Pendarvis' Notebook: The Photos You Didn't See in 2019

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My reporter’s notebook is this wild place where scribbles of wise words from street-side philosophers overlap with the name of a Thai restaurant in Hayward. And on the next page, personal lyrics from a poetry album I’ll never record butt up against details of what color and style hat an R&B artist was wearing when we met in a cafe in South Berkeley.

And all of it is in this chicken scratch, ungodly handwriting that’ll hopefully never see the light of day. If it did, it wouldn’t be legible anyway.

But luckily, there’s also photos. Hella photos.

Unpublished shots from stories I started but didn’t finish, tales I was 75 percent done with when my editor nixed ’em or just images of folks I’ve been following for a while, but haven’t written about yet.

Because we don’t know what tomorrow holds, let alone the next year or the new decade, why just sit on these shots? I should share them with the world.

Les (Pendarvis Harshaw)

Les, owner of Les Problems Detailing, took over what used to be Hot Boys Car Wash on 38th Avenue in East Oakland, not too far from where he grew up. After a successful year, he says he’ll be washing cars and popping bottles on New Year’s Eve and Day.

Brette Sims
Brette Sims (Pendarvis Harshaw)

Artist Brette Sims not only painted the vase she’s holding in this photo, she also founded the nonprofit STUK DESIGNS, an organization that pushes young women to express concepts of self love through art; her work was covered in Voyage LA this fall.

Chris Carlsson
Chris Carlsson (Pendarvis Harshaw)

2019 marked 55 years since James Baldwin filmed the documentary Take This Hammer in San Francisco, which presented a critical look at the living conditions of the city’s African American population in the 1960s. In an effort to retrace some of the steps Mr. Baldwin took, I talked to San Francisco historian Chris Carlsson.

Greg Bridges
Greg Bridges (Pendarvis Harshaw)

Greg Bridges is a radio host, jazz enthusiast, picture frame maker and photo taker—or um, photographer. I bump into him once every six to eight weeks in Oakland, but this one was special for a different reason: this was the Oakland Roots’ first home game as the sun set over Laney College.

Plane Jane and Shmaco Tuesday
Plane Jane and Shmaco Tuesday (Pendarvis Harshaw)

You know what they say: there’s no Taco Tuesday like a Shmaco Tuesday. Hosted by the $hmopLife crew, this mid-week kickback is where artists of all sorts break bread (taco shells), smoke herbs and slap music so loud that there’s no way to conduct a quality audio interview. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Legendvry (way right)
Legendvry (way right) (Pendarvis Harshaw)

Oakland-based lyricist Legendvry came out of his shirt during a performance at Starline Social Club this past summer. He’s one of the latest artists to work with highly talented producer Drew Banga on a complete project, and this past fall Legendvry released the EP Watch Yo Tone.

Githinji WaMbire
Githinji WaMbire (Pendarvis Harshaw)

Githinji WaMbire’s artwork, pieces of wood modeled after the continent of Africa, then painted and embroidered with messages, can been seen all around Oakland—and even in the film Sorry To Bother You. But this year, he was one of the many artists displaced after The Alena Musuem was forced to move after their lease expired.

G The Artist
G The Artist painting at a memorial for Victor McElhaney, as dancers perform in the background (Pendarvis Harshaw)

After the murder of Oakland-born USC student Victor McElhaney, the outpour of love from the community was shown in a multitude of ways. Musicians, activists and friends came together to show support for Oakland City Council member Lynette McElhaney and her family during their time of grief.

Oakland Font
Mike Nichols pointing out the “Oakland” font (Pendarvis Harshaw)

In 1984 Zuzana Licko and her husband Rudy VanderLans began publishing Emigre magazine,  which showcased different fonts Licko created, including one named “Oakland.” Earlier this year, during an interview with artist, Umber Magazine publisher and typography nerd Mike Nichols, he showed me his copy of the magazine and an example of the font. My. Mind. Was. Blown.


There are more photos and tons of tales. But I’m a fan of keeping it short. So, to all of the names, places and ideas that started as scribbles in my notebook, and ended up being published pieces shared by people all around the world: Thank you.