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Hate, racial slurs and free speech at UC Davis You’r e mean ones, Sacto grinc hes

The year in music. Bonus: no twerking.

SACRAMENTO’S NEWS & ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

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VOLUME 25, ISSUE 37

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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2013

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December 26, 2013 | Vol. 25, Issue 37

goodbye, 2013 In many respects, 2013 was a difficult year, one rife with government shutdowns, political squabbles and the revelation that when it comes to privacy, apparently anything is fair game (thanks, Edward Snowden). There were tragedies, too. Even in a post-Newtown world, mass shootings continued, and the debate over gun control raged. But it was also a very good year. Some of my favorite moments included the entirety of Friday, November 15, when the whole world, it seemed, joined to cheer on 5-yearold Tulelake, Calif., resident Miles Scott’s “Batkid” alter ego. The MakeA-Wish Foundation granted Scott, currently in remission from leukemia, his wish to become a superhero. San Francisco transformed into Gotham City, bad guys were thwarted and distressed damsels were saved as Scott’s caped crusade united social media for good, not evil. Sure, some complained of the $105,000 price tag, but for the rest of us, it was proof that sometimes money, resources and an outpouring of love can align for one perfect day. Also good: The Affordable Care Act became a reality, and despite ongoing headaches (political, technical, bureaucratic, etc.), it’s still an important step in ensuring that millions of Americans won’t have to bankrupt themselves in order to get care. But my very favorite thing about 2013 was the Supreme Court’s refusal to rule on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in California. The court also invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to gay couples. Now, samesex marriage is legal in 18 states, including Utah where, on December 23, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby refused Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s request that Shelby block his own order making same-sex marriage legal in the state. Let love rule.

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“Tea and hot chocolate definitely works.”

Asked at Arden Fair mall:

What’s your holiday-season coping strategy?

Sandra Coen I have had lots of time with myself. I am trying to figure it out. I actually picked up bicycle riding in the last two weeks. It is helping. Today was the nicest it has been in a while. So [I use] bicycle riding, being outdoors. I like the American River bike trail.

Dean Kwasmy

Arin Aberasturi

unemployed

student

The only thing I am stressing about is finals. Everything else is nice and relaxed. I will pick up a really good book. [I read] fiction usually. [I read] fantasy, escape reading, a story of heroes and monsters. No tests, just “slay the dragon!”

It is about getting home to my parents and spending time with my wife and kids. Last year, we went to Idaho, and this year, we are going to Ventura [in Southern California] and spending a week down there. For me, it is about focusing on my family and not worrying about schedules of getting kids to school and me to work.

Shari Postag

Yaphet Campbell

agriculture department

student

I drink. I go home and get a little drink in me. Nothing too serious, but I take the edge off. Cocktail? I’m a guy! [I like] Hennessy [cognac] straight.

treat your family & friends!

Tessaundra Sidden

unemployed

student

If I am stressed at all, I can go into my sewing room. I love to sew. I have been sewing for 45 years. I can make anything. I don’t knit and I don’t crochet, but I can sew anything anybody ever wants. It is one thing I absolutely enjoy.

Volunteer. Being able to help other people really helps. I volunteer every Christmas. Holidays don’t need to be stressful. I have been volunteering with Yellow Ribbon America. You need to unwind with a cup of tea or hot chocolate. Tea and hot chocolate definitely works. I am more of a tea person.

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Email your letters to sactoletters@newsreview.com.

Wealth vs. wealth Re “Ultimate Kings arena number crunch” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature Story, December 19): A much simpler way to understand the fancy words of warring paid economists: Understand that every economy has two kinds of jobs. There are jobs that are the result of wealth and those that create wealth. Remember, wealth is not money, but the goods and services created in the economy. Money is merely the medium of exchange. Thus, central offices letter of for the state of Calithe week fornia, [Blue Diamond Growers], Apple, a suggested train-maintenance yard, tourism, etc., bring money into Sacramento. This money then flows through the local economy to the jobs that are the result of wealth. That begins with basic necessities such as rent, heat and food. If the economy has income greater than basic necessities, then there is money to support movie houses, fine restaurants, high-end shopping and sport teams. The principles work on a large scale as well as a small scale. Anyone understanding the principles will ask, “Where will the billions come [from]?” The only possible place they can come is from communities that surround Sacramento, which really

are just a part of the same economic community. The plan does not show outside money coming to Sacramento, but it does show the money being shipped out of Sacramento once the arena is built and operational. During the building phase, money will circulate in the community, but the money will be siphoned off each year through reduced city services and forced tax hikes. Then ask yourself: “Where do the employees with the Kings spend their six-, seven- and eight-figure salaries?” I read somewhere that a job that brings money into a community will support one other family. Thus, almond growers, the state government, HP [and] Apple, have created more net wealth in Sacramento than the Kings, who often end their fiscal year in the red.

I appreciate the hard work of CPS social workers, the horror stories that we see and read and hear about prove there are some huge flaws with the system. Our society has a huge dependence on escapism via chemicals, and I don’t see the need for CPS lessening anytime soon, but it’s at least hopeful to see that automatic removal is no longer standard, and that it is largely recognized that the state and automatic foster care is not a good parental replacement. I hope to see you continue with this kind of necessary investigation and reporting. Stacy Kirby Folsom

Charles R. Donaldson

Sa c ra m e nt o

A tarnished reputation Re “Debunking CPS” by Raheem F. Hosseini (SN&R News, December 12): This is much-appreciated data and insight on current efforts to improve Child Protective Services operations, however, the agency definitely has a lot more work to do before they can significantly improve their tarnished reputation and should understandably face some tough public scrutiny. While

No room at the inn Re “Capitol Avenue freeze-out” by Cody Drabble (SN&R Beats, December 12): When you live in a sleeping bag and it’s 25 degrees, you sometimes hope you won’t wake up in the morning. I lived with Jake the Wonder Dog in the bushes off the bike trail for two-and-a-half years. I too sometimes wished I wouldn’t wake up to face another cold, horrible, boring day. I was lucky: I received Supplemental Security Income after only one appeal

and now am inside at Quinn Cottages around the corner from Sacramento Loaves & Fishes. But most of my friends from that period are still out there, freezing their collective homeless asses off. I think it’s ironic that [at a Sacramento City Council meeting] Jenn Rogar used as an example a picture of a woman sleeping under “a mountain of blankets” only 18 blocks from the state Capitol. She noted that many of the disenfranchised are cold and suffering as the city prepares to build a multimillion-dollar overblown present to a basketball team that cannot win. As I’ve said many times, it could happen to you. Divorces happen. Layoffs happen. Foreclosures happen. Many people are one paycheck away from the street. The shifting of cash to the Arena From Hell while people on the street are suffering, and sometimes dying, is not fair, not right and is inhumane. It’s Christmas season, and for most of the homeless, there is simply no room at the inn. Stacy Selmants Sacramento

@SacNewsReview

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Principles of hate speech See NEWS

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See NEWS

Political tsunami warning See CAPITOL LOWDOWN

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Heavy mental Rusty Selix, an   advocate for  increased mentalhealth care, looks at  2014’s year of reform Rusty Selix knows the dynamic relationship between health insurance and mental-health care. by He’s executive director for California Jeff Council of Community Mental Health vonKaenel Agencies and Mental Health America of California and, in 2004, he co-authored j effv@ newsr eview.c om Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act. Now, with the Affordable Care Act set to go into effect on January 1, 2014, SN&R sat down with Selix to discuss how its implementation will impact those in California afflicted with mental-health problems.

Millions of Californians are suffering from mental-health conditions but aren’t getting treatment. How is the Affordable Care Act going to impact those people?

Jeff vonKaenel is the CEO of SN&R.

It changes things in many ways, but the two that are most apparent to people are that it eliminates the gaps in what is covered in mental health, and it significantly closes the gaps of who has health care and if that health care will now have to include mental-health care.

Can you give an example of a particular case? A family [with a] 23-year-old son just developed very serious schizophrenia, and we wanted to put him in programs that this provider offers. This provider is funded through the county, and the family had their 23-year-old child on … an Anthem Blue Cross plan. But it wouldn’t have mattered: All the plans are the same on this. The plan said, “We don’t provide that care.” The provider and the family and the county talked to each other, and they said, “Well, if you took the child off of your insurance ... we can get that child Medi-Cal and disability benefits. And once he has that, then we can put him in that program.” That’s what they did.

If this young adult would have had a broken leg or something, they would have been able to get ongoing care. But because it was a mental condition, they weren’t able to get treatment—and then in some other cases,

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Rusty Selix, executive director for the California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies and Mental Health America of California, says the state’s biggest mental-health care need is aid for the homeless.

it often goes untreated, which then has other kinds of consequences. That’s exactly right. In other words, what we know is that for people with a severe and disabling mental illness or a lifethreatening condition … they need much more than the occasional visit to a therapist. But they don’t need to be in a hospital. And that so-called intermediate care is what health plans have not been offering for mental health. Even though, in our view, it’s always been equivalent to rehabilitative care, as you would say, after somebody broke a leg or had a major surgery on another organ of the body, they would of course need that. But when the organ is the brain, and it’s not surgery—it’s another type of stabilization—their health plans haven’t historically made that care available.

Who will benefit most from these changes? That’s going to affect two classes of people. The first, and the largest and the one we see the most with mental health issues, is what might be better known as street people. These are people that have no income, or very low income, and do not have dependent children and have not been determined to have a disability. They might actually have one, but they’re not in the system. These are the people the police see every day; these are the people we all see every day out on the streets, and they’re not eligible for Medi-Cal right now. …

STORY

The idea is enroll them and get them stabilized, and get them help, and get that kind of care. … Some of them may turn out to be disabled, and may meet other criteria for long-term help. But the fact is they will all get help, and they will all have full mental health and alcohol and drug treatment available to them.

For California, we have an estimated 1 million residents that will be eligible for expanded Medi-Cal. Yes, there’s also very low-income people. It’s not just the street people, it’s people that have a marginal life, perhaps working a minimum-wage job that has no health insurance that would qualify for Medi-Cal. But the biggest mental-health need, of course, is the street people, because most of them have significant mental-health problems. And so that’s why I mentioned them first, but certainly all of the low-income people will be eligible and will have an opportunity to get mental-health care.

There are some that say that these two changes are representing a sea change for mental health here in California. Well, it is. There are more changes as well. I think it’s not just the low-income people that are going to be moving into Medi-Cal, but a lot of the people that will enroll in the health-benefits exchange are people who have sought health insurance in the past,

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didn’t have it offered by the employer, but had a pre-existing condition—and a mental illness is a very common pre-existing condition. It turns out that if you had ever seen a therapist or ever been put on an anti-depressant or other mental-health medication, you were deemed to have a pre-existing mental illness and not eligible to buy health insurance on your own.

As it becomes close to full implementation of these different components, how much bigger do you think the mental-health apparatus will become? Well, that’s been studied, and the best guess from one of the leading experts in the country was a 20 to 30 percent increase in the amount of mental-health care that is going to be delivered in California.

There’s a lot of fear about how much it’s going to cost. First of all, mental health as a part of total health-care costs is under 5 percent, so it’s not like it’s a significant part of the cost. The good news, and really the most exciting news, is that there are now numerous studies, [and] every one of them has proven that making sure that we give everybody all of the mental-health care they need actually lowers overall costs. I think it’s easy to envision that down the road, five or 10 years from now, ... the overall spending on mental health will go down if we are as successful as I think we might be able to be. Ω

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Hate reach Campus police can’t do anything about racial slurs targeting UC Davis students The men who recently shouted racial slurs at two female students at UC Davis are protected by the First Amendment, according to campus police. by Alastair Bland In two separate and apparently unrelated incidents last month, two black women—both enrolled at UC Davis— were verbally accosted by white men driving past them in vehicles. The first incident occurred on Old Davis Road November 13, where the driver shouted the N-word at the woman, who later described to police officers a shabby, white, midsized car driven by a blond, “fat-faced” man, according to Sgt. Don Malloy of the UC Davis Police Department. Then, on November 22, a navy-blue pickup truck carrying three occupants passed a woman near the intersection of Hutchison Drive and Old Davis Road. Authorities say both passengers in the vehicle shouted, “Fuck you, nigger!” Malloy said campus police are keeping their eyes open for cars matching the descriptions provided. However, there isn’t much police could do if the accused men are identified and found. “They haven’t committed a crime,” Malloy explained. “It’s a hate incident, which is protected by free speech. It’s kind of unfortunate that you can disparage someone in public like this.” The American Civil Liberties Union defines a “hate incident” as an event motivated by bigotry or hatred, but that doesn’t break any laws. A “hate crime” is typically an act of violence or vandalism motivated by the same prejudices. The late-August defacement of a chalkboard in UC Davis’ Dutton Hall with a racial slur and the accompanying smashing of multiple car and building windows more closely fits the description of a hate crime. No evidence suggests a connection between that event and either of the incidents last month, Malloy said. While law-enforcement officials may have no grounds for action if the offenders are located, Malloy said that university’s Student Judicial Affairs department could reprimand the men if they turn out to be students. The university also offers institutionalized support for victims of hate and bigotry through its ethical manifesto, “The Principles of Community,” said university spokesman Keith Sterling. This set of guidelines, meant to be followed by all members of the campus community, states the goal of preserving “freedom of expression” and “civility and decency towards all” while “confront[ing] and reject[ing] all manifestations of discrimination.” Malloy said that incidents of race-related conflicts have trended neither up nor down in the UC Davis community over time. “We’re fortunate it was just verbal. One can imagine how a hate incident could escalate into a hate crime,” he said. But UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi made a special point of decrying such behavior in a statement released after the second incident on November 22. “[W]e will not tolerate these acts nor will we be intimidated,” Katehi said, adding that local police “are working together to preserve a safe environment for all of us.” Anyone with information regarding the recent haterelated incidents is asked to contact the UC Davis Police Department at (530) 752-2677 or http://police.ucdavis.edu/ contact-info. Ω


Heating up in OT

BEATS

Sacramento Fire Department scrutinized for   overtime payments, complaint handling Employees of the Sacramento Fire Department raked in $7 million in overtime dough last year without any formal approval by Steph Rodriguez from supervisors, prompting city officials to launch an investigation into how the department approves such time-and-a-half requests. Additional The department accounted for reporting by nearly 53 percent of all overtime Raheem F. Hosseini. paid by the city in 2012, more than doubling the Sacramento Police Department’s $2.5 million in overtime expenses and vastly outspending smaller departments, a city audit of incentive pay shows. In his December 6 presentation to a city council subcommittee, City

by a supervisor; it’s just transferred to payroll and then paid out. Upon seeing the figures, Vice Mayor Angelique Ashby cautioned against greeting the numbers with knee-jerk alarm, saying the audit didn’t consider whether there are possible cost savings to the use of OT. “Without the full picture, particularly around public safety, that can be a very misleading number,” Ashby said. “There could be potential benefits.” The subcommittee ordered a fuller vetting of how overtime is approved at both the fire and police departments, the two largest operations on Sacramento’s payroll. PHOTO COURTESY OF CASCH/iSTOCK/THiNKSTOCK

Auditor Jorge Oseguera said he wasn’t questioning the appropriateness of the more than 150,000 hours of overtime that fire personnel worked last year. “We’re just pointing out that the volume warrants there be appropriate controls in place to ensure that that time is accounted for appropriately and accurately,” he said. Oseguera noted that fire department supervisors don’t formally approve employee time sheets and that the department’s time-reporting system couldn’t record such approvals if they did. One employee was also given “excessive access” to the department’s timekeeping system, he said. Oseguera recommended the department put in place a system to show that time submitted is reviewed and approved by someone of rank. As it stands, the information is entered into a unique electronic system called TeleStaff, but not officially approved

A Sacramento firefighter greets the crowd during a parade on November 11. The department is under scrutiny for its overtime practices, but interim Fire Chief Dan Haverty said changes are underway.

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Overtime issues are not the only area under scrutiny at the fire department. The city’s Office of Public Safety Accountability, an independent watchdog arm of the city manager, has repeatedly cited problems with the department’s handling of complaints against it.

“Basically, the system was broken.” Francine Tournour director Office of Public Safety Accountability OPSA director Francine Tournour said the police department has an internal affairs division to manage all complaints against the agency. The fire department used to, but dissolved its internal affairs unit in 2008 during the economic crisis to save funds. The responsibility for managing complaints then trickled down to the deputy chief and the human resources unit, but Tournour said supervisors were never properly trained. “Basically, the system was broken,” Tournour told SN&R. Complaints against the fire department dropped 25 percent between 2011 and 2012, when the department received 52 complaints, nearly half of which concerned service and discourtesy issues, according to OPSA’s last annual report. But the fire department lacked “effective reporting and investigation protocols” to address them, the report states. Approximately 40 percent of the complaints made against the fire department in 2012 were still pending investigation at the time of the OPSA report, which was published in early 2013. But some of this may be changing. Tournour said the department created a position for an internal affairs investigator to begin work in February. “There has to be checks and balances for everything,” Tournour said. “If the accountability isn’t there, then you run into opportunities to have things go wrong, whether it’s intentional or by happenstance.” Tournour continues to document both the fire department’s pending misconduct cases for the newly hired investigator’s consideration in 2014. Oseguera said the city council will meet mid-to-late January to vote on the audit committee’s recommendations made last month. Ω

In a later phone interview, interim Fire Chief Dan Haverty said the department has a required minimum number of employees scheduled for every shift, but gaps still exist. “During the recession there was a hiring freeze and ... we are still trying to work out of that to get our vacancies taken care of,” Haverty said. Oseguera told SN&R that an ideal time-approval system would be determined solely by the fire chief, who then appoints superiors within the ranks—such as assistants or battalion chiefs—to evaluate firefighters’ requests for overtime. Haverty said changes are already underway to comply with the city’s recommendations. “[W]e’re working ... to redefine various authorizations for access into TeleStaff by rank and role, because it has obvious implications on payroll,” Haverty said.   F E A T U R E S T O R Y   |    A R T S & C U L T U R E    

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Last week, the Latino Arts Network of California released a long-awaited study criticizing how the city of Sacramento allocates funds to multicultural arts programs. Marie Acosta, executive director of La Raza Galeria Posada in Sacramento and co-author of the report, said the disparity in arts funding stems from years of inattentive city council members. “Every council member has basically said the same thing: There’s no money for you, the city doesn’t have any money, go away,” she said. That frosty reception inspired her to scour public data and prove cultural arts groups were not receiving equitable shares of municipal funds or attention. The report focused on instances in the last 25 years where “too-big-to-fail” arts organizations like Sacramento’s symphony, opera, ballet and Crocker Art Museum all took massive chunks of public grant money and municipal loans before defaulting or declaring bankruptcy. In contrast, the city allocated $53,130 out of $2.4 million to art organizations from communities of color in fiscal year 2012-2013, about 2.21 percent of the funds. Ray Tatar, the director of California Stage Company, urged Sacramento to model itself after cities like Long Beach and Pasadena in California and Portland, Oregon, where advisory groups consisting of stakeholders across the artscommunity spectrum ensure equitable allocation. “We have to recognize small and midsize multicultural organizations, but the study points out that the city [of Sacramento] hasn’t really caught up with that thinking,” Tatar said. Tomas Benitez, chairman of the board for the Latino Arts Network of California, emphasized that the December 17 report aims to influence how the city spends its arts funding, not pick a fight with Eurocentric arts outlets. “We’re not the enemies of opera or ballet; we’re the colleagues,” he said. “What we have is just as important and no less significant in our communities.” (Cody Drabble)

Smartphone therapy UC Davis students now have a simpler way to seek mentalhealth help for themselves or their friends: They merely have to whip out their smartphones. Just in Case, developed by eReadia LLC in partnership with NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, is an app designed for college students to discreetly seek help if they are feeling depressed or out of sorts. Upon entrance to the app, the user encounters a list of strategically worded choices like, “I’m struggling to cope,” and, “I’m worried about a friend.” Clicking on a menu option will take the user to the Just in Case website which provides telltale signs of depression. The user is then given advice on how to handle situations and a list of resources to call or visit, both on campus and off. According to eReadia, about half of all college students will have suicidal thoughts at some point, but most will not seek help. The app was launched at the UC Davis main campus December 9 to coincide with finals week, a particularly highstress time for students. Since its launch, campus staff psychologist A. Zachary Ward said the app has counted 516 users. The Student Health and Counseling Services, which helped launch the app, expects even more when students settle back into their post-finals grooves. UC Davis is one of about 15 schools that has introduced the app at its campus, joining University of California campuses in Berkeley, Irvine, Riverside and San Diego. According to Ward, UC Davis has had one of the most successful launches on a major university campus. (Jessica Rine)

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In a word: elections Beware the impending   2014 political tsunami

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In the tempestuous world of California politics, it’s the calm before the shitstorm. Savor the moment. Cherish the memory, because like Merlin says in one of those Camelot flicks, “It is the doom of men that they forget.” One thing it’ll be impossible to forget is that 2014 is an evennumbered year, the nadir of state and federal politics. An old aphorism sums it up: Never underestimate the cowardice of CAS by GREG LU an elected official, and double it in an even-numbered year. Why caplowdown@newsreview.com do evens suck so much more than odds? In a word: elections. Winning elections is a necessity for politicians to stay on the public pad and, not to shock or anything, but elected officials dig their jobs and really, really, super badly want to keep them for as long as possible. Why wouldn’t they? They are treated with deference by captains of industry, Hollywood swells and even regular Joes and Josephinas who want to do nice things for them like upgrading a hotel reservation, seating them in the first row on a flight, inviting them to the luxury box, or offering them an on-the-house dessert or a bulging envelope of crisp C-notes.

