As Oakland’s Downtown grows with places to go, increasing jobs and commerce, there are small signs of class tensions developing. This was evident in the wake of the Moneyball Premier at The Paramount Theater Monday night.
No, this blogger did not have a ticket to the event, and considering the work that was to be done, attendance suddenly wasn’t an option anyway. Still, around 10-ish, at night, after working on videos related to my new Atlanta VidBlogger Nation Show on Comcast XFinity in Atlanta, going down to check out the scene and have dinner seemed like a good idea. (So if you’re in Atlanta, I’m on 24 and 7.)
So, the first stop was Luka’s for a great burger and fries. Got to say that Luka’s burger is still consistently excellent, and the fries are a meal themselves. The crowd was the typically cool interracial mix the tap room is known for. But wanderlust set in and I headed off for other parts of the Oakland Uptown Entertainment District.
It’s best to divide Uptown Oakland into three areas: upper, middle, and lower. Upper Uptown is where Luka’s and Qzumo’s are, at Broadway and Grand. Middle Uptown is the Fox Theater and up to Sears at 19th and Telegraph. Lower Uptown is where Cafe Van Kleef is located and where Broadway and Telegraph come together.
Make Westing is in Middle Uptown.
Make Westing is a new bar that opened about a month ago on the corner of 18th and Telegraph and features a large bocce ball area. (So look out for Oakland Developer Phil Tagami and his bocce ball – loving left to invade the place.) The first time I was aware of it was just over a month ago, before I left again for Atlanta. It was planned to be a “New York-style bar” which, given I’ve been to a lot of New York bars, is a definition I’m struggling with, but that’s not the point. Make Westing is a nice place. It’s design and decor draw attractive, well-dress women. They were there last night, as was a small problem with down-on-their-luck Oaklanders stealing money off the bar.
Yep. Happened twice.
The first time I only heard about; the second time, I saw. I’ll deal with that one.
An older and obviously less than doing-well older black woman came up to me as I was having a screw-driver at the bar, and briefly flashed some kind of gold bracelet at me, as if she was asking me to buy it. I never turned my head to her or said a word – she got the message and walked away.
But what annoyed me was she had to come up to me as the only black guy in a bar of about 30 people and ask me that. I was tempted to say something, but left it alone.
Anyway, the poor woman kept hovering around the bar behind me. Then, as this man and woman with a grey dress left, she walked over to the glass and put her hand in it, and walked off in a flash. All before anyone could stop her, except the bartender. The unfortunate bartender got a quick look at the lady and chased her.
She stopped her outside and tried to talk to her, but the woman said she was high, or words to that effect that I was told after it happened. Without going into detail, I did a lot more than just sit at the bar. I’ll leave it at that.
But the sad part is this woman who took her money was the second person to do that in that evening. It’s also sad that the woman, I think, felt in some way insulted because there was this black-suited, black guy (me) who seemed to be doing OK, and she wasn’t. I don’t think my presence was the reason she took the money, but there was a class dynamic at play.
UGH. Class dynamic my ass.
The woman made bad choices in life, but if she makes some good ones, she can get out of her situation. So, it’s not a class issue, it’s – as now former Oakland Economic Development Director George Williams would have called it – a knucklehead issue.
What to do? The only answer I can offer is go to Make Westing, order a drink, and give them your support.
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