By Matt Werner of Oakland Unseen

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or worse—working in a Manhattan-based newsroom—you’ve just found out that Oakland is now Brooklyn. No, this isn’t a figurative expression. Oakland has literally turned into Brooklyn overnight, like how Gregor Samsa awoke one morning to find himself magically transformed into a giant vermin. (We figured you Brooklynites would get the Kafka reference).

So now that this metamorphosis has happened, how does one go about writing an Oakland/Brooklyn trend piece? Well, we here at Oakland Unseen have developed a handy guide to save out-of-town journalists the trip to Oakland (because we hear it can still be dangerous), and to crank out their trend piece by following the tips below:


1878 map of Brooklyn, California. (Image credit: The Opposite Coast)

  1. Include these keywords: “Gentrification,” “kale,” “exposed brick,” “kombucha,” and “artisanal.”
  2. Out of Oakland’s 78 square miles, only visit 3 square miles: Oakland’s Uptown and Temescal districts during Art Murmur.
  3. Interview predominantly white people on what’s happening today in Oakland.
  4. Talk about how artists being priced out of San Francisco is exactly like what happened in Manhattan.
  5. Use racially coded words like “inner-city,” “immigrant,” “gritty,” “problematic,” “violent,” “up-and-coming,” and “emerging.”
  6. Scour Yelp reviews for what’s hot and write about good food, art, and music as if you’re the first person to make this startling discovery about Oakland.
  7. Use the phrase “In the shadow of San Francisco” at least 3 times.
  8. Use a patronizing tone.
  9. Steal writing from local writers (blogs, East Bay Express, etc.) who’ve written better local pieces before you and don’t give them attribution.
  10. Quote “accurate” statistics from Oakland Mayor Jean Quan.
  11. Misinterpret a Gertrude Stein quotation.
  12. Make your title a pun on a Gertrude Stein quotation, as if that’s never been done before.
  13. Be oblivious to the fact that culture can exist outside of New York City, and constantly compare how something in Oakland has a corollary in New York.
  14. Under no circumstances should you presume that anything else has ever been written about Oakland. You are the first person on the planet to make your observations.
  15. Do not consider that a place could have its own independently developed culture, and have no convenient East-Coast-based referent.
  16. Assume that the residents of Oakland care deeply about your article published by an out-of-town publication, and derive their identity and self-worth from it.



15 Responses

  1. OaklandNative

    I remember. Quan has been very good about making us native Oaklanders feel unimportant.

  2. r2d2ii

    “MJQ told the Chron only newspaper she subscribes to is the NYT.”

    For old time jazz listeners among us Oakland natives MJQ stands for Modern Jazz Quartet. So we really cannot stand for this misuse of a revered moniker.

    “I remember. Quan has been very good about making us native Oaklanders feel unimportant.”

    She makes us feel unimportant because that’s what we are to her.

  3. Max Allstadt

    Oakland should look to Brooklyn as something to aspire to. When New York writers compare us to Brooklyn, they’re flattering Oakland in almost every possible way.

  4. juanitadull

    “They’re flattering Oakland in almost every possible way.”

    As me ma usta say “flattery will get u no where.”

  5. Jen

    Not sure if anyone noticed this today. But a top Venture Capital firm from Silicon Valley, called Accel, just invested $40m in an Oakland startup (VSCO). Accel is a top 5 firm; they invested in Facebook for example.

    So if you think gentrification and displacement is bad, wait until this funding news filters into the startup community in San Francisco. If a top investor will invest $40m in Oakland, they you can expect the trickle of tech startups from SOMA to become a stream, then a stream, then a raging white water rapid.

    An investment of this size is a huge amount for a young startup (called the Series A round of funding) is extremely rare, even by Silicon Valley standards, and will generate a lot of interest by the hundreds if not thousands of startups in SF.

    The bell has been rung. It can not be un-rung. Gentrification will accelerate. There is no stopping the startup tech machine. It will wash over EVERYTHING in its way.

  6. James Miller

    …or, perhaps just as likely, VSCO will use their new funding to move to SF!

  7. A

    “…or, perhaps just as likely, VSCO will use their new funding to move to SF!”

    Seems plausible. The market is great for engineers so it makes it tough to recruit them. From my experience a lot of them who are not from CA tend to stick to SF and peninsula.

  8. Oakie

    $40 Million is a lot of money to venture capitalists? You think that’s going to turn heads? That’s chump change, bro.

  9. Bo

    Actually, $40m for a Series A round of financing is extremely large.

    I’ve raised venture capital, personally know many venture capitalist, and I’m a limited partner in several sand hill road venture firms.

    So “bro” maybe you should do dome homework. How about you respond to my comment with a list of all Series A rounds bigger than $40m in the last 24 months. All of this info is available online.

    I bet you’ll have a hard time, bro,

  10. OaklandNative

    I would say it shows that colonization and gentrification are the similar.


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