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Oakland Gets Its Own Version of The Onion

Photo courtesy of Oakland Unseen

You may have seen Matt Werner and his cronies peddling the paper—dressed up like 1920s street vendors—at last Friday's Art Murmur. Some of you may have even picked it up. If you did, you no doubt got a few chuckles out of the Bay Area's version of the infamous Onion.

Launched last week by the small Berkeley-based publisher Thought Publishing (run by the former McSweeney's interns and nonprofit grant writers who also put out the book Bay Area Underground in January), Oakland Unseen riffs on the region's politics and our prolific hipster culture. Clever cover lines adorn the front page, promising a read dripping with satire. "Today's Forecast: Cloudy with a Chance of Tear Gas," "$1 Per Copy or 0.007 Bitcoin," "G.W. Bush Sells Paintings at Art Murmur," and "Bay Bridge Shut Down Labor Day Weekend to Prevent Burners from Returning to San Francisco" are just some of the beckoning one-line hooks. With all of Oakland's grim news of shootings and gang violence, Werner set out to create an outlet for slightly twisted, lighthearted fake news about Oaktown. What started out as a Tumblr feed last year turned into a print edition after the site gained enough traffic to make Werner think about the written page. The cheeky news briefs and illustrations (like the "Anatomy of an Oakland Hipster") are enough to make your daily commute worth the 45-minutes of dead travel time, and we hope to see future editions soon. For now, here's an excerpt from one of our favorite stories to whet your appetite.

"New Oakland Crime Map to Show Where Crime Isn't Happening"


    Responding to criticism that there are too many data points on their Oakland crime map, Oakland Crimespotting is releasing the new version of their popular crime-mapping tool that just shows where crime isn't happening in Oakland.
    A spokesman for the site said, "With over 10 grand theft autos per day, and an alarming number of other crimes throughout the city of Oakland, our citizen journalists were overwhelmed trying to map all of these. We've gone more with a clean, Apple-style user interface, and the new map just shows you the small pockets that are crime-free."
    "The new map will be in limited release starting next week at http://oakland.crimespotting.org."

If you're hooked, check out the list of local bookstores here, and get it while it's hot.