Today, after reading a few people talking about this early-morning fire on Twitter and Facebook, and after watching a couple of videos from The Specials, I wrote these lyrics:
It's the morning after the fire on 73rd and MacArthur on the deep East Side Everyone is bewildered and nobody saw it coming until the place got fried Not every block blaze is suspicious But not every flame can be innocent When criminals parade waving contracts And it's harder every day just to make rentOne block over there's a robbery going down don't try to protect The terms of the exchange are exactly what you would expect in this townNow flash forward years after tears run dry on the deep East Side Abracadabra hey presto there's galleries and bistros it's been gentrified Not every new neighbor is nameless But not every old one gets to linger When you're shoved by an invisible hand And insult to injury is it gives you the fingerOne block over there's a robbery going down don't try to protect The terms of the exchange are exactly what you would expect in this townNot what we mean when we used to say town business It's a sad tired scene When you get to see town business
I thought something might come together. I did some of the things might help. I waited to hear back. Today I learned it didn’t move forward. It wasn’t me, it was them. It’s their rules, their board, their game. I thought about these two gentlemen sitting outside the shuttered neighborhood fast-food spot. They have their own time to spend, contemplate moves, talk in between and even during if they feel like it. They could be in one park up the road, the other park up the road or the other one two blocks along the avenue, or beside the lake. But they play where they are because they like it, until they feel like doing something else. That was what made them caught my eye while I waited for the light to change at the intersection, and what gave me the time to capture them.
I go to these things because I’m happy that they can happen. I also go because I have time to drop in after getting off work nearby. Goodness knows that’s not a given. So many events slip though invites and e-mails and social-network queues. I forget: Is “it’s complicated” a possible response yet?
It’s not just the venue, where I can have a drink and look out one large window onto a main drag, or out another onto the jewel of the city skyline, ever more beautiful and obsolete. It’s not even the guests, though they’re pretty and pleasantly dialed in.
I go because I know sometime sooner than I’d like that I won’t be able to, and I’d like the comfort of having been. Was that a little dark? Well, okay then.
I'm sitting in a conference room on the first floor of a building near downtown Oakland. Afternoon sunlight slants down from clear blue sky onto sidewalks and streets and windows. Buses groan and cars sigh around corners after waiting impatiently at signals.
A new co-worker was at my desk when I arrived. She didn't look anything like me, so I was worried about crossing paths with my doppelganger (or worse).
Another co-worker's recommendation of a social search engine brought me here. This LJ account was among the first page of my own results, so I figured I'd better log in and change my password and blow the dust off things.
There was a post-apocalypse theme party in honor of one Oakland Soft Rock Choir member moving out of a building and another member moving in. The party started yesterday evening and ran into the wee hours. Attendees were invited to dress up (“Tank Girl,” zombies, steampunk) but the only costume that made sense to me was to dress down, don all black, carry a Good Book (the King James version of the Original African Heritage Study Bible that my mother gifted me with for Christmas in 1993), walk up on people and ask if they’d accepted Jesus Christ as their one true Lord and savior — not that there aren’t people doing that sort of street-preaching now, just that it seems like a post-apocalyptic growth market. After about ten choir members performed a brief set, some of us wound up on the roof quietly talking. I couldn’t help noticing the Elihu M. Harris federal building sitting just blocks away from us.
The only annoyance? The guy squeezing in between me and his date who leaned over when he saw me and asked if I was a Fleet Foxes fan. “Yeah,” I replied. “Are you?” Ask me again if I’m a fan again, superchill beer-sipping indie-rock bro. Ask me again, I dare you, I double-dare you. Ask my Last.fm queue, why don’t you? sigh
I didn’t plan on visiting another office so soon after last month’s visit to Mountain View. But when one notices a Google Places tweet and responds as directed, any manner of strangeness may result. So it was that I found myself exiting the Embarcadero BART station and walking down to Google San Francisco.
I had a good time meeting other lunch invitees (the developer who likes to hack on the side; the DJ with ideas about music storage; the Spanish-language journalist and organizer), filling my plate and taking a walk around the place and pinching myself a little. I never forget that this stuff doesn’t spring into existence out of the ether.
I remember how it felt back in late July, finding myself seat-belted into a Southwest flight rolling along the runway at Oakland International Airport, my phone camera aimed out the window, my stomach gathered up under my ribcage, my inner ears bouncing like orchestra tympani, and then the juddering bounce that comes when leaping up off the ground, wings outside doing their Bernoulli thing, thick slabs of noise coming from outside and inside, and then banking slightly so that everyone on my side could look out below at the city slipping away below us, receding as we climbed up and began drifting eastward toward Colorado.
I don’t know what to think. I woke up this morning, and there was a note from Amy Gahran with news I never thought I’d see, on a scale and with a potential to upend or at least slightly bend a bunch of things I’d assumed were unalterable in their trajectory.
I need to see what’s coming. I need to how it can work. After all, Paton’s thing so far has been small and midsize papers. I don’t know how that will work here in our environment, with the on-rushing push toward regional and away from local coverage.
I need to know if his idea of “digital first” is something individual, atomized, lightweight or faceless, branded and conversation-shy. I need to know if “digital first” is more iPad apps, or a rebirth of blogging. Is it doubling down on Facebook and the Apple Store and other “safe” walled-garden platforms?
I don’t think this makes online safer here or in Denver. There will probably be more shakeouts. It likely just means a brighter spotlight shining on everyone’s efforts, more scrutiny on footwork. There is no safety. I work with people who have yearned for direction from the company for the longest time and, just as Paton arrives and gets settled in, are now on the brink of being swept out of their careers. The promised land isn’t promised to everybody.