Archive for July, 2010

The Usual Suspects

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

After 2 plus years in the Rockridge BART Parking lot, occupying the same space at the same time every week, 4 Square of the East Bay has established a regular group of ballers who gather to play games and rob each other of victory. Each player brings his or her own personal style, some are brash and loud, some are sly and cunning, some fake injuries and make up stories. Whatever the style, the goal is always the same: Get to ‘A’ square so you can make the rules. Being friendly is nice … when you’re waiting in line trying to plot your ascent to the top, but once you enter the box, those alliances are gone. Ultimately, everyone is out for themselves and if they need to set fire to the ship to win, then they’re gonna do it. Thankfully, it’s all a game and we can laugh it off so no one winds up in a police line up at the end of the night.

The usual suspects were: Lee, Uriah, Sam, Adam, Robert, Paul, Caroline, Gabby, Vi, Liz, Rachel, Mike, Jordan, Frank, Kendall, Jerome and Casey. The new persons-of-interest were: Sanjay, Chris, Teresa, Justin and James (who played in our 4 Square Tournament in April). Again, the rules were there (the commie rule, spin rounds, clapping after hits, countries of the world, all lines are out) but people played hard. Maybe it was because of the absence of noobs that people felt that they could really dig into each other. The rounds were furious and the ballers heeded the call from last week… all 4 Square Challenges were shut down. Don’t think you can just limp up in here, tell some lies and just walk off with a challenge win… hell no, it don’t go down like that. So instead of challenge winners, here are some cinnamon buns that Robert brought to share. Yum!

Once again, because of the masses of people wanting to play, Square 1 and Square 2 were in full effect. Square 2 shut down around 11:45 and (after a very short-lived round of double’s square) elimination was called on Square 1. Even though it was Gabby’s birthday, she did not win. The winner was Vi, who survived to the end even under onslaughts from all sides. Some might call him the mastermind behind this whole scheme…

And that wraps up this case! As always, it was a blast to have people come and play with us. Let’s spread the word and keep it up! FYI 4SEB is currently looking for a place to practice for the World Championships. Anything would be nice, but we want a space with gym floors so we can get ready. Any ideas? Also, if you love urban gaming, you should check out Bay Area Wallball that is starting to form and do it’s thang on Thursdays from 5:30 to 7pm! Aaand the Oakland Underground Film Festival‘s screening of Shaolin Soccer is tonight in the Jack London Square area! Lastly, our friends The Oakland Museum is opening up an exhibit on Saturday called Pixar: 25 Years of Animation … here’s a secret, every first Sunday of the month is free admission… Be safe and be good to each other! Have fun with your life…

Rock & Roll All Night

Posted in 4 Square East Bay with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2010 by 4squareeastbay

Everyone at 4 Square wanted to rock & roll all night. We would have been partying but that would require a commitment to do it everyday. Most people have work even though it’s summer. Not that it stopped anyone from becoming familiar with tall-boys and dancing around. Also Annemarie brought cupcakes so it had to be a party. A party that rocked.

As a result of the sugar rush and rock the game moved quickly. While the parking lot wasn’t as packed as it has been in the last couple of weeks, it gave ballers a chance to work on their moves and go in for the kill. People in the parking lot were: Uriah, Lee, Mike, Stephanie, Angie, Robert, Gabby, Liz, Sam, Mike, Annemarie, Mike, Jordan, Bob, Paul, Rachel, Doug, Bob, Zephie, Christina, Frank and Dorian.

The rules were around but the main focus became collecting 4 Square challenges. Last night 4SEB was almost absolutely unable to deny anyone the privilege of claiming challenge victory. Part of this was because challengers were semi-audible when declaring and no one knew they were going for the win (YOU GOTTA USE A LOUD VOICE LIKE THIS!) and partly because our players are so gooood that we can’t be stopped. Holla at Gabby, Sam, Robert, Jordan, Lee, Uriah and Bob for lessons on how to whoop ass.

Around 11:30 the ranks swelled as more people rolled up hoping to rock out. Soon after they got warmed up it was time for elimination. After rolling through most of the line, Paul established himself as the winner of elimination by winning elimination. Way to go Paul, you’ve now got rock-star status.

And that’s how we do! If you weren’t there then you missed being seen on the scene. Wait, is it cool to care or not to care? What is cool is this awesome bike ride this Saturday from Lake Merritt to West Oakland called Bike 4 Life! This is to raise awareness about the other side of Oakland. Be there to show people that Oakland isn’t all bad football, shootings and 4 Square. And wear a helmet! Your brain will thank you.

A Midsummer Night’s Square

Posted in 4 Square East Bay with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2010 by 4squareeastbay

The weather was warm on Thursday night as if magic were in the air. The square seemed to simmer half way between one world and another as bewildered Athenians … uh, Oaklanders wandered through the Rockridge BART Parking lot in search of true love and a pick-up game of 4 Square. Still recovering from last week’s action, players were laid back but the game was swift as a shadow, short as any dream, brief as the lightning in the coiled night. But it was still hella fun!