The nightmare doesn’t start immediately. Like most horrific situations, it’s a gradual disintegration into unspeakable foulness. Greg Lucas’ state-politics column Capitol Lowdown will appear every-other week in SN&R. He also blogs at www.californias capitol.com.

Legislators and statewide officials also get invited to a bunch of cool events, often at five-star destinations. And no matter how egocentric, inane or unctuous a politician might be, they’re inevitably asked to say a few words and receive more of the adoration their selfless public service so richly deserves. So when it comes time for voters to decide whether an incumbent should continue in public service, those incumbents strive mightily to communicate to those voters just exactly how bitchin’ a job they’re doing for their communities and California at large. There are coffees and confabs and get-togethers and neighborhood walks

and weekend folding tables in front of the Save Mart during odd-number years, but there’ll be tons more in 2014, which starts in less than a week. The new year’s elections also mean begging for money from candidates, their spouses, relatives and like-minded politicians will balloon into a mailbox and inbox spam tsunami. But don’t worry. The nightmare doesn’t start immediately. Like most horrific situations, it’s a gradual disintegration into unspeakable foulness. Some poor schlep is going to challenge Jerry Brown for governor. He or she will repeatedly claim the quirky septuagenarian doesn’t have the fresh blood needed to chain-whip California’s vexing problems into submission. And while Brown and the Republican roadkill-to-be-named shadowbox, the same nattering will be echoed by all the legislative and statewide office wannabes squaring off against incumbents. The nattering goes something like this: These incumbent imbeciles have done nothing except add new meaning to California’s Golden State nickname by standing atop the Capitol’s rotunda and pissing on the heads of the hardworking electorate. They should be thrown out and replaced with new people who will clean up the cesspool that is Sacramento, bringing peace and happiness to all. Eerily similar to the same load of crap former Gov. Oafinator laid on us, isn’t it? But wait. Don’t forget the halfdozen or more hot-button ballot measures. Doctors teeing off against bloodsucking trial lawyers. Health-care chiselers duking it out with alleged consumer advocates. Tens of millions will be squandered on robocalls and mailers and ads yammering and yapping week after week that make squeezing the Charmin seem like Robert Frost. Lord have mercy. All of which is yet another compelling reason to spend a few moments today, this week, next week and every day thereafter reflecting on the awesome stuff laid on our doorstep daily by loved ones and friends, and how that bounty invariably increases if more attention is placed on building up the piles of awesomeness on the doorsteps of others. Oddly enough, focusing on increasing the good of other people seems to quiet that even-numbered year of sound and fury, and might even make 2014 a

happier new year.

Ω


Bee uncritical, SCUSD loves lawyers What’s the old cliché? A big lie is more easily believed than a small one. Something like that. It came immediately to mind when the mayor and company unveiled yet another stupendous economic impact for the new Sacramento Kings arena, this one claiming the facility will bring $11.5 billion in economic activity to Sacramento. See SN&R’s long-ass cover ARviN story from last week, “Ultimate Kings by CoSMo G arena number crunch,” for an explanacos mog@ newsrev iew.c om tion of why these sorts of economic impact numbers are basically phony. Or just stick with the Neil deMause’s more succinct explanation over at www.fieldofschemes.com: “Kings arena boosters think numbers are just things you make up because they look pretty.” The Sacramento Bee has been largely uncritical in its reporting on such claims. When the $11.5 billion number came out last week, it could only manage that “many academic economists also dismiss such studies.” A while back, a worker Bee lectured Bites on the importance of “objectivity.” But when the objective truth is something like, “The mayor’s new economic impact study is bullshit,” Team Scoopy gets all relative on us, pawning off reality-check duties to “project critics” or “many” economists. You don’t have to dig too far into the archives to find a feistier, less-cheerleadery Bee. Look up the 2002 editorial from Bee deputy editorial page editor Mark Paul, who methodically picked apart a similar—though actually somewhat less outrageous—economicimpact report, in support of an earlier Heather Fargo-era arena scheme. “The result is almost always some impressive number that a sports team owner or a politician can use to justify a public subsidy.” And it’s always misleading, Paul explained. That much hasn’t changed, even if the Bee has. A couple weeks back, Bites introduced Ali Cooper candidate for the Sacramento City Council’s fighting 5th District seat. Cooper’s candidacy is something of a reaction to the Wal-Mart-strong-mayor-Kings-at-any-cost crew that is running City Hall now. Looking citywide, Bites wonders if there isn’t a bit of an insurgency brewing. Former Sacramento Fire Chief Julius Cherry, running in the 7th District, has made his campaign slogan, “I’m not the Mayor’s favorite candidate...but I’d like to be yours.” Bites laughed out loud reading that. It’s like a funny, cheesy pickup line. And it might work.

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Compare those to the whopping $41.05 per student that the district is spending on legal counsel. Yes, we spend three times more of our local education dollars on lawyers than we do on music teachers. Why so much? Well, much like Walter White, the district needs an awful lot of legal help. Need to squash a public-records request or break the teachers’ union? Better call Lozano Smith, the outside firm that cleans up many of the SCUSD’s legal messes, and causes a few as well. For example, Lozano Smith is hiding documents related to school closures that SN&R has been trying get for the better part of a year. In fact, it has a reputation for stonewalling public-records requests, according to lawyers from the California Newspaper Publishers Association. That’s not the only reputation it has. In 2005, the firm was sanctioned by a U.S. District Court judge for lying, in a case in Calaveras County. While ordering every attorney at Lozano Smith to go through additional ethics training, U.S. District Court Judge Oliver W. Wanger questioned whether “a culture of misrepresentation and deception” existed at the firm.

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You don’t have to dig far to find a feistier, lesscheerleadery Sacramento Bee. One 2002 editorial methodically picked apart a similar Heather Fargoera arena scheme. So nice to know that more of Bites’ tax dollars are going to Lozano Smith than, say, Gifted and Talented Education ($13.03 per student) programs, or Family and Community Engagement ($18.81), or something called Academic Achievement ($2.56). Lozano Smith showcased some of its fine work for SCUSD earlier this month at a presentation in San Diego called, “Breaking the Seniority Barrier in Teacher Layoffs.” There, the firm presented SCUSD as a model of how to get around union contracts. The district, with Lozano Smith’s expert advice, has figured out ways to push out veteran teachers (who tend to be a little too opinionated) at certain schools and replace them with more compliant newer teachers. The guest speakers at Lozano’s event were none other than SCUSD Superintendent Jonathan Raymond and his school-board ally Darrel Woo. The district naturally got sued for the practice, and partially lost, though Lozano Smith got paid the same. Ω

The Sacramento City Unified School District is spending $12.54 per student on music programs, according to a handy table put out by SCUSD’s chief budget officer this month. The district is spending just $9.63 per student on instructional materials—not counting what teachers spend out of their own pockets.   |   N E W S   |   F E AT U R E S T O RY

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building a

HealtHy S a c r a m e n t o

a Chance to Shape School Funding by M e r e d i t h J . G r a h a M

a

dded school funding and changes in the way that money is handled mean communities have an unprecedented chance to make an impact on how state funds are spent. But until districts put protocols in place for community involvement, it’s up to individuals and local groups to start discussing priorities. The Local Control Funding Formula, also referred to as the Fair School Funding Law, went into effect in July 2013 and calls for $18 billion in increased funding over the next eight years for students who come from low-income families, are English-language learners or are in foster care. It also requires that schools and parents work together with districts to determine where that money is spent. “This is an opportunity for communities to be engaged,” says Carl Pinkston, secretary of the Black Parallel School Board, which receives funding from The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities grant. “What would they like their schools to look like?” Pinkston is passionate about education, particularly for black students, many of whom are part of the Sacramento City School District. That district also has a large number of students — 74 percent — who fit into the categories targeted for increased founding, Pinkston is working to ensure that the additional money actually goes to help the kids it’s designed to help. “In the past, funding would come down to districts, and the district staff would develop the budget. Then the budget goes public and

BuIldIng HEalTHy COmmunITIES

everyone gets to respond,” Pinkston explains. “Since this is our opportunity, we decided to do something different, to bring our partners together — folks who often sit on opposite sides of the table — to begin having a dialogue about what we want our budget to look like.

“THIS IS an OppOrTunITy fOr COmmunITIES TO BE EngagEd. WHaT WOuld THEy lIkE THEIr SCHOOlS TO lOOk lIkE?”

“We want to bring folks together before the budget comes out and begin to articulate to the district exactly what we want,” he says. “Do we want more for professional development, or decreased class sizes? Where do we want these increased funds to go? Because they’re supposed to be for low-income students.” For more information on how the Black Parallel School Board and other groups are responding to these changes and how to get involved, check the board’s website at www.blackparallelschoolboard.com.

Carl pinkston, Black parallel School Board secretary

In 2010, The California Endowment launched a 10-year, $1 billion plan to improve the health of 14 challenged communities across the state. Over the 10 years, residents, community-based organizations and public institutions will work together to address the socioeconomic and environmental challenges contributing to the poor health of their communities.

Black parallel School Board members lailah muwwakkil, Carl pinkston and darryl White discuss funding priorities for low-income students. photo by Tara patrick

“We are going to actually propose a budget for 2014-15 instead of trying to argue over what the district decides.” Pinkston says the Black Parallel School Board has come together with various unions, teachers, parents and representatives of other community organizations, including Latino and Hmong groups, to discuss priorities for education. The main goal is to ensure that the extra funding goes to help underprivileged children, rather than going into district reserves or being used for other purposes. A provision of the new formula requires districts to work with parents and school leaders to determine how the money is spent. The template for how to go about that collaboration, however, won’t be finished until after the 2014-15 budget is drawn up, so Pinkston’s group decided to start engaging community groups now.

your ZiP code shouldn’t predict how long you’ll live – but it does. Staying healthy requires much more than doctors and diets. Every day, our surroundings and activities affect how long – and how well – we’ll live. Health Happens in neighborhoods. Health Happens in Schools. Health Happens with prevention.

paid with a grant from the california endowment 12   |   SN&R   |   12.26.13

www.SacBHC.org


THIS MODERN WORLD

BY TOM TOMORROW

Year of nothing Thinking back on 2013, it’s easy to believe that the past year will be remembered more for things that didn’t happen than for those that did. It’s not that this was a slow news year. The Boston Marathon bombing, Pope Francis, the George Zimmerman trial, military drone strikes, National Security Agency surveillance, the government shutdown, and the Affordable Care Act rollout all grabbed What do these international headlines. Locally, the downtown arena and school problems have closures, among other issues, kept in common? things hopping. But when it comes to the An utterly many critical issues we face as a country, 2013 was the year nothing dysfunctional happened. Despite strong public U.S. Congress. support for tighter restrictions on gun sales in the wake of the December 2012 Newtown, Conn., school shooting, a bill requiring universal background checks went nowhere in Congress. Immigration? A comprehensive reform bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support, yet was never put to a vote in the House. Global warming? At the end of yet another year of record temperatures, catastrophic storms, and growing consensus that climate change is a serious threat, the United States still has not made a firm commitment to significantly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. What do these problems have in common? A Congress so dysfunctional that it hasn’t been able to pay the nation’s bills on time, let alone address contentious matters. The 113th Congress has been one for the books, passing a historically low number of bills this year (57) and shutting down the government for two weeks in a pointless standoff over the Affordable Care Act that cost an estimated $24 billion. Congressional gridlock has stifled economic growth, delayed everything from routine judicial appointments to farm subsidies, and left many with the desperate sense that the two-party system is broken beyond repair. Too often, the problem is portrayed as a partisan standoff in which both parties share blame. That’s nonsense. The gridlock is the result of deliberate action by Republican extremists who hail from gerrymandered districts so safely controlled by their party that their only worry is that someone will sponsor a GOP challenger in the next primary. Throughout 2013, it became more and more clear that until we deal with gerrymandered congressional districts, gridlock will prevail. California voters provided a working model for change in 2008 when they attacked gerrymandering via the initiative process with a new law requiring that district boundaries be drawn by a nonpartisan citizens’ commission rather than legislators. It’s a reform that creates more diverse and competitive districts, rewards moderation and compromise over partisan extremism, produces more competitive elections, and ultimately reduces gridlock. A number of bills have been introduced that would put in place a similar system for Congress, but they’ll never make it out of committee without vocal support from voters. As 2014 unfolds, all of us who want to see the federal government take action on critical issues need to work to push redistricting reform to the top of the agenda. We can’t afford another year where nothing happens in Congress. Ω

California’s flaccid media community Odds are whatever third-party current event you’re overall labor force. The media positions most consuming—whether it’s in a newspaper, on the rarely occupied by a woman include camera by radio or (shudder) television—was produced, operators, engineers and announcers (all less Raheem packaged and broadcast by a college-educated than 20 percent female), as well as actors. F. Hosseini white dude between the ages of 25 and 44. (Sacramento News & Review’s boutique-size Basically, someone like me. editorial and design staff buck these figures by That’s one of the high lowlights from a short being 60 percent female and 33 percent employreport released this month by the California ees of color, according to my math.) Research Bureau, which found that women are The report hints at why this might all be. underrepresented and underpaid in the state’s The positions with the flimsiest representation media industry. (Please of women are also the ones hold your gasps until with the biggest income gaps. The positions the end.) The report A female camera operator or doesn’t examine whether with the flimsiest editor, for instance, averages people of color are also $21,200 less a year than her representation of underpaid, but they’re male counterpart. Looking women are also underrepresented, too. at my position, the average So, before I go any female writer makes $38,500, the ones with the further, let me apologize compared to the $54,000 raked biggest income gaps. in by her male equal. Now, for contributing to the lack of overall diversity considering my paycheck is An online version of this by belonging to all those closer to the former than it is to essay can be found at white-bread demos. If it makes you feel any the latter, all I can say is, “Solidarity, sister!” www.newsreview.com/ The occupation where virtually no income sacramento/ better, I have a funny name that often gets me pageburner/blogs. mistaken for a black Muslim. gap exists—technical writer—actually counts Anyway, back to the report, which scatters more women in the field than men. interesting tidbits across all of two pages. It Most enlightening to me is the report’s turns out California’s media landscape is slightly revelation that us media professionals make more weighted toward white (72 percent) men $14,000 more in median income than other (64 percent) ages 25 to 44 (53 percent) with working Californians. Holy crap. We actually bachelor’s degrees (47 percent) than the state’s get paid? Talk about burying the lead. Ω BEFORE

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illustrations by JASON CROSBY

WHAT’S UP,

grinches?! by COSMO GARVIN AND RAHEEM F. HOSSEINI

S N & R’ s a n n u al Gr inches o f the Y ear awar d s f o r t h e c i t y ’s to p scr o o ges and sco undr els

T

ime for SN&R’s annual roundup of the local rogues and rascals who helped make Sacramento a little less cheery this year. Greed and power-tripping were big themes again in 2013. Then there’s some sick stuff we’re not sure how to explain. Anyway, here’s something for your stocking, grinches. Stuff it.

members will all come back and start some sort of public-private partnership to promote an authentic urban street-music scene here. And it will suck. Until then, rock on, outlaw buskers.

