I live in Oakland California and I concede that some of the rumors are true. Every couple of months there are random gunshots outside of my dwelling. Some of those gunshots are directed at people but most of time a drunk guy is just having a little fun discharging his weapon into the sky.
I concede that on more than 3 occasions felons who are fleeing the police have run through my backyard. Yet on ONLY ONE of these occasions did a swat team (complete with attack canines and assault rifles) have to enter my basement in a desperate hunt to find a fugitive.
Besides the few (perpetual) instances of random extreme violence my neighborhood is a relatively quiet one. Well, it's quiet when the Hell's Angels bikers aren't ripping down the street on their Harley's. In those few fleeting minutes when someone isn't blasting the latest hip-hop or mariachi jam through a trunk full of speakers you can almost hear the birds chirp.
Seriously though, I'm under selling it. At worst, I live in the upper crust ghetto. Sure there is lady who is addicted to crack who lives a few houses down. Sure, she has a small white dog named "Kilo" (short for kilogram i.e. kilogram of cocaine) BUT, she is very pleasant. Every time that she accosts my wife for drug money she has the decency to pretend that any "loan" my wife might give her will be paid back post haste.
There are many hidden benefits to living in a city like Oakland so today I'd like to take you on a tour of my neighborhood to show you why the prospect of living here is ever so enticing. For the record the majority of these pictures are screen caps taken directly from Google maps and have not been doctored in any way.
1) Free Garbage Delivery
In this computer age we rarely ever get mail delivered. Because of this it is truly a special moment when we get an actual letter or a parcel. In Oakland, the gifts just keep on coming. Several times per week an anonymous donor drops off a package in front of my house. Sometimes it's a collection of fast food paraphernalia, sometimes it's a bag full of soiled diapers but every once in a while you'll get an entire garbage bag full of some really sweet child size clothing.
Conversely, Oakland also engenders a Buddhist lifestyle. What better way to free yourself of your possessions and live only in the temporal world than to have everything of value go "missing" by the time you return home from work.
2) Pet Friendly
Unlike many other snooty towns we don't have any regulations about what kind of an animal you can have. Not only are Pitbulls, German Shepards, Dobermans and Rottweilers accepted in my neighborhood they are almost a prerequisite to get in. In fact, most people have more than one attack dog and they rarely if ever bring them inside so you can always hear their comforting barking especially in the stillness of the early morning hours.
Often "pet people" are weird about their dogs socializing with other dogs and they'll cross the street to avoid an uncomfortable dog on dog butt sniffing incident. In the ghetto this absurd notion is hardly ever witnessed. In fact, Oakland has a communal approach to dog ownership. On any given week you can walk out your front door and encounter five different types of dogs sniffing around in the foliage leash AND owner free.
Got a hot ride? don't worry, we've got ample street parking/front lawn parking to ensure that you don't get any scratches in the clear coat or dings in the bumper.
The old adage exclaims: "Stay in School" well, with our 20 foot high jail spec fences your children will have no choice. During recess they can play soccer on our simulated field (read: painted concrete). Also, our delinquency and dropout rates are so high that the remaining students are guaranteed to get a lot of extra attention from teachers.
5) Fine Dining
Do you enjoy delicious food with an international flair? Do you like saving money and not having to worry about making reservations? Would you love the convenience of eating freshly cooked food at all hours of the night? Well, look no further we've got all of your needs covered.
6) Je ne sais quoi
There is something to be said about the architecture of older buildings. Our ancestors revered style over function and as such many properties are outfitted with ornate wrought iron fences that represent the pride of a past era.
Some houses were built with ingenuity ahead of their time. Take for example this one with the suicide suite on the 2nd floor.
With scenic views and lush gardens second to none as well as the ability to cash a check at over 30 locations within a one mile radius Oakland truly is the "Do Everything" city.
I hope that this brief tour of my neighborhood convinced many of you that Oakland is more than just home base for a myriad of gangs. In many ways it is a misinterpreted and undiscovered gem hidden beneath a canopy of drive by shootings and spontaneous home invasions.