Archive for April, 2010

Strike Back!

Posted in 4 Square East Bay with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2010 by 4squareeastbay

Hot on the tail of the one-day Oakland’s Teacher’s Strike, 4 Square of the East Bay held games in solidarity with Oakland educators, the lowest paid in Alameda county. While we realize that the economy is far from healed and budgets are excruciatingly tight, we also know that we owe the youth in our education system the best possible. This includes the consistency of committed individuals who can positively affect and influence our future leaders. Our teachers struggle everyday to reach youth that society would rather forget in conditions that are almost unimaginable. The people who work these jobs do not do so for fame or glory, but to improve the quality of life for our world. The least we can do is say that we support them in the struggle to make a decent wage so that they can continue to provide mentorship for kids that will inherit our problems. Hopefully, these students will thrive today and enact the solutions of tomorrow.

The kids of yesterday who still hold on to the sensations of childhood showed up to play on Thursday. Much thanks to Robert who not only brought chalk to the parking lot last week, but brought cute Sponge Bob bouncy ball this week. Nothing I like more than smacking an animated sea-sponge around in the dark. The games were kind hearted and cut throat at the same time. Movement was paramount as ballers scrambled back and forth across the parking lot to return vicious hits. Smiles and shit talk abounded and we welcomed kids old and new to the court. Shout out to Lee, Uriah, Jordan, Robert, Sam, Mike, Gabby, Rachel, Joia, Erica, Liz, Paul, Adam and Mike for returning and making moves. Big shouts go out to long lost players Ori, Erin, Katerina, Martin and Rei who came back to the square after an extended break. And the loudest shouts go to Dick and Laura for being the new kids in school and fitting in just fine. That wasn’t such a rough first day, was it? Our frienemies, the BART Police, did a distant roll by, but kept away from the action. Guess dem kno who run tings ’round herr.

Earlyish in the night, Jordan called a successful 4 Square challenge. Many others came after her, but were all hit with the proverbial fail whale. Jordan walks away from Thursday with the only win penguin. Go ‘head wid urself!

Rules popped up now and again and everyone laughed. Countries of the World was big (as always) and the night saw the return of the Zombie Rule (act like a zombie). Other good ones were On Deck, a couple of Spin Rounds, Jump When You Hit, Jump Out of the Square After You Hit, and Jump Around, Jump Around, Jump Up, Jump Up and Get Down. But mostly, the night was about skill. Sam kept yelling at people about the all weekend party at the Oakland Museum this weekend and the fact that 4 Square would be putting on a 6 hour 4 Square Marathon on Sunday May 2nd (from 11am to 5pm). If you guys don’t know about this event, the Oakland Museum is having it’s big reopening party and will be open from Saturday May 1st through Sunday May 2nd for art, performance, culture and 4 Square. Check it out East Bay, it’s free and everyone is gonna be there.

The night ended around 11:30 as people yawned and said something about working early in the morning. While everyone fought hard for the top spot, there could only be one. Rachel gave Mike the win with a strong, but ill-placed hit propelling him to his 3rd elimination victory since this blog has started caring. Congrats, Mike, you deserve it. He’s a math teacher in East Oakland. Keep your head and your fist up!

That’s it for this week! April had a brilliant run with the help of Spring and our first 4 Square Tournament! ‘Bring a Friend’ month was a semi-success and we racked up some new faces. The prize goes to Jerome who managed to drag the most people out to the parking to ball out with the big kids. Now you just gotta come back and claim your prize Jerome… May is fixing to be a big month too as 4SEB goes into ‘Movie May’ mode! This means a video camera will be present at the next games so look cute so you can get on video. Or just make sure your moves look cute and we should be good. See you on Sunday!


Earthday! (recycle your beer cans)

Posted in 4 Square East Bay with tags , , , , , , on April 23, 2010 by 4squareeastbay

Thursday was Earthday… how did you help your planet? 4SEB encouraged all of its participants to recycle. Or rather, we were forced to.

