Scenes from the aftermath in Oakland:
stories of victims, survivors and healers.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Bright Side

As I have said many times, I love Oakland, and many specific things about it, especially its wild spaces, its history, and all the good eating you can do here. I know people in Oakland get frustrated with the attention the violence gets at the expense of the wild spaces, the history and the food. Editors ask me to work some of that stuff in to my reporting on the violence. They are looking for balance and context and that is a good thing. I do believe there are some publications that refuse to publish articles on the violence because the editors live in Oakland and are tired of hearing about it and are interested in boosting the city's reputation. I guess that's their prerogative, if that is how they wish to keep the literary or journalistic gates they've been hired to guard. We'll see how long they last in their positions. Maybe a long time, maybe not. Yesterday afternoon after painting my backdoor I raced to Chop Bar, down near Jack London Square, or the Warehouse District, or the Jack London Square Warehouse District, whatever we are wanting to call it these days, to order up my favorite breakfast in town, the Tri-Tip Scramble, but they had removed it from the menu. "Just trying to change things up," said the bartender. Essentially, it had been replaced with a pork chop, which might be good, but I'd had pork chops for dinner the night before, good ones, so I ordered the almond french toast, which I'd been curious about anyway. It was too sweet for my taste, but what else would it be? It's supposed to be sweet. Do you really want me to keep writing about this stuff? Later that night I went to a dance in San Leandro. Most of the attendees were residents of half-way houses for parolees and people with alcohol and other substance abuse problems. Men had tattoos on their faces and necks. I saw a woman who was clearly on the bright side of addiction, the pink color in her cheeks seemed new and fresh, the weight on her bones looked healthy and welcome. Among some of the hardest people I'd seen in a long time, there was a lot of laughing and dancing, and some looked lost, looked like they were dying for a beer at the sober event. Literally sober, that is, not in any other way was it sober, but lighthearted and fun. Kevin Grant's band played. The event was one of Grant's creations, one of his attempts to fill the void while these men and women attempt to build new lives for themselves. Later, no doubt, he went back out to the streets of Oakland to keep the peace there. I'll write more about the event later, and maybe about the calzone I had for dinner from Marzano, or the great cocktail I had there while I waited.

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