2014 Steinbeck Festival Comes to Oakland


2014 marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of John Steinbeck’s stunning protest novel, The Grapes of Wrath. Join the Steinbeck Center and three artists for an evening of stories and thoughts on the themes of environmental disaster, the dispossessed, and dissent.

Date: Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Time: 5:30 p.m. — 7:30 p.m.
Location: HOLY NAMES COLLEGE, Valley Center for the Performing Arts (3500 Mountain Blvd. Oakland, CA 94619) http://www.hnu.edu/vcpa/
Pricing: FREE and open to the public

Join us for a special preview of the 2014 Steinbeck Festival! This year the National Steinbeck Center celebrates the 75th anniversary of The Grapes of Wrath by convening a national dialogue, seeking out the stories of individuals struggling against many of the same challenges so poignantly represented in this classic work: financial insecurity, widespread unemployment and foreclosures, drought and other environmental crises.

To gather contemporary stories of resilience and migrations in hard times, curators from the National Steinbeck Center commissioned a talented group of artists to retrace the Joad family’s journey.

* P.J. Palmer, Filmmaker and Videographer

* Octavio Solis, Playwright and Director

* Patricia Wakida, Writer and Linoleum Block-Print Artist

Come hear from this diverse group of artists—along with curators from the National Steinbeck Center, as they discuss the continuing relevance of The Grapes of Wrath for a globalizing world as well as what they learned along the trek from Oklahoma to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and finally California. You may also get a sneak peek of artworks resulting from this project! Don’t miss out: this is the only Bay Area preview before the Festival heads east to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.

This Steinbeck Festival preview is presented by the Asia Pacific Peace Studies Institute and the Peace & Justice Club at Holy Names University. Special thanks to our promotional co-sponsors: HNU Integrative Studies Across Cultures (ISAC) program and Intercultural Peace & Justice Studies program; Mills College English program; St. Mary’s College History program and International Area Studies program.

Oakland’s 7th Street Jazz and Blues from UC Berkeley Architecture and Journalism

The UC Berkeley Journalism School and Architecture Department have announced an interesting project in online history.  From their website:

Remembering 7th Street is a project of UC Berkeley’s Journalism School and Architecture Department to re-create West Oakland in the 1940s and ’50s when it was a thriving community teeming with blues and jazz clubs.

The virtual world video game takes you back in time to post-World-War-II West Oakland, when the area was bustling with shipyard workers and sailors, musicians and locals meeting up at the soda fountains and soul food restaurants, shops and other businesses that lined 7th Street.

Come dusk, music poured from the nightclubs out into the street. You might catch a performance by one of the big names, Lowell Fulson, Saunders King, Sugar Pie DeSanto or Ivory Joe Hunter, who played in this West Coast mecca for the blues.

Today, little trace remains of this rich history. The once thriving businesses are mostly empty storefronts now. The blues and jazz clubs have given way to a sprawling postal facility and an elevated BART train that runs through the heart of 7th Street.

Now you can explore the neighborhood as it once was and help bring 7th Street back to life. Simply log into the game and adopt an avatar – a musician hungry for a break – and soak up the lost music and culture of West Oakland.

You’ll cut a record with local producer Bob Geddins and convince a train porter to take your record cross-country. You’ll get your music career financed by a notorious local businessman and finally perform your music at the premier 7th Street club – Slim Jenkins’ Place

For background on the Oakland jazz and blues scene see: California Soul: Music of African Americans in the West.

For additional historical background on Oakland during the 20th century see Chris Rhomberg’s No There There: Race, Class and Political Community in Oakland.