Billionaire bros club

When Chris Hansen tried to steal the Sacramento Kings away to Seattle, it was nothing personal, just business. The grinchy thing, though, was when he secretly and illegally pumped $100,000 into the ballot campaign by Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed Sacramento’s to Pork to put the new Kings music police arena subsidy to a public vote. W H A T OTHER MUNI CI PALI TY Sacramento can be an awfully Not helping. Billionaires buying top-down kind of town, and W OULD THROW HUNDREDS ballot access are bad enough. But nothing quite captures this nasty Hansen’s maneuver also set off a OF M ILLI ONS OF DOLLARS AT little authoritarian streak like the bro-swarm of phony outrage about the city’s ban on buskers and street sanctity of Sacramento elections—from P ROJ E CTS TO “REVI TALI Z E” musicians. What other municipalpeople in Antelope, Citrus Heights DOW NTOWN, THEN SEND ity would throw hundreds of and the Arden neighborhood. Hell, the millions of dollars at projects to opinion writers at The Sacramento Bee T H E C OPS TO SHUT DOWN “revitalize” downtown, then send are still bitching about it. And while the the cops to shut down any actual A NY A CTUAL SI GNS OF LI FE? folks at pro-arena groups The4000 or signs of life? The prohibition DowntownArena.org act all indignant about on street performers has been Hansen’s meddling, they know it was a around for years, but it makes the godsend for them. That way, they can papers from time to time. There was the crackdown in Old Sacramento talk about him instead of about whether the arena is really a good this year. A few years back, the police and Downtown Sacramento deal for local taxpayers. Partnership harassed a little guerrilla music project called “Downtown Sound” out of existence. Not sure who made the DSP the city’s music police, but the organization often gets quoted in stories complaining The slicker picker-upper about how hard it is to do business with some plebe blowing his horn That Cortez Quinn, such a scamp. According to court documents filed outside. Boohoo. One day, a bunch of city council members will take a in November by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office, taxpayer-funded fact-finding trip to some ostensibly more world-class the Twin Rivers Unified School District board member didn’t report town, and someone from the Urban Land Institute will point out the $55,000 in loans and gifts given to him by Sherilene Chycoski, a authentic urban street-musician scene there, and those city council

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Cortez Quinn, a Twin Rivers Unified School District board member, didn’t report thousands in loans and gifts given to him by Sherilene Chycoski, a school-district employee with whom he had a romantic relationship. That got him into a heap of trouble—and earned him a spot on SN&R’s annual grinch list.

school-district employee with whom he had romantic relationship. That’s illegal. Quinn allegedly used the money to save a Vallejo property from foreclosure and to repair his BMW, in addition to other expenses. The California Fair Political Practices Commission fined Quinn $14,000 back in 2010 for not reporting the dough. (That was when he was still chief of staff to Assemblyman Roger Dickinson.) Quinn, who owes child-support payments to a woman in Yolo County, may have also attempted to fudge a paternity test to avoid making payments to Chycoski for a child she had last year. The evidence for that claim came from a damp paper towel Quinn used and tossed while taking a bathroom break during a school-board meeting. The paper was fished out of a trash can by a DA investigator. Ew.

Unconventionally greedy convention center Can a building be a grinch? Sure, if it’s the Sacramento Convention Center. As SN&R reported in the fall, Sacramento’s downtown Death Star gobbles up 80 percent of the city’s hotel tax, way out of line with the practice in other cities. Other towns use their hotel taxes to pay for core services like cops and swimming pools. Remember those? Rather than put the Convention Center on a diet, the plan is to use more tax money to expand it. What’s the point of putting a big dumb box in the middle of your city if it’s not for making money? Decoration?

AFT ER T HE SA C R A MEN TO C OU N TY GRAND JU R Y C A LLED HER OU T, DIST RICT AT TOR N EY JA N S C U LLY PRET END ED TO R EIN S TA TE INDEPEN D EN T R EV IEWS OF OFFICER- IN V OLV ED S HOOTIN G S . BUT IT W A S A S MOK ES C R EEN . Seattle billionaire Chris Hansen joined the elite ranks of Sacramento grinches by secretly— and illegally—dumping $100,000 into a ballot campaign that aimed to deflate the plan for a new Sacramento Kings arena.

You’re off the case, Scully Say what you will about lame-duck District Attorney Jan Scully, but she doesn’t lack for boldness. After getting called out by the Sacramento County Grand Jury earlier this year, Scully pretended to reinstate her office’s “independent” reviews of officer-involved shootings. But that was just some clever PR, since the office is continuing the same hands-off approach it’s employed since July 2011, when Scully pulled the reviews to protest budget reductions county supervisors made to her department (and basically every other agency). Notably, 2012 saw a sharp increase in cops discharging their firearms, with 13 officer-involved shootings in the sheriff’s department alone. To be fair, it’s not like the DA’s office provided that much oversight even before the cuts. In more than 30 years of supposed scrutiny, Scully’s grinchy office took issue with only two law-enforcement shootings. Don’t you feel safe?

Big box, bad logic Once, the city had a rule: If a big-box store like Wal-Mart wanted to move into a neighborhood, it had to produce an economic-impact report detailing the effect the new megastore would have on local businesses. Perfectly reasonable thing to want to know, since small business is what puts food on Sacramento’s table and presents under its tree. But developers who want to turn the undeveloped bit of south BEFORE

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Sacramento into any-mall USA said the big-box ordinance is bad for business, and it had to go. Not because the rules were too expensive—the economicimpact analysis costs were pretty minor as a portion of the fees needed to site a new store. Retailers and developers just don’t want people talking about wages and benefits and “category killing” when its time to get their project approved. Some council members vote how the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce tells them to, we get it. And Mayor Kevin Johnson and Councilman Jay Schenirer took an awful lot of Wal-Mart dough in recent years. But Councilman Steve Cohn actually gets the Grinchy here, for asking some pretty good questions that showed it really didn’t make sense to scrap the bigbox rules, then voting to scrap them anyway.

“ W H A T ’S UP,

More ghoul than grinch

GRINCHES”

Garden of Innocence National bowled over Sacramentans this fall thanks to heart-tugging images of child-sized coffins stacked in solemn rows. But no one checked the fine print. Garden of Innocence rakes in donations

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Council of Governments for speaking up against sprawl. He endlessly talked up “$7 billion” in new economic activity from a new Kings arena, even though he knew the number was phony. He tried to monkey-wrench the Kings arena ballot effort, getting people from outside of Sacramento to fill out signature-withdrawal forms—thus bogging down the signature count and making the whole process more expensive and confusing. If you can’t beat ’em, cheat ’em.

Garden of Innocence National solicits donations to bury children whose bodies were reportedly abandoned by their parents. In Sacramento, however, the organization’s elaborate funerals are for fetal miscarriages and stillborns that aren’t considered abandoned; the funeral services are conducted without the parents’ knowledge or consent.

COUNCI LMAN STEVE COHN GETS THE GRI NCHY HERE, FOR ASKI NG SOME QUESTI ONS THAT SHOWED I T REALLY DI DN’T MAKE SENSE TO SCRAP THE BI G-BOX RULES, THEN VOTI NG TO SCRAP THEM ANYWAY.

“ W H A T ’S U P , GRINCHES” continued from page 15

by saying it buries children who died and whose bodies were abandoned by their parents. But here in Sacramento, at least—where the nonprofit arrived in September on a wave of glowing, superficial press— that turned out to be bunk. Through an agreement with the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office, the charity actually conducted extravagant funeral rites for fetal miscarriages and stillborns collected from hospitals—(re)naming the fetuses, writing poems about them and burying their cremains with Beanie Babies-type toys. The organization also kept calling the fetuses “abandoned children.” Following SN&R’s coverage, the coroner’s office amended its contract with Garden of Innocence’s Sierra chapter and no longer releases miscarried fetuses to the group. Merry Christmas.

Bad cop, bad cop We sure hope there aren’t any more like deputy Donald Black in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. Black was arrested in September on suspicion of child molestation; he figured now was as a good a time as any to retire. He leaves the department having racked up a jaw-dropping $2 million in settlements for lawsuits where he was accused of excessive force—including tossing a flash-bang grenade into an inmate’s cell, letting a K-9 dog maul a 19-year-old, and aiming and firing an unloaded pellet gun at a man during a traffic stop. Black edges UC Davis’ Lt. John Pike off the naughty list this year, though Pike, the infamous pepper-spray cop of college students, was awarded $33,350 in October for the wounds his psyche suffered after unloading a family-size canister of pepper spray into the faces of several peaceful protestors on campus in 2011. That one still stings. Ω

Sacramento City Unified School District Superintendent Jonathan P. Raymond and his wrecking crew have done a bad, bad number on the board of education.

Sac city’s wrecking crew What’s left to say about Sacramento City Unified School District Superintendent Jonathan P. Raymond and his wrecking crew on the board of education: Jeff Cuneo, Jay Hansen, Patrick Kennedy and Darrel Woo? Sneaky. Anti-democratic. Self-serving. These men definitely have a future in politics. Even now, the school district is concealing public records related to the school closures they rammed through earlier this year. Raymond won’t be around for another Christmas in Sacramento. Having had his fun with a real urban school district, he’s headed back to his Massachusetts home. Kennedy is being rewarded with what looks like a clear shot at a county supervisor seat. The other guys? Stink. Stank. Stunk.

Monkey-wrenching for developers Joshua Wood of the Region Builders group had his hands in just about everything sleazy in local politics this year. He attacked the Sacramento Area BEFORE

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D anie l b arne s

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BlockBusters, hidden gems and the rest of the best sn&r film critics Jim lane and daniel barnes on 2013’s top films If there’s anything the last 12 months have taught us, at least cinematically speaking, it’s that great films come in all shapes and sizes—be they multiplex box-office smashes such as Gravity, intimate documentaries such as Stories We Tell or, as in the case of Before Midnight, the latest installment in a beloved indie series. SN&R film critics Daniel Barnes and Jim Lane brush off the popcorn dust to muse on possible Oscar contenders, fairy tales, James Franco and their favorite films of 2013. A one-womAn show And other greAt performAnces Ordinarily, I list my top movies of the year in alphabetical order, but this year, two pictures stand out so far from the pack that they’re on just about everybody’s top 10 list. Both seem to be the ones to beat for many of 2013’s Academy Awards; either one would be an honorable, even distinguished choice for Best Picture. And they could hardly be more different. Gravity is my choice for the best movie of the year, with director Alfonso Cuarón and his son Jonás strong contenders for the Original Screenplay Oscar. They rang an amazing number of changes on their marooned-in-space premise, taking what sounded James Franco and

like something more suited to a half-hour Twilight Zone episode and spinning it out to an almost unbearably suspenseful 91 minutes. Technically brilliant and visually breathtaking, it was a two-character story and a onewoman show. Sandra Bullock may not snag the award for best actress (I expect she may lose to Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine), but this is the performance of her career, and one she’ll probably be most remembered for. 12 Years a Slave was the year’s other standout, the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man kidnapped into slavery in the antebellum South. Chiwetel Ejiofor, who played Northup, might as well start working on his Oscar acceptance speech right now. The same goes for John Ridley, who adapted Northup’s 1853 memoir into a searing and incisive screenplay, and for director Steve McQueen, whose unflinching blend of compassion and pitilessness made the movie indelible. As different as 12 Years and Gravity were, they had one thread in common: a feeling for unquenchable humanity and the determination not only to survive, but to prevail. Now, reverting to alphabetical order, the rest of my top five: 42: Brian Helgeland’s studious telling of how Jackie Robinson broke the color line in

Vanessa Hudgens are dead-eyed, hedonistic thieves in Spring Breakers.

photo illustrations by Hayley DosHay 18   |   SN&R   |   12.26.13


No lame New Year’s Eve See NIGHT&DAY

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Farms, forks and fancy schmancy See DISH

Major League Baseball was an inspiring story of one of America’s true heroes, well played by the relatively unknown Chadwick Boseman. Fruitvale Station: Writer-director Ryan Coogler’s recounting of the last day of Oscar Grant III’s life before he was shot and killed by a Bay Area Rapid Transit cop in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2009. It had the immediacy of a documentary made from found video, with subtle and natural performances, especially from Michael B. Jordan as Grant. The Spectacular Now: This is the kind of movie that could give teen romances a good name; you

The search for human connecTion If there is a common theme to the films on my list, it’s the search for human connection in increasingly dehumanized times. These movies ask what love and grace will look like in a world where Skype replaces bold romantic gestures (Before Midnight), where artifice reveals more than truth (Stories We Tell), where hedonism reigns supreme (Spring Breakers), where a rewind-and-pause mentality is ingrained (Room 237), and where hallucinogenic earthworms merge with the consciousness of pig fetuses (Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas).

Room 237 haS fouNd the eNemy of ciNema, aNd it iS the audieNce.

Another good year for Ryan Gosling, who appeared in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives.

have to go back to 1989’s Say Anything... to find one as good. The story had the aching ring of truth, and there were brave performances by Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. And to round out my top 10: A.C.O.D.: This one came and went virtually unnoticed, but it was a real gem, a perceptive, often excruciatingly funny treatise on the scars worn by adult children of divorce. All Is Lost: A sort of companion piece to Gravity, here we had a struggle for survival at sea rather than in space. Robert Redford effectively nonacted the seemingly doomed hero, and the picture was a tour de force by writer-director J.C. Chandor. Girl Most Likely: Starring Kristen Wiig as a failed playwright trying to pull her life together, this charmer (like A.C.O.D.) sank without a trace, but it was funnier and more perceptive than Wiig’s hit vehicle Bridesmaids. Jack the Giant Slayer: Don’t laugh. It may have flopped at the box office, but it was a textbook example of how to reimagine an old fairy tale with humor, heart and high spirits. Look for this one (like 1987’s The Princess Bride) to find its audience via home viewing. Nebraska: Director Alexander Payne scored again with this father-and-son road dramedy. Saturday Night Live’s Will Forte and old pro Bruce Dern shared top billing and center screen, but June Squibb, as the no-nonsense materfamilias, stole the picture right out from under them.

—J.L.

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1. Upstream Color: It took Shane Carruth nine years to produce a follow-up to his brilliant lo-fi mind-bender Primer, and Upstream Color was definitely worth the wait. A devastating Amy Seimetz gives the female performance of the year as the hypnotized victim of an embezzling botanist and a sound-engineer pig farmer (stay with me here) who finds her severed psyche repeatedly drawn to a fellow victim, even as they inhabit different forms of life, death, memory and illusion. Upstream Color is the moment of 21st-century cinematic singularity, an all-things game-changer of psychic fragmentation, post-God spirituality and unfiltered expression. 2. Stories We Tell: Director Sarah Polley’s first two films both dealt with themes of adultery in long-term relationships. Now we know she was building up to Stories We Tell, a deeply personal documentary that explores how the exposure of a long-buried secret in Polley’s family had identity-altering effects. Polley allows everyone to tell their own version of the story, but she also undercuts notions of truth by augmenting actual archival footage with obvious dramatizations. As the director of Stories We Tell, Polley ultimately reclaims authorship of her own story, and by so doing announces herself as a truly great filmmaker. 3. Room 237: Rodney Ascher’s Room 237 is pure crack for cinephiles, even as it delivers a withering critique of their penchant for microscopic margin scraping. Five unseen narrators offer obsessively detailed, often insane theories

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Stop the smackdowns! See ASK JOEY

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A Zamboni state of mind See 15 MINUTES

about the meaning of Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic The Shining. Each so fervently clutches to pet arguments about perceived allusions to the Holocaust, American Indian genocide and the moon landing that they ignore any tangible criticisms about acting and storytelling choices in Kubrick’s film. Room 237 has found the enemy of cinema, and it is the audience. 4. Spring Breakers: Many of 2013’s movies attempted to capture a snapshot of the American moment, but Harmony Korine’s meta-satire was the only one to genuinely realize where we are right now—in the midst of a brainless, hedonistic, ostensibly consequence-free party of dead-eyed, glitter-skinned Disney princesses that simply will not end. James Franco gives the male performance of the year as Alien, a gold-teethed ringmaster of self-celebration (“Look at my shit!”) who becomes the film’s make-it-rain id, and also its shriveled soul and decomposing conscience. 5. Inside Llewyn Davis: See No. 6. 6. Before Midnight: I wrote 700 words about the Coens’ marvelously melancholy Inside Llewyn Davis last week (see “Clear as folk” SN&R Film, December 19), so let’s give a nod to Richard Linklater’s smart and moving trilogy closer instead. Before Midnight is about the thrall of young romance settling into the no-surprises reality of marriage, a classic conceit given additional poignancy by our having already witnessed the blossoming love of Celine and Jesse (Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke) through two previous Before films. 7. 12 Years a Slave:Steve McQueen’s vivid epic is the cathartic theatrical experience of 2013, capturing not so much the experience of slavery (because that’s bullshit) as the diseased psyches that allowed the machine to run. 8. The Hunt: Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg, barely heard from since his overheated 1998 film The Celebration, delivered this caustic study of pastoral misanthropy. 9. Narco Cultura: Shaul Schwarz cut his teeth as a freelance war photographer, and his scathing documentary Narco Cultura depicts the drug war raging in America’s own backyard with a battle journalist’s fearlessness. 10. Only God Forgives: Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn’s lean and sultry dreamscape starring Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas is another underappreciated breakthrough from a previously overpraised Danish filmmaker.

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Kristen Wiig proved her acting chops in Girl Most Likely.

—D.B.

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For the week of December 26

A Tuesday-Night Twist: SN&R’s

2014

This

year, New Year’s Eve is on a Tuesday night—arguably the lamest night of the week. But, once again, Sacramentans will try to dress it up by booking cover bands to perform at hotel ballrooms and jacking up cover prices so that everyone can toast champagne and blow into plastic horns. Do yourself a real party favor and skip all that nonsense. There are plenty of other options besides finding the biggest bash you can, getting hammered and hearing “Applause” by Lady Gaga for the millionth time. In lieu of the same ol’ stale experience, here’s what SN&R suggests:

E AT GR E AT FOOD GET C U LT U R E D If you’re lucky enough to have New Year’s Eve  off from work, head to the Crocker Art Museum  (216 O Street, www.crockerartmuseum.org).  Admission is free all day (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and  there’s a “celebration of global cultural experiences” scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with  dance performances and art activities  happening throughout the museum.

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Sacramento Walking Sticks hosts its  annual New Year’s Eve Night Walk,  beginning at 5 p.m at the Pioneer  Congregational Church (2700 L Street).  Choose between a 3- or 6-mile route  through Midtown and “heavily lit holiday  streets.” Dogs are welcome at this free  event, and food and drinks will be served  after the walk. Visit www.sacramento  walkingsticks.org for more information.  Also, Roller King (889 Riverside Avenue in  Roseville, www.rollerkingroseville.com)  hosts a New Year’s Eve “blackout”   skating event. There’s a balloon drop at  midnight and a canned-food drive benefitting The Salvation Army. It costs  $6-$10 and begins at 7 p.m.

This year you can feel like you’re traveling,  all without actually leaving the city and  spending a ton of money on a hotel. Here’s  how: Hop on the New Year’s Eve Express,  operated by Sacramento RiverTrain  (400 North Harbor Boulevard in West  Sacramento, www.sacramentoriver  train.com). At 8:30 p.m., there’s a party  featuring appetizers, a three-course   dinner and dancing for $67-$92. Or, take a  one-hour cruise on the Capitol Hornblower  cruise ship (1206 Front Street, www.horn  blower.com/home/sac). Cruises departing  at 8:30 and 11:30 p.m. cost $30.75 and will  give you a good vantage point for the   fireworks displays near Old Sac.

BEFORE

Instead of paying for some forgettable  party, eat an unforgettable meal. A  bunch of great restaurants will be  offering special New Year’s Eve   dinners. The Firehouse Restaurant   (1112 Second Street, www.firehouse  oldsac.com) is serving a special   dinner, and there’s a good view from  the restaurant’s patio of the 9 p.m.  and midnight fireworks displays happening in Old Sacramento. Check out  more special-menu eats at places  like Revolution Wines (2831 S Street),  Ella Dining Room & Bar (1131 K Street)  and Hawks Restaurant (5530 Douglas  Boulevard, Suite 110, in Granite Bay).  Just be sure to call ahead of time and  make reservations.

