To Oakland, With Love

This is what Oakland sounds like:

Punjabi-Chinese-Vietnamese-Eritrean-Spanish-English conversations wafting through living room windows all on one street of many neighborhoods.  It is Lil Rob’s “Summer Nights” blasting out of someone’s clunky Impala lowrider, broken up by the woo woo whistle-tip muffler.  It’s catcalls from the boys hanging out at the liquor stores on the corner.  It’s loud and bustling like Saturday mornings in Chinatown when the Grandmas and Grandpas are haggling the prices for a pound of ginseng root.  It also sounds like the mixtape you just picked up from the dude outside the Lucky’s on East 18th remixed with powwows of 20 different Native American tribes.  It is vibrant and vivid, boisterous and sometimes cacophonous, even when it’s 1am on a Wednesday.  Oakland sounds like it is alive, always, and a little like your uncle when he drinks too many Mickey’s.  Oakland sounds like the Town that never quits hustling, never lets you forget it’s rough but also rich in diversity and culture, and Oakland sounds too much like something you can’t tune out, even with noise-cancelling headphones.

This is what Oakland tastes like:

Grit and sweat and blood and dirt and bubblegum.  It tastes like gentrified Asian-American fusion and reverent Jamaican jerk chicken.  It sometimes tastes like heavily salted air mixed with fumes from smog given off by chop-shops; while other times, it tastes like distilled water with a hint of iron, or blood.  It is days of rich, fatty broth cooked over low heat and seasoned with aromatic herbs.  Oakland tastes like the skunkiest of Indicas and the most savory of umami enriched bone marrow.  Oakland is a taste you won’t forget: something that sticks to your teeth and clings between your bicuspids and canines.  It is an undistinguishable complexity of sweet, sour, bitter, savory that your mouth will water for.  Oakland tastes original, and will forever provoke insatiable hunger.

Oakland is the Town, it is my Town, and I love it for all its grime and glamour, the vibrancy and coldness, and all the other disparities between good and bad.  I love it for all that it has given and all that its taken away; and I especially love it for all its eclectic micro-cultures that exist throughout.  I am forever tied to Oakland by the heartstrings, so I will always be loyal.

With so much love,

HP

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