[email protected]: Matt Werner



welcome everybody to this discussion of Oakland in popular memory I'm very proud to introduce my friend Matt Werner today and his incredibly interesting I've read it and it's over here and you should definitely pick up a copy his incredibly interesting book the image of Oakland California has been tainted in the mainstream media with salacious news reports focusing on street violence shootings gangs and riots these reports along with assumptions and stereotypes feed the fabricated image that outsiders have of the city in Oakland in popular memory interviews with twelve cutting edge musicians from Oakland and Beyond Oakland native and former host of the award-winning radio show on fresh air the alternative Matt Werner introduces a different narrative by presenting a collection of his best interviews with leading artists from Oakland and artists who've influenced musicians from Oakland in the spirit of Studs Terkel Werner conducted long-form interviews from 2008 to 2012 which covered the 2008 election of President Obama the shooting of Oscar Grant and the Occupy Oakland protests Werner spoke with artists at length discussing topics like race relations in Oakland in the post Oscar Grant era postmodern literary theory and the changing landscape of the music industry bring the digital revolution and with that and I'm sure you'll see significantly more I'm happy to introduce Matt Werner thank you little did I know when I started my the book Oakland in popular memory in June 2011 that I would get tear gas during my research little did I know when I started researching Oakland's history and looking into ways to apply it to current events that it would set me on a collision course with occupy Oakland I know that having grown up in Oakland California that at several cities in one but over the past year I've seen that Oakland is a never ending conversation and it's greatly misunderstood by the outside media take for example yesterday's New York Times Magazine article titled Oakland the last refuge of radical America it calls Oakland quote a kind of Amish village for retro radicals and it portrays Oakland is overrun with anarchists communists ineffective city leadership and aging radicals essentially it portrays Oakland as a retirement home for radicals last Friday I ran into boots Riley of the coup at the First Friday Art murmur and I asked him what he thought of this article which profiled him so prominently in yesterday's New York Times and he replied quote that Oakland isn't the end of an old radical movement it's the beginning of a new one and I thought that was an interesting point that he made however the Oakland that I've grown up in experience is one that it's quite different from that and it's this Oakland that I've grown up in is the one that I'm going to share with you guys today so I interviewed 12 artisan musicians from Oakland and those who've had a big impact on Oakland artists and I collected those interviews into the book Oakland in popular memory and so the structure of my talk is as follows I'll read the afterword first and then the introduction the second part of the talk I'll talk about the design printing and the book binding and then thirdly I'll talk about how I actually did the interviews themselves on the radio show I had in grad school and then at the end I'll open it up for questions so I'll I'll begin reading the afterword which is titled gertrude stein's Auckland and I initially wrote this as a blog post for the Google Books blog on February 3rd this year which was Gertrude Stein's birthday ever since Gertrude Stein wrote of Auckland quote there is no there there people have used this quote to condemn the city but taking a closer look at the quote in the context in which it was written we can see it as an expression of painful nostalgia and not of disdain or insult to Auckland let's take a closer look at this famous quote and how it relates the artists interviewed in this book putting a new there in Auckland the Kok quote comes from page 298 of Stein's everybody's autobiography published in 1937 the full quote is what was the use of my having come from Auckland it was not natural to have come from there yes write about it if I like or anything if I like but not there there is no there there Stein's family moved to Oakland in 1880 when she was 6 her family lived in a home near today's 13th Avenue in East 25th Street she lived in Oakland until 1891 and left at age 17 for Baltimore after her parents passed away Oakland was much smaller town back then with a population of just under 35,000 in 1880 nearly 45 years later Stein returned to Oakland on a lecture tour in 1935 by that time the city had grown nearly 10 times to over 300,000 residents when she tried to find her childhood home it it was no longer there when she published everybody's autobiography two years later saying there is no there there it was written to reflect painful nostalgia about her home being gone in the land around it being completely changed the house where she grew up was on a sprawling ten acre plot surrounded by orchards and farms by 1935 it had been replaced by dozens of houses Oakland held a special significance to her and on her return she found that Oakland Earvin eyes and change from the pastoral place that she remembered Gertrude Stein writes in the autobiographical novel the making of Americans about her childhood in