Wanda’s Picks for Oct. 31, 2008

wanda-sabir, Wanda’s Picks for Oct. 31, 2008, Culture Currents by Wanda Sabir

August Wilson

The Oakland Metro Operahouse, 630 Third St., (510) 763-1146, closes its current run of “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” this weekend, on Nov. 2, as does Laney College Theatre’s wonderful adaptation of August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson,” directed by Michael Torres with its final show at Laney Saturday, Nov. 1, at 900 Fallon St. in Oakland. TheatreWorks’ equally phenomenal production, directed by scholar Harry Elam, “Radio Golf,” August Wilson’s final play in the centennial cycle, also closes Nov. 2 at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts, and Berkeley Rep is having previews for its run of “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.” How lucky can we get: three August Wilson gems on stage at the same time?! Visit www.theatreworks.org and www.berkeleyrep.org.


I looked around to see what Black films were still in the theatres and found Spike Lee’s adaptation of James McBride’s novel gone, along with Tyler Perry’s. The only film left is the “Bee” film, which is not a Black film, per se; it just stars many Black women artists, among them Alfre Woodard and Queen Latifah.

The film “Equinox” will be shown at the HEAL (Help Educate And Liberate) Conference Saturday, Nov. 1, 1:30 p.m., at the Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, Richmond. Film director Baayan Bakari is very proud to be bringing this film back to his hometown. “Richmond has given so much; it’s exciting to be able to give back!”

Film synopsis: In a community where real men are increasingly hard to find, 18-year-old Malachi joins a rites of passage program to learn the true definition of manhood. What he learns is put to the test when his girlfriend resists his growth, his mother abuses his father, his sister’s provocative lifestyle endangers her safety and he’s asked to join a revolution against the local radio station. DVDs are on sale now at www.equinoxmovie.com.

’68 SF State Student Strike

Commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the San Francisco State Strike and the creation of Black Studies is Oct. 29-Nov. 1. Visit www.sfsu.edu/%7Eethnicst/downloads/PROGRAM%20for%2040TH.doc for the complete schedule.

‘Hurricane Season’ at MACLA in San Jose, ‘A Raisin in the Sun’ at Malonga Center

I have been trying to get to see this production since I heard of it back in March this year. The La Pena show was sold out by the time I arrived last Saturday, so I left and went to closing night for “A Raisin in the Sun” at the Malonga Center for the Arts Theatre in Oakland and it was magnificent! It would have been great given the excellent ensemble headlined by Achebe Hoskins, but with Tarika Lewis on violin and Destiny Muhammad on harp, it was an evening to remember.

So by the time the show ended and I’d said hi to everyone – many of the cast also cast in the Baayan Bakari film, “Equinox” – it was pleasant to see the actors’ range, especially Achebe Hoskins, whose character in this play, the son who needed so much to be a man, material wealth that he assumed necessary to accomplish this feat, was so different from the character he portrayed in the film. The similarities were that both needed to step up and be men – adults – because their refusal to carry their weight as men was having an adverse effect on the lives of the ones closest to them: wives, children and, in the case of “Raisin,” mother.

The plan was to leave La Pena after “Hurricane Season,” which had a line down the block, and then head over to Ashkenaz to celebrate Femi Kuti’s birthday with the West African Highlife Band, but because I was once again in Oakland, at 11:30 p.m. I decided to head home. Earlier that day I’d gone over to the Oakland Community School to celebrate their 35th anniversary. That was another great event!

So anyway, I am going to try to get in Sunday night at the final Bay Area “Hurricane Season” event, which my friend Leroy Moore says is “off the charts!” “Hurricane Season” is at the Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, Inc. (MACLA), 510 S. First St., San Jose, (408) 998-2783, Sunday, Nov. 2, 7 p.m. You can purchase advance tickets at Brownpapertickets.com. Visit www.maclaarte.org/ and www.climbingpoetree.com.

Dia de Los Muertos

To the memory of Louis “Studs” Terkel (May 16, 1912 – Oct. 31, 2008) always a fighter for justice with all his intellect, with all his heart. Let us all take up his torch.

To make an ofrenda (offering to the dead): The Heart of Death

We make, we form
the heart of death –
of flowers
of yellow flowers
of marigolds –
of water
of clear water
comfort of thirst –
of bread
of corn, of wheat
our sustenance –
of food and drink
of our nutrition
that gives the palate delight –
of light
of light that shows the way,
desire of night moths –
of sugar skulls
of candy skulls
sweet as fleeting life –
of copal, of sage, of incense
perfumed smoke
that invokes the gods –
of flower and song
of flower and song we make
the heart of death.

