Jimmer named Chinese NBA MVP

jimmer_fredette_kingsI’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.

Spectators Razzle, Makers Dazzle on Art Street

In this nuclear winter of our national discontent, it’s local moments like this that warm the bivalve mollusks of my heart. The Sacramento art community is experiencing a renaissance, and for the next three weeks, you can see its most engaging exhibit for FREE. It’s called Art Street, and you owe it to your soul and psyche to check it out. Seriously, if you don’t go, you’re dead inside and no one can help you.

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.

A Sip of Sacramento 2.0

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.

No cute cat face here

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”

Fair Oaks delights, or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the ‘burbs

Well, dear readers, much has transpired since I wrote my last post in 2015. In 2016 I moved my family out to Fair Oaks, leaving behind our beloved Tahoe Park and being grid-adjacent (or at least near-grid-adjacent) and adopting the life of suburbanites. (This was the most important thing that happened in 2016.) While we definitely miss Tahoe Park specifically and the urban core in general, I have found Fair Oaks to be full of offbeat charm. It’s not a complete list, mainly because I don’t get out much, but I’d like to highlight a few of my favorite Fair Oaks features. Continue reading “Fair Oaks delights, or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the ‘burbs”

Name Funderland’s new swing ride, win a party at Funderland

Captioned "Friends forever," courtesy of Funderland's Facebook page
Captioned “Friends forever,” courtesy of Funderland’s Facebook page

Beloved Land Park family amusement park Funderland is adding its first new ride in 25 years, and they are crowdsourcing the ride’s name. If your name is chosen, you win a party at Funderland for yourself and 19 of your closest friends:

We’re so excited about our 1st new ride in 25 years! The new swing ride will be opening soon, but we’re asking for your help. We need a great new name for the ride! Enter our latest giveaway and tell us your best name idea for the swing ride. Just for participating, you’ll be entered to win our Exclusive VIP Party Package for 20! That’s a prize package worth over $1000 – just in time for a Summer Bday Bash!

Personally I’d hold out for naming rights, but that’s OK. I’ll still allow the public to ride on CoolDMZ’s Monsanto PepsiCo Swing Ride presented by Chevrolet (trademark pending).

Funderland – Name our new ride giveaway

Motivations become clearer in tearing down of “world’s nicest projects”

Nice projects, right?
Nice projects, right?

Remember this story from January about a seemingly unmotivated push by developers to knock down a huge swath of public housing in a sleepy part of town and replace it with “mixed-use” buildings? If you don’t, check out the link first, I’ll wait.

Well, it looks like the incentives for completely transforming this rather calm and park-like housing development are coming into focus.  According to the Sacramento Business Journal, a proposed bridge between Sac and West Sac just got a boost in funding:

A much-discussed bridge between Broadway in Sacramento and the Pioneer Bluff area in West Sacramento got a federal funding boost Wednesday — $1.5 million to help start planning the project.

It becomes clear that if the bridge project progresses, land values along the west end of Broadway will shoot up significantly in value, especially as commercial space. And, as is so often the case, if land values are slated to go up, better get the poor folks off the land before they know what’s going on.

I’m perfectly happy with the idea of the bridge going up, as it will help revitalize the Broadway area, which has always been a land of potential. But displacing people from their homes and not being honest about it seems like the worst, old-fashioned, robber-baron behavior.

Sacramentans sought for Stanford speech sampling

Researchers from Stanford University will be in Sacramento from Sept 3-13 for Voices of California, a long term linguistic research project to study regional differences in English as spoken across California. Sacramento probably does have a unique linguistic flavor but those of us who’ve been here long might be hella immune to its nuances. From the press release:

The great environmental diversity of California results in vastly different ways of life across the state. And the diversity of the state’s population brings a variety of linguistic influences to the dialects of California. The Stanford team will be conducting interviews with lifelong Sacramento residents are members of all ethnic communities that have been in Sacramento for several generations.

If you have some time to help with this really interesting study you’re encouraged to call 916-806-6732 or email vocSacramento -at- gmail.com for more info.

Voices of California