Oakland where a child could have all anybody could want of joyous sweating of rain and wind of hunting of cows and dogs and horses of chopping wood of making hay of dreaming of lying in a hollow all warm with the sun shining while the wind was howling returning to our home decades later to find it gone and to fine Oakland no longer a place of chopping wood of making hay struck her and she wrote her famous no there there quote in response this makes me wonder if one of the artists interviewed in the book were to return to Oakland 40 years from now would they recognize the city one theme in some of the interviews was a notion of disenfranchisement similar to what Stein experienced by returning to a change city people are getting pushed out of Oakland at an alarming rate african-americans made up nearly 50% of the city when I was born in 1984 and that number has dropped to only 27% today there were 33 thousand fewer african-americans living in Oakland in 2010 than there were in 2000 like Stein returning to Oakland to find it completely changed what an artist interviewed in this book experienced a similar feeling returning to Oakland 40 years from now when researching Gertrude Stein at the Oakland History room the literary portrait filed had photos of Jack London a contemporary of Stein's who also grew up in Oakland the file included other famous authors who visited Oakland in the late 1800s including Mark Twain Robert Louis Stevenson John Muir despite the misinterpretation of Stein's quote there's always been aver in Oakland Oakland has been blessed with several waves of artistic movement stretching back to these authors and an interviewing innovative artists and writers in Oakland today for this book I've seen firsthand the now more than ever there is it there in Auckland so that's the afterword that I conclude the book with and I was very happy The Huffington Post recently ran that and then next I'm going to read the introduction which it is a little bit more polemical it's called in defense of Auckland and this piece it's a little bit longer just to give you guys fair warning I think it's around 15 minutes so just give you guys heads up when I was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley I remember talking with a sorority girl at a party about where we grew up she was from Orange County I replied that I was born in Oakland and I grew up in Alameda Oakland Berkeley in Palo Alto she stared at me in disbelief one word stood out to her Oakland we don't go into Oakland when I prodded her some more she said that Oakland was so violent that there were so many murders that her parents warned her never to go into Oakland eventually I got her to admit that she goes as a Curry's pizza only a couple miles south of UC Berkeley and a fentons ice creamery but she insisted that she didn't venture any further into Oakland than fentons it was clear that the mere mention of Oakland triggered something of a fear response in her her use of the word into was also very telling in a sense that one little word reflected not only her fear but many people's ambivalence toward Oakland as well it was as if the locales of Zachary's and fentons upper middle-class neighborhoods were not part of Oakland but extensions of Berkeley and that the idea of entering any farther into Oakland was unfathomable fear is driven by the unknown and the fact that she wouldn't go any further into Oakland meant that she would remain fearful of Oakland especially if her only exposure to the city was the media's violence centered and racially charged depiction of it by not stepping outside her comfort zone to see Oakland for what it really was she would continue to harbor these thoughts about my place of birth this encounter has stayed with me because for the first time I began to consider Oakland from the eyes of outsider this encounters represented of through many I've had since and a disease misperceptions that motivated me to offer a different narrative of oh cripton the Oakland I've grown up in has its challenges like any major city but what stands out to me is the cultural Renaissance happening in Oakland today I've been privileged to have had a front row seat to witness what's been happening in Oakland in this book is a collection of interviews with those people who know it best musicians and writers from Oakland who are shaping the art scene so wanting to better understand this outsider's perspective of Oakland I wondered why do even reputable outlets like Discovery Channel air sensationalist programming about Oakland they have two shows called gang wars Oakland and gang wars two Oakland which follow the Oakland gang task force so by show of hands I was wondering are any of you guys familiar with these shows have you seen the the gang wars programming about Oakland okay so just a couple people so I'll keep you guys in the first episode begins with the deep voiceover saying quote Oakland California home to some of the most violent gangs in America here almost ten thousand gang members rule with deadly force recruiting teens running drugs selling guns and murdering on a whim now an elite police unit made up of just eight men fights to bring justice to the streets and the top gang Lords are arrested to make Oakland safe again but something has gone terribly wrong the voice-over continues painting a grim portrait of Oakland calling it quote Ground Zero in the new American war violent