© Rafael Jesús González 2008

Maafa Altar a part of Laney College’s Dia de los Muertos exhibit

The June Steingart Gallery presents Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) from Nov. 3 to 15. This year’s theme is “If the Dead Could Vote,” which will explore choices that we make which are political, economic and social. The dead have no interest other than the wellness of all who exist on earth.

The Dia de Los Muertos is a celebration and a Meso-American tradition honoring our ancestors and remembering them with our friends, family and community. Part of the celebration is to make fun of death and the absurdity of societal norms. This tradition invites all to participate, knowing that other traditions are very similar.

TaSin Sabir and Neter Aameri have an altar for the ancestors in this show. Please join us for the show and participate in our community altars. The reception will be held on Monday, Nov. 3, from 5 to 7 p.m. For more information, call the June Steingart Gallery at (510) 464-3586 or artgallery@peralta.edu.

Though seen as a Mexican tradition, all cultures remember their dead. In African culture, the ancestors or egun are said to never leave one’s side. It is we who forget them. In Haiti, on Nov. 2, the community recognizes Gede, the loa or spirit of the crossroads between life and death. Decked in purples and black, he is a trickster, Ezili Danto told me in an interview on Wanda’s Picks Radio Friday, Oct. 31, in the 10-10:40 segment of the show. Visit www.wandaspicks.asmnetwork.org.

The notion of tricks and treats is an African one. Gede is also the loa of fertility. I thought it interesting that in Haitian traditional compounds, the dead are buried nearby, so that one can greet the ancestor’s remains daily – death a part of life.

Fet Gede: Festival of the Ancestors

haitian-fet-gede-nov-2-ceremony, Wanda’s Picks for Oct. 31, 2008, Culture Currents Fet Gede Twa: Festival of the Ancestors, featuring Peniel Guerrier, master dancer, choreographer and artistic director of Tamboula Afro-Haitian Dance Company of New York and Haiti, is Saturday, Nov. 4, 7:30-9 p.m., at City Dance Studios, 32 Otis St. – entrance on Brady at Colton Street – in San Francisco, www.citydance.org. The Dance Workshop is $15. There’s an after party immediately following: food! fun! Haitian music and more!

On Sunday, Nov. 2, Fet Gede Senk:Festival of the Ancestors will be celebrated at the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 14th St., Oakland, Second Floor, Studio A, 12-6 p.m., $15-$20 sliding scale, hosted by Regina Califa Calloway and featuring Porsha Jefferson, Blanche Brown, Petit Le Croix and Lee Iyayo Hetelson and friends. Live Haitian drumming will be provided by a surprise guest flying in from Haiti. Partial proceeds will benefit Bibliotheque de Soleil resource center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. For more information, email raratoulimen@yahoogroups.com and visit www.myspace.com/raratoulimen.

haitian-fet-gede-nov-2-feast-for-ancestors1, Wanda’s Picks for Oct. 31, 2008, Culture Currents Fet Gede, a national holiday in Haiti, is the Haitian celebration of All Souls Day. It is a time of both jubilant celebration and a time to fondly remember those who have passed on. For this occasion, please wear purple, black and white, the traditional colors for Gede.

Brazilian Dance Theater

The Brazilian Dance Theater Workshops and Performance feature Isaura Oliveira, actress, master dancer and choreographer from Bahia, Brazil, with special guests, also from Brazil, Rosangela Silvestre and Jorge Alabe, masters in transe and performers of aqui e agora. Workshops are Saturdays, 12:30-2 p.m., Nov. 1-Dec. 20. There is no class Nov 29. Classes are $12-$15 sliding scale per Saturday for drop-ins or $90 for full session with performance opportunity Dec. 20. The classes will be held at Dance Mission Theater, 24th Street at Mission in San Francisco, (415) 826-4441. Visit www.dancemission.com. For more information, email isaurabrasil@hotmail.com.

Obama events

For all the latest Obama news, visit www.barackobama.com/index.php. And go to http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/makecalls to make calls for Obama at home from your own phone – that’s what Willie Ratcliff is doing – or at a phone banking center. It’s easy and fun!

Celestine’s Restaurant hosts Obama Election Returns Party

On election night, Nov. 4, join your friends at Celestine’s, 8475 Edes Ave., Oakland, (510) 633-2536. Admission is free and patrons can watch the election night coverage on large TVs. There will be a special election night menu. To RSVP, email varnerpr@sbcglobal.net or call (415) 987-9732.

