Oakland, hola de nuevo

I hadn’t been to Oakland in almost a decade due to living in Los Angeles for what seemed like a lifetime. This visit reminded me that I once knew a girl who lived here with short, blonde, finger-wave style hair done with a sort of Mae West flair… a precious time of pre-internet and seemingly pre-insanity seen through the lens of a murky jar.

This girl lived above an Ethiopian restaurant on Telegraph Ave. and the smell of the food permeated the hallways. The memory must have happened in 1999 because I remember being kind of tipsy in her room while she was at work, and the A’s were playing on a broken, tiny black and white TV she must have found in an alley. (This was common for the young and destitute in the 80’s and 90’s) There was a babyfaced phenom rookie pitching named Tim Hudson, and I watched him toss a colorless complete-game gem before I dilly-dallied the 15 blocks or so in a rainstorm that was vertical and polite to the record store where she worked. Floating and ignoring beggars with dead eyes and an empty, automatism hustle, while mingling with the outlandish and counter-cultural. The break-up happened soon thereafter and was concluded quickly and quietly with a mutual shrug.

We remained friends after breaking up, but I haven’t seen “Mae West” in about 15 years after inevitably drifting apart. We both grew older and created new myths, and reflecting and jotting these moments down on paper is a state of autobiographical surrender to the void. Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’… Thanks, Steve Miller Band…I’ve always liked that song.

I now have horizontal creases on my forehead that I noticed beginning to develop years ago but only recently started to recognize as the onset of my inevitable material decline–as such, the sensibility of myopic, youthful indifference has been liberated and humbled. We spend our time in a dream, don’t we?


9 thoughts on “Oakland, hola de nuevo

  1. Steve Myers

    I always liked that song too. That futuristic beginning and just an overall great song and concept as you’ve demonstrated Gary in this post. Old girl friends are best left to memory in my opinion and if the memory can be buried, even better! I think Steve Miller is from Milwaukee which is a lot like Oakland in not being overly proud of itself, not the least bit pretentious or at least that’s what I gathered the few times I visited my brother who moved from Milwaukee where he he grew up to Oakland where he’s been ever since. I went to a couple of A’s games and ate lunch at Kasper’s restaurant which at the time was on Telegraph, around 42nd street I think or maybe 52nd street? Anyway, great hot dog fast food place. All of these damn good reasons to like both the A’s and Brewers.

  2. retrosimba

    Hello again, indeed. Today, Ethiopian food is trendy and so, too, again are record albums and the independently run stores that sell them. Time, at times, seems like one big loop. The A’s will be trendy again soon, too.

  3. Double K

    Sometimes I hear that song and I just shake my fist and think to myself “Damn you Steve Miller, and the depressing truths coming from your beautiful 1976 voice!”
    I am glad it wasn’t “Abracadabra” ringing in your head. I would probably have to unfollow you forever, Gary. Ahh, who am I kidding? You’re too good of a writer to unfollow. Even if you did somehow find appreciation for Steve Miller’s early 80’s misstep and chose to write a whole post on it, I’d still read it. Keep up the good work and maybe one day the universe will put you and “Mae West” on a collision course again.

    1. Gary Trujillo Post author

      Oh god…I would run in the opposite direction if I ever saw her! Also, I kind of despise “Abracadabra” so please don’t unfollow. 🙂 Your comments are always a fun read, so thanks a bunch.


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