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Musical Charis, at Marilyn’s on K ($5-$10, 8 p.m.  at 908 K Street) and Switchfoot at the Jackson  Sports Arena ($60-$125, 7 p.m. at 5209 Luce Avenue  in Mcclellan Air Force Base) are two unique alternatives to the cover-band party experience (venture  to Assembly Music Hall, Harlow’s Restaurant &  Nightclub, the Hilton Hotel Arden West, or Hyatt  Regency Sacramento for that, if you must).  For more shows, check out Eight Gigs and  Nightbeat on pages 34 and 36, respectively.

—Jonathan Mendick

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Featuring dishes From: Baja • jalisco • Tijuana • YucaTan • chihuahua • Mexico ciTY

Mexico City Sacramento T h e

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broughT To The hearT of

Costillas de Cordero en Salsa Mestiza

Incredible edibles SN&R’s food critics relive Sacramento’s tastiest moments in 2013 Sacramento experienced an incredible year in food. Farm-to-fork events, global eats and new eateries overflowed with deliciousness. by Ann Martin Rolke, New restaurants came to town, while others Garrett McCord departed. Some dining spots changed and owners, others changed chefs. Grocery Jonathan Mendick stores and frozen-yogurt shops and bakeries planted new roots. Some local restaurants and chefs were even featured on TV. Here’s what you missed, in case you were at home watching Top Chef reruns whilst crying into your bowl of instant ramen.

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Sacramento was slammed with events this year, many of them stemming from the city’s pledge to become the Farm-to-Fork Capital. The Farm-to-Fork Festival began with a cattle drive that started in West Sacramento and ended at the Capitol Mall after crossing the Tower Bridge, where an elegant dinner would later take place. Another facet of farm-to-fork is noseto-tail. Carnivores came out in droves to attend Have an Offal Day (organized by Catherine Enfield and benefiting the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Farm-to-Fork Capitol of America campaign) to eat brains, gizzards and duck testicles. For those looking for more advenure, local author—and 2013 James Beard Foundation Award winner for best Individual Food Blog—Hank Shaw saw the release of his much-anticipated new cookbook, Duck, Duck, Goose: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Waterfowl, Both Farmed and Wild. Speaking of accolades, Adam Pechal was invited to compete on ABC’s cooking show, The Taste, which debuted in January (Pechal made it through episode six before being sent home). And Ettore’s European Bakery & Restaurant took the championship belt at the second annual Sacramento Burger Battle in September. In other meat-related news, Tank House BBQ and Bar has been blanketing Midtown with the sweet smell of smoke and meat. Just down the street, LowBrau continues to serve some of the best sausages in town, with its chef Michael Tuohy, who is crushing it with his new menu additions. It’s good to have the former Grange Restaurant & Bar chef back in the capital after his short stint at Napa’s Dean & Deluca. This year, Sacramento finally joined the trend in appreciating artisan cheese and charcuterie with three new venues: cheese shop The Cultured & The Cured in East Sac, cheese eatery The Rind and the forthcoming Block Butcher Bar (a side

project of LowBrau), the latter both in Midtown. To go with all that cheese and meat, Preservation and Co. moved into a new spot on 19th Street where it will be able to create even more of its addictive bloody mary mix and pickles that have made so many foodies swoon. Finally, the California Food Literacy Center reached out to more schoolchildren than ever and declared the sweet potato the vegetable of the year, encouraging kids and adults to eat sweet potatoes mashed, fried, baked and even served on pizza. If you’re looking for a place to do some year-end giving or pad your tax return, this is the place to do it.

—G.M.

Our favorite things For a medium-sized city, Sacramento has incredibly global restaurants. This year, SN&R food critics and I enjoyed favorites that included Chinese, Peruvian, Korean and local flavors. While “farm to fork” got a lot of the press coverage, many new places opened to expand our horizons and bellies.

In 2013, Sacramento finally joined the trend in appreciating artisan cheese and charcuterie with three new venues. Of our favorite meals, Carpe Vino in Auburn was the standout. We don’t review a ton of fancy-schmancy places, but this “Cirque du Soleil of food” proved worth every penny. The sculptural, exquisite dishes and impeccable service make this a must-visit spot. Asian restaurants are plentiful in the region, and several notable ones got high marks from SN&R reviewers. Yang’s Noodles serves Taiwanese food, such as the northern Chinese specialty, the burritolike niu rou jian bing (sliced beef rolls). Yang’s homemade noodles are particularly good—chewy, alkaline and addictive. The Cantonese-style Lotus 8 in Folsom renewed our faith in strip-mall Chinese restaurants. It has a bright and contemporary interior, attentive service, and knockout frying skills from the kitchen. The silky fried tofu with pepper and the fried milk are both revelations of flavor and texture.


Korean food—the popular kid in the food world this year—is well-represented in Sacramento. Korea House is one of the best examples, and it really excels with banchan, the complimentary condiments that come with every good Korean meal. The restaurant’s kimchi radish is pickled perfectly with the right amount of crunch, sourness and spice. Quasi-Asian, with its strong Chinese influences, Peruvian cuisine is also hot these days. La Huaca in Roseville garnered four-and-a-half stars for its paean to Peru. It highlights native ingredients, such as potatoes; smoky, Scotch-like pisco; and chilies, like aji amarillo in the restaurant’s well-executed offerings. The national dish, ceviche, is exemplified in the hearty mixto version, with a variety of seafood. Lowbrow favorites like The Hotdogger in Davis and Jimboy’s Tacos also held their own, while newcomer Mighty Tavern in Fair Oaks drew crowds for its house-made charcuterie and well-cooked burgers to go with a good selection of craft brews.

—AMR

Roll call Sacramento’s food scene is constantly evolving, and it certainly improved with a number of new restaurants this year, despite a few minor setbacks. In Flavortown news, Guy Fieri’s Tex Wasabi’s restaurant on Arden Way closed for just about a day before it was transformed into a Johnny Garlic’s. Speaking of chains, Arden Fair mall gained a Seasons 52, owned by Darden Restaurants, the same company that owns and operates Red Lobster and Olive Garden. The Westfield Galleria at Roseville got some awesome new snack shops when Beard Papa’s Fresh’n Natural Cream Puffs and Lolli and Pops both held grand openings in September. Downtown’s Blackbird Kitchen & Bar closed in September, but a revamped version of the eatery is scheduled to reopen sometime in the upcoming few months. Old Sacramento’s Absinthe Bistro & Lounge closed in October after being open for just a few weeks, and was also supposed to reopen in November, according to its website, but it doesn’t look like that’s happened yet, so stay tuned. Cielito Lindo Mexican Gastronomy opened in East Sac, and just a few minutes eastward, grocery store The Fresh Market—with salad and olive bars, a bakery, deli, local goods, beer and wine—opened on Fair Oaks Boulevard, as did another one in Elk Grove. Pastry chef Edward Martinez left Enotria Restaurant Wine Bar to join celebrity chef Tyler Florence’s El Paseo restaurant in Mill Valley. And, in one of the strangest and saddest stories this year, Roseville’s Sammy’s Rockin’ Island Bar & Grill closed in early November, and co-owner Steve Pease’s body was found floating off the Mendocino coast several weeks later.

Ramen & Rice and Hokkaido Noodle House both changed owners, while newcomer Kansai Ramen & Sushi House popped up on 65th Street. Ramen fanatic and Ramen Burger creator Keizo Shimamoto named Shoki Ramen House one of the top five ramen joints in the United States. A lot also changed in the world of Vietnamese food this year: Vegetarian eatery Bodhi Bowl in Little Saigon held a grand opening in January this year, after a soft opening in December 2012. Pho Aroma opened just down the street from there on Stockton Boulevard, and serves up a great bowl of noodle soup. Pho Saigon Bay added a new a location on Howe Avenue near the mall (and close to SN&R headquarters, huzzah). New pho eateries popped up in the burbs, too: Pho No. 1 in Fair Oaks, and Pho 54 and Pho Viet in Citrus Heights. In the world of sweets, franchised fro-yo chain Yogurtland opened three spots in the Sacramento area this year. Andy’s Candy Apothecary—winner of the Downtown Sacramento Foundation’s Calling All Dreamers Business Competition—just opened last week. We could go on (Papa Dale’s Drivin’ Diner began serving food at Midtown’s newly opened Starlite Lounge, but recently departed; the number of food trucks is still increasing), but you probably get the point by now: Sacramento is starting to become a foodie destination.

—J.M.

Seedy business

The new year seems like a suitable time to plant an unchanged seed of change. Let me clarify: an heirloom, nongenetically modified seed of a fruit, vegetable or legume, such as one from the 2014 edition of The Whole Seed Catalog. This mammoth 355-page catalogslash-magazine by Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. includes hundreds (at least) of stunning, luscious, food-porn-tastic photos of the most gorgeous produce, like the cracked, rust-hued Himalayan Sikkim cucumber. It’s worth the $7.95 price tag, since it also contains recipes (eggplant cake!), profiles of seed growers and gardeners, and instructions on canning and how to save seeds, because Baker is not too keen on the food supply being “controlled by the world’s most unethical corporations.” Get a copy at www.rareseeds.com. The seed company is based in Missouri, but has a store in Petaluma, which means road trip!

Brew YEAR’S

HAPPY

FROM THEN…

…TIL NOW » BUFFALO CRAFT LAGER » SAISON SOLON » THUNDERBEAST IPA » HOMELAND STOUT » ROUGH & READY IPA

COME Cheers TO A HAPPY ‘14 1730 BROADWAY, SACRAMENTO C O R N E R O F B R O A D W A Y AT 1 8 T H S T R E E T N E W H E LV E T I A B R E W . C O M | 9 1 6 . 4 6 9 . 9 8 8 9

Happy H olidays d r i n k .

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d r i n k

6 | hot toddy

$

r e l a x .

s p e c i a l s :

5 | chriStmaS mint

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daily Happy Hour 3pm – 7pm

—Shoka

1501 L S t r e e t Sacramento, ca ( 916) 267-6823 BEFORE

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Downtown Darna This Palestinian restaurant  serves an excellent baba  ghanoush that, instead of being  blended into a smooth paste, is  served chunky and studded with  eggplant seeds. Its smoky, deep  flavor is balanced out by a lemony brightness, and it’s good on  the somewhat flabby pita bread  with which it’s served, but it’s  even better on the house-made  za’atar bread. Chicken-breast  kebabs are not particularly  flavorful but have some char  from the grill, while the falafel  and chicken shawarma are  underwhelming. Do order a side  of tabbouleh salad, however. It’s  pretty to look at—bright-green  chopped parsley studded with  white grains of bulgur—and  tastes refreshing. Palestinian.  925 K St., (916) 447-7500. Dinner  for one: $15-$25. HHH B.G.

Where to eat?

Here are a few recent reviews and regional recommendations by Becky Grunewald, Ann Martin Rolke, Garrett McCord and Jonathan Mendick, Downtown & Vine This tasting room  and wine bar spotlights the local  updated regularly. farm-to-glass movement. Here,  Check out diners can order 2-ounce tastwww.newsreview.com ing flights of wine. Choose three  for more dining advice. from the same vintner to com-

pare styles, or mix and match  to contrast similar wines from  regional wineries. Wines are also  available in larger pours and by  the bottle. Wine is meant to be  enjoyed with food, of course:  The menu offers a wide selection of tidbits and hearty dishes.  Worth sampling: the goatcheese stuffed peppers, chilled  Spanish-spiced shrimp, and a  cheddar-and-apple melt. Or  try the ambrosial Wine Country  sandwich, with salty prosciutto,  sweet fig jam, oozy mozzarella  and peppery arugula on grilled 

Midtown

bread. There are also a variety  of flatbreads loaded with topping combos like capicola, three  cheeses, piquillo peppers and  green onions. The bread for  these is nicely crunchy but not  too chewy and comes across   as more than a pizza trying to  be fancy. American. 1200 K St.,  Ste. 8; (916) 228-4518. Dinner for  one: $10-$15. HHHH AMR

Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co. The restaurant, by the same  owners as Midtown’s The Golden  Bear, sports a firefighting  theme (a ladder on the ceiling  duct work, shiny silver wallpaper with a rat-and-hydrant  motif, et al) and a bar setup  that encourages patrons to talk  to each other. An interesting  wine list includes entries from  Spain and Israel; there are also  draft cocktails and numerous  beers on tap. The brunch menu  is heavy on the eggs, prepared  in lots of ways. One option is  the Croque Madame, a hamand-Gruyere sandwich usually  battered with egg. This one had  a fried egg and béchamel, with  a generous smear of mustard  inside. The mountain of potato  hash alongside tasted flavorful  and not too greasy. The menu  also features pizzas and housemade pastas, but one of its  highlights includes an excellent  smoked-eggplant baba ganoush,  which is smoky and garlicky and  served with warm flatbread  wedges and oil-cured olives. The  bananas foster bread pudding  is equally transcendent, accompanied by very salty caramel  gelato, pecans and slivers of  brûléed bananas. American. 1630 S St., (916) 442-4885. Dinner  for one: $20-$40. HHH1/2 AMR 

Zia’s Delicatessen Zia’s Delicatessen isn’t really about trying  every sandwich: It’s about finding your sandwich. In addition  to a large selection of salumi,  there’s the worthy eponymous  offering, served with a wedge  of zucchini frittata, a slice of  provolone, romaine lettuce,  grainy tomato, and a simple  dash of vinegar and oil that  adds tang. Order it hot, so that  the provolone melts into the  bread. Also tasty: the hot meatball sub with small-grained,  tender meatballs bathed in a  thin, oregano-flecked tomato  sauce that soaks into the bread.  A tuna sandwich is sturdy, if not  exciting. It is just mayonnaisey  enough, with tiny, diced bits  of celery. A rosemary panino  cotto with mozzarella could  benefit from a more flavorful  cheese. For a meatier option,  try the Milano: mortadella,  salami, Muenster; all three  flavors in balance. The turkey  Viareggio has a thin spread of  pesto mayo, and the smoked  mozzarella accents rather than  overpowers. American. 1401 O St.,  Ste. A; (916) 441-3354. Meal   for one: $5-$10. HHHH B.G.

Tank House BBQ and Bar The décor  here is “suspenders and suede  oxfords”—both homey and  eclectic with old wood, new  wood and wallpaper that is to  die for. A large patio is welcoming and allows diners to bathe in  the haze from the drum smoker. 

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Bozkurt and brother Ekrem  co-own this paean to their  homeland, with Ekrem usually at  the front of the house, infusing  the space with cheer. Turkish  cuisine features aspects of  Greek, Moroccan and Middle  Eastern flavors. The appetizer  combo plate offers an impressive sampling. Acili ezme is a  chopped, slightly spicy mixture  of tomatoes, cucumber and  walnuts that’s delicious paired  with accompanying flatbread  wedges. For entrees, try the  borani, a lamb stew with garbanzos, carrots, potatoes and  currants. The meat is very tender, while the veggies arrived  nicely al dente. Also good is the  chicken shish plate (souvlaki),  which features two skewers of  marinated grilled chicken that’s  moist and succulent. There are  also quite a few choices for 

Yang’s Noodles Chinese food is  endlessly complex and diverse  with “Eight Schools,” or regional  styles, including Taiwanese cuisine, which is served at Yang’s  Noodles. Except this isn’t really  traditional Taiwanese food  (you won’t find dishes such as  glutinous pancakes served with  oysters and egg, or mushrooms 

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Little Saigon eatery boasts such  an extensive menu of Chinese  and Vietnamese dishes that  it’s hard to pinpoint its crown  jewel. Notable options include  a salty fish and chicken-fried  rice entree with stir-fried  vegetables. The fried rice offers  copious pieces of the diced  salty fish. This may seem a bit  weird to the uninitiated, but the  reward is a unique, jolting pungent flavor that spruces up an  otherwise boring chicken-fried  rice. Elsewhere on the menu,  the Vietnamese pork-chop  rice plate, served with a small  bowl of fish sauce, surprisingly stacks up to similar dishes  from other strictly Vietnamese  restaurants in the area. The  pork is thinly sliced and tender,  easily cut with a simple butter  knife. Chinese and Vietnamese.  6601 Florin Rd., (916) 379-0309.  Dinner for one: $10-$20.   HHH1/2 J.M.

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 Thai Basil SN&R readers consistently vote this place among  the city’s top Thai restaurants  for this paper’s annual Best  of Sacramento issue. And for  good reason. The restaurant’s  tom yum soup may be one of  the best foods served in the  City of Trees. It features an  incredibly savory broth with  layers of flavor. Likewise, the  tom kha gai—a coconut-broth  soup—is a veritable panacea  against Delta winds and the  morose rains that follow them.  Salads make up a large part of  Thai cuisine and should not be  overlooked. Larb gai consists  of simple shredded chicken  over mixed greens, cucumber  and tomatoes. Fresh mint and  a chili-laden dressing heavy  with fish sauce and vigorous  squeezes of lime juice pull it all 

together for an addictive and  satisfying lunch. One of Thai  Basil’s true highlights is its  homemade curry pastes. These  carefully balanced constructions of basil, lemongrass,  shallots, chilies, kaffir lime  leaves and other ingredients  come together to form truly  authentic pastes that, when  roasted, have been known to  drive hungry Sacramentans  into a berserk craze. Service  here is impeccable. Thai Basil  has earned its reputation and  will likely continue to keep it for  years to come. Thai. 2431 J St.,  (916) 442-7690. Dinner for one:  $10-$20. HHHH G.M.

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You’ll leave perfumed in whiteoak and almond-wood smoke; a  good thing if your date digs the  smell of meat and wood, bad if  you have a meeting after lunch.  Recommendations include the  ribs, which are astounding in  texture. The meat falls off the  bone with confidence that your  mouth will catch it. A lack of salt  or spice on the ribs, however,  robs them of the chance of  being truly astonishing. (An  easy fix.) The brisket is also  fantastic—as tender as the  first time you held hands with  a high-school crush, with a  sweet, smoky flavor that’s just  as memorable. Loaded onto the  sandwich and served with   white American cheese, it makes  for an epic meal. Barbecue.   1925 J St., (916) 431-7199. Dinner  for one: $10-$20. HHH G.M.

