Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hot New Play Comes To Oakland From Los Angeles!



The Oakland Dinner Club (ODC) presents
a benefit perfomance of Stanley Bennett Clay's
"Armstrong Kid" September 18-20 at SMAAC
Youth Center, 1608 Webster Street,in Downtown

This drama tells the story of a sex offender who is faced
by his accuser 14 years later. Don't miss this powerful drama starring Award winning director and author Stanley Bennett Clay and Tory Scroggins.

Purchase your tickets at:
brownpapertickets or call 1-800-838-3006 or
stop by SMAAC Youth Center.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fire & Ink III: Cotillion Early


October 8-11, 2009
Hilton Austin, Austin, TX

Register now - $125 early bird rate ends Aug. 31!
(Remember, registration ends Oct. 1, 2009,

Your most frequently asked questions, answered!

Q: Is it too late to register for the early bird rate of $125?
A: No, it's not too late! The early bird registration deadline is extended until Aug. 31, 2009. Early bird registration is $125; regular registration rate is $175 until Oct. 1. There is no registration after Oct. 1, and no on-site registration.

Q: What does my registration fee cover?
A: Registration for Cotillion includes access to all daytime activities: writing workshops, panel and roundtable discussions, open mics, keynote address and evening performances. Breakfast and lunch is included on Friday and Saturday; dinner is on your own. Registration does not include a ticketed event on Friday night, nor the Cotillion dance on Saturday night, but those tickets will be $15 and under.

Q: Where is the Cotillion writers festival being held? Is it far from the hotel?
A: All daytime Cotillion activities will be at the Hilton Austin, 500 East 4th St., Austin, TX.

Q: Is Cotillion only open to black LGBTQ writers? Do you have to be of African descent to attend? Do you have to be a writer to attend?
A: No! Cotillion is open to anyone who's interested in black LGBTQ writing. This means any ethnicity, nationality, sexual preference, gender identity... you get the picture. This also means that Cotillion is open to writers--beginning, intermediate, established--and readers, and librarians, and academics, and book club members, and students, and media professionals, and curators ... anyone who is interested in black LGBTQ writing.

Q: Is it too late to be a presenter?
A: Yes. Proposals for the Cotillion program schedule were solicited late last year; we spent a good deal of time whittling down a great number of proposals in the spring, and made final decisions in May 2009.

Q: Will there be help for students?
A: Yes. We are currently funding 20 student scholarships, and will post that information on the Cotillion web site by the end of August.

Q: The hotel price seems high. What's up with that?
A: We did our best in negotiating the hotel price; there is a University of Texas football game that weekend, and football is really big in Texas. The hotel rate--$179 a night--is good for up to triple occupancy, so we are encouraging everyone to find a roommate--a friend, a writing buddy, a literature lover--and double or triple up. Our presenters will be doubled up, so understand that we're all in this together when it comes to the hotel.

Q: Can you help me find a roommate? I don't know anyone else going.
A: Yes. We will have roommate matching information on the Cotillion web site shortly.

Q: I really wish I could make it this year, but I can't. May I donate my registration?
A: Yes, you can! Contact us at after you register and let us know you'd like to donate a registration for a student or an unemployed person, and we will make sure your registration goes to a deserving applicant.

Q: Is it too late to get an ad in the Cotillion program book?
A: We still have a bit of room; contact us ASAP at if you'd like to place an ad. All ads and payment must be processed before Aug. 31, 2009 in order to get the book to the printer on time.

Q: Will there be space for vendors, and what is the fee?
A: Yes, we will have a limited number of vendor spaces available. All vendors must register for Cotillion as attendees; additionally, vendor fees are $25 per day, two-day minimum. Vendor information will be available on the web site shortly; e-mail us at if you'd like to vend.

Q: How can I be a sponsor for Cotillion?
A: To become a Cotillion sponsor, check out our sponsor rates here. You should contact us at as soon as possible if you plan to be a sponsor.

Q: When is the next writers festival?
A: Not until 2013. So make plans to come now. You won't want to miss this!

Register now - $125 early bird rate
ends Aug. 31!
(Remember, registration ends Oct. 1, 2009,

Join Our Mailing List!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lakers Championship DVD

I just got my copy of the Laker Championship DVD yesterday and I was going to watch it in parts so I could savor it but I couldn't, I just couldn't. I watched the entire thing and then watched certain parts again.

I've been a Laker fan since I was very young. My entire family are Laker fans. I grew up in Inglewood, California and used to go see them at the "Fabulous Forum". It was less than a mile from my house so me and my neighborhood friends saw many things there. Sports, Concerts, Circus, etc.

