I’m sure other down-on-their-luck NBA markets have their “ones that got away,” but it’s pretty hard to watch perennial All-Star Isaiah Thomas get mentioned in the MVP discussion for his play with the Celtics. But now there’s another source of woe, as Jimmer Fredette, our lottery pick in 2011 famously chosen ahead of Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard (long pause here in writing the post as, like many Sacramentans, I become legally dead for a short period every time I realize that) has been named MVP of the Chinese NBA. He is averaging 36 points per game and recently scored 73 (!) for the Shanghai Sharks.
According to Deadline, local standup JR De Guzman, frequent performer at beloved Midtown improv joint Comedy Spot, has won StandUp NBC, a nationwide talent search for “comedians of diverse backgrounds.”
De Guzman was chosen from among eight other finalists out of more than 600 stand-up comedians who auditioned at open calls last year in New York City, San Diego, Nashville and Austin.
Born in the Philippines and raised in California, De Guzman began performing stand-up comedy while working as a music teacher. He has performed for Stand-Up Tokyo and ROR Comedy in Japan, the Jokers Ball in Indonesia, the Badaboom Comedy Series in Amsterdam and the Edmonton Comedy Festival. He has shared the stage with Tim Allen, Margaret Cho, Daniel Tosh, Jerrod Carmichael and Iliza Shlesinger.
The prize includes a 1-year talent deal with NBC. In addition to his national and cable/streaming appearances, JR is performing at the ‘Spot later this month.
Electro Group, a shoegazer mainstay of the local music scene in the late ’90s, have managed to stay together and put out several albums in the 2000’s. The latest, Ranger, was out on 1/27. I got in touch with the band–Matt Hull (drums), Tim Jacobson (guitar & vocals), and Ian Hernandez (bass)–to talk about the new album, their history with Sacramento and their plans for a spring tour.
How long have you all been working on this album?
Tim: At least the beginning of 2014 if we include planning. It’s funny; the whole reason we went to a studio and worked with a producer this time was to get it done quicker than we can on our own. We did get it done quickly but it still came out in 2017.
Back in the late ’90s, Electro Group had one of the most defined musical styles in town and blew out many eardrums as the noise pop vanguard of the local scene. Though it has been a full 10 years since their last LP Good Technology in 2007, the band has managed to eke out recordings on vinyl and even put out a cassingle (!) in 2015. Last month they released a new LP, Ranger, on their longtime label Research Sound Recordings.
The album is strong out of the box with “Like Pelicans,” introducing you immediately to the elements that make up such a consistent sound for a band that has been together for 20 years: falsetto vocals over deeply crunchy guitars, heavy bass, and inventive drum lines. Characteristic atonal riffs and hard-driving fuzz make “Undone” another standout, and “Mandobo” is a sweeping, My Bloody Valentine-inspired anthem. The epic Built to Spill inspired outro of “Monotron” is a standout of the latter half of the album. Electro Group may wear its influences on its sleeve, but this is no mere copycat band. They’ve got the chops to back it up.
The sound is mature, pulling in strings on “Unwind” and a synth-and-keys vibe on “Gong.” Electro Group are still interested in moving their sound forward rather than just covering old ground. Ranger is a solid album from a band confident in its sound, one that should gather lots of “where has this been all my life?” reactions on their upcoming tour.
Tomorrow: An interview with the band.
In this nuclear winter of our national discontent, it’s local moments like this that warm the
But to really appreciate what’s going on here, take my hand and let’s walk back ten or so years. Sacramento’s “art scene” was set on languid autopilot. It essentially amounted to Second Saturday, a monthly ritual in which midtown scenesters would wander from gallery to gallery swilling Two Buck Chuck from plastic cups and not actually buying anything. But a lot has happened since then. To wit:
- The Crocker Art Museum opened a 125,000-square-foot pavilion to expand from its dusty, rustic Victorian origins.
- The Verge Center for the Arts opened, creating new artist studios, alliances and exhibitions.
- The Capitol Box Art Project turned traffic utility boxes into canvases (vinyl wraps actually) for public art display.