The games were extremely chill for a warm day in the Bay Area. The energy was relaxed as players swatted the ball back and forth, reminiscent of moving a ball of chi around between four people. Maybe it was heighten awareness about the fragile state of our world or maybe it was a residual from April 20th, but we were moving sort of slowly. More folks ambled up and by around 10 we had enough people to really get things kicked off. Rules popped out (the commie rule, countries of the world, super heroes, ultimate concentration, tournament rules and the on-deck rule) and the players played. Big props to everyone who showed up in the parking lot and much love to those who brought new people. Returning ballers were Uriah (thanks for holding it down even with the sniffles), Travis, Angie, Liz, Robert, Sam, Paul, Rachel, Adam, Jon, Mike, Mike, Vi and Gram. New faces were Conner, JT, Barbara, Josh, Pasquale and Dierdre. Hope you weren’t scared away.

As the night meandered towards midnight, the hustle kinda picked up. Everyone seemed to be having a good time and were equally as happy conversating in line as playing the game. Robert commented “What is this, some sort of post-tournament malaise?” Maybe … Adam didn’t agree so he called the 4 Square challenge and smashed all opponents. RRAAHH!

The evening ended in a strange way. First off, our 4 Square games take place in a repurposed public space, a space that isn’t being highly used during the hours that we roll through. That being said, it’s not our space and sometimes stuff that you do in your space isn’t appreciated when you do it in a space that isn’t. Since the beginning of the games, people have been known to bring bottles, cans and boxes of beer to enjoy. Alcohol has never been a problem because 4SEB does not tolerate obnoxious drunkenness (it’s just not cool and it’s totally counter-productive), but it’s really hard to stop people from sipping on a cool one between rounds to shake off crushing defeat. Usually, people are really smart about consumption at the games, but, to go along with the general feeling of the night, Thursday we just got lazy. Instead of stashing the cached cans, they dotted the parking spaces like little islands that read ‘Mickey’s’ and ‘The Champagne of Beers.’ No one knew that this would attract the attention of a most deadly authority: the BART Police.

Around 11:20, 4SEB got rolled up on by a squad car. After a quick conversation with 5iveOh, (in which it was revealed that this particular BART officer knew nothing about our 4 Square game or the Knights who’ve been in the lot on Thursdays for over 10 years) we were asked to dump the open containers and skedaddle. We don’t think that he wanted to run through the paperwork of writing us up and he looked like more of a Heinekien man than a Miller Highlife kind of guy so he didn’t take the beer. Okay BART Po, we get the message. Lesson learned. We’ll keep it in brown bags next time.

In defense of 4 Square of the East Bay, we always clean up our mess after we leave. Even with broken glass and food garbage, we always pick up the scraps and try to recycle what we can. It’s really important to us that we respect the space in order to keep our games and good times going. We know what happened to the Rittenhouse Four Square ballers in Philadelphia and we don’t want it to happen to us, even if it means capitulating and closing out early this week. But go ask anyone who has been to the parking lot and see what they think is more important to the people there, drinking or 4 Square. Hint: it’s 4 SQUARE! This game offers a different outlet for social interaction than a bar or a club and we don’t think that anyone wants to screw that up by getting super blitzed and causing drama. Nor would we want that. Like Slick Rick say’s “Lodidodi, we like to [play 4 Square]/we don’t cause trouble, we don’t bother nobody.” Or at least that’s how we hear the song.

In conclusion, the game will be on next week. We’ll be more cautious, conscious and considerate. And we’ll continue to have a great time. We just have to raise the funds to bail these players out of jail. Take ’em away officer!

Pancakes & a 4 Square Tournament

Posted in 4 Square East Bay, 4 Square Tournament with tags , , , , , , , on April 22, 2010 by 4squareeastbay

Sunday April 18th, 2010 was an historic day for 4 Square of the East Bay! On this day, 4SEB teamed up with Strive For ______ to put on it’s first 4 Square Tournament! This was preceded by a wonderful pancake breakfast/fundraiser for Strive For ______ which is a new organization designed to link youth in foster care with mentorship programs in San Francisco. It was a great event with good food, wonderful people and (what else) a whole lot of 4 Square.

