Friday, August 28, 2015

This Weekend's Top Five Events

August 28, 29 & 30

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 7:00 AM

This has been a week of culture guides at the Express. We gave you full season previews in visual arts, theater, dance, literary events, and classical music. But on a more short term note, here's what we think you should be doing this weekend. 

Hunnit Dollars
The rapper formerly known as Stunnaman, from Berkeley rap group The Pack, of “Vans” and Lil B fame — was there for the beginning of #based. In an interview last year, Keith Jenkins pointed to hippie icon Wavy Gravy’s Camp Winnarainbow as the philosophy’s spiritual center, where the radiant positivity and collapsed sense of self evident in Lil B’s tweets first took shape. Jenkins recent output, however, skews more trap and carnal, with sinister intentions detailed in a ragged flow atop brooding, downcast production on this year’s Black Bart 2 EP. The more pertinent question, though, is about Jenkins’ visual art, which Good Mother Gallery is slated to exhibit for the very first time, with a weekend-long showcase opening on Saturday. Perhaps Hunnit Dollars, as it’s called, will explore the liminal zone between Camp Winnarainbow and the trap house. Jenkins’ Instagram is conspicuously absent of works-in-progress shots, unless that picture of Frida Kahlo’s eyebrows augmented with weed counts as one. At any rate, Lil B is the special guest.— Sam Lefebvre
Sat., Aug. 29, 7 p.m. $10.

Tacos and Tea Popup 
Why settle for a mere popup when you can opt for a popup within a popup? That’s what customers will find this Friday at the wine bar and bottle shop Ordinaire, where Oscar Michel, the proprietor of the popup Tacos Oscar will serve up his signature dish: tacos made with freshly griddled tortillas that Michel hand-presses to order. Meanwhile, the proprietors of the Oakland-based tea company Steep Tea Co. will be on hand to serve two kinds of iced tea agua fresca — hibiscus guava and roasted mate horchata. As for the tacos, as of this printing Michel is still finalizing his menu, but his tentative plan is to serve braised lamb tacos (priced in the ballpark of $4 each) and perhaps some kind of ceviche. And given that the popup will take place inside a wine shop, it should come as no surprise that plenty of wine will be on offer as well.— Luke Tsai
Fri., Aug. 28, 6 p.m. A la carte.

Nepantla Second Issue Release
Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color aims to create intentional space for QPOC narratives and art in America, celebrating multiplicity and continual reinvention. It will also celebrate the release of its second issue on Friday, August 28 at Berkeley City College with a reading co-presented by ZYZZYVA, featuring four of its associated poets. Among them are Jewelle Gomez, the author of seven books, including the Black lesbian vampire novel The Gilda Stories, and founding board member of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; Yosimar Reyes, a gay, Mexican-born poet and activist whose work often addresses immigration issues; Arisa White, the author of the full-length poetry collections Hurrah’s Nest and A Penny Saved; and Marvin K. White, the author of four collections of poetry, board member of Fire & Ink, a national Black LGBT writer’s organization, and former member of the acclaimed Black gay theater group Pomo Afro Homos. Clearly, the lineup is glowing, and one too (unfortunately) rare to pass up.— Sarah Burke
Fri., Aug. 28, 7 p.m. Free.

Stan Ridgway
In the late Seventies, Stan Ridgway had a soundtrack production company across the street from The Masque, a fixture in the nascent Los Angeles punk scene. From the unlikely collision emerged Wall of Voodoo, a vessel of atmospheric terror, new wave instrumentation, and Ridgway’s noir themes that produced a substantial catalogue beyond its sole hit, “Mexican Radio.” Further, Ridgway’s post-Wall of Voodoo output is likewise rewarding: The Big Heat, his debut solo album from 1986, featured “Drive, She Said,” a cabbie’s first-person recollection of being happily forced to play getaway driver for a bank robber. Memorably, Ridgway collaborated with The Police’s Stewart Copeland on “Don’t Box Me In,” from the soundtrack to Francis Ford Coppola’s impeccably stylized Rumble Fish. The bleak portrait of fraternal camaraderie dovetails neatly with Ridgway’s haunted, cracked songs, which remain strong on his most recent album, Mr. Trouble. Ridgway performs at Freight & Salvage (2020 Addison St., Berkeley) on Friday.— Sam Lefebvre
Fri., Aug. 28, 8 p.m. $23, $25.

Amélie, A New Musical
Through the eyes of its quirky protagonist, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film Amélie cleverly captured the ways that even the most mundane details of day-to-day life can be made whimsical and wondrous with a little imagination. Though it was made fourteen years ago, Amélie has enjoyed enduring appeal and now makes its theatrical debut in the East Bay. Berkeley Repertory Theatre (2015 Addison St., Berkeley) kicks off its 2015–2016 season with the world premiere of Amélie, A New Musical. The play tells the story of Amélie, a sheltered young woman with an active imagination determined to do good deeds for others, however small. According to Berkeley Rep artistic director Tony Taccone, one of the challenges of bringing Jeunet’s film to the stage was conveying its highly stylized cinematography. Amélie, A New Musical is slated to be an audiovisual experience, with set design inspired by Renoir’s Parisian scenes, music by composer Daniel Messé of the band Hem, and a script adaptation by Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Craig Lucas.— Nastia Voynovskaya
Aug. 28-Oct. 4 $29-$97.

