A Strange Kind of Pride

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I work in downtown Oakland, California and I took this photo a couple of blocks from my office. This is graffiti painted on the wall of a construction site. It’s funny how the graffiti depicts a rat doing the deed. Here’s another photo farther down the same wall.

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If you don’t live in Oakland you may well look at the graffiti in a very negative light and think that it reflects poorly on the city. Here’s another photo I took about a block away (in fact all of the photos I’m posting were taken in a three block area of downtown).

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So, it’s not cool to deface a storefront like this, even though it’s empty and undergoing renovation inside, as indicated by butcher paper on the inside of the windows. This particular graffiti has been there about two weeks and there has been no attempt to clean it up, which I put down to a combination of the likelihood that the people who lease the building are probably waiting until the interior renovation is done, and a sense of futility in the meantime. I’m sure they’ll clean it up before the new business opens at that location. There’s a separate question, though, as to whether it should be removed. You’ll see why in a bit. Obviously, removal is up to the property owners and the business leasing it.

If it’s not cool to deface a storefront, what about a non-street facing wall next to a parking lot?

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I think this graffiti is of a quality that it adds to the urban landscape. I have no idea whether the property owners gave permission for this, but I could imagine a business or building owner doing that. If you still haven’t migrated at all toward the notion that graffiti is ever a good thing, what about this?

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Again, I have no idea if this was approved by the building owner and/or the business. I do consider it a positive addition to the urban landscape. It’s cool to walk around this part of Oakland and be confronted by the imagination of these people, who I suspect are locals. Why do I think that?IMG_2451

This doesn’t look like the other graffiti and I doubt this was an unauthorized job. It does show that graffiti has gained a grudging acceptance in this part of town. It’s achieved critical mass, as exemplified by this…

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…or this.

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There are smaller works, like this…

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Again, I don’t know in any given instance which of these works were approved. I just know that I enjoy them when I’m walking around at lunch. One more:

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You’ll notice the “Love Oakland” on the left hand side of the frame. It seems that an unlikely confluence of societal forces are creating an unconventional art district in the heart of downtown Oakland. This is the type of thing that is unlikely as an¬†official civic project, which makes it all the more special. It makes me proud of the region where I live.

I love Oakland.

Full disclosure: I live next door in Alameda, but I lived in Oakland for many, many years, and work there currently.

The Cold

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I hadn’t been sick in about five years, which I attribute to a reasonable attempt on my part to stay healthy, but also to good genes. About three weeks ago a co-worker in my work unit developed a bad cold, the most prominent feature of which is chronic coughing. Within a few days two other co-workers came down with what appeared to be the same thing. My work unit had turned into a disease vector.

As the daily absence count mounted and work piled up I became concerned, but knew that my co-workers would come in if they were up to it. One of them ended up in the hospital on oxygen and at that point I knew this was no garden variety cold.

Right about that time I became symptomatic. It started with a headache and a feeling of exhaustion. I went home early, climbed into bed and didn’t emerge until the next morning. That pre-emptive move turned out to be impactful. I was able to go to work the next day, courtesy of DayQuil. After a couple of days my symptoms began to subside, but now it’s a week later and I still have a bit of a cough.

All of this is to explain the absence of posts recently. It’s been work, home, dinner, bed by 9 p.m., so I haven’t had time to write anything. The good news is that I’ve been saving up a bunch of ideas for posts, so the floodgates are about to open.

Thanks to NyQuil and DayQuil for getting me through the past week. I’m almost done with the withdrawal.