Culture

Boxes, buckets, Buicks and Chevies: Sideshows are at a crossroad

Tires screech and cars dance on the streets of Oakland as sideshow culture fills the air, along with the smell of burning rubber.   Originating in Oakland in the 1980s, sideshows have gained traction in the Bay Area, exciting audiences, frustrating motorists and irritating police. Oakland recently unveiled a bold plan to crack down on sideshows, which are classified as reckless driving and punishable as a misdemeanor. Richmond City Council recently took action to deter sideshows. And a state law signed…

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…

Fruitvale community prepares for El Día de Los Muertos festival Sunday

With marigolds, banners, altars and sugar skulls, El Día de Los Muertos observations are underway in Oakland, where a festival is planned for this weekend and altars already are up in homes and gathering places. During Sunday’s downpour, in a kitchen strung with intricately patterned papel picado banners, visual artist Daniel Camacho delicately separated the marigold petals he made with orange tissue paper. It is believed that the strong scent and vibrant gold of marigolds can lead loved ones back…

‘Long live the legacy of Dr. Huey P. Newton’: Sculpture honors Black Panthers co-founder

During an unusually stormy Sunday in West Oakland, about 150 people sang and danced in the rain to celebrate the unveiling of a sculpture honoring Huey P. Newton, who co-founded the Black Panther Party in the city. The bronze bust of Newton is the first permanent art installation to honor the activist, who started the Panthers with Bobby Seale in 1966 to provide educational, and economic support to the Black community. The party developed services to meet the everyday needs…

‘It’s just a sweet, magical little event’: Autumn Lights Festival unites artists and gardeners

This year’s Autumn Lights Festival brings together over 300 artists and 70 illuminated light displays ranging from carved-out gourds to a steampunk-esque snail car fully equipped with pyrotechnics.  The festival, which is celebrating its 10th year, opened to a sell-out crowd Thursday at The Gardens at Lake Merritt. Aside from art, it also gives space to local food vendors and live musicians. Director and founder of the festival, Tora Rocha, said the garden gives local artists an opportunity to show their work…

Pepper spray and alarms: Chinatown clinic teaches personal safety

Chinatown residents are concerned for their safety after instances of assault and robbery against seniors. The Oakland Chinatown Safety Committee hosted a personal safety and pepper spray clinic to train community members on how to be more aware of their surroundings and defend themselves.

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 &…