Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupy Oakland - Why?

Occupy Oakland?


What’s to Occupy?

Wall Street's 3,000 miles away, and Montgomery Street is across the Bay - a world apart.

There’s just Oakland.

Oakland is a blue collar, lunch bucket city with high unemployment.

Oakland is to San Francisco as Newark is to New York City.

It’s Oakland.

Not even Silicon Valley, down the road, is will to move into Oakland with cheap downtown rents.

Even the predecessor of Cal moved from Oakland to Berkeley.

Clorox and Safeway are in Oakland, but who wants to occupy a bleach manufacturer and a flailing supermarket chain? You might borrow some Clorox from Safeway to clean up though.

There are no one percenters in Oakland, with the exception of the fabled Charles Crocker, Dominic Ghirardelli, Henry J. Kaiser, and Warren Bechtel, but they reside in the crypts of Mountain View Cemetery up in the hills. You could occupy the crypts, but it’ll be tight. Sleeping on marble and concrete might be an improvement though.

You could occupy Frank Norris’ grave and learn how to write a book about the malefactors of great wealth – a book, the Octopus, that’s still in print a century later.

You could occupy the gravesite of Fred Korematsu as a tribute to the valiant Japanese American who fought interment in World War II. He did not want to occupy a concentration camp.

You could occupy the gravesite of Reverend Henry Durant, the first President of the University of California Berkeley, and perhaps learn how to build a great institution.

You could visit the sites of Julia Morgan and Bernard Maybeck, and learn about beauty as you walk through the grounds laid out by Frederick Law Olmstead.

Yes, you could do all this, but you are occupying Oakland.


My mother and grandma are interred in Mountain View Cemetery on the ridge above Millionaire Row looking down on the crypts, but with a splendid across the Bay to San Francisco. My mom, a Berkeley grad, would love it if you paid her a visit.

The living affluent, but hardly “One percenters,” live in the small enclave of Piedmont and in the Oakland Hills along Mountain Blvd., but their premises are secure.

You might try occupying Mills College. They could accommodate you. The coeds could use an education in squalor and filth.

Jerry Brown, in his 8 years as Mayor of Oakland, couldn’t make it work. Now he’s moved on to another basket case, the State of California.

Make it a meaningful protest in Oakland. Occupy the Oakland Army Base, the facility which ships munitions to the Pacific.

Occupy the Oakland Coliseum, the cement slab where the Raiders and A’s perform – the last dual municipal venue in the nation. The Grateful Dead used to perform in the Coliseum on New Year's, but Jerry Garcia is now a deadhead.

Occupy the adjoining Oakland Arena, and thus fill it with more than show up for Warriors games.

Emulate your Occupy Wall Street idols by occupying the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge. If you are going to get arrested, tear gassed, and struck, then become a martyr for a memorable cause, but occupying Oakland in front of the Federal Building?

Gertrude Stein had this sage advice about Oakland, her childhood home: “There is no there there.”

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