Monthly Archives: February 2020

Goodie Goudeau



From the pen of our days in V-town, here’s another entry from Sweet Home Vallejo…….(2009)

Recently, I sold copies of my book The Voices of South Central at the McCree-Goudeau Gallery in the Vallejo art district. I had a chance to sit down and listen to the experiences of Mr. Cleven ‘Goodie’ Goudeau. What I learned about this gentlemen I hope and pray our young people continue to emulate as he quietly recounted his journey from cartoonist to greeting card designer and producer of his own company, to the gallery he shares with his wife Jeanette. If you lived back in the 1960’s and 70’s, you may remember reading one of Mr. Goudeau’s greeting cards, very distinguishable from the Hallmarks or other brand name greeting cards in stores.

As I listened to Mr. Goudeau’s accounts of one Bay area newspaper refusing to hire him based on his skin color, to his first attempts of creating his cards without experience in the field and yet wound up a success because he fulfilled a need, to his travels around the world and the accolades he accomplished over time. I had a feeling of awe listening to him and another gentleman near Goodie’s age share stories about their challenges of racial prejudice, discrimination, and indifference.

The conservative phrase when it comes to people such as Goodie is to ‘raise yourself by your bootstraps’. For Goodie and those like him who overcome the odds and achieved a level of success, I appreciate all they’ve done and as I listened, I knew that with all our elders faced back then, I should have nothing, nothing to complain about. Our generation compared to those past, should pay attention and realize the struggle…will always be a struggle but never to give up regardless.

What we in this generation and those in the future must learn is to realize we do have the power to change our course in life, to manufacture products and services based on need rather than wanting things for ourselves. Goodie had no experience, no background in designing greeting cards, but he tried and from those few efforts built a line my older relatives recognize. We shouldn’t have to be pigeonholed into music or sports. That’s society’s game plan. What we can do is create more inventors, doctors, lawyers…even presidents. But this you have read before.

I salute men like Goodie for used his talents to create something positive for our elders and generations down the line. Reading his cards I was reminded that Black is Beautiful and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s about pride; it’s about feeling good for one another when the world condemns you for who and what you are. It’s those messages we need to constantly keep on our minds and on our children’s minds. Let the world insist we create entertainers and athletes and nothing else. Then, let’s push ahead and defy those same voices by daring to dream, daring to live, daring to make a difference one for another.

Just like Goodie.

Note: to the family of Goodie and Jeanette, our condolences to their family. They are missed as they provided much needed help and advice to our endeavors.

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Posted by on February 27, 2020 in Uncategorized


Vallejo Poetry



From the pen of our days in the city of V-Town, here’s another tale of Sweet Home Vallejo…….(2009)

This is Charles, owner of the mobile bookstore which sets up in front of the Art Department during the Farmers Market on Saturdays when I’m not traveling out of town for business. I would like to thank Chandra for allowing me to submit the following which I’ll share with you right now.

When I moved to Vallejo a while back, one of the first places I wanted to visit was the Listen and Be Heard café, a famous hot spot for spoken word artists in the North Bay. Unfortunately, the café closed down before I had a chance to share pieces from both of my books, The Depths of My Soul and The Voices of South Central. Without a venue for self-expression, I felt lost as I’m sure the lyrical artists felt when news of the café’s closure was announced.

Despite the loss of Listen and Be Heard’s physical presence, previous owners Tony and Martha Cinader Mims have maintained a strong online presence for their legion of supporters. One click to their website is an indication poetry is alive and well on their end. Although the Mims have moved away from the city, there are places and individuals who won’t allow the gift of the spoken word to fade away.

Slam artist GO is one of the leading names when it comes to spoken word poetry in the North Bay, especially Vallejo. He also participates in a monthly program in nearby Fairfield entitled Life Sentence produced by 3rd Eye Collective, for which GO is a member of. I had the privilege of meeting this dynamic spoken word artist and he was one of the first Bay area residents who greeted me with open arms when I started my new life in this part of the state. When you listen to him speak from his heart, you feel the energy and visualize his feelings about life, which are very powerful indeed.