The day started at around 10am for eating and chatting in the Adams Point neighborhood of Oakland. Cooks David, Matt and Michelle served up the hungry crowd with delicious pancakes of the vegan and non-vegan variety. Set up for the day’s gaming started around 10:45 as many eager players began weeding the small square of cracked concrete that would be the court. They swept dirt and gravel away, moved trash and compost, placed styrofoam over windows, taped and chalked out the court and started stretching.

Travis and Sam began registering players, writing down their names (and nicknames) then assigning them numbers. It was announced that the games would start at around 12:30. Regulars from the Thursday games began to mingle with new folks from Strive For and get ready for the action. Little did these new players know what was in store for them…

The competitors were…

Ben (AKA Artist), Sam (AKA Shaolin B-Boy), Phil (AKA Rasputin), Paul (AKA English), Lee (AKA Wykid Ballz), Matt M. (AKA Matt3), Hasan (AKA The Masecator), Rebeccah (AKA R2D2), Adam (AKA Booba), James (AKA Tinker), Uriah (AKA The Uriah), Jeff (AKA Teddy Bear), Matt C. (AKA Professor McPartytime), Jordan (AKA Jordanger), Don (AKA Donamite), Alex (AKA Lex), Jeremy (AKA Papa J-Flex), David (AKA Boomer), Dennis (AKA Sprout), Andrew (AKA Chief), Jeremiah (AKA The Badger), Michelle (AKA Asskickin), Jamie (AKA Lame Sweet), Kiki (AKA Milk Monster), Pete (AKA Wretched Kids), Rose (AKA Thorns) and Rachel (AKA #25). A couple more players slipped in there, but they weren’t written down nor did they get nicknames. Don’t worry, you still exist.

After recruiting the judges (Jessica, Mariela, Faye and Travis) the rules were explained. Instead of the fun parking lot rules that 4SEB usually has, tournament rules were put into effect because … well, it was a tournament.

The Rules:

If the ball bounces in your square (or hits you) you must physically put it in someone else’s square. Outside lines are in, inside lines are out. You can’t get out on a serve. No double taps. No slams above the head. You can play the ball off of any part of your body. You can play off the wall. If someone hits a ball that bounces in your square before you, interference is called and the round is done over. Conflicts are solved with a duel (two square). A Square can’t call any silly rules, the only rule A Square can call is the Commie rule (everyone has to hit the ball once before anyone can get out, serve does not count as a hit). When you get out, give the line hi-fives. Game play ends when the time is up.


Players line up in order of registration. Every time a player takes a square (entering into D square, moving up to C square etc) they are awarded a quarter point. Upon reaching A Square that player has a total of 4 quarter points or (do the math) 1 point. A player gets a point for every serve that they make. The two scores are added up to get the total points at the end of the round.

Game play is divided into two rounds. The first round lasts 1 hour. After the first hour, all the points are added up and then the 12 players with the highest scores advance to the next round. Round 2 is 30 minutes and player order is assigned randomly. It is scored the same way as round 1 with the additional category of ‘Style.’ Style points are awarded anytime a player makes the judges or the crowd go ‘Woooooo!’ or ‘Oohhhh!’

Okay, so that may sound complicated. It may sound kinda hard to process. It was. Not gonna lie, there were a bunch of bugs in the system (judges couldn’t see, people were confused, not everyone knew what a Communist was etc). We did the best we could and knowing that it was our first tournament, our first time trying to score a game that is faster than NasCar, we did pretty well. I think. This is really preparing us for the next time we do a tournament when we can get things set and get going right away. Here is what the game looked like!

The rounds were brilliant, the competition was fierce and the whole thing was hella fun! At the end of round 1 12 players advanced to the finals. They were Shaolin B-Boy, Wykid Ballz, Sprout, R2D2, Tinker, The Uriah, Professor McPartytime, Jordanger, Papa J-Flex, Chief, #25 and a mystery player (ie unregistered). The next 30 minutes were off the chains. We ditched the paper scoring system and opted for a computerized scoring program that was written by Adam while the first round was still going. Repeat: ADAM WROTE A PROGRAM TO SCORE OUR 4 SQUARE TOURNAMENT IN UNDER AN HOUR. That’s fucking cool. Thank you.

In the end, only one player could be champion, but we’re gonna run down the top ten.