It was easy to be a Laker fan in the "Showtime" era but I was one before that. When they traded for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar I remember people remarking, "what are they going to do with that old man?" He went on to help them win 5 Championships in the 80's.

It was not easy to live through the down years but if you're a die hard fan, you go with your team no matter what!

Well this new DVD is great. It has clips from the regular season, playoffs, and highlights and the special features are OUTRAGEOUS. There's a roundtable with players from the 80's (I hope I don't leave anyone out), Bob McAdoo, Jamaal Wilkes, Byron Scott, Magic Johnson, Kurt Rambis, James Worthy, Mitch Kupchak, Jerry West (the architect of the team), Bill Bertka (asst coach), and A.C Green.

It brought back so many memories...

There are other extras with reports on current Lakers, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher, Kobe's 81 point game, and recently traded Trevor Ariza.

Even though I watched the games and know the outcomes, it's still exciting to watch everything unfold.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Remembering The Times: Magic Johnson Turns 50!

Remembering The Times: Magic Johson Turns 50

As a kid growing up in Inglewood, Ca the official of the Forum and the Lakers I was a Laker fan by default. It was easy especially in the 80's during the Showtime era. At that time we kids could walk to the Forum buy $10.00 tickets with seats high up in the arena and then sneak down to better seats once people started trickling out. We stayed until the end to lean over the railing and slap hands with the players.

There was no way we couldn't love Magic Johnson. Even on his worst game night he always spoke to kids and usually even smiled. I was grown when he announced he had HIV and had heard about the disease. Mostly through church and singing in community choirs. At that point we thought Magic was a goner....Today he turns 50 and I'm so glad he's still around!!

Fri Aug 14, 2009 2:13 am EDT
Magic at 50: The ultimate playmaker

By Roy S. Johnson / Roy S. Johnson Blog
I never thought I'd see this celebration. You probably didn't either.
At least not on the day that shook us to our core nearly 18 years ago - yes, 18 years! - when Earvin (Magic) Johnson told us he was HIV positive.
On Nov. 7, 1991, America thought it was looking at a dead man holding a news conference.
Instead, Magic turns 50 today.
Where were you when you heard?
I remember as if it happened this afternoon. Actually, I heard before you. I was an editor at Sports Illustrated and about three hours before the nationally televised announcement, a source close to Magic informed me the three-time MVP "has AIDS." (He was wrong, of course, but it shows we were still learning the language of HIV and AIDS.)
Because we were still in the media dark ages -- before Twitter and websites -- I couldn't break the story. Heck I couldn't even tell anyone at SI because everyone was out to lunch. When my editor returned we both sat in his office stunned.
Then we watched, and while no one said it aloud, almost everyone thought Magic would soon be dead.
Of course we now know that being HIV positive is not a death sentence, and that's in part because of Magic.
In fact, he stands as one of the most significant figures in the evolution of HIV/AIDS. His contracting the virus took the disease out of the closet and put it smack in the middle of the kitchen table.
Suddenly, we were talking to our friends about HIV/AIDS.
We were talking to our neighbors and co-workers about HIV/AIDS.
We were talking to our kids about HIV/AIDS.
But Magic's most vital impact on HIV/AIDS isn't because he contracted the virus, but because he lived with it.
He lived as he always did -- with his head high and with that smile.
He made myriad public appearances in an effort to educate us about HIV/AIDS, as did his wife, Cookie (pictured with him, above, on "Oprah").
And he continued to win. In fact, his success with the multifaceted Magic Johnson Enterprises has made him one of the few recent pro athletes who's made more money in retirement than he did as a player.
He's alive today because of advances in HIV treatment, a disciplined diet and undoubtedly his own positive attitude.
He's been a model for many infected by HIV and an inspiration.
Today, as Magic celebrates, it's appropriate to consider where he stands among the most influential athletes ever.
Not whether he's the best point guard ever (duh) or the best player (many whisper yes). But where he ranks among those athletes who not only were among the best in their sports but who also moved the needle beyond the field or court or ring or rink.
Here are my Top 5:
1) Muhammad Ali
2) Jackie Robinson
3) Billie Jean King
4) Earvin (Magic) Johnson
5) Babe Ruth
Each of the top four had an impact beyond the playing field. They changed us, often at some personal risk or cost. Babe made baseball big time.
My next five:
6) Pele
7) Joe Louis
8) Wayne Gretzky
9) Bill Russell
10) Tiger Woods
Happy 5-0, Magic. Not just because you're here, but because you helped us grow, in ways we never thought we'd see.
Photo courtesy the Oprah Winfrey Show
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Protests: What Is It Good For?