Freedom of Art: Election Night ‘08

The hottest election night party in town, on Tuesday, Nov 4, 6-11 p.m., is called Freedom of Art: Election Night ’08 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St., San Francisco, (415) 978-ARTS. Calling all Obamaphiles and McCaniacs, hockey-moms and Joe Six-packs, Democrats and Republicans, Independents and Undecideds: On Nov. 4, votes will be cast and the longest presidential campaign in American history will finally be over. This historic election will usher in a new day in America and it will be time to set aside our differences, reach across the aisle, join hands in solidarity, bury the hatchet, raise a glass and party like it’s 1999!

YBCA invites all artists, art lovers and artistic citizens of San Francisco to join us for up-to-the-minute election coverage, music, performances and FREE PIZZA WHEN THE POLLS CLOSE! You can also write on the walls, tell us what you think the world will look like in four years, help us create a time capsule to commemorate this historic event and make your voice heard.

But the best part, my friends, is that in this time of economic uncertainty – IT’S FREE! But there will be a surcharge for all adult beverages. Don’t spend election night at home alone, biting your nails and wringing your hands. Join us and help spread the word about the hottest election night party in town!

Featured artists: Hella Hella Acapella with Lara Maykovich, Maya Dorm, Nichole Rodriguez, Marissa Greene and Madeleina Bolduc; Sri Satya Ritual Movement with Micah Allison, Isis, Indriya and Nikilah Badua; Anahata Sound; Derick Ion and the Satya Yuga Collective; Dancing the Dead Dharma (Sara Shelton Mann and Dance Brigade); Alleluia Panis and Dwayne Calizo; Anna Halprin; DJ Wey South; DJ Aztec Parrot with YBCA Young Artists at Work; rigzen; Maji; Sara Shelton Mann; Dance Brigade; Bruce Ghent; Rajendra Serber; Sonya Smith; Kira Maria Kirsch; Folawole Oyinlola; Lena Gatchalian; Sarah Bush; Hana Erdman; Karen Elliot; Richelle Donigan; Kimberly Valmore; Krissy Keefer and D. Scot Miller.

San Francisco Open Studios at Hunters Point Shipyard

Pick Up on Art at the last weekend of San Francisco Open Studios: Weekend 5, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 1-2, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., at Hunters Point Shipyard. To download a map and the list of artists, visit www.artspan.org/pdf/2008SFOpenStudiosMap_Weekend5.pdf.

Directions to Hunters Point Shipyard:
• From north or south on Highway 101, take the Cesar Chavez exit. Go east on Cesar Chavez. Turn right onto Evans. Evans becomes Innes near the PG&E plant and brings you to the Shipyard front gate.
• From north or south on Highway 280, take the Cesar Chavez exit. Go east on Cesar Chavez. Turn right onto Third Street. Turn left onto Evans. Evans becomes Innes near the PG&E plant and brings you to the Shipyard front gate.

Annual Watershed Poetry and the Environment Event in Berkeley

If you aren’t out canvassing for the election, join Poetry Flash and the Ecology Center for a Day of the Dead spirit-raising gathering, with diverse poets reading from their works and responding to the state of the planet. Please tell your friends and spread the word: Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival, Berkeley Civic Center Park, downtown Berkeley alongside the Berkeley Farmers’ Market, Saturday, Nov. 1, noon to 4 p.m. There will be chairs to sit on in the park! In case of rain, the festival will be moved to Berkeley City College Auditorium and Atrium, 2050 Center St., downtown Berkeley.

Poetry should be able to comprehend the earth,
Something of the earth beyond our human dramas.
– Robert Hass

We are Nature Open Mic starts at noon, slots chosen by drawing at the event, followed by poetry, music and exhibits featuring Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning poet Robert Hass, “Time and Materials”; Brenda Hillman, “Cascadia” and the forthcoming “Practical Water”; Jane Hirshfield, “After”; California Poet Laureate Al Young, “Something About the Blues” with Dan Robbins on bass; Joseph Lease, “Broken World”; Camille Dungy, “What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison”; poet and percussionist Avotcja with Eugene Warren on bass; Sonoma County Poet Laureate Mike Tuggle, “Absolute Elsewhere”; poet and eco-educator Chris Olander; performance poets Grace Fae and Grace Tea; and “Poetry Flash” editor and poet Richard Silberg.

Robert Hass will present student and youth poets from River of Words and California Poets in the Schools. Poet and translator John Oliver Simon presents bilingual student poets from Poetry Inside Out.

Environmental updates: Kirstin Miller of EcoCity Builders presents Peter Berg of Planet Drum. There will be a “Daylighting” discussion on restoring Strawberry Creek in downtown Berkeley. And Kirk Lumpkin of the Ecology Center and Berkeley Farmers’ Market presents Eugene Cordero, “Cool Cuisine: Taking the Bite Out of Global Warming.”