10. Wykid Ballz 9. Jordanger 8. Chief 7. Professor McPartytime 6. Sprout 5. Mysterious Player 4. Papa J-Flex 3. The Uriah 2. Tinker

and the winner is….

1. Shaolin B-Boy!

Congratulations Sam, you are a sports superstar in your own right! Now get out there and defend your title!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this recap. It’s long, but it’s worth it. Join 4 Square of the East Bay every Thursday night in the Rockridge BART Station parking lot for more games and check out for more information on how you can support their good work. Be well wonderful people!

Smack Taxes!

Posted in 4 Square East Bay with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2010 by 4squareeastbay

This Thursday was April 15th, also know as TAX DAY! Did you file? Did you get an extension? Do you even make enough money to register on the Government’s radar? At 4SEB we know all about being broke. That’s why we’ve created an event that is FREE FOR EVERYONE! Of course, if you want to give to the chalk and ball fund (which pays for chalk, balls, tape and batteries for the boombox) we aren’t gonna stop you. We might even write you a receipt so you can deduct your donation from next year’s taxes!

The game play was all about releasing stress and getting ready for the big Pancake Breakfast/4 Square Tournament on Sunday (register by 11:30am, games start at noon). Because of the looming specter of possibly winning this tourney, not many silly rules were called making players focus more on the pure elements of their game. Of course, the spin rule, the pirate rule and ‘Countries of the World’ made an appearance along with the new ‘Hi-Five’ rule in which the player who gets out runs down the line, hi-fiving everyone. It’s totally a feel good rule, you should really try it. But the game was still fierce and everyone got pumped for Sunday. After being sick of losing in Square 1, Sam chalked out Square 2 to get more action. After a shaky start, both squares were full of ballers fighting for the top spot. The players in the lot were Mike, Vi, Angie, Lee, Mike, Caroline, Sam, Uriah, Jordan, Travis, Liz, Paul, Rachel and Jon. Returning players were Rebecca, Robert, Leah and Jerome and (because April is ‘Bring a Friend Month’) we got a whole bunch of new faces! They were Mac (from Angie), Gram (from Jon), Rebecca (from Travis), and Casey, Ryan and Kyle (all from Jerome).

The 4 Square challenge has become super popular and this week we had three players to complete it. Ain’t nothing new here, the winners were Uriah, Jordan and Paul. This blog is gonna have more pictures of them than their facebook pages…

We closed out Square 2 around 11:45 and everyone lined up around Square 1 for the final moments of the night. It was fierce from the beginning as players were bounced out, but it all came down to Uriah and newcomer Mac battling it out. It ended in a victory by Uriah and a grand round of applause for everyone else. Who knew that Uriah was gonna win?

And that was tax day! Who knew it could be so fun? Awesomely enough, the day after tax day (4/16) = FOUR SQUARE DAY! Why? Do the math… I think that the Four Square Social Location Media Check-In thing had a bunch of deals going on. But whatever, ain’t no deals in our 4 Square game, just whoopass. The leaderboard for ‘Bring a Friend Month’ stands as such: Jerome – 3, Paul – 2, Angie – 1, Sam – 1, Travis – 1, Uriah -1, Erica/Joia – 1. We want your friends to be our friends! Hope to see everyone out at the Pancake Breakfast/4 Square Tournament this Sunday, April 18th! Look for a recap of the games and a video to follow! Holla!

4 Square videos on the internet

Posted in 4 Square East Bay, 4 Square network with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2010 by 4squareeastbay

At this point, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably already seen the videos of 4SEB playing the game we all love and explaining what the magical phenomenon that is the Rockridge BART station parking lot and … what’s that? You haven’t seen the videos? Okay, take a few minutes and educate yourself …

Caught up now? Good. The way the 4SEB plays is rooted in the basic concept of “If the ball bounces in your square, put it in another player’s square.” As simple as this may seem, there are multiple interpretations what this actually looks like in the Square, what is acceptable and what is impermissible. Different regions develop different attitudes, rules, moves and cultures surrounding the game. Even the square itself changes, from our 20 by 20 footer to courts that are only 3 feet by 3 feet. With all this variation, questions come up. Which style is right? Who holds authority? What are the squares actually supposed to be called? What’s up with your rules? And who are the hardest ballers? Wanting answers, we did what anyone with questions does: we asked the internet. So after months of combing youtube, 4 Square of the East Bay has complied some of the best clips for you to view and consider. We now present: 4 Square Videos on the Internet…

While not really originating from the internet, it certainly has been watched by many on the web. Let’s start it off with the artful, yet oh-so-real drama of the playground “Heroes of the Game: Four Square” from Nickelodeon’s Games and Sports!

