I don't live in Oakland (Alameda), but my SO does, and I work there. People do like to dismiss Oakland as a vast cultural wasteland, but maybe that's because it's not white bread enough for them. Oakland is incredibly diverse. It has some very bad neighborhoods, but it also has every other kind. And some odd combinations, such as the Korean/Ethiopian neighborhood a couple of blocks from my SO's apartment. Lots of graduate students from Berkeley live in the northern parts; there's the chichi region of Rockridge, down-at-the-heels Fruitvale, the nice Lake Merritt district abutting downtown, Chinatown, and so on. It's all well tied-together by AC Transit and BART. There's at least one excellent musem (the Oakland Museum of California), tons of good restaurants from ethnic neighborhood holes-in-the-wall to the upscale places in the City Center and Jack London Square, and a multitude of cultural activities from a city ballet corps to the Italian fair.

I like Oakland, from the enthusiasm of African-American neighborhoods on a Sunday afternoon to the new Chabot Space and Science Center. On the route I drive through downtown, there's a flag hanging from a balcony. It says:



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