street gangs fight over drug turf in the battle is only escalating comparisons to Iraq add to the already sensational tone giving viewers the impression that just below the surface Oakland is fomenting with such violence that at any moment all hell will break loose with this much negative press it's no wonder people are afraid to go into Oakland given the presuppositions and stereotypes that result from such portrayals it's hard for visitors to experience the reality of what is presented before them because it clashes with the narrative they've internalized from countless news reports people consuming this type of media go to Oakland expecting to find drive-by shootings roving gangs toting ak-47s as well as pimps prostitutes and race riots however people visiting Oakland are often surprised when they don't see this but instead find several avant-garde movements in art music fashion urban farming in local food Janaka hajj in oakland writer whom i was fortunate to interview for this collection writes about the perceptions of oakland in her blog and then i'm going to give a little extended quote from Janaka here i lived on the east coast for a few years telling new yorker you're from cali and they'll assume eight times out of ten you're from Los Angeles I live in LA now tell the average Angelino that you're from up north and they assume San Francisco Oakland is constantly upstaged asterisked and missed understood in my travels I still filled questions about the 1996 Ebonics debate I talked about a hoop squad that is more than Luttrell's hands around someone's neck I remind that we are more than the riots that followed the Raiders loss at the 2003 Superbowl Hajj continues setting the record straight about what Oakland is and what the city does best in short Oakland is proud because no one else will be proud for us we exercise a rich cultural legacy a policy for introspection and a knack for finding the next the town is a study in surprise in artistic innovation and movements foreign to the rest of the planet we are the birthplace of leather jackets rocked with berets free breakfast or Skyline High School top Tom Hanks to act the original terminus of all poor Pullman Porter activity where Walt Disney visited a theme park near a lake and began drafting ideas for Disneyland here we make ideas that power the world we do what no one else does and we do it well Hodges poetic description giving snapshots of various periods of Oakland history captures Oakland free spirited character that is at once tough artistic and even sensitive a character often misunderstood but Oakland is unapologetic after all it knows who it is a strong City that's gracious and accepting of people from all economic and cultural backgrounds Oakland residents are resilient free spirit and confident qualities which keep the city at the cutting edge and help it Forge trends in fashion music dance or as Hodge puts it making ideas that power the world these ideas are indeed powerful as they go beyond individual expression and often speak to the collective soul of a generation or group of people Oakland often mediates the production of art languaging cultural innovation for the US and has regularly produced some of the country's top talent so I'm skipping ahead to the final section of the introduction it's called Oakland the secret is out Ishmael Reed wrote in Oakland Rhapsody the secret soul of an American downtown in 1995 that Oakland is America's best-kept secret well the secret is out and the media is starting to take notice the New York Times ranked Oakland is one of the top five places to visit in the world in 2012 the New York Times Travel section gives credit to Oakland native chef James Shia Val but it also points that Oakland is now worth visiting because famous San Francisco chefs have decided to set up shop in Oakland but it's not only such entrepreneurial transplants that make Oakland worth visiting those in the know would say the media's recognition of Oakland's thriving cultural realm was long overdue especially given the city's growth spurt in art music fashion and literary scenes in the last decade in the last few years alone over a dozen new art galleries have popped up in Oakland's Northgate Waverly district previously known for its auto repair shops and warehouses such a renaissance no doubt draws inspiration from Oakland's rich history as a cultural destination in the late 19th century hosting the likes of Gertrude Stein Jack London Mark Twain Robert Louis Stevenson and John Muir to name a few more recently Oakland gave birth to the hyphy movement the scraper bike movement and turf dancing while Mac Dre efore team keep the sneak invented much of the hip hop language used internationally today several local news sources have sprung up in recent years to document this renaissance in art collectives local food movement urban farming and music including Oakland local Oakland North Bay citizen Oakland seen this' ler and 38th notes the Bay Area's Indian underground scenes are constantly studies in surprise they've historically been engines of innovation creating new musical styles and language what's happening on the ground today in the bay may take months or even years to become mainstream novelist William Gibson said the future is already here it's just not very evenly distributed in the Bay Area the future and music and language is already here each artist I interviewed is