Jingletown’s Real Urban Wildlife
I used to live in the Jingletown district of Oakland, a busy semi-industrial neighbourhood down by Oakland Estuary. It changed a lot in the fifteen or so years I lived there, but one thing hasn’t changed: it’s teeming with urban wildlife.
I don’t mean the inevitable raccoons, or the squirrels, or the cute deer eating rose bushes (there are no deer in Jingletown, I’m pretty damn sure of that), I mean the industrial urban wildlife: forklifts, concrete trucks, shipping containers, truck trailers, tugs, barges, homeless RVs, discarded shopping carts, couches and TVs — things like that.
I used to see this sort of wildlife every time I was outside in my neighborhood. It’s everywhere, if you know what you’re looking for (I think most people just filter it out). It scurries around all day (especially the forklifts, which I have to dodge or ride around almost every block down East 7th riding my bicycle to work), or lumbers up 23rd Avenue or Kennedy Street (the concrete trucks), or it appears overnight on the street (especially the couches and the shipping containers), or it slowly moves from place to place over the days and weeks. It hides in the bushes and parks, or under the freeway over crossings, or it’s penned in behind large concrete or barbed-wire fences.
I used to just sort of take it for granted, part of the industrial ecology here, but I ended up taking a bunch of photos of it. I make jokes about being a wildlife photographer, but that’s essentially how it feels sometimes: you see a lurking couch or a forklift rushing past on the street, you reach for your camera, and you take whatever photos you can get, maybe stalking it a bit for that decisive moment.
I meant to do a version of this with flash at night, but I’m just too lazy for that (maybe one day). And yes, I have a variant of this idea whenever I’m out in the Mojave (there’ll be another posting about that, one day). And, yes, I originally did this for Emeryville, back in the days when I lived or worked there (and it was an industrial city rather than an extended shopping mall), and bits of it are still up somewhere on my Old Pandemonia site, but everyone thought I was just being silly. They probably still do….