Top Five Places in Oakland To Sit And Write
1. Gaylord’s Coffee Shop: 4150 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA
I am growing hipster limbs. I haven’t developed muscles yet, but I’m learning to walk in my tight jeans and move my hands through my dirty hair. This coffee shop is two minutes from my house and I write here almost every day. They make a mean hot cocoa & their foam designs make you blush. I like that the baristas are cold to you until you know the gist of things…like how they don’t like credit cards, and how you should just buy the day old pastries because their half price and are just as good. The whole thing makes you feel like a local. The place is sunny, it’s locomotive, you can steal free internet from Starbucks. AND if you’re nosey like me, you can get connected with screenwriter people, local artists, and community out-reachers, because they are always having stupidly loud meetings next to you.
2. Oakland Mountain View Cemetery 5000 Piedmont Avenue Oakland, CA 94611
Sometimes, in order to find your writer’s flow, you just need it to be dead quiet. This is also five minutes from where I live so it makes it convenient to write. But I think it has something for everyone, tombstones, grass, babies, dogs, urns, spirits, fountains: the dietary staples for good writing. I sit on phallic cement structures in front of rich people’s tombs and I write in the silence away from the urban mix. I also practice my WIP and other readings/performances in front of the buried. They are the best audience, really good listeners.
3. Oakland Museum of California Courtyard 1000 Oak St. Oakland, CA 94607
I love this museum. It’s not pretentious; it’s not stuffy. It’s actually kind of rowdy. They have multiple floors, but I always like to visit the California exhibit. If you get a student ticket, which is 9 bucks, you can see all of the great modern figures that I love with their blobby heads and wildly colored bodies. Then you can write on the roof, or in their courtyard, which are sunny and have tables and chairs and are a little bit tucked away from the hustle and bustle of downtown.
4. Bird Shit Island, Lake Merritt
The great thing about BSI is that no one wants to sit with you. It’s stinky, it’s feathery, it’s infested with goose. I like to sit in the gazebo or on a bench and watch the runners go by. I also like to take the walk around the lake myself before I sit down to write; it’s good to get the blood moving. Lake Merritt is special; it’s our own central park. It’s full of Oakland vibes, so if you are trying to connect to ‘place’ go and sit and try not to piss off the birds.
5. American Steel Studios 1960 Mandela Parkway, Oakland, CA
I came across American Steel Studios by accident. But I am so glad I did. First of all, they have the giant burning man steel structures out in front of the lot, which inspire in you as a writer a sense of giganticness. God, I love that crouching steel man. Then you have to sneak into the dark warehouse where all the artists are working on what seems like a conspiracy-new-planet of metal. It’s striking to look at. It’s dark, it’s musty, it’s crowded with scrap and weird fantastical parts of sets and cars and who knows what, and its full of artists! They may shoo you away, but the few minutes is enough. The only thing here is that there is no place to sit. You’ll just have to park it on a curb somewhere to get out all of the electricity you just inhaled.