DON’T GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL see News, page 7
LARAMIE, GRANITE BAY see Essay, page 10
$30 MILLION TUNNEL see News, page 9
VALENTINE’S DAY see Coolhunting, page 24 see Ask Joey, page 25
PUNK AS FOLK see Music, page 30
SACRAMENTO’S NEWS & ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
VOLUME 25, ISSUE 44
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2014
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2 | SN&R | 02.13.14 98843_10x10.5_SacramentoNewsAndReview_4c_Ad_V3.indd 1
2/11/14 10:09 AM
February 13, 2014 | Vol. 25, Issue 44
The new Oak Park In the ’80s I attended Sacramento High School, a public school located in the heart of Oak Park. Back then, the neighborhood was known as a rough part of town—a ghetto rife with crime and blight. While I saw plenty evidence of such—ramshackle houses, prostitutes, not-so-covert gang activity—I also saw a different side to Sacramento’s oldest suburb. Our high-school principal lived near the school and often talked fondly of her home and neighbors. Sometimes my friends and I took a walk at lunch, admiring the tidy mom-and-pop businesses and cute, well-maintained bungalows, rich with beautiful, historical architectural detail. We ate lunch at a nearby Chinese-food restaurant, bought junk food from the corner convenience mart, and sometimes skipped school to hang out and smoke cigarettes in front of the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. plant. It felt like home. Decades later, Oak Park still encompasses a complicated identity, perhaps even more so as gentrification encroaches. Writer Lovelle Harris chronicles its ongoing transformation in this week’s Feature Story (“Oak Park’s new kicks,” page 14). Harris reports on the impact of The Broadway Triangle, a multimilliondollar housing and retail project, currently under construction at 35th Street and Broadway. And a new watering hole, the Oak Park Brewing Company, will soon open nearby. The area also boasts a popular, independent cafe and, from spring through fall, a bustling farmers market. It’s an exciting time, but one that also raises questions, not just about safety, but also about affordability and whether such changes will actually help the neighborhood shake its sketchy reputation. I’m eager to see how Oak Park evolves. A place so rich in history deserves significant economic progress, while its longtime residents deserve a neighborhood that still feels like home.
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â€œToby Keith in Mountain View right after September 11.â€?
Asked at The Distillery in Midtown:
Which concert changed your life?
I saw [the Vans] Warped Tour when I was barely in high school. My parents werenâ€™t there, so it was the first taste of freedom. I think the Mighty Mighty Bosstones were there. It was in San Francisco on Piers 30-32. The sunburn was one of the worst parts. My friend created a sticker bra out of free stickers.
I saw Journey and Peter Frampton in Marysville in eighth grade. It was pretty badass. I was 13 or 14. Me and my buddy sat up front. His parents had another seat somewhere else. They let us sit up front and do our own thing. Of course, Peter Frampton stole the show from Journey.
I saw the Up in Smoke Tour at [Arco Arena]. It was crazy. I was in high school, maybe 16 or so. Dr. Dre was the best act of the night. He lit it up. Of course, Eminem was good, right when he was first blowing up. ... The whole thing was lit up with marijuana, all lit up with smoke.
Toby Keith in Mountain View in 2002 right after September 11. He put on an amazing show. He kept you engaged whether you liked country music or not. At the end, because heâ€™s a very patriotic kind of guy, he rolled out these huge American flags and played one of his patriotic songs. It was pretty intense.
county library worker
I went to a Kreayshawn show called the Group Hug Tour in Chico, and I was right at the stage. She touched my hand. When I went to talk to her, she remembered me from a different concert. She knew who I was. And I was the first person to get my picture taken with her.
I went to Las Vegas for a rave. I really donâ€™t remember who was playing, but there was loud music, a lot of lights, and it was all dark. It was amazing. Everybody has that point in their life where they just stop and realize what life is for a second. ... I remember that moment. Thatâ€™s what itâ€™s all about.
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Jesus is my Uber co-pilot Re “The new cabbie” by Nick Miller (SN&R 15 Minutes, February 6): Kudos to Syed Hussain, an Uber driver and a Muslim, for saying that if he could have anyone for a passenger, he would choose Jesus. He would ask Jesus if there is a way to LETTER OF stop Christians and THE WEEK Muslims from hating each other, especially because the two religions are pretty similar. Right! Why can’t we all live together and respect each other? Mary Groesbeck
S acr am en t o
Health-care reform not working for everyone? Re “Got it covered” by Alastair Bland (SN&R News, February 6): Medi-Cal is a joke. They can only enroll you in “Obamacare,” but they are not telling people that it does not
work. We are a family of four. Our income is $2,040 per month. Due to several health issues, I am unable to work at this time and am unable to access treatment due to the almost $800-a-month share of cost through Medi-Cal. I am 50 years old and a blue-collar guy who has paid taxes since I was 16. The Affordable Care Act says I should be fully covered under the new laws. But all “MediDumb” can say—on the phone every day for almost three months—is that I have a share of cost. They can’t even follow their own guidelines for ACA. I would like a lifetime tax refund so I can pay for my family’s medical care without assistance, because we could be dead by the time California is done stealing the money provided in their agreement with the federal government to provide health care. Mark Montalbano Carmichael
Show her your sexpert credentials
When it comes to sex, everybody’s an expert. Even a 24-year-old Mormon girl from Sacramento. After reading this article, I couldn’t help but wonder what makes her an “expert”? YouTube? Are you kidding? P.S. Has she ever been pregnant? Had a venereal disease? What does she have to say about anal sex? Jenny d’Heurle Colfax
HOW CAN MIDTOWN BE SAFER?
Lighting! We have street lamps in our midtown neighborhood (win!), but none of them work (fail). Crystal Janes
v ia Fa c e b o o k More cops on bikes. Tyler Spriggs
Don’t ignore poverty
v ia Fa c e b o o k
Re “What would Jesus say?” by Jeff vonKaenel (SN&R Greenlight, February 6): Well put, Jeff. Too often, Christians don’t look at what clergy call the “full counsel” of the scriptures. They pick and choose which ones they want to apply to their ethics and ignore the ones about sacrificially serving the poor and needy because these would impact their lifestyle. Fr. Joshua Lickter Roseville
Community oriented policing. If everyone in the community looks out for each other we wouldn’t have so many issues I’m regards to safety. Jorge Esquivel
v ia Fa c e b o o k Is there a way to encourage late night visitors to park in paid lots along the well-lit business corridors instead of the residential neighborhoods? William Burg Batman.
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F OOD PAIRINGS
Concealed carry permits for everyone Bryan Stevens
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Online Buzz contributions are not edited for grammar, spelling or clarity.
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$30 million tunnel See NEWS
Sac chamber politics See GREENLIGHT
DeWane Law (left) and his probation officer Travis Braden are enjoying new successes after difficult stretches for both local offenders and the people supervising them.
PHOTO BY STEVEN CHEA
Laramie, Granite Bay
New philosophy drives embattled agency’s image makeover DeWane Law slides into a weathered red booth on a canopied patio just outside the north Sacramento diner where his wife works. The 42-year-old, with bushy brown hair by and the rubbery crags of a recovering Raheem F. Hosseini addict, is bundled in a jacket that swallows his ropy torso. ra h eemh@ The previous week, just down the street newsr eview.c om at one of the Sacramento County Probation Department’s Adult Day Reporting Centers, Law was one of 50 people feted for earning his GED certificate and completing an offender-rehabilitation program. Relatively soon, he will begin training with the U.S. Forest Service to become a firefighter, a passion he discovered while chasing 30-foot flames up rugged mountains in a state prison conservation camp several months ago. “I can’t wait,” Law enthused. “I’m one of those people who, when I’m learning, I’m excited.” The chatty father of five vividly recalls the first time he informed his probation officer of his newfound career plans. “You might say he was skeptical of my intentions,” Law cracked. “I told him, ‘You don’t understand. This is different for me. I am never, ever going back to that.’” In the not-so-old days, a jaded P.O. might have dismissed such assurances from a repeat offender like Law. Instead, Law said that Sacramento County probation officer Travis Braden helped him square his post-custody requirements with a busy community-college schedule. On January 30—before a crowded room of graduates and their whooping supporters—Braden did something else unheard of for law enforcement: He admitted he was wrong. Welcome to the new and improving probation department. For decades, the lawenforcement agency’s practice of violating offenders for small infractions only worsened local recidivism figures. Then, local lawsuits and state-prison overcrowding exploded the criminal-justice landscape and forced probation to look into the abyss. Twenty-eight months later, the department has embraced two sea-changing epiphanies: Not only can criminals change, but so can it.
whack at a straight life, Sacramento’s probation department has endured its own crucible of missteps, controversies and doubters: Reeling from years of declining budgets and nasty internal politics, a massive “realignment” of state prisoners to local counties in October 2011 only magnified the department’s struggles. Former probation chiefs waged public disputes with the sheriff and county supervisors over control of a local corrections panel. Internally, the department was riven by unpopular administrations that preferred “management by fear,” said Greg Stuber, president of the Sacramento County Probation Association. And the department endured mounting criticism for using its share of state realignment funding on staffing its three reporting centers—billed as resource-heavy hubs for offenders— with ill-equipped employees instead of community providers with evidence-based curricula. “The early iteration of the [reporting centers] were largely staffed by our own people,” acknowledged Lee Seale, chief probation officer of Sacramento County. “It was a little like a restaurant on opening night. The intentions were there, but—” Among the department’s most vocal critics were the founders of Ascend, a criminal-rehabilitation program with low recidivism figures and widespread political support. “This time last year, we couldn’t get a meeting,” Ascend co-founder Christine Morse Galves told SN&R. But now, Ascend has its own offender program at the reporting center on Florin Perkins Road. So, what happened?
Carrots, not sticks
law-enforcement leaders and reaching out to onetime opponents like Ascend. Seale also improved relations with front-line staff, according to Stuber. So far, the new chief has kept his word to reward “the best idea, regardless of rank,” Stuber said. That inside-outside approach seems to be helping staff buy into a more progressive role that emphasizes social work over probation raids. Much of that work occurs at the department’s three reporting centers, once derided for being shells inside which little aid was offered. A total of 2,020 clients have passed through the centers. While only 289 have graduated programs, most of those occurred in the past year. Officials say it took time to build the necessary programs and staff the centers with case managers and other outside-service providers. During a recent tour of the center on Del Paso Boulevard, probation brass cheerfully talked up efforts that have nothing to do with badges or handcuffs. Bays, an admitted student of the hook-’em-andbook-’em school of law enforcement, said a new contract with Northern California Construction Training had already landed two probationers high-paying union jobs. Bays is also looking to help offenders get their suspended driver’s licenses back so they can get to school, work and counseling without breaking the law. “It used to be, if you committed a technical violation, you’d go to jail. There was no other option,” Bays said. The challenge now, he added, is to figure out, “How can you address the [negative] behaviors without destroying what they built up?”
explain her phoenixlike rise from the ashes. “Started from the bottom, now we’re here!” Angela Johnson called to her fellow graduates, booming with cheers. Like many, Johnson was initially reluctant to trust any program or person she encountered through probation. “I thought, ‘What does this drug and alcohol lady think she can teach me?’” she sassed. Johnson skipped class, so her P.O. rewarded her with a five-day “resort” stay at the main jail. Needless to say, Johnson changed her mind. “OK, I guess I am going to do this,” she recounted to a chortling crowd. Eventually, Johnson said, her counselor and P.O. became confidantes, listening to her relationship problems, calling her on her bullshit and helping her find employment. “All the work you guys did with me, it will not be in vain,” she vowed. “Because I am forever moving forward.” Standing beside the door, one of the probation staffers wiped tears. “I’ve not seen that at probation before,” Morse Galves remarked. Bays was himself skeptical that probation was the right venue to institute serious life changes in Sacramento’s criminal population. The ceremonies convinced him. “These graduations are probably the most feel-good thing I’ve ever been a part of,” he said. The ceremonies and the months of work they represent seem to have revived two vastly different, but inextricably linked communities. “They’ve never been the person to get awarded, to get chosen, to get the recognition. This is it,” Seale said of the graduating probationers. Morse Galves said the same thing about the probation department. Ω
A needed “cultural change,” in the words of Michael Bays, the adult-probation division chief. For Bays, Seale and their uppermanagement colleagues, that meant first breaking through their own cynicism when it came to repeat offenders like Law. “Changing lives is hard,” Seale told SN&R. “It’s much easier to put people behind bars and forget about them.” Eight months ago, that rap about changing cultures and lives was little Identity crises more than politically correct lip service. That was before Seale, a state corrections On the surface, Law the criminal and official with no past probation experience, Braden the officer have little in common. was appointed to the county department But, in reality, they represent flip sides of over Suzanne Collins, a two-time interim a coin that’s in the same criminal-justice chief opposed by her union. The relatively jackpot. And both need each other to claw Fates interwined young Seale quickly set about overhaulout of it. Inside a packed gray room, one of ing probation’s negative public image, Like Law, a convicted methamphetSacramento’s lost causes quoted Drake to rebuilding fractured alliances with fellow amine trafficker taking his umpteenth | N E W S | F E A T U R E S T O R Y | A R T S & C U L T U R E | A F T E R | 02.13.14
PURSUE YOUR PASSION
by SN&R staff
SCORE KEEPER THINK FREE.
Sacramento’s winners and losers—with arbitrary points
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The rent is too low
Remember former Sacramento City Council candidate Joe Yee? Who lost to Steve Hansen? Well, Yee got dinged with a $7,000 fine by the Fair Political Practices Commission this week for not paying sufficient rent for his campaign headquarters. At the time, back in the fall of 2012, a Yee spokesperson had told SN&R everything was kosher with the rent. Guess not. Bonus minus points for another $1,000 fine for Mayor Kevin Johnson, this time for inappropriately declaring “behest” donations from Wal-Mart founders’ Walton Family Foundation.
Early this past Sunday morning, at 12:46 a.m., a woman was peppersprayed in an attempted robbery near G and 26th streets in Midtown. According to city police Lt. Marc Coopwood, “the victim was walking from her sister’s apartment when she was approached by a male subject who attempted to grab her purse. The victim resisted and was pepper sprayed by the suspect.” That’s right: The suspect ended up pepper-spraying the victim. Police are also investigating two other assaults against women in Midtown this past week.
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The rain issue
Kudos to … SN&R! We published our drought cover story last week— and, after months of zero precipitation, in came the biggest storm in more than a year. You’re welcome.
In a move intended only to bolster its own Q rating, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry announced last week that it is against giving medical marijuana to kids. Way to take a stand there, docs. The academy claimed remarks President Barack Obama made about taking a wait-and-see approach to recreational legalization in Colorado and Washington forced its hand, but that’s a lot of skunky smoke. AACAP just wanted some headlines. Does this suffice?
+ 95815 8 | SN&R | 02.13.14
McKinley Village debate zeroes in on nearly $30 million tunnel This month, the debate over whether to build 300-plus single-family homes on a slice of land just north of East by Sacramento all comes down to if Nick Miller the developer will—or even can— nic kam@ construct a multimillion-dollar newsre view.c om passageway under a Midtown railroad track. The project, McKinley Village, earned a favorable draft environmental-impact report last year, which stated that traffic impacts would be manageable, and a
“He’s laying a considerable amount of traffic in our backyard, and we’re saying ‘Help us fix this Phil,’ and he’s not doing a thing to make it happen,” Finley wrote in an email. As now planned, there are only two ways people can access the new neighborhood: at 40th and C streets in East Sac, and at 28th and B streets in Midtown. This has existing residents worried that traffic will be too burdensome, what with the additional PHOTO BY NICK MILLER
Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt said that the company is “still working through the design phase of the project” and does not have an estimated cost for building a vehicle tunnel. Finley with Neighbors for Smart Growth hopes that pressure from city leaders will lead to more vehicle access to McKinley. “If the City Council compelled him to make it happen, we know he could and would make access at Alhambra and Lanatt [Street in East Sacramento] a reality,” Finley wrote. Councilman Steve Cohn asked city staff to analyze whether a smaller, single-lane road could be built under the tracks without having to do the pricey train bypass.
“There should be three access points, that way, no particular neighborhood takes a huge traffic hit.” thumbs-up for the local chamber of commerce this past week. But residents still have submitted hundreds of pages of comments and concerns on the draft EIR, and just about as many upset neighbors showed up at a community meeting last week to speak out against the project. Now, the neighborhood groups are getting laser-focused. The No. 1 issue now is traffic, and they’re asking developer Phil Angelides to build a third roadway access to the Village: a tunnel at Alhambra Boulevard underneath the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. Neighbors United for Smart Growth, a coalition of residents, argue that Alhambra Boulevard is a much more logical option for access to McKinley Village instead of East Sacramento’s narrow streets, where children often travel to school and back. But spokesman Rob Finley is frustrated that Angelides hasn’t stepped up to assuage neighbors’ traffic conerns.
Residents want developer Phil Angelides to build a third vehicle-access point to McKinley Village at Alhambra Boulevard and B Street. They say it will ease the impact of some 3,500 daily car trips through their neighborhood.
700 cars passing through their streets every day, they argue. Enter a third, two-lane roadway to drive to and from McKinley, on Alhambra Boulevard at B Street. “It just always seems like there should be three access points, that way, no particular neighborhood takes a huge traffic hit,” is how Julie Murphy, co-chairwoman of Midtown’s Marshall School/ New Era Park Neighborhood Association, put it. The kicker, however, is that building a tunnel underneath the Union Pacific tracks would, according to both city and private estimates, cost at least $28.6 million. Most of this is because Union Pacific will not stop trains for construction, a fact it confirmed to SN&R. This means a “shoofly” must be built to temporarily reroute all trains. Angelides said doing this is “completely economically unfeasible”—and, he added, a “nonstarter.”
