Location, location, location … and now opportunity

Long time no post, will try to improve. I’ve been writing a great deal for others, the paid writing kinds of thing that sort of have to take a priority slot when you’re trying to pay the mortgage.

And speaking of mortgages …

Forbes magazine has just named the Big Tomato the nation’s worst housing market. I guess that means I shouldn’t be expecting a new neighbor in the empty house next-door any time soon. Like a lot of people, the owners leveraged their equity and got caught in the downdraft as they tried to sell. It’s approved by the bank for a short-sale — that means you can get it for less than is owed on it — but with so many houses to choose from in similar straights … well, at least it’s not a meth house.

Continue reading “Location, location, location … and now opportunity”

Nuts to all that!

Fox has a “fake news” comedy show called “The 1/2 Hour News Hour.” Haven’t seen it, can’t comment on its laugh-generating ability. But the show’s companion Web site OfficialNewsAgency.com has a winner with a very funny spoof of the mandatory neutering legislation (for pets, gentlemen! for pets!) recently shelved in the state Senate. (Update: The site isn’t associated with the show. I got that idea from their About page, which I now see has been changed to clearly show that they’re making fun of the Fox show, for people like me who are too dopey to get it. Ha!)

The story is being circulated all over the Internets as true, which is what spoof writers live for:

A marble monument to service dogs, originally set to be displayed in Sacramento, California, may be on its way out of the golden state. The reason? The statue’s “manhood” is still intact.

Proponents of the recently-tabled state assembly bill AB-1634, the so-called “California Healthy Pets Act”, which would require that most of the state’s dogs and cats over the age of 6 months be sterilized, claim that placing the image of an intact male dog on public property is harmful and sends the wrong message to California pet owners.

“Its not an appropriate display, in a state that carries out three million euthanasias a year.” said Dan Nender, a 1634 supporter who filed suit in Sacramento Federal Court to have the monument altered.

Pressed about the number, since most reputable sources set that number at 400,000, Nender replied, “One is too many. Concentrate on the point I’m making, not the numbers.”

Pretty good stuff, and very believable if you followed any of the heated rhetoric on both sides of the issue. (Which I very much did, like, um, full-time for weeks.)

Best part of all:

“As California government officials […] will attest to, Sacramento is a testicle-free zone.”

Well, OK, so maybe it’s not all a spoof. We are talking about a town full of politicians, after all.

Isn’t the Metro Chamber supposed to support local business?

Interesting item in the News&Review regarding the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce’s decision to award a contract for its Web site redesign to a non-Sacramento company — without ever giving the locals a chance to bid:

Meet Don Linville, a partner in the local Web developing firm Black Dog Studios. Back in 2005, Linville received an inside tip that the Sacramento Metro Chamber was planning to redesign its Web site in 2006. Like most chambers of commerce, Sacramento Metro’s mission is to facilitate local business. Linville, a dues-paying member, waited patiently for the Web site upgrade project to come up for bid, fully expecting the job to be awarded to a local firm.

Except that never happened. The project never came up for bid, and Linville recently discovered it had been awarded to Chamber Weblink, an Indiana-based vendor that specializes in providing technology services to chambers of commerce. In a word, the job had been outsourced.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that Black Dog has done some of my Web work — because I do support local business whenever I can. So, I know Linville and I know Henry, the handsome retriever who is the J Street firm’s official Black Dog and also its VP of Public Relations and Marketing.

But still, I gotta wonder: If an entity like the Metro Chamber that’s supposed to be supporting area businesses can’t be counted on to do so, what good is it? Linville is still wondering, too.

Henry, for his part, had no comment.

Eat like a mob boss

Maybe I’m just too big a fan of “The Sopranos,” but when I noticed baked ziti on the menu board at Cafe Milazzo, I just had to go for it. I could just hear Carmella telling Tony, “there’s some ziti in the ‘fridge,” and him grunting in reply.(Small and weird aside: One of the characters in “The Sopranos” sports a version of one of the names in la mia familia. My cousins can’t decide whether to be happy or horrified at this.)

Or maybe it wasn’t “The Sopranos” at all, but me just jonesing for the way Nonna used to make it. And the ziti? Perfect, with lots of gooey Mozarella and a tangy tomato bite. Better than Nonna’s, really, but probably not better than Carmella’s.

Worth more than a thousand words

The Bee has now put up on its Web site all the images in their “Without Words” exhibition at the Crocker. Pretty powerful stuff, but … didn’t anything happen in Sacramento before the ’70s? All the images are relatively recent, which is pretty odd for a 150-year celebration.

Backstory on these images would have been interesting, especially since I know that one Bee photographer (Genaro Molina) was permanently injured covering the Loma Prieta earthquake, and another (Morgan Ong) barely escaped the floodwaters of 1986 with his life. As for Dick Schmidt (now retired from The Bee) … was he Mr. On The Spot, or what? He has more images than anyone else in the show.

