Write On 

Writers, rappers, resisters

FRI 8/1

"Raptivism" combines hip-hop music with a community-based social agenda. It's a catchy phrase, as far as pop-culture buzzwords go, if a little misleading. "I don't even use the term," says Refa-One, who wields a spray-paint can, not a microphone, to get his messages across. He prefers the more egalitarian-sounding "hip-hoptivism" -- which he says paints a more accurate picture of sociocultural awareness in urban youth culture. Refa is a member of the Bay Area Aerosol Heritage Society (BAAHS), a two-year-old organization dedicated to the preservation of the Bay Area's graffiti art history. The BAAHS is among the participants in the Oakland Museum program Raptivism: The New Social Activism, even though, as he explains, being down for the cause is "really not that new." Refa's parents were involved in the social movements of the '60s, which makes him a second-generation activist. By the same token, he adds, graffiti has been around ever since an Egyptian scribe first tagged a hieroglyph on the walls of the pyramids. The modern form, known simply as "writing" to its enthusiasts, is in itself a statement on society. "The most political thing is the act itself," explains the artist, known for incorporating the iconography of Bob Marley and Malcolm X into his murals. The BAAHS has its origins in the Reagan era when, Refa remembers, "the whole culture was underground ... hip-hop hadn't gone commercial." Those days may be long gone, but the memories live on in the organization's slide show, The Legendary '80s, which documents a seminal period in the local aerosol scene -- including many works which have since been "buffed," or painted over. Like many other hip-hoptivists, Refa bemoans the ignorance that has come with rap's mainstream acceptance. "It's wack," he says succinctly -- although he also points out that "the media has changed since the '80s as well." Graffiti, he emphasizes, "is a cultural phenomenon, not just an artistic genre." Part of being a hip-hoptivist is keeping the traditions of the art form alive for new generations. Another important aspect is networking, or as Refa puts it, "creating a platform where people can come together."

The Oakland Museum show offers a case in point. In addition to the visual art of the BAAHS, the event also features spoken word, a live hip-hop band, DJs, and a fashion show. It's all about staying up on things, getting your groove on, and looking fly while you're doing it. 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, $10 admission. For further information, call 510-238-2200 or visit Museumca.org -- Eric K. Arnold

FRI 8/1


California lodges gather

For a second year, East Oakland's Native American Health Center hosts lodges as far south as Long Beach and as far east as Fresno during the Gathering of the Lodges, themed "Resilience, Recovery, and the Red Road." From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, the Lakeside Garden Center (666 Bellevue Ave., Oakland) will be the site of sobriety celebrations and ceremonies, prevention activities, a visit from Ojibwa artist Sam English, and more. Then, starting at 6 p.m., a sobriety and wellness powwow and, simultaneously, a hip-hop dance. -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 7/31

Still Cocky

When he's not co-editing the semi-monthly online newsletter CounterPunch from Petrolia in Humboldt County, Alexander Cockburn is enhancing his portfolio as the radical journalist's radical journalist with columns in The Nation, New York Press, and Anderson Valley Advertiser, and writing muckraking books the likes of Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press. And when he isn't doing any of the above, Cockburn occasionally regales his fans in Oakland with true tales of turpitude. He'll discuss "The War at Home" Thursday night, July 31, 7:30 p.m., at Diesel, A Bookstore, 5433 College Ave. Information: Dieselbookstore.com or Counterpunch.org -- Kelly Vance

THU 7/31

Hys 'n' Herrrs

For four years now, Rope and T. have been putting on Butch-Femme Socials in San Francisco and the East Bay. High femmes, stone butches, studs, and ladies are all invited to these events, where the vibe is casual and freedom of expression is key. Patrons range in age from 21 to 65 (or thereabouts), and singles, couples, and polyamorous configurations are welcome to enjoy happy hour from 7:30 till 8:30 p.m., dancing till midnight, and Mexican food available for purchase on-site. The hosts are happy to make introductions till 8, but after that, you're on your own. It all happens at the Bench and Bar, 120 11th St., Oakland, and there's no cover. 510-444-2266. -- Stefanie Kalem


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