Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Never Smile at a Crocodile…

…Unless you’re walking along Grand Avenue in extreme West Oakland and you see this one. Then go ahead. It’s pretty charming.

Yesterday’s walk took me to a place where the sidewalk literally ends. It was an interesting part of the city, gritty and industrial, and not very residential. West of the Mandela Parkway, the streets are roughly paved, with no real curbs or sidewalks. The only vehicles were trucks delivering to and from the various warehouses in the area. Even on well-traveled (and well sealed) Grand Avenue, I was treated to the sight of a man in a suit vomiting on a street tree.

That sounds horrible, and it was, but it wasn’t all third-world squalor. Actually, this part of town doesn’t seem all that blighted. Just a little overlooked. There were surprising signs of life, such as cafes and taco trucks seemingly in the middle of nowhere. There were some new condo clusters stuccoed up in trendy Santa Fe burnt umber and ochre hues. People walked dogs. Pit bulls, mostly, but it was practically Mayberry compared to the images most people, myself included, usually think of when someone says “West Oakland.”

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