Exhibitors include Manic D Press, Heyday Books, Ecology Center Book Tent, Tea Party magazine, California Poets in the Schools, Sixteen Rivers Press, River of Words, Planet Drum, City of Berkeley Environmental Services and more!

Come and pick up the beautiful new Watershed broadside of Brenda Hillman’s Practical Water. For more information, contact Mark Baldridge, (510) 526-9105 or mbb@poetryflash.org, or visit www.poetryflash.org.

Oakland Public Library News

On Oct. 21 the Oakland City Council voted to drastically reduce vital library services such as the Book Mobile, personnel hiring and library hours. Visit www.oaklandlibrary.org.

Election assistance on the issues available at the library website

Bay Area libraries are urging you to find out about the issues and candidates on the November ballot by visiting your local library or going to www.wearefree2.org/free2vote.php. This website provides you with links to all the resources you’ll need to get to know the candidates, view their voting records and learn about the various propositions. In addition, the League of Women Voters’ http://ca.lwv.org/index.html and its www.lwvoakland.org/ offer pros and cons on the state and local ballot initiatives.

The Oakland Public Library also provides election tables where candidates and parties can display their campaign materials. We carry the Easy Voter Guide in several languages.

Use your library to be an informed voter. Get out and vote on Nov. 4!

Cultural Events at AAMLO

November promises to be an action-filled month at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO). A pair of book signings will give readers a chance to meet authors face to face, and a panel discussion is sure to shed new light on AAMLO’s current exhibit. All events are free to the public.

On Nov. 1, at 2 p.m., Eva Rutland will share her memoir, “When We Were Colored: a Mother’s Story.” The book chronicles the lives of an ordinary yet extraordinary “colored” family as they move from segregation on to integration during the turbulent Civil Rights era of the 1950s and ‘60s.

On Nov. 8, at 2 p.m., Alice C. Royal will share her family history with “Allensworth, the Freedom Colony: A California African American Township.” Founded in 1908, Allensworth, some 30 miles north of Bakersfield, was California’s first African American settlement. Ms. Royal was born in Allensworth.

On Nov. 22, at 3 p.m., AAMLO will host “Literary Works on Trial,” a panel discussion concerning themes explored in AAMLO’s current exhibit, “Banned and Recovered: Artists Respond to Censorship.” Moderator Jan Wurm will be joined by David Greene, director of the First Amendment Project, and artists Richard Kamler, Eileen Moderbacher, Justin Hoover and Barbara Milman. The topic of discussion will be landmark legal cases as they relate to the literary works featured in the exhibit.

AAMLO is located at 659 14th St., Oakland. For more information, call (510) 637-0200 or www.oaklandlibrary.org/AAMLO/index.html.

Mocha Recycled Art Workshops

Kids can create art and learn about the four R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot – at the Re-Create Workshops at several locations. Representatives from the Museum of Children’s Art will be on hand to show us how to reuse discarded materials to make art. Participants can enter their work in Re-Create, Oakland’s citywide art competition and exhibition! For more information about the workshops, call (510) 238-3615.

• Main Library, Children’s Room, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 3:30 p.m.
• Golden Gate Branch, Thursday, Nov. 6, 3:30 p.m.
• Rockridge Branch, Thursday, Nov. 6, 3:30 p.m.

Day of the Dead Folk Art

At César Chávez branch, children can make Indo-Hispanic folk art for Day of the Dead altars. This workshop takes place on Nov. 1 at 11:30 a.m. Chávez Branch is located at 3301 East 12th St., Suite 271. For information, call (510) 535-5620.

Wings in the Night

Do you think bats are scary? Learn the truth about them by attending this slide show and meeting some live bats!

• Martin L. King Jr. Branch, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2 p.m.
• Lakeview Branch, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 1 p.m.

‘100 Greatest Black Power Moves,’ five-part TV-One series

Beginning Sunday, Nov. 9, 10 p.m. ET, TV One will premiere an original, five-hour special chronicling the unforgettable moments, cultural movements and personal achievement that have advanced the Black race and helped change the course of American history over the past century in “100 Greatest Black Power Moves.” Arsenio Hall, the groundbreaking television host who literally changed the face of late-night television, will host the special, which will air over five consecutive nights, covering 20 power moves each night from 10-11 p.m. ET, culminating with the top 20 – and the No. 1 moment – on Thursday, Nov. 13.

