Archive for March, 2007

Andy Barker, P.I.: A Local Mystery?

So a new comedy premiered tonight on NBC.

The first line was “look out Fair Oaks, here I come.”

The title character was driving a car that appears to have California plates.

It looks California-y (though more Southern than Northern).

A mapquest search for “Fair Oaks, CA” yields 3 results: one in Mendocino, one in San Joaquin, one in Sacramento.

So, does Even Stevens finally have a companion in the “shows set in Sacramento” department? More importantly, if we just keep insisting that it is, will people start buying it, despite the high number of palm trees?

Update: well, thanks to the 20-minute-ly railroad fire updates, I believe we’re missing some vital clues in this mystery! But a mention of a (fake) Long Beach Star newspaper (and the obvious SoCal location shoots, but c’mon, it’s a TV shows, those get shot in L.A., right?) makes my master “It’s set up here” plan harder to pull off.

Fire Makes Tracks

Driving home from work, I was startled by a small plume of black smoke rising from what looked like the Boulevard Park area – somewhere in the northern streets, toward midtown.

Imagine my suprise when I came inside, flipped on the news, and saw a raging inferno consuming an elevated, heavy-timber constructed train tressel out by Cal Expo. In the time it took me to park my car and enter my house, the fire spread to the entire structure – it is now snarling traffic on 80, spreading smoke across the sky, and causing even midtown drivers, according to KCRA, to stop and wonder at the sky.


Guess I’ll go out and take some photos. (In Midtown, not at the scene, duh.)

Midtown Stroll – The John Mayer Edition

No, I didn’t run into him, but there’s a song on his first album called “3×5” that tells of a refusal to attempt to capture on film everything the singer is seeing with his eyes – preferring instead to share the actual views in person.

That song came to mind this evening as I took in some of the warm evening air along some midtown streets I’d yet to really explore and appreciate. I passed houses and yards- well tended and neglected. It was lovely – the evening golden light would never have made it into pixel form correctly, so why bother trying?

If you haven’t been out to enjoy this warm weather, I’m not sure what you’re waiting for. Even if your allergies are acting up, at least take in some of the benefit of the warmer air and blooming plants. There are camellia buses in full bloom, laden with impossibly symetrical, intricately patterned blossoms. There are cool patches on otherwise sunny streets seeping out from dark carports and shady alleys. There is the smell of old wood and history wafting from centry-old houses in Boulevard Park – intriguing, peeling, sagging, or majestically restored, each begging to tell you a story through etched or stained glass windows, or broken, taped panes.

And the gardens! Sublimely geometric. Tangled and wooded. Dotted with art. Marked with artifacts of past lives or passed lives. The flowers, the leaves, the spring renewal literally reaches out for you across the sidewalk and demands attention. Go pay what is due.

Don’t Eat Here

And by here, I mean La Terraza in Old Sacramento. Despite what a solitary glowing review says at the above-linked citysearch page, La Terraza provided neither good food nor good service.

I dined there recently on a rather uneventful Thursday night. The restaurant was moderately occupied, but not crowded and certainly not brimming to the point where slower service would be expected or tolerated. We arrived to find 4 or our expected party of 9 waiting, by that time impatiently, for someone to take drink orders. You wouldn’t think it hard to give a restaurant too much money for a beer, but La Terraza seemed uninterested in turning a profit from our thirsty friends. Finally, once critical mass was achieved and after some frantic hand waving and gesticulating, over came the waiter and after a bit came our drinks.

The margarita I had was not worth the later $8.50 I was charged for it, however. I would pay $8.50 for a good cocktail – but this wasn’t a good cocktail, nor is La Terraza the kind of place where I feel happy to fork over that much.

The margarita, however, at least had some flavor – which is more than I can say for the chicken taco I ate which tasted like unsalted air, yet dripped with grease that implies at least some transfat-tastiness. The chicken had zero seasoning. The tomatoes were pale. The cheese was weak. The rice was bland. On a scale of 10, this meal actually took points away from me, that’s how bad it was.

