Saturday, March 21, 2009

Keep Oakland Real

With the closing of the Parkway, a true Oakland landmark, I feel it's necessary to encourage people to keep Oakland real. It just isn't true, although it's often repeated that "there is no there, there." Gertrude Stein was confused, famous, and influential. I don't know how it started (I'll have to look into this more), but somehow Oakland's other claim to fame is crime, murder, corruption, and ghetto. In fact, I've been attending a training for people in my profession from all over California. Oakland has become the go-to joke for just these things, and one instructor even made the comment (only partially in jest) that Oakland residents were 30% "bad." When I started to object, he asked if the number was more like 80%. We'll leave aside my philosophical objection to the question of "bad" human beings (that's for another post), and just get to the bottom line: Oakland is NOT made of bad people, and the city itself is so much more than just the "'hood."

The Parkway was one of those places that made Oakland something special, and it will be missed. Of course you can still go to the Cerrito, and if you're a movie person, I think you should, and support local and locally own businesses. But there is lots of Oakland left, and it's our job to keep it here.

First of all, the A's. Thank goodness, the "nonsensical" and downright infuriating plan to move the A's to Fremont (Fremont??) is dead. The A's are still in Oakland, and if I have anything to do with it, they're staying here. Okay, I don't have delusions of grandeur. Obviously I have nothing to do with it. But as long as they're here, I'm going to games, and enjoying this awesome part of Oakland. I have nothing to say on the subject of the Raiders (and Mt Davis), so I'll leave that alone. I'll be at opening night, April 10th, will you?

There's tons of other local flavor: I was lucky enough to have this weekend off, and went to one of my favorite events, the Saturday Farmer's Market at Lake Merritt. This place is awesome. With the exception of the small children who play naked and pee in the Splash Pad fountain in the summer months, I really find no fault with it. Yummy produce, some pretty tasty precooked food, lunch opportunities, proximity to Arizmendi, even photo opportunities. There's other farmer's markets, too, in Temescal and Jack London Square and probably Rockridge (geez, I can't exhaustively do all the work here, like I did on the blog list, you've got to do some legwork- is not the yellowpages!) There's the Oakland Art Murmur aka First Friday every month, which is a pretty awesome chance to meet people and see art and again with the photo opportunities and beer drinking and yeah, lots of cool options in uptown. Your friends and mine at oaklandish never fail to provide good clean fun all over town along with history lessons and community projects.

There's all sorts of festivals and fairs in Oakland. Again, I can't list them all, but of course there's Dia de los Muertos in Fruitvale, the Temescal Fair, the Lakefest (what did that used to be called?), the Greek Festival, etc. This list has some pretty mundane and some pretty wacky things to do that you may have forgotten all about. I've never even been to the rooftop gardens, though it's on my "things to do" list. The Fox Theatre just reopened, Mountain View Cemetery is beautiful, Lake Merritt is really quite fabulous (the smell is quite... odorous), and I know people are fascinated with that new church.

Don't take my word for it. Check out Oakland Geology, FutureOakland, A Better Oakland, Living in the O, Brooklyn Avenue, or Oakland Streets; other Oakland blogs. Bottom line: I believe in Oakland. We're a troubled city, sure. I am not that rosy eyed, and bushy tailed, and metaphorically dumbly naive. I know this city is fucked up. I'm just not willing to believe that we need to give up and start shopping at Bay Street in Emeryville and spending all our time at Fisherman's Wharf. We can have a good time in local areas in Oakland, and believe in positive change for the there that is here. Call me Pollyanna.