By awoodall
Thursday, June 3rd, 2010 at 4:21 pm in Fun Stuff to do in Oakland, Night Owl

It’s back again: The Thursday Nite Live summer music series begins tonight with Josh Jones at 5:30 p.m.  Mazacote on June 17, followed by other performers every two weeks — the first and third Thursdays — until October.  No cover.  9th and Broadway. From 12st Street BART, just follow the music . You’ll know it by the people dancing in the street.

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New places to watch for

By awoodall
Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 at 11:31 am in Night Owl

Surprisingly, I spotted several openings in the works to keep on an eye on:
530 Lakeside Drive: a cuban joint
1644 Telegraph: a nightclub near Cafe Van Kleef’s
2000 MacArthur Blvd: the Bay Laurel Restraurant
3000 Broadway: restaurant it appears 
1803 Webster: another restaurant
Meanwhile, A Cote is still trying to clear the last hurdles with neighbors and ABC to open a second restaurant in the old Compadres Bar & Grill space on Park Blvd. Sounds like they’ll be on the way soon.

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Where can I get a drink around here?

By awoodall
Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 at 10:16 am in Night Owl, Oakland nightlife

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.

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

By awoodall
Thursday, May 6th, 2010 at 8:33 pm in Fun Stuff to do in Oakland, Night Owl, Oakland nightlife

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.

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Invisible taxis

By awoodall
Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 at 10:56 am in Night Owl, Oakland nightlife

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.

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Uptown Cafe & Crepes joins Bakesale Betty

By awoodall
Monday, May 3rd, 2010 at 12:12 pm in Fun Stuff to do in Oakland, Night Owl

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.

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Oakland Underground Film Fest

By awoodall
Saturday, May 1st, 2010 at 8:56 am in Fun Stuff to do in Oakland, Night Owl, Oakland nightlife

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!

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Oakland tire-slashing caper

By awoodall
Thursday, April 29th, 2010 at 10:01 am in Uncategorized

The tire-slashing vandals struck again last night near High Street and Culver.  Residents are saying that the suspects hit cars along the entire block. That equals scores of tires. Hundreds counting Wednesday’s tire-slashing spree between Brookdale and Allendale. Thousands counting other cities in recent months.  As if people don’t have a hard enough time getting out of the door in the morning.

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A new place to hear wedding bells

By awoodall
Friday, April 23rd, 2010 at 1:33 pm in Kaiser Convention Center, Night Owl

The last thing Oakland kingpin Henry J. Kaiser wanted to see while reigning from the 28th story of his downtown skyscraper was the flat top of a parking garage. So he covered the rooftop with a manicured garden. Inside the Kaiser Center he built a 400-person theater perfect for sit-down music performances and other live shows and a restaurant with a view of Lake Merritt and probably half of the Bay Area on a good day. Steve Snider of Oakland Venue Management said the rooftop garden is perfect for weddings, including his own in October. The timing is perfect. He and Andrew Jones just took over management of all three venues in the Kaiser Center on Lakeside Drive.
The Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium is another story. The duo was set to run the center but Oakland turned to Live Nation, who bailed on running the grand building because  the city wanted them to foot the bill for necessary repairs in addition to the other costs. Now the city wants to sell the building.
Anyway, congratulations to Steve and his bride to be, as well as the partners who have been booking acts and producing shows since they opened the Oakland Box Theater on Telegraph and 18th (later San Pablo Avenue). For inquiries: (510) 384-7874 or visit the website.

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OSA First Friday show

By awoodall
Monday, March 29th, 2010 at 12:07 pm in Fun Stuff to do in Oakland, Night Owl, Oakland nightlife

Oakland School for the Arts must be the coolest school ever. What other school is joined at the hip with a lounge and concert venue. And this Friday the art students are joining the  Art Murmur/FF with a gallery show of their work. Since I spent several hours after work Wednesday framing some of that work I can tell you some very good pieces will be for sale in the Black Box Theatre April 2. I have my eye on a few already. Their December show was hot (musically and artistically) and I never even got close to buying my own daughter’s work (for the sake of disclosure I tell you this…). They got snapped up too fast. I think the lines will move much faster this time around with a revamped process so that buyers aren’t standing for hours to make their purchases. Anyway, the show runs from Friday until Sunday.  


April 2 First Friday Art Walk at UrbanSpace

On exhibit at UrbanSpace Gallery are modern and contemporary works by highly acclaimed artists WinstonBbranch, Sue Kahn, Gregory Edwards, Jonathan Howard, Pauletta Chanco, Judy Deim, Otto Heino, Joseph Slusky and more. Stroll through the gallery to view sculptures, ceramics, paintings, and photographs.

This First Friday will feature author and filmmaker, Robert Philipson reading from his new book Very Good-Looking Seeks Same, a funny, yet yearning and appealing, collection of poetry in the form of want-ads. Philipson’s tongue-in-cheek verses are hilarious, tragic, and will tantalize one’s imagination.

Join us for wine and cheese, laughter and fun networking at UrbanSpace, 811 Washington, in Old Oakland. 5:30 – 8:30 pm. Reading will begin at 6:15. Robert Philipson will be available to sign books.

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