Got MLK? 

West Oakland does.

FRI 3/25

From the outside, 2232 MLK looks like an ordinary West Oakland garret, crouching below the swath of Interstate 80 that snakes over West Grand Avenue. But inside, the space is suffused with vibrant ribbons of color -- electric blues, gun-metal grays, and traffic-cone oranges -- congealing in wild-style graffiti letters and psychedelic cartoon murals by the aerosol artists Steel and Borg 1. Steel's unfinished, spray-painted landscape painting of Oakland wraps around the warehouse walls, beginning in the dark downstairs portico with a signpost for West Grand and Martin Luther King. That, in turn, cascades into jagged, cubist renditions of the now-defunct Oakland Box theater, the Tribune building, a twisty stretch of Broadway, and, as you ascend the staircase, a large blank space reserved for the arts district that trickles down to Telegraph Avenue. Inside, the warehouse is spare, with a huge dancefloor, a small riser stage, and a long row of diner-style tables bathed in candlelight. "The real story is inside the space itself," says Andrew Jones, who heard about 2232 MLK from Oakland Box cofounder Steve Snider in 2004, back when the building's only sign of life was Starlight Janitorial Supply, which still occupies the basement. He decided to sublease the place so he'd have a venue to throw hip-hop shows. The young promoter cut his teeth in 2002, managing the crew Delinquent Monastery and producing concerts with local rap outfits. He currently serves as a torchbearer for the Oakland Box, where hip-hop heads of all ages used to flock for poetry slams and performances by hot local emcees like Casual, the Mamaz, or Mistah Fab.

Jones is resurrecting the community that formed around the Box by providing all-ages hip-hop shows for a mere five bucks admission at 2232 MLK (2232 Martin Luther King Jr. Way). Dubbed Fab Five Fridays, the weekly party showcases underground acts. This week's event features the infectious Planet Asia, performing at 8 p.m. with Sol Rebelz, Delinquent Monastery, Forensic Science, and DJ Progress. – Rachel Swan

3/23-3/29

Lit Happens

Mom the Snooper

It's not only the vindaloo that's hot at Priya Indian Cuisine (2072 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley), where every Wednesday night the restaurant hosts Poetry Express, an open mic. Tonight's headliner is the East Bay's own Cynthia Bryant. Arrive for a meal after 5 p.m., mention the reading, and snag a 20 percent discount on your tab (Wed., 7 p.m.). ... Get clean with the help of Kathy Waddill, author of The Organizing Sourcebook. In a workshop at the Moraga Library, she dishes tips on launching your very own war on clutter (Thu., 2:30 p.m.). ... What's strong and cool and stays where you lay it? At Builders Booksource, Albany designer Fu-Teng Cheng, author of Concrete at Home and Concrete Countertops, details the artistic potential of a substance you probably always took for granted (Thu., 7:30 p.m.). ... She's not afraid to use a bit of the old ultraviolence in her daringly dark mysteries. Jodi Compton reads from her latest, Sympathy Between Humans, at Rakestraw (Sat., 3 p.m.). ... Sometimes diapers mix with sleuthing, as Berkeley's Ayelet Waldman proves in her series of Mommy-Track Mysteries. She reads from Daughter's Keeper in the Mills Hall Living Room at Mills College (Tue., 5:30 p.m.). ... Commanding troops in Operation Desert Storm meant not only keeping his gear in a locker but also keeping his sexuality in the closet: Jeff McGowan's memoir Major Conflict: One Gay Man's Life in the Don't Ask Don't Tell Military recounts the career of a combat vet and proud patriot who is also married to his male partner. Meet him at Cody's Telegraph (Tue., 7:30 p.m.) ... From 1960 to 1978, Thomas Flanagan was an English professor at UC Berkeley, credited with launching Irish and Irish-American studies as academic fields in America. Friends and colleagues Bob Callahan, Robert Tracy, and Frederick Crews host an evening in celebration of Flanagan, who died in 2002 and whose essays comprise the new collection There You Are. Black Oak (Tue., 7:30 p.m.). -- Anneli Rufus

WED 3/30

The Art of the Real

Remember the movie Hiding Out, with Jon Cryer and Annabeth Gish? A babyfaced stockbroker falls into a vat of mob trouble, and has to hide out in a local high school as a member of the student body. Luckily, you don't have to dodge bullets (or the cops, when they find out you're dating a seventeen-year-old senior) to see what life is like for Oakland kids, thanks to the annual Reality Tour . Drop by Havenscourt Middle School library at 9:15 next Wednesday morning for breakfast and an introduction, and then visit two English classes to see comic-book artist Doug Calderon and spoken-word artist Steve Youn -- Opera Piccola's ArtGate current artists-in-residence -- in action. The morning wraps up with part of an interactive assembly performance of Opera Piccola's Cach, the Rain Spirit and a panel discussion with students answering questions about art programs in their school. Curious? Call 510-658-0967 or e-mail opera-piccola@sbcglobal.net and let them know you'd like to attend. -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 3/26

Kasa's Cause

Fund-raising rocks

On December 20, writer and West Oakland resident Rachel Kasa was riding her bike to work when a parked semi left the curb, clipped the bicyclist, and dragged her and her steed underneath. Kasa sustained serious injuries -- multiple pelvic fractures, a punctured lung, and a severed femoral artery and nerve. Her family and partner have left their jobs to relocate to Palo Alto, where Kasa remains in Stanford's ICU, receiving skin grafts in the hope her leg can be saved. In the spirit of injured artists and the people who love them everywhere, her friends have organized a Benefit for Rachel Kasa, happening this weekend at 21 Grand (449B 23rd St., Oakland). San Francisco power-pop trio Tartufi heads up the bill, with literate garage rockers Continuous Peasant, the Bel Hevis (featuring former members of Junior Rifle Club and Running Ragged), and the Cannery in supporting slots. The Brass Liberation Orchestra will play during setup and breakdown. $5-$10 sliding scale; to donate to the fund, please contact allison88e@yahoo.comStefanie Kalem

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