81 episodes

East Bay history podcast that gathers, shares & celebrate stories from Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and other towns throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

East Bay Yesterday East Bay Yesterday

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 294 Ratings

East Bay history podcast that gathers, shares & celebrate stories from Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and other towns throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.

    “Like a neon space carnival”: The trippy memories of a 90’s “Raver Girl”

    “Like a neon space carnival”: The trippy memories of a 90’s “Raver Girl”

    Samantha Durbin’s acid was just kicking in as she entered an Oakland donut shop to score a handmade map to a secret warehouse party. On that chilly winter night in 1996, she ended up dancing to pulsing beats and kaleidoscopic lights until the sun came up. Thinking back to her first rave, Samantha remembers it feeling “like a neon space carnival.” Soon the highschool sophomore was chasing after bigger parties and higher highs every weekend.

    In her new memoir, “Raver Girl: Coming of Age in the 90s” Durbin bring readers along to sweat-soaked raves at roller rinks and farm fields, into a world of comically huge pants and ridiculously tripped-out teenagers, where there’s always room for one more to join the cuddle puddle in the corner of the chill room. Listen to the podcast to hear us discuss candyflipping, raver fashion, and, of course, Homebase – the legendary Oakland venue that hosted some of the most massive underground parties the Bay Area has ever seen.

    To see photos related to this episode: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/like-a-neon-space-carnival/

    East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your support. Please donate to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

    • 1 hr 3 min
    “There’s no reason to be San Francisco”: The mixed legacy of Oakland’s ambition

    “There’s no reason to be San Francisco”: The mixed legacy of Oakland’s ambition

    Thanks to its natural deepwater port, San Francisco quickly emerged as the West Coast’s leading metropolis during California’s Gold Rush era. In the decades since, many of Oakland’s development patterns have been influenced by its competitive relationship with the sparkling and sophisticated city across the Bay. As a result, the elitist ambitions of Oakland’s political and business leaders often overlooked, or actively harmed, many of The Town’s existing residents. For wealthy developers dreaming of car-friendly, upscale shopping malls and homogenous office towers, Black neighborhoods, immigrant enclaves, and working class districts were treated as obstacles to be bulldozed. This paradigm pre-dates common usage of the term “gentrification” by generations.

    Cycles of displacement are one of the main themes explored in “Hella Town: Oakland’s History of Development and Disruption” (UC Press) by Mitchell Schwarzer. As opposed to focusing primarily on individual power brokers, Schwarzer, a professor of architectural and urban history at California College of the Arts, zooms out to identify the broad economic and technological trends that have shaped the place where he’s lived for most of the past four decades. The book weaves together topics ranging from the rise of car culture to the consolidation of commerce in order to explain more than a century of policies and priorities that shaped our current landscape.

    In this episode of East Bay Yesterday, we discuss Oakland’s tumultuous evolution, and also some of the best and worst development proposals that failed to become reality. To see photos related to this episode, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/theres-no-reason-to-be-san-francisco/

    East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your support. Please donate to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

    • 1 hr 12 min
    “It was my whole universe”: William Gee Wong on growing up in Oakland’s Chinatown

    “It was my whole universe”: William Gee Wong on growing up in Oakland’s Chinatown

    William Gee Wong almost didn’t exist. A few years before Wong was born, his father was shot four times over a dispute involving Oakland Chinatown’s underground lottery. Thanks to the quick work of doctors at Highland Hospital, Wong’s father survived, and after retiring from the gambling business, he opened the Great China restaurant on a busy commercial stretch of Webster Street. William Gee Wong was born just around the corner, at the family’s house on Harrison Street, the youngest of seven children. Even after his family moved to the “China Hill” area east of Lake Merritt, one of the few neighborhoods open to Asian-Americans during the 1940s, William spent most of his time either working for the family business or at Lincoln School. This is why he says “Chinatown was my whole universe” for about the first 20 years of his life.

    As the decades passed, Bill learned journalism writing for The Daily Cal, before breaking racial barriers at the San Francisco Chronicle and Wall Street Journal. Eventually, he returned to his hometown to write for The Oakland Tribune about culture and politics from an Asian-American perspective, something practically unheard of at mainstream media outlets in the 1980s. Since retiring he’s published two books, “Yellow Journalist” and “Oakland’s Chinatown,” and he’s currently working on a memoir about his father, who immigrated from China in 1912.

    In today’s episode, William Gee Wong discusses the history of Chinese immigration to California, the rise of Oakland’s Chinatown, his memories of working in a “hybrid” restaurant, the systemic racism of urban renewal projects that gutted his neighborhood, and much more. To see photos related to this story, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/

    East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your support. Please donate to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

    • 1 hr 13 min
    “Dear Brown Eyes”: How a stash of old letters helped heal a family

    “Dear Brown Eyes”: How a stash of old letters helped heal a family

    A few years ago, Aussie Holcomb was going through a divorce, and her relationship with her dad wasn’t going well, either. Feeling lost and lonely, she began reading her grandparents’ old love letters, which had recently been uncovered after sitting at the back of a dusty closet for more than 60 years. As Aussie made her way through bundles of envelopes, the emotions captured in those letters spilled off the pages and infused her life with the contagious joy of young love. Wanting to retrace her grandparents’ path, the letters sparked an adventure that led Aussie to a remote corner of California, far from home. In this unlikely place, she found reconciliation with her dad, and much more.

