Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Express' Most Popular Stories of 2014

by Anna Pulley
Wed, Dec 31, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Since we're already in list mode (check out our "Year in Review" and our NYE roundup), below are our top ten stories of the year based on web traffic. Perhaps unsurprisingly for the Bay Area, the list involves a lot of pot-related news. But the "storm of the decade" also made the list, as well as the November election, gay priests, and, of course, cats. Read on.

10. Cat Cafe to Open in Oakland by Kathleen Richards
Also: Watch our video of Cat Town Cafe.

Choice quote: "Oakland is just the right amount of crazy to make this happen."

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Facebook Apologizes for Its "Inadvertent Algorithmic Cruelty"

by Anna Pulley
Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 3:46 PM

You've probably seen many a Facebook "Year in Review" post over the last week or so. If you haven't, the Year in Review is a kind of digital card that highlights users' "top moments" of 2014 using an algorithm that calculates the number of likes and comments a picture received. Photos with the most likes/comments were then placed in front of little celebratory doodles of people in party hats, colorful triangles, or in my case, people doing yoga. Under the main photo of each Year in Review is the tagline: “It’s been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it." 

It's a mostly harmless, albeit mildly annoying feature that aims to show users how awesome 2014 was. Except, well, what if it wasn't? When web consultant Eric Meyer was shown his Year in Review (anyone who logs into Facebook will see it at the top of their news feeds, regardless of whether they opt to share it), the first image shown was that of his six-year-old daughter, who died of brain cancer this year. 

See Also:
Our cruelty-free year in review coverage
Iconic LGBT Moments of 2014

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The Omni Wants to Open its Doors

by Sarah Burke
Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 12:06 PM

The Omni Commons is a little bit like a utopian club house for radical creators and thinkers. The 22,000-square-foot previous rock venue located on 47th and Shattuck is communally run by several bay area collectives with the goal of providing free resources and fostering collaboration outside of interest in profit. The space holds a library, a "public school," a science lab, a hacker space, a print shop, multi-use performance spaces, a kitchen, and a cooperatively-owned cafe. See the video below for a better idea. 

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Crucial Local Music of 2014

Listen to over thirty worthy titles released by local acts in 2014.

by Sam Lefebvre
Fri, Dec 26, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Flesh World's eponymous mini-LP has some of the year's most crucial cover art.
  • Flesh World's eponymous mini-LP has some of the year's most crucial cover art.
Perhaps you read some criticism of Pandora, concerts exclusive to the tech elite, and, well, Pandora in the Express this year, but the list below attests to the value of hyperlinks, embed codes, and the local artists who generously and deliberately offer their music for free via digital platforms. The accessibility is wonderful. Note that most of the streams below link to purchasing options. A recent piece on the year’s top five local albums noted the inadequacy of the full-length format as a lens for assessing music in 2014, so the selection below encompasses singles, music videos, cassettes, live shows, EPs, albums, and the lot. Almost every inclusion links to East Bay Express music coverage this year, so it’s also a reflection of this music editor’s first six months or so on the job.  

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The Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

December 26, 27 & 28

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Dec 26, 2014 at 9:58 AM

Phew, another holiday season survived. You made all that face-stuffing, present-receiving, and relative-humoring look easy as pie. Now, if you're looking to give remaining visitors a taste of East Bay life, here are a handful of activities that we recommend. And if you're still wondering what in the world there is to do on New Year's Eve, don't forget that we already put a guide together for you. Check it out here. 

Resource: 9th Street New Media Art Exhibition 
“Four Generations” by Doug Garth Williams.
  • “Four Generations” by Doug Garth Williams.