Next up, is Profet’s Poetry by the Bay. Held every second and fourth Thursday inside Panama Red coffeehouse inside the Vallejo Ferry Terminal, local poets get a chance to share their self expression on the mic. Since Profet started the venue and kept the poetry flow going in Vallejo, this talented artist recently released a CD of his own works called Profetic Lyrics. He isn’t one to toot his own horn and is just happy to give a first run program beginning with the music of Khe Note, a band originating from the North Bay headlined by lead vocalist Khela. There are other bands who perform before the artists go on stage, so if you’re in the North Bay or waiting for a ride back to the City, I urge you to stop by and check out Profet’s show.

Finally, there are a group of poets who deserve mention. The next generation of spoken word artists go on stage every month inside the JFK Library for their Teen Poetry Slam. For all the negative talk about our young people, here is an event which is positive, encourages them to share their voices with the rest of the world and gives them an outlet to use that energy rather than the types of activities often mentioned on the printed pages of a newspaper. Prizes are handed out to middle and high school students who participate and I’ve even helped out by lending two of my own books for the winners of one slam. Our young people can do a lot to turn this city around, if we’re willing to listen to what they have to say without prejudice while understanding the challenges they’re facing in these troublesome times. That is not to say every young person is striving to be better than we were, but for those that are, they need our support without a doubt.

Vallejo is a city that is rich in talent..There may not be a Listen and Be Heard café anymore, but it doesn’t mean the spoken word has gone away. The gift of poetry always flourishes in times of distress, and for the venues mentioned above, a much needed relief for a city which sorely needs it.

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Posted by on February 26, 2020 in Uncategorized


Funky Art Town


From the pen of our days in V-town, a old entry from Sweet Home Vallejo……(2009)

This is Charles with a new round of thoughts.

Vallejo has a strong arts tradition. Painters, graphic designers, muralists, etc. Before I moved here, I never knew the wealth of talent the city had art wise, but if you’ve had a chance to actually know them as I’ve had the great fortune of doing, you’ll find out they’re excellent people as well. Now Vallejo used to have an Artists Guild, which no longer exists. However, it hasn’t stopped individuals from producing masterpieces in Vallejo.

Because this city has always encouraged its artists, you see their amazing works in several galleries downtown, exhibited in banks and on the waterfront. The galleries such as Pieced on Earth, McCree-Goudeau, and Pacific Rim showcases local talent and provides them with the platform and support of their creations. On our local cable station, VCAT, Shaaron Fox-Bent presents Arts In Action, a program that promotes these same artists in the city. The director of the art department, Harold Beaulieu has been tireless in bringing up the up and coming artists and the many mural projects seen in certain areas of Vallejo.

One suggestion that I hope is taken into consideration in the future is on a recent PBS News Hour covering the transformation of Philadelphia’s downtown; murals by local artists covered the blight of the area, making it attractive for outside businesses to invest in the city. If you don’t believe me, just google this title up and read the story that follows on the website: “Philadelphia’s ‘Love Letter’ Murals Spark Neighborhood Revival”. Think of what that could do for Vallejo and improve the quality of life downtown if we put our artists, young and old to create what Philadelphia has done. Something to think about.

After living in Southern California most of my life, I’ve been exposed to various forms of art including theatre. In Vallejo, we have the Community Arts Foundation supporting visual, musical, and theatrical talents as well as developing funding for small Vallejo arts groups and special projects. The newly renovated Empress Theatre in the heart of downtown presents classic movies and on occasion, opens its doors for special events for the public. The Vallejo Music Theatre puts on live shows, musicals, opera and programs for the community. A Friday night supper club is one of their most impressive draws including a contest with prizes.

Despite the city’s financial troubles, this is a great city with a ton of creative individuals here. They’re using every means to promote their works while helping each other out, networking. Whether it’s galleries, parks, etc., these artists continue to display their talent throughout the city. It makes me wonder why am I’m trying to open a bookstore here, but maybe one day we’ll have a strong literary community to match.

It’s gonna take a lot of work, though.

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Posted by on February 26, 2020 in Uncategorized

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