The always quip-ready Herb Caen once said about Oakland that “The Bay Bridge had to end somewhere”. Of course Herb died in 1997, just before San Francisco lost its vibrancy. Post-1997, the dot-com army moved in, remodeled, and middle-America-ed the place up. Now, San Francisco is just a small (albeit 13th largest), provincial town on the West Coast of the United States that sets no trends, but follows all others as if they had. A nice place to visit and hang out for a bit, but not somewhere that makes news anymore short of a couple of startups’ press announcements.
Oakland however, does make news, like BBC-level news. Why? Isn’t Oakland just a shitty, crime-infested, thug-haven? To some extent yes, but then again, while San Francisco has stagnated, countless people who actually like to do rather than photograph and put on instagram all packed it up and went from what was supposed the good end of the Bay Bridge to, you know, that other end.
Now, it’s true the the Occupy protests in Oakland took a turn for the stupid just recently, but that’s just an event in the immediate. There are many other things going on in Oakland, like people building wickedly awesome metal projects or opening noteworthy restaurants. They do these things because while life is still easy in Oakland (in the big scheme of the world), it isn’t soft like it is in San Francisco. If someone were to tabulate the number of corner nail salons in SF vs. Oakland, I’m sure that the numbers would be staggeringly in favor of SF being the destination for the mani/pedi scene.
This isn’t to say that I want to follow suit and move over to Oakland. I respect what’s happening there and that people are still trying things and taking chances and as long as you’re doing that, you’re still living.