Population (as of 1990) 372,241
Mayor: Jerry Brown (soon to be out of office)
Mayor Elect: Ron Dellums
What type of images seep into your mind when you envision the city of Oakland?
It is not my intention in writing this piece to insert sensationalistic stories of the multi-generational quest to achieve ghetto fabulous stardom and then to be crowned with the title of the biggest baller within Oakland city limits. The “Town,” as it is lovingly referred to by its residents is much more than high homicide rates, hyphy movements, MC Hammer, and of course the Raider Nation. This other city by the bay is the hell raising little brother of San Francisco that was largely neglected until the Bay Bridge was erected and connected these rival siblings in 1936.
Oakland has a team for any overzealous, loser (or winner) of a sports fan, who wishes to relive his or her High School baseball, basketball, or football memories. Al Davis even moved the Raiders back to Oakland after a short stint in Los Angeles because he knows in his little “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” shrunken heart, that no fans can match the sheer drunken intensity of the Raider Nation. In Oakland people bleed silver and black and have rioted when the Raiders lost and when they won! I have a case of road rage that would make Ike Turner wince, but I only bite my tongue when I see a Raiders sticker in plain sight because I know I would be putting my life directly in harms way.
The rent in Oakland is far more reasonable than elsewhere in the Bay Area. The majority of areas are generally safe night and day, and it has an amazing assortment of delicious restaurants thanks to the diverse mixture of cultures that call this city home. Deep into both East and West Oakland it can tend to be a bit sketchy after dark and I would not recommend whipping out the old trusty VX-2000 if you find a sick spot anywhere past the seventies block in the East; unless you feel like making forcibly coerced charitable contribution to the local hoods. Six Highways/Freeways touch Oakland or run directly through it: 13/24/80/580/880/980. The BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) system began operation in 1972 and runs under the muddy bay water between West Oakland and the Financial District of San Francisco. It tends to be a bit spendy and limited in where you can actually go, but the Bay Bridge will put you back three bills and gas is astronomically expensive at the time of this article, so it’s basically a coin toss. One important thing to know about BART is that you CAN’T rely on it to get you back from the bar or a night out on the town unless you intend on leaving before midnight like Cinderella.
Plenty of notable musicians have come out of their mother’s vaginal cavities in this wonderful city or at least they were raised here. Such musical notables as Too Short, Digital Underground, Hieroglyphics, Hobo Junction, The Luniz, Keek Da Sneek, Spice 1, and Tupac (used to say he was from Oakland) all hailed from Oakland (there are too many to name).
The Black Panther Party originated here and blossomed into a national movement before it was eradicated by the bloody covert operations of the CIA. The author of White Fang and The Call of the Wild Jack London called Oakland his home, which literally can be viewed at Jack London Square. Stylish shredders like Ron Allen and Max Shaaf are Oakland natives and can still be seen ripping around town. The current mayor is the former governor of California, Jerry Brown. The mayor elect is Ron Dellums. Many false misconceptions keep people away from this great city, but that is what allows Oakland to remain the Bay Area’s most well kept secret.
Don’t get me twisted or confused; Oakland has its share of gangs, grills, whistle tips, scrapers, drugs, drug addicts, convicts, demonic Pitbulls, thievery, under-funded public schools, stunna shades, hood rats, bad ass kids, and individuals that do not respect life – what urban city doesn’t? All this and the abundant use of the word “Blood” uttered from every street corner and pre-teen mouth. Now I can neither confirm nor deny whether it is a Jack London quote, but I’ll leave you with this: “You can keep paradise, I’m going back to Oakland.”