Oakland is a blues city, brawling and husky . . .
Often overshadowed by San Francisco, its twinkling sister city across the Bay, Oakland is itself an American wonder. The city is surrounded by and filled with natural beauty—mountains and hills and lakes and a bay—and architecture that mirrors its history as a Spanish mission, Gold Rush outpost, and home of the West’s most devious robber barons. It’s also a city of artists and blue-collar workers, the birthplace of the Black Panthers, neighbor to Berkeley, and home to a vibrant and volatile stew of immigrants and refugees.
In Blues City, Ishmael Reed, one of our most brilliant essayists, takes us on a tour of Oakland, exploring its fascinating history, its beautiful hills and waterfronts, and its odd cultural juxtapositions. He takes us into a year in the life of this amazing city, to black cowboy parades and Indian powwows, to Black Panther reunions and Gay Pride concerts, to a Japanese jazz club where a Lakota musician plays Coltrane’s “Naima.” Reed provides a fascinating tour of an un-tamed, unruly western outpost set against the backdrop of political intrigues, ethnic rivalries, and a gentrification-obsessed mayor, opening our eyes not only to a singular city, but to a newly emerging America.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: Blues City|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Crown Publishing Group|
This eBook download is available in the following formats:
|Parent title||Blues City|
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Unlike Oakland writer Joaquin Miller, whose The Destruction of Gotham (1886) painted a grim portrait of New York, or Jack London and George "the Greek" Sterling, whose experiences in New York were depressing, or Bret Harte, who went broke there after the novelty of being a cowboy writer wore off, I was spoiled by New York. Western writers, at least in the view of urbane easterners, have usually been classified as cranks. Jack London, a socialist, cussed out some wealthy New Yorkers, and the western-style dress of London and Joaquin Miller was viewed with amused curiosity by New Yorkers. Much later, San Francisco writer Richard Brautigan continued the tradition of wowing easterners with frontier attire and manners. He'd be dressed as a cowboy when I used to meet him at 1 Fifth Avenue in Greenwich Village for lunch in the 1960s. This eccentricity seemed to be provoked by the westerner's presence in the hostile East.
But I had the opposite experience. It wasn't New York that frustrated me but San Francisco. In 1958, when I was twenty, I traveled to the city from my hometown of Buffalo in a beat-up car with two friends, an Italian-American named David and a Native American named Kirk. Kirk drove. Of course, we didn't know he was Native American until he slammed the brakes in anger when David, upon seeing some Native Americans on the street, remarked, "Look at those drunken Indians." Once the car had come to a sudden stop, Kirk said, "You've been seated next to one all day." We hadn't realized he was drunk, either.
We hung around North Beach for a couple of months but, unable to find jobs, headed back to Buffalo. The police stopped