Artsy in the outdoors

SAT 7/26

Fancy a summer evening of music and films under the stars? Want to support the growing Oakland-Emeryville DIY arts community? Then grab a blanket and lawn chair and make the scene at Lola's Film Frenzy, East Bay documentary filmmaker Laura Plotkin's summer outdoor arts extravaganza, Saturday. Located this year on an old factory property on the Oaktown-E'ville border, the Frenzy promises "a roller-coaster ride of genre, style, esthetic, and content. The audience never knows what's coming -- the films range from the serious and intense to the extremely funny and sardonic," she says. Examples are a preview clip of The Refugee Allstars, an intense and timely documentary by Zach Niles and Banker White on refugee musicians from Sierra Leone, as well as found-footage hijacker Bryan Boyce's Election Collectables, which hilariously manipulates Gore and Bush imagery on TV. Films begin at 9 p.m. Screenings are preceded at 8 p.m. sharp by the up-and-coming experimental math-rock noise band Lower Forty-Eight. The Frenzy is a benefit for Oakland's own Totimoshi, voted "best sludge rock band for scaring the blues away" by the Express. The band's touring van was recently stolen and stripped.

Plotkin has ambitions for a regular outdoor arts series. "I'm taking on the North Oakland/Emeryville quadrant," she says. Lola's Film Frenzy was created to get the word out on local filmmaking and give first-time documentary filmmakers a venue for their work in a do-it-ourselves departure from the conventional middlebrow film-festival circuit. The short-term goal is a better projector (about $2,500). Long-term: a corporation or art philanthropist who recognizes Plotkin's desire to give to the community films she's curated from all over the country. So far, West Berkeley's Tippett Animation Studios has donated a screen, but more benefactors are needed.

It all happens at 921 Grace Street near the Oakland-Emeryville border (look for the iron sculpture garden). Cover $7-$10, but no one turned away for lack of funds. Special raffle prizes with $10 entry fee. Baked goods, popcorn, and custom liquid refreshments. No dogs, please. For further info, e-mail -- Frako Loden

FRI 7/25

King Me

Pawn cocktail

If you think that any chess player worth his salt must be a clean-slated nerdburger, think again. In a 1935 issue of Chess, G. Koltanowski wrote about the sketchy exploits of champ Aristide Gromer, alleging that Gromer had a habit of feigning poverty in order to con local chess clubs into setting up match after match. "He has victimized Spanish chess circles long enough," Koltanowski wrote, "and is doing the game a lot of harm, and I am publishing these details at the request of the committee of the San Sebastiàn Club, in the hope that they might save a few people from him who might otherwise be duped." Such a rotter would surely feel at home at the Cabaret Night and Chess Tournament at 21 Grand (449B 23rd St., Oakland). As two chess matches progress, Sean Finney will emcee a live music cabaret of eclectic, somewhat disreputable proportions. Lemon Lime Lights performs its broke-down, punk-ass version of cabaret; Kevin Seconds shows off the soft, pink, mid-tempo truth that lies inside all punks; the Zen prankster performance poets of Spore Attic make with the ironirock; and Brian Kenney Fresno speakerphones in a set from, well, Fresno. The show starts at 9 p.m. and cover's on a sliding scale, $5-$10. 510-444-7263. -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 7/24

Murder on the Border

Outside the maquiladoras of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, young women workers are being abducted, raped, and often murdered at an astonishing rate -- reportedly some 300 murdered, 400 disappeared in the last ten years. This epidemic of violence against women is linked in many people's minds with the other negative effects of NAFTA, so much so that filmmaker Lourdes Portillo directed a documentary on the subject, Señorita Extraviada (aka Missing Young Woman). It outlines the lives and times of women (and men) working in the assembly plants along the US-Mexican border, where labor is cheap and apparently life is, too. The Black Whole Collective screens Señorita Extraviada in video Thursday evening, July 24, 6 p.m., at the World Cup Cafe, 1212 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland. A discussion and homemade tamales (vegan, if requested) follow. Phone 510-654-9494 for more info -- Kelly Vance


High Times

Up, up, and away at the Marina

Screw fireworks. They're predictable, they rattle your eardrums, and the metal powders in Catherine wheels and Roman candles mess with the ozone. Best just to risk a sore neck at the 18th Annual Berkeley Kite Fest and West Coast Kite Championships this weekend at Cesar E. Chavez Park on the Berkeley Marina. These ain't no dinky diamond-shaped canvas numbers, either: The sky will be packed to the horizon with flying fancy from all over the globe. Expect octopus kites as big as a house, Japanese-style Rokkaku kites, a prehistoric Flying Trilobite from New Zealand; giant elephant, gecko, and panda windsocks; and dozens of other airy confections. Kids can enjoy kite-making workshops from 11 a.m. till 1 p.m. and candy drops (at 2:30 each day), both for free, and there will be live music and food stalls. If you too want a sore arm, check out the thousand-square-foot kite sales tent and, between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., free kite-flying lessons. The whole thing kicks off at 11 a.m. and continues till 5 p.m. 510-235-5483 or -- Stefanie Kalem


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