Oakland Symphony performs radical social justice song of yore

Oakland Symphony was forced to cancel its season but they've continued to rehearse through Zoom. In lieu of its regular in-person concert, they performed their version of "This Land is Your Land" and posted it on YouTube. Its conductor, Michael Morgan, says of the song choice, "It's often misinterpreted as just another patriotic ditty. The reputation of its composer, Woody Guthrie, is smoothed over and sanitized. But the fact is, it was written in 1940 when many patriotic songs seemed to either exclude or present a very narrow vision of what it was to be American. 'This Land is Your Land' comes out of the bedrock of the social justice movement. It was an anthem of inclusion when inclusion was not mainstream. This song is radical. Woody Guthrie was a socialist, if not a communist, and his song is for everybody..."

Yes, he's talking about the same Woody Guthrie who had a sticker on his guitar that read, "THIS MACHINE KILLS FASCISTS":

screengrab via Oakland Symphony/YouTube; image via United States Library of Congress/Wikipedia Read the rest

Boots Riley teases new "dark, absurd" series "I'm a Virgo"

Some good news: Sorry to Bother You creator Boots Riley teased a new TV series, an "episodic joy ride" titled I'm a Virgo:

"I have a show about a 13-ft tall Black man who lives in Oakland. It’s called I’m A Virgo. Jharrel Jerome is playing the lead. I’m doing this w Michael Ellenberg’s Media Res. We haven’t decided on the network/streamer.It’ll be dark, absurd, hilarious, and important."

Check out the art (by Colin Laurel)!

photo by Redfishingboat (Mick O)//CC Read the rest

Oakland's past-curfew protest turns into a massive dance party

On Wednesday during a "Justice for George Floyd" protest, a late-night dance party broke out in downtown Oakland. Thousands of masked people took to the streets in this peaceful past-curfew street fête.

Robb Benson:

After several nights of violent confrontations with the police & the announcement by Minn Attorney General Keith Ellis of the elevation to 2nd degree murder for Derek Chauvin and aiding & abetting 2nd degree murder for the officers who were silent, Oakland responds to the City's curfew with a dance party. #Justice4GeorgeFloyd

screengrab via Robb Benson Read the rest

Call for Oakland muralists to paint boarded-up windows downtown

East Bay artists: got mural-painting skills? I've been informed by a friend-in-the-know that a loosely organized group has formed to cover up pre-primed window boards with art in downtown Oakland, California. They're looking for help and supply donations. Read on.

Redditor mtweiner shares some details:

We have 2-3 dozen spots boarded and primed, ready for any artists who want to come through. Most folks are out 10a-3pmish every day, starting at 13th & broadway.

Meet us at the Tribune Tower if you'd like to volunteer! Supplies can be provided for any artists who would like to join in. Spaces are ready to be painted!

...for those of you asking about donations, we currently don't have a specific fund set up. If you're local, any spray cans, ladders, poles, brushes, or paint you have around that you would like to donate please swing by 13th & Broadway - theres a building open collecting supply donations. Same goes for Tribune Tavern on Franklin & 13th.

Calling all Oakland Artists! We need help painting murals downtown from oakland

art/image by @dimebagdarla, used with permission Read the rest

Drone filmmaker captures Children's Fairyland from the view of a flying fairy — and it's downright magical

There's still magic in the world, as evidenced by this fairy's-eye view of Children's Fairyland, that charming 70-year-old storybook theme park in Oakland, California.

You might remember that when I'm not blogging, I work with Fairyland. WELL... months before we were mandated to shelter in place, a local photographer, Stephen Loewinsohn, contacted our team at Fairyland. He wanted to know if he could come in and capture the park by drone. He showed us some of his work samples (um, wow) and told us he was a lifelong fan of the park. He also told us the finished product would be a gift to us, no strings attached. OF COURSE we said yes! Naturally, none of us realized at the time that it would be the first comprehensive look our community would get from inside the park for months. But that's part of what makes it extra special. We premiered the video on Thursday evening, with great success, as the "cherry on top" to our reopening fundraising announcement.

At my request, Stephen shared his inspiration and thoughts on creating this video:

I grew up in Oakland and went to Fairyland as a kid. Now I have two young kids of my own, so Fairyland is a really special place for me and my family.

I've been working as a professional photographer and filmmaker in the Bay Area for many years, and lately I've been experimenting with building and flying custom camera drones with amazing acrobatic capabilities for specialized filming applications.