When curating the upcoming group multimedia exhibit Resource, Lacey Haslam took her cue from the current state of the Bay Area. Specifically, she calls on both tech-industry-induced displacement and the recent drought to draw attention to instances in which communities have been unable to tap into the resources that surround them. “Ironically, while technology aims to help people stay connected, the industry is reconfiguring our communities — the same dehydrated communities that are defined by a body of water that is unavailable for consumption,” she wrote in the curatorial statement. In contrast, Resource hopes to reach as many people as possible. The show will consist of a series of video works by seven artists that will be projected onto storefront windows on 9th Street between Broadway and Washington in Old Oakland. Featuring work by Erik Colleen Johnson, Ellen Lake, Nathan Lynch, Kari Marboe, George Pfau, Jeffrey Augustine Songco, and Doug Garth Williams, the show will illuminate the block, highlighting our collective ability to shape our city — even as it shifts around us. — Sarah Burke
Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through Dec. 27. Free.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

East Bay Indie Theaters Will Screen "The Interview" on Christmas Day

The New Parkway and the Elmwood will air the Seth Rogen and James Franco movie that Sony canceled last week.

by Anna Pulley
Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 5:43 PM

Right on time, James Franco and Seth Rogen.
  • Right on time, James Franco and Seth Rogen.

If all you wanted for Christmas was to see The Interview, a farce about North Korea starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, then you're about to get your wish. The movie, which was canceled by Sony last week after hackers threatened to attack any movie theaters that screened it, will air starting on Thursday in select East Bay theaters.

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WATCH: The BART Turf Dancers Will Blow Your Minds

What's this graceful, Oakland-grown style of dancing all about?

by Sarah Burke
Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 9:35 AM

  • Chaz Hubbard/ Youth Radio
Many trans-bay commuters may be vaguely familiar with the group of young men who turf dance on BART while it is speeding beneath the bay. But it's likely that few actually know the names of the performers, why they perform on public transit, or what this graceful, Oakland-grown style of dance is all about.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

The Berkeley Art Museum's Weepy Finale

by Sam Lefebvre
Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 10:55 AM

  • Marisa Darabi
On Sunday, longtime Berkeley Art Museum programmer Sarah Cahill signaled for fifty staff members, performers, and supporters of the institution to wind up one hundred metronomes. Wood-paneled, pendulum time-keepers ticked away at Cahill’s command, a jumbled chorus of clacks moving in and out of phase, flirting with synchronicity, and finally receding into the ambiance of chatter and resonant concrete. The ticks dwindled until a solitary, stubborn metronome kept time. It too petered out, eliciting weak smiles from the few attentive onlookers who remained.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

The Weekender: This Weekend's Top Five Events

December 19, 20, 21

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Dec 19, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Hopefully you've finished all of your holiday shopping, because this weekend you'll be cramming in some social time before celebrating consumerism with your family. Here's what we recommend for you:

Skinny Puppy 
Skinny Puppy.
  • Skinny Puppy.
It must be a vindicating time for aging Skinny Puppy fans. Enthusiasts of the long-running Canadian outfit and their industrial rock ilk, such as Ministry and KMFDM, have remained a devout contingent, even when trebly, gated-snare kick tones fell out of step with post-millennial tastes. No longer a comically dated sound, new bands such as Youth Code from Los Angeles, which opens for Skinny Puppy on Friday at the Regency Ballroom, are stirring a love of industrial rock in the hearts of young listeners. Perhaps it’s not surprising. The cyberpunk aesthetic, a cult literary genre in the 1980s that dealt in technocratic future dystopias and had significant bearing on industrial music and culture, feels more relevant than ever, as power consolidates into the hands of fewer and fewer technology companies and the chasm between the haves and have-nots widens. Industrial rock, with its rhythmic use of automated machinery to mimic the oppressive apparatuses of totalitarian regimes, resonates intensely.— Sam Lefebvre
Fri., Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m. $40.

Oakland Drops Beats 
The last Oakland Drops Beats.
  • The last Oakland Drops Beats.
Last spring, Oakland Indie Mayhem programmer Sarah Sexton and a group of other local music bookers and musicians came together to produce Oakland Drops Beats, a free all-day music festival in Downtown Oakland. Now, they’re back for another edition of the event on December 20. The day of music will function like a Noise Pop-esque music crawl, except the performances will take place in unconventional venues and the lack of ticketing will eliminate the horrendous lines. Stages will be set up at Awaken Cafe, Solespace, Mary Weather, Vamp Records, and six other spots in the downtown area. One highlight of the event will be local rapper Jay Stone’s performance at Mary Weather, along with beatmaker Mark Aubert at Vamp, and the funky Fantastic Negrito at Solespace, as well. The event will also include music talks, such as “Music and Education in Oakland” at Joyce Gordon Gallery, and workshops, like a beatmaking introduction at Tilde. Even better if you’ve never heard these bands or been to these spaces, because now is your chance to get in the loop for free.— Sarah Burke
Sat., Dec. 20, 1 p.m. Free.