innovating in his or her own way and you can listen to the future of music through these artists Oakland is a never-ending conversation in this book I didn't set out to curate viewpoints or quell perspectives that differ with my own and I don't pretend to have the city wrapped up studying Oakland's history and reading books like know their their race class and political community in Oakland by Chris Romberg an american babylon race in the struggle for post-war oakland by robert self i found more paradoxes about my hometown than I can reconcile these artists who voice the paradoxes of urban America give us a unique lens through which to view Oakland so these twelve establish an upcoming artists give perspectives on Oakland different from the usual media narrative about the city what I admire about these artists is how they've kept their authenticity as they've grown in their music and how they champion the Oakland quality of having a knack for finding the next and as for the sorority girl at the beginning I hope she visited Oakland when she was at UC Berkeley if not she sure missed out on a whole lot so that was the end of the introduction so now for the second phase of the talk I'll kind of walk you guys through how I actually put the book together because it's a fairly non-conventional the process I use so I have some photos here on Google+ which I'll flip through so I ended up so basically to give context my cousin is a printer in Sacramento and my uncle is a bookbinder in Berkeley so I use the family resources and I printed and then hand bound all the books myself well with help of family this is my cousin Shawn right here he's a master printer and we actually use laser printers because he has about a hundred of them in his warehouse and so this is him getting a duplexer unit ready and then this is a example of basically how I printed out the pages and then there Shawn he's I let's say I have that he's checking the toner density and what was interesting is you know as being you know the author I did the design layout copy editing proofreading and I mean I did have a group of friends helping me out but it's very interesting then you know printing and then binding your own work because not too many authors do that today but then having all of this kind of full creative control over the book itself I was able to do some kind of special things with it oh yeah so these are the printers so it's good to have a cousin when you're a writer with these kind of printers and for those of you who are at my tech talk last year about my first book I use pretty much the same exact process from printing the first book as with the second one so I ended up using Strathmore 100% cotton paper which is perhaps the most expensive paper you can use because it's archival quality and the reason I chose this is because when I was working at UC Berkeley as an undergrad I got to work in their Bancroft library which is their special archive and collections and if we wanted something to last for a long time we would print it it print it out on a hundred percent cotton paper because it'll last for hundreds of years so I ended up going upscale with that one area and then also kind of why I chose this paper is that I used to intern and volunteer at McSweeney's publishing in San Francisco so I was there for about five years and I got to work closely with the author Dave Eggers and on a number of the projects they have very unique and special binding and they use very high quality paper and kind of the reason for doing this is that in this digital age a lot of the large publishers now they're trying to cut costs and bend corners any way possible it's a lot of them now are printing on newsprint essentially you know they're having the books printed in China very cheaply and then shipped here in bulk but if you guys have ever been to you know like Walmart or Target you go to the book section and you pick up the book it doesn't really feel like the quality object whereas in this digital age I feel it's very interesting being a Google employee kind of stepping back and saying you know well there is validity to e-readers but I don't think the printed book in its form is going to go out of fashion and so sort of as a counter-argument I've been kind of going in the opposite direction of showing kind of the staying power of the book as a physical object and really making something beautiful and to be coveted so that's sort of a kind of a long explanation of why I chose the paper I did and then so here we are now this is my uncle's binding shop in Berkeley and so that's my sister Kelly and friend Shawn and basically he sells these book binding machines and then this is also a foil printer so usually to be able to get foil on a book cover I you need to get a stamp die but those are it's very expensive and I want to keep this low budget so just happens that my uncle has these printers that can print in gold and silver foil so I ended up choosing silver with the black background to get the Oakland Raiders look the silver and black so the other Shawn doing quality control so basically I printed everything out on eight-and-a-half by 11 paper and then we use this paper trimmer we cut the manuscript in half and then we would fold the halves back in you know and to make a book bundle then we put the two covers on both sides and then so basically we would put this binding strip in this machine and it