Read the rest

Children are becoming snail mail pen pals with Fairyland "elves" in this time of social distancing

You might remember that when I'm not blogging for Boing Boing, I can usually be found at my other gig — Children's Fairyland. Of course, the Oakland, California kiddie theme park is closed now and will be until it's safe to reopen. But, we do have a skeleton crew of essential "elves" who are on site to care for the donkeys, miniature horses, and other animals. While there, they also water our plants and check our mail. That's when we got the idea to offer the children in our community a chance to became pen pals with these "elves." We already have stacks of super-fun, kid-sized stationery, so launching it was just a matter of announcing it on social media.

The offer:

Play with us! Have your child draw us a picture or write us a note, and then snail mail it to us. Our "elves" promise to write back (on special Fairyland stationery designed by Oakland artist Michael Wertz, no less).

Send to: 699 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610

Well, in just a week, the response has already been incredible. Local children, plus some as as far away as Texas and Utah, have been sending us snail mail like crazy. Read the rest

Bikini Kill, Circle Jerks to headline Burger Boogaloo in 2020

Punk AF music festival Burger Boogaloo has announced its initial 2020 lineup:

DAY 1 /////////////////////// DAY 2 ...

BIKINI KILL ///////////////// CIRCLE JERKS

PLASTIC BERTRAND //// BLEACHED

PANSY DIVISION ///////// FLIPPER

PANTY RAID ////////////// ALICE BAG

CARBONAS /////////////// FEVERS

YOUNGER LOVERS ////// MIDNITE SNAXXX

TWOMPSAX ////////////// and MORE!!!

John Waters is emceeing once again and tickets are available now.

It all goes down Saturday July 11 and Sunday July 12, 2020 at Oakland, California's Mosswood Park. Read the rest

Unreal footage of a guy falling on subway tracks and getting saved in the nick of time

There are near misses and then there's this guy in Oakland, California who got saved just before a subway train creamed him. Wow!

BART's humble hero saves a passenger from fast approaching train. On Sunday, November 3, 2019, transportation supervisor, John O'Connor was working crowd control at the Coliseum Station after the Raiders game when an intoxicated passengers miss-stepped and fell into the trackway. John sprang into action and pulled him to safety.

(KQED) Read the rest

Fairyland donkeys react to classical music

Children's Fairyland, the mid-century theme park for little kids in Oakland, California, posted this video of their resident donkeys reacting to classical music that is too cute not to share.

Fairyland:

Donkeys get a kick out of classical music! We were testing out our PA system and Gideon and Chiquita got into it. As Brett, our staff mechanic, notes, "It's like a real-life Fantasia!"

When they aren't digging classical music (or doing whatever donkeys do), they can be found grazing on grass in the big field when the park is closed:

Previously on BB: Children's Fairyland, the mid-century storybook theme park that inspired Walt Disney and where Frank Oz got his start Read the rest

William Gibson, danah boyd and Oakland Privacy will all receive this year's EFF's Pioneer Award

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has announced the winners of this year's Pioneer Award (rechristened the "Barlow" in honor of EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow: sf writer William Gibson, anthropologist danah boyd, and activists Oakland Privacy. Read the rest

Oakland's iconic "Mid-century Monster" rescued

If you know Oakland, you know about the big, free-form sculpture that lives on the shores of Lake Merritt in Oakland. You probably also know that it's been behind a chain-link fence in disrepair for several years. But for a long time, it was not just a piece of art to appreciate but a usable play structure for children to climb in and on. Now, a local group of its fans have ensured the now-iconic "Monster" will live on.

In 1968, for their "Dance to the Music" album, Sly & the Family Stone posed on the "Monster."

The "Mid-Century Monster," as it's now called, was created in 1952. Oakland Parks Superintendent William Penn Mott, Jr., who had founded Children's Fairyland just two years earlier, asked local art professor Bob Winston to create the 40-foot, chartreuse sculpture.

The "Monster" in the 1950s, photo via Martha Ellen Wright

Many years later, however, the "Monster" fell into such disrepair that the city fenced it off and forgot about it. In 2015, an effort was launched by Lake Merritt's Mid-Century Monster Fan Club, led by Kyle Milligan and Susan Casentini, to bring it back to its former glory.