1830 J St • Midtown Sacramento 916.329.8678 www.sawasdeesac.com


West Sacramento Wicked West Pizza & BBQ This popular destination for kids’ sports teams and birthday parties also caters to adult diners with good food and healthy options, such as organic whole-wheat crusts. Gluten-free and vegan choices are also available. With a texture closer to Chicago style than New York style, the pizzas are tasty but quite filling. Choose from house-made sauces and fresh toppings, or pick from one of the inventively named presets. The Old Lady is especially good, with pesto, potatoes, spinach, lots of veggies and a zingy balsamic drizzle. The biggest secret here, though, is the barbecue. Wicked West delivers with shredded, tender meat that’s lightly smoky

and tossed with a vinegar-based sauce. The pork ribs are dryrubbed and toothsome, while the tri-tip is well cooked but leans toward a dry texture. A bit of sauce on the side would fix that right up. The chicken is rubbed with olive oil and herbs and rotisserie-smoked to produce a moist and juicy result. Pizza/Barbecue. 3160 Jefferson Blvd. in West Sacramento, (916) 572-0572. Dinner for one: $5-$10. HHH AMR

Ramen & Rice At Ramen & Rice,

Arden/ Carmichael El Forastero Mexican Food Despite being an eatery founded by three brothers from Mexico, the menu here resembles the type of Mexican food found in Southern California: a blend of American fast food, Tex-Mex and traditional Mexican dishes. There’s menudo on weekends, but also french fries hiding inside burritos and buried underneath steaming piles of carne asada. For a taco or torta filling, try the adobada, a pork marinated in a red chili sauce. Or, try two of the most famous San Diego-style Mexican dishes, both delicious but full of calories: the California burrito and carne asada fries. The latter consists of a plate of fries topped with carne asada, cheese, sour cream and guacamole. A California burrito is basically an order of carne asada fries wrapped in a tortilla—which, surprisingly, isn’t even the fattiest-sounding

Try the Irish onion soup, a French onion-styled soup kicked up with Irish whiskey and Guinness beer. Or order the house-made veggie burger—it’s one of the tastiest black-bean patties around. The most unusual dish on the menu is the Scottish Mafia Pizza. Topped with turkey pastrami, potatoes, cabbage and Swiss cheese, it falls short with its too many flat flavors to actually benefit from their unusual pairing. Thankfully, there’s Tabasco sauce on the table. Pub. 5220 Manzanita Ave. in Carmichael, (916) 331-2337. Dinner for one: $10-$20. HHH1/2 J.M.

dish on the menu. That distinction most likely belongs to the hangover-curing Super Breakfast burrito, with bacon, chorizo, ham, fries, eggs and cheese—all wrapped in a tortilla. It’s incredibly rich and hearty. Mexican. 5116 Fair Oaks Blvd. in Carmichael, (916) 488-1416. Dinner for one: $5-$10. HHH1/2 J.M. a ramen restaurant that also makes Korean dishes, it’s best to stick to the latter. Order the bibimbap with the brown rice—it imparts a delightful nutty flavor. The sliced mushrooms add to the umami of this dish, and the shoyu, mustard and spicy sauces that come on the side should all be used liberally. Meat is very easily avoided here: The restaurant emphasizes the healthful aspect of its dishes, and tofu can be substituted for any meat, as can vegetarian broth in most of the soups. On the Japanese side of the menu, the ramen broth lacked a much-needed, salinated quality, the chashu lacked succulence and the hardboiled egg was served overcooked with an ugly green yolk. A steaming bowl of Japanese curry, however, boasted a comforting flavor, and, unusually, a bit of spice. Japanese and Korean. 807 Howe Ave., (916) 922-6227. Dinner for one: $10-$15. HHH1/2 B.G.

IllustratIon by Mark stIvers

steamed in hollow bamboo stalks, for example). This is, however, perhaps the only place in town that serves niu rou jian bing (sliced beef rolls)—a specialty of northern China—and the ones at Yang’s hit the spot. This is basically the Chinese version of a burrito: meat (thinly sliced beef marinated in soy sauce) plus veggies (diced green onion, cucumber and cilantro) wrapped in a large, flat and circular carbohydrate crepe (a thin Chinese pancake made out of flour, water and green onion). Elsewhere on the menu, Yang’s eponymous noodles, featured in various dishes, are homemade, alkaline and chewy. Chinese. 5860 Stockton Blvd., (916) 392-9988. Dinner for one: $10-$15. HHHH J.M.

Auburn Carpe Vino This quaint wine shop

Stirling Bridges Restaurant and Pub This British- and Scottishthemed gastropub offers an adequate beer selection and an extensive menu that goes beyond standard deep-fried pub fare.

and restaurant boasts excellent service and food. Try the musque de Provence pumpkin soup—it’s lighter than your wallet will be when you leave, but one bite and wallet be damned. The flavor is exquisite with whispers of vanilla and pops of pumpkin seed. A cider-brined pork chop, bejeweled in bacon and prune and sitting atop a bed of savoy cabbage, defies expectations. A quartet of lamb meatballs corseted in harissa, mint sauce and yogurt is surely the dish to convert anyone who (confusedly) refuses lamb. The restaurant—being primarily a wine bar—does not serve anyone under the age of 21. Those of a legal drinking age, rejoice, for there will be no parent cooing to a child to settle down. American. 1568 Lincoln Way in Auburn, (530) 823-0320. Dinner for one: $50-$75. HHHHH G.M.

Chocolate reign

New Year’s resolution: Eat more chocolate? That’s not usually on anyone’s list of goals for a new year, but you might just want to take a sick day on Wednesday, January 25, 2014, anyway, and head to the Sacramento Chocolate Salon. Happening from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at The Citizen Hotel (926 J Street), this event, which organizers plan to make an annual occurrence, will allow participants to taste some of the best chocolate from the area (including offerings from 24K Cafe at Ancient Future, Oscura Chocolate and About a Bite Bakery). There will also be more chocolate makers from out of town, wine tasting, chocolate-making demonstrations, and chefs and authors giving presentations. The Best in Salon Awards will be given to the area’s top chocolatiers and confectioners. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 at the door, and they include all tastings, talks and demonstrations. For more information, visit www.sacramentochocolatesalon.com. —Jonathan Mendick

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When the soul acknowledges the ego, the ego has less energy and motivation to act out. platform to reach the next level in life. Of course, I know the reason people prefer to remain adrift. At least, I know why I heal from drama on my own schedule, and not according to a more convenient timetable for me or those around me: Grief shuffles to a mysterious rhythm. Drama is a symptom of trauma. Most often, we’re simultaneously grieving an old, still-oozing wound (the indifferent parent, the sibling bully, the unrequited adolescent fixation), and a present-time emotional injury (an indifferent boss, a rude co-worker, our unrequited emotional needs or sexual desire). Acting victimized by the wound contributes to drama. Healing requires that we learn to use suffering, loss and trauma to grow in resiliency, love and wisdom. To greet another’s suffering with comments like “You’re an idiot!” or “Get over it!” allows us to separate from the wounded person and imagine her or him as tainted. That defensive stance seduces us into believing that we manage our emotions and lives so much better than others. Our ego ridicules other people’s problems as

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Write, email or leave a message for Joey at the News & Review. Give your name, telephone number (for verification purposes only) and question—all correspondence will be kept strictly confidential. Write Joey, 1124 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95815; call (916) 498-1234, ext. 3206; or email askjoey@ newsreview.com.

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a means of denying our own sadness, despair, anger or insecurities. The truth is that we can only have compassion toward another person’s suffering if we have tended well to our own brokenness. But if we compartmentalize our pain to avoid feeling helpless or weak, we will never evolve into being fully human. The next time a friend drops their broken heart at your feet, or you feel overwhelmed and can’t figure out when you stopped creating your life and began running after it, calm the drama. Here are three simple steps to help: Listen deeply: I carry earplugs in my

purse at all times. I sit in my car, queue at a store or sit at work and shut out the din. After a few deep, cleansing breaths, I center and connect to the unstoppable, unshakable force within. I also listen deeply, earplugs out, to anyone who tells me their problems. I focus on their words, body language and presence, listening for the deeper truth beneath everything. At the same time, I am open to my intuition, thoughts and body sensations. Blasting music into the head through earbuds is not the same. Silence is on the endangered list. Listening is a neglected skill. Invite silence and deep listening into your life. Love widely: We’re all difficult, sometimes. When another driver cuts me off, or a cyclist careens into my lane of traffic, I own it by admitting, “Oh, I’ve done that (literally or symbolically). I will choose a different behavior for myself in the future.” That’s namaste in action. When the soul acknowledges the ego, the ego has less energy and motivation to act out. Be transparent: Communication and behavior that is clear, direct and honest is rare. So let’s commit to growing in truthfulness: Stop inflating accomplishments, stop justifying codependency by calling it kindness and start seeing vague language as the fearful choice it is. Integrity is seeing into ourselves and letting others see us, too. Let’s get naked (emotionally, mentally, spiritually) together. The next time someone shares his or her problem with you, listen, love and be transparent. Even if that means that you say, “I have no idea what to say. But I am here, present, listening.” Ω

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When I arrive at the dinner party, the hostess introduces me to a tall, startlingly handsome man. He’s a doppelgänger for a well-known, retired athlete. “Are you Joey Garcia?” he asks, smiling broadly. When I say yes, he is sweetly complimentary. “I can’t believe it! I read your column. You have such a measured way of taking a reader through different perspectives on their problem. It’s insightful.” I’m flattered, by JOEY GA RCIA blushing a little. “Thank you. That means a lot to me,” I say. a s kj o ey @ ne wsreview.c om The hostess pours me a glass of cabernet as Mr. McDreamy continues: “Yeah, when I read the questions you print, I just want to Joey say to the person, ‘You’re an idiot!’” loves chatting with Ah, there’s the kicker. In the you about love, loss, poetry and presence of other people’s drama, French cooking. a smackdown is an easy response. I understand. While I’ve never called a reader an idiot or anything similar, I’ve certainly felt frustration. Although, not with my readers. My annoyance rises occasionally when a friend clings to suffering instead of actively reshaping that pain into a

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Year in reviews A look at   Sacramento’s   stage scene in 2013 A lot of great things happened on stages in the Sacramento area this year. Things started by with a bang way back in January with Rock Jeff Hudson, of Ages, one of the most irreverent touring Jonathan Mendick musicals that California Musical Theatre and has ever brought to Broadway Sacramento. Kel Munger Despite many people leaving during intermission, the production’s ’80s power ballads continued through the evening, and had the audience dancing and singing along to hits by Journey, Styx and Whitesnake. Jack Gallagher’s Complete and Unfinished at the B Street Theatre seemed like a reality show within a stage production, blending anecdotal stand-up comedy with acting. Capital Stage’s The North Plan tackled the issue of gun violence via a heroine who drinks and swears too much. Ron Cunningham choreographed and debuted The Great Gatsby for the Sacramento Ballet, bringing jazz and ballet together. Things got dark and intense with KOLT Run Creations’ powerful production of This Vicious Minute, based on an autobiographical account of a self-harming wrist cutter. Runaway Stage Productions’ Avenue Q featured offensive and raunchy puppets singing musical numbers, and was a multimedia masterpiece. Shakespeare was big this year, and the Bard’s work was resurrected, reinvented and revamped in some cool new ways. Big Idea Theatre’s version of the Shakespeare comedy As You Like It worked in numerous Sacramento references—and even music by Cake and Zuhg. The Davis Shakespeare Ensemble’s As You Like It featured an Appalachian-style band with banjo and mandolin, and an original score by Richard Chowenhill. Sacramento Theatre Company and Nevada County’s Sierra Stages Community Theatre both opened versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on the same weekend, and both excelled. Then, the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival did a British-invasion-themed version of the same dreamy Shakespeare comedy, incorporating copious Beatles quotes. Finally, Capital Stage’s Macbeth (pictured) was like a look into a dystopian future with badass, dark violence. Numerous other productions by many theater groups throughout the Sacramento area earned glowing reviews from SN&R’s team. Among them were: B Street Theatre’s Venus in Fur, Capital Stage’s Hedda Gabler, New Helvetia Theatre’s The Gingerbread Lady, Broadway Sacramento’s BEFORE

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Jessica Chisum (left), Janis Stevens, Scott Coopwood and Shaun Carroll starred in Capital Stage’s futuristic version of Macbeth.

Les Misérables, Big Idea Theatre’s The Liutenant of Inishmore, and Resurrection Theatre’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?

—J.M.

One glance back, several looks forward When Stephanie Gularte announced she was leaving Capital Stage after a decadeand-a-half at its helm, many local theater buffs feared it might mean a change in direction for the popular and edgy company. But in an excellent move toward continuity, Jonathan Rhys Williams—a co-founder and artistic associate at Cap Stage who’s had a large hand in directing and producing the company’s stellar seasons—will be stepping up as the new artistic director. In the case of Capital Stage, which has a long record of outstanding and unusual shows that explore all of theater’s potential—and often premieres exciting new works for Sacramento audiences—stability is a very good thing. Capital Stage will open Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing on January 22, 2014. On January 17, Resurrection Theatre opens a classic play at California Stage that, unfortunately, always seems to find some contemporary reverberations. Margaret Morneau will be directing a new production of The Trojan Women, Seneca’s tragedy set after the fall of the great city to the invading Greek armies. A gloomy future—it’s 2039, and the rain is so pervasive that a fish has just dropped from the sky—is the setting for a dark family drama in Big Idea Theatre’s 2014 STORY

opening production of When the Rain Stops Falling by Andrew Bovell. Generational angst and anger abound, so theatergoers should expect deep emotional twists when the Big Idea show opens on January 10. And, finally, a treat to ring in the new theater season: The Alternative Arts Collective, which won rave reviews for its staging of Tony Kushner’s epic Angels in America at Roseville’s Royer Park in 2010, is bringing both parts of what is arguably the best play of the 20th century to its Blue Box Theatre on Del Paso Boulevard. Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches opens on January 2; Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika follows on January 30. —K.M.

A Sacramento stage saga The saga of the oft-postponed renovation has turned into Sacramento’s “never-ending story.” People have been talking about sprucing up the old Community Center Theater since the 1990s. And year after year, the timeline has remained the same: “We’ll get started next year, maybe the year after.” (There’s a line in Shakespeare about “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.”) This year, it became clear that the waiting game will continue, since City Hall has harnessed all available financial resources to the proposed sports arena (a project Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson pursues with a single-minded intensity recalling Captain Ahab). The shortcomings of the old theater— dedicated in 1974—are multiple. The lobby is too small, there aren’t enough dressing rooms backstage. The natural acoustics

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in the vast hall are flat and absorptive (particularly hard on choral groups). Most notoriously, there aren’t enough restrooms for women (long lines form during intermission), so ushers routinely direct patrons outdoors through the courtyard to the adjacent Convention Center. The theater also predates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and needs to be brought up to code. And the building’s electrical systems, seating and other features are just plain old and shabby after 40 years. The urgency for an upgrade began standing in higher relief when the Mondavi Center (a much better designed venue) opened at UC Davis in 2002. Then, the Gallo Center for the Arts opened in Modesto in 2007. And then Three Stages at Folsom Lake College (now the Harris Center for the Arts) opened in 2011. We’ve seen some audience migration to those newer, nicer venues, and fewer large-scale arts events in downtown Sac. Let’s be fair: Other cities have this problem, too. People in New York City have been talking for decades about upgrading the lackluster sound in Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ Avery Fisher Hall (dedicated in 1962). And the sound in San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall (dedicated in 1980) was initially so poor that a $10 million acoustic makeover was quickly initiated. But the longer the renovation in Sacramento is delayed, the harder it gets for the locally based heritage-arts groups that have traditionally performed downtown.

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Saving Mr. Banks is a winsome, entertaining movie that divides itself between 1. the prickly negotiations between Walt Disney and author P.L. Travers in by Jim Lane turning Travers’ Mary Poppins books into Walt Disney Studios’ 1964 film, Mary Poppins; and 2. Travers’ hardscrabble Australian childhood as Helen Goff, the adored and adoring daughter of a feckless alcoholic bank clerk named Travers Goff. With Emma Thompson playing Travers, Tom Hanks as Disney, and Colin Farrell as Goff, it’s certainly interesting. But the script by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith hits so many dubious notes that we can’t help feeling that we’re being sold a fantasy almost as fantastic as Mary Poppins itself—and with more than just a spoonful of sugar to help it go down.

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30   |   SN&R   |   12.26.13

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4 Very Good

5 excellent

It’s part of Hollywood lore that Disney courted Travers for nearly 20 years, hoping to fulfill a promise to his daughters to bring Mary Poppins to the screen. Actually, the courtship was off and on, Disney having a lot of other things on his plate, but by 1961, with sales of the Poppins books beginning to dry up, Travers was more agreeable, and she flew to California to consult with Disney’s people on a script. That’s where Saving Mr. Banks opens, striking a false note early on: Thompson’s Travers, appalled at what she considers Disney’s vulgarity, shakes her head over a stuffed Winnie the Pooh doll and mutters, “Poor A.A. Milne.” (For the record, the first Winnie the Pooh cartoon was still five years in the future.) Later, in story conferences with producer Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) and the songwriting Sherman brothers (B.J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman) Travers insists on several points: There must be no songs, no cartoons and no Dick Van Dyke playing Poppins’ friend Bert. Here the script seems to be on firmer ground. In fact, knowing the Mary Poppins backstory, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Travers N Ewas W S a&cantankerous, R E V I E W B Uunpleasant S I N E S S and U S E(considering O N LY DESIGNER DATE EXEC. how the movieISSUE enriched her andACCT. jump-started 06.18.09 REM theAL moribund sales of her books) ungrateful old FILE NAME That may be open to debate. REV. DATE battleaxe. What is TRINITYCATHEDRAL061809R1 beyond dispute is that she carried02.19.09 her loathing of Walt Disney, and SELECTION) what he had done to her USP (BOLD PRICE / ATMOSPHERE / EXPERT / UNIQUE PLEASE CAREFULLY REVIEW YOUR ADVERTISEMENT AND VERIFY THE FOLLOWING: AD SIZE (COLUMNS X INCHES) SPELLING

creation, to her grave and beyond, never allowing the studio to film a sequel, and when Mary Poppins was being turned into a stage musical, she refused to allow the Shermans to write any new songs for it. She even put it in her will before she died in 1996 at age 96 (the musical opened in London eight years later). In Saving Mr. Banks, these hard feelings are not hinted at. Instead, Travers weeps with joy at the movie’s Hollywood premiere, moved by how well it preserves the spirit of her books. (She did, in fact, write a letter to Disney to that effect, though she appears to have changed her tune later.) What Saving Mr. Banks does best is to provide a showcase for Thompson’s tart performance as Travers and, to a lesser extent, Hanks’ folksy turn as Disney. Hanks, indeed, has probably the best speech in the movie when, talking to Richard Sherman (Schwartzman), Disney sympathizes with Travers’ intransigence, comparing her protective feelings for Mary Poppins to his own for Mickey Mouse. Did Disney ever really say that? Maybe not (Sherman said Disney would often leave the lot to avoid dealing with Travers), but it’s a good speech, and Hanks makes it work. Thompson makes other moments work, especially when the story conferences spur haunted memories of her childhood. (It’s harder to swallow when the script puts the words of the Sherman brothers’ songs into Goff’s mouth—we can only imagine what his daughter would have thought about that.) The flashbacks are often awkwardly inserted, as if they’d been spliced in from a different movie, with an undercurrent of grimness that, in director John Lee Hancock’s hands, never quite meshes with the seriocomic style of the scenes set in 1961.