Let's Go! A Farewell Revel
For its last day in its current building, December 21, BAM/PFA has planned a full day of free programming that ends in a procession down to the new site. It will begin at 11 a.m. with art-making workshops led by educational artist Veronica Graham, in which participants will make floor plans for fantasy museums and fill them with tiny artworks. The afternoon performances will begin in the atrium with singers from Kitka's all-women chorus and dancers from Turf Inc. Later, Chris Kallmyer will do a sound piece in which he strikes handmade chimes in a composition that follows the geometric architecture of the building's ceiling as he moves around the space. Performance artist Dohee Lee will then do a ritual farewell to the building. And finally, Sarah Cahill will perform Ligeti's Poème Symphonique for 100 Metronomes. A group of fifty, including museum staff, professors, artists, and members of the community, will make up the necessary participation for the piece, in which one hundred metronomes are set off at the same time and gradually fade until there are just a few, and then finally only one left, ticking until it creates its final echo. — S.B.
11 a.m.­–5 p.m.

Katabatik Winter Solstice 2014
An institution among noise practitioners and electronic experimentalists, Katabatik is little known outside of the sect. Active for more than a decade, the booking enterprise, record label, and self-described “meta-communications platform” typically hosts seasonal events in unprintable locations. The Katabatik campout, for instance, occurs every summer in the woods a few hours outside of town, and earlier this year it featured about forty performers across three days. As attuned to the natural world as Katabatik’s presentation appears, the industrial techno, throbbing modular synth exercises, and magnetic-tape manipulations it deals in don’t square with the usual musical associations of pastoral environs. Modern primitives plugged in. At East Oakland’s refurbished Palace Theater, Katabatik’s Winter Solstice event on Saturday features a dozen acts, including the supple and melodious Group Rhoda, Brandon Nickell’s viscous synth grooves, DJs, and a chill-out sideshow in the mezzanine featuring ambient house from Fluorescent Grey and others. Attend, just don’t leave a trace.— S.L.
Sat., Dec. 20, 9 p.m. $12 - $20.

KPFA Crafts Fair 
Shoppers at the KPFA Crafts Fair.
  • Shoppers at the KPFA Crafts Fair.

After being held in San Francisco for the past nineteen years, the annual KPFA crafts fair is moving back to the East Bay. The sprawling artisan event will fill up the Craneway Pavilion on December 20 and 21. The fair will feature a broad spectrum of handmade goods, including wearable textiles, ceramics, photography, block prints, paper goods, and jewelry. To organize the fair, producer Jan Etre and fellow jurors hand-picked more than two hundred arts and craftspeople based on the originality, quality, affordability of their work, in addition to artistic involvement and use of “green” materials. Often, the works being sold show an application of contemporary aesthetics to relatively traditional art forms. Beyond providing a marketplace for artists to sell their work, the fair is also serves to connect makers and consumers. That’s why everything at the fair is sold by the person who created it. “It’s rich interacting with the artist, knowing where the materials came from, and having a sense of the artist’s vision,” Etre said. “To a certain extent, mass-produced stuff is unavoidable and we understand that, but at the fair we will highlight the vast difference between that and the appreciation and enjoyment of art and artists.”— S. B.
Dec. 20-21, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $10.

If your pockets are feelin' light and you're still yearning for more suggestions, we've got a ton, and these ones are all FREE!

We're Hungry: Got any East Bay news, events, video, or miscellany we should know about? Feed us at

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Oakland Named the Most Diverse City in America

by Anna Pulley
Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Still from Bert Johnson's recent Millions March Oakland demonstration. - BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
  • Still from Bert Johnson's recent Millions March Oakland demonstration.

Though gentrification and displacement of longtime residents are certainly at the forefront of the minds of Oaklanders, for the time at least, Oakland appears to be holding onto its diversity. 

See Also:
Why Gentrification Is Not Inevitable 
Can Black-Owned Restaurants Combat Gentrification? 

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