Blues City by Ishmael Reed
A Walk in Oakland (Crown Journeys)

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Oakland is a blues city, brawling and husky . . .

Often overshadowed by San Francisco, its twinkling sister city across the Bay, Oakland is itself an American wonder. The city is surrounded by and filled with natural beauty—mountains and hills and lakes and a bay—and architecture that mirrors its history as a Spanish mission, Gold Rush outpost, and home of the West’s most devious robber barons. It’s also a city of artists and blue-collar workers, the birthplace of the Black Panthers, neighbor to Berkeley, and home to a vibrant and volatile stew of immigrants and refugees.

In Blues City, Ishmael Reed, one of our most brilliant essayists, takes us on a tour of Oakland, exploring its fascinating history, its beautiful hills and waterfronts, and its odd cultural juxtapositions. He takes us into a year in the life of this amazing city, to black cowboy parades and Indian powwows, to Black Panther reunions and Gay Pride concerts, to a Japanese jazz club where a Lakota musician plays Coltrane’s “Naima.” Reed provides a fascinating tour of an un-tamed, unruly western outpost set against the backdrop of political intrigues, ethnic rivalries, and a gentrification-obsessed mayor, opening our eyes not only to a singular city, but to a newly emerging America.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Ishmael Reed

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Ishmael Reed is the author of over twenty-five books—including Mumbo Jumbo, The Last Days of Louisiana Red, Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down and Juice!. He is also a publisher, television producer, songwriter, radio and television commentator, lecturer, and has long been devoted to exploring an alternative black aesthetic: the trickster tradition, or “Neo-Hoodooism” as he calls it. Founder of the Before Columbus Foundation, he taught at the University of California, Berkeley for over thirty years, retiring in 2005. In 2003, he received the coveted Otto Award for political theater.
Published December 18, 2007 by Crown. 194 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Describing a powwow at Oakland Technical High School, he writes, “As far as I could tell, the eagle dance involved much jerking of the head and twirling about.” On walking tours, Reed tends to simply transcribe the tour leaders’ remarks, a decision that works when the lecturer is eloquent, but le...

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Publishers Weekly

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Attendance was up over the previous parade") to venomous ("the black upper class is kept out of sight, lest some white Americans lose their self-esteem, whose foundation is the myth of black inferiority, their psychological Prozac").

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