It’s hard to get a feel for what Oakland is. The city is kind of nebulous. Like that famous quote about Oakland: “There’s no there there.” Oakland kind of gets over-shadowed by the more flamboyant San Francisco and Berkeley. Berkeley is famous for it’s radical/leftist political activism. And San Francisco has dozens of famous icons and famous neighborhoods — the Haight-Ashbury, Carol Doda on Broadway, the gay mecca, the cable cars, etc. Whereas Oakland just seems like a bunch of random people thrown together for no particular purpose.
In the ’60s and the ’70s Oakland sort of had a reputation as a “blue-color town.” Full of two-fisted average Joes working with their meaty hands. A no-nonsense town. As opposed to the effete culture snobs in San Francisco. The Hell’s Angels, the Black Panthers and the Oakland Raiders were kind of the icons of Oakland back then. And there are countless stories of Oakland Raiders players celebrating their latest victory at neighborhood bars right along-side their fans.
A power trio was setting up their equipment on the little stage at the back of the club. A chick on vocals and bass, another chick on drums, and a guy with horn-rimmed glasses on guitar. And like I said, lots of tattoos.
The rock band wisely postponed starting their set until the Warriors game was over. Stephen Curry (of course) hit an unbelievable 3 pointer in the corner to tie the game, just as time ran out, even as he got blasted in the process, knocked to the ground by a Pelican defender. Just an unbelievable shot. And the Warriors went on to win in overtime. Just pure magic. It was an Oakland moment if ever there was one.
I had a happy, contented buzz going as I left the club and hit the sidewalk. On the curb right outside the club, there was a big pile of flowers. It was a memorial to this bass player who had recently been shot and killed outside the club while he was loading his gear. A stray bullet. He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I didn’t know the guy. But he was good friends with a friend of mine. So it sort of hit close to home. It sort of left you with this eerie, unsettled feeling. Everything might seem cool and happy and peaceful on the surface right now. But it gave you this feeling that, at any moment, something like that might happen on the streets of Oakland. Oakland is, and always has been, a tough, tough town. That’s for sure. Some things never change.