4SEB and this next group share the same lineage but have developed different styles of play. Here is NYC with some of our square-like cousins…

Now, as a counter point to New York, the Boston organization Square Four (who are a major part of the Four Square World Championships) shows off their game…

Speaking of World Championships

Back in 2008, one winner of the World Championships was from our northern neighbor proving that Canadians have major game. Check out Memorial University Square Ball from Newfoundland.

4 Square seems to be making a comeback among colleges not only in Canada but also in sunny Florida. Here’s a new twist on the Florida State University Vs. University of Florida rivalry, Box Ball style.

Then there are these two awesome videos from somewhere in the world. We can’t figure out where, but they’ve got killer moves and some even have matching t-shirts. Hot.

Unfortunately, there are two sides to every story and 4 Square internet videos are no different. As much as youtube has helped us display our athletic prowess it also offers up the casual surfer more crappy videos than good. Some are so bad people feel they need to post that 4 Square sucks and it’s lame, that it’s not a sport and that they can beat you while drunk and talking on a cell phone. This can scare away new players who choose to believe stereotypes saying the square is full of sad dorks, misfits with Peter Pan syndrome, and … well, squares. It’s videos like this next one that perpetuate those negative ideas and give the real players a bad name. In my opinion, this is one of the worst 4 Square videos out there because it tries so hard to be authoritative and witty, but leaves our epic game looking pathetic and laughable. Don’t say I didn’t warn you: if you decide to watch it, you won’t get your 8 minutes back.

Note: You need at least four people to play four square. Maybe if you weren’t such a jerk, you’d have some friends to play with. I’m just saying.

So that’s it for now! If you have any additional videos that you think deserve to be blogged about, holla at us! Of course, we wanna support all forms of 4 Square out there and we love the internet for helping us spread the word. If you’re not up on this already, check out the new web-reality series FOUR by Adam Kontras out of LA! Also, keep making movies and making moves! The internet is big and we’ve got a lot of 4 Square to play… We wanna end out with a feel good video that all 4 Square videos secretly want to be. Enjoy!

Double your fun!

Posted in 4 Square East Bay with tags , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2010 by 4squareeastbay

April is BRING A FRIEND month for 4 Square East Bay! If you don’t know, we wanna introduce HELLLA new faces to the square so that folks can get out in their community, get some exercise, meet people and have a great time. That’s what we are all about… and whoopin’ yo butt at 4 Square.

The evening was a little chillier than the day but that didn’t stop folks from coming out. The parking lot is under construction but luckily the fenced off zone only complimented our usual playing space instead of covering it up. The chain link fence provide a perfect backdrop for the line to stand by and hang their hoodies up. The night started out with a new, more compact and tougher ball (thanks to Gabby) which made the game even MORE intense (as if it were possible). The great weather brought players and friends together and we all played games. Shout out to Lee, Gabby, Travis, Uriah, Mike, Angie, Liz, Mike, Paul, Adam and Sam for being regulars. Shout out to returning ballers Phoebe, Nick, Vi, Rachel, Joia and Erica (we missed you!). And BIG SHOUT to the new playas Robert, Martin, Nicole and Pia! You guys f-in rocked and we love you for it. Now be our friend on facebook 🙂

A funny thing happens when there are a bunch of people at 4 Square. Folks get tired of waiting in the long ass line so around 10:45 the restless players (ie the ones that got out!) set up another square to get their game on and practice their moves. It’s always lovely when the game is so hot that people want to spread out and play as much as possible. So for the first time in 2010, 4SEB taped out another square for folks to play in. Yeah community! Let’s keep it up and take over the entire parking lot!