F E AT U R E
Julie Murphy co-chairwoman, Marshall School/ New Era Park Neighborhood Association In the meantime, Angelides is moving forward with a still expensive, state-of-the-art bike and pedestrian tunnel in lieu of vehicle access. He said it will have multicolor LED lights that will enliven what would typically be a shadowy pedestrian tunnel. Neighbors question if the McKinley Village team will actually follow through with this bike-ped tunnel plan; they cite that, according to the draft EIR, Union Pacific has yet to grant Angelides’ team permission. The developer insists that he is totally committed to the idea. “We, on our own, said, ‘Let’s see if we can get approval for a bike-ped tunnel.’ We would like to get it built. But it’s not approved until U.P. approves it,” he told SN&R. And, until it is, the tunnel will remain the most contentious one this side of the Sacramento Delta. Ω
| A R T S & C U L T U R E
Wine whine Winemakers are stressing about the drought more than beer brewers. Even with last week’s late-season deluge, consumers could see higher prices, either because more expensive water could increase the cost of winemaking or because of a lower fruit yield. Or, more likely, both. According to Sacramento’s Revolution Wines winemaker Craig Haarmeyer, the immediate concern is early bud break—vines could start blossoming in the next month or so. “There are many techniques we can employ to compensate for that, but none are too appealing,” Haarmeyer said. “And if there is fruit hanging and we get late rain, then there’s mold and mildew. And for producers like us who don’t want mildew on anything, that means we’re going to be biting the bullet and having to spray stuff in the vineyard. “In a month, we’ll have a better idea how much trouble we’re in,” he said. (Janelle Bitker)
Deposed and exposed A 2010 lawsuit alleging unsafe staffing levels within the Sacramento County Probation Department could see depositions this month, said Greg Stuber, president of the Sacramento County Probation Association. The association and Crime Victims United of California filed the lawsuit against the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors four years ago this May. Plaintiffs claim the county “so drastically” reduced funding for the department that it’s unable to adequately supervise tens of thousands of adult probationers exiting custody or serving out alternative sentences. “We can’t fulfill our mandated court orders,” Stuber told SN&R. He said the department is down 150 probation officers from 2009, when the recession hit. The roughly 23,000 adult probationers who are here now are largely unsupervised, at about a 9 percent rate. Probation officials acknowledge that the majority of these probationers are low-risk offenders. Recent studies say supervision of low-risk offenders can actually increase recidivism. Stuber hopes as the economy turns that the county will allocate more funds to probation, but said the lawsuit remains “alive.” (Raheem F. Hosseini)
City Hall shuffle Dry rot, an outdated electrical system and plumbing issues are a few reasons why Citrus Heights officials believe City Hall is long overdue for a move and makeover. But a proposal to demolish and relocate its civic center in favor of a new medical office sparked concerns at a recent public forum. As of now, city-owned property on Antelope Road between Auburn and Sunrise boulevards is officials’ preferred site for City Hall. Dignity Health, a California-based medical corporation, has offered to finance construction of a three-story medical structure and enter into a 15-year lease with the city. According to community and economic development director Rhonda Sherman, the money generated over time will fund construction of the City Hall project. The offices would also provide higher-paying jobs and increased medical-service opportunities in internal medicine and rheumatology through 50 new providers, she said. Besides concerns of City Hall’s relocation, residents raised questions about the fate of its award-winning rose garden and a koi pond. A public forum is scheduled for Wednesday, February 19, at the community center located at 6300 Fountain Square Drive in Citrus Heights. Although Sherman said cost estimates and plans for the City Hall proposal are still in the formation process, the city council’s ultimate decision is expected in early summer. (Steph Rodriguez)
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Laramie, Granite Bay High-school students in conservative, religious Placer County tackle Matthew Shepard’s story Even though he was savagely beaten to death 16 years ago for being gay, I’ve been thinking a lot about Matthew by Becky Grunewald Shepard lately. If you don’t know about his tragic story, go ahead and Wiki it. I’ll wait. His was a touchstone story in my life, and it brought me to tears at the time—one of a handful of moments a news story about a stranger has done this. I have driven through Wyoming once, and it was pretty much the only thing that came to mind, besides the wild beauty. I will never look at a prairie-style “buck fence” without thinking of Shepard tied to one while his life drained away.
The unusual thing about this particular performance was that it was being done at Granite Bay High School. The biggest reason he’s been in my thoughts is because the sister of a friend, Zeina Barkawi—who went to boarding school with Shepard—is the producer of a new documentary Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine. I can’t recommend it enough. It is a beautiful tribute, and one that caused me to bring an image of Shepard smiling to my head as readily as the image of him crucified on a fence. That movie made me fully lose it, and, as a nonparent, it’s the closest I have ever come to feeling what it would be like to lose a child. That same friend invited me to a performance of a well-known play about Shepard titled The Laramie Project. The unusual thing about this particular performance was that it was being done at Granite Bay High School, which is located in a conservative, religious community. Sadly, this theatrical run, which ended on February 8, became briefly famous because of a tweet by Fred Phelps Jr., stating that the
hate-mongering Westboro Baptist Church was planning to picket it. These are the same ogres who picketed Shepard’s funeral, brandishing their infamous “god hates fags” signs. The student director of the Granite Bay production, Alexa Zogopoulos, a poised and polished 17-year-old, said that the threat of a protest actually helped garner support in the community. Some parents had initially been vocal about their reservations, but after that tweet, none wanted to be associated with the hateful church. Only one Phelps-related protestor came “for about 20 minutes,” she said, and a Sacramento LGBT group sent 150 counterprotesters, which co-director Perry Vargas said was a “beautiful moment.” After the stirring, accomplished performance of this challenging play—in which 14 actors took on almost 50 roles, Zogopoulos said that all three student directors brought the idea to their theater teacher because they felt the play was “bigger than us.” At my small-town high school in the early ’90s, there was not a single out student, and those suspected of being gay were targets for bullying. Twenty years have made a difference, thankfully: Both directors said that not only do they have some out students, there is also a Gay-Straight Alliance club on campus—although they said that the production has been a target of stray comments, and that “gay slurs get thrown around” occasionally. The last scene of The Laramie Project is Matthew’s father Dennis Shepard’s eloquent speech, word for word, which he gave in court after his son’s death, explaining why his family had decided to spare his murderers’ lives. As the young actor recited those heartwrenching words, many in the audience wiped away tears. Perhaps that’s the best tribute to Matthew Shepard of all. Ω
Whirled class Sacramento city schools keep losing students and funding as teacher-contract negotiations kick off Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget promises an increase in funding for the Sacramento City Unified School District, but district officials are predicting more austerity. Not coincidentally, contract negotiations with the district’s teachers are about to get started. The district wants to cut retiree health benefits and build reserves. Teachers and parents want smaller class sizes. So does arvin Brown: His school-finance-reform plan, by CoSmo G the Local Control Funding Formula, cos mog@ n ewsrev iew.c om requires districts to reduce class sizes to 24 students. Right now, Sac city schools have 31 students per class in the lower grades, 32 in kindergarten. District leaders say they can’t afford smaller classes. “There is no feasible way for the district to get to 24 to 1 without going bankrupt,” said Ken Forrest, the district’s chief business officer. But can the district really afford not to reduce class sizes? It’s losing money because it is losing students. It’s losing students, in part, to suburban districts and to charter schools, where class sizes are smaller. If you look at Forrest’s budget projections, the district stands to gain under LCFF—which favors districts with high numbers of poor, minority and English-learner students. But those gains are largely erased by declining funding due to losses in enrollment. The dwindling student body cost the district $5 million this year, and is predicted to cost another $7 million next year. Enrollment has dropped by about 10 percent in the last 10 years. Some of that is just changing demographics and a bad economy. The kids who weren’t born because the economy tanked in 2008 would be starting kindergarten about now. Many parents moved out of the area for better job prospects. But some wounds are self-inflicted. In 2002-2003, charter schools accounted for less than 2 percent of enrollment. Last year, charters had 10.5 percent of district enrollment and are expected to reach 11.3 percent this school year. That hurts the district’s bottom line, because the per-pupil funding from the state goes with the student to the charter. This is not meant to open the whole debate about charter schools— some are better than others. (And the usual disclosure here: Bites is married to a SCUSD teacher and is generally pro-public education.) But there’s no debating that charters impact the district budget. While overall enrollment has dipped 10 percent in the last decade, once charter schools are figured in, it’s about an 18 percent drop in the same period. Last year’s school-closure debacle hurt enrollment as well. The district has been averaging about 10 percent loss of students to other districts and charter schools each year. (The total drop in enrollment each year is smaller, because new students are coming into the BEFORE
F E AT U R E
district as others leave.) At the seven schools targeted for closure last year, that number was slightly higher, with about 11 percent of students leaving the district. Part of the problem was that Fruit Ridge Elementary lost many of its students to the Spanish-immersion charter school that was started on its campus and then moved to another site. Anyway, after the school closures last summer, 14 percent of the students at those schools left the district’s rolls. As a result, the district lost about a half-million dollars more than it otherwise would have. By comparison, the district touted about $1.5 million in savings from closing the schools. To make matters worse, the enrollment trend may be accelerating. District officials are now predicting that enrollment will drop by another 1,200 students by next school year. Last year, the decline was 800 students, the year before, it was a little more than 300.
“We’re in competition. We’re losing 1,200 students a year. We’re not losing them all because of the birthrate.” Ken Forrest chief business officer Sacramento City Unified School District It has to be underlined that the big, scary drop in enrollment is being projected just as the district is sitting down to haggle with its unions. Then again, would it be so surprising for enrollment to take a dive after this period of closing neighborhood schools, steadily increasing charter enrollment and increasing class sizes? Loss of enrollment leads to budget cuts. Budget cuts leads to larger class sizes. This may drive down enrollment more because, after all, charter schools and nearby suburban districts have smaller class sizes. And though the research on the effectiveness of smaller class sizes is mixed, we do know that parents want them, and they vote with their feet. More information is needed. The district has hired an outside consultant, SCI Consulting Group, to dig deeper into the enrollment woes. But even the guy who says we can’t afford to reduce class sizes acknowledges they may be part of the problem. “We’re in competition. We’re losing 1,200 students a year. We’re not losing them all because of the birthrate,” said Forest. Ω
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12 | SN&R | 02.13.14
It’s just business
The honchos at the Sacramento Metro Chamber want to flex their political muscle. At his inaugural speech, incoming chamber president and Five Star Bank CEO James Beckwith told the overflow, black-tie requested, Sacramento Convention Center crowd that the chamber of commerce should play a bigger political role in Sacramento. He encouraged the membership to give generously to the chamber’s PAC fund. Over the last two years, under the leadership of former Republican Assemblyman Roger Niello and his longtime political ally Dennis Rogers, l by Jeff VonKaene the chamber has steadily become more politically active. Is this a good idea? j e ffv @n e wsr e v ie w.c o m I am a member and strong supporter of the Metro Chamber. The chamber does important work that benefits the business community and the community at large. Its many successful events, such as the Dinner & Business Awards, provide avenues for business networking. The Metro Edge program connects younger members through networking, empowerment and giving back to the community. The annual Capitol-to-Capitol Program sends hundreds of Sacramentans to Washington, D.C., to make The recent Sacramento the case for federal investment Metro Chamber’s in Sacramento. And the Next Economy project brought ill-advised backing together leaders from governof Cordova Hills is a ment, business and nonprofits strategize ways to create perfect example of how to jobs and economic growth in playing politics will split our region. Metro Chamber members the chamber. have a wide variety of political viewpoints, but they have been able to work together on these many important efforts. As opposed to the California or the United States Chamber of Commerce, individuals who disagreed about political issues could work comfortably together under the nonpartisan umbrella. But now, that could all change. The recent Metro Chamber’s ill-advised backing of the leapfrog 8,000-home suburban Cordova Hills development project is a perfect example of how playing politics will split the chamber. Among the chamber’s members there are environmentalists, green businesses and progressive developers who are trying to build environmentally friendly infill urbanhousing projects. While the Cordova Hills project may be good business for a small group of developers, it is certainly not an issue that will unite the chamber. The dangers of a politically active chamber have been demonstrated by the California and United States chambers. The California Chamber of Commerce’s active role in opposing Gov. Jerry Brown’s election did not help California businesses. The United States’ chamber has promoted a Jeff vonKaenel political agenda for energy companies, pharmaceutical busiis the president, nesses and the health-insurance industry. It denies the reality CEO and of climate change and defends our unworkable health-care majority owner of the News & Review system, all for the benefit of a few big donors. It is a national newspapers in disgrace. Unlike these organizations, the Metro Chamber is Sacramento, an important business and community asset. NEWS & REVIEW BUSINES Chico and Reno. There is nothing wrong with business leaders being ISSUE DATE DESIGNER engaged in the political process. There are plenty AL of organi06.18.09 FILE NAME zations and campaigns that will happily accept their money. If Roger Niello and Dennis Rogers wantTRINITYCATHEDRAL061809R1 to get back into politics, they should, but they should not take the Metro USP (BOLD SELECTI Chamber with them. Ω PRICE / ATMOSPHERE / EXPE
PLEASE CAREFULLY REV ADVERTISEMENT AND VERIFY T
AD SIZE (COLUMNS X INCHES) SPELLING
THIS MODERN WORLD
BY TOM TOMORROW
Rebuild TRUSD There’s really no excuse for the current state of the Twin Rivers Unified School District. It’s been one scandal after another, starting with the out-of-control district police department that made headlines two years ago, moving through the disaster that has been the tenure of Twin Rivers Unified School District trustee Cortez Quinn, and wrapping up with the recent news that, while students wrapped themselves in coats, blankets and even sleeping bags, the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units necessary to keep their classrooms at the correct temperature for learning were gathering dust in warehouses—and costing money to store. If it were possible to give school-board trustees and administrators detention, this would be the time. At press time, Quinn had just returned to the board following a 90-day voluntary suspension. He remains under indictment on several felony and misdemeanor counts, some of which involve financial impropriety. The board has no power to fire him; so far, he has refused to resign. The only option left is for the voters to recall him. The neighborhood has made remarkable strides in engaging community members to improve the appearance and the reality of life in north Sacramento. Now, we need to make sure that our children and youth are being properly educated in safe buildings. This is not optional. All the work being done to improve this community is for naught if our kids’ needs aren’t being met. Ω
Ignore the health-care spin A recent report by the Congressional Budget Office to work full-time for the insurance and able to estimates that up to 2.5 million workers may raise children at home. (Family values, right by choose to cut back their hours or leave work Republicans?) Or what about the people who Kel Munger entirely once they no longer need full-time have long wanted to start their own businesses employment to qualify for health insurance. but couldn’t because they wouldn’t be able to Thus far, the spin has been extremely lopsided. afford coverage? Health-care deniers made hay of the CBO’s Those possibilities are every bit as valid as projections, saying the numbers proved that the pundits’ rush to assume the worst—that President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act the Affordable Care Act is killing jobs. The is bad for the economy. Worse, they were aided headlines would have us believe those estimated by a parroting media that 2.5 million jobs will just disapdidn’t check the details. pear once vacated, rather than be Cheap-labor The health-insurance filled by people who are seeking exchanges set up as part conservatives work. Instead, it looks like the of the ACA are making opposite might happen. Not would rather have it possible to have only will the currently unemsick people go comprehensive health ployed fill the jobs that people care without also having leave—the economy may even without care than an employer who makes experience further stimulation let workers choose it relatively affordable. from workers who are no longer That’s not only fantastic shackled to jobs they hate but when and how for the self-employed and keep for the benefits. they work. An online version of this the previously uninsurOf course, that’s the scenario essay can be found at able, but for Americans that truly frightens the cheapwww.newsreview.com/ labor conservatives who’d rather have sick sacramento/ who were apparently working more for the pageburner/blogs. coverage than the cash. people go without care than let workers choose As for those who are scaling back or quitting when and how they work. their jobs? It’s unlikely that they’re all lazy goldIt will take time and research to truly know brickers. Instead, they’re likely to be people who which explanations are in play, and in what were putting off retirement because they needed combinations. For now, though, it looks as if the the insurance. Or they might be second-income ACA is doing exactly what it’s intended to do: earners in a young family, now freed of the need insuring people who need it. Ω BEFORE
F E AT U R E
A RT S & C U LT U R E
It seems like a long time since Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor, presiding over an era of gridlock, overdue budgets and multibillion-dollar deficits. As his successor, Jerry Brown has done much to reverse the harms done by the flamboyant and autocratic actor. But there is at least one important holdover from the Schwarzenegger era that Brown needs to address. A secret policy put in place during the Schwarzenegger administration and continuing under Brown gives the governor the power to veto employment-discrimination claims against public agencies without explanation or disclosure. The practice, recently revealed in a state legislative report, effectively handcuffs the Department of Fair Employment and Housing in public-agency cases and deprives public employees of equal treatment before the law. The purpose of the review, what standards are applied and how many claims have been denied by governor’s veto have yet to be disclosed. What is clear is that the policy has resulted in a suspiciously steep decline in claims against public agencies, which accounted for 15 percent of DFEH enforcement actions before the policy took effect in 2008, but only 1 percent last year. We can understand how the Governator might have liked the idea of dismissing sexual harassment, retaliation and other workplace-discrimination claims with a wave of his pen. But Brown, a graduate of Yale Law School and former clerk to the California Supreme Court, should have more respect for due process and the state’s labor laws. The governor should take immediate action to rescind this discriminatory practice. Ω |
Scaffolding will come down Soon on the $12 million Broadway triangle mixeduSe development in oak park. reSidentS and neighBorhood advocateS hope it will ignite change in the community. 14 | SN&R | 02.13.14
Millions of investment dollars, new housing, restaurants, even a brewery will arrive in the troubled neighborhood. Can Oak Park escape its ‘ghetto’ stigma? And will revitalization work for the old-school residents?
PhOtOS & StORy by Lovelle Harris
ne evening, on a stroll with her faithful pooch, a prostitute came running at Melody Hernandez with the fury of a mama bear protecting its cub. Scared and confused, she braced for the worst. But the woman charging at her wasn’t looking to get into fisticuffs; she was just trying to scare off a john who had been following her. This went down when Hernandez first moved to Oak Park. But the drug deals, hookers and even a close encounter with a would-be stalker didn’t deter her from making the ’hood her home.
“Weird how you just get used to it,” she said. The plucky Latina, a former merchant mariner, also said the dealing and prostitution has “died down a lot” in recent years. “It’s a great community that is close to everything and has great gems—not just houses or shops, but the crazy interesting people that make it lively,” she said. “Oak Park feels alive.” Now, it’s also in a state of transformation. A cadre of entrepreneurially minded locals is working to help Oak Park ascend from the ashes as the neglected and sketchy cousin of Curtis Park and Land Park into a hub of urban life and culture. On Broadway near 35th Street, a multimillion-dollar housing and retail project, called The Broadway Triangle, and a new brewery and restaurant hope to ignite an economic spark in Oak Park.