While there was some confusion telling one player from another, 4SEB welcomed all into the grove-like lot. The players were Sam, Robert, Uriah, Oberon, Kendall, Caroline, Lee, Mike, Liz, Frank, Sam, Lindsay, Jordan, Phil, Lysander, Mike, Vi, Titania, Yeshi, Bob, Gabby, Helena, Julian, Samra, Annemarie, Demetrius, Rachel, Paul, Adam, Michelle, Hermia and Dorian.

While the summer night began with dreams of the World Championships, by the mid this love had been switched out for some half-assed rules. Push-up square, stay inside the square, dance square, robot square, t-Rex arms, Kung Fu animal square, the pirate rule, one word story and units of measurement were all present and persistent. Lord, what fools these mortals be! 4 Square challenges were won by Frank, Jordan, Phil and Julian. Hope you are all rewarded by faeries.

As the night got more dream-like Square 2 closed out only to be followed soon by a call for elimination in Square 1. It was fierce as eliminated players rubbed their eyes in disbelief and woke up. In the end, Julian triumphed over all for the ultimate victory. Holla!

4SEB wants to thank everyone who got mixed up with us. Hopefully everyone ended up where they were supposed to be, with who they were supposed to be with. If you want to participate in more midsummer’s love check out Bike 4 Life on Saturday, July 24th. It’s a bike ride/street take-over from Lake Merritt to West Oakland followed by a movie! Now that’s a summer dream we can all get into… Be safe Bay Area and remember to participate in your community!

No Justice, Just Us.

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

**Hey folks, this is a hot topic with a lot of feelings attached to it. Take some time to check out the links (highlighted in orange) to see more media surrounding these issues.**

Thursday, July 9th, was a heavy day for Oakland, California. After less than 6 hours of deliberation, the jury from the Johannes Mehserle trial, the BART officer who shot and killed unarmed passenger, Oscar Grant, in the back (click for video), came back with a verdict: involuntary manslaughter. While this is not a complete acquittal, it was not the justice that the Grant family or people around the Bay Area were calling for. Folks started gathering at 14th and Broadway in Downtown Oakland as soon as it was clear that a verdict had been reached. As it was announced, anger and disappointment were apparent and the call went out to rally and speak on the issues and feelings directly related to this case. For two hours, from 6pm to 8pm, people of Oakland and the Bay Area spoke to remember Oscar Grant, condemned the actions of the police, called for the community to organize, encouraged young people to learn their rights and know the laws and pleaded for all of those assembled to respect the wishes of the Grant family with non-violent protests. Unfortunately, vandalism and looting became the lead story in the media and as the sun set, the rally ended and emotional open wounds festered. Crowds continued to stand in the street, chanting, playing instruments and expressing frustrations at the lines of riot police. Soon, bottles were thrown at cops and the people moved in the manner of a stampede. Organizers of the rally quickly interceded reminding everyone that the purpose of the takeover on Broadway was to call for justice, not to cause destruction in Oakland. This is how the situation turned from a peaceful protest to unrest.

The anger was evident and palpable, but the violence (perpetrated by looters and by the police) against our city was ignorant. For weeks, there has been hype in the press that on the day the verdict came down, riots would occur. That didn’t happen. There is a difference between what happened last night, July 8th 2010, and what happened on January 7th, 2009. Referred to as an Uprising or Revolt, the ‘riot’ in January was a direct response from citizens to the silence from people in positions of power. After the world became familiar with the Fruitvale BART station through youtube, Mayor Ron Dellums, D.A. Tom Orloff and the BART Police department had NOTHING to say about the death of Oscar Grant for SEVEN days. One week after the killing, people decided to rally and make their voices heard. This video shows the intentions of organizers at the Fruitvale rally in 2009 to get some sort of action from authority figures before Mehserle resigned. They knew his resignation meant he could not be questioned further by BART officials. Some factions of the protests called for a march on the BART headquarters (which was NOT endorsed by the organizers) and that led to the riots/uprising/revolt. Don’t get it twisted, violence is never a positive solution, but afterwards one woman was quoted saying, “Windows can be replaced, our babies can’t.”

Last night, Oakland was hurting. The Mehserle trial was the first time in California history that an on-duty police officer had been charged with murder. The response from the people in January, 2009, helped, in part, to bring about these charges with hope for justice for an unarmed man who did not deserve to lose his life. Unfortunately, burning cars, broken windows and arrests were all that was seen by the national media. By the end of last night, Oakland was again portrayed as a city out of control. KCBS breaks down the people arrested for unlawfully assembly, vandalism and assaulting police officers. Over 75% of those arrested for violence weren’t even from our town. Oakland wasn’t out of control, we were caught in the middle. The property damage last night was not a representation of those who cared about the issues raised by Oscar Grant’s death. It was a display of disrespect by opportunists and agitators.