What Saving Mr. Banks does best is to provide a showcase for Emma Thompson’s tart performance as P.L. Travers and, to a lesser extent, Tom Hanks’ folksy turn as Walt Disney. The movie ends with a shot of a tape recorder playing the voice of the real P.L. Travers, as if to underscore the truth of what has gone before. But methinks the movie doth protest too much. As entertaining as Saving Mr. Banks often is, it doesn’t feel like the “real” story behind Mary Poppins any more than Mary Poppins feels like a documentary about life in Edwardian London. Ω


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5

12 Years a Slave

Director Steve McQueen and writer John Ridley tell the true story of Solomon Northrup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free man of color in 1841 New York who was kidnapped into slavery, finally freed in 1853, and wrote a book about his years of bondage. Ridley and McQueen take only minor dramatic license with Northrup’s extraordinary narrative—such abductions were all too common in pre-Civil War America; what’s extraordinary is that Northrup got free again—and the movie is searing and indelible. Even the most despicable characters are given their full dimension with no trace of 21st-century hindsight. The movie’s centerpiece is Ejiofor’s remarkable performance, giving it a core of unquenchable humanity. Newcomer Lupita Nyong’o shines as a tormented slave woman, as does Alfre Woodard in a striking cameo. J.L.

4

American Hustle

David O. Russell’s ecstatically cinematic American Hustle tells a hypergroovy version of the late 1970s Abscam operation, in which the FBI enlisted con artists to help them catch corrupt politicians. Right from the opening shots of Christian Bale pasting and swirling an elaborate comb-over onto his bald forehead, this is a film all about false fronts and reinvention, the latter a subject Russell knows very well. Everyone in the overwigged ensemble is good, but Bradley Cooper is a revelation as a nakedly ambitious FBI agent. Buried under a dirtbag beard and a hideous nest of curls, Cooper is deprettied enough to let us fully see what an honest and forceful actor he has become. American Hustle might have even been great had Russell not tried to pull a hustle of his own, reaching a facile conclusion that hinges on emotional relationships we never knew existed. D.B.

2

Oh, Bob Dylan, where art thou?

5

Joel and Ethan Coen have made bleaker films than Inside Llewyn Davis, but never anything this melancholy. Set in a slightly fablelike version of the 1961 Greenwich Village folk scene, Inside Llewyn Davis is inspired by early Bob Dylan, yet exudes the Coens’ usual oddball comedic sensibility and stylistic verve. Llewyn is played by Oscar Isaac, who naturally inhabits the role in a way actors rarely do in the Coens’ films. More than anything, this gorgeous movie shows the Coens’ unique ability to visualize a particular time and place without resorting to cheap nostalgia. Given the abundance of T-Bone Burnett songs, many will compare this to O Brother, Where Art Thou?, but the real ancestor in the Coen catalog is their excellent 1991 film Barton Fink. That film showed us “the life of the mind”, while Inside Llewyn Davis presents us the lifelessness of a defeated heart. D.B.

recent Disney princess adventures Tangled and Brave, the limber visuals and appealing heroines can’t hide the smear of on-the-fly rewrites, as the film frequently loses track of its own moving pieces. D.B.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Anchorman Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) strides into the 1980s, with the wind still rattling through his empty blow-dried head, his trusted (and equally dimwitted) news team at his side (Steve Carell, David Koechner, Paul Rudd), all intent on making their mark on a new 24-hour cable news channel. Fans of the 2004 hit won’t be disappointed—but then, if they liked the first movie, their bar wasn’t all that high in the first place. Truth is, Ferrell and cowriter and director Adam McKay squeezed all the laughs there were out of their tissue-thin premise the first time around; there’s nothing here but a handful of limp chuckles. Once again, there are multiple star cameos (Tina Fey, Jim Carrey, Vince Vaughn—oh, just about everybody), and once again the movie is about an hour and 45 minutes too long. J.L.

3

3

Dallas Buyers Club

2

After years of lucratively reimagining old properties like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast as live theatrical spectacles, Frozen is a blatant attempt by Disney to reverse engineer its own Broadwaybound cash cows. Everything in the film feels constructed with an eye toward the inevitable splashy stage adaptation, right down to the big opening number, a sweeping ode to the awesome power of large blocks of ice (no, seriously). Frozen empties a promising box of mismatched characters, tones and plot strings on to the screen, including a genetic “curse,” magical trolls, a plethora of scheming royals and a wisecracking snowman, but never quite figures out how to fit them together. Much like

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NEWS

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Who the hell is Katniss Everdeen? This uninitiated-to-the-novels critic is two plodding films into the cinematic saga of the fascistic future world of Panem, and Katniss still feels devoid of personality. It’s safe to assume that star Jennifer Lawrence is too smart for these one-dimensional dramatics, and the result is an indifferent performance. But then, every actor is constrained by the cluttered script by Simon Beaufoy and Michael deBruyn. Catching Fire crams in a lot of stuff that’s seemingly unnecessary to the film story, presumably as a sop to fans clamoring for a more literal adaptation. As a result, we learn more about Panem politics and less about the people we’re supposed to care about. The violent and eerie unpredictability of the Games makes for a decent third act, but without a strong investment in the characters, the PG-13 slaughter is just a distraction. D.B.

Frozen

BEFORE

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Good news—there are more beheadings and fewer half-hour-long dinner parties in this second installment of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy. However, while it offers some technically impressive set pieces, the cartoonish visuals and watery characters don’t improve from last year’s An Unexpected Journey. Jackson is filming J.R.R. Tolkien’s book at a rate of two to three minutes per page (on pace with Erich von Stroheim’s long-lost eight-hour cut of Greed), and here he pads the running time by tying this prequel’s storyline into his own Lord of the Rings films. He even gets Gandalf to play Middle Earth detective, the same tactic George Lucas used to occupy Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode II of the Star Wars prequels. Most of The Desolation of Smaug is unembarrassing entertainment, but unlike with The Lord of the Rings, we never fully identify with the magical critters skittering through the special effects. D.B.

The true story of Texas good old boy Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), who was diagnosed with AIDS in the mid-1980s and, after a period of I-ain’t-nohomo denial, embarked on a resourceful enterprise to treat himself and other AIDS sufferers, skirting—and sometimes running afoul of—the sluggish FDA bureaucracy and its pharmaceutical business cronies. Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack’s script is plodding and episodic, and director Jean-Marc Valée doesn’t build much dramatic momentum. But it hardly matters; the story is dramatic enough. The movie is sparked by its two central performances: McConaughey, whose Woodroof grows from a careless, promiscuous bigot to someone almost noble; and (even more) Jared Leto, electrifying as a transgendered AIDS patient who becomes Woodroof’s business partner. J.L.

3

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Shaul Schwarz’s Narco Cultura is a smart and shattering examination of the ties between Mexican drug cartels and the narcocorrido musicians who lionize them in song. The film opens in Juarez, an industrial border town that in recent years has become the front line of the

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The smart, fascinating BBC TV series comes to the big screen, dumbed down so far that even real dinosaurs would find their intelligence insulted. The TV series was modeled on Walt Disney’s True-Life Adventures documentaries (with tyrannosaurus and allosaurus dinosaurs instead of bears, beavers and seals), mixing real locations with CGI-animated beasts. The movie aims far lower, at the likes of Madagascar and Rio—that is, at some of the worst animated features of all time. The dimwitted script is by John Collee, the direction by Barry Cook and Neil Nightingale, none of whom had any connection to the BBC series (did they ever even see it?). The dialogue is a string of lame jokes, read on the soundtrack by the likes of John Leguizamo, Justin Long and Tiya Sircar, as if they were the wise-cracking robots on Mystery Science Theatre 3000. J.L.

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When a booze-addled old man (Bruce Dern) gets the idea in his head that he’s won one of those million-dollar publisher’s sweepstakes, his estranged son (Will Forte) humors him, hoping they can reconnect on a road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, to claim the old boy’s prize. Bob Nelson’s script is a mine of mordant humor and wry insight, and director Alexander Payne carefully brings out the best in the script and his actors, including Bob Odenkirk as Forte’s brother, Stacy Keach as Dern’s lifelong frenemy, Angela McEwan as a longago sweetheart Dern barely remembers, and (most especially) June Squibb as Dern’s cantankerous wife (Oscar, are you watching?). The movie’s only drawback is Phedon Papamichael’s black-and-white cinematography, a pretentious artsy-fartsy touch that is flat, textureless and distracting. J.L.

2

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Mexican drug war, with the annual murder rate reaching into the several thousands. Schwarz unflinchingly depicts a world where life itself has become a worthless commodity, while a terrified police force struggles to process an ever-growing mountain of corpses. Out of this unspeakable carnage, Schwarz produces some of the most unsettling and eerily beautiful images in any film this year, yet resists the urge to get preachy or heavy-handed. Narco Cultura adroitly cuts between a defeated forensic investigator in Juarez and a blustery narcocorrido musician from Southern California who produces popular ballads glorifying Mexican cartel violence. D.B.

4

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Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, One Direction, Robin Thicke and The Voice may have dominated mainstream music this year, but as SN&R’s music writers by Ngaio Bealum, prove, there was more to 2013 than tongues Andrew Bell, and twerking, airbrushed bombshells and boy Julianna Boggs, bands, creepy “blurred” intentions and singing Blake Gillespie, Rachel Leibrock competitions. and Jonathan Mendick

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Shout-outs, aw yeah 1. Variety shows. How can you go wrong? Mix in some music with some comedy, add maybe a poet or a dancer, throw in a juggler or a magician, what’s not to like? Shout-outs to Flow and Fringe!, both at Assembly Music Hall, and RetroCrush Variety Show at Blue Lamp.

More high-hat!

1. Chuuwee, Thrill: Sacramento rap prodigy Chuuwee took us to the trap with Thrill. Bassheavy with a Southern feel to make UGK proud, Chuuwee doesn’t dumb it down here. It is the same brand of lyrical talent and wit, just in a different package. With a lot more high-hat. 2. JustKristofer, Love Over Judgment: A brave record, conscious without being preachy or pretentious, it drips with the kind of fearless honesty that cats like Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar brought to the rap world. 3. Midtown Marauders, Midtown Marauders: Midtown Marauders is Century Got Bars photos by william leung

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Hip-hop icons Hieroglyphics collaborated with the Sacramento deejay crew Sleeprockers on The Kitchen, the former act’s first album in 20 years.

2. New (and old) venues. It’s always great to have another good spot to see music. Assembly is hella nice. Harlow’s has been around forever, but the new owners have definitely done a great job of sprucing up the joint. 3. Music festivals. Last summer it was possible to hit some sort of fest every weekend. Launch, Coachella, BottleRock (OK, maybe not BottleRock), you get my drift. I hit all the Hempfests on the West Coast. Aw yeah. 4. Sunday Night Soul Party at The Press Club with DJ Larry Rodriguez. They call it “church” for a reason. DJ Larry gets it going. 5. Seeing Red Fang and Marco Benevento (not at the same time). I had never heard of either of them. They were both devastatingly good.

—N.B.

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32   |   SN&R   |   12.26.13

and Bru Lei’s take on the classic Midnight Marauders album by A Tribe Called Quest. This plays like a tourist guide to the downtown Sacramento grid as the two trade verses about life, love and Pieces Pizza by the Slice. 4. Hieroglyphics with Sleeprockers, The Kitchen: Hip-hop legends Hieroglyphics caught wind of the Sacramento deejay crew and asked them to Sleeprock (yes, it’s a verb, too) the first Hieroglyphics album in 20 years, and the rest is history. 5. Jo Vegas, ID.1: It’s packed with innovative production, and the dude’s flow is nice. Vegas’ style sounds like Rick Ross if he picked up a book or two.

—A.B.


thurs 12/26

1. P.O.S. at the Launch festival: Music festivals tend to be the last place you’ll have memorable band interaction, but P.O.S. at Launch in September was the exception. The rapper spent most of his set on the ground amid the crowd going harder than any Sacramento native beneath the triple-digit sun. 2. Blonde Redhead at Launch: The New York City psych rockers also played this festival, filling Cesar Chavez Plaza with powerful sonic ambience. 3. Damien Jurado at Sophia’s Thai Kitchen: The Seattle singer-songwriter played a strippeddown set nearly straight through to a sold-out Davis crowd, only breaking the flow toward the very end to explain that he was exhausted, pissed off and hated everyone. His honesty was adorable. 4. Zavalaz at Ace of Spades: Though Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s new incarnation sounds nothing like his legendary ’90s post-punk outfit At the Drive-In, it was enough to stand there and pretend they were the same. 5. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub: Comprising Animal Collective’s Avey Tare, ex-Dirty Projector’s Angel Deradoorian and ex-Ponytail’s Jeremy Hyman, the trio lived up to their indie-blog hype, delivering a dense onslaught of experimental pop.

—J.B.

Props and salvation 1. To every deejay, rapper, singer, band, business owner and promoter that didn’t give up on Sacramento in 2013, cheers to another year of not waving the white flag. 2. Whenever moody days bring shut-in evenings, turn to Screature’s self-titled debut. A Grace Slick-esque vocalist fronts a dementedly psychedelic goth-punk band, and the whole shebang is engineered by Chris Woodhouse? That’s called salvation, kiddos. 3. Kris Anaya killed Kris Anaya of An Angle and was reborn Kris Anaya of Contra and Doombird. He was a better man for it. 4. Bogged by white noise but tastefully booked, Le Twist Tuesdays thrived in its new home at LowBrau. I saw Troller, SSleeperhold, Soft Metals, Deastro and members of Chk Chk Chk (a.k.a. !!!) deejay. 5. Our lack of a local record label continues to harm Sacramento records, namely Young Aundee’s Fear in the Fold. There’s just no home for a progressive R&B-electronica record. No label, no scene, no venue and no hype machine. Not enough love for an incredible record.

—B.G.

Rants, reaffirmations and regrets 1. Onstage: Be they touring acts (Tele Novella, Jeff Tweedy, Morrissey, Jennifer O’Connor, Yo La Tengo) or locals (the Ancient Sons, the Knockoffs, the Decibels, Paper Pistols, Nacho Business), all reaffirmed faith in the live experience. BEFORE

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2. Press play and repeat: It’s music as therapy (as usual) with records by Best Coast, Joanna Gruesome, Grass Widow, the Julie Ruin and Devendra Banhart. 3. Everly everything: This year gave us not one but two Everly Brothers tributes—Will Oldham’s What the Brothers Sang, and Foreverly, a collaboration between Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones. 4. The Replacements: 2013 will stand as the year that I chose not to rack up more credit-card debt to catch their reunion at shows in Denver, Chicago and Toronto. Responsible? Sure. Crazy-stupid, sad and regrettable? Oh, yes. 5. Noel Gallagher: In a Rolling Stone interview, the Oasis singer-songwriter railed— wonderfully—against the overly pretentious (on Lady Gaga: “She’s probably doing a shit on top of a boiled egg right now. And somebody will fucking freeze it and call it art”), the overtly sexualized (on Miley Cyrus: “There’s a trend ... of girls desperately trying to be provocative or desperately trying to ‘start the debate’ about some old shit”) and the overhyped (on Arcade Fire: “shit disco”). Amen.

THINK FREE.

Honesty is totes adorbs

herd mindset left han//d$5 rock // punk // 9pm fri 12/27

denver j band sea legs chelsea hughes the dread lullabies 9pm // $5 sat 12/28

cuesta drive & friends a post-christmas $10

TRIVIA @ 6:30PM TUESDAY

TACO TUES $1 TACOS, $2 CORONAS, 2–8PM WEDNESDAY

rock-n-roll extravaganza // 9pm // sun 12/29

OPEN MIC

7pm//free mon 12/30

THURSDAY

open mic talent showcase karaoke 8pm // free tues 12/31 new year’s eve spectacular musical charis big sticky mess ideateam live music // dj // funk // soul 8pm // $5 pre-sale // $10 door

—R.L.

UPcOMING sHOWs:

Dance, dance revolution

01/04 the bumptet & brian curtin’s love mischief

1. Daft Punk, Random Access Memories: The funky rhythm guitar of Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams inviting you to “Lose Yourself to Dance” gets even the most introverted wallflowers onto the dance floor (I would know). “Get Lucky,” another Rodgers, Williams and Daft Punk collaboration, was another important dance jam this year, and it got even better when Girl Talk mashed it up with Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time.” Seriously, Google it. 2. M.I.A., Matangi: My favorite on this dance record is probably “Double Bubble Trouble,” with its next-level beats and blend of trap music, reggae and Indian rhythms—all in one awesome song. 3. Capital Cities, In a Tidal Wave of Mystery: I probably wouldn’t like “Safe and Sound” as much if I hadn’t seen the original music video, which is unforgettable: scenes of different American dance styles throughout the last century, blended with scenes of American military destruction throughout the last century. Add the lyrics, and now it’s a chilling visual statement about U.S. foreign policy rather than a banal dance-pop tune. 4. Michael Franti, All People: Davis native Michael Franti started a dance party at Sacramento State University during his October concert there. His latest album, All People, is his most danceable yet. “Gangsta Girl” is probably the best example of that: ska grooves with an incredible catchy chorus about not wanting to leave the dance hall. 5. Beyoncé, Beyoncé: Each song off Beyonce’s new self-titled album has a corresponding video. Everyone’s calling it the most innovative release of the year. Not really, though. Hip-hop duo Blue Scholars did the music-video-album thing two years ago with Cinemétropolis. But still, the co-lead single “Drunk in Love” is hella danceable.

  F E AT U R E

MONDAY

908 K Street • sac 916.446.4361 wwwMarilynsOnK.com

SIGN-UPS AT 7:30PM

KARAOKE @ 7:30PM OPEN FOR LUNCH & DINNER 7 DAYS A WEEK DOORS OPEN AT 11:30

LIVE MUSIC DEC 27 HUMBLE WOLF DEC 28 VAGABOND BROTHERS DEC 31 CALIFORNIA SPECIAL NEW YEARS PARTY FACEBOOK.COM/BAR101ROSEVILLE 101 MAIN STREET, ROSEVILLE • 916-774-0505

—J.M.

STORY

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27FRI

27FRI

28SAT

28SAT

Now! Miles

The Mother Hips

DJ Quik

Dead Dads

Shine, 8 p.m., $5

Assembly Music Hall, 9 p.m., $20-$25

With one foot in the early 1970s Miles Davis  catalog and the other foot pointed toward  the future, improvisational jazz master  JAZZ Tony Passarell brings the funk and  electricity of jazz fusion into his  project, Now! Miles. The sextet—heavily  influenced by the at one time controversial  jazz-rock sounds of Davis’ Bitches Brew, A  Tribute to Jack Johnson and Pangaea—features guitars, horn, sax and percussion  instruments. Rounding out the evening is  Tao Jiriki, with its instrumental progressive  sound that fuses psychedelic music with  funk, rock and jazz. Folk-jazz composer Chad  E. Williams opens the Friday-night show,  where midcentury jazz meets Shine’s new  midcentury-modern décor. 1400 E Street,  www.shinesacramento.com.

