how has it taken me so long to get to the east bay and specifically oakland? they hold a special place in my heart – as a young lad, i would order records from an all volunteer run record company called blacklist mailorder out of san fransisco- and any of the listings i found that mentioned the east bay would get circled and ordered if i had the loot. the east bay to me meant gritty, desperate, and raw. berkley’s all volunteer run show space 924 gilman became legendary, and most aging punks would know what i was talking about if i mentioned gilman or 924. this east bay punk scene spawned dozen of influential punk bands, including, but not limited to (warning – links go to some of my favorite tracks by these bands, some may find these songs offensive and abrasive which only explains why a young man would enjoy them – listen at your own risk) blatz, filth, operation ivy, chrimpshrine, fifteen, econochrist, grimple, spitboy, and my favorite jawbreaker. (for those old punx that want to call me on my accuracy, i know that econochrist were from arkansas and grimple from new mexico, but they made the move to be a part of the east bay scene, and the music was certainly part of the sound) i fantasized of moving out to oakland when i finished high school joining the scene i would read about in the pages of maximum rock and roll. but it never happened. and i’m glad it didn’t.
i’m not a 16-year-old kid anymore, my interests have expanded, and my recent adventure to oakland had more to do more with the historical activism of the city, its current position in the occupy movement, and the strong food justice culture, than any plan to visit that mythical place of my youth. even when i saw the sign for gilman street, i really had no desires to visit. i didn’t want to face the reality of the disappointment i thought i would encounter, realizing it was just a small building where a bunch of kids played music.