“OAK PARK’S NEW KICKS” BEFORE
F E AT U R E
| A R T S & C U L T U R E
continued on page 16
Love and change
“oAK pArK’s neW KicKs”
continued from page 15
in oAK pArK A resident looks at her neighborhood’s evolution
he renaissance of north Oak Park began in 2006, when neighborhood activism led to the closure of a liquor store that was magnet for crime. It infected the surrounding neighborhood with darkness, and without that accomplishment, there would be no Broadway Triangle project and no farmers market today.
About that same time, I was trying to save up to buy a home. “But what’s the point?” I thought. “I can only afford to buy a house in Oak Park!”
While i embrAce These chAnges, i do Worry AbouT The poorer members of This communiTy geTTing priced ouT by These neW businesses. I was familiar enough with that neighborhood; friends had been mugged and a man tried to trade me for crack outside the Pavement show at The Colonial Theatre. I was not interested. So, how did I end up living in the O.P.? A trusted friend moved there for a gorgeous Craftsman bungalow, a quarter of the price of any other neighborhood, and I followed to live in an artist’s warehouse and community space on Broadway, which was beyond hip. It was so far beyond hip, in fact, that I was constantly covered in dust, and I showered in the kitchen. During the first few months in Oak Park, I learned that waiting outside for friends to pick me up got me mistaken for a hooker. And that leaving porch lights on only led to a pop-up red-light district right outside my door. But I also realized that I loved it there. I loved the permissiveness of the neighborhood; it appealed to my Montana upbringing (read: I don’t care what you do in your
16 | SN&R | 02.13.14
backyard if you don’t care what I do in mine). I love the mix of architectural styles. I loved how everyone greeted each other on the street. It was reminiscent of the downtrodden Sacramento grid that I moved to in 1990. I had a whole new interesting neighborhood to explore. After a few years of having more space than sense, I bought a house, still on Broadway, because—you know—street cred. Strangely, one of the hookers moved eight blocks down the street with me. She is still at the bus stop in front of my house. When I first took possession of my new digs, a neighbor stopped by to have a weighty conversation. She said, “There are a lot of hookers on this block. We like them,” while looking at me pointedly. When I told her I had lived just down the street for the last two years and that I didn’t care, she looked relieved and welcomed me to the neighborhood. Don’t take this to mean that my neighbors and I don’t care about our block. We do. But the hookers are part of it. We watch out for them, and they watch out for us: It’s a symbiotic relationship. I think the increase in traffic scares the real criminals away, but I still do occasionally get cruised by johns. Honestly, very little has happened, about equal to the weirdness I dealt with on 27th and H streets for eight years. Lots has changed in the years I have lived here, such as having a locally owned, comfortable coffee shop that serves good beer scant blocks from my house; an excellent building being erected by a developer that knows why Oak Park is special; and a farmers market, where we all get together and feel blessed because we know we are in on a great secret. And, most importantly, the layers have been peeled off the ugly, vacant Main Event Beauty Complex, exposing a lovely building that is soon to be home of the Oak Park Brewing Company. There are not enough exclamation points in the world. While I embrace these changes, I do worry about the poorer members of this community getting priced out by these new businesses. Is gentrification more important than community? It would be unfair to fill The Broadway Triangle with boutiques and expensive restaurants that only cater to the new, more affluent residents. Oak Park is not Midtown, nor should it be. I just hope we can maintain the diversity of the neighborhood while heading full tilt into the future.
—Guphy Gustafson an Oak Park resident going on eight years
Triangle developer Ron Vrilakas said he wants to inspire a vibrant, 24-hour urban neighborhood where people are drawn to live, dine, shop and work—like it once was, he said. Vrilakas isn’t alone. A new brewery, Oak Park Brewing Company, is nearing completion. A restaurant, Arthur Henry’s Supper Club & Ruby Room, recently opened. And neighborhood anchors like Old Soul Co. and Naked Coffee Roasting have been going strong for years. But there’s still that “ghetto” stigma. And Hernandez and other neighbors share concerns about this latest effort to revitalize the neighborhood. Will the new development bring more of what Oak Park needs, like access to grocery stores and community services? Or will it be another fits-and-starts stab at gentrification? Hernandez is excited by the new Triangle, but she’s “worried they are going to make it too fancy-pants and fail,” she said. “Failing sucks for everybody.”
Not a ghetto The facade of a once-stately Victorian crumbles in decay. Its dentils, columns and cornice sag in remembrance of their former ornate glory. Down the street, in an alleyway teeming with vestiges from living, dining and bedrooms past, a smattering of latex castoffs from sexual liaisons scatter about the pavement. This was the state of Oak Park for decades—a once heralded enclave of affluence and social activism slowly declined into a forest of foreclosed homes, shuttered businesses and vacant lots after a mass exodus in the 1960s, when many of the well-heeled
class sought residence in inexpensive suburban tract homes. It was more than 150 years ago that Oak Park emerged as the first suburb of Sacramento. The neighborhood, which is broken into two sections, north and south Oak Park, today houses a combined 10,842 people. It was originally developed with an elaborate and distinct architectural style of Victorian, Craftsman and cozy bungalow homes. However, the so-called white flight devastated its economy. In their place arose a population of displaced souls who were driven out of the downtown area by urban renewal, many of them black. Businesses soon followed the flight, or closed down all together. And when the jobs dried up, poverty and apathy ensued— along with prostitution, drug dealing and theft. Over the decades, the neighborhood has seen its share of redevelopment starts and stalls: In the ’70s, the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency established the Oak Park Redevelopment Area and began scooping up property to rehab and restore. Much of Oak Park’s business district on 35th Street was torn down and replaced with affordable housing. Neighborhood public services, such as the library and fire station, were relocated. Many cite Mayor Kevin Johnson’s St. HOPE Academy and the SHRA as catalysts for recent redevelopment efforts, but a lot of those projects stalled and left the neighborhood wanting more. “I think Kevin Johnson had good intentions, but he spread himself too thin,” said resident Geoff Osterman, an engineer who moved from San Diego and decided to buy a home in Oak Park in 2006, after falling in love with its quaint charm. “He had too many business ventures, too many development projects going on, and he kind of lost his focus in Oak Park.”
lefTTorighT:daveesTis, chrisTopherdavis-murai andTomKarvonenrelax aTThesoon-To-be-opened oaKparKbrewingcompany. breweriesTendTodraw bigcrowdsandfamilies onweeKends,whichcould bringnewlifeTonorTh oaKparK.
But those living in Oak Park remained hopeful for change. Dave Estis, a longtime resident of Oak Park who bought his home at the height of the market eight years ago, said much of the neighborhood’s lackluster reputation is a carryover from its infamous past. “My attitude has always been, I’ve lived in a real ghetto before,” Estis said. “Oak Park’s not a ghetto. “It’s not scary, I’m not afraid of it.”
Future of Oak Park Today, Oak Park is still trying to shake off the stigma of poverty and crime. But this time, it’s different: People who actually care about the neighborhood are hell-bent on restoring its sense of community—and convincing the rest of Sacramento that their home isn’t a crimeridden ghetto and has a solid shot at economic success. Tom Karvonen and Christopher DavisMurai are working feverishly to rehabilitate a 1925 building on Broadway—which fell into a state of ruin after having lived several lives, first as a grocery store, then a printing company and, most recently, a beauty complex—into a new brewery, the Oak Park Brewing Company. “We’re going to make it better than it ever was before,” Davis-Murai said. “[Much like] the Six Million Dollar Man.” Karvonen, a home-brewer turned awardwinning brewmaster, and Davis-Murai, a respected chef in the local food scene, are just two of the enterprising stakeholders betting big on the neighborhood’s restoration to its former glory. With their new brewery’s taphouse and gastropub, the duo hopes to create an environment that’s bicycle-,
kid- and dog-friendly, and that will lure in beer and food lovers from both on and off the grid. “There’s a renaissance going on around here, and we can really help rebuild this part of the community,” Karvonen said. The brewery and its adjoining kitchen, The Thirsty Fork, won’t be open until late spring or early summer, but Karvonen and Davis-Murai are excitedly planning out the interior space and menu, which they said will draw from the neighborhood’s history—even down to the names of the brewery’s sudsy offerings, like its 35th Street Porter, Rope Swing Cream Ale and Joyland Imperial Red—a nod to the former amusement park at McClatchy Park.
the community to its former grandeur, a $12 million development—supported with a nice chunk of redevelopment funds—that aspires to re-establish the three vacant blocks on Broadway and 35th Street as the crown jewel of Oak Park. “Luckily, [Vrilakas is] doing it, so it’s going to be amazing,” said Pendarvis. “I think he’s a fucking visionary, and I guess he invested a lot of time and energy.” Pendarvis, who saw the neighborhood’s potential when he set up shop in Oak Park in 2005 and opened the Naked Coffee Roasting plant on Broadway, recently renovated the building that once housed the iconic watering hole Primo’s Swiss Club, also on Broadway.
“There’sarenaissancegoingon aroundhere,andwecanreallyhelp rebuildThisparTofThecommuniTy.” Tom Karvonen co-owner of Oak Park Brewing Company, opening this year on Broadway
Christopher Pendarvis, of Naked Coffee and who recently opened Arthur Henry’s Supper Club & Ruby Room in Oak Park, thinks Karvonen is on to something. “That guy’s ballsy, I think he’s got a vision. He’s sharp, and I think it’s going to be great.” The main event in Oak Park these days, however, is a construction zone, the product of Vrilakas’ seven-year journey to return
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The restaurant and bar, Arthur Henry’s, is swathed in red velvet and is a tribute to the neighborhood’s past. A collection of blackand-white photos of current and former Oak Park residents adorns just about every wall in the joint. He has also converted the upper levels of the building into a four-unit apartment space that was fully rented in a matter of weeks.
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“It kind of felt like a dare [to rehab the building], and I had to do it. It was pretty impromptu,” Pendarvis said. “I just had an idea for a long time and recklessly kind of did it.” Although the things are looking up for the neighborhood, the question remains: Will this latest phase of redevelopment succeed? Bolstered by the support of local leaders like Councilman Jay Schenirer of District 5 and Michael Boyd of the Oak Park Neighborhood Association, Karvonen and Davis-Murai are confident that the neighborhood is a trend worth betting on. Pendarvis agrees. “I think more people are going to come into the neighborhood. I think diversity’s good, it’s healthy, and I think the Triangle is going to be amazing. It’s going to expose Oak Park to a lot of people.” But, as many residents at a recent OPNA meeting alluded to, development money trickling into the community and new, shiny buildings aren’t going to be enough to revitalize this community. There’s upward pressure, economically, because new buildings cost money. It’s the gentrification question, and there’s no easy answer. Vrilakas believes that success will be achieved once people from the greater Sacramento area are enticed to forgo the amenities of Midtown to experience what Oak Park has to offer. But that five-block separation from the two areas has proven to be a formidable barrier. “I’ve had conversations about this, and I think in some cases it’s a simple as, ‘Do we do something or do we do nothing?’” Vrilakas said. “And we’re trying to do something that’s exceptional, but still ingrained in what makes Oak Park special.” Ω
AYL BY H ION SRAT
OSH EY D
ZEN by JULIANNA BOGGS
I’ll admit it,
ts, n a h p and c t e str odies iter r e b r wr h n a g i g s o De hot y ox: Ou searc t det ose in nmen l u so s a p lighte ke of en i r t s 18
I’m a weekend warrior when it comes to enlightenment. Usually I seek this redemption at the end of a particularly long weekend, one that requires some sort of atonement for too much alcohol and not enough sleep. This is all too apparent as I stand, drenched in flop sweat in the midst of a Power Vinyasa class at Zuda Yoga (1515 19th Street) class one Sunday, detoxing “craft cocktail” out of every pore as I struggle to still my quaking quads. My knees are locked in a position I call The Punisher but the world calls Warrior II—it’s all part of my quest to learn more about yoga in Sacramento, but right now, I’m having second thoughts as the instructor walks between other similarly grimacing students and addresses the hot and desperate room: “It’s easy to breathe deeply in a restful position, but can we take a few deep breaths when things get tough? How do you react,” he asks with a dramatic pause, “under pressure?” On cue, an assistant hits play on a stereo, and the opening notes to David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” pulses through the room, and the mass of students collectively collapses from tense poses into laughter. Here, the Power Vinyasa classes, held in heated studios, are so popular that instructions to extend your right arm to the right, “which is going to mean resting it on the person to the right’s shoulder, and extend your left leg to the left, resting it on that person to the left’s hip” are standard. “If you’re wondering what’s going to happen next, there’s going to be a lot of this,” instructor Matt Tucker
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says, but he isn’t joking, and while it’s hard to feel confident in a room full of women wearing brandname stretch pants and unironic sweat bands, a class at Zuda means getting comfortable because there’s no room not to be. This is yoga, American style, where even this most ancient of soul-seeking traditions is now clothed in spandex, promising a tighter, lifted tush. Many devotees who have seen yoga through its various incarnations since the 1970s when it first gained widespread popularity now bemoan the recent commercialization of what has become a $10.3 billion a year industry according to a 2012 “Yoga in America” study conducted by Yoga Journal. But such commercialism isn’t all bad: In today’s high-tech, overdrive environment, more than 20.4 million Americans have discovered yoga as a soul-detoxing panacea to lives rife with tweets, traffic and social anxieties. Last year, Forbes named the San Francisco Bay Area the top yoga region in the United States with residents there 59 percent more likely to practice than the national population. And the trend’s clearly expanded in Sacramento. Take a ride through almost any neighborhood, and it’s hard to ignore city blocks punctuated by yoga studios offering classes, workshops and lifestyle accouterments. Even so, I’ve often wondered what they’re really selling. How can there be so many studios in one town and are they really that different from one another? Without knowing my Vinyasa from Bikram, I dropped in on classes throughout the city to see if I could tap in to what’s captivated Sacramento. Of course, it’s difficult to do that without facing a few unsavory truths: With women making up more than 82 percent of yoga practitioners in the United States, according to the “Yoga in America” study, the “yoga body” is now marketed as aggressively as any other beauty form in mainstream media. The typical “yoga woman” we see today is slender, strong, financially successful while shunning material possessions. She may be actually glowing. It’s an ideal that many women long for without the critical eye we reserve for airbrushed images of fashion magazines because it’s supposedly based in discipline rather than brand names or beauty creams, though it certainly has those things to sell. In a way, Downward-Facing Dog has replaced the Nike swoosh, and “namaste” is the new “Just Do It.” Distinguishing between the inspirational and unrealistic is a battle all its own. “The implication that rippling abs can be yours with a couple of yoga classes a week … [is the creation] of corporations who want you to buy all the necessary yoga accouterments,” explains Danielle Prohom Olson on her blog Body Divine Yoga. While yoga can offer these benefits, Olson asserts that it takes time and dedication to attain them, achievements that the manufacture of a false ideal ultimately undermines while sweeping away the greatest merits yoga has to offer. Dodging image issues, I decide to give the Zen approach a try at the cozy but comfortable Yoga Shala (2030 H Street). Here, men and women radiate a “born again” enthusiasm. They were once as I was, dropping in on the occasional
30-days-for-$30 challenge at various studios through town, only to quit sore and exhausted two weeks later, and then they found Shala. Or, rather, the studio found them, enfolding all into that promising haven of flexibility and strength that turns the dabblers into the disciplined. Wednesday evenings at this studio are for the growing group of Kundalini lovers, a branch of yoga focused on energy balancing and meditation, where mouthbreathers are spurned. This type of practice, the tentative yogi should know, is not for the allergenic, as attempting to breathe through a single nostril while stuffed up may actually kill you, if not from lack of oxygen then by humiliation when you blow an unintended snot rocket at your instructor’s yoga mat. Though I emerge from the class wheezing and lightheaded, I do feel relaxed and uncharacteristically open to the world; Yoga Shala’s gone and won another. Elsewhere in Sacramento, Practice Yoga (807 16th Street), is busy bridging the old and new with its paradigm-changing Yoga Wall, a system that connects harnesses to recessed hooks in the wall, suspending students in cushioned, swinglike slings. The classes range from entry level and therapeutic to highly challenging and are reminiscent of the TRX Suspension Training found in so many gyms these days. For the class I attend, I’m relieved to find that most of the students are firsttimers like myself, the pace set slow as we tentatively call on our inner possums.
DOWNWARD-FACING DOG HAS REPLACED THE NIKE SWOOSH, AND “NAMASTE” IS THE NEW “JUST DO IT.”