I first stumbled across the Mother Hips  about 20 years ago. Tim Bluhm and Greg  Loiacono were then students at California  State University, Chico, warming up next to  their van on a cold winter evening before  a gig in a Citrus Heights pizza joint. I was  blown away by their rich harmonies. Their  guitars sounded darn good, too. Many  years and a few speed bumps later, the  band is better than ever. Its new album  ROCK Behind Beyond is a great listen.  It’s also the first record the  group has recorded with bassist Scott  Thunes (Frank Zappa, Fear). Bluhm and  Loiacono both now reside in the Bay Area,  but still play Sactown often. 1000 K Street,  www.motherhips.com.

—Paul Piazza

—Trina L. Drotar

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Assembly Music Hall, 7 p.m., $25 Like Dr. Dre, DJ Quik was a Compton   gangsta rapper before finding greater  acclaim as a producer. He was in high  school when he dropped his first cassettes, then officially debuted with 1991’s  platinum-selling Quik Is the Name. None of  HIP-HOP his subsequent albums sold  as well, presumably thanks  to his failure to update his G-funk sound.  Played out commercially, he produced  music for Xzibit, 2Pac, Janet Jackson and  Jay Z. It resurrected his profile and helped  revitalize his sound, leading to 2002’s  eclectic Under Tha Influence, arguably his  best work. His latest album, 2011’s The Book  of David, is littered with guest spots (Bizzy  Bone, Ice Cube) and striking production.  1000 K Street, www.facebook.com/djquik.

Cafe Colonial, 8 p.m., $5 Forged from the metal licks of bands like  Peace Killers, the punk-rock bravado of Mad  Judy and the soulfulness of former group  Urban Wolves is Dead Dads. The quartet— Cory Weigert, Lys Mayo, Tony Silva and Joe  McKinney—will release a full-length album  in 2014, recorded by Bastards of Young  guitarist Patrick Hills at Earth Tone Studios  in Rocklin. But right now, you can listen to  Dead Dads’ EP Ben, which includes songs  like “Friendcore” and “Spare Change” that  showcase the band’s vocal harmonies and  affinity for catchy pop-punk arrangements.  ROCK Carbomb Commies, Pageripper  and Ballistic Burnout will also perform at this show. 3520 Stockton Boulevard,  http://deaddads.bandcamp.com.

—Steph Rodriguez

—Chris Parker

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silva vs weidman saturday december 28

NEW YEAR’S EVE

PARTY LIVE MUSIC BY

CONFUNKSHUN - Comedy Show - Fireworks Show - Dinner - Deluxe Room

Happy s! y a d i l o H

916.441.4151 | 2110 L Street | Sacramento, CA | skyboxgrillsac.com

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- Bottle of Champagne - Party Favor - Breakfast in the morning

PACKAGES START AT $289 PER COUPLE Preffered seating available with package Show tickets, dancing and champagne toast at Midnight ONLY $75 PER PERSON Reservations required

500 Leisure Lane | Sacramento, CA 916.922.2020


28SAT

28SAT

29SUN

31TUES

Fulkerson & Clarke

Straight No Chaser

The Coffis Brothers & the Mountain Men

Switchfoot

Shine, 8 p.m., $5

Crest Theatre, 3 and 8:30 p.m., $29.50-$59.50

When Caitlin Clarke and Fred Fulkerson get  together, something interesting happens:  They find a way to make music that melds  seamlessly and sticks out. Clarke’s high  female voice and Fulkerson’s low male voice  sound like they wouldn’t match, but that  combination ends up working in their favor.  They play a mixture of folk, jazz and soul— all very raw and bare bones. Clarke plays  the acoustic guitar, and Fulkerson plays  the electric bass. Their songs are moody,  emotional and, at times, breathtaking. The  FOLK ROCK duo formed a few years  ago here in town but  has since moved to Hollywood, so this is a  homecoming show of sorts. 1400 E Street,  www.facebook.com/fulkersonandclarke.

I first heard Straight No Chaser when its  mash-up of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” and  Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of “Over  POP the Rainbow” came up on my  Pandora station. It was hard to  believe that the group produced so much  sonic depth—percussion, bass, melody— with just voice as an instrument. Anyway,  the group had a viral YouTube video back in  2006 (featuring a video recorded in 1998) and  subsequently signed with Atlantic Records  for a five-album deal. SNC has four albums  so far—two holiday-themed and two of  pop covers. Its latest record, Under the  Influence, released in May, features guest  vocals from Mraz, Stevie Wonder and Elton  John. 1013 K Street, www.sncmusic.com.

—Aaron Carnes

—Jonathan Mendick

Jackson Sports Arena, 7 p.m., $60-$125

Torch Club, 8 p.m., $5 Fresh off a successful Kickstarter   campaign that resulted in more than 150  backers and roughly 150-percent of their  projected cost for a new album being  funded, the Coffis Brothers & the Mountain  Men are ready to send 2013 off with a bang  and high hopes for 2014. Titled Wrong Side  of the Road, the forthcoming album—tenROCK tatively due in the first quarter  of 2014—will feature high-energy  rock painstakingly crafted over a number  of months. Previous tracks like “Waiting for  You” and “Your Heart, My Love” clue you in  to the band’s earthy rock sound and give a  hint of what’s next. 904 15th Street,   www.coffisbrothers.com.

—Brian Palmer

Switchfoot won the 2010 Grammy Award for  Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album, despite not  sounding like a Christian-rock group. Instead,  the five-piece, formed in San Diego in 1996, has  released eight albums of relatively straightROCK forward rock, with an always  melodic and somewhat anthemic  twist. Take the group’s breakout early 2000s  hit “Dare You to Move,” for example: The  song, featured on the soundtrack of A Walk  to Remember—the 2002 teen romance film  starring Mandy Moore—blends clean acoustic  guitars and fuzzy distorted guitars that  create a dramatic crescendo. It’s a timeless  sound, which has helped the group retain a  loyal fan base over the last decade.   5209 Luce Avenue in McClellan Air Force  Base, www.switchfoot.com.

—Jonathan Mendick

A VERY SAFE & HAPPY NEW YEARS

WE GOT YOUR CAB RIDE HOME ($10 – $30 BASED ON SERVICE)

BEST MICROBREWS IN THE VALLEY

REWARD:

BUY 1 PINT GET THE 2ND FOR 40 ¢

916.652.4007 SIERRA COLLEGE EXIT OFF 80 – 4007 TAYLOR RD www.COUNTRYCLUBSALOON.net BEFORE

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NIGHTBEAT

THURSDAY 12/26

ASSEMBLY MUSIC HALL 1000 K St., (916) 832-4751

List your event!

Post your free online listing (up to 15 months early), and our editors will consider your submission for the printed calendar as well. Print listings are also free, but subject to space limitations. Online, you can include a full description of your event, a photo, and a link to your website. Go to www.newsreview.com/calendar and start posting events. Deadline for print listings is 10 days prior to the issue in which you wish the listing to appear.

BADLANDS

FRIDAY 12/27

SATURDAY 12/28

THE MOTHER HIPS, MIDNIGHT NORTH; 9pm, $20

DJ QUIK, BEATKNOCKS, CALI BEAR GANG, LIL BIT, QUETTE DADDIE; 7pm, $25

2003 K St., (916) 448-8790

Tipsy Thursdays, Top 40 deejay dancing, 9pm, call for cover

Fabulous and Gay Fridays, 9pm, call for cover

Saturday Boom, 9pm, call for cover

BAR 101

Karaoke, 7:30pm, no cover

HUMBLE WOLF, 9:30pm, call for cover

VAGABOND BROTHERS, 9pm, call for cover

101 Main St., Roseville; (916) 774-0505

BISLA’S SPORTS BAR

Friday Night Hype w/ DJs Evolve and My Cousin Vinny and MC Skurge, 10pm

7042 Folsom Blvd., (916) 383-0133

BLUE LAMP

DARLIN’ CLEMENTINE, HAZY VALLEY BOYS, HANK BIGGS; 8pm, $7

1400 Alhambra, (916) 455-3400

THE BOARDWALK

THE WESTWARDS, ATLAS & ARROWS; 8pm, $5

1815 19th St., (916) 822-5668

PABLO GUTIERREZ, 8pm, no cover

DISTRICT 30

1016 K St., (916) 737-5770

Hey local bands!

Want to be a hot show? Mail photos to Calendar Editor, SN&R, 1124 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95815 or email it to sactocalendar@ newsreview.com. Be sure to include date, time, location and cost of upcoming shows.

Open-mic, 7:30pm, no cover

FLANNEL, PREGNANT, 8pm, $5

DJ Steele, DJ BPhree, 9pm, call for cover

DJ DNA, 9pm, call for cover

DJ Elements, 9pm, call for cover

Hip-hop and Top 40 Deejay dancing, 9pm, $5-$10

Hip-hop and Top 40 Deejay dancing, 9pm, $5-$10

FACES

2000 K St., (916) 448-7798 CHIMI CHANGA, 8pm, no cover

WES FOX & THE LOONS, SPARK THREE, THE AFTERLIFE; 9pm, $5

THE UNCOVERED, THE CASH PROPHETS; 9pm, $5

THE GOLDEN BEAR

DJ Shaun Slaughter, 10pm, call for cover

DJ Crook One, 10pm, call for cover

DJ Whores, 10pm, no cover

2326 K St., (916) 441-2252

HALFTIME BAR & GRILL

DIBIA$E, CENTURY GOT BARS, BLEE, JO VEGAS, DJ House Shoes; 10pm, $10

2708 J St., (916) 441-4693

Trivia, 6:30pm M, no cover; Open-mic, 7:30pm W, no cover THE DICK GAIL QUINTET, 8:30pm, $5-$10

College Night deejay dancing, 9:30pm Tu; Country Night deejay dancing, 9:30pm W

Get Down to the Champion Sound reggae night, 9pm-2am, $3

DJ Branscomb, 8pm Tu, call for cover BRUMAL, VALENSOROW, SYMBOLIK, GRAVESHADOW; 8pm Tu, $10-$12

DJ As-Is, 9pm Tu, call for cover Dragalicious, 9pm, $5

FOREVERLAND, 10pm, $15

LOWBRAU

1050 20th St., (916) 706-2636

Queer Idol, 9pm M, no cover; Latin night, 9pm Tu, $5; DJ Alazzawi, 9pm W, $3 Open-mic, M; THE FLOWER VATO, MC HAM; 9pm Tu, $5; Northern Soul, W

Industry Night, 9pm, call for cover New Year’s Eve party with ‘80s music, 9pm Tu, $35-$45; Karaoke, 8pm W

ROCK OF AGES, 9pm-midnight, no cover PLAYBACK, 9pm-midnight, no cover

5681 Lonetree Blvd., Rocklin; (916) 626-6366

HARLOW’S

Mad Mondays, 9pm M; Latin video flair and Wii bowling, 7pm Tu

HOT WORLDS, JAMMHEAD, 9pm Tu, $5

FOX & GOOSE

1001 R St., (916) 443-8825

Sin Sunday, 8pm, call for cover

ANTSY MCCLAIN AND THE TRAILER PARK TROUBADOURS; 7:30pm, $25

314 W. Main St., Grass Valley; (530) 274-8384 594 Main St., Placerville; (530) 642-8481

UTZ! AND THE SHUTTLECOCKS, 8pm Tu, $30

Nerd Night, 7pm, call for cover

CENTER FOR THE ARTS THE COZMIC CAFÉ

MONDAY-WEDNESDAY 12/30-1/1

GRENADE JUMPER, SEVENTH MOON, FRANK HANNON’S KALEIDOSCOPE, THE ELECTRONAUTS, MOON MANTIS; 8pm ALEX VINCENT WALKER BAND; 8pm

9426 Greenback Ln., Orangevale; (916) 988-9247

BOWS & ARROWS

SUNDAY 12/29

BRIAN CHRIS ROGERS BAND, NEVADA BACKWARDS, LINO; 8:30pm, $7

LOVEFOOL, 10pm Tu, $25

Wunderbar w/ Adam J., Shaun Slaughter, 10pm, no cover

PENGUIN PRISON, EXQUISITE CORPS, DJ Sam I Jam; 8pm Tu; Roger Carpio, W

LUNA’S CAFÉ & JUICE BAR

Joe Montoya’s Poetry Unplugged, 8pm, $2

JULIE AND AIYANA, COAL MINE CANARIES, AMY REED; 8pm, $5

THE IRON HEARTS, EMILY O’NEIL, DAVID HOUSTON; 8pm, $5

Nebraska Mondays, 7:30pm M, $5-$20; Comedy night, 8pm W, $6

MARILYN’S ON K

HERD MINDSET, LEFT HAND, APARTMENT 69; 9pm, $5

DENVER J. BAND, SEA LEGS, CHELSEA HUGHES, DREAD LULLABIES; 9pm, $5

CUESTA DRIVE, 9pm, $10

Karaoke, 8pm M, no cover; MUSICAL CHARIS, 8pm Tu, $7-$10

1414 16th St., (916) 441-3931 908 K St., (916) 446-4361

1000 K Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

fOr TiCKETS TO aLL SHOWS ViSiT assemblySacramento.com

For Rentals or Private Parties please contact AssemblyMusicHall@gmail.com

tuesday december 31

NEW YEAR’S EVE

FRi DEc 27

THE mOTHEr HipS midnight north 9pm | 21 and over

SAt DEc 28

dj qUiK

the beatknocks - cali bear gang - lil bit - quette daddie 7pm

UTZ! & THE SHUTTLECOCKS 8pm 21 and over

Upcoming ShowS

SAt jAN 4

KarEga baiLEy mark noxx, rasar, dj supe 8:30pm

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thu jAN 9

nipSEy HUSSLE 7pm

FRi jAN 10

fair STrUggLE

vanishing affair, overwatch, once an empire, grey dagger 7pm

jan 11 jan 17 jan 18 jan 24 jan 25 jan 26 jan 30 jan 31 feb 07 feb 09 feb 12 feb 20 feb 22 feb 27 feb 28 mar 01 mar 02 mar 05 mar 11 mar 13 apr 05 jun 15

anthony b merchants the siren show !!! (chk chk chk) Los rabanes emery zion i abbey road band st Lucia this or the apocaLypse bettye Lavette rehab some Fear none scaLe the summit incredibLe’ me baeza we butter the bread with butter sunny LedFurd we are the in crowd inFected mushroom headbang For the hwy average white band


THURSDAY 12/26 MIDTOWN BARFLY

1119 21st St., (916) 549-2779

NAKED LOUNGE DOWNTOWN

GP BAILEY, KEN KOENIG, DOUG CASH; 8:30pm, $5

1111 H St., (916) 443-1927

OLD IRONSIDES

1901 10th St., (916) 442-3504

FRIDAY 12/27

SATURDAY 12/28

SUNDAY 12/29

Get Down to the Champion Sound, reggae and dancehall deejays, 10pm, $5

Gothic, industrial, EBM, ’80s, synthpop dancing, 9pm, $3 before 10pm; $5 after

Gothic, Industrial, Darkwave, EBM, Retro, 9:30pm-2am, $5

MLEO, LUMOHS, TODD MORGAN; 8:30pm, $5

NARWHAL, TJ MCNULTY, MEDODORA; 8:30pm, $5

Jazz session, 8pm M, no cover

WILLIAM MYLAR, 5pm; MALAKITE, SPIRIT OF SAINT LOUIS; 9pm, $5

WANTED EXOTIC, TIKI LOUNGE LIZARDS; 9pm, $2-$5

Lipstick New Year’s Eve, 9pm Tu, $8-$10; Open-mic, 9pm W, no cover

ANTSY MCCLAIN & THE TRAILER PARK TROUBADOURS, 8pm, $28

TOM RIGNEY & FLAMBEAU, 9:30pm Tu, $35

THE PALMS PLAYHOUSE

13 Main St., Winters; (530) 795-1825

THE PARK ULTRA LOUNGE 1116 15th St., (916) 442-7222

DJ Sky Nellor, 9pm, call for cover

DJ Peeti V, 9pm-2am, $15

MONDAY-WEDNESDAY 12/30-1/1

Asylum Downtown: Gothic, industrial, EBM dancing, 9pm, call for cover

DJ Peeti V, 9pm Tu, call for cover

Cuesta Drive 9pm Saturday, $10. Marilyn’s on K Rock and funk

PARLARE EURO LOUNGE

Top 40, 9pm, no cover

Top 40, Mashups, 9pm, no cover

DJ Club mixes, 10pm, no cover

PINE COVE TAVERN

Karaoke, 9pm-1:30am, no cover

Karaoke, 9pm-1:30am, no cover

Karaoke, 9pm-1:30am, no cover

INNERSOUL, 9pm, $5

DJ dancing, 9pm, no cover

SOLSA, 9pm Tu, $30 ELEMENT OF SOUL, THEY WENT GHOST; 9pm Tu, $15

1009 10th St., (916) 448-8960 502 29th St., (916) 446-3624

PINS N STRIKES

3443 Laguna Blvd., Elk Grove; (916) 226-2625

SAVVANT, 9-11pm, no cover

Open-mic, 10pm-1am Tu, no cover

PJ’S ROADHOUSE

DJ Michael Johnson, 9pm, no cover

ISLAND OF BLACK AND WHITE, 9pm, $5

TRULY TERRIFYING, 9pm, $5

POWERHOUSE PUB

WHISKEY DAWN, 9pm, call for cover

TAINTED LOVE, 9pm, call for cover

GUITAR MAC, 3pm, call for cover; INSPECTOR 71, 10pm, call for cover

JOE LOUIS WALKER, 3pm, call for cover

THE PRESS CLUB

DJ Missy Mark, 9pm, no cover

Top 40 w/ DJ Rue, 9pm, $5

Top 40 Night w/ DJ Larry Rodriguez, 9pm, $5

Sunday Night Soul Party, 9pm, $5

5461 Mother Lode, Placerville; (530) 626-0336 614 Sutter St., Folsom; (916) 355-8586 2030 P St., (916) 444-7914

SHENANIGANS

705 J St., (916) 442-1268

Comedy Night and DJ Selekta Lou, 9pm, $5

STONEY INN/ROCKIN’ RODEO

FLAT BUSTED, 9pm, $5

1320 Del Paso Blvd., (916) 927-6023

Salsa w/ Mike Del Campo and Mr. DJ Omar, 8:30pm, no cover; $5 after 9:30pm

TORCH CLUB

X TRIO, 5pm, no cover; RED’S BLUES, TAKI KIMORI; 9pm, $5

1100 Orlando Ave., Roseville; (916) 728-1166 904 15th St., (916) 443-2797

DJ Rigatony, DJ Rufio, 9pm Tu, call for cover Country dancing, 7:30pm, no cover; $5 after 8pm