    Listen to the full episode now to hear the love story of Ray Hertz and Ginny Stewart, as told by their granddaughter, Aussie Holcomb, and their son, Mark Hertz. Ray and Ginny’s letters, which were written between 1949 and 1951, are read by their dear friend Carl Weinberg and their daughter Tracy Hertz. You can see photos related to this story at: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/dear-brown-eyes/

    East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your support. Please donate to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

    • 45 min
    “Who ordered the hit?” Investigating Mac Dre’s tragic murder

    “Who ordered the hit?” Investigating Mac Dre’s tragic murder

    The quickest way to start a dance party in the Bay Area is to play a Mac Dre song. Countless times, I’ve seen mellow crowds instantly transform as soon as the first few beats from hyphy hits like “Feelin’ Myself” and “Thizzle Dance” come blasting out of the speakers. Everyone from little kids to grandmas know how to bust the lyrics, the dance moves, and, of course, the thizz face. In the 17 years since his death, the Oakland-born, Vallejo-raised rapper’s popularity only continues to grow.

    Since his 2004 murder in Kansas City, rumors, accusations, and retaliatory violence have swirled around the unsolved case. Although nobody has ever been charged for the crime, investigative journalist Donald Morrison recently published an investigation that draws on 1,200 documents and dozens of interviews in order to fill in some of the missing puzzle pieces. Nothing will bring back the “Legend of the Bay”, but this article provides some stunning new clues that may help shed light on the devastating question: “Who killed Mac Dre?”

    To see photos related to this episode, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/who-ordered-the-hit/

    East Bay Yesterday can’t survive without your support. Please donate to keep this show alive: www.patreon.com/eastbayyesterday

    • 46 min
    Hoover-Foster Stories, Vol. 2: “You become an art anthropologist”

    Hoover-Foster Stories, Vol. 2: “You become an art anthropologist”

    When Andre Jones (AKA Natty Rebel) does a mural in Oakland’s Hoover-Foster neighborhood, he doesn’t just paint whatever he feels like. Andre meets with longtime residents, shop owners, and other local artists to dig into the area’s rich history. He’ll study old family photos to make sure the vibrant images that cover the walls along San Pablo Ave. reflect the people who walked these streets in the decades before he got here. Explaining this collaborative process, Jones said, “As a public artist, you become an art anthropologist, because you have to do the research so that you can add a little bit of background imagery to the [mural] that adds to the overall narration.”

    For the second volume of this Hoover-Foster Stories mini-series, I wanted to interview Jones because one of the most striking things that participants of the Black Liberation Walking Tour will notice in this neighborhood is the proliferation of street art. The organization that Jones founded, Bay Area Mural Program, has collaborated with crews and artists like Refa One (Aerosoul), Del Phresh, Dead Eyes, Kiss My Black Arts, and others, on an ever-evolving outdoor gallery full of tributes to the Black Panther Party, deceased community members, and other symbols celebrating Hoover-Foster’s cultural legacy.

    Long before Bay Area Mural Program moved into its current headquarters in the iconic California Hotel, this building hosted Expressions Art Gallery, which served not only as a place to showcase art, but also an informal gathering space for unhoused folks living in the area. This episode also features an interview with Oakland native Alan Laird, who ran Expressions in the early 2000s, and had previously experienced housing insecurity himself. In our conversation, Laird recalls the mid-century heyday of the California Hotel, when a ground floor nightclub called the Zanzibar hosted musicians like Pete Escovedo, Ray Charles, and Billie Holliday. He also recalls some of the more disturbing elements of this era, such as how Oakland police enforced segregation by stopping Black people who ventured “above Broadway.”

    This episode is co-hosted by 3rd generation Hoover-Foster resident David Peters, one of the main organizers of the Black Liberation Walking Tour. Peters shares what visitors can expect at the Tour’s launch party this weekend, his thoughts on how street art can be used to challenge displacement, and much more.

    To see images related to this story and a link to the tour, visit: https://eastbayyesterday.com/episodes/hoover-foster-stories-vol-2/

    • 1 hr

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
294 Ratings

294 Ratings

lizwould09 ,

Grounded in local voices

Incredible podcast featuring local history-makers, and not just the usual romanticizing of the past. I hope these interviews keep going for many years to come!

April5878 ,

Local History Done Well

Really enjoy this podcast. Very good writing, informative but never boring. I recommend it all the time.

Squirley ,

Unbearable vocal fry

It breaks my heart that a podcast combining my loves of Oakland and history is unlistenable. I just can’t take the host’s vocal fry. I discovered the pod last year and I’ve checked back occasionally to see if the delivery has become more polished but it’s worse than ever recently. Clearly some listeners are not bothered, but vocal fry is a big no-no for voice actors. I’m sort of stunned I’m the only one who has commented on it. Please, I beg you, work on your delivery.

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