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Half-circus and half-Vinyasa, the midweek Yoga Wall Masala class has us all hanging in deeply relaxing inversions before using gravity, the wall and the straps of our slings to perform variations of previously innocuous yoga poses. For much of the 90-minute session I work on gaining confidence in the harness, my vision focused on the instructor hanging calmly upside-down on the opposite wall, his legs crossed in a comfortable position as he demonstrates the upcoming set of moves while promising that I will not fall. Even with a moraleboosting bowl of chocolate candies near the door and its view of the gleaming and cakelike Governor’s Mansion right outside the windows, the studio’s still been slow to catch on in town, according to Jim Cahill, the owner and instructor. Despite the classes’ accessibility to any skill level, they have remained the territory of the athletic thrill seekers and fringe fitness lovers, though “anyone can do this,” he assures. “I’m 55, and I have never felt better.” Cahill’s not too concerned. When the yogis inevitably grow tired of the repetitive Bikram and Power Flow classes so ubiquitous in Sacramento, his studio will be waiting, offering the next variation in a 5,000-year-old practice that never gets old. It’s true. Sitting at home with a bottle of anti-inflammatories and newfound sense of calm, I find I have to take sides with the yogis and yoginis of America. Sure, yoga has its pitfalls, some overcrowding here and vicious price markups there, but at what cost holistic health and inner peace? If Sacramentans want to buy into a salubrious trend that leaves them more vital and productive, can it really cause more harm than the unrealistic marketing schemes that attend it? So, let them wear leggings and choose their practice, be their intent spiritual or physical results. As for me, I’ll be right behind them, if only for another tube of Icy Hot. That yoga, it burns so good. Ω |
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SCENE& HEARD Say yes to the dress The Quinceañera Expo wasn’t the only event happening at the Red Lion Hotel on a recent Sunday, but it looked that way from the parking lot. Stretch limos crowded the driveway. Salesmen gestured inside the shiny vehicles to demonstrate how easily one could accommodate a 15-year-old Latina birthday girl and her court of formally dressed damas and chambelanes. Teenage girls emerged from the hotel lobby in a steady stream, clutching pink plastic Quinceañera Magazine swag bags, eyes wide with visions of their own coming-of-age parties. Parents trailed behind, muttering financial calculations. “Well, if we got the deejay and the banda …” Outside the hotel’s Edgewater Ballroom, a lanky adolescent fidgeted with anticipation as her mother quizzed the ticket attendant. “Are there dresses inside?” “Oh, yes, ma’am. There are so many dresses inside,” the attendant assured her. “OK, but are they those huge, poofy dresses?” It was unclear from the mother’s tone whether she considered huge and poofy to be desirable attributes, but both her daughter and the ticket agent looked at her in disbelief. When it comes to quinceañera dresses, is there any other kind? The origin of the quinceañera is uncertain. Some historians say the Latin American custom of celebrating a girl’s 15th birthday as her transition into womanhood began with the The dresses are Aztecs. Others believe it evolved aggressively from the debutante balls of European colonizers. Traditionimpractical—it ally, the central feature of the is impossible to quinceañera is a Catholic Mass, followed by a reception with imagine eating, family and friends. These days, sitting or using the quinceañera has become something of a “super sweet 15” the bathroom experience. Quinceañera culture in one. includes multiple reality shows and a growing party-planning industry. Celebrations cost upward of $10,000 for a band, deejay, venue, catering, photographers and, of course, the dress. At the Red Lion, vendors offered all these services— plus several unexpected ones. Decorative cantaloupes with “15 años” carved into the rinds? Not a problem. Quinceañera portraits Photoshopped with a fierce dragon in the background? Done. Beyond these wonders, the fashion-show runway beckoned. Hundreds of guests applauded the real stars of the expo: those huge, poofy dresses. If you’ve never seen a quinceañera gown, picture Glinda, the Good Witch’s giant pink bubble dress from The Wizard of Oz. Now, picture poor Glinda being rejected from the Quinceañera Expo fashion show for being too understated. For nearly an hour, a procession of perky models rocked ever-brighter versions of the modern quinceañera gown with a bouncy gait that shimmied every ruffle. Though the colors spanned the entire spectrum (except black), every gown was essentially a strapless corset top supporting a waterfall of ruffles from waist to floor. Each was accessorized with copious amounts of rhinestone jewelry, tremendous false eyelashes, towering heels and elaborate updos. The dresses are aggressively impractical—it is impossible to imagine eating, sitting or using the bathroom in one—and undeniably beautiful. The effect is a perfect blend of a child’s princess dreams and an emerging woman’s poised sophistication, a fleeting moment to be preserved, if possible, in one perfect party. —Becca Costello
b e c c a c @ ne wsr e v ie w.c o m AFTER
For the week of February 13
Sacramento Autorama Friday, Februray 14, through Sunday, February 16 Events that end in “-rama” suggest the type of crowd that doesn’t fit into mainstream society. That’s probably true with Sacramento Autorama. In addition to custom cars, attendees will enjoy pinstriping art, a pinup-girl contest CARS and live music. $8-$20; noon to 8 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, at Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Boulevard; www.rodshows.com.
Back to Basics: Chicken Skills tueSday, February 18 The heyday of the chicken breast has come and gone: Knowing how to utilize the whole bird is more efficient for the planet and for your wallet, and it will also open you up to more flavorful parts of the bird (hello, gizzards!). COOKING CLASS $40-$49, 6 p.m. at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op Community Learning Center & Cooking School, 1914 Alhambra Boulevard; (916) 868-6399; www.sacfoodcoop.com.
The Art of Origami tueSday, February 18 Origami is an ancient art, but in the age of digital everything, it is perhaps more poignant than ever. Move beyond the hopping ART CLASS frog you made that one time in elementary school, and learn about the basic techniques that transform a flat piece of paper into a 3-D sculpture. Free, 6 p.m. at the Franklin Community Library, 10055 Franklin High Road in Elk Grove; (916) 264-2700; www.saclibrary.org.
have a relatively old-school romantic view of love. I’m married, believe that meeting my wife was the best thing that ever happened to me and think that love stories are perhaps the most compelling of all stories. But I’m also romantic in the sense that I’m a fan of William Wordsworth, John Keats and William Blake—three Romantic-era poets who decried commodification as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution. Therefore, I also hate Valentine’s Day— especially the holiday as we know it in the United States. It spits in the face of love with its second-rate Smarties candies, mass-produced Hallmark cards and industrial-farm-grown roses. Here are a few ways to celebrate it differently. If you’re single, check out Meet, Greet, Kick, Shout!, an annual safety clinic hosted by Robinson’s Taekwondo. The free 60-minute clinic will teach attendees to escape attackers, avoid confrontation and recognize dangerous situations, according to a press release. It’s also a way to get socialize with other singles, provided you don’t accidentally kick them in the face first. It happens at 6:30 p.m. at multiple Robinson’s Taekwondo locations,
The Shape of Things: Warren MacKenzie Ceramics and preregistration at www.robinsonstkd.com is encouraged, or call (888) 249-7853. Just because a couple once loved each other enough to have children, doesn’t mean they should never get to relive that feeling again. Parents who need a small reprieve from screaming, screeching and whining children can drop them off at the Sacramento Children’s Museum (2701 Prospect Park in Rancho Cordova) as part of a special Valentine’s Day Drop Off Night program. Kids will get to play in the museum from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., while parents get to remember what free time feels like. It’s $25 for the first kid (or $20 for members), and $20 (or $15) for additional siblings. Register at www.sackids.org. You don’t have to be in love to drink wine, eat sweets and play a trivia card game. All you have to do is head to the Placer County Wine Trail for a self-guided tour on Saturday, February 15, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For $15 per person (or $25 per couple), you can visit 19 wineries, eat chocolate and listen to live jazz music. There’s even a special lodging package at a nearby Holiday Inn if you’re too sloshed to get home afterward. The details are at www.placerwine.com.
20 | SN&R | 02.13.14
through Sunday, February 23 Warren MacKenzie is best known for the functionality of his ceramics: He creates a piece to show the beauty and grace in the structure’s form and purpose. View MacKenzie bowls, cups and teapots in this exhibition. $10, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday ART through Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Crocker Art Museum, 216 O Street; (916) 808-7000; www.crockerartmuseum.org.
Exhibiting Blackness through Saturday, april 26 For Black History Month, Evolve the Gallery displays art pieces created by some of the best African-American artists from the past and the ART present. The exhibition explores the history of African-American art culture from the 1920s to the 2000s. Free, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at Evolve the Gallery, 3428 Third Avenue; (916) 572-5123; www.evolvethe gallery.com.
Still needs a dash of focus this
1724 Broadway, (916) 492-2250 There’s been a lot of change in the restaurant landscape of late, with several high-profile closings and openings. One that’s escaped mostly under the by Ann Martin Rolke radar is the presto chango of Hokkaido Noodle House into Spice Kitchen a few months ago. The chef remains the same from the Hokkaido days, but the ownership is new and since the switch, the menu has gone in a few different directions. There are tangential dishes like pad thai, but it’s mostly focused on Japanese cuisine, with a side menu of Chinese-American favorites. rating: We started with vegetable tempura, which HHH was lightly fried and included slices of Japanese sweet potato and yams for a fun compare-anddinner for one: contrast opportunity. The sunomono salad had $10 - $15 large chunks of crisp cucumber half-moons bathed in a rice vinegar dressing. These fresh pickles are a great palate awakener. Complimentary miso soup is warming but pedestrian, despite the addition of fresh scallions and tofu dice. However, ramen is the hot soup dish these days, so it’s practically mandatory that we H flawed try Spice Kitchen’s version. The red tonkotsu ramen came with lots of nicely chewy HH has moments noodles, spinach and the requisite soft-boiled egg. The broth was well-spiced, but lacked HHH the depth of those at other ramen houses. appealing Thin and juicy slices of chashu roulade were HHHH fine, but not the deep-fried tonkotsu that was authoritative listed. Still, we slurped it up. HHHHH The same pork was more successful in a epic donburi rice bowl. Half the bowl was filled with perfectly al dente broccoli and the other with the savory chashu. This dish benefited from additional chashu barbecue sauce, bringing all the components together deliciously. Fresh udon can be an underappreciated dish, and the noodles here were well-cooked. The nabayaki udon, studded with chunks of moist chicken and crispy shrimp tempura, is served with an addictive sauce that encouraged us to finish the generous portion. Spice Kitchen also serves bento boxes in lunch and dinner portions for a good price. Here, diners get soup, rice, salad and tempura, as well as a meat of choice. Even Still hungry? smaller kids’ plates forgo the tempura for search sn&r’s supercrunchy gyoza. The chicken teriyaki “dining directory” addition was expertly grilled and sliced, to find local restaurants by name served with a judicious amount of sauce. The one Chinese dish we tried was kung or by type of food. sushi, mexican, indian, pao chicken, for old-time’s sake. Chineseitalian—discover it American fare often tends to be greasy. This all in the “dining” section at iteration was a bit oily, but nonetheless satiswww.news fying, with lots of red-skinned peanuts and review.com. caramelized onions amid the chicken. Green peppers are ubiquitous in this dish, but red or yellow would be a welcome substitute. The rest of the menu is rounded out with lots of appetizers and ramen variations, plus a few nabemono hot pots. You can also, somewhat oddly, order lamb chops or steak, BEFORE
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all natural made (with love) fresh daily weddings & catering available
both served with rice, salad and soup. They may well be good, but we didn’t partake. The waitress told us that they’ll be opening a sushi bar soon (doesn’t everyone these days?). No specific date was yet available.
The nabayaki udon, studded with chunks of moist chicken and crispy shrimp tempura, is served with an addictive sauce that encouraged us to finish the generous portion.
Donate some Sweet Love! Benefitting the children of NODCC All day February 14th, a portion of all proceeds will go to the National Organization for Disorders of the Corpus Callosum!
Seeing that Spice Kitchen is just down the block from New Helvetia Brewing Company, it would be great if it served some local brews. You can get takeout and eat at New Helvetia, however. In fact, orders more than $25 are delivered for free within the neighborhood. The service was quick and knowledgeable, although the atmosphere is marred by the odd dance music and twin TV sets that are tuned to different channels. Pull up one of the colorful throw pillows on the bench seats along the wall if you need dueling soap operas at lunchtime. Despite its somewhat unfocused approach, Spice Kitchen is a nice addition to that stretch of Broadway. Keep an eye on this business. It may yet narrow its menu more to find an ideal niche in the Sacramento dining scene. Ω
1455 Eureka Rd | Roseville, CA (next to Paul Martin’s in the Stone Point Shopping Center)
916.788.1911 | www.cupcakealamode.com
Beetle juice, beetle juice ...
th R wit E t iE R sta R swEEwhen e u lu a o y p to a $5 v $20 on
Say it three times: Beetle juice is coating your vitamins. Wait, what? Beetle juice makes your jelly beans shiny. Let’s stop before we get to No. 3. The beetle in question here is not a stripe-suited Michael Keaton, but the Laccifer lacca insect, which resin secretions are used to make shellac, the protective clear coating that’s often used on wood products, like furniture and guitars. It’s also called “pharmaceutical glaze” on pills, like Advil, and “confectioner’s glaze” on edible sweets, like sprinkles, to protect them from moisture. Other terms for it are “resinous glaze,” “pure food glaze” and “natural glaze.” And, yes, Lydia, beetle juice might even be coating your dark-chocolate-covered whatevers. Whoops, that’s three, señora!
...u ! rchase you pu od you love r othe fo 02/20/14. Exp.
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09 08 ’13
5644 J Street
Phone orders welcome!: 916. 451.4000
09 Sun-Wed 10:30am - 9:00pm, Thurs - Sat 10:30am -9:30pm
arugula on grilled 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 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
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, updated regularly. Check out www.newsreview.com for more dining advice.
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. 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. American. 1401 O St., Ste. A; (916) 441-3354. Meal for one: $5-$10. HHHH B.G.
Downtown & Vine This tasting room and wine bar spotlights the local farm-to-glass movement. Here, diners can order 2-ounce tasting flights of wine. Choose three from the same vintner to compare 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 goat-cheese stuffed peppers, chilled Spanish-spiced shrimp, and a cheddar-andapple melt. Or try the ambrosial Wine Country sandwich, with salty prosciutto, sweet fig jam, oozy mozzarella and peppery
Midtown The Coconut Midtown The food here travels a path between standard and inventive. Creamcheese wontons, for example, aren’t the epitome of culinary Southeast Asian traditions, but
tently 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
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CITRUS HEIGHTS 5623 Sunrise Blvd. 916.961.6888
PARTY ROOMS AVAILABLE • NOW SERVING BEER & WINE
Cielito Lindo Mexican Gastronomy
Yang’s Noodles This is perhaps
Instead of cheese-blanketed entrees, diners here can order upscale dishes such as enchiladas de mole: tortillas wrapped around amazingly moist, flavorful chicken, bathed in a house-made mole poblano. The sauce has a million wonderful flavors. The portions here are quite generous. A green salad with fruits and nuts was big enough for a meal, even without the optional meat or seafood topping. The restaurant’s empanaditas de salpicon con papas are little turnovers standing up amid a drizzle of ancho sauce. The crust features a bit of leavening that makes it both crunchy and fluffy. The filling of beef, potatoes and vegetables tastes well-flavored and a bit spicy. Or try the tacos de arrachera—three soft tortillas enclose marinated strips of meltingly good steak, topped with roasted poblano chilies, lots of fresh cilantro and crema. They’re drippy, but worth every napkin. The menu is meatcentric, but the kitchen is vegetarian friendly as well. The crema de rajas poblanas, fully vegan and similar to a Mexican minestrone, is full of chickpeas, poblanos and onions in a rich broth uniquely flavored with vanilla and epazote. A bowlful would be
Bird the “Surfin’
2406 J Street | Midtown Sacramento 916.442.1400 BeachHutDeliMidtown |
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.
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,
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same owners as Midtown’s The Golden Bear, sports a firefighting theme (a ladder on the ceiling duct work, shiny silver wallpaper with a ratand-hydrant motif) 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 ham-and-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 house-made pastas, but one of its highlights includes
Thai Basil SN&R readers consis-
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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an excellent smoked-eggplant baba ghanoush, which is smoky and garlicky. The bananas foster bread pudding is equally transcendent. American. 1630 S St., (916) 442-4885. Dinner for one: $20-$40. HHH1/2 AMR
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damn it if they aren’t delightful. Soft cream cheese and chives in a crispy wrapper and served with a sweet chili sauce? Nothing wrong with that. The chicken larb—a spicy mincedmeat salad—is fragrant and intense. Mint, chilies, basil and iceberg lettuce are drenched in a spicy lime dressing punctuated with a heavy hand of fish sauce. The Coconut has warnings in its menu about which dishes are spicy, but unless you’re a newborn kitten, trembling and mewling, you might not even be aware of the chilies in your food. Thai. 2502 J St., (916) 447-1855. Dinner for one: $10-$15. HHH1/2 G.M.
1830 J St • Midtown Sacramento 916.329.8678 • www.sawasdeesac.com
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Arden/ Carmichael El Forastero Mexican Food The menu here resembles the type of Mexican food found in Southern California: a blend of American fast food, TexMex 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 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.
1120 Fulton Ave., Ste. I; (916) 486-1140. Dinner for one: $10-$20. HHH1/2 J.M.
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. 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.
FreshMed Mediterranean Cuisine This restaurant broadens the definition of “Mediterranean.” In addition to the usual options—gyros, hummus, falafel, etc.—it also serves dishes from a wide range of cultures. For example, FreshMed offers a $6 Indian and Pakistani lunch buffet. Selections include stir-fried eggplant; curried chickpeas, lentils; and a creamy, spicy and hearty chicken tikka masala. Regular menu items include baba ghanoush, which tasted a bit bitter, and chicken kebab. The Mediterranean Nacho and chicken panini are examples of what the restaurant does well: culinary mashups that aren’t derivative, but instead rely heavily on flavor and innovation. The paninis are standouts: The bread is sweet, thicker than one might expect, and pressed nicely on a grill, with char marks on both sides. Mediterranean.
North Highlands Kim Son Mongolian BBQ Vietnamese & Chinese Food It’s difficult to rate Mongolian barbecue by regular reviewing standards, because it’s the diner who chooses the ingredients and seasoning and then gives them to the chef to prepare. But here’s what Kim Son does well: It stocks plenty of fresh veggies; thin slices of meat; thick, chewy chow mein noodles; about a dozen sauces
Auburn Carpe Vino This quaint wine shop 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 ciderbrined 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.
The news came when I was notified via tweet last month: Chando’s Tacos is now serving cochinita pibil tacos. Cochinita pibil is a slow-roasted pork dish of Mayan origin that’s traditionally wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in the ground—sort of like Hawaii’s kalua pig. I wasn’t sure from tasting Chando’s flavorful pork if it was extremely tender because it was suckling pig (often the case with cochinita) or because a highly acidic citrus marinade had broken down a pork shoulder into its tender consistency. Either way, this meat basically melted in my mouth. It also burned it. Yep, Chando’s version is incredibly spicy, with habanero thrown either into the marinade or into the mix of pickled veggies that garnished the taco. Chando’s is located at 863 Arden Way and 5665 Power Inn Road, Suite 104. By the way, in case you were wondering where you’ve heard of pibil before, it might have been the film One Upon a Time in Mexico: Johnny Depp’s character in the film is a puerco pibil fanatic. —Jonathan Mendick
4 - 6pm daily
3 appetizers | 3 beers on tap | 2 bottle beer $
(including cooking wine, ginger, teriyaki, and Sriracha sauces); and additional toppings (sesame seeds, minced garlic). Want to stick to the menu? Try the Kim Son Spicy Beef, seasoned with sha cha jiang, a sauce composed of minced garlic, chili, shrimp and other seasonings: It’s the best dish from an otherwise lackluster menu of Chinese food. Chinese. 4980 Watt Ave. in North Highlands, (916) 331-8188. Dinner for one: $10-$15. HHH1/2 J.M.
