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Lots to talk about at the annual Blogoaksphere Party

Jan. 13, 2011

Lots to talk about at the annual Blogoaksphere Party

Oakland’s Awaken Cafe fundraiser for new space Jan. 23

Angela Woodall

The small talk was about what you’d expect at this year’s annual Blogoaksphere Party, reflecting the passions of this city’s online personalities. Discussions popped up about the new mayor and her beef with the Oakland police union. There was parking talk and transit talk and redevelopment talk and Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan showed up briefly. The party — held Jan. 6 at Disco Volante — also attracted reporters and anyone else who keeps tab on Oakland. That’s why it’s so fun. “V-Smooth” of A Better Oakland, Jonathan Bair of The DTO and Tina “Tamales” Ramos all held court. Marla Wilson from the Greenbelt Alliance explained why the Broadway-Valdez retail plan is still stalled. And Abel Habtegeorgis from the Ella Baker Center took a break from fighting violence in Oakland to talk about Ethiopian honey wine.

A few blocks away at The Layover lounge, Douglas “Uncle Dougie” Leong stood in front of the doorway trying to decide whether to set up his temporary Italian heroes distribution center. Otherwise, he usually sells Italian heroes (of the sandwich variety) at his store on 17th Street. He is in the middle of opening a store in Berkeley on Bowditch Street. Back inside The Layover, a couple with their arms and faces locked onto each other seemed to sink into a wing-backed chair while the DJ played old David Bowie tunes. The weekend was on its way. It flew by.


Wednesday night’s Planning Commission meeting taught me once again that you can never predict what is going to get people worked up. I expected at least a few Old Oakland neighbors to show up at the meeting intent on stopping a plan by The Trappist to replace three parking places with an outdoor patio. But the parking places are inside the lot on Eighth and Washington and The Trappist is one of the most popular places in Oakland, so no one said a word against it. “I’ve had a few Duvels there before and I can attest that it is a well-run business,” Commissioner Michael Colbruno said before voting to approve the permit. (Duvel is a Belgian ale.)

All seven commissioners backed the brick patio enclosed in a decorative wrought-iron and wood fence. They didn’t seem to notice that the package they approved included an already completed expansion to a next-door storefront. The expansion had to be permitted Wednesday night because of a technical problem caused by a former Oakland staffer.

In contrast, an application by the owners of the Rockin’ Crawfish in the Lower Hills got their attention. The Rockin’ Crawfish on Foothill Boulevard wants to sell beer and sake. But neighbors showed up to complain about the “persistent and intense” odor of fried fish, litter and other problems. “If you can’t take care of your grease how can you take care of your bottles and drunks,” Colbruno said. Rockin’ Crawfish’s owner and operator will have another chance at the Planning Commission meeting in two weeks.


Julia Butterfly Hill, the activist who made sitting unwashed in trees for months on end fashionable, will be in Oakland this month. She is best known for living in the canopy of a Redwood for two years and eight days in order to ward off timber-hungry loggers.

She will be earthbound Jan. 23 to read her poetry and inspire more tree-sitter peace activists at a fundraiser for Awaken Café. The owners, Kari Christensen and Cortt Dunlap, moved out of their 14th Street address a couple months ago and need enough money to move into their new address. They’re taking over the storefront at 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza where Vella’s Lockeroom used to be.
Christensen and Dunlap are mum about the reason for leaving but I hear the decision had something to do with a rent increase.

They opened the original location with money raised bit by bit. It took a while but the cafe was successful once it finally launched. They never did open the lounge next door where they planned to offer libations, live music, dancing, performance art, poetry readings, Burning Man Night, etc. The new concept is similar — a “green espresso bar, tea house, boutique ice-creamery, beer and wine bar, performance and event space and art gallery.”

Dunlap and Christensen are also hoping to raise money through the Jan. 23 mini-symposium, where attendees will be asked to consider “the difference every person and organization can make in the world.” A $15 ticket buys access to Hill, as well as Greenbiz executive Joel Makower, performer Jeff Greenwald, Burning Man Center Camp Café’s manager Marcia Crosby, and Denise Jolly, a national SLAM Poetry finalist. The event begins at 5 p.m. Tickets are available atwww.indiegogo.com/awakenevent.

But you will have to check www.awakencafe.com/event to find out where.

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