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TIME FOR SOME ACTION AT OAKLAND DANCE STUDIO

Posted by Billyjam, December 10, 2007 04:25pm | Post a Comment

"Dancing helps you heal"

                     - Corey Action

In North Oakland's Rockridge district, on a stretch of College Avenue nearby Diesel Books, Pegasus Books, George & Walt's, not far from new hip clothing store Dapper and scores of other mom & pops; in the 5400 block sandwiched in between The Rockrigde Masonic Center and the new eclectic Atomic Garden is the vibrant New Style Motherlode Dance Studio where, for the past seven years, Corey Action and his stable of able dance instructors have been teaching various forms of hip-hop based dance (including a Bay Area Style class) along with a healthy, positive outlook on life.

"Time For Some Action" boldly reads one poster in the window at 5451 College Ave. Inside, on one recent early evening, the place was packed with many urging the call to take action: dancing bodies, brimming with energy, all vibing to the pulsating music's groove that fused it all together. Owner, instructor, and recording artist Corey Action recently took time out to talk to AMOEBLOG about his studio and his passion, dance.

AMOEBLOG: Seven years for any small business, especially a teaching facility located in an expensive high rent area like you are in, means you have beaten the odds. To what do you attribute your success?

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OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA: PHOTO GALLERY PT I

Posted by Billyjam, September 22, 2007 09:30am | Post a Comment
      

I love Oakland, CA and I have always enjoyed taking random pictures around and about "the Town," as it is fondly known by locals. These photos, the first in a two-part series (shot over the past few months),  were all taken within about a mile radius of downtown Oakland. Thematically disconnected, they are merely various images that appealed to my personal sensibilities, such as the above shot in Chinatown Oakland one Sunday morning when it is a-bustle with folks grabbing dim sum from the numerous eateries dotted throughout the area (Well worth a visit if you've never been. Meanwhile, just down the street on Broadway, at Jack London Sq, is the farmer's market, although the Saturday-only farmers market over near Grand Lake Theater is a much more fun market, in my opinion). The above shot is about the only one of a person I took, as I gravitate more towards inanimate objects. Plus, I don't like to invade peoples' personal space. And if I ever do take pics of people, I always ask their permission first -- as with the gentleman above.

The shot below is by Lake Merritt, and while art-cars might be a common sight around the Bay Area, it is only when you travel outside to other states/places you realize that it is not quite so commonplace to see such intricately decorated vehicles. I have spent many hours just stopping to admire and study the countless art-cars I have seen around Oakland and Berkeley. They're amazing. I love the detail and the creative use of various found and recycled objects (including lots of toys) that people put into decorating these cars and I admire their makers for not wanting to adhere to the strict, bland uniformity of merely leaving their cars exactly as they rolled off the assembly line. These are truly unique vehicles. The picture below with the koala bear is the roof of this particular art car while the second last picture is of the hood of this same auto, which is just so creatively and lovingly decorated with keys, beads, and cocktail drink stirrers -- all cemented into a perfect form and design. 

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SHOWTIME AT THE APOLLO TRYOUTS IN OAKLAND THIS WEEKEND

Posted by Billyjam, July 26, 2007 04:49pm | Post a Comment
This weekend, on Saturday (July 28th), from 10AM til 1PM, is your chance to be a star when the world-famous Apollo Theater of Harlem, NY will make its once a year visit to California in search of "amateur" talent for upcoming Showtime At The Apollo shows back in New York City at the historic 125th Street venue. This year the producers of the show will only visit five American cities outside of New York in search of talent, so this is a great opportunity to try out if you are an aspiring entertainer, whether you are a singer, rapper, spoken-word artist, comedian, dancer, musician, etc. And on Saturday their only West Coast tryouts will be held at the Oakland Convention Center located at 1001 Broadway in downtown Oakland.  

If you plan on attending the tryouts (for which there is no charge and which are based on a first come, first served basis) I suggest you get in line earlier than the scheduled 10AM door opening time. The first 300 in line will be admitted to audition. But even though the cut off time is 1PM, the actual tryouts inside the auditorium will last long past that -- until 6PM or possibly even later, so pack a sandwich and bring lots of water and sunscreen (you might be in line outside for hours). And another tip is to get lots of rest the night before so you are at your best.

A couple of months ago I attended one of the twice-a-year tryout sessions held in New York and wrote about it for the New York Press. What amazed me most was the level of quality talent that showed up to audition. I enjoyed the tryouts even more than the actual Amateur Night at the Apollo (held every Wednesday for the past 73 years) and am looking forward to attending the Oakland session -- I am scheduled to write a report about it for the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

If you go on Saturday be prepared, and know that you will have only up to ninety seconds to display your skills -- so, if for example you are a singer with a backing track burnt on CDR or cassette, have it ready in your hand to pass over to the sound tech person. The contest is open to all ages but children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Below are the exact rules of the audition. For even further information visit the Apollo Theater website.

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REDRUM, REDRUM: ALL THIS MURDER IS KILLING ME

Posted by Billyjam, June 20, 2007 02:10pm | Post a Comment

Murder is one those words that I hear every day and have for years and years and years, to the point, I fully admit, that I have become totally desensitized to its real meaning. Yep, to me, the more I hear the word murder, and especially the more I read it in yet another newspaper report, the more and more detached I seem to become from it. It has lost its initial intended meaning to me. In fact, right now as I type this and just think of the word MURDER in my head, I cannot help but hear the refrain from that classic 1993 dancehall reggae hit by Chaka Demus & Pliers, "Murder She Wrote," echoing happily in my skull: "murder she wrote, nah nahnah, murrrrder she wrote." So, to me, murder or that six letter word spelled backwards -- redrum (popularized by The Shining) -- is just another empty, meaningless word, or, even worse, alternately, it is a sexy catch-phrase, repeated in songs I hum, the theme of entertaining movies I watch, video games I play, books I read, and juicy headlines in morning newspapers I read as I sip my comforting coffee. So ultimately murder to me (and maybe to you too?) is just another hollow disposable word -- nothing more, nothing less. Unless, unless, that is, of course, that the word murder is directly connected to me personally or to somethe shiningone close to me.

So as I sat on the BART the other morning reading a small article in the Bay Area section of the San Francisco Chronicle under the heading "Two Murders In Oakland Over The Weekend," about a couple of unrelated fatal street shootings (one of them "gang related"), to be totally honest, it barely registered in my consciousness, just the same ol, same ol to this jaded soul. Until, that is, the location of one of the murders jumped off the page at me ("Fairview Ave. in the 100 block, north of Lake Merrit"). Damn! I realized that this was directly outside the apartment building where I stay. Later that day from talking to folks in the immediate East Bay neighborhood I found out all the killing's tragic details: that the murder happened on Friday night at 9:25PM. That it took place directly opposite the church (ironically) when a car screeched to a halt in the middle of the street with two guys audibly arguing inside. Both got out, still arguing loudly, and one shot the other nine times before hopping back into the driver's seat to speed away leaving the body of a 29 year old man bleeding to death on that chilly Oakland night.

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