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The Chris Chandler Show

  • Oakland / When Luck Calls Your Name (6:25)

    from Matadors


    Oakland (At the Corner of Poverty and Inspiration.)


    "That truck sounded like a woman singing," She said, as the first sounds of Monday morning traffic made themselves familiar with the Off Ramp Studio where I live.  

    It is like waking to the inspiration of a world in motion.  

    Oakland.



    Oakland is the strained vocal chords of a croaky California situated deep in the mouth of the San Francisco Bay.

At the Corner of Poverty and Inspiration.

Trucks and barges.  
    Commuter trains and bicycles.


    The BART whips by the third floor so close you can pass notes to commuters.

    Here at the corner of 880 and 580 there is a yellow truck stop and a blue collar bar that flank the purple building as multi-colored giant container ships unload truck sized boxes upon eighteen wheels of glass and steel.  
    Oakland.

The whole building vibrates with the sound of America shouting through a mouth made of two interstate on-ramps, that entangle and clover leaf round the building like chords of Marigold feeding a ravenous America with vessels full Chinese plastic, so she can defecate discounted alien wares and with-alls out onto the green lawns formed by the septic tank known as America.  


    Oakland.



    Oakland has always been the Gateway to the East.  


    She was the start of the Intercontinental Railroad whose golden spike was driven into the coffin of agrarian America in 1881.  


    Oakland.

The end of the line.  


    Weary easterners who followed the call “go west, young man,” could do so no more, unless they climbed aboard ocean bound freighters that filled her harbors. And many did. It was the gold rush of '49 that brought so many to Oakland's shores, and although there was little gold to be found there was plenty of timber with which San Francisco would be built.  But it was also the Gold Rush of '97 – the Klondike Gold Rush – that fanned the flames of a nomadic nation eager to migrate further into the vicious cold, in search of a more viscous gold.


    Oakland.

At the corner of Broadway and Embarcadero, Jack London would embark upon such journeys through that bitter cold, igniting infernos in many a restless heart.  His words are emblazoned,

    "I would rather be ashes than dust."



    But these days, it is dust – chalk dust –  that outlines the bodies of too many restless hearts departing on a very different journey.  Oakland.

There is a plaque and a statue, and even a ritzy marina named for the socialist and radical Jack London, but there is no plaque or monument at the corner of 56th and Grove where the socialist and radical Black Panther Party was formed, offering free breakfasts to the children of a workforce that had served as the anchor for Oakland's once humming wartime ship industry.  But when the shipping industry cut its chains and sailed, it left its anchor to rust in the ghettos.  

    Oakland.



    The Kaiser shipping industry recruited hundreds of thousands of African Americans from primarily Louisiana in the '30s and '40s creating the blackest population in the United States west of New Orleans.  
    The smell of Cajun cuisine still mingles with jazz along cracked sidewalks at the corner of Adversity and Revelation.  Oakland.



    But all cities in America have their duplicities, hypocrisies and underbellies.  

    Oakland is often viewed as the poor, ugly step-child of flowery San Francisco.  San Francisco is indeed a rose – and perhaps Oakland is the thorn.  But remember the thorn protects the rose – without the thorn there could be no rose – yet without the flower there is still the bush.

    Oakland.


    
From Jack London to Bobby Seals and Huey Newton. Sly and the Family Stone to Ed Kelly and Pharaoh Sanders.  The necklace of lights, Yoshi's to The AK Press. The fire in the hills,  The Judi Bari Bombing. Oscar Grant. Occupy. The Black Giants and the Colored Elite to the Oakland Larks.  Bullet Meadows to Catfish Hunter and George Blanda.  The Black Hole.   Black Panthers. Hell's Angels.


    Oakland.



    Hella Oakland.

    At the Corner of Poverty and Inspiration.

    Credits:

    Oakland/ When Luck Calls Your Name
    Chris Chandler/Paul Benoit

    “I would rather be ashes than dust.” - Jack London

    Paul Benoit: Guitar, and Vocals
    Doug Schoolcraft:  Guitar
    Tige Decoster: Bass
    Dan Weber: Drums
    Bill Molloy: Piano
    Frankie Hernandez: Trumpet and Vocals
    Chris Chandler: Spoken Word

    Recorded originally at: The Cabin by: Ric Vaughan
    with additional tracks at 31st Ave Studio by: Jakael Tristam, Seattle, WA
    and by Dirk Price in Ashland, OR

    Published by: 9th Wave Publishing/ Stray Dog Music

    Oakland/ When Luck Calls Your Name
    Chris Chandler/Paul Benoit

    Published by: 9th Wave Publishing/ Stray Dog Music

    updated: 6 months ago