For those who aren’t familiar with the tiny appendage attached like a tenacious little barnacle to the lower side of Oakland known as Alameda….that’s what it is. You reach it and escape it vis a vis one of two means, a tunnel on one end, and a bridge on the other. It’s inhabitants share a general attitude with other isolated peoples, i.e, suspicious and somewhat derisive towards outsiders. Given that it’s not a berg that one can drive through on the way to someplace else and thusly might stop in for a cup of coffee or a pee, and also that there isn’t a whole lot happening that might induce a noticeable blip on the cultural radar of the Bay Area, finding oneself there is a rare, maybe even once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. I went there for the first time in all of my 34 years this last weekend, but since I’m still attached firmly to this clingy, insistant mortal coil, I can’t say yet if it’ll be the last.
Our specific destination, of myself and a few friends, was Fireside Lounge, situated on the main, and most likely only drag, Webster Street. Residents of The Inner Sunset neighborhood in S.F take note: Fireside Lounge has nothing to do with Fireside Bar on Irving Street. While the Fireside in S.F is just a straightforward local dive, the Fireside Lounge is a proper cocktail bar where its bartenders muddle orange peels, coat the rims of glasses in black salt and brew their own lemon merengue bitters. Not that it’s pretentious; on-the-contrary, it’s a bar cut from the same cloth as many East Bay spots in that it manages to partake in the Neo-Classical bar revolution without succumbing to many of its more snobbish airs or the obsessive fetishization of all things early-20th Century. It’s a salty local dive bar with a pool table in front and a stage for bands to ply their aural trade in the back, to which is added what I presume are very good drinks (I was sticking to beer that night).
Alameda, while somewhat of an inconvenience to get to, and some of whose locals can make it hard to warm up to, is worth a look, judging from my chosen subject. It could be the tip of a less-than-well trodden but worthy-of-exploring iceberg. Or it could just suck. Come and find out for yourself you lazy ass!
1453 Webster Street (@ Santa Clara)