Happy Hour $
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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 dry-rubbed 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
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FIND OF THE WEEK
Into Africa STRINGER: A REPORTER’S JOURNEY IN THE CONGO Anjan Sundaram was studying mathematics and headed for a job at Goldman Sachs when he decided BOOK he’d just had enough. Instead, he went to the Congo. There, with no experience, limited funds and only a spare room in the house of a Congolese family, Sundaram got a job as a stringer with The Associated Press and set out to work as a journalist in one of the most violent places on Earth. He chronicles his experiences in Stringer: A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo (Doubleday, $25.95), including a risky trip upriver from Kinshasa to interview a warlord and his decision to stay to report on the elections and the disorder that erupted after. Sundaram is fascinating, especially because he seems so naive. This is really the only sort of book an outsider can write about the Congo, and it’s done beautifully. —Kel Munger
Mastering many tongues MANGO LANGUAGES In January, the language-learning tool Mango Languages became available for free via the Sacramento Public Library. It’s got classes on more than 35 world languages, plus a course for learners of English as a second language. It’s accessible on the Web, or via iOS and Android mobile apps. So far, I’m learning French and Italian for an upcoming trip, and it’s CLASS pretty useful. There are grammar tips, useful phrases for travelers and cultural notes for when to use—or not use—certain phrases. www.saclibrary.org/research/language-learning. —Jonathan Mendick
Pre-Instagram gratification THE MYSPACE FILES: VINTAGE SELFIES Well, I guess it’s come to this. Selfies—you know, the perfectly lit, angled and posed shots one takes of oneself via camera phone—are now ripe for nostalgia. The Myspace Files, a new Vice magazine feature WEBSITE “devoted to scouring dormant pages on The Social Network Time Forgot,” puts a focus on “vintage” mid- to late-2000s-era rapper selfies from the likes of Soulja Boy, the Ying Yang Twins and Trey Songz. Appropriately, there’s also nod to Myspace founder Tom Anderson’s iconic, no-frills over-the-shoulder shot. A selfie innovator if ever there was one. http://noisey.vice.com/blog/ the-myspace-files-rapper-selfies. —Rachel Leibrock
24 | SN&R | 02.13.14
JOEY GARCIA BOOK SIGNING For nearly 18 years, SN&R advice columnist Joey Garcia has used her space in this weekly newspaper as a place to listen and respond to readers who are searching for answers about life and love, family and work, and everything in between. A new self-published book, When EVENT Your Heart Breaks, It’s Opening to Love ($14.95) compiles, in particular, letters that focus on the kind of heartbreak brought upon by divorce, cheating and other broken relationships. While the problems depicted here are mostly common—lying boyfriends, unexpected pregnancies, dating woes, etc.—it’s Garcia’s answers that set her advice apart from all the other Dear Abby wannabes. “Don’t propose or say ‘I love you,’ for the first time in the heat of the moment, if ‘heat’ is a euphemism for sex,” Garcia tells a reader who spontaneously proposed to her boyfriend of six months after getting caught up in the “heat of the moment.” “Great sex simulates every cell in our body into an emotional high that some people confuse with love (it’s actually just a great orgasm),” she adds. True, that. The book is divided into sections (“Disintegration,” “Missing in Action,” “Closure” and others) and, in addition to letters, also features meditations and “prescriptions” for healing. On Thursday, February 20, Garcia will read from and sign copies of her book at Time Tested Books. Perfect timing if your Valentine’s Day ends up a bust. No cover, 7 p.m. at 1114 21st Street, www.joeygarcia.com. —Rachel Leibrock
d r i n k . t r y
Valentine’s Day love lessons Dating connections that don’t last can still teach us valuable lessons about life and about ourselves. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, here are four cool things I’ve learned from bad relationships. You’re the one: The first time I
heard the line “It’s not you, it’s me,” I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing at those ridiculous words. by Joey ga rcia At the time, I was listening to a sobbing 16-year-old girl a skj o ey @ ne wsreview.c om whose boyfriend had just dumped her. She was in the middle of the ugly cry, all redfaced and gasping, using an already Joey soaked tissue to swipe at her runny will hang out with nose. So, I waited, wondering how the West Sacramento rotary club on many adults have used the same February 14. manipulative cop-out line to slice free of a relationship. Finally, I said, “He’s right, you know.” She looked up at me, startled. I said: “Your ex-boyfriend told you the truth. The next time a guy says, ‘It’s not you, it’s me,’ say, ‘Yeah, that’s what I’ve been thinking.’ And then, walk
We step into a fantasy of a person and expect a connection. When reality bites, we drop into denial. away. Just agree with him: ‘You’re right. The problem is you, not me.’ Then, hold your head high, and keep on stepping.” She laughed so hard she started crying again, but this time, happy tears prevailed. Shared values trump common interests:
Couples who play together, stay together, right? Uh, not necessarily. Here’s what I learned while coaching couples in communication skills: Before marriage or moving in together, few couples assess whether their partner’s values mesh with their own. Plenty of couples who share a passion for, let’s say, golf, skiing and gardening, just can’t get along. Sure, they love to hike, do yoga and surf, but they nitpick and argue about everything before, during and after the activity. Without good communication and conflict-resolution skills, plus a commitment to values like honesty, respect and financial responsibility,
Got a problem?
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.
the relationship is not healthy or satisfying. Yes, that’s true even if they both share a passion for kayaking, salsa dancing and volunteering with the Special Olympics. The absolute best breakup line: Long before I started writing this column, I was dating a musician, and over the course of a few days, the relationship slid downhill fast. Late one night after a gig, he looked at me and said, “It’s not working out.” I started firing questions: “What do you mean? Are we over? You’re giving up?” He answered every question in the same measured, neutral tone: “It’s just not working out.” The next morning, after I realized that breaking up was actually a great idea, we talked. I complimented him on the simple, truthful perfection of “It’s just not working out,” and his unwillingness to clutter the conversation with long drawn-out and inevitably useless explanations. I have used “It’s not working out” often since that night. It’s definitely a dignified way to shut a door.
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bbq salad Ten22_SNR-QtrPg_1-27-14.pdf 1501 L S t r e e t | S a c1r a1/28/14 m e n t 2:01 o , cPMa
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Most people have bad pickers: A differ-
ent ex-boyfriend of mine once told me that his relationships never work out because he has a bad “picker.” I laughed until my face hurt. And then I thought about it. Isn’t that the problem with most of us? We pick partners who are not a match, and then try to force a fit. The problem isn’t the other person; the problem is our habit of being attracted to the same personality in slightly different packages. We step into a fantasy of a person and expect a connection. When reality bites, we drop into denial. But guess what? We need to fix our “picker.” So the next time you find yourself swept away by someone new, stop and reflect. Determine if you are truly standing in love or falling into a fantasy (again). C
Every relationship challenge is an invitation to grow in wisdom and love. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely worth it. Want more insights? Read my blog and discover what my dog taught me about dating at www.joeygarcia.com. Ω
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Valentine’s Day weekend stage roundup
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Argh! You are belatedly planning a Valentine’s Day weekend date. Here’s the skinny on some shows to help with the planning process. by Jeff Hudson The Sacramento Ballet’s Wild Sweet Love was designed as a date opportunity—young, limber dancers, music, etc. It happens Thursday, February 13, through Saturday, February 15, at 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, February 16, at 2 p.m. at the Sacramento Community Center Theater (1301 L Street). Get more information at www.sacballet.org. The Sacramento Theatre Company has Closer Than Ever, a perky if not profound musical revue about relationships. Performances are on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., at the Wells Fargo Pavilion (1419 H Street). More information is available at www.sactheatre.org
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Sacramento Ballet’s young, limber dancers might just get you to fall in love again.
Need Assistance with Applying for or Appealing Veterans Disability Benefits & Compensation? Contact: (916) 480-9200 Law Office of Steven H. Berniker, APC Veteran Advisor – Sgt Major (Ret) Daniel J. Morales Location: 2424 Arden Way, Suite 360 Sacramento, CA 95825
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in America, 5 Angels Part Two: Perestroika
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Plan a last-minute date with these stage shows
The whole world is your own. — Sri Sarada Devi
Want high-end literary content? Capital Stage (2215 J Street) has Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing, a witty, modern classic and probably the best show in town. However, (spoiler alert!) it’s all about infidelity. It runs from Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., and on Sunday at 2 p.m. Find more details at www.capstage.org. The B Street Theatre has Elemeno Pea, a dark middlebrow comedy about the idle rich. But be advised, there’s lots of dialogue about divorce lawyers and prenuptial agreements. They company is also presenting a special run of Around the World in 80 Days on Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m., and on Saturday at 8 p.m. Visit www.bstreettheatre.org for details. New Helvetia Theatre (1028 R Street) enters the fray on February 14, with Passion, an elegantly scored Stephen Sondheim musical that The New York Times once described as “a gothic romance about a young military officer drawn into an intense relationship with a sick, ugly woman.” It runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Visit www.newhelvetia.org for more information. And if you can wait until February 26, the Sacramento Theatre Company will revive that great classic, Romeo and Juliet. But everybody knows how that story ends. Ω
The second part of Tony Kushner’s lengthy meditation on love, death, politics and the Reagan years gets the production it deserves at The Alternative Arts Collective, using the streamlined revised text published in 2013 by the playwright. The cast, already immersed in their roles, thanks to its recent production of Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches, now sinks its teeth into the darkness of abandonment and change in Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika. While most of Kushner’s recent changes to the script will not be immediately noticeable to most theatergoers, they do have the effect of keeping the focus on the major point of his work: We live. We are humans, messy and problematic even on our best days, nothing short of inhumane on our worst, and we insist upon living, no matter what. That’s nowhere more true than in the depiction of Prior Walter (David Blue Garrison), a very young man already terribly ill with AIDS. He is the moral center of this play—a frightened, confused, unwilling moral center, to be sure, but he can be relied upon. Prior’s doppelgänger is Kushner’s interpretation of the late, hateful Red-baiter, Roy Cohn (Steve Gold), who has a very willing immoral center. At risk are the ethical lives of Louis (Sean Melby), Prior’s ex-lover; Joe Pitt (Zack Myers), a gay Republican Mormon who is now sleeping with Louis; and Harper Pitt (Kimberly Brauer), Joe’s abandoned wife. All of these actors show the torture endured when we fail others—and in so doing, fail ourselves. If Prior is the moral center of the play, then drag-queen-turned-nurse Belize (Corey D. Winfield) is its beating heart. Winfield did yeoman’s work in the first play; in Perestroika, he breaks out to become one of the most complex and interesting characters. Also noteworthy is Sandra Phillips’ turn as the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg, a role she plays with just the right combination of bubbeleh and bitch. It’s not necessary to have seen the first play in order to grasp the power of the second—and the playbill provides a synopsis to bring the audience up to speed. It’s also important to remember that this is not a play about gay men and AIDS: Angels in America is about that manic, driving creativity that is so uniquely American—and that so often leads us to harm the ones we love the most. —Kel Munger
Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika, 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; $15. The Alternative Arts Collective at the Blue Box Theatre, 1700 Del Paso Boulevard; http://taacangels.bpt.me. Through February 15.
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Closer Than Ever
An engaging and talented quartet of singers (Nicholas Adorno, Kristen Heitman, Jerry Lee and Andrea St. Clair) perform this “bookless” musical—all singing, no dialogue—by Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire. At its best, it’s a collection of musical short stories, character studies and memory pieces. Even at its weakest, it’s entertaining and perfectly enjoyable. Robert Marra directs, and pianist Samuel Clein and bassist Rod Verette provide impeccable musical support. Th 6:30pm,
F 8pm, Sa 2 & 8pm, Su 2 & 7pm. Through 2/16. $12-$35. Pollock Stage at Wells Fargo Pavilion, 1419 H St.; (916) 443-6722; www.sactheatre.org. J.C.
The Conductor: Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad
This B Street Theatre Family Series play about slavery is geared toward kids, but doesn’t ignore the reality that black children were sold and parted from their parents, or the considerable risks that abolitionists faced when helping escaped slaves find their way north. Lanky actress Atim Udoffia shines as Tubman: cool under pressure, determined to bring her “passengers” to freedom. Sa, Su 1 & 4pm. Through 2/23. $15-$20. B Street Theatre, 2711 B St.; (916) 443-5300; www.bstreettheatre.org. J.H.
In playwright Molly Smith Metzler’s Elemeno Pea, the help is busy keeping an expansive Martha’s Vineyard family
compound neat, tidy and ready for whoever or whatever may drop on by. The grounds and buildings are so sprawling that when the sister of the family’s personal assistant comes to visit, she gets to stay in the family’s huge beachside guest house that she mistakes for the family’s main mansion. It’s not exactly an East Coast-modern Downton Abbey, but Elemeno Pea does explore the discrepancies of family fortunes vs. working for a living, new money vs. old, and the attitudes and expectations that come with both. Tu 6:30pm; W 2
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Capital Stage’s production of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing is a perfect pairing of an engaging play with top-notch performances. The talented cast members, who seamlessly work together as a cohesive and tight unit, include newcomers to the company: John Pasha and Jamie Kale, along with returnees Megan Pearl Smith and Michael Wiles. Director Janis Stevens not only keeps the action flowing, she keeps the timing on mark, a challenge in a play full of fast-paced repartees and subtle interactions. W 7pm; Th, F, Sa, 8pm; Su 2pm. Through 3/1. $22-$45. Capital Stage, 2215 J St.; (916) 995-5464; www.capstage.org. P.R.
swim, sun vAlley Gun cluB, Der sPAzm
The Real Thing
4:00pm until ...?
Feb 21 | Friday | 8:00pm | $6 cover
B Street Theatre, 2711 B St.; (916) 443-5300; www.bstreet theatre.org. P.R.
Saturday, Feb. 15th 2014
$25 at the door
& 6:30pm; Th, F 8pm; Sa 5 & 9pm; Su 2pm. Through 2/23. $23-$25.
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1400 Alhambra Blvd 916.455.3400 www.bluelampsacramento.com
Short reviews by Jim Carnes, Jeff Hudson and Patti Roberts.
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No, it’s not a Banana Republic catalog, it’s the Ten Tenors.
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Tons of tenors Move aside, Three Tenors, this group has 10 tenors. The Ten Tenors, a singing group from Australia, brings its collection of deep voices to the Harris Center for the Arts in Folsom on Wednesday, February 19. The rotating ensemble has sold millions of records worldwide, and its latest album Double Platinum, is a double album featuring both classical and contemporary songs. Famous for its boy-bandesque fashion aesthetic as much as its ability to sing arias and rock tunes and everything in between, the group’s current tour, The Ten Tenors on Broadway, features Broadway hits from the likes of West Side Story, Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera. The Ten Tenors on Broadway, Wednesday, February 19, at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; $35.10-$69; at the Harris Center for the Arts, 10 College Parkway in Folsom; (916) 608-6888; www.thetentenors.com.
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Expectations are understandably low for a PG-13 remake of Paul Verhoeven’s ultraviolent 1987 sci-fi action masterpiece RoboCop. It does not seem by Daniel Barnes possible that a more kid-friendly version of the story, especially one with franchise aspirations, could retain any of the original film’s mordant multimedia satire, much less its gleefully bleak vision of a near-future urban hell on Earth. So perhaps this shiny new RoboCop is the best RoboCop we could possibly expect at this moment. Director José Padilha (the Elite Squad films) definitely has a gift for stylizing bootlevel action scenes, and that plus a game cast of character actors and shimmery new special effects (the “cutting edge” effects in the original already looked moth worn by the mid-1990s) is almost compelling enough to forgive that the film crumbles in the third act.
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RoboCop— or member of Daft Punk?
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The most disappointing aspect is the cleanliness of Padilha’s moral lines, nothing like the schizophrenic satire of Verhoeven’s RoboCop, which blurred the boundary between decrying sadism and psychotically reveling in it. This RoboCop spends so much time exploring the sensitive-dad side of its cyborg peacekeeper protagonist that we’re practically into the third act before the story starts. It often feels like a standard origin story, expanding elements of the character you never cared about. Of course, Verhoeven’s film was a movie for the Reagan era, a vision of corporate sleaze and moral sloth as the new American order. Padilha and screenwriter Joshua Zetumer (the original’s scribes Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner are also credited) adroitly update the story for the Bush-Obama era of global terrorism, pre-emptive strikes and drone warfare. RoboCop spends nearly as much time in the streets of Iran and the factories of China as it does in Detroit. In fact, one of the best sequences in the film is the opener, where we see unmanned American robots (some of which look a lot like the ED-9000 from the original) and drones patrol the streets of Tehran. The scene is all at once a biting political commentary, a human drama, and a brilliant showpiece for Padilha’s prodigious
talents as a director of action and special effects. Strikingly presented as a pretitle grabber, it immediately lifts hopes that somehow these filmmakers got a new-fangled RoboCop right. For a while, that hope is well-founded. Best known for his part on the TV show The Killing, Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman stars in his first action lead as Alex Murphy, a Detroit undercover cop investigating a crime kingpin. When Murphy is nearly killed by a car bomb, his wife (Abbie Cornish) is persuaded by the robotics corporation OmniCorp to volunteer his remaining body parts (basically a hand, most of a head and some assorted internal organs) to become America’s first robot cop. The sick gag in this version of the film is that the American voters will tolerate gun-toting androids trampling the civil liberties of foreigners, but regard their presence in the homeland as invasive and inhumane. OmniCorp controls the military robots from the opening sequence, and we learn that they operate in every country except for the United States. They think that putting “a human in the machine” will mollify the public and open up the American market, and Murphy becomes their guinea pig. Samuel L. Jackson plays a political talk-show host who is really a propaganda-spewing puppet of OmniCorp, and it’s a fairly good showcase for him. At this point, Jackson is such a shameless scenery-chewer that he should only be allowed to share the screen with holograms and/or motherfucking snakes. His scenes also form one of the many embedded allusions to the original, which used fake TV news stories to great effect.