As people rotated between the two squares, back at Square 1 battle lines were drawn. Many issued the 4 Square challenge, but again, only few succeed. Way to go Lee and Sam, you’re almost celebrities.

After closing out Square 2, everyone gathered back at Square 1 for some awesome final rounds before elimination was called. The line ran long but in the end Vi took advantage of Adam and squeezed out the victory. A great job considering he’s coming off a serious shoulder injury. Next time you see you, give him a hug, but not too hard. Congratulations Vi!

In conclusion, you better start to show up to 4 Square early or you’ll be stuck in the line. Also, BRING YOUR FRIENDS! You do want to win a prize don’t you? As it stands Paul is in the lead with 2 points, followed a 3-way tie between Uriah, Sam, Joia & Erica (joint team) with 1 point each. Keep it up cuz May is coming sooner than you know and we want the parking lot to be full. Of people. Not cars.

Also, on Sunday, April 18th there is the pancake breakfast/4 Square tournament! We need you there to eat, play and support a good cause! Check the link for all the info and get ready for FUN! Okay everyone, enjoy the spring because it’s here! See you in the square next week. You could be in a picture just like this…

Actin’ Foolish!

Posted in 4 Square East Bay with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 3, 2010 by 4squareeastbay

4 Square fell on April 1st this year which meant that the parking lot was filled with fools. Foolish fools acting all foolish. After a quick blast on the internet stating that the weekly game of 4 Square would be replaced by Dodgeball, the games commenced. Of course, no one actually knew that there was an April Fools gag about playing dodgeball (except for Uriah and Jordan) because no one is really RTing @4squareeastbay and it seems that people didn’t check their facebook enough to make the last minute joke happen. Instead of throngs of eager dodgeball players showing up in the parking lot and then being won over by the unstoppable appeal of the square, we had many regulars and returns who were just looking to smack some balls around. Those players were: Uriah, Travis, Jordan, Mike, Mike, Angela, Liz, Paul, Adam, Sam and Caroline. 4SEB welcomed back Will, Lee (AKA Wicked Balls) and Jeff (we love it when he shows up because it’s almost like an unofficial endorsement by Oaklandish) along with new-comer Jerome, who was introduced to us at the Radio Regatta over the summer… Good for all of you, dodgeball sucks anyway.

The game was silly and great, as could be expected on International Fools Day. Disputes were solved with duels, countries were shouted out, there were party’s in the square, an impromptu doubles round was played (but never actually asked for) and people were called fools. The night moved swiftly and laughter was heard all around, punctuated by the occasional expletive as someone got themselves out. Here is a picture from a round of ‘On Deck’ square where the first person in line takes up space in the middle of the square and hopes not to be hit.

The night had a bunch of 4 Square Challenges called but two made it to the ‘A’ Square within the three rounds require to complete the challenge. Congrats Lee and Paul, you made fools of all of us.

The night ended with a kick butt elimination round that ended with another victory by Uriah. Check out his shirt, it’s what winners wear.

So in conclusion, if you didn’t play 4 Square on April 1st you are just a fool. But don’t worry! You’ve got a chance to be cool for the entire month! Not only does 4SEB meet every Thursday in the Rockridge BART Station Parking lot from 9pm till midnight, but all of April is BRING A FRIEND MONTH! The player who introduces the most friends to the game gets a prize in May. How cool is that?

Also, everyone mark their calendars cuz we’ve got two awesome events coming up that are gonna need you (and your friends) to make them extra-awesomesauce.

The first is a Pancake Breakfast/4 Square Tournament on Sunday, April 18th from 10am to around 2:30 in Oakland. Click the link for the facebook event info! We’d love to see you there to eat pancakes and play square. There will be a trophy.

The second HUGE event is the Oakland Museum’s Reopening Two Day Party the weekend of May 1st. 4SEB will be there on SUNDAY, MAY 2nd for a SIX HOUR 4 SQUARE MARATHON from 11am to 5pm. The whole thing is FREE and there will be music, games, exhibits and general good fun/community merry making. Lets all get together and hang out at the museum!

Put those events down and look for yourself in next week’s post! Peaces!