- Warehouse Artist Lofts, a mixed-use/mixed-income community for artists opened in Sacramento’s Historic R Street District. It is not only a vibrant center of art and commerce but also quite fire safe.
- Art Hotel happened. (More on that below.)
- The Sacramento Mural Fest became a thing, adding tons of public art to the grid.
- Just last month, the new mayor and city council passed a $500,000 appropriation to help arts programs, beginning with a $25,000 grant for the Art Street show.
The momentum that has pushed the Sacramento art scene to this point is potent. It’s exciting. It makes our aspirations to destinationhood appear manifestly legit.
OK, so what’s Art Street? It started last year with Art Hotel when the Hotel Marshall, long Sacramento’s derelict residence of last resort, was finally closing its doors for good. Seumas Coutts, cofounder of M5Arts, saw the dilapidated space as an opportunity. He organized an effort to turn it into a temporary art installation and invited over 100 local artists to transform its interior spaces. Part of the allure was its impermanence. It was open for ten days only, and visitors were only able to go inside for 15 minutes at a time. Unless you returned for multiple viewings, you missed a lot. Despite the restrictions, Art Hotel was a huge success. This year, a similar effort has resulted in an experience that’s just as stunning but more accommodating.
Art Street is located near the west end of Broadway in a sprawling 65,000 square foot warehouse space. With a ten dollar online donation, you can procure a reservation, but it’s free just to show up and wait your turn. And to keep you happy while you’re waiting to enter the main space, there’s also a very large outdoor area full of murals, art installations, a friendly bar, and a food vendor making savory stews and roasting whole pigs.
<more story below this freakin’ mind-blowing mosiac>
Once you get inside, a maze of corridors and alcoves lead visitors to technicolor delights, dystopian visions, social ruminations, urban archaeological sites, cultural retrospectives, and yes, another couple bars including a saloon playing black and white videos.
Your time inside goes pretty fast, and you won’t want to feel hurried. I suggest planning two trips to Art Street: one during the day and one during the night. You’ll notice different things on each trip.
Art Street’s last day open is Saturday, February 25. Go. Just go.
Earlier this week vandals broke the front windows at Momo’s Meat Market in Tahoe Park, and next door the Supreme Barber Lounge was burglarized and hit with racist graffiti, because people are terrible.
But because people are also amazing, neighbors in my beloved former hood Tahoe Park are coming out in force to show these businesses some love. A group gathered to help the owners of Supreme Barber Lounge with cleanup, and raconteur, rabble-rouser, and one time (literally) writer on this here web log Isaac Gonzalez is blowing up Facebook with photos of huge groups gathered at Momo’s today for lunch.
And if you were wondering: yes, of course the graffiti swastika was backwards.
Cafe Lumiere, a breakfast joint across the street from the affected shops, is also getting in on the action:
Before there was the arena, before there was Mayor Basketball, before there was the idea of a Sacramento 3.0, there was a simpler time, the ’80s. And a simpler time called for a more straightforward and forthright beverage, coffee. And Sacramento’s first coffee roaster of that age was not Java City, it was not Boulevard, it was definitely not Temple. Honestly, you thought it was Temple? Read a book. It was, my friends, Coffee Works.
The simple roaster and coffee slinger started in 1982 at the same Folsom Blvd joint it currently inhabits, a one shop stop. And the coffee still tastes like a neon-fringed, aqua-netted, synthesizer-imbued cup of goodness that can’t be beat.
The signature roast, Jump Start, is a throwback cup a joe, an uncomplicated step-up from diner java, a gorgeous, brutalist thing that belongs in a museum alongside a 2-minute egg and a morning paper. For those in my gen-x demo, it’s a delightful way to revel in a morning.
Or, order a cappuccino, I dare you. Does it come with a beautiful leaf emblazoned in foam? A heart? A freeform message of artistic expression? Of course not. It’s a cup of coffee with foamy milk on it. It’s unfussy and strong and dark and toasty and roasty a little bit sinister and not your friend. Continue reading “A Sip of Sacramento 2.0”