would heat press the the binding strip onto the edges of the paper and then once the the glue that was superheated then cooled then the book was ready to go so basically I got all my extended family to come out and help out so I ended up making three versions of the book on the left you have the greening yellow which is the Oakland A's version in the center is the silver and black the Oakland Raiders version which was the one that I mass-produced and then I had the blue and gold version which is for Golden State Warriors or UC Berkeley it's on big Cal fan and then by making these one at a time by hand we could just you know do any kind of custom cover combination we wanted and you know sort of be experimental and creative with it whereas had I sent it off to a large printer you know I wouldn't have been able to have this kind of artistic control and then this is my uncle dick Jim Kelly it was great to have him on site because he helped create and invent these machines and so we ran in any problems he was there to help troubleshoot and then there's my dad binding the books and then he can see the black binding strips there that he inserts and that machine in front of the binder is actually a spine printer and that's what we use to print the spine and there's the book being superheated in the press and then there's my mom collating the manuscripts in India look so I really got the whole family out there okay so that's a collection of a little bit of the book process and then next I want to I'm going to bring up talk a little bit about the artist interviews that I did and then after that I'll open it up for questions okay so this is Shania Hodge who is the first interview in the book I had a former classmate of mine from the University Edinburgh where I went to grad school she's a very good portrait artist Laura Tomlinson and I asked her to draw portraits of the 12 people I interviewed and I thought she did an excellent job just using pencil on plain paper and so I had her draw the various portraits this is Raphael castle who's from Berkeley and sort of how I chose the various people I interviewed was I had this college radio show in Scotland but out there people were very interested in what was happening and kind of a West Coast hip-hop scene and the indie rock scene out here and so I started out interviewing friends of mine and friends of friends who I'd grown up with through youth speaks doing poetry slams here in the Bay Area and so Raphael cos all this kind of he's real well-known in the poetry slam and spoken word circuit and he's just now kind of emerging as sort of a talent in the the hip-hop arena and here's a Dalek Brathwaite he's from Sacramento and so this is Dave Smallin we went to high school together at Bishop O'Dowd in East Oakland and he actually designed the cover of the book and so for the cover I I told him I wanted something that says Oakland and so we have you know Oakland in you know the block letters and then we have the Oakland Tribune Tower with an oak tree behind it and he actually created a linoleum block print so he carved a piece of linoleum and then put ink on it and then pressed a paper on it and then I have the original that I based the cover off of right over there and then basically I scanned his print and then yeah I made the kind of the foil version that you see on the final cover so this is George Watsky he was the first interview I did back in 2008 because he was a very obscure at that time and I knew I could get him because he was a friend of mine growing up from the Poetry Slam circuit but it just happens that Justin last year he's gained a lot of notoriety because of a viral video he made on YouTube called pale kid raps fast which has over 10 million views and he got to go on The Ellen DeGeneres Show twice this year to showcase his fast rapping style but I chose a picture of him where it kind of showed his Swagger and personality and then this is ice life the interview I did with him I was one of the most provocative ones because it really made me question some of the assumptions and sort of stereotypes that I had of you know if like living in Oakland and he really brought a much-needed perspective we discussed quite a bit around race relations in Oakland in the post Oscar Grant era and also sort of a legacy of Jerry Brown's housing policies in Oakland and all these various issues of gender Kait gentrification in Oakland today and talking with him really kind of challenge you know where I stand on various things and it was very interesting interviewing him because we've known each other since high school and he he's been working kind of as a community organizer in East Oakland but he also has kind of a thriving business and he performs quite a bit with his hip hop and spoken word and so that was a no-no if you're going to read one interview it would be the ice life one and then this is Kay Flay this is kid Beyond who's a beatboxer so he that was one of the most entertaining interviews I did and unfortunately the text version really doesn't do him justice because he did about 10 different impersonations during the interview he actually can do a spot-on impersonation of Barack Obama and so I had him do you know hey you're listening to the DJ matt werner show on fresh air the alternative university edinburgh student radio but he said you know the the call line in obama's voice and for a couple weeks after at school