The most disappointing aspect is the cleanliness of José Padilha’s moral lines, nothing like the schizophrenic satire of Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop. After that opener, though, Padilha’s RoboCop uses TV news media in much the same way as most other movies: as a hackneyed device for delivering plot details and underlining themes you’re considered too stupid to comprehend on your own. Other direct allusions to the Verhoeven version—including a reappropriation of Peter Weller’s “Dead or alive, you’re coming with me” tagline—are mostly distracting, and just pile extra baggage onto a picture that could have succeeded on its own merits. Ω
by daniel barnes & JiM lane
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A pregnant teen (an earnest Vanessa Hudgens) runs away from her abusive druggie mother (Rosario Dawson, a bit over the top); she seeks help first from the biological father she’s never known (Brendan Fraser, equally earnest), then tries her luck on the street before finally landing at a shelter run by a compassionate housemother (Ann Dowd). Good intentions abound in this melodrama, and sincerity makes it watchable, but director Ron Krauss’ script drips with loose ends and seems to be missing major scenes in its dramatic arc (after early setbacks, Hudgens’ character cleans up her act with unconvincing ease), and his uncertain direction moves the action along in lurching fits and starts. James Earl Jones lends grave support as a kindly old priest, but other characters are too sketchy to stay in the memory. J.L.
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The Monuments Men
Given the many cinematic atrocities that have been produced by Hasbro in recent years, it is completely understandable to approach The Lego Movie with a certain amount of suspicion and dread. However, this is as wildly imaginative and fun as any film you’re likely to see this year, even if it is based entirely on corporate synergy. Written and directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs), The Lego Movie concerns a lonely conformist (Chris Pratt, extremely personable) mistaken for a prophecy-fulfilling rebel savior. The film never takes its mumbo-jumbo seriously, opting instead to focus on giddily anarchic comedy, a childlike sense of visual invention, and a copyright-protected wet dream of supporting players. The only missteps are made in the third act, as that childlike wonder is literalized, and madness is sacrificed at the altar of lesson-learning. D.B.
A motor-mouthed security guard and cop wannabe (Kevin Hart) wants to prove to his girlfriend’s cop brother (Ice Cube) that he’s worthy of both the girl and the force, so he rides along with him on patrol. Your reaction to this semilame action comedy will depend on your tolerance for Hart’s line of profanely caffeinated patter; for some of us, a little goes a long way. When the story is as predictable as this one with nothing to take your mind of Hart’s constant yapping, it’s enough to set your teeth on edge. Ice Cube’s character strikes an attitude of angry exasperation toward his unwanted partner, leading one to wonder if the actor may have felt the same way on the set. It would be hard to blame him if he did. John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill and Laurence Fishburne lend reliable (albeit autopilot) support. J.L.
The Saratov Approach
The Wolf of Wall Street
In 1998, two Mormon missionaries in Russia (Corbin Allred, Maclain Nelson) are kidnapped and held for ransom. Based on the true story of Andrew Propst and Travis Tuttle, the movie has good acting and persuasive atmosphere (with Ukraine standing in for Saratov, Russia). Oddly enough, the Russian scenes are more convincing than some of the ones set in the United States, where even network newscasters reporting on the abduction sound more like Mormons than journalists. Writer-director Garrett Batty doesn’t soft-pedal the faith, but he keeps preaching to a minimum, focusing on the human drama. The only real drawback is that there isn’t all that much of it: The two were kidnapped, then their hapless abductors neglected to follow up on their ransom demand, got tired of waiting and let them go after four days of captivity. J.L.
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Director Martin Scorsese and writer Terence Winter go careening through the life of stock-market huckster Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), from his small-time beginning through his drug-addled reign as an amoral master of the universe to his downfall at the hands of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI. The obvious model is Scorsese’s masterpiece Goodfellas (1990), but it lacks the narrative drive—besides, stockbrokers don’t have the same vicarious charge as gangsters. It’s a movie of great bits and pieces—Jonah Hill as Belfort’s slimy partner, DiCaprio’s surprising flair for physical comedy—but the whole is less than the sum of its parts: The early energy dissipates almost completely over a seemingly endless three hours. This wolf huffs and puffs, but he doesn’t blow the house down. J.L.
NEWSPAPER: SAC NEWS & REVIEW PUBLISH DATE: 2/6/2014 ART DUE: 1/31 CONTENT: PUNCHLINE SIZE: 1.87” X 5.67” ART PRODUCTION: SACHA PFEIFER (720) 239-3411 NOTES: That Awkward Moment Vampire Academy
Two single dudes (Zac Efron, Miles Teller) and their divorce-bound pal (Michael B. Jordan) swear off serious relationships with women—but each of them quickly backslides into what might develop into a real romance. This flimsy update of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost was written and directed by Tom Gormican, whose experience consists of only two pictures, including this one. Gormican shows aptitude, but apparently it’s more from paying attention in screenwriting class than from observing people in real life: His script is so arch and self-consciously clever that the jokes sound stale even as we hear them for the first time. Efron and Teller do what they can (Jordan is underused), but the women make a stronger impression: Imogen Poots as Efron’s match and (especially) Mackenzie Davis as Teller’s. J.L.
In 2005, a team of Navy SEALs (Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster) drops into the Afghan mountains to ambush a high-level Taliban warlord—but are ambushed themselves, unable to call in air support or rescue. Based on a real operation, the movie has grueling scenes of combat, some of the most realistic and harrowing ever seen. But writer-director Peter Berg and writer Patrick Robinson (adapting the memoir by Marcus Luttrell, the “lone survivor” of the title) never get around to establishing the characters as individuals. This makes the closing array of names rather confusing. Besides, the title is the ultimate spoiler, so there’s little suspense. We know only one will survive, and since only Wahlberg is billed above the title … J.L.
THURSDAY 2/28 - SUNDAY 3/2 FROM COMEDY CENTRAL & DEF COMEDY JAM!
The U.S. Army’s Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Section, tasked during World War II with preserving culture and retrieving millions of artworks stolen by the Nazis, is somehow turned into a movie in praise of stars Matt Damon and George Clooney (the latter also directed and co-wrote with Grant Heslov, from Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter’s book), making the section’s fine work look like a 1940s prequel to Ocean’s 11. It also reduces the 400 workers from 13 nations to a handful of Americans (John Goodman, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban) with a few token Europeans (Cate Blanchett, Hugh Bonneville, Jean Dujardin). False notes abound— words to a song that weren’t written until 1954, music that sounds like the theme from The Andy Griffith Show—and, as usual, Clooney’s preening vanity gives him all the best lines. J.L.
The Lego Movie
Cover band // 9pm // $10
Although The Past is set in France instead of his native Iran, writerdirector Asghar Farhadi’s follow-up to his 2011 film A Separation deals with many of the same themes, most notably the seismic ripple effects of a dissolved marriage. The Past is an even slower starter and maintains a lower flame than A Separation, and the film is so unfocused on narrative immediacy that it evolves into an existential mystery before the viewer even comprehends it. Therefore, the impact of The Past may not be immediate as with its predecessor, but it could prove to have the longer emotional reach. Something chains each one of Farhadi’s characters to a past they regret but can never reclaim, even as they appeal to bureaucratic systems to redefine their existences. It all develops into a moral whodunit, with everyone obsessively circling around a tragic event that Farhadi never shows us. D.B.
While often enslaved to their less shallow influences, the films of Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air, etc.) have at least displayed a certain ambition up to this point. That may be why his mundane Labor Day was snuck into theaters after a fruitless Oscar campaign—it feels more like the first Sundance Film Festival submission of a self-serious novice than the product of an established director. Labor Day attempts to fold in larger themes about mental illness and sexual awakening, but at heart, this is domestic porn for lonely single mothers. Kate Winslet plays a depressed mom in 1987 who is forced to shelter a mysterious runaway convict played without interest by Josh Brolin. He promptly starts fixing floorboards, mending tires, baking pies, recharging her sexual batteries and otherwise establishing himself as the perfect man. That’s not peach pie you smell cooking—it’s hogwash. D.B.
CHRIS GARCIA, KEON POLEE
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The premise of director Stuart Beattie and Kevin Grevioux’s script is dopey enough to send the comic-book crowd over the moon: Frankenstein’s creature (Aaron Eckhart) is enlisted in a war between good gargoyles (led by Miranda Otto) and evil demons (under Bill Nighy). The creature (now named Adam) refuses and goes his own way for 200 years. Then he gets involved again when the battle breaks out in the 21st century—chief demon Nighy wants Frankenstein’s secret of creating life so he can bring his demon soldiers back from hell—and, of course, he tricks a sexy female scientist (Yvonne Strahovski) into helping him. What can you say about a movie where gargoyles are the good guys? It’s the usual storm of CGI fire and brimstone; if it had been called I, Fred no studio would have given it a second glance. J.L.
blues // 8pm // $5
SEAN KEANE, SHANTI CHARAN WEDNESDAY 2/19
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This gadget should do the trick for emotional reach.
F E AT U R E
A vampire princess (Lucy Fry) and her half-human bodyguard (Zoey Deutch) run away from the title school (officially, St. Vladimir’s), but are brought back to continue their education in battling the evil half of the vampire race. Meanwhile, they face problems familiar to more normal high-school students—cliques, bullies, mean girls, etc. Based on the first of six novels (so far) by Richelle Mead, the movie is an effort to graft the teen eroticism of The Twilight Saga series onto a framework of ersatz Harry Potter, brimming with mumbo-jumbo folklore and glazed with a layer of snotty teen ’tude. Some midsize stars (Gabriel Byrne, Olga Kurylenko, Joely Richardson) bolster the pretty unknowns topping the cast, who need all the help they can get. Written and directed (awkwardly) by brothers Daniel and Mark Waters, respectively. J.L.
A RT S & C U LT U R E
Visit www.SonyScreenings.com/Redeem and enter SNRPOMPEII for your chance to win one admit-two pass to the special advance screening Wednesday, February 19 in Sacramento. THIS FILM IS RATED PG-13 Theatre is overbooked to ensure a full house. Passes received through this promotion do not guarantee admission and must be surrendered upon demand. Seating is on a first come, first served basis EXCEPT FOR MEMBERS OF THE REVIEWING PRESS. No one will be admitted without a ticket or after the screening begins. All federal, state and local regulations apply. A recipient of tickets assumes any and all risks related to use of ticket and accepts any restrictions required by ticket provider. Sony Pictures Entertainment, TriStar Pictures, Sacramento News & Review, Allied-THA, TicktBox and their affiliates accept no responsibility or liability in connection with any loss or accident incurred in connection with use of a prize. Tickets cannot be exchanged, transferred or redeemed for cash, in whole or in part. We are not responsible if, for any reason, winner is unable to use his/her ticket in whole or in part. Not responsible for lost, delayed or misdirected entries. All federal and local taxes are the responsibility of the winner. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. Participating sponsors their employees and family members and their agencies are not eligible. NO PHONE CALLS!
IN THEATERS FEBRUARY 21ST!
EvEry friday ~ 9pm ~ no covEr
The folksinger’s homecoming Kevin Seconds’ new solo album may be his folkiest yet, but he’s still punk as you-know-what
dj supe in the mix playing top 40 hits and interactive videos
sat 2/15 ~ 9pm
r&B pop music from the 80’s with hits such as: “Lean on me” & “Why you treat me so Bad” pre sale tickets $25
Three seconds into “Run Run Run,” the fifth track on his new album Off Stockton, Kevin Seconds screws up. by Janelle Bitker “Oh shit.” And then he laughs and laughs, and ultij a ne l l e b @ mately proceeds with a simple, rootsy folk tune, ne w s re v i e w . c o m punctuated by harmonies with his wife, Allyson. Why leave the misstep on the final record? Despite the general seriousness of his lyrics, Seconds wants to make sure fans know he has a sense of humor.
fri 2/22 ~ 9pm ~ no covEr
PHOTO BY LULU GOBLE
r&B, old school and funk from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s
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Kevin Seconds’ latest album delivers straightforward, no-fuss folk.
Kevin Seconds plays on Friday, February 21, at 9 p.m. at Fox & Goose, located at 1001 R Street. The cover is $5. Check out www.kevin seconds.com for more about Seconds.
30 | SN&R | 02.13.14
“You need to make fun of yourself,” he said. “Plenty of other people will.” Plus, he had a blast producing Off Stockton, set for release on Tuesday, February 18, on Rise Records. Rather than record it himself, Seconds went into his buddy David Houston’s studio this time around. It might be the most clean and polished of his six solo albums, though the instrumentation is sparse. Most songs feature just Seconds and his guitar, with the occasional visit from a cello or organ. “It’s probably the most straightforward, folky record I’ve made,” he said. “I didn’t want to fuss with it too much with too many layers.” But for anyone strictly familiar with Seconds as the frontman of influential hardcore punk band 7Seconds, the solo work may come as a shock. In fact, some fans who think of 7Seconds probably still think of a bunch of idealistic guys in their 20s. Time has passed, after all, and Seconds turns 53 in March. But the folk and punk worlds merge with Seconds’ music—he said many of his fans are actually fans of both. “A lot of punk rockers are mellowed out with kids and lives, so this kind of music is more appealing to them than what they might have listened to when they were younger,” he said.
Seconds still tours with the punk band he founded more than 30 years ago in Reno, Nevada, and he thrives on having both projects simultaneously. “I’m finally at the point that I understand the differences,” he said. “I know I have to be a certain way for both—I have to think differently and feel differently, and I like that. It makes life more interesting.” On his own, Seconds can set up on any street corner and play. He doesn’t have to coordinate with four other personalities. He can really sing instead of shout. Plus, he’s always dug the sound. “When I was younger, getting into harder music, I put those folk records aside because I needed to wrap myself into loud, furious, angry music,” Seconds said. “But I’d go back to them.” Still, 2014 is going to be a busy year for the musician. Not only will he be touring for his new solo record in the spring, but he’s dropping a new 7Seconds record in May—the first fulllength since 2005. “I think it sounds incredible,” Seconds said of the 7Seconds record. “It’s the first time we got into a studio and got a producer who made the record we wanted to make.” After a national tour, 7Seconds will hit Europe and hopefully South America. It can be a little tricky to plan, though. Most of the guys in the band now have wives, kids and jobs to schedule around. It’s another reason why Seconds so appreciates the solo time—more unencumbered touring. Seconds will kick off his spring tour with a record release show at Fox & Goose. There, he’ll have another recent creative project for sale: trading cards featuring some of Seconds’ favorite paintings. The cards, of which he recently printed a thousand copies, feature unique sketches and autographs. They’re an affordable way to connect with fans, he said.
“Youneedtomakefun ofyourself.Plentyof otherpeoplewill.” Kevin Seconds musician “I’ve discovered that when you make your art available in the same way you make your music available, people love it,” he said. “I think on my last tour, I sold more art than music.” And, of course, the show will feature Seconds playing his new songs—many of which revolve around this town. “My songs are Sacramento-centric—everything is about something or inspired by something that happened here,” he said. “It’s funny. I’m always trying to get the hell out of here, but then when I’m out, I can’t wait to go home.” Ω
Let there be cowbell
trivia @ 6:30pm Back to the future: Three pale white guys took off their shirts and got on stage. They were probably so pale because they’re from Seattle. No wonder they’re on tour, running toward the sun. After their set, the drummer told me the band’s plan to soon settle in Lima, Peru. So, it might have been Sacramento’s last chance to see Bunny Kisses’ experiments. Ever. (Or he was joking—who can accurately identify sarcasm these days?) Bunny Kisses specializes in long epics, constantly moving through different styles and changing speeds. To some unappreciative ears, it might have sounded like the members were playing three different songs, perhaps on three different planets, until they would suddenly, dramatically, sync up. Jazz, postrock and doom elements were all there, along with some occasionally comical vocals. There was crooning: “Why are you so sad? Is it because you can’t enjoy your life?” There was a literal slapping of the bass. There was a cowbell. Welcome to Futurewang!, a new monthly installment at Shine. Well, it’s not totally new. Futurewang! existed about six months ago at Old Ironsides before it mysteriously disappeared. But now, it’s back. Mark your calendars every first Thursday of the month for a reliable dose of avant-garde, experimental music. Last Thursday, about 20 people made up the small but attentive audience. Demographics were mixed—for example, there was a graying man with a trench coat and a young woman with blue hair. Some downed beer, others nursed tea. Practice, an experimental, prog-punk quartet from Sacramento, opened up the evening. Bunny Kisses followed. Chikading!, a local experimental jazz trio, closed the show and will anchor every installment of Futurewang! While certainly a cringefest for people who mandate conventional song structures and catchy melodies, I see grand, exciting potential in Futurewang! Projected visualizations and other installations, perhaps? More artists showcasing custommade instruments? Or, maybe, a time machine?
night at Fox & Goose was on a whole new level, and it speaks to Be Brave Bold Robot’s wild popularity. It makes sense. The band has been around since 2004, and while members and instruments have cycled in and out, Dean Haakenson and his acoustic guitar have remained at the forefront. And Haakenson is an engaging guy, familiar enough for the comfort seekers yet odd enough for the curious cats. On this particular evening, he wore a collared shirt covered in Chinese lettering, squiggles and patterns—a shirt literally designed by the masses, apparently, who drew on it. Haakenson’s shirt combined with the phone cases he gave away—completely covered in rhinestones with a dragon protruding from the back—made for an aesthetically exciting set. But what about the music? They were singer-songwriter songs played by a five-piece band, essentially. Fun, whimsical stories told over easygoing folk rock. Some more offbeat and intellectual, others more jam band and dance friendly. The crowd, of course, loved it all. Folks who missed the show can catch Be Brave Bold Robot at Luigi’s Fun Garden (1050 20th Street) on Friday, February 21. I’m sad I can’t say the same for opening act Sunmonks, who announced on Facebook that the Fox & Goose gig was their last “for a long while.” Hopefully, the local band is working on a record, as Sunmonks only has a few demos floating around right now. Even a search on YouTube yields little: a series of acoustic performances from a year ago. And, sadly, the acoustic videos can’t compare to the full, live experience. Sunmonks plays a mix of indie Afro-pop and experimental folk. Think Dirty Projectors with more accessible time signatures. Both bands highlight gorgeous harmonies and tribal rhythms, and then Sunmonks throws in some looped brass for good measure. Instrumental trio CFR finished off the evening. Some songs teetered toward the Explosions in the Sky-style of post-rock, while others got a little funky. And after having a couple drinks, I wanted nothing more than a little room to groove. But I refrained—didn’t want to get accidentally, majorly goosed.