THE STATION

Karaoke, M; 8 TRACK MASSACRE, 9pm Tu; DJ Alazzawi, DJ Rigatony, 10pm Tu, $3

PAILER AND FRATIS, 5:30-7:30pm, no cover; THE NIBBLERS, 9pm, $8

Country dancing, 7:30pm, no cover; $5 after 8pm

Country dance party, 8pm, no cover

Comedy open-mic, 8pm M; Bluebird Lounge open-mic, 5pm Tu, no cover

Salsa with Mike Del Campo, 8:30pm, no cover; $5 after 9:30pm

Domingos Latinos with Mr. DJ Omar, 9pm, $5-$10

DJ Omar V, DJ Loud, DJ Corbin and DJ Vision V, 9pm Tu, call for cover

JOHNNY KNOX, 5pm, no cover; KERI CARR BAND, 9pm, call for cover

Blues jam, 4pm; THE COFFIS BROTHERS & THE MOUNTAIN MEN; 8pm, $5

ISLAND OF BLACK & WHITE, 9pm Tu; Acoustic open-mic, 5:30pm W, no cover

Julie and Aiyana with Coal Mine Canaries and Amy Reed 8pm Friday, $5. Luna’s Café & Juice Bar Indie pop

All ages, all the time ACE OF SPADES

DIRT NASTY, RICHARD THE ROCKSTAR, NASTY MARTIN, PENNY; 7:30pm Tu, $20

1417 R St., (916) 448-3300

SHINE

TAO JIRIKI, NOW! MILES, CHAD E. WILLIAMS; 8pm, $5

1400 E St., (916) 551-1400

Every Day

We Have the

Blues

THU Dec 26 9PM $5

Red’s Blues

FRI Dec 27 9PM $8

The Nibblers

THUR: X-Trio

5:30 - 7:30

SUN:

Pailer & Fratis

5:30 - 7:30

Edward Herda

5:30 - 7:30

Blues Jam

4-7

5:30 - 7:30

Dibia$e • Century Got Bars Blee • Jo Vegas $10 • 9pm

Island of Black and White

foreverlanD miCHael JaCkson triBute $15 • 9pm

- December 28 -

Brian CHris roDgers BanD

HANGOVER HAPPY HOUR 2-6PM

904 15th St. Btwn I & J Downtown Sac

(Across from Memorial Auditorium)

Bloody Mary & Mimosa Specials Mexican Breakfast Including Pozole Open Mic: 3 – 5:30pm Hosted by: Sandra Dolores Featuring: GP Bailey • Swahilli Passion Brittany Vanessa • Carly Duhain

NEWS

|

nYe DanCe PartY witH lovefool

- December 27 -

New Year’s Day

44 3 - 2797 www.torchclub.net

|

(Detroit)

9pm

TUES: Mind X Quartet

BEFORE

sHoes

The Coffis Brothers

Champagne Toast & Party Favors at Midnight

FEATURE STORY

Coming Soon

- December 26 -

NEW YEAR’S EVE BASH!

Drink Specials • No Cover

SAT:

ew Year’s eve eve DJ House new Tuesday, December 31

Keri Carr

Happy Hour FRI:

2708 J Street Sacramento, CA 916.441.4693 www.harlows.com

Jerry Perry’s 50th SAT Birthday Bash Dec 28 9PM $8

SUN Dec 29 8PM $5

Open jazz jam w/ Jason Galbraith & Friends, 8pm Tu, no cover

FULKERSON & CLARKE, 8pm, $5

Nevada Backwards • Lino Sean Flemming $7 • 8pm

|

A RT S & C U LT U R E

$25 8pm

in momo lounge

Jan 03

Rock On! Live Band Karaoke

Jan 04

Mark Curry

Jan 08

Andy McKee

Jan 09

Chop Tops

Jan 11

Carrie Hennessey

Jan 12

Jazz Night with Reggie Graham

Jan 16

Weedeater

Jan 17

Tea Leaf Green

Jan 23

Dustbowl Revival

Jan 24

Stick Men

Jan 25

Wild Cub

Feb 01

Tempest

Feb 07

Johnny Cash Tribute

Feb 08

Steelin’ Dan

Feb 09

Duncan Sheik

Feb 10

Secret Chiefs 3

Feb 14

ALO

follow us

DJ oasis

HARLOWSNiTeCLuB HARLOWSNiGHTCLuB

$20 • 8pm Tickets Available at MomoSacramento.com

|

AFTER

HARLOWSNiGHTCLuB |

12.26.13

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what’s on your

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Do people still go to jail for weed? —Nate Yep. Constantly. All the time. You can even go to jail for weed when you don’t have any weed. William David Bush of Sebastopol, Calif., was sentenced to four years in jail for allegedly selling marijuana in October. He was originally pulled over for speeding, and it turned out he was driving on a BEALUM suspended license. The cops searched his’13car because by NGAIO they said it smelled like pot, and they found $47,000 in cash and written details of transactions. No one should go to jail for weed. That being said, a sk420 @ ne wsreview.c om weed is still illegal in California, and Bush broke one of the basic rules of being an outlaw: Only break one law at a time. If you have $47,000 in cash and a written record of transactions, don’t speed while your license is suspended. In Butte County, Daisy Bram was convicted last year on misdemeanor child endangerment and felony marijuana cultivation and sales. Bram says the judge denied her medical-marijuana defense. When I wrote about this case last December (see “Custody and pot”; SN&R The 420; December 20, 2012), I received an email from Jeff Greeson, the prosecuting attorney. This is what he said: “The criminal child abuse charges against Ms. Bram were based on an unsafe home due to broken Pyrex dishes and razor blades coated with hash extracted with alcohol, syringes with Xanax residue Some people don’t think available to the older child, a ‘Twister’ high-volume children should be bud trimmer located in an anywhere near a pot area accessible by the older child, marijuana bud located plant, but marijuana is in multiple locations where often a family business, the older child could reach, like growing wine grapes. generator cables running through water puddles in the back yard near piles of toys, and text messages on Jayme Walsh’s [Bram’s husband] phone arranging marijuana sales with people in Pennsylvania.” Greeson also elaborated on standard legal and socialservices practices: “Law enforcement in Butte County logs hundreds of contacts with medical marijuana users per Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento month. The vast majority of those contacts result in no law comedian, activist enforcement or social services action whatsoever. Most of and marijuana expert. the people in this county that participate in activity sancEmail him questions tioned by Proposition 215 have a good relationship with law at ask420@ newsreview.com. enforcement,” Greeson wrote. “As long as the marijuana is unavailable to children, is possessed in quantities consistent with personal use, and there is no evidence of sales to other people (this includes dispensaries in other counties,) local law enforcement has no interest in their marijuana use.” I don’t know why he cares if patients in one county want to be reimbursed for giving weed to patients in other counties (Proposition 215 allows patients to be reimbursed for giving other patients marijuana), but his other points are well-taken. If you have children around your grow, keep the area clean, neat and safe. I know some people don’t think children should be anywhere near a pot plant, but I also know that marijuana is often a family business, like growing wine grapes. We need to change the laws, so that no one ever has to go to jail for pot. Ω BEFORE

|

NEWS

|

F E AT U R E

STORY

’13

’13

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’13

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Sacramento

420 Doc MeDiCAL MArijuAnA evALuAtiOnS

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Your information is 100% private and confidential Visit our website to book your appointment online 24/7 at

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A RT S & C U LT U R E

|

AFTER

|

12.26.13

|

SN&R

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39


GO TO FACEBOOK.COM/SACNEWSREVIEW

US.

OR ELSE.

40   |   SN&R   |   12.26.13

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BEFORE

|

  NEWS

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  FEATURE

STORY

TWO RIVERS

3015 H Street Sacramento, CA 916.822.4717 NEW HOURS:

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  |    A R T S & C U L T U R E     |    A F T E R

  |    12.26.13    

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  SN&R    

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  41


SIMPLY THE BEST Winner 3 years in a row! ’13

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42   |   SN&R   |   12.26.13

Blvd om Fols

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  |    12.26.13    

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MARCONI EL CAMINO

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44   |   SN&R   |   12.26.13

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BEFORE

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  NEWS

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  FEATURE

STORY

  |    A R T S & C U L T U R E     |    A F T E R

  |    12.26.13    

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  SN&R    

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  45


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by CODY DRABBLE

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Edmund

Kean (1789-1833) was one of the most famous British actors of his time. But a contemporary, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, was frustrated by Kean’s inconsistency, regarding him as a great artist who, on occasion, lapsed into histrionics. “To see him act,” said Coleridge, “is like reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning.” Now and then I get that feeling about you, Aries. You have bursts of brilliance that you sometimes don’t follow up on. You’re like a superstar who loses your concentration. But I’ve got a strong feeling that in 2014 you will at least partially overcome this tendency. Your word of power will be “consistency.”

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Ernest

Rutherford (1871-1937) is known as the father of nuclear physics, not just because he won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. He was also a superb teacher. Eleven of his students won Nobel Prizes. That’s the kind of teacher or mentor or guide I urge you to connect with in 2014, Taurus. The coming months will potentially be an optimum time for you to learn deeply and at a rapid rate. One of the best ways to fulfill that promise will be to apprentice yourself to adepts who have mastered the skills and savvy you want to acquire.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): Your last

best hope to get rich was back in the latter half of 2001 and the first six months of 2002. From July 2025 to June 2026, the cosmos will again conspire to give you a big fat chance to expedite your cash flow to the max. But why get bogged down dreaming of the past or fantasizing about the future when fertile opportunities to boost your prosperity are in front of you right now? Financial luck is flowing your way. Viable ideas for making money are materializing in your subconscious treasure house. The contacts that could help you build your wealth are ready to play with you. (This offer is good until July 2014.)

CANCER (June 21-July 22): French

poet Edmond Jabès had this to say about the birth of big creative ideas that dramatically transform one’s life: “For the writer, discovering the work he will write is both like a miracle and a wound, like the miracle of the wound.” Regardless of whether or not you’re an artist, Cancerian, I expect that you will experience a wrenching and amazing awakening like this in 2014. The opening you’ve been hoping and working for will finally crack its way into your destiny. It may be one of the most pleasurable disruptions you’ve ever had.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): In the coming

months, I’m betting that you will exit a confined place or shed cramped expectations or break off your commitment to a compromise that has drained you. It may happen suddenly, or it could take a while to complete. How the escape unfolds will have to do with how thoroughly you extract the lessons that your “incarceration” has made available. Here’s a ritual that might also expedite the process: Give a gift to the people you’re leaving behind, or offer a blessing in the spot where your difficult teachings have taken place.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): “[N]ow that

you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good,” says a character in John Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden. I suggest that you make this your rallying cry in 2014, Virgo. In fact, why not begin right now, wherever you are? Say: “Now that I don’t have to be perfect, I can be good.” Free yourself of the pressure to be the polished, ultimate embodiment of everything you’d ever hoped you would be. That will allow you to relax into being more content with the intriguing creation you have already become. You may be surprised by how much mojo this affords you.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): In 1972, Eng-

lish folk musician Nick Drake recorded his album Pink Moon. He finished it in a mere four hours, singing all 11 songs and playing every instrumental track himself. It took years for anyone to appreciate his artistry, but eventually, the magazine Melody Maker selected Pink Moon as number 48 on its list of the “All Time Top 100 Albums.” Here’s one way I suspect your efforts will be similar to Drake’s in 2014, Libra: You

BEFORE

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NEWS

BREZSNY

will have the ability to get a lot done in a short time. Here are two ways your fate will be different from Drake’s: First, you will have a big pool of trustworthy allies to call on for help. Second, what you produce won’t take nearly as long to get the appreciation it warrants.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): “Eierleg-

ende Wollmilchsau” is a colloquial German term for a mythical pig that lays eggs like a chicken, provides milk like a cow, supplies wool like a sheep, and ultimately becomes bacon and pork chops. Metaphorically, it may refer to a fanciful device that performs many functions. Imagine, for instance, a futuristic smartphone that could interpret your dreams, trim your unwanted hair, fix you a perfect cup of coffee, tell you you’re beautiful in ways you actually believe and cure your little health problems. In the real world, there’s no such thing, right? Not yet. But there’s a chance you will find the next best thing to an eierlegende Wollmilchsau in 2014.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21):

“[W]e don’t accomplish our love in a single year as the flowers do,” said Rainer Maria Rilke in the Duino Elegies. Do you promise to take that truth into consideration in 2014, Sagittarius? Will you pledge to diligently devote yourself to creating the right conditions for love to flourish? In the past, you may not have been fully able to carry out this slow-building marvel; you may not have had quite enough wise perseverance. But you do now.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): In

1588, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the ruler of Japan, confiscated the swords, daggers and spears belonging to every citizen. He announced they would be melted down and used to make a giant Buddha statue. I’d love to see you undertake a comparable transformation in 2014, Capricorn. You shouldn’t completely shed all your anger and pugnacity, of course: A certain amount is valuable, especially when you need to rouse yourself to change situations that need to be changed. But it’s also true that you could benefit from a reduction in your levels of combativeness. What if you could “melt down” some of your primal rage and use the energy that’s made available to build your personal equivalent of a Buddha icon?

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): The

period between last July and next June is prime time to find or create your dream job. That might mean simply upgrading your existing gig so that it serves you better. Or it could involve you rethinking your relationship with work and going off in quest of a new way to earn a living. So, how are you doing on this project, Aquarius? If you are proceeding on schedule, you should be halfway there by now. The goal should be clear, and you should be more disciplined, organized, and determined than ever. If for any reason this isn’t the case, start playing catch-up.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): “Singing

teaches two skills that are essential for any creative process,” said author and vocalist Rachel Bagby, “the ability to listen and the ability to be flexible and spontaneous.” I bring this to your attention, Pisces, because 2014 could potentially be a golden age for your creativity. It will be a time when you will benefit even more than usual from exploring and enhancing your imaginative originality. That’s why I’m encouraging you to sing more than you ever have before. Make a list of your 50 favorite singable songs. Be aggressive about expanding the music you get exposed to, and learn the melodies and lyrics to a lot of new tunes. Cut loose with your vocal stylings whenever you have a chance, and take a vow to propel yourself out of funky moods with the creative energy of your singing.

You can call Rob Brezsny for your Expanded Weekly Horoscope: (900) 950-7700. $1.99 per minute. Must be 18+. Touchtone phone required. Customer service (612) 373-9785. And don’t forget to check out Rob’s website at www.realastrology.com.

|

F E AT U R E

PHOTO BY SERENE LUSANO

by ROB

For the week of December 26, 2013

STORY

The iceman driveth Michael Doak, 26, is general manager for the Sacramento Downtown Partnership. He’s also, impressively, the Zamboni operator for its seasonal ice rink. When Doak isn’t cutting ice and high-fiving kids, he also helps run the partnership’s farmers markets and summertime Friday Night Concerts in the Park series. A Sacramento State University graduate with a degree in business, Doak says he hopes to someday run a computer-electronics business, but for now, he’s happy to root for the Sacramento Kings and San Francisco 49ers in his downtime after a hard day on the ice. Doak sat down with SN&R to talk driving tips, injuries and romance.

How did you become a Zamboni driver? I started off as security guard, doing overnight-type stuff. I wanted to work with the public—I didn’t just want to be by myself. So, I talked to management, trying to get my foot in the door. I wanted to do something more, I wanted to expand. When you do management, you get to drive the Zamboni, do the scheduling, do payroll. You get to do everything. I never want to step down, because after three years, even though it’s seasonal, I don’t want to walk away.

Tell me what the ideal Zamboni state of mind is. Just have fun with it. When you have a bunch of little kids around, they think [the Zamboni] is the best thing in the world. That’s pretty great. When you ride past the sides [of the rink] and slap their hands, they’re so excited because that’s someone special. It’s fun to make the kids happy, and they think it’s really cool to see the ice shine right after. When I first started, I felt like a rock star, but now, I’m used to it.

How does the Zamboni actually work? It cuts off a thin layer of the ice, and if there’s any holes in the ice, the water fills them. The ice is fairly cold already, so it will freeze in a matter of a minute, depending on how big [the area] is. Then, it shoots all the snow into a dump tank.

Does one need a special license to drive the Zamboni? No. It’s not hard to drive, but it’s a much bigger vehicle. It’s pretty much like driving a U-Haul on the ice. You have to take it slow, keep a constant speed to make it as smooth as possible.

Do you have any important driving tips? It’s a constant flow. You want to repeat the same rhythm over and over, constant motion, back and forth. Our Zamboni is big—it’s full size—but our rink is pretty |

A RT S & C U LT U R E

small. So, on our ice, we have to learn the angles to steer it and get right up to the edges of the ice. We don’t want to hit the wall. It happens every year, someone bumps the wall. We’ll make fun of them, as a friendly thing, because we went through the same thing. If I make fun of someone, it’s because I made the same exact mistake the year before. It’s bound to happen.

Most surprising injury you’ve seen at the rink? Injurywise, someone breaking their leg is bad. It happens, but then, your whole mindset changes. One guy fell and chipped his teeth. One time, a lady fell back and hit her head, and she wasn’t moving for a minute. Her husband came over and started making fun of her. It was an older couple in their 60s. She was fine, but it was hard to comfort her when her husband was joking around at the time. The paramedics have only come twice this year, which is pretty good. If people sprain their ankle, we have wraps for that.

What keeps the ice frozen? We have a chiller on the side, which is a machine that pumps glycol through a grid of pipes under the ice. It keeps temperatures between 10 and 12 degrees in the morning time, and up to 14 to 16 degrees in the evening. There’s 3 or 4 inches of ice on top of the pipes.

What’s the energy bill look like for an ice rink?

to keep it frozen. I’m not sure how much the bill was exactly.

Anyone popped the question at the rink? We’ve had a couple of marriage proposals. There’s always like two or three a season. Some guys have told us beforehand they wanted to propose to their girlfriends. They want to do it at a certain time in the center ice, and we put on a song for them. We have a Sirius [Satellite Radio] “love” station or [use] our smartphones. When that time comes, we turn the music down and make an announcement. He gets down on one knee, she starts flipping out, and everyone starts cheering for them. We’ve had 100 percent say yes so far, so we’re lucky on that part.

How does ice-rink romance look from a Zamboni’s-eye view? There’s been times where you could tell two people met online. You see them, and they can be pretty awkward. The ice rink is still a good date spot; there’s places to eat and hang out in the area. We haven’t seen any breakups, but once [there were] teenage boys fighting over a girl. We had to call the cops for that. You want to laugh, but you have to make it as calm as possible for the customers. Ω The Downtown Sacramento Ice Rink is open daily through January 20, 2014, Monday through Thursday, 2 to 8 p.m.; Friday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; 701 K Street; (916) 442-8575; http://downtown sac.org/events/ice-rink.

It’s pretty high. One year, we had more ice, which made the chiller work twice as hard |

AFTER

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12.26.13

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SN&R

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47


Ace of SpAdeS tuesday, december 31

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S 2013 12 26  
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