Amoeblog

"Fruitvale Station" Is A Must-See Movie, Especially For Those In The Bay Area

Posted by Billyjam, July 17, 2013 01:54pm | Post a Comment


Fruitvale Station
- the award winning film about Oscar Grant that opened over the past weekend in select US city theaters and opens nationwide next week - is a highly recommended, really well made movie that anyone anywhere should enjoy viewing. But for those from the Oakland/Bay Area where the film's storyline is set (and filmed) the Ryan Coogler written and directed independent film will be particularly enjoyable, albeit sad and emotionally charged, since the storyline strikes so close to home. "Based on a true story" and capturing the final 24 + hours of the ill-fated life of the 22 year old African American, Hayward resident, who was famously shot and killed by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle in the early hours of New Year's Day 2009 in the BART station that carries the film's title, Fruitvale Station needs no spoiler alert. Unless you were living under a rock for the past four and a half years you know exactly what went down on that fateful day. Besides the film both opens and closes with the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant - the beginning done in that hand held phone/video style that most round the world saw on YouTube and the end in film style.  Like any really good film where you already know the outcome of its storyline Fruitvale Station is such a well written, acted, and perfectly paced film that even knowing exactly how the story will unfold audiences were still silently glued to the screen - truly a testament to the skill of first time director/Richmond CA resident Ryan Coogler.

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"Son of the Hood" Shady Nate Talks About His West Oakland Neighborhood, LiveWire, etc.

Posted by Billyjam, December 19, 2011 07:01pm | Post a Comment
A founding member of LiveWire Records West Oakland's Shady Nate is a local rap hero and long a popular artist with both Bay Area rap fans and fans nationwide of the mobb street style of rap that he and his LiveWire potnas (including J Stalin, Philthy Rich, and Stevie Joe) all deliver. He grew up in West Oakland's notoriously violent Acorn housing projects on 7th Street not far from the West Oakland BART station - an area that has gone through much changes over the past decade - and, while a gifted hip-hop artist who has enjoyed moderate success from his art, has gotten caught up in the street life and spent a good deal of the past decade either incarcerated or under house arrest. However thanks to his ever optimistic, upbeat outlook Shady Nate has managed to write and/or record music and boasts an impressive discography that includes  - much of it with his fellow rap artists in the tight knit LiveWire collective - the label he launched in 2004 along with J Stalin and Jay Jonah.  I recently caught up with Shady Nate to talk about rap music, West Oakland, and how he got the name Shady Nate?

"I got my name from my hood: the notorious Acorn Projects - the only projects in Oakland period. They say everybody in my hood is Shady. I'm from a shady hood and Acorn niggas ain't cool and all that. So I named myself Shady Nate just to let people know what it is," Nate told me. Known for caring about his West Oakland neighborhood and giving back to his community (Nate has been responsible for throwing BBQ's in his neighborhood for the kids coming up over the past two summers) I was curious to know what Nate thought of West Oakland today versus ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago. Is it better or worse than when he was a kid coming up? "That's a tough one," he answered, pausing for a second and considering all of the so-called "development" that taken place in West Oakland in the past decade. "Yes they're putting money into the city; they're rebuilding but they're not putting money back into the right places. They're not putting money into the schools so while they're rebuilding the structures, the buildings, they're not rebuilding the community, the people. So the people is getting worse. It's a lot worse from when I was a youngster. People might have thought I was crazy but now the people that is coming up under me they is even more sick. I can't say it's getting better. I really think it's getting worse."

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West Oakland's Annual Hip-Hop Themed "Life Is Living Festival" @ DeFremery Park Was A Peaceful, Positive, Uplifting Event

Posted by Billyjam, October 11, 2011 06:00pm | Post a Comment
Further proof that a hip-hop event in Oakland can be a peaceful, positive & uplifting, as well as extremely entertaining occurrence was offered up once again this past Saturday (Oct 8th) at the annual hip-hop themed Life Is Living Festival in West Oakland's historic DeFremery Park. Now in its third year the multi-faceted hip-hop themed event, that featured live music performances (including Los Rakas, Pete Escoveda, Jennifer Johns, and ?uestlove), interactive art, graffiti art (Estria's 5th Annual Graffiti Battle Finals), and lots of speakers and booths disseminating information on healthy living. It was just fantastic, as was balmy Bay Area Indian Summer weather that accompanied it.  I arrived mid afternoon at the event that began at 11am and unfortunately missed the set by Latin music legend Pete Escovedo and his orchestra. Luckily however I was there in time to catch another Latin flavor East Bay group: the hip-hop duo of Los Rakas who live in Oakland but are from Panama and rap mostly in Spanish. Their set, while not quite as long their recent one at the Hella Fresh festival at the Fillmore, was pure energetic fun with the audience of several hundred grooving to their infectious melange of contemporary Oakland hip-hop and reggae flavors.

Meanwhile scattered around the grounds of the East Bay park, which as one of the speakers on stage reminded folks features as its centerpiece a beautiful century old Victorian building, were drummers, art tables, food and clothing vendors, and various live graffiti installations. These various vibrant live aerosol art installations were all part of the weekend long 5th Annual Estria Graffiti Arts Festival which began two nights earlier with the Can Film Festival in SF and an exhibit at Oakland's SMSHBX Gallery, and continued the night before in downtown Oakland with various events that coincided with First Fridays and included the Pecha Kucha Night at the Oaksterdam University with all women artists under the title "Women Creating Public Art." The graffiti artists on Saturday, as part of the Life is Living Festival in DeFermery Park, included Doves (NY), Meres (NY), Woier (LA), Level (LA), Katch (HI), Ckaweeks (HI), and Vyal (LA) who took the title this weekend for the second year in a row.

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THE CHURCHES OF WEST OAKLAND (Pt. 1)

Posted by Billyjam, June 24, 2008 06:43pm | Post a Comment
      
 

One of the distinctive features of the expansive East Bay city of Oakland is the amount of churches that dot its wide landscape from Deep East Oakland to North Oakland, and of course West Oakland. Churches are everywhere --every few blocks in most parts of Oakland it seems there's a church building.

What's so wonderful about these churches is how they range so widely in architectural styles and types.

Each church boasts its own unique structure and they vary from the fancy to the functional. 

If time allows, it's fun to leisurely travel Oakland's streets and take in their beauty.

Click on this website for a list of many (not all) of the churches of Oakland. But really, you don't need a guide to find them.  Go anywhere in Oakland and you'll pass a church within no time.

West Oakland (the red part in opposite map of Oakland) is a good place to start where there's a church on every second or third block. As a result the churches of West Oakland play a key role in defining the image of this East Bay neighborhood. However, with the fast advancing gentrification that's been going on in West Oakland in recent years, many longtime residents may be forced out due to rising real estate value. 

Hence economics would dictate that many of these little West Oakland churches, most of which draw a steady but small congregation every Sunday, will in short time become an endangered species, so if you want to see them in all their beauty do it now.

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