Satire | Things Oakland needs

By Paige Wasserman, Senior Staff Columnist

I really love Oakland. Since transferring from a university with a humdrum suburban backdrop, I’ve grown to appreciate the liveliness of my city school. Still, Oakland has quite a few empty storefronts that could use some action. 

To preface — I know that some of these sorts of businesses exist in nearby neighborhoods like Squirrel Hill, Shadyside and the South Side. Still, with a perpetually late and only somewhat navigable bus system, I often don’t have the time in my day to access most of these neighborhoods. So, this list is less of a “things Pittsburgh needs” list and more of a “things I wish were within walking distance of Pitt students” list. 

  1. A Taco Bell, preferably a 24-hour Taco Bell. There used to be a Taco Bell in the William Pitt Union, which has since closed. But now, there’s not even a Taco Bell anywhere in Pittsburgh but the North Side! With their affordable, iconic fare, Taco Bell would fit right in with Oakland’s young, occasionally-under-the-influence clientele. If a 24-hour Taco Bell nestled itself into a Forbes storefront, I’d definitely pop in for a Crunchwrap Supreme every now and then.
  2. A Target. See columnist India Krug’s article about how Oakland is a food desert. Does Oakland realistically have room for a Target? Not at all. But sometimes, I just want to roam the vast rows of merchandise, from toys to ugly dresses to overpriced groceries. Target is an American pastime, a sacred provincial institution. Although the East Liberty Target is just a short bus ride away, as is the Waterfront Target, I wish Tarjay was more immediately accessible. Where else can I go to numb myself after nearly crying over statistics? This is a public health issue. We need a Target for the welfare of the distressed student body.
  3. A gay bar. Sure, 5801 Video Lounge & Bar is in the next neighborhood, but after downing a Hemingway’s Olivia Rodrigo pitcher –– the concept of which I find hilarious as Miss O-Rod is only nineteen herself –– I don’t want to just lounge in a seat at Hem’s with one jean button undone. I love Hem’s, but Oakland is seriously lacking a place for the girls, gays and theys to shake their tuchuses to ABBA. My proposition –– reopen the defunct Garage Door Saloon on Atwood and make it queer.
  4. A bakery. Yes, Prantl’s is on Walnut Street. You could also pop into Dunkin, Starbucks, Redhawk or Divvy for a little treat. But I want an immediate true bakery with cannolis and chocolate croissants and novelty cookies. What if I bomb a test? What if I ace a test? Where is the bakery for cute mentally ill girls who never deny themselves anything? Not to mention, it’d be perfect if I wanted to bring a thoughtful snack to a class or a student group meeting. I’m not gonna task Starbucks with emptying their stock of cake pops.
  5. A lizard pilates studio. You’ve probably heard of goat yoga, the fad where burger-without-the bun-moms gather in a mosquito-infested field to have baby goats disrupt their sun salutations. I take issue with goat yoga’s white, Western misappropriation of a sacred South Asian practice. But Pilates was created by a white dude, so I say it’s fair game! Goats need room to roam, and Oakland doesn’t have those sorts of facilities, so instead, I propose lizard pilates. I’d love to have a Komodo dragon accompany me on my glute bridges! Does Oakland NEED this? God no. But it’d be a bit of whimsy.
  6. A second Cathedral of Learning right next to the current Cathedral with a mall in it. There’s no proper mall within Pittsburgh city limits, and as a NYC metro area native, I believe that Pittsburgh’s clothes shopping scene leaves much to be desired. So, what I think we should do is make a second Cathy right next to the current Cathy, same size and scale and everything, and make it a mall. Put in a Zara and an American Eagle and an Aritzia. Throw in some kiosks that sell bad t-shirts and phone cases. Jamba Juice and Cinnabon, too, why not? I cannot foresee any issues with parking or zoning or anything. Plus, when I look at my institution, embellished with cranes, orange signs and BEEP BEEP BEEP, I think, “Damn, more construction in Oakland would really enhance my collegiate experience. This is a fool-proof plan and I think developers should get on this immediately.
  7. A bridge troll. I stroll about Oakland all the time, and every time I come across a bridge — which is often — I’m disappointed. Where is my resident weather-trodden bridge wench that crawls from their woodsy quarters to impart cryptic morsels of wisdom? I want to answer their riddles three! I want a little brain teaser, ya know? Sure, undergrad is not a fairytale — it’s more like summer camp, which you could argue are the same thing. Still, a bridge troll would make Pitt feel a little more magical. Maybe he’ll even sell magic beans, or, as the doctors call it, Adderall.

Capitalism … activate! Let’s beef our streets with wacky little ventures. We don’t need it, but it’d be good for the plot.

Paige Wasserman (she/her) writes about the arts, pop culture, campus culture and things that make her want to scream. You can reach her at [email protected].