Oakland’s Gettin’ Hot

I spent this past Sunday hanging out with my good friends Manny Martinez and Sandra Garcia Rivera. Both Manny and Sandra are singers, writers, and poets whom I met last year while taking photos and doing graphics for their band Benito Cereno. I woke up Sunday morning and while I drank my morning coffee checked my facebook page. I came across a posting by Manny titled Oakland’s Gettin’ Hot, a written piece in reaction to the murder of four Oakland police officers the day before. I left a comment on the note, talking about the profundity of his words, and Sandra responded inviting me to a reading/performance they were both having that day at Rebecca’s Books in Oakland.

I knew I wanted to get Manny’s performance of the piece on video so I grabbed my flip minoHD camera and got on the BART to Oakland. There was a nervous energy in the air when I got out at the Ashby station in Oakland. Walking down the three blocks to the bookstore I felt the nervousness in the air, it was intense.

After the bookstore event I proposed to Manny and Sandra that we travel somewhere so that I could shoot some footage of them performing their recent works. They agreed and Manny picked Lake Merritt in Oakland as the backdrop for the shoot. I spent about an hour filming Manny and Sandra and interviewing them about their relationship and how they relate to the Bay Area as two Puerto Ricans. Below is the pair doing their thing with Oakland’s Gettin’ Hot and Manny’s original text.

Oakland’s getting hot-March 22, 2009
the day after four Oakland police officers were gunned down

Oakland’s getting hot
Four cops shot
bystanders applaud
Oh-lordy lord
Media machine is hummin’
Schwarzenegger’s comin’
To talk to Mayor Dellums
Wonder what he’ll tell ‘em

Four cops shot
Oakland’s gettin’ hot
Crowd starts to chant
“this is for Oscar Grant”
Last cop to die
Was back in ‘99
But how many brothers
Have died within that time

Four cops shot
Oakland’s gettin’ hot
When bodies start to stack
Most of them are black
The man who pulled the trigger
Just another Black man
It’s kind of strange
There was Love in his name

Now Oakland’s gettin’ hot
Four cops shot
To some it means nothin’
To some it means a lot
If you live in Oakland
Please watch your back
Things are getting’ wack
Be careful if your Black.

At the end of the shoot Manny brought things to a close with a freestyle.

My original work with Manny is the portrait below that I completed almost a year ago. It’s one of my personal favorites from my portrait series.



Ps. I’ve made no secret of my mad love for the Chica’s Project on Mun2 and as it turns out Sandra was featured in an episode of the show. Check out Sandra schoolin’ Crash and Yasmin in Nuyorican Poetry and performing an original piece.

[Note: For more videos of Manny and Sandra, please check out my facebook page. I can’t seem to embed facebook videos in wordpress and flickr limits videos to only 90 seconds each.]


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