I'll be honest. I am a member of the Green Party so early on I was not an Obama supporter. I was moved by his speech at the Democratic convention in 2004 and by his story. He and his wife inspire me deeply but as a somewhat cynic to the two party system I was not one who came out in favor of him early. As an African American and someone who at one point wanted to be a politician I definitely kept an eye on him, his message, and what people had to say about his campaign.

I followed most closely the news and reports on the McNeil Newshour on PBS. It seemed to be the most fair and balanced. It also delved deeper into the story than most networks (including cable) were willing to do.

Technically I couldn't vote for Obama in the primary election in California because I was not registered in the Demoractic party so no decision was needed from me at that time.

By the time the November election rolled around I was sold. For the first time in many years I was going to vote for a President from one of the major two parties. It was not an easy step for me but one I took gladly in support of what I hoped would be a new direction for the country. I knew it would not come fast or easy but I prayed for just a different way to approach things and even though Obama was part of a traditional party I felt he in some ways in what he exhibited in his personal life reflected that. I didn't agree with him on everything or course but like he says, I too am a believer in being able to disagree on things but still work with someone.

This is a big lead into what this post is all about but I just wanted to give some background. Currently there are alot of protests about healthcare in this country. I don't know all the proposals out there and to be honest since I am covered through my job I probably haven't paid as much attention as I should be doing.

I do think it's time we as a nation have affordable and available healthcare for everyone. I also think it's healthy for there to be debate about how that is accomplished. What has surprised me is the vitriolic reaction I am seeing by people at town hall meetings and in protests.

I saw one news report where a lady said, "I'm 68 and I've never protested a President". I also saw a sign that said, "Voters Remorse" with the symbol that Obama used during the Presidential Campaign.

Again I am not upset that these people are protesting. I think it's healthy. I am not even swayed by the motivations of the conservative bloggers, talk radio, and organizations that are behind it.

What has surprised me is vitriol with which these people have protested. I think back to the run up to the war and I kept wanting people to protest the war and the lies that were used to support it. There was a wave a patriotism and it didn't happen and those who did protest were labeled as left wing extremists and non supportive of our troops. Even as lies have been exposed there has not been a groundswell of support against the war.

The amount of money that has been spent, loss of lives, and the lack of positive gain from these wars is costly beyond our imaginations yet people turn a blind eye. But when it comes to something that could actually benefit people there is name calling, half truths, and political game play.

So it makes me think...

Protests: What Is It Good For?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hold Your Life In Kindness: Practicing Gratitude With Larry

Hold Your Life in Kindness
Practicing Gratitude with Larry Yang

Saturday, Sept. 19th
9:30 am to 4:30 pm
East Bay Meditation Center
2147 Broadway at 22nd St
in downtown Oakland
(near 19th Street BART)

About this Retreat
As we expand our meditation practices of Mindfulness and Lovingkindness...
As we meet our present moments and lived experiences for what they are
As we meet everything with the gentleness of our simple awareness
As we no longer take our lives for granted --
a kindness begins to arise that is the energy of Gratitude --
the openness and wonder of what the moment really is like --
the "WOW!"of truly living -- not a thought, or dream, or wish...
but our precious life.

Please join us to explore -- experiment -- enjoy -- everything

Registration is required & Space is Limited!
Please click here to register. If that doesn't work, copy and paste the link below into your browser.

If you still cannot access the online registration link, please send an email with your full name, and "Gratitude" in the subject line to or call (510) 268-0696.

Dana, or Generous Giving
There is no registration fee for attending this event, nor most EBMC events.
However, EBMC is not independently funded.
The center and the teachers will be sustained only by your voluntary donations (the practice of generous giving, or "dana"). Please donate generously, in proportion to your ability:

* Either online (you will be offered an opportunity at the end of the online registration process)
* Or at the event, where dana will be collected for the center and for the teachers.

Thank you for your generosity. Giving together, our unique, diverse Center will grow and thrive!

About the Teacher
Larry YangLarry Yang teaches meditation retreats nationally and has a special interest in creating access to the Dharma for diverse multicultural communities. Larry has practiced extensively in Myanmar and Thailand, with a six month period of ordination as a Buddhist monk under the guidance of meditation master Ajahn Tong.

Larry is one of the core teachers and leaders of the East Bay Meditation Center. His web page is

In order to protect the health of community members with environmental illness, please do not wear fragranced products (including "natural" fragrances) or clothes laundered in fragranced products to EBMC. A list of fragrance free products is posted on the EBMC website, at

Access Symbol
East Bay Meditation Center is wheelchair accessible.