I have a home in Oakland. It's where I hang my hats. It is where at least a piece or two of my heart resides. I confess that I maintain what is, for some, an unhealthy connection to my childhood home in Boulder, Colorado. I see you. You can put your hands down now. When I think of street names and maps, I still have an easier time getting around Boulder in my head than I do on the real streets of Oakland. Of course I have also internalized the geography of Disneyland, and I am more than a little nervous that all the new Star Wars additions will make navigating the Magic Kingdom a challenge again. That seldom used path at the back of Fantasyland that brings you back around behind Big Thunder Mountain, for example.
It could be that wherever I am, I will always pine for a simpler time, a place that doesn't really exist. Not anymore. I thought about this as I looked to the south, from the front steps of my elementary school on any given morning, you can see the lights coming from the Oakland Coliseum. Currently it is called "Oh-dot-co" stadium, It is the home of the Raiders and the Athletics. Both teams have long and storied tradition here in the East Bay, having won multiple championships and cementing themselves in the hearts and minds of many of the residents. It depends a lot on how many games each one of those teams is winning at the time. Everyone loves a winner. But it should also be pointed out that in the big book of die-hard fans, those who love their Silver and Black are right up near the top.
Which is why the current non-committal nonsense coming out of the ownership of the Oakland Raiders doesn't make a lot of sense. When Mark Davis, son of Al, starts rambling on about a "Raider Nation" that has no particular location affixed to it, it causes a disturbance in the force. "Don't make us leave," is how they taunt the locals, who bring their signs to games and public gatherings, pleading for their team to stay put. But it's a business, after all. There are people and municipalities across the country who are falling all over themselves trying to get a professional football franchise. For the chance to pay for the rights and facilities to get a professional football franchise. Never mind that crowd of rabid men, women, boys and girls in their black t-shirts and silver face paint in Oakland. If you want your football, you'll have to come up with a little more scratch.
Just a little further south, in the shadow of Oh-dot-co is a closed Wal-Mart store: the place where a lot of that officially licensed silver and black swag was sold. That store was closed, along with two hundred sixty-eight others across the globe, last month. Right about the time that the Raiders were cleaning out their lockers for what might have been the last time, the four hundred employees who once worked just down the street were hanging up their blue vests for the last time. There was some speculation that raising the minimum wage in Oakland may have forced the hand of the uber-retailer, but the fifteen dollars an hour paid to those now unemployed four hundred souls hardly seems like a deal-breaker for a monster like Wal-Mart.
Which makes me wonder why Disney couldn't just drive on up the coast and buy the whole city. If they sold mouse ears in silver and black, that would help make us feel at home.