4 Square of the East Bay takes a deep interest in this case because, not only do we play our weekly game at a BART Station, but also because our gathering retakes and repurposes public space. It is paramount to the well-being of our square that we create a safe environment for people to have fun and express themselves in a playful manner. While Rockridge is a far-cry from Fruitvale, we understand the importance for citizens of our city to feel that sense of safety wherever they go. Sadly, one of the things that makes Oaklanders, especially Oaklanders of color, feel unsafe is the attitudes of the police as they patrol the city. This must read article by Chela Simone speaks of the experiences of a black person growing up in Oakland, relating to the police and how the Mehserle trial has affected attitudes towards the justice system. Having fun is no longer an option if the area in which you play is unsafe, when you cannot trust those who are supposed to keep you safe. For some people, the outcome of the Mehserle trial seems like it sets a precedent for police around the country to shoot first and never ask questions. While the media was prepping the city for riots from protesters, protesters feared violence from the riot cops steadily boxing them in on all sides. This fear is ever present in the lives of people who look like Oscar Grant. It is important for our entire community to come together and help banish this fear from our everyday lives by building positive relationships and speaking out on issues that go against our conscience. For this reason, 4SEB takes up the message that WE ARE ALL OSCAR GRANT, and our lives matter. We want justice and action, but we also want safety and peace. We must work together with our city and community in mind to make this happen.

In spite of all the action Downtown, 4 Square did happen on Thursday night. Smiles were exchanged and games were played. We weren’t afraid to show up and be ourselves. Players were Rachel, Lee, Robert, Mars, Sam, Kendall, Caroline, Uriah, Monk, Jordan, Phil, Angie, Liz, Gabby, Daniel, Parker, Sheer, Jared, Sonia, Austin, Xago, Simón, John, Isaac, Charlie, Ariel, Jerome, Casey, Pete and Michelle. 4 Square Challenges were called and won by Robert, Jordan, Sam and Lee.

The night ended with Lee taking his second elimination win in as many weeks. Congrats!

Lastly, 4SEB wants to invite those of you who are interested in moving forward on the issues surrounding Oscar Grant’s death to the meeting that is happening next Thursday at 7:30 at the Continental Club in West Oakland. Let’s make change together, cuz if we don’t, nobody will. We love you Oakland, stay smart, sane and savvy.

Playground State of Mind

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

It’s July and it’s getting HOT in Oakland… Our town is currently debating whether to celebrate the birth of our country or prepare for social action with the looming outcome of the Johannes Mehserle trial. While the times might be trying and the sun might be shining, 4 Square of the East Bay still knows how to bring people together to play. It’s always amazing when folks of all different walks of life can gather, be competitive and still have fun. This week 4SEB had the most young players it has ever hosted. Most of these kids got hip to the square at Oaklavía and decided to show up with their parents to throw down on Thursday. As a result, there was a lot of yelling, screaming, dancing and shit talk. Oh man, to be young and have a summer vacation… wait a second, that’s just like any other Thursday night in the parking lot.

Roll call: Robert, Lee, Jordan, Chris, Reggie, Lucas, Sam, Diamond, Hana, Jazz, Cherokee, Cameron, Liz, Angie, Frank, Patrick, Arianna, Michelle, Jessica, Mike, Stephanie, Paul, Rachel, Mike, Gabby, Tori, Hannah, Phoebe, Vi, Sandy, Mickey and Alec. If you weren’t there, you were missed… What wasn’t missing was the crazy rules! Commie rule was totally in fashion, as was ‘Countries of the world.’ There was a long run of ‘Inside lines are out’ and a couple rounds of  ‘Compliment Square.’ As the night was warm and the energy was young, ‘Dance Square’ was almost a must and everyone got their groove on. Big thanks to Gabby, Tori and Michelle for rolling through with snacks and drinks to share. Yum!

The kids held it down for about 2 and a half hours before taking off around 11:30. The remaining adults promptly started swearing, smoking, spitting, swigging and scratching. Players also began to call an unprecedented number of 4 Square challenges fighting to win a spot on the blog. At one moment, each player that entered the square had a challenge going to the point where everyone in the line had called one. But in the 4 Square Challenge, only the strong survive. Congratulations Sam and Lee, you are strong!

Soon after the challenges had subsided, midnight rolled around and elimination came to the square. It was hard fought (as always) and the final match saw Lee match up against Michelle. It was a brilliant round, but Lee’s well placed hits left Michelle wishing she had longer arms with which to return the ball. You’re a winner, Lee, let the world see your face…

Thus wrapped up another exciting Thursday night in the Rockridge BART Parking lot. Remember, 4SEB does this all the time so do us a favor and bring your friends! Also, be SAFE and AWARE this weekend and in the future. While feelings about the Mehserle trial and the issues that the death of Oscar Grant have brought up have stimulated passion, conversation and action, no one who lives in Oakland wants to see Oakland tear itself apart. Fear mongering and destruction are not productive and change will not come by reinforcing stereotypes. Let’s be peaceful and organize for a better world for our children. We’ll leave you with a PSA produced by Youth Uprising featuring voices of our community. Much love, East Bay, be smart.