It’s hard to choose the best Mexican restaurant in town, but at least the process of elimination can narrow down our options. Take out your red pens and mark out La Terraza immediately. If you must have a Mexican meal in Old Sac, at least opt for Cantina del Rio which, while not among my choices for Best Ever Mexican Ever, is so much better that I hate to insult it by having its name appear in a post about La Terraza.

Midtown Marred


Today’s weather was the sort that pulls you out the door and down your block before you even know where you want to go.

And so I found myself wandering down a typical midtown street, past quiet old houses and rambling gardens. But what to my wondering eyes should appear? The tagged up fronts and sides of approximately one building per block – all the way across town. It made me mad. Really, really mad. Vandalizing anything is wrong – but it seems especially heinous to deface someone’s house.

It brings to mind some recent discussions from around the Metroblogging network on whether so-called street art encourages graffiti. To which I answer: street art IS graffiti. Is there an aesthetic difference between the above photo and some time-consuming, multi-colored wonder? Yes. BUT – if they’re both painted on a structure that doesn’t belong to the person holding the pen/can/paintbrush/sticker then guess what – they’re both wrong, illegal, vandalism, bad. Ick ick ick.

I hope whoever did this feels like a super badass today. I feel like he/she’s a jerk.

Sunday Night Activity

If you haven’t made plans for tonight and you like poetry, don’t forget there’s a new book reading at Sutter Cancer Center. It’s free and starts at 5:30 PM.

The pit of depravity

How could one not read the headline: “Pastor arrested in sexual assault at public library” ? This must be the low of all lows on the morality meter. First, the whole pastor idea–but we already know that “servants of god” are fallible humans, many of them succumbing to sexual drives that ‘regular’ people go to their very churches to forget.

A pastor at a South Sacramento church has been arrested in connection with the sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy in the bathroom of a library, Sacramento police said.

I suppose we’ve seen this kind of tragedy in malls, at casinos, and in other public places–but at the library? The library is my sanctuary. I’m outraged. Does this mean the local library will be forced to keep its restrooms locked, or to install cameras to keep an eye on possible lawbreakers? Big brother will help us protect ourselves from ourselves. Anyone who knows anything about libraries understands the depth of this transgression. A library should be a safe place for the body and spirit, so that the mind can be challenged. It is a sanctuary by the very nature of what it offers its users.

Mr. Pastor, you’ve crapped in my temple, and I am mad as heck about it.

The Other Dome Downtown: Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament


The great weather we’ve had the past few days has really gotten me in a spring mood. And what’s more spring-like than field trips? On Sunday I decided to see what all the construction hubbub for 2 1/2 years at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament near 11th & K had resulted in. Catholic or not, anyone can show up around noon on Sundays and 12:40 on Wednesdays for a free 45 minute tour.

Get a peek at fuel cells in West Sac


Are you ready to ride the hydrogen highway? Hydrogen-powered vehicles aren’t ready to challenge the hybrid, but they do actually exist, and you don’t have to go to Detroit to find them. The California Fuel Cell Partnership in West Sacramento offers free tours of its facility on the fourth Friday of every month (next opportunity is March 23). They’re held between 1 and 3 p.m., so most people would have to slide out of work to check it out. Fridays not so good? Don’t worry–there’s going to be an open house on Saturday April 21 from 11-3. You can find out more about tours on their events page.

Site for sufferers

If you have allergies, then you’ve probably lived in Sacramento for more than a year or two. Sacramento was number 8 nationally last year for worst U.S. cities for springtime allergies. This year is already starting out to be a doozy. The pollen count by Friday is expected to be in the “High” range, according to the website Great site–gives advance warning. Look for Kleenex and Sudafed runs at your local retailers. I’ll be in line there, with the rest of you.

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