Oakland Tribune Outtakes

Notes from Oakland, Berkeley and in between

A weekend of cereal satire, Lakefest and Richard Nixon

By awoodall
Monday, August 3rd, 2009 at 10:30 am in Fun Stuff to do in Oakland, Night Owl.

Friday night I took a trip to the Land of a Million Cereals at SWARM Studio’s monthly Filmnight 3.0: Extra Lives (I must have missed versions 1 and 2). Friday night’s showcase of “short form experimental videos that use both humor and technology to highlight the disconnect between our fantasies and our day to day lives” was curated by ProArt’s David Huff. The No. 1 crowd pleaser was Ryan Alexiev’s “Land of a Million Cereals,” a psychadelic hip-hop satire involving a Bulgarian peasant-soldier, an evil Frankenberry and William Kellog, the founder of the cereal empire. Alexiev, a designer, said the exhibit examines the ideology of free choice in American culture. The vast array of cereals on U.S. store shelves often leaves immigrants scratching their heads. Do we really need 275 cereals? And is being able to buy 275 different cereals mean free choice when they’re all basically the same crap. Alexiev’s answer isn’t political as mine. But the way he frames the question is a lot cleverer (i.e. “For the Love of God, Revisited” and “The Golden Spoon” and this other video).
I also really liked Jason Cros’ semi Star Wars homage, a Peter Pan version of Michael Jackson lipsynching PYT, and a visual-literal short that consisted of town names being read in a monotone loudspeaker voice. The names written and spoken evoked an image of places I’d never seen, even though I don’t know if that was the point (I didn’t read the instructions…). Besides, I love art that combines words and images. Saturday was busy with chaperoning visiting teenagers on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. But Sunday around 4 p.m. we dropped in at Lakefest and ran into Angela Tsay, now THE driving force of Oaklandish, surrounded by the Oakland booster’s ever-expanding array of T-shirts; Jean Quan’s daughter handing out pamphlets and postcards at one of the tents set up along Lakeshore Avenue; Abel of Habtegeorgis of Ella Baker listening to Kev Choice on keyboards and a few other familiar faces including Oakland Venue Management’s Andrew Jones  (I assume the firm was in charge of the logistics) looking intent on getting some 2×4 planks transported on his dune buggy vehicle he was riding around in. I dropped by Arsimona’s Soul Sundays music night for a drink and some material for a story about Chicago Style Steppin.’ I was almost tempted to go to Somar to check out their Sunday night lounge-lizard event. I think watching 13 episodes in a row last week of Mad Men had something to do with it.  But I was content and wanted to get back to rereading the transcripts of the Nixon White House-Watergate tapes after watching the original David Frost-Richard Nixon interview earlier in the evening.  And now it’s Monday. Let’s see what the culture fairy brings us this week.

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