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

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Janelle Monáe and Jidenna Played for Free & Freedom

The Wondaland crew led a protest in the Mission District and then performed a free concert at The Independent on Sunday.

by Natasha Mmonatau
Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 4:55 PM

  • Instagram User "Wondaland"
Globe-topped cane swinging in his left hand, mic gripped in the right, “Classic Man” rapper Jidenna strolled onstage at The Independent on Sunday night. Gazing calmly at the crowd convened to witness the Wondaland SF stop of Janelle Monáe’s Eephus Tour, he said softly, “I sure hope nobody anywhere dies tonight.” By “nobody anywhere,” the audience understood him to mean nobody Black in America. “Long live!” he declared, as the opening beat to his new song “Long Live the Chief” rang out.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

18 Million Rising is Developing a Multilingual Ballot Translating App

by Sophie Ho
Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 7:00 AM

With the 2016 elections a little more than a year away, 18 Million Rising, an East Bay-based Asian American Pacific Islander digital advocacy group, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to back VoterVOX, an app designed to connect multilingual volunteers with voters who need help translating their ballots. 

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This Weekend's Top Five Events

August 21, 22 & 23

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Aug 21, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Summer will soon be coming to an end. Hang on to those last rays of late-night sunlight by taking our advice about the best things to do this weekend — presented in list form below. 

Inside the studio of Brett Flanigan. - BROCK BRAKE
  • Brock Brake
  • Inside the studio of Brett Flanigan.
Athen B Open Studios
Some of Oakland’s most interesting artists make their work in the studios above Athen B gallery. While many galleries with studios attached will throw open their doors for the reception of every show, the spaces above Athen B are more intimate, quiet, and discreet. But on August 22, Athen B will be having its first-ever open studios event. Between noon and 6 p.m., the gallery’s twelve resident artists will welcome visitors in to see where they work. The talented roster includes Lauren YS, Troy Lovegates, Cannon Dill, Brett Flanigan, John Felix Arnold III, Max Kauffman, and Lauren Napolitano. Original art works, prints, and zines will be available. Plus, the visit will also offer a chance to see Afternoons, the gallery’s current group show filled with pastel pieces that wash over the viewer like the youthful memory of being caught in a bored, summer daze. That way, after viewing Andrew Luck’s exceptionally simple yet evocative installations of blinds and garage doors painted with suburban shadows, you can wander upstairs to see how the wooden sculptures were made.— Sarah Burke
Sat., Aug. 22, 12-6 p.m. Free,

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Friday, August 14, 2015

This Weekend's Top Five Events

August 14, 15 & 16

by Sarah Burke
Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 7:05 AM

Hey weekenders, here's the round up of non-work-related activities you've been waiting for since Monday. Enjoy!

Nicki Minaj
Is that a world tour or your girl’s tour? So rapped Drake in one of his twin dis tracks aimed at Meek Mill, the Philadelphia shouter opening for Nicki Minaj on Friday at the Concord Pavilion as part of her Pinkprint Tour. The versatile rapper Minaj once referred to herself as The only rap bitch on the Forbes list and now boasts her own wax sculpture in Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Las Vegas, immortalizing a still from the flashpoint music video to “Anaconda.” Fans have already begun making pilgrimages to the sculpture and enacting lines from Minaj’s own repertoire, such as Let ‘em eat my ass like a cupcake. In other words, the answer to Drake’s question is obvious: It’s Minaj’s world tour — one she’s been poised for since at least 2010, when she dropped an unparalleled verse on Kanye’s “Monster” — and Drake’s barb only stings if you consider it inherently emasculating for a man to open for his girlfriend.
— Sam Lefebvre
Fri., Aug. 14, 7 p.m. $76+.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Youth Radio Reveals The Science Behind Turf Dancing

by Sarah Burke
Thu, Aug 13, 2015 at 11:07 AM

  • Courtesy Youth Radio
One of the defining features of turf dancing — a graceful, Oakland-grown dance style — is "bone breaking." That's when a dancer twists his or her arm beyond what seems humanly possible, as if casually dislocating a shoulder without even the slightest grimace. Aside from eliciting dropped jaws, the hair-raising moves also bring up many questions: How is "bone breaking" physically possible? Does it hurt? Is it dangerous in the long-term? 

To provide some answers, Youth Radio producers Chaz Hubbard, Ike Sriskandarajah, Jenny Bolario, Mikey Prizmich, and Luis Flores created a video short in which the talented turf dancer iDummy, aka Levi Allen, visits a sports medicine doctor (and former Cirque Du Soleil acrobat) in search of a professional opinion. The video was released this morning. Learn a few things by watching it below.  