Fox and goosed: I can’t remember the last time I felt so cramped and coddled at a bar show. Saturday BEFORE
jan el l eb @ne w s re v i e w . c o m
F E AT U R E
EVErY FrI & Sat 9Pm
dance Hits from tHe 60’s to today / $5
VaLEntInE’S DaY BUrGErS & BrEw SPECIaL
$1 tacos, $2 coronas, 2–8pm wednesday
any 2 burgers + 2 draft beers for $25
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GrOOVE tHanG Party dance cover band / $5
KaraoKe @ 7:30pm
open for lunch & dinner 7 days a weeK
classic rock, Hits from tHe 80’s and 90’s / $5
doors open at 11:30
dance Hits from tHe 70’s, 80’s and 90’s / $5
taCOS - 2 FOr $2 LIVE trIVIa - 7:30Pm
feb 14 moon mantis
feb 15 island of black & white
COLLEGE nIGHt 9:30Pm-1am
feb 16 vagabond brothers unplugged from 2pm-5pm
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feb 21 bp & praduh *cd release* feb 22 j ras & irie fuse feb 28 stellar a tribute to incubus & thunder cover
quality craft beers daily drink specials pool tables
HaLFtImE Bar & GrILL InSIDE StrIKES UnLImItED 5681 Lonetree Blvd • rocklin 916.626.3600 HaLFtImEr OCKLIn.COm
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2019 o street sacramento 916.442.2682
2708 J Street Sacramento, CA 916.441.4693 www.harlows.com - February 13 -
denver j band street urchinz • stellar 7pm • $7adv
- February 16 -
Feb 27 Jelly Bread
7pm • $20 - February 20 -
- February 14 -
rainbow girls 8pm • $20adv
- February 15 -
the three way
Feb 28 Diego’s Umbrella Mar 01 Zepparella Mar 02 The Wild Feathers Mar 04 Typhoon Mar 06 El Ten Eleven Mar 07 Lovefool
buckle rash miss maddy’s f street stompers Mar 08 8pm • $8 Mar 09 - February 21 & 22 Mar 10 Mar 11
tainted love 9pm • $15
- February 23 -
jon augustine • madi sipes 6:30pm • $7 • all ages
ZuhG Con Bro Chill Larry and His Flask / Scott H. Biram Dumpstaphunk
Mar 13 Musical Charis Mar 14 Cayucas / Doey Rock Mar 15 Foreverland Mar 16 Majickat Mar 18 Galactic
xeniA rubino 7pm • $16adv
- February 15 -
| A R T S & C U L T U R E
- February 24 -
the thermals colleen green 7pm • $12.50adv
9pm • $20
Rick Estrin & the Nightcats
La Noche Oskura
The Palms Playhouse, 8:30 p.m., $20 In 2013, members of Rick Estrin & the Nightcats were nominated for four awards at the 34th annual Blues Music Awards. BLUES Estrin walked away with the award for InstrumentalistHarmonica for good reason: He doesn’t just blow the harp, he makes you believe that the train’s running down the tracks, and that you’d better jump before it arrives. After hearing Kid Andersen work his guitar, it’s easy to understand his nomination in the Instrumentalist-Guitar category. J. Hansen drums, sings and joins Estrin in writing witty songs, and Lorenzo Farrell adds his organ and bass expertise. The group’s studio albums are great, but there’s nothing like seeing this band perform live. 13 Main Street in Winters, www.rickestrin.com.
—Trina L. Drotar
Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub, 9 p.m., $20-$25 Probably best known for its association with Jack Johnson (the group is signed to Johnson’s Brushfire Records, and singer Zach Gill is in the soft-rocker’s touring band), ALO—short for Animal Liberation Orchestra—visits Sacramento on its Tour d’Amour VIII national tour. To this show, fittingly happening on Valentine’s Day, the quartet will likely bring a good dose of uplifting jam-band antics with a healthy JAM/POP heaping of California surfrock vibes. Plus, if you’re in the mood for a little V-Day romance, Gill is known to add some moody European texture into songs with his lively accordion playing. He’s a charismatic bandleader and a capable pianist as well. 2708 J Street, www.alomusic.com.
Ace of Spades, 7 p.m., $20 The band has been described by local press as a “Mexican Sublime,” but the musicians comprising La Noche Oskura disagree. Besides, not all of them are Mexican. Unfortunately, when you’re brown and fuse ska, punk and a little cumbia, people jump to SKA/LATIN conclusions. The band formed in 2008, and, yes, sometimes the lyrics are en español, but—unlike Sublime—the blend of keys and timbales, in addition to a small horn section with trumpet and baritone sax, inspires its audiences to actually dance. There’s also the band’s lyrical content, which promotes human rights, self-determination and tolerance. At this show, La Noche opens for the English Beat. 1417 R Street, www.face book.com/lanocheoskura.
Mondavi Center, 8 p.m., $25-$49 Despite being just 32, Chris Thile has spent more than half of his life in the spotlight as a musician, first with the popular, progressive-acoustic group Nickel Creek, and currently with the Punch Brothers, whose music combines Americana, classical, folk and country sensibilities. The multiple Grammy Award-winning mandolinist and composer has also collaborated with the likes of famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma and various orchestras, in addition to carving out a career for himself in the solo world. Thile recently released his latest album, Bach: Sonatas and Partitas, FOLK/CLASSICAL Vol. 1 and will be performing songs from it at this solo show this week in Davis. 9399 Old Davis Road in Davis, www.facebook.com/christhile.
1000 K Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
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For Rentals or Private Parties please contact AssemblyMusicHall@gmail.com
thurs feb 13 @ 7:30pm
sat feb 15 @ 8pm
thu feb 20 @ 7pm
fri feb 21 @ 7pm wrings - zanko - juliet company
wed feb 26 @ 6pm
sat feb 22 @ 6:30pm 32 | SN&R |
pArADisE fEArs sunderland - battle scars
fri feb 28 @ 6:30pm
mar 01 mar 02 mar 05 mar 06 mar 08 mar 10 mar 11 mar 13 mar 14 mar 15 mar 17 mar 21 mar 22 mar 23 mar 24 mar 25 mar 26 mar 27 mar 29 apr 05
baeza we butter the bread with butter sunny ledfurd posterchild ghost of the robot cultura profetica we are the in crowd infected mushroom rachel barton pine the siren show protest the hero the Kin Kumande’s live experience alesana being as an ocean blacK lips carnifex animals as leaders autumn sKy / life in 24 frames headbang for the hwy
City of Trees Brass Band
Shine, 8 p.m., $5
Luigi’s Fun Garden, 8 p.m., $5
Most folks hip to the local music scene are familiar with Element Brass Band. But there’s another group making serious, similar waves as well: City of Trees Brass Band. While certainly influenced by purveyors of the New Orleans second-line style of jazz, City of Trees also cites less traditional acts like the Youngblood Brass Band and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble as sources of inspiration—groups from the Midwest that merge brassy jazz with hip-hop, gypsy rock and even punk. The result is an expectedly FUNK/JAZZ funky, yet unexpectedly contemporary party, with as many as 12 musicians grooving on trumpet, saxophone, trombone, sousaphone and percussion instruments. 1400 E Street, www.facebook.com/cotbb.
Ace of Spades, 6 p.m., $15
Just because Soft Science writes catchy, feel-good noise-pop songs doesn’t mean the subject matter isn’t dark. Singer Katie NOISE-POP Haley has a sugary-sweet voice, but on the new song “Feel,” which is a driving Yo La Tengoesque rocker, she sings about a time in 2011 when she gave birth to her twins prematurely, and didn’t know for more than a month if they would be OK. (They were, but at the time, she was terrified.) Like all its songs, the beat may be straightforward, but the instrumentation is lush with nuanced guitar texturing, noise and ambient sounds. “Feel” is on Soft Science’s new Test Patterns Records album Detour, which was released this week. 1050 20th Street, www.facebook.com/softsciencemusic.
Two years ago, longtime Sacramento hardrock band Track Fighter signed with Silent Majority Group, a subsidiary of Warner Music Group, and independently released its five-song EP Revenge. The guys flew out to record in Nashville, Tenn., with Grammy Award-winning producer Malcolm Springer, who’s worked with Matchbox Twenty, Collective Soul and Fear Factory. Other highlights in Track Fighter’s career HARD ROCK include performing alongside Deftones, As I Lay Dying and others during the Taste of Chaos Tour at Arco Arena. Now, the guys kick off 2014 with their first live show of the year supporting bands such as Escape the Fate and New Years Day. 1417 R Street, www.trackfightermusic.com.
All Ages Welcome!
Saturday, February 22
ArdEN pArk roots
pigEoN JohN - dJ FrEsh - iANC
THe GRoucH & eliGH WedneSday, February 26
THe eNGliSH beAT
doM KeNNedY skEmE
lA NoChE oskurA - squArEFiEld mAssivE
Sunday, February 16
eScApe THe fATe EvE to AdAm - NEw YEArs dAY AwokEN shAdows
monday, February 17
thurSday, February 27
lAs rAkAs - simplE CrEAtioN squArEFiEld mAssivE
Saturday, march 1
TieRRA iNNEr soul
i sEE stArs - CApturE thE CrowN iCE NiNE kills - mYkA rEloCAtE
thurSday, march 6
Friday, February 21
pHANToGRAM whitE sEA
1417 R Street, Sacramento, 95814 www.aceofspadessac.com
thurSday, February 13
Saturday, February 15
A contrarian since the beginning, Fred Eaglesmith was horrified when newbies recently descended on Americana like locusts. So the Ontario, Canada-born singer-songwriter figuratively hopped a freight out of town, ROCK much like he literally did to begin his career as a teen. During the ensuing four decades, he pursued rootsy, countrytinged rock reminiscent of Texas country artists such as Joe Ely, Jerry Jeff Walker and Dale Watson. Since leaving Americana following 2008’s dark gospel-blues album Tinderbox, Eaglesmith recorded the cabaret and bossa nova-inflected Cha Cha Cha, aped crunchy Crazy Horse-era Neil Young, and offered an eclectic array of early ’60s pop rock on his latest, Tambourine. 614 Sutter Street in Folsom, (916) 355-8586, www.fredeaglesmith.com.
Ace of SpAdeS KARl deNSoN’S TiNY uNiveRSe
PowerHouse Pub, 9 p.m., call for cover
priCElEss dA roC - diAmoNd dEz - biAJE & smokE dJ kENtot - kEYriNgz - miC tAYlor - YouNg dusE
03/13 03/15 03/19 03/20 03/21 03/22 03/24 03/26 03/30 03/31 04/02 04/04 04/09 04/15 04/16 04/17 04/21 04/24 04/25 04/27 05/11 05/16 05/21 05/31
Umphrey’s McGee The Expendables Break Science The Wailers Memphis May Fire Eoto Bun B & Kirko Bangz Moonshine Bandits & The Lacs Reverend Horton Heat Blue October Beats Antique Yonder Mountain String Band Schoolboy Q All Time Low Sevendust Mogwai The 1975 The Dandy Warhols Drive-By Truckers Julieta Venegas Twenty One Pilots “One” Metallica Tribute Band Christina Perri Tech N9ne
Tickets available at all Dimple Records Locations, The Beat Records, and Armadillo Records, or purchase by phone @ 916.443.9202
F E AT U R E
| A R T S & C U L T U R E
ASSEMBLY MUSIC HALL 1000 K St., (916) 832-4751
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Tipsy Thursdays, Top 40 deejay dancing, 9pm, call for cover
Fabulous and Gay Fridays, 9pm, call for cover
Saturday Boom, 9pm, call for cover
Sin Sunday, 8pm, call for cover
Mad Mondays, 9pm M; Latin video flair and Wii bowling, 7pm Tu
Karaoke, 7:30pm, no cover
MOON MANTIS, 9:30pm, $5
ISLAND OF BLACK & WHITE, 9:30pm, $5
VAGABOND BROTHERS, 2-5pm, no cover
Trivia, 6:30pm M, no cover; Open-mic, 7:30pm W, no cover
Blues jam session, 4pm, no cover
PRYME TRACKS, 8pm, call for cover
JUNIOR BROWN, SACTOWN PLAYBOYS; 8pm, call for cover
Get Down to the Champion Sound reggae night, 9pm-2am, $3
Naughty Trivia, 8pm W, no cover
EL CAPITAN, WILLY DYLL, YOUNG K,
METAL CHURCH, RESURRECTION OF
MOTOGRATER, FORCE MULTIPLIED, PETTY EDUCATION, BRI; 7:30pm, $12-$15
CENTER FOR THE ARTS
314 W. Main St., Grass Valley; (530) 274-8384
LUKAS NELSON & PROMISE OF THE REAL, 8pm, $20-$22
OLIVER MTUKUDZI AND THE BLACK SPIRITS, 8pm, $20-$22
SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK, 8pm, $45-$53
THE COZMIC CAFÉ
Open-mic, 7:30pm, no cover
DRAWING OUT LIFE, THE ALEX VINCENT BAND; 8pm, $5
RGB, MATMOG, PRINCE DUCHOVNY, MEDICINE AL; 8pm, $5-$10
HYPER CRUSH, 10pm, call for cover
DJ ELEMENTS, 9pm, call for cover
DJs Billy Lane, Vik Rokit, Katz, Beat Electric, 10pm, call for cover
Hip-hop and Top 40 Deejay dancing, 9pm, $5-$10
Hip-hop and Top 40 Deejay dancing, 9pm, $5-$10
Dragalicious, 9pm, $5
SEA LEGS, RED UNION BLUE, THE FOLLOWERS OF SUNSHINE; 9pm, $5
TOUCHEZ, REDRICK SULTAN, TEPID JOY; 9pm, $5
1400 Alhambra, (916) 455-3400
9426 Greenback Ln., Orangevale; (916) 988-9247 2 WISEMEN, BUTTERCREAM GANG; 8pm RUIN, SOLANUM; 8pm, $20-$22
594 Main St., Placerville; (530) 642-8481
1016 K St., (916) 737-5770
2000 K St., (916) 448-7798
FOX & GOOSE
STEVE MCLANE, 8pm, no cover
1001 R St., (916) 443-8825
Hey local bands!
2003 K St., (916) 448-8790 101 Main St., Roseville; (916) 774-0505
G STREET WUNDERBAR
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.
