First. A lot of what I’m going to say is predicated on this response from Coolhand Luke on 38thnotes.com about the fatal shooting during First Friday in Oakland last night. It saddens me, like all Oaklanders, that the violence continues in our city. Oakland is still my home, and I want the violence to stop.
I live in Newark. Where there was a rash of armed robberies for 3 weeks before Newark Police finally started working with the campus security teams of the local universities (students were being robbed). Where there’s an army of dealers and users who insist on using Newark Penn and its environs as their personal trading post. Eau de crackhead was fine in the train station, but when the gauntlet moved down the street where someone has decided to use an empty suite in a nearby building as an office, I have to draw the line.
I live in Newark now. And the violence that happened in Oakland last night, while not a freak instance in the strictest sense, was unusual in its placement and timing because First Friday is such a celebration of all that is Oakland and everyone in it. The shooting is special because there’s usually not shooting during First Friday. It’s supposed to be the one time that all of Oakland - the hipsters, the buppies, the yuppies, the hippies, the bangers, the artists, the indies, and everyone in between - comes together. It’s also because there can now be 20,000 people safely gathering in Oakland celebrating that they live there.
I live in Newark now. Where the only time you can see 18,711 people gathered is if there’s a sold-out crowd at the Prudential Center. And they can’t wait to get out of town the moment their show or game is over.
I live in Newark. Where our mayor can’t get out soon enough. Nine miles from NYC where Mayor Ed Koch is being eulogized. Now, he was long before my time, but from what I’ve heard, his commitment to his city couldn’t be questioned. In fact, I heard he lost the election for governor because of his unwavering commitment to the City versus upstate interests.
And here’s the deal. I can’t wait to get out of Newark either. Me. The Mayor. and the 18,711 at The Rock Center. We can’t wait to get the heck out of this city.
And it shouldn’t be that way. I’ve never been dispassionate about where I live. I loved where I grew up in Indiana. I loved DC. I loved Chevy Chase. I loved Oakland. And I’m…meh…whatever about Newark. And we should have a mayor who didn’t cynically choose to govern because it’s a good stepping stone to be a hero in Newark. We should have a mayor who chose to govern because he wants to fix this city. We should have a mayor who wants to have 20,000 people filling the streets (monthly!) excited to live here. We should have a mayor who is so committed to the issues in this city that it may damage the possibility for the next office - but executes a plan to fix the issues so well that he gets elected for whatever he wants next.
We’re Newark. And me, the mayor, and the 18,711 people at the Prudential Center can’t wait to get out of here soon enough.