at university edinburgh people are wondering like how did you get barack obama to do the voice-over on your show or how did you manipulate his speeches to say you know DJ matt werner and fresh air the alternative so yeah he's very talented guy and for him the unfortunately a text version you know it's it's good but it really doesn't do kind of this range this vocal talent that he has justice and so that one I do have podcasts of mostly interviews on my website Matt's writing calm and then this is MC Lars who his trademark is wearing a Oakland A's starter cap so then this was Saul Williams a spoken word artist and the reason I interviewed him is that he's he's from Philadelphia is not from Oakland but he's had a real big impact on the style of spoken word that a lot of the artists I interviewed and so I thought he would be a good addition to have in the book and then I also interviewed Talib Kweli who's from Brooklyn New York and then he also has had a big influence on sort of the style of kind of this progressive hip hop that a number of the artists I interviewed shared so that's why included him in the collection and then this is a Victor Vasquez aka cool ad he's from this band called Das Racist and they have this very interesting style of kind of like postmodern hip-hop and for him I went to basically I went to grade school with them in Alameda and I've been reading stuff about him saying well basically articles had called him like a Brooklyn artist and then some had said you know use from Hunters Point San Francisco but then I wanted to set the record straight like no he's from Oakland and Alameda so to kind of claim that he Spade so I included him in the collection as well so that's the conclusion of kind of the overview of who I interviewed and a little bit of background about the book and if you guys would like we have a microphone right there you can come up and ask some questions sis yeah I'm curious how you feel about the popularization of first Friday slash art murmur in Oakland and the notoriety that's bringing to especially the visual art scene of Oakland so so your question is how do I feel about the popularization of the First Friday Art murmur in Oakland mm-hmm well I think it's it's a very interesting event I've been going there every month since November of 2011 I've been attending and I've written a number of pieces for Oakland local the local news site kind of recapping what's happened at this month's art murmur and for those of you who aren't familiar with it the first Friday of each month in Oakland in this Northgate Waverly district it's a little bit outside of the downtown right before you get the Broadway Auto row there's now 25 galleries and makes you spaces that open up and thousands of people come out in downtown Oakland between 6 to 10 p.m. each month and it's it's really an amazing kind of event where there's yeah all these artists you know in the galleries themselves but then there's so many different street performers street vendors I was actually selling my book the last couple months on the street and you know people make their own jewelry it's very interesting event but well what's interesting is some of the people I interviewed in the book have kind of mixed feelings about it I know shikaka hodge she posted on like Facebook while back where she was like jogging through I guess that area of Oakland wearing a shirt that said kill a hipster Savior hood and she was getting some kind of nasty looks or you know shocked looks and then I know ice life it's real name Isaac Brown he's been highly critical of some of like Jerry Brown's 10k 10k plan which a lot of people feel was kind of the precursor to this wave of artists so there are some in Oakland who argue that turning these auto repair shops into these art galleries is actually really rising rents and pushing people out of this area of Oakland and I think you know that that may be a valid argument I haven't really researched it too much but sort of the feeling of art murmur because I've written now a few pieces on this and I interviewed one woman couple years I mean a couple months back who you know and I asked her about kind of the start of art murmur and and what she thinks of it now and she said when it first started up about five or six years ago there was a lot of these art students from California Academy of the Arts and I had this real like hipster vibe and she called it like a too-cool-for-school thing you know it's people come out on their track bikes with the skinny jeans drinking their Pabst Blue Ribbon smoking their skinny cigarettes and I had this sort of elitist like artsy vibe but in the last like six months though I felt that art murmurs become very democratic in that there's people from all areas of Oakland kind of all walks of life and they're there a lot of people are there on the street just trying to make an extra buck you know selling tamales things like that and so for me I'd say overall it's it's a positive thing because you know I'd love to see Oakland get known for you know its art its music its local culture get this recognition as opposed to just people fixating on the violence in Oakland you know which is present I'm not going to you know gloss over that but it's not the only thing happening in Oakland you you mentioned you were your chair gasp I'm assuming that was at occupy Oakland and not at a party but the as somebody who was was also