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Welcome to Oakland?

Oakland's always been warmer than San Francisco, but is it possible it's getting cooler? Should we be worried . . . or starting to pack?

By David Kasher

Hi. Oakland here. Yeah, remember us? We're that little village across the Bay. That's where the bridge goes. No, no, not the big red one . . . the other bridge. Yeah, that's right, you remember now. Listen, we were just calling to see why you never come over to visit. What's up, baby? Have we done something wrong? You know, we drive out to kick it all the time, but damn, you gotta start pulling your weight in this relationship or it just ain't gonna work out.

All right, so I'm a little defensive. But if you grew up right across from the sexiest American city, you'd have a little complex too. With folks always talking about driving into "The City." The city?! What's Oakland, a rest stop on your way in from New York? You know, we've got running water over here and everything! Paved roads, movie theaters . . . oh yeah, you'd be surprised. As a matter of fact we even have a football team, a baseball team and a basketball team. What's a basketball team?

Oh, that's right, you guys don't have one of those. Well, I'll explain some other time.

What's that you ask? What about the night life? Ahem . . . well, I guess you were going to bring that up sooner or later. All right, so the club life isn't exactly poppin' off over here. If you're one of those that must get their fill of the club scene nightly, then stay in San Francisco, brother, and rave on (although, even then, all the big warehouse parties are out here).

But as for the rest of the musical palate, we're doing just fine, thank you very much. We have as much jazz as San Francisco and more punk rock than you can shake a stick at out here in the East Bay. Not to mention that Oakland is one of the hip-hop capitals of the United States. You don't hear many "shout-outs" to Frisco, now do you?

For those of you barflies out there (although it's true, the preferred method of alcohol ingestion out here in Oaktown is the "40 oz. on the corner") I highly recommend the Ruby Room, in downtown Oakland across from the Main Library. A vision in red, it's our very own hipster bar, as suave as anything you've got out there in San Fran.

In fact, we've got it all. The truth is, I don't really believe in San Francisco. Yes, yes, it exists--that much I'll concede. But I don't believe the hype. Oakland's got everything San Francisco has to offer, and it's 15 degrees warmer at half the price. And we may not be as pretty, but I bet we'd win in a fight.

Speaking of which, there's one other thing. As to the oft-quoted Gertrude Stein description of Oakland: "There's no there there." People toss that line around like a Frisbee. In response, let me just say a big communal "Fuck you and Gertrude Stein!" If I hear one more pathetic little pseudo-intellectual wisecracker quote that stupid shit, I'm gonna get Jack London, the Black Panthers, the Hell's Angels, Too $hort and every other roughneck and bad-ass from our fair city to come help me kick some booty.

Now that I've gotten that out my system, let me extend a warm invitation to all you Frisco kids. Come on out to the Big O, we'll show you a good time. You won't get shot, I promise.

Take your time, think it over. In the meantime, walk your hills, look for your parking spots, save up for rent money and button up your overcoats, because winter's coming. As for me, I'll be keepin' it real out here in the East.

For more information about Oakland, visit oakland.com.

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From the November 8, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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