Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Top Five Reasons Why West Oakland's image is More Dangerous than the Reality

5. Teenagers who are actually not gang members get to act like big, dangerous thugs for being from there. Or even from near there. Or even from El Cerrito.

4. There are several Whitey Castles, ie. loft compounds with locking gates whose inhabitants never leave the confines of their castles on foot, believe their San Francisco friends about the terrifying things that happen "out in the ghetto" (direct quote from inside castle walls), and then repeat it as if it's the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And thank God for those gates. Except OH MY GOD THE GHETTO PEOPLE CAN CLIMB OVER THE WALLS! As we speak, the building of a moat and the installation of vats for boiling oil is being discussed on at least one Whitey Castle email list.

3. It's vital to the self-identity of the Burner Art Geek Man-Boys that they live in an Extremely Dangerous Urban Mad Max Wasteland, and the Self-Identity Protection Shield they have built from steampunk recycled metal parts prevents them from seeing the working class and middle class families and schools and churches.

2. It's vital to the self-identity of the Other Burner Art Geek Man-Boys who don't live in Oakland that their monthly trip to the Crucible is a Big, Dangerous Deal.

1. It's vital to the petit bourgeois sensibility of people who spend 75% of their income on crappy real estate in San Francisco that all of Oakland, but especially West Oakland where their much cooler Burner Art Geek Man-Boy software company colleagues live for about 25% of the cost, is a dangerous, ugly, scary hellhole where only idiots and criminals can possibly live. It's NOT cool! No way! It can't be cool because they are paying SO MUCH MORE to live in The Mission.


Janis Mara said...

Oh, excellent point! I must confess I do feel that having lived (e.g. survived) in Richmond for the last ten years adds to my swagger. But then, I do actually go for walks, party with my neighbors, belong to the neighborhood association and so on. By all means, though, as you say, exaggerating the danger of one's 'hood makes one seem ever so much more tough - at least in one's own mind.

Anonymous said...

So well written and so right. Thank you!

Gene said...

Congrats on being featured in Oakland Magazine's "from the Blog-Oak-Sphere" column!

Does this mean you'll go back to posting? :-)

Sussu said...

Hi Gene! Ironically, we moved from Myrtle Street just as the Oakland Magazine piece was published... We're still in the neighborhood, and I am trying to figure out what should be MSR:s next iteration... I will figure out something, I promise!

Francis Petrash said...

We live on Chester Street. My wife has lived here in West Oakland for 21 years. She is a born Oakland homie from the Dimond District. Attended Berkeley High, SF State and transformed into a Chinese medicine physician/Primary Care Practitioner/Artist and the love of my life.

I spent 25 years on Wall Street (yeah, NYC). And I think that West Oakland is the best. Heck, it is no more dangerous than Brooklyn of 20 years ago. And now my old Brooklyn neighborhood has a Dean and Deluca and a Whole Foods - Go Figure. I am also a Southern Reborn Boy who has lived and worked in the South, so race and racist people are everywhere and by the way in every color.

People, West Oakland is a neighborhood with Families (We are grandparents with a Crazy Romani/Serbian/Croatian heritage and we have an adopted daughter). Time for the ART boy burners (Trust Fund Kids (at the age of 45), Nouveau Riche, and I need an identity kids from Richmond/El Cerrito to go home and get a job.

Anonymous said...

Francis, I totally respect the fact that you want to preserve the family element of the neighborhood. One thing, though... I'm sure that when you moved in, your neighbors had the same thought that you have when you see the yuppies and burners moving onto your street... they probably wanted you to go home!
My attitude is this: All neighborhoods change. The goal here should be to make sure that families, long term residents, and people that love Oakland aren't forced out of their homes due to increasing rent and rampant gentrification. I agree that this town should be interesting, too... if I wanted to live in boring suburbia, I'd sure as hell move.

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