Jazz 'N the Hood 

The struggle continues

SAT 5/17

The theme for this Saturday's fourth annual Malcolm X Jazz Arts Festival in San Antonio Park in East Oakland is "Stop US Imperialism -- Our Struggle Is at Home." To celebrate the birth of free-thinker and revolutionary El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz aka Malcolm X (1925-1965), the EastSide Arts Alliance has assembled an impressive cast of musical and spoken-word performers for a free all-day community event. Renowned poet Amiri Baraka will no doubt have much to say, as an outspoken critic of this government's policies. He returns along with jazz percussionist Kahlil El'Zabar, whose quartet includes master reed player Hamiett Bluiett, violinist Billy Bang, and Umar Bin Hassan of the Last Poets. The Chicago-based El'Zabar helped establish the festival, and his musical vision has informed the progressive roster of artists gracing the two rotating stages. On the local musical front, this festival has served as a forum for Bay Area artists, especially jazz musicians, who often face artistic isolation. This year's local performers include alto sax wiz Howard Wiley and the Latino/world sounds of O-Maya. The Black Dot artists will also be on hand, showcasing the talent bubbling up in Oakland neighborhoods. Throw in a spoken-word summit held on the basketball court, as well as the Electric Church, Marcel Diallo, Eddie Gale, and Marvin X, and let the consciousness-raising begin. The festival brings an additional splash of color to the working-class San Antonio neighborhood, already considered one of the city's most diverse. For a day, banners with the images of Mumia Abu Jamal, Aztec warriors, and Malcolm X adorn normally drab playground fences, while Mexican paleteros lug their ice-cream carts and ring their bells to the sounds of the music. Meanwhile, information booths about community organizations and causes bring into focus the people's struggles of today. It all happens Saturday at San Antonio Park, 19th Avenue and Foothill Boulevard. For information about the EastSide Arts Alliance, 2364 E. 15th St., call 510-533-6629. -- Jesse "Chuy" Varela



Lhasa come home

"This is perhaps the only place on earth where Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Christians, and secular folks can mingle joyfully," proclaims the advertising for the twentieth annual Himalayan Fair. Leaving aside the omission of several other faiths -- notably Islam -- we'll take that claim at face value, because Berkeley is indeed one of the most tolerant cities anywhere when it comes to such matters. Temple bells will tinkle and children in kurtas will frolic this weekend amid the greenery of Live Oak Park (near the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Rose Street) as this event, sponsored in part by the City of Berkeley and KPFA-FM, sets up its tents and lights its incense. Listen to numerous styles of world music. Nosh on exotic Himalayan chow (although yak butter is probably not on the menu). Spin a prayer wheel. Pray for Kathmandu. Or Kabul, for that matter. Ogle the outlandish arts and crafts. Plan a vacation in the Hindu Kush. Do the hippie dance. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. Saturday (till 7 p.m.) and Sunday (till 5:30), and the $5 admission donation reportedly goes to charities in Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, India, Tibet, and Mongolia. For more info: www.himalayanfair.net or 510-869-3995. -- Kelly Vance

WED 5/14

Dirty Money

From Fast Food Nation to other vices

Author Eric Schlosser has a knack for making the political personal. In Fast Food Nation, he brought assembly-line cuisine and unsanitary practices out of the realm of theory and economics and into the reality of the American gullet, curing hordes of people of their Taco Bell habits. As correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, Schlosser won a National Magazine Award for his series examining American marijuana laws, and a Sidney Hillman Foundation award for a piece about California's strawberry industry. Now he explores the underground economy that makes up roughly 10 percent of the US economy -- about one trillion dollars -- with Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market. The new book humanizes the drug, porn, and illegal-immigrant rackets by focusing on two real people: Mark Young, sentenced to life without parole for his small part in a pot deal, and Reuben Sturman, who created and controlled a porn distro business before getting busted for tax evasion. Schlosser appears at Cody's Books, 2454 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, at 7:30 p.m. 510-845-7852. -- Stefanie Kalem

FRI 5/16

Snotty as They Wanna Be

San Francisco sextet Los Mocosos came about by accident. Happy Sanchez had enough room left over on a comp he was producing for one song, so he wrote one. He got some of his buddies to play on it, the song got picked up by radio stations, Happy began getting solicitous phone calls, and the band -- named for El Mariachi gangster El Moco -- became a real, live thing. Since signing to Aztlan in 1998, Los Mocosos (translation: the Snotty Guys) have been rocking parties all over the nation since, mixing up Latin ska, jazz, hip-hop, Afro-Cuban beats, and funk with a social consciousness and a wily sense of fun. In 2001, they released Shades of Brown on Six Degrees Records, paying homage to Tito Puente and War with rowdy reconstructions. Doors at Ashkenaz (1317 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley) open at 9 p.m., and Los Mocosos play at 9:30. Tickets are $13. Call 510-525-5054 for more information. -- Stefanie Kalem


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