The special will encompass power moves from a wide cultural and historic perspective, from unwavering civil rights leaders to Nobel Prize-winning literary giants to independent-thinking film directors to a pop star who “Beat It.” The special will highlight African-American pioneers and awe-inspiring moments such as the 1968 Olympic medalists proudly raising their fists in the air in support of Black Power; Thurgood Marshall’s induction into the Supreme Court; the birth of Motown records; Bill Cosby becoming the knowledgeable, advice-giving father figure for the American television audience; Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” becoming one of the top selling albums of all time; the emergence of Rap music as a voice of the inner city; Malcolm X’s stance of self-preservation “By Any Means Necessary”; the steadfast determination of the Little Rock Nine as they helped to desegregate the school system; and, of course, Barack Obama’s historic bid for the presidency.

With a unique blend of reverence, “tell it like it is” attitude and a little bit of humor, this highly entertaining series promises to give a historical perspective as well as an inspirational walk through of the best and most celebrated moments of the African-American experience. The power moves will be presented with a fast-paced display of memorable imagery, the most-up-to-date graphic technology and soulful music, transporting the viewer to times and places that should never be forgotten.

Through in-depth interviews, viewers will hear firsthand accounts of many of these power moves from those who witnessed or took part in these moments or personal achievements, lived to talk about it and reflect on their impact on the American culture. The special will include commentary from scholars Michael Eric Dyson , Dr. Molefi Kete Asante and William Jelani Cobb; cultural critics Chuck D, Michaela Angela Davis and Emil Wilbekin, Hip Hop pioneer Russell Simmons, rising politician Kevin Powell; and a host of celebrities, comedians, journalists and radio personalities for a lighter and somewhat irreverent view of the power moves.

Episode 1 will repeat at 11 p.m. ET Sunday, Nov. 9, and, beginning on Monday, Nov. 10, the preceding night’s episode will air at 9 p.m., with both episodes repeating 1-3 a.m. ET each night through Thursday, Nov. 13. Visit TV One at www.tvoneonline.com.

Black Farmers in Oakland

Saturday, Nov. 1, rain or shine, the Mo’ Better Food Market will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Seventh Street and Mandela Parkway in West Oakland. Saturday they are featuring black-eyed peas and purple hull peas – already shelled for your quick consumption – and a variety of other crops grown by the African American farmers of California.

Cell Phones vs. Cell Fools

A lecture entitled “Cell Phones vs. Cell Fools” is Saturday, Nov. 8, 5-10:30 p.m., at True Gospel Missionary Baptist Church, 835 29th St., Oakland. The keynote speaker is Dr. Delbert Blair, a historian, engineer, minister and educator who touches on some very controversial subjects, such as UFOS and inter-planetary beings. Dr. Blair has dedicated over 48 years of vital study and research and it is an honor for us to bring him to the Bay Area for the first time ever by the African Earth Society.

The extra low frequency electronic disease that people are contracting is killing them because they don’t have the information about how the cell phones, blue tooths, microwaves, computers and cell phone towers that are being constructed everywhere are all shooting radiation into our minds and bodies. For information, contact AfricanEarthSociety@yahoo.com.

Vukani Mawethu Choir’s 22nd Anniversary

vukani-mawethu, Wanda’s Picks for Oct. 31, 2008, Culture Currents The Vukani Mawethu Choir will mark its 22nd anniversary with the Ubuntu Awards Benefit Celebration on Saturday, Nov. 15, at the First Presbyterian Church, on 27th at Broadway in Oakland. Proceeds will benefit AIDS projects that Vukani supports, as well as helping enable some of our members to make our next cultural and humanitarian tour of Southern Africa in April 2009. See a partial list of Vukani donation recipients at www.vukani.com.

This will be a very special evening, honoring Fania E. Davis, attorney, dancer, community activist and keeper of the spirit, with our first Ubuntu Award (ubuntu means humanity towards others) and also an evening of first-rate entertainment: In addition to the harmonic sounds of Vukani Mawethu, we’ll be hearing Goapele, an R&B and soul songstress whose performances at Yoshi’s sell out instantly, Carolyn Brandy and Ojala, a dynamite Afro-Cuban percussion group with dancers, and a very special celebrity guest MC. There will also be a Silent Auction with many enticing items available.

Tickets are $50 per person and $500 for a table of 10, although we also have Black, Gold, and Green tables available at higher costs with special amenities. Any donations over these minimums will be most appreciated as well. If you would like to be a table host, email or call us. You can pay by check to Vukani Mawethu Choir, P.O. Box 98, Oakland, CA 94604. You can also pay online at www.vukani.com with your credit card via PayPal. For more information, call (510) 444-5009 or email admin@vukani.com.

Bay View Arts Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at wsab1@aol.com. Visit her website and blog at www.wandaspicks.com for an expanded version of Wanda’s Picks, her photos and her radio show.