REWIND: The A’s don’t seem to appreciate Oakland, but we still can

Too $hort, Too Short

Too $hort performs at BottleRock Napa Valley at the Napa Valley Expo on May 26, 2019. Shawn Robbins/STAFF.

As much as I love my beloved Oakland Athletics, boy oh boy do I hate their ownership.

The story to this point: After screwing up their first choice of stadium location by not actually securing the land before announcing the location, picking one of the more difficult spots to build in the city as their second choice, screwing up the legislative actions required to streamline the approval process and just generally bungling the latest in their decades-long quest to build a new ballpark, the A’s finally submitted a “term sheet” to the Oakland City Council rather than a proper, full-fledged proposal. They demanded, as if they’re the ones who’d been holding up the process, that the City Council vote on it before their session ends for the summer.

Now this week, they threatened to move the team and bragged about “being in contact” with five potential destinations, though we don’t know if it was negotiations or cold calls. This comes less than a month after they submitted the outline of a plan, before submitting a full proposal, and well before the deadline they decided to impose.

John Fisher needs to sell the team yesterday.

In lieu of all this, let’s celebrate Oakland some more because Oakland needs more respect than it gets as a center of arts and culture. And no, the team that bailed for SF wearing “The Town” jerseys does not count as respect. And I promise not to include Tupac, Hammer or Digital Underground for once.

Tower of Power — “So Very Hard to Go”

An Oakland institution for over 50 years, Tower of Power is an all-time great soul band. But due to their size—with the horn section, their current roster is nine members, and that’s on the short side—it seems like a full third of the population of Oakland has, at some point, been a member of Tower of Power.

I’m barely kidding. The list of former members on their Wikipedia page has 64 people. Every so often I get a press release touting someone as a former member of Tower of Power, and I’m like, yeah, I love them, but it’s weird to lead with that considering I may very well be a former member and don’t remember. And I can’t even sing or play any instruments.

The Pointer Sisters — “Jump (For My Love)”

The Pointer Sisters are unique in a couple ways. First, they’re one of the few soul-inspired girl groups to last into the synth- and hair-intensive ’80s, as the video above demonstrates. Second, they’ve remained all-Pointer for their five decades of history.

Stay with me here. It began with sisters Bonnie and June Pointer performing in clubs around Oakland in the late ’60s. A third sister, Anita, joined in 1970. Then a fourth, Ruth, came on board in 1972.

They were a foursome until 1978 when Bonnie left for a solo career, and it was back to a trio for the ’80s, when they shifted to a more ’80s sound and found their greatest successes. They stuck together until 2004 when June left the group and was replaced by Ruth’s daughter Issa.

So yeah, technically they stopped being the Pointer Sisters, but still, all Pointers. But we’re still not done.

Eventually it went back up to four when Ruth’s granddaughter Sadako Pointer joined, then back down to three when Anita stepped away from the group in 2015. So while 75-year-old Ruth was there for most of the band, there are officially no original members, despite it staying entirely in the family. And presumably there’s another Pointer waiting in the wings for when Ruth hangs it up to keep it going forever.

Too $hort — “The Ghetto”

A product of Fremont High in east Oakland, Too Short (I put the dollar sign in the listing name, but I’m not using it every time) became a fixture of the underground rap scene in Oakland in the ’80s before getting a record contract in 1987… and moving to Atlanta in 1994. But we’ll ignore that.

But let’s go back to his first indie album in 1985. It was one of the first rap albums to include the word “bitch,” which at this point seems downright quaint. And you thought the entire verse written to avoid a colloquial term for female genitalia in “OPP” showed how much things change…

Machine Head — “Darkness Within”

Oh, I’m sorry: You thought Oakland was all R&B and hip-hop? As a rebuttal, please allow Robb Flynn to melt your face clean off your face.

Coming up in the early ’90s meant they were among the bands that refined metal’s early screaming chaos (which I love, don’t get me wrong) to a layered, almost symphonic artistry. And yes, actual classical music fans may disagree on account of all the growling and screaming, but if you replace the brass and woodwinds with distorted guitars and vocals, the order-from-cacophony aesthetic is there in both.

Now we find out whether the symphony-goers troll on Twitter as hard as other fanbases.

Dame D.O.L.L.A. — “Dre Grant”

RIFF’s illustrious editor Roman Gokhman made it clear earlier this week that if there’s an opportunity to feature Damian Lillard on the site, we’re to take that opportunity. And, yes, he plays for the Blazers rather than the Warriors, but I’m a fan of anyone from Oakland, so he’s cool with me.

There’s no shortage of basketball players with rap albums, but they’re mostly… regrettable. Allen Iverson, Metta World Peace and… ugh, Tony Parker… not great. Not. Great. But Lillard is actually good! Legitimately good! And he didn’t need a team of experts making him sound decent like Shaq.

Also, when he graciously agreed to speak with Roman and I about social justice and activism last year, he did part of the interview while lying in bed and eating cereal. And that’s awesome. Great guy, great interview.

Follow editor Daniel J. Willis and tweet column ideas to him at

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