Free Will Astrology: Week of July 21

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Author Valerie Andrews reminds us that as children, we all had the “magical capacity to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of...

Weed Warrior: NORML-founder Keith Stroup claims victory in Reagan’s War On Drugs

"Up until just a few years before Oregon and Colorado legalized, the consensus was that full legalization was still a far-off dream. But then states started falling like dominoes. What changed?" Dan Mitchell asks NORML founder Keith Stroup in this week's 'Chronic Town' "Stroup said it was simple demographics. 'The real reefer maniacs have died or retired,' he said, referring to scare propaganda like the 1936 film 'Reefer Madness'."

Foodie Nation: Understory provides delicious cuisine with a side of worker solidarity

"Understory also provides pop-up opportunities for local chefs through their partner organization Oakland Bloom," writes Jeffrey Edalatpour in our Taste feature story.

Flic Chic: Isabelle Huppert excels as a bent cop in ‘Mama Weed’

"Widowed mother Patience Portefeux (Huppert) works in the intelligence section of the Paris police as a translator, interpreting the wiretap recordings and social media posts of Arabic-speaking drug dealers, and occasionally assisting in street busts. In an ordinary, fish-out-of-water cop movie, someone like her would face on-the-job sexism, and disarm with charm, en route to a station-house romance. Patience’s story is a little more complicated," writes Kelly Vance about 'Mama Weed'.

Out of His Mind: Michael Pollan digs deeper and further in his new book...

"'This Is Your Mind' isn’t simply an excuse for Pollan to get tripped-out and talk about it, or to display his rocketing curiosity and considerable intellectual energy," writes Lou Fancher. "It is a book that presents, and leaves for readers to consider, valuable questions: about presumptions they may hold, and embedded taboos relative to a sedative—opium—that has in recent history been transformed by a pharmaceutical company into a destroyer of human lives."

Spellling: Hopeful visions of the future

“‘Little Wheel’ is one of my all time favorite songs,” [Spellling] said. “[Sainte-Marie] does everything I wanted to do on this album in that one song. The theme of ephemerality of time and how special it is to be here, on this planet, as a human. Trying to grasp these big moments we get to share with each other while here and trying to hold onto them. She can speak to grandiose concepts, but the words are so detailed. My album is about that.”

Food for the Soul: East Bay food producers make social impact

Shana Bull writes, "The East Bay is a hub for businesses that give back to the local community. Whether it’s TCHO Chocolate or Third Culture Bakery—both in Berkeley, with a location in Walnut Creek opening soon for the latter—working with farmers who pay their employees living wages, or Rubicon Bakers in Richmond providing employment to those in need of a second chance, many East Bay business owners understand that their company culture, and how they treat their employees, vendors and community, matters.".

Not-So-Still Life With Figs: Legendary fruit thrives in the East Bay

Janis Hashe waxes eloquent on the abundance of figs in the East Bay and her ongoing competition for them with starlings, "the trashy relatives of the bird kingdom, as they start another round of Starling Wars."

Top That: Soul Slice brings Southern flair with unique toppings on biscuit pizza crusts

Jeffrey Edalatpour dines at Oakland's latest pizza innovators, Soul Slice, and speaks with owner Karter Louis about adding a touch of soul to the traditional pizza from crust to toppings.

Free Will Astrology: Week of July 11

ARIES (March 21-April 19): In his poem “Litany,” Aries poet Billy Collins testifies that he is “the sound of rain on the roof.” He also claims to be “the moon in the trees, the...

Spellling: Hopeful visions of the future

“‘Little Wheel’ is one of my all time favorite songs,” [Spellling] said. “[Sainte-Marie] does everything I wanted to do on this album in that one song. The theme of ephemerality of time and how special it is to be here, on this planet, as a human. Trying to grasp these big moments we get to share with each other while here and trying to hold onto them. She can speak to grandiose concepts, but the words are so detailed. My album is about that.”

Female Trouble: Reincarnated biblical she-devil ‘Lillith’ goes to college; horny frat boys beware

"No acting-prize hopefuls here," writes Kelly Vance in this week's review. "Frequent TV actor [Savannah] Whitten, in the title role, exhibits a lot of exaggerated energy in her sex scenes, each of which climaxes with the mutilation of her unlucky partner. Otherwise, her most notable achievement is to satisfy the prime requirement for playing Lillith in the first place—plenty of room in her mouth for the demonic dental appliance."

Thought Leaders: Oakland quartet showers splinters of light into the darkness on their debut...

“Musically, we were in an intense and dark place to begin with,” guitarist Andrew Lund said. “The pandemic paved the way for the album to be recorded in a way that allowed us to put that kind of energy into it. It was touch and go for a while, musically and personally. None of us knew what was going to happen. I don’t think anybody did.” j.poet talks with the East Bay band on moving forward with a debut album post-pandemic.

Love Potion No. 7: Hong Kong animated art film equals bisexual literary fantasy

"72-year-old Yonfan's latest, 'No. 7 Cherry Lane' is a procedural tale of a sensitive young man’s coming of age in Hong Kong, circa 1967. Splendidly conceived animation with themes borrowed from a virtual encyclopedia of European and Chinese visual art and films. In other words, a spectacle," writes Kelly Vance in this week's review.

Ancient Future: Global music without limits

"Ancient Future, the collective led by guitarist Matthew Montfort, can take many forms, from solo excursions by Montfort, to ensembles of three, five or 10 members, drawn from the 28 master musicians who rotate in and out of performances. Montfort usually takes center stage, stating the melodies on his scalloped fretboard guitar that he's been playing since the first Ancient Future concert in 1978."

Jenn Johns leads the vanguard as live concerts reappear

Eric K. Arnold sits down with singer Jennifer Johns to discuss Oakland history, Joni Mitchell, and finally being able to return to live shows post-pandemic.
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