Amazing work, and better when seen at the Crocker. Check it out!

Good luck, Russ

Tower Records, R.I.P.Few businesses in the history of capitalism blew as badly as Tower Records. The Sacramento-founded and West Sacramento-based company went from having must-shop stores in Hollywood, Tokyo and Manhattan to being the current generation’s edition of a buggy-whip manufacturer.

The Bee is reporting that Tower Records founder and Sacramento-area legend Russ Solomon has signed a lease for the former TR site on Broadway, with plans to open a … um … would it still be called a “record” store? For the history-minded, that location would be right across the street from where it all began, in the corner of the Solomon family’s Tower Drugs.

Fergoshsakes, Russ, you’re 81 years old. Why don’t you open an iTunes account like the rest of the world and enjoy your retirement? Still, gotta admire the spirit and wish him the best.

As an aside … isn’t it strange that after all those years Tower didn’t own that property? The family that does has also leased the Tower Books site, to the Avid Reader.

Josh holds court

Coffee!Have anyone else noticed the SacRag crew seems to spend a lot of time in coffee houses?

My favorite — when I can get a parking space — is Tupelo, on Elvas. Free Wi-Fi, clever coffee drinks I never order (espresso and Jolt cola? Argh!) and great morning roast, which I do order. Plus, most mornings you can see the same people, which really gives the place a nice neighborly feel. So far, Tupelo is holding its own against the Starbucks next door, and I think it’s the funky, arty ambience that helps.

One of the regulars is a true East Sac fixture, former city councilman Josh Pane. He’s there most mornings, a little grayer than I remember, but friendly as always. Doesn’t work the room much, but happy to strike up a conversation.

Tupelo also attracts the serious bikers and runners post-workout (Runnergirl, where are you?) and, on the patio, the dog-walkers. Friendly dogs, friendly people, great coffee … what’s not to like?

Also on the coffee front, anyone else tried Pacific Roasting on Fulton/Hurley? Liked the fireplace, the free Wi-Fi and the smattering of nice leather club chairs. It’s a chain, apparently, but a small one. The coffee was good and the counter staff friendly. I’ll have to go back for further evaluation.

It ain’t over until the big dog barks

MaceyWant a local rooting interest in the “Super Bowl of dog shows,” the Westminster Kennel Club show? In tonight’s finale in Madison Square Garden, root for the Akita. Ch. Redwitch Reason To Believe (known to her friends as Macey) will be taken into Best In Show competition by Laurie Jordan-Fenner, part of an Elk Grove family of professional handers.

If the team takes the top prize, it arguably won’t be the biggest win for this family. Last year, Larry Fenner handled an Australian shepherd to Best In Show over more than 20,000 other dogs (Westminster is limited to 2,500 because The Garden is a relative tiny venue) at the four-day English canine entravaganza known as Crufts.

The Jordan-Fenner clan may be local, but Macey comes from a British line of Akitas who have won big all over the world. Her win in the Working Group last night makes her only the second Akita in the show’s history to advance to the final seven.

Update: Make that two locals. Larry Fenner won the Herding group with Bouvier des Flandres. But neither dog took Best in Show.

What a haul!

Lost in all the blah-blah over King Ron’s dog problems and astronaut love-triangles was this little gem about a state worker accused of using her procurement card to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dough on everything she could think of:

A state Department of Child Support Services analyst used a state credit card to embezzle $320,000, buying a flat-screen television, hot tub, gazebo, iPods, handcuffs, chains and whips, according to California Highway Patrol officials.

Carey Renee Aceves, 34, later fenced many of the items to buy a new Lexus, officials said. But even as her bosses began probing her purchases in January, Aceves was being trained to be make purchases for another state agency.

Wow, that’s some haul! Especially since, as recounted in the local beancounters blog, it can be difficult under normal circumstances for state workers to buy day planners.

Frankly, I think Ms. Aceves has a future with Halliburton.

Dog’s best friend he’s not

More in The Bee on the problems dogging Ron Artest:

Ron Artest says he loves dogs, but the Kings basketball star has a string of complaints on record in Placer County for failure to care for his own pets and letting them roam loose.

Since July, his four dogs have spent a total of 77 nights at the pound — at a cost to their master of $1,942 in boarding and impound fees.

One of his dogs got out and never returned, another was hit by a car, and yet another was killed in his yard. Artest admits his dogs have aggression issues, but suggests a wild animal killed the dog. Other complaints noted the dogs tied up without food or water. (Incidentally, tethering dogs for extended periods is now illegal in California, in part because animal behavior experts say the practice makes the animals more likely to attack.)

He says he has hired someone to help, but I gotta think the better thing would be to give them all up for adoption to the Placer SPCA., along with a big donation. They’ll find people who do more than claim to care about animals, as King Ron does.

Hey Ron, do the right thing, will ya? Being a dog dad is clearly not your calling.