there I'm wondering what are your thoughts and what are the artists thoughts on Occupy movements it's surgeons it's and it's sort of vibrance in popular media so the Occupy Oakland question I was hoping someone wouldn't ask my thoughts and opinions of it you know I'm torn it's very complicated it was last October it was in late October there was the police crackdown on Occupy Oakland where they came in and raided the camp and then the police shot off the tear gas and then I was a veteran was shot in the head by by one of those tear gas canisters and Scott Olson and it was very tense moment and during the week I live here in Mountain View close to the office and then on weekends I go back to Oakland and my housemates who don't really understand Oakland said oh it's just people in Oakland are angry again oh it's just riots again in Oakland and I became insulted I was like how dare you just dismissively say oh it's just you know that's what people do in Oakland on you know on weekends they go out and right and then the police need to go and you know control them and I felt I had a lot of friends kind of naive comments about Occupy Oakland so I was like well I want to go in and check it out so I went in just a couple days after that incident where Scott Olsen was shot and I went into the General Assembly and this was October 28th 2011 and I wrote a piece on it for Oakland local and it was actually made into a play that theater pub did in January of this year and it was just called my visit to Occupy Oakland and I felt that I wasn't really part of the movement but I was there more from a sociological or cultural anthropologist perspective kind of they're trying to understand what's going on because you know it's like I was you know me deep working in working on this book on Oakland and that was by far the biggest news happening in Oakland so I wanted to be there on the ground find out what was happening and then fast forward to I believe it was January 28th of this year there was a similar type of protest and crackdown except I didn't know about it I was researching for my book I was at the Oakland main library and then I was cycling over to the Oakland Museum of California right there on the lake and it just happened to be that right on I think it was 10th Street all of a sudden when I'm coming up I see these like road flares and I smell this really powerful smell and I think it's just like road flares and stuff and then I see all these cop cars and unmarked vehicles and then these protesters in those plastic handcuffs and the crowd had just been dispersed and it and so I'm there then I stopped my bike and I hop out and there's this photographer there I'm like you know what just happened and I'm like is that pepper spray in the air and then he's like no that's tear gas they just shot it off then I was like oh like I need to get out of here so I felt that people just even living in downtown Oakland or passing through there at any point like in the last six months you know you would inadvertently kind of be part of occupy or it would affect you in some way and then but as far as like firmly coming down and saying well like is Occupy Oakland good is it bad you know I'd have to say somewhere in between because now there's all these different factions of it that I don't fully understand like what the the goals of the black bloc are and it's sort of this group of anarchists and but yeah I I don't really ya know too much more about them to to really make a informed comment so Oakland has been on the front lines of the medicinal marijuana issue and you know we some crack downs with Oaksterdam that kind of thing this morning what your feelings were about that and the Kimmy changes your interviews referenced it it's been a you know like it or not it's been a big part of the local economy not a lot of people are aware of that but it does actually affect a lot more people's lives than you would imagine even not the people who directly you know are involved with it so at the first Friday heart murmur just happened a few days ago Oaksterdam actually had quite a big presence there was their mascot was there dressed as a giant long and then they had people carrying the you know actual marijuana plants you know you know at their table but with Oaksterdam and crackdown it it didn't come up in the book the book was more on kind of how did the shooting of Oscar Grant by the BART police officer really kind of changed things in Oakland and kind of the marijuana policy of Oakland didn't really come up but I know that is definitely one of like the top five issues in Oakland today because it is a big tax revenue generator and it actually has quite a bit of political support in Oakland I went to a Rebecca Kaplan fundraiser a few weeks back and she openly supported Oaksterdam and the medicinal marijuana places in Oakland and yeah a lot of the council members are very supportive of it and they were very angry that the the feds came in and cracked down whereas like local law and state law you know allow it so it's going to be a very interesting issue to see how that plays out with kind of local and state politics versus federal politics but I'm not really up on those set of debates okay thank you guys for coming out and then I also have some photos and from the book and you can also purchase books over here for $15 okay thank you

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