SATURDAY 2/15 The Siren Show presents Good Clean Dirty Fun, 8pm, $15-$25
BOBBY CALDWELL, 7:30pm, $45
Open-mic, 7:30pm M; Pub Quiz, 7pm Tu; Northern Soul, 8pm W, no cover
SKUNK FUNK, DANK OCEAN, 9pm, no cover
228 G St., Davis; (530) 756-9227
THE GOLDEN BEAR
DJ Shaun Slaughter, 10pm, call for cover
2326 K St., (916) 441-2252
HALFTIME BAR & GRILL
5681 Lonetree Blvd., Rocklin; (916) 626-6366
Queer Idol, 9pm M, no cover; Latin night, 9pm Tu, $5; DJ Alazzawi, 9pm W, $3
DJ Crook One, 10pm, call for cover
DJ Whores, 10pm, no cover
TRAGICALLY WHITE, 9pm-midnight, $5
GROOVE THANG, 9pm-midnight, $5 MARTIN LUTHER, 10pm, $20
Industry Night, 9pm, call for cover
Trivia night, W, call for cover Trivia night, 7:30-9pm Tu, no cover; Karaoke, 8pm-midnight W, no cover
2708 J St., (916) 441-4693
DENVER J. BAND, STREET URCHINZ, STELLAR; 8pm, $7-$10
ANIMAL LIBERATION ORCHESTRA, RAINBOW GIRLS; 9pm, $20-$25
LEVEL UP FOOD & LOUNGE
Karaoke, 9pm, no cover
CLEMON CHARLES, 6-9pm, $25
LUNA’S CAFÉ & JUICE BAR
Joe Montoya’s Poetry Unplugged, 8pm, $2
THE SIGNIFIERS, KEN MEYERS, AL ZAID, REBEKKAH CHERRY; 8pm, $5
THE STRING THING, 7pm, $5
Nebraska Mondays, 7:30pm M, $5-$20; Comedy night, 8pm W, $6
MARILYN’S ON K
JERAMY NORRIS AND THE DANGEROUS MOOD, CHRISTIAN DEWILD BAND; 8pm
SACTO STORYTELLERS, THE SLIPPERY SLOPE, OLD SCREEN DOOR; 9pm, $8
OH! THE BAND, 9pm, $10
Karaoke, 8pm M, no cover; THE MAIN ARCADE, 9pm W, $5
NAKED LOUNGE DOWNTOWN
DEREK THOMAS, SANDRA DOLORES, ROB BRUNDAGE; 8:30pm, $5
RUBY JAYE FRADKIN, BRITTANY VANESSA, JESI NAOMI; 8:30pm, $8
BOB EASTON-WALLER, JOYCE LEARY, TYLER RAGLE; 8:30pm, $5
Jazz, 8pm M; THE MUNDAZE, SHANNON BRADLEY, KYLE TUTTLE; 8:30pm W, $5
2431 J St., (916) 448-8768
1414 16th St., (916) 441-3931 908 K St., (916) 446-4361 1111 H St., (916) 443-1927
THE DUHKS, 7pm, $20 Hip-hop and R&B deejay dancing, 9:16pm Tu, no cover
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1901 10th St., (916) 442-3504
JEANNIE HOWELL, AL MAXWELL; 9pm, no cover
CARDBOARD RINGO, WOLFHOUSE, RACE TO THE BOTTOM; 8:30pm, $10-$15
Fascination: ’80s new-wave dancing, 9:30pm, $5
ON THE Y
Karaoke, 9pm, no cover
BRUTHA SMITH, SOUR DIESEL, BLAQUELISTED, OTF; 9pm, $5
Karaoke, 9pm, no cover
THE PALMS PLAYHOUSE
RICK ESTRIN & THE NIGHTCATS, 8pm, $20
SARAH LEE GUTHRIE AND JOHNNY IRION, JOHNNY IRION; 8pm, $15
THE PARK ULTRA LOUNGE
DJ Eddie Edul and DJ Revolver, 9pm-2am, $15
DJ Peeti V, 9pm-2am, $15
Top 40, Mashups, 9pm, no cover
DJ Club mixes, 10pm, no cover
670 Fulton Ave., (916) 487-3731 13 Main St., Winters; (530) 795-1825 1116 15th St., (916) 442-7222
PARLARE EURO LOUNGE
Top 40, 9pm, no cover
1009 10th St., (916) 448-8960
PINE COVE TAVERN
502 29th St., (916) 446-3624
PINS N STRIKES
3443 Laguna Blvd., Elk Grove; (916) 226-2625
DJ Supe, 9pm, call for cover
CLUB NOUVEAU, 9pm, call for cover
MONDAY-WEDNESDAY 2/17-2/19 Karaoke w/ Sac City Entertainment, 9pm Tu, no cover ; Open-mic, 9pm W, no cover
Open-mic comedy, 9pm, no cover
Karaoke, 9pm Tu, no cover
DJ Spider and DJ Eddie Edul, 9pm-2am, $15
J.D. VALERIO, 9-11pm, no cover
Open-mic, 10pm-1am Tu, no cover
DJ Old Griff, 9pm, no cover
FABULOUS LIARS, 9pm-midnight, $5
THE THREE WAY, 9pm, $5
ROAD 88, 10pm, call for cover
SPAZMATICS, 10pm, call for cover
BLACK EYED DEMPSEYS, POINTDEXTER; 10pm, call for cover
MELVIN SEALS AND JGB, 3pm, call for cover
Country Karaoke, 9pm M, call for cover; DJ Alazzawi, DJ Rigatony, 10pm Tu, $3
THE PRESS CLUB
TASK1NE, C-NOTE, ZIGGY; 9pm, $7
Top 40 w/ DJ Rue, 9pm, $5
Top 40 Night w/ DJ Larry Rodriguez, 9pm, $5
ELEMENT BRASS BAND, TASK1NE, CAM, PAUL WILLIS, LUKE TAILOR; 6pm, $5
HOPELESS JACK & THE HANDSOME DEVIL, BLUE OAKS; 8pm M, $5
705 J St., (916) 442-1268
Comedy Night and DJ Selekta Lou, 9pm, $5
STONEY INN/ROCKIN’ RODEO
AGAINST THE GRAIN, 9pm, $5
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 w/ Mike Del Campo and Mr. DJ Omar, 8:30pm, no cover, $5 after 9:30pm
Salsa with Mike Del Campo, 8:30pm, no cover; $5 after 9:30pm
Domingos Latinos with Mr. DJ Omar, 9pm, $5-$10
Blues jam session, 8:30pm Tu, no cover
PETER PETTY, 9pm-1am, $5; X TRIO, 5pm, no cover
DIPPIN’ SAUCE, 5:30pm, no cover; DANIEL CASTRO, 9pm, $8
Blues jam, 4pm, no cover; GOLDEN CADILLACS, 8pm, $5
Acoustic open-mic, 5:30pm W, no cover; JOHNNY BURGIN BAND, 9pm W, $5
5461 Mother Lode, Placerville; (530) 626-0336 614 Sutter St., Folsom; (916) 355-8586 2030 P St., (916) 444-7914
1320 Del Paso Blvd., (916) 927-6023
1100 Orlando Ave., Roseville; (916) 728-1166 904 15th St., (916) 443-2797
Island of Black & White 9:30pm Saturday, $5. Bar 101 Rock and funky reggae
Pirate Night: Bounty of Booty w/ DJ Katz, 8pm, $12-$15 Country dancing, 7:30pm, no cover; $5 after 8pm
PAILER AND FRATIS, 5:30-7:30pm, no cover; MR. DECEMBER, 9pm, $7
Ruby Jaye Fradkin with Brittany Vanessa and Jesi Naomi 8:30pm Friday, $8. Naked Lounge Downtown Singer-songwriter
All ages, all the time ACE OF SPADES
1417 R St., (916) 448-3300
KARL DENSON’S TINY UNIVERSE, ARDEN PARK ROOTS; 6:30pm, $20
LUIGI’S SLICE AND FUN GARDEN
UGLY BUNNY, OKAPI SUN; 8pm, $5
COOL GROOVES, THE URBAN SHERPAS, DAVID HOUSTON, ANGELIQUE; 8pm, $5 ICE AGE JAZZTET; 8pm, $5
1050 20th St., (916) 552-0317 1400 E St., (916) 551-1400
THE ENGLISH BEAT, LA NOCHE OSKURA, ESCAPE THE FATE, EVE TO ADAM, NEW SQUAREFIELD MASSIVE; 7pm, $20 YEAR’S DAY, TRACK FIGHTER; 6pm, $15 PLOTS, DAD PUNCH, QUIET SMILE; 8pm, $5
ATTILA, I SEE STARS, CAPTURE THE CROWN, ICE NINE KILLS; 6pm M, $16
SOFT SCIENCE, DESARIO, CELESTIONS; 8pm, $6 BIG STICKY MESS, Z-STRAIN, THE CITY OF TREES BRASS BAND; 8pm, $5
A RT S & C U LT U R E
Open jazz jam w/ Jason Galbraith & Friends, 8pm Tu, no cover
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—Admiral Stoneyham Salutations, Admiral. I would say the tipping point is fast approaching. Not just in the United States, but all over the world. José “Pepe” Mujica, president of Uruguay, has just been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize because he legalized marijuana. Over in France, not only has the health ministry just allowed Sativex (a marijuanaBEALUM based oral spray) to be used to treat people with by NGAIO multiple sclerosis, but French Sen. Esther Benbassa also has proposed that France legalize marijuana completely. Her proposal probably won’t ’13get much a s k420 @ ne wsreview.c om traction yet, but I tell you this: If France legalizes weed, they could quickly become the best spot for outdoor in the world. Think of the dirt! Back in the states, Florida got the go-ahead to add a medical-marijuana initiative to the ballot. And Charlie Crist, former Republican governor of Florida and current front-runner to become governor in 2014 (he’s running as a Democrat), had this to say: “I’m going to vote for it and I think it’s the right thing to do.” More and more politicians are realizing that marijuana not Colorado made at legalizing only saves money, but least $1 million it helps to legitimize the government. Like Tennessee in taxes in the Congressman Steve first month of Cohen said while he was lambasting deputy drug czar recreational sales. Michael Botticelli during a recent hearing, “Heroin is getting into the arms of young people,” Cohen said. “When we put marijuana on the same level as heroin and crack and LSD and meth and crack and cocaine, we are telling young people not to listen to adults about the ravages and problems, and they don’t listen because they know you’re wrong.” He may have been a bit rambly, but you get his point. California is also in the mix. The people behind the Marijuana Control, Legalization & Revenue Act just won approval to begin seeking signatures for the 2014 ballot. I have no idea if they can get it on the ballot, but I hope they can do it. I will keep going. Oregon may have legal marijuana by 2014. Washington, D.C.’s city council just voted to decriminalize pot. Colorado made at least $1 million Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento in taxes in the first month of recreational sales. I say comedian, activist “at least” because only 18 of the 35 stores open so far and marijuana expert. have made reports. Think about how much they will Email him questions make when they have 100 or so stores open. The New at ask420@ newsreview.com. Hampshire House of Representatives voted to legalize cannabis, although the governor has promised a veto. Alaska activists just got enough signatures to put a legalization bill similar to the one Colorado has on the ballot for the election coming this August. The Vermont Legislature is looking at ways to legalize, and it could have legal weed by 2015. You want more? Try these: Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Missouri, Minnesota, Kentucky, Tennessee and the aforementioned Florida all have some sort of medical-marijuana legislation pending. The dominoes, they fall, and they fall fast. Let’s keep pushing. Ω
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by CODY DRABBLE
ARIES (March 21-April 19): In her TED
talk, science writer Mary Roach made it clear that human beings don’t need genital stimulation to experience orgasms. She spoke of a woman who routinely reaches ecstatic climax by having her eyebrows caressed, and another woman who reaches the “big O” simply by brushing her teeth. Then there’s the woman who can simply think herself into coming, no physical touch necessary. I can’t guarantee that a similar aptitude will suddenly turn on in you, Aries, but the coming days could bring you as close as you have ever been. Right now, you’re a connoisseur of deep pleasure—a blessed bliss master.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Jesuit
priest Pedro Arrupe touted the practical value of being totally in love. “What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything,” he said. “It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, … how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, … and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.” Are you in love, Scorpio? With either a person, a beloved animal, a certain patch of land, your creative work or life itself? If not, there’s no excuse! Astrologically speaking, it’s an excellent time for you to be stupendously in love with someone or something—anything! If you are already in this state, trust your intuition to make it even smarter and finer.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21):
Borrowing the words of Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks), I’ve prepared a love note for you to use as your own. Give it to a person whose destiny needs to be woven more closely together with yours: “You are the sky my spirit circles in, the love inside love, the resurrection-place.” Would you like even more inspirational words to deliver to your chosen one? I hope so. Be greedy for lyrical bonding. Lust for springy intimacy. Feed your churning yearning. Try saying this, lifted from the book The Last Unicorn: “We are two sides of the same magic.” And be sure to say this, paraphrased from Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh: “I love you in a way that will always make you feel free.”
GEMINI (May 21-June 20):
“[D]runk with my madness, I shouted at him furiously, ‘Make life beautiful! Make life beautiful!’” So says a character in a prose poem by Charles Baudelaire. And now, even though I am neither drunk nor furious nor consumed with madness, I am whispering the same command to you. I hope you will respond by embarking on a heroic effort to make life beautiful everywhere you go. The astrological omens suggest that if you do, you will be inundated with practical blessings that are as valuable as money. This will also be an excellent way to drum up the kind of love you crave.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19):
“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit,” said author Elizabeth Gilbert. “But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back. ... [T]hey tear down your walls and smack you awake ... shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you ... transform your life.” Does that sound like the kind of person you want in your life, Capricorn? Or do you prefer someone who likes what you like, appreciates you just as you are, and makes your life more secure and comfortable? This Valentine season is a good time to make or renew your commitment to one choice or the other. Whatever you decide, you’re likely to experience it on a richer, deeper level during the next 12 months.
CANCER (June 21-July 22): Here’s
what I wish for you during the Valentine season: to be happily in love with an intimate partner who loves you back. If that’s not feasible, here’s what I hope: that you are learning provocative lessons about yourself through your growth-inducing relationship with a close ally. And if you’re not blessed with either of those experiences, here’s a third alternative: that you cherish your fathomless longing for its own sake, feeling wonder and reverence for its wild power even if it’s unfulfilled.
LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Making eye con-
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Do you
feel oppressed by Valentine’s Day? Maybe you’re single and reject the cultural bias that says being in an intimate relationship is the healthy norm. Or maybe you’re part of a couple but are allergic to the cartoonish caricatures of romance that bombard you during the Valentine marketing assault. If you’d rather consecrate love and intimacy in your own unique way, untainted by the stereotypes flying around, I invite you to rebel. Make this the year you overthrow the old ways and start a new tradition: Valentine’s Day 2.0. Mock sappy, sentimental expressions of romance even as you carry out futuristic experiments in radically slaphappy love.
tact is essential for building potent links with people you care about. It bypasses rational thought, stimulating chemical reactions in your bodies that enhance empathy and intimacy. In practicing the art of love, it’s one of the most potent moves you can make. This Valentine season would be an excellent time for you Leos to explore the frontiers of what’s possible through prolonged eye contact. Start here: Cultivate a sincere desire to know what’s simmering inside the souls of your dearest allies. With that as your driving force, your gaze won’t be clouded by shyness or self-consciousness.
VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): “I prefer an
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): “I have
come to be fascinated with the messiness of desire,” wrote novelist Ashley Warlick, “with the ways people fit themselves together, take themselves apart for each other, for want of each other, of some parts of each other.” Your assignment, Pisces, is to celebrate the messiness of desire, to not just grudgingly accept it as an inconvenience you’ve got to tolerate, but rather to marvel at it, be amused by it, and appreciate it for all the lessons it provides. Your motto this Valentine season could be, “bless the messy largesse of my longing.”
ecstatic orgasm to a lot of angst,” says Filipino artist David Medalla. I hope you consider making that your battle cry during this Valentine season. It would be in rapt harmony with the current cosmic omens. There really is no need for you to get sidelined by anxiety or distracted by stress when the natural remedy is so easily available. In every way you can imagine, Virgo, fight off sourness and dourness by engaging in acts of joy and pleasure.
LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): In her poem
“Implications of One Plus One,” Marge Piercy marvels at the way she and her long-term partner keep finding new nuances in their lovemaking. “Ten years of fitting our bodies together / and still they sing wild songs in new keys,” she writes. What’s their secret? It’s “timing, / chemistry, magic and will and luck.” What I wish for you this Valentine season, Libra, is that you will have access to all five of
those ingredients as you reinvigorate your relationship to love. More importantly—based on the current cosmic omens—I predict you will have access to them.
TAURUS (April 20-May 20): “The
fact that someone else loves you doesn’t rescue you from the project of loving yourself,” writes blogger Sahaj Kohli. Nothing else rescues you from that quest, either, I would add. Sooner or later, whether it’s now or 20 years in the future, you will have to master this fine art. It’s not enough to merely feel affection for yourself; not enough to seek pleasure and avoid pain. You’ve got to make extensive investigations to discover what it means to love yourself, you have to develop rigorous plans for how to accomplish it; and you must fire up a deep commitment as you actually carry out those plans. By the way, the coming weeks will be an excellent time to work on mastering this fine art.
PHOTO BY ADAM DILLON
For the week of February 13, 2014
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
Inner weirdness, unleashed Robert Armstrong, a painter, musician and underground comic-book illustrator, has lived in Dixon and Winters since the 1970s. Armstrong’s career highlights include counterculture contributions, such as the Mickey Rat comic series, popularizing the phrase “couch potato,” and playing guitar in R. Crumb and His Cheap Suit Serenaders (yes, that R. Crumb). He’s taught illustration classes to kids and adults at the Davis Art Center, the Crocker Art Museum and Sacramento State University, and his résumé also includes cover illustrations and editorial cartoons for this newspaper. Armstrong, who currently has paintings on display at Roseville’s Blue Line Arts gallery as part of a joint exhibition with Monte Wolverton, recently chatted with SN&R about Mad magazine, road trips and illustrating Karl Rove.
How did you get into comic books? Entertainment Comics did all the great horror comics [series], Vault of Horror, Crypt of Terror and the great crime stuff. I had friends who were [comic-book] collectors, and they shared with me. The whole superhero thing seemed so contrived and so formulaic, just such production-line stuff.
What influenced you to pursue art? My father brought home a copy of Mad magazine, and I still have it. I remember studying stuff as a kid in those early Mad [issues] that was beautifully drawn, with all these cartoonists that became heroes of mine—Jack Davis, Wally Wood, Will Elder.
Are you self-taught? Pretty much. I learned by doing it. I went to a year or two at Pasadena City College, which had a fairly good art department. Back then, everything was about abstract expressionism. My art teachers at the |
A RT S & C U LT U R E
time tried to dissuade me from [comicbook art]. They thought it was lowbrow; a waste of time; just cheap, trashy stuff. Years later, I was vindicated.
Who did you study to learn illustrating? I tried to be unique, but we’re all influenced. Carl Barks, who did Donald Duck, is a huge influence. I found out [about] the East Village Other because my older brother was in the Army stationed in New Jersey, and he would go into New York on furloughs and hang around the East Village. He saw this underground paper that had cartoons, and he got me a subscription to it. That’s where I first saw work by Kim Deitch, R. Crumb and Spain Rodriguez, all these guys that later on became good friends of mine. I thought, “Wow, look, hippie comics!”
How did you meet Robert Crumb? In 1969, I was still in Pasadena, and I had an old buddy of mine who was living in Berkeley, and he met Crumb at the flea market. They were fighting over a box of 78 [RPM records] and started talking. We had some great adventures traveling across the country, a real Jack Kerouac time. We bought a ’55 Cadillac convertible in Denver in the spring of 1972 and wound up driving it back to Chicago and New York City. It was high adventure for me, just playing music and drawing comics along the way.
You illustrated the 1987 book The Couch Potato Guide to Life. What’s your connection to that term? My friend first said [“couch potato”] to joke about a mutual friend. I designed couch potato buttons and T-shirts, and all my friends wanted one. ... We were having fun, and it really started out as this organization for us and our friends. [The |
Los Angeles Times] wound up doing a full page with color photos about us. After that, my mailbox was just jammed with shirt orders. All these other papers picked up [the story] all across the country. All of a sudden, I was this media darling. ... I couldn’t believe it, it was so absurd, so surreal. Then, I got a licensing deal. Coleco toys did a doll. There was a TV game show [in 1989]. All kinds of ancillary products; some of them were quite ugly.
Best editorial cartoon you did for SN&R? One time, Karl Rove was coming to give a talk in Sacramento, so I [illustrated] Karl being chased by an angry mob with pitchforks. I drew him like a chubby, sweaty little pig with an attaché case with money falling out. That was fun.
Some of your recent paintings feel like a scene from The Jetsons. Explain. I like the whole idea of cities of the future as they were imagined in the past. Yesterday’s future. And I like the robot [motif]. I’ve liked robots since I was a kid. I made some robots from found objects. My backyard has a few life-size robots.
When do you decide what your painting means? Coming up with a theme for a painting can be tough. You can overthink it, you can just stifle yourself in a weird way. So I just try to keep it loose, slightly distracted, let the other part of your brain take over and just go ahead and do it. Let other people sort it out. They can figure out what it means. Ω Check out Together: Monte Wolverton and Robert Armstrong at Blue Line Arts, located at 405 Vernon Street, Suite 100 in Roseville. The artists’ reception is on Saturday, February 15, at 7 p.m. The exhibit runs through February 22. Visit www.bluelinearts.org for other details.