Entertainment

‘Culture is healing’: Native American Health Center celebrates 50 years in Bay Area

Charlene Harrison hadn’t danced at a powwow in 10 years. But on Saturday, the site director at Oakland’s Native American Health Center wore her jingle dress, stepped into the grass circle at Merritt College, and danced alongside family members underneath a burning sun.  “I’m a third-generation powwower,” said Harrison, who is Pomo, Paiute and Navajo. “This is what I know. So slipping on those old bear shoes, it feels right.”   Thousands of people came out to celebrate NAHC’s 50th birthday…

VIDEO: Celebrating the nation’s oldest continuous puppet theater, a Fairyland tradition

Fairyland’s Storybook Puppet Theater at Lake Merritt held its 65th annual Puppet Fair Weekend at the end of August, inviting children to discover what is said to be the oldest continuously operating puppet theater in the country. Joining the Storybook puppeteers for live performances was Bob Baker’s Marionettes, the oldest children’s theater company in Los Angeles. The celebration last Saturday and Sunday included a new Vietnamese show called “Tam and Cam,” the first offering in what Storybook anticipates will be…

New documentary celebrates Oakland’s ‘last Black cowboy’

Half a dozen people sporting cowboy hats and boots stood in a queue outside of Eli’s Mile High Club, chatting in hushed excitement, some squeezing together for selfies.  The occasion was the Oct. 2 premiere of “Cowboy,” a documentary about the life of “Oakland’s last Black cowboy,” 80-year-old Wilbert Freeman McAlister. He is president of the Oakland Black Cowboy Association, which is a non-profit focused on preserving the history of African Americans who were crucial to the establishment of the…

The lights are on but flickering at Video Room, where you can still rent movies and chat with cinephiles

One of the  last video rental stores in Oakland runs on a hope, a prayer and an infusion of cash from owner Joseph Lum’s retirement savings.  Close to 40,000 DVDs line the narrow shelves at Video Room, which Lum opened in 1983 on Broadway and College Avenue but was forced to downsize — three locations later — to a storefront on Piedmont Avenue. That the business has survived the rise and fall of corporate video stores, the advent of Netflix…

African-American Shakespeare Co. returns to the Oakland stage with free weekend show

Oakland is the newest playground for the African-American Shakespeare Company’s upcoming tour of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged, Revised.” Coming to Jack London Square this Saturday, the play challenges three actors to perform 75 characters from 37 of the bard’s plays in just under an hour and a half. The Complete Works was slated to hit the stage in September 2020, but as COVID-19 devastated the theater industry, AASC joined many of the nation’s theater companies in pushing…

First Fridays finally returns with food, music, fun in KONO

At his family-owned halal market Thursday morning, Temur Khwaja cut and marinated chicken and lamb for kebab at Marwa Market & Grill. “We need to prepare for First Friday tomorrow,” said Khwaja, anticipation in his voice, sweat on his brow. Local businesses and restaurants in the Koreatown Northgate (KONO) neighborhood are preparing for the relaunching of the Oakland First Fridays festival tonight. First Fridays is a monthly street festival held by KONO Community Benefit District. Eighteen months after the pandemic…

Oakland Pride Month is going strong, with some events live and others virtual

Oakland Pride Month is celebrated through September and features myriad events. But this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic still a menace, the celebrations have been varied.  Oakland Pride’s festival was initially scheduled to take place in person. But it switched to virtual around a week before because of safety concerns.  But in person at Lake Merritt last Saturday, dozens of people gathered under white tents for the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center’s inaugural Pride in the Park: LGBTQ + Health &…