This video follows up on another that the same group of Youth Radio producers put out last December, which goes into the history of turf dancing and features iDummy and the rest of his crew explaining why they choose to perform on BART. Check out that video here. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

SoleSpace's Community Programming Is in Jeopardy

Loss of foot traffic has led to relocation and an Indiegogo campaign.

by Natasha Mmonatau
Tue, Aug 11, 2015 at 2:56 PM

While other stores boarded up during recent #BlackLivesMatter protests, SoleSpace opened its doors and offered free sign-making materials.
  • While other stores boarded up during recent #BlackLivesMatter protests, SoleSpace opened its doors and offered free sign-making materials.
Last Friday, a group of vivacious dancers, busting moves from flamenco to twerk, held down the floor at SoleSpace amidst rows of sneakers and local artwork. The sweaty celebration marked the launch of a new fundraising campaign for the shoe store, art gallery, and community hub that has been bringing people together in downtown Oakland for the past three years. 

At first glance, SoleSpace looks like a regular shoe store. But — while the shoe selection is top-notch — the shoe sales are actually a strategy to fund a community space. SoleSpace features exhibitions by local artists every month, frequently hosts social-justice-oriented community gatherings, and donates its space to local organizations for events on a sliding scale. In the time that it has been open, it has become a valuable space for artists and activists to come together near the city center. 

But due to a prolonged street closure, foot traffic into the store has dropped dramatically, and sales have been low, said owner Jeff Perlstein in a recent interview. As an effort to increase revenue, the SoleSpace retail store recently expanded to a new location on Grand Avenue (3304 Grand), where the team anticipates a boost in sales. But, the new space is too small to host community events, so the team hopes to keep their Telegraph location open in order to continue their core programming.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Outside Lands: Obstacles to Civilization and Stately Moderns

D’Angelo, St. Vincent, and Big Freedia were among the performers brilliant enough to distract from Outside Lands’ gaffes and shortcomings.

by Sam Lefebvre
Mon, Aug 10, 2015 at 2:58 PM

  • Bert Johnson
  • D'Angelo.

Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival once again ravaged an unsuspecting polo field in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park over the weekend, but not before some perfunctory back-patting for its supposedly eclectic roster. Which is whack, because booking Kanye West last year and Kendrick Lamar in 2015, for instance, reflects not an investment in diversity but simple accommodation of popular taste.

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Lake Merritt Mural Artist Sues Over Work's Destruction

Dan Fontes is asking $400,000 in damages from previous and current property owners.

by Sophie Ho
Mon, Aug 10, 2015 at 12:29 PM

Almost two years after Dan Fontes’ 98-foot mural celebrating Lake Merritt was painted over, the artist is seeking $400,000 in damages, suing the former and present operators of the car dealership in the building that once held his work, according to the Bay Area News Group.

Dan Fontes' original mural before it was vandalized and painted over. - OUR OAKLAND
  • Our Oakland
  • Dan Fontes' original mural before it was vandalized and painted over.

Fontes painted the mural 28 years ago. He received a $35,000 commission, but personally spent $100,000 to complete the work. The mural depicted Lake Merritt and its surrounding nature on the side of the dealership at 27th Street and Broadway. It was completely painted over in white paint in 2013 by Autocom Nissan of Oakland. At the time, Andrees Sharza, the former senior sales manager of the dealership, told the Oakland Tribune that the mural had become so vandalized and tagged over the years that it “just wasn’t proper.”

Brooke Oliver, Fontes’ attorney, told the Bay Area News Group that painting over the mural is “flat out illegal,” alleging the act was a copyright violation under the Federal Visual Artists Rights Act. The act says building owners must notify the artist if they wish to remove art, and can only proceed with removal if the artist fails to do so within ninety days of receiving notice.

In addition to suing the current owners of the dealership who painted over the mural, Fontes is also suing the past owner, Michael Murphy. Murphy sold the dealership in August 2013 — at the time, the mural sported writing and beige spray paint from vandals.

Oliver told the Bay Area News Group that Fontes had approached the dealership (then still owned by Murphy) about repairing vandalized portions of the mural. But Murphy said that he did not talk to Fontes about the issue — that at the time, he was mourning his late wife and building a charity for her. He added that he was planning on suing the current dealership for involving him in the situation.

Oliver said the dealership has reached out to Fontes about repainting the mural, but has not offered compensation for the work. 

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Fantastic Negrito Detained by SFPD on Questionable Grounds at Outside Lands

The local roots bandleader's set was cancelled.

by Sam Lefebvre
Sun, Aug 9, 2015 at 12:10 AM

Fantastic Negrito. - BERT JOHNSON
  • Bert Johnson
  • Fantastic Negrito.
Earlier this afternoon, Fantastic Negrito and two members of his entourage were detained by San Francisco police officers at Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival after the Oakland-based roots bandleader said an intern arranged to sell his crew credential on Craigslist. Fantastic Negrito’s scheduled performance at the festival, which followed his victory in NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Contest earlier this year and nationwide praise, was cancelled.

“I showed up and got swarmed by SFPD and stuck in a paddy wagon before I knew what was going on,” said Dphrepaulezz, who was recently awarded Best Roots Bandleader by the Express. “They came at us like it was a drug bust because this broke-ass kid decided to make a buck.”

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