This is what the sculpture looked like just four years ago — blanched, broken, and behind a fence. image via Lake Merritt's Mid-Century Monster Fan Club

Earlier this year, the restoration was complete, and on Sunday, July 28, from 11 to 3 the club will be hosting a free party to celebrate at the site. The public is invited. Read the rest

Children's Fairyland, the mid-century storybook theme park that inspired Walt Disney and where Frank Oz got his start

Oakland, California is home to a real gem of a storybook theme park. Located next to Lake Merritt, Children's Fairyland has been delighting families of young children since 1950. As the story goes, Walt Disney himself visited Fairyland in 1955 and soon after built Disneyland, incorporating ideas he learned at the park. He also hired Fairyland's first director, as well as one of its puppeteers, to work at his new amusement park in Anaheim.

While Disney's parks went the commercial route, Fairyland turned into a nonprofit after many years of being managed by the city. It remains the charming, lakeside mid-century park where no adult is allowed in the park without a child** and no child is allowed without an adult.

How do I know all of this? Well, I'm excited to share that I've started working with Fairyland. When I first moved to the Bay Area in the mid-1990s, I lived across the street from Lake Merritt and, as a childless young person, I often wondered what was going behind the giant (Old Lady in the) shoe. I remember devising ways to get in, eventually waiting until I had a baby to pass through its gates for the first time. When my daughter (who's now a teenager) was little, she and I visited many times together. Believe me when I say that it's a great thrill for me to be on the "inside" of this Bay Area institution.

Bert, Fairyland Master Puppeteer Lewis Mahlmann, and Frank Oz in August of 1970. Read the rest

The World’s Smallest Post Service to open a magical brick-and-mortar experience in Oakland

After ten years of making and sending custom tiny mail for people via her online transcription service, Postmaster/artist Lea Redmond is dreaming big. She is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter to bring a magical brick-and-mortar World’s Smallest Post Service to a vintage storefront in downtown Oakland. Yes, you'll be able to experience the joy of tiny mail in person!

The installation will feature an early 1900s oak post office counter (which she scored off of Craigslist), a bank of brass eagle P.O. boxes, and other delights such as dioramas and letter-writing nights. Back her Kickstarter project to send tiny mail and to get some gorgeous commemorative faux postage stamp sheets by Oakland artist Michael Wertz (shown above).

The World’s Smallest Post Service started out as a quirky roaming postal office around the SF Bay Area, and since then Lea and her postal pals have crafted and sent tens of thousands of tiny letters and packages to loved ones all over the world. In addition to single custom tiny letters and packages, they offer DIY tiny mail stationery kits, tiny serial stories called “Keep Me Posted,” secret admirer Valentine’s chocolates, and other charming wee things.

I'm a huge fan!

(RED) Read the rest

Save the Vulcan! 200 working-class Oakland artists are crowfunding to save their homes and fight the-rent-is-too-damned-high

[Editor's note: Xeno Evil is an Oakland artist fighting to save their home; I'm happy to help them with their campaign -Cory]

The historic Vulcan Lofts in Oakland, CA are up for sale and nearly 200 working-class Bay Area artists are at risk of losing our homes. In order to save the Vulcan, we’ve founded a tenant’s union, hired several attorneys, and petitioned the City of Oakland to put the building under rent control. Our hearing with the rent board is coming up very soon and we need to raise $50k in the next month to cover legal costs. Please support us by donating to our cause and sharing our crowdfunding campaign with your network. We love you. Read the rest

Oakland teachers' union declares total victory after seven-day strike

Well, that didn't take long: after seven days on strike, the Oakland teacher's union has received an offer that they say capitulates on every major point at issue in the strike, including the stealth privatization of Oakland schools through vouchers and charter schools. Read the rest

Striking West Virginia teachers won swift and decisive victory; Oakland next?

2019 has seen a string of bold and successful teachers' strikes that built on last years' #RedForEd strikes: the new wave of strikes goes beyond paychecks and funding, though, and takes aim at charter schools as a system for the stealth privatization of public education. Read the rest

Oakland's tech startups are reportedly being gentrified out of their spaces by deep-pocketed marijuana growers

Former Wired editor-in-chief and drone entrepreneur Chris Anderson tweets: "Hearing from tech startups getting priced out of Oakland warehouse space because of soaring demand for indoor hydroponic pot farms. Yes, because it's 2019 and everything is nuts *techies are being gentrified out of neighborhoods by drug dealers.*" Read the rest

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