The Great Prune Bear

During the late 19th and early 20th century, American cities showed their stuff by holding elaborate fairs. They showcased the host city with specially designed fairgrounds and elaborate exhibits. First popular in the mid-19th century, they reached new heights with the Chicago Columbian Exposition in 1893. National in scope, these fairs featured exhibits from around the country. Trends in architecture, agriculture, transportation, entertainment, technology and urban planning were set at these fairs, and a successful fair could bring great honor, investment and migration to the host city. In 1904 and 1905, two separate but related fairs were held in St. Louis, Missouri and Portland, Oregon. California was well represented at both events, and one of the most memorable exhibits was the “Prune Bear” provided by the Sacramento Valley Development Association. The 1904 St. Louis fair was held to honor the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase, an event that became the setting for the 1944 Judy Garland film Meet Me in St. Louis. During this era, California was still establishing itself as an agricultural powerhouse. After the Gold Rush and Comstock silver rush waned, California settlers realized the enormous potential of California’s fertile soil and other natural resources. Those who came to get rich quick and failed found work as farm labor, and those who did get rich often reinvested their profits into massive industrial farms […]

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Kings end losing streak in final seconds

There were a few storylines surrounding Sunday’s matinee at the Power Balance Pavilion where the Sacramento Kings hosted the Portland Trailblazers. 1) Coming into the first of a three-game home stand on Sunday, the Kings had lost seven straight games. 2) There was the return of former King J.J. Hickson, who played very little for Sacramento earlier in the season before being waived and claimed by the Blazers where he’s played well. 3) Sunday’s game was the first since Friday’s news of the arena deal falling apart, which was followed by a weekend of bitter statements from George Maloof and Think Big’s Chris Lehane. The Kings were able to avoid the outside distractions and end their losing streak in dramatic fashion as they used a come-from-behind victory to beat the Blazers by a final score of 104-103. This was Sacramento’s 20th win of the season and the victory evened up their home record at 15-15. After trailing for much of the game, and by as many as 11, the Kings earned 14 fourth quarter points by Marcus Thornton, who also hit the game-winner with three seconds left. Thornton had scored just six points through the first three quarters. A highly spirited crowd of just over 16,000 also showed great energy throughout the game. There was much speculation as to what the mood inside Power Balance […]

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Environmental activists present strategies to build community

Neighborhood streets and intersections in Portland, Ore. have become public gathering places and people have reported that they’ve felt much safer in their communities, a testament to community building through the City Repair project – the topic of Mark Lakeman and Marisha Auerbach’s presentation on Permaculture in an urban context Wednesday night, hosted by the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op. City Repair is a small grassroots nonprofit organization, founded in 1995 in Portland by a group of neighbors, that facilitates multiple “placemaking projects” geared toward reclaiming one’s neighborhood and inspiring alternative ways to think about what it means to have a community gathering space and to put those thoughts into action. The night’s presentation featured a “how-to” examination of the multiple strategies neighborhoods have taken to engage with one another and build a safer and more self-sustaining community in the hopes of inspiring others to make a change in their neighborhoods, even here in Sacramento. “What do you think we did in the space between our houses before cars existed? What we don’t do anymore – talk,” Lakeman said as he began the presentation. Lakeman is the founder and promoter of many community building initiatives in Portland, Ore. including City Repair and The ReBuilding Center, and Marissa Auerbach is an active practitioner and teacher of Permaculture – an ecological design system modeled on the relationships built […]

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Second annual Bastille Day Waiters’ Race

Hundreds of spectators gathered Thursday night to watch waiters and waitresses from Sacramento restaurants as they gave their best definition of speedy service in the second annual Bastille Day Waiters’ Race in the courtyard behind 1801 L Wine Lounge. Waiters and waitresses from 25 central city restaurants made two laps around the block bounded by 18th and 19th streets and L Street and Capitol Avenue. With one hand, participants were required to balance a tray with a bottle of Perrier mineral water and two champagne glasses filled with water. The race began at 7 p.m. “From my perspective as the French consul, it’s great, that in a town like Sacramento, we have young waiters and waitresses throughout the region participating in a strictly French event, which is wonderful,” said Jane Wheaton, who represents Consule Honoraire de France and served as one of the judges in the competition. Anthony Sharrow, a server at L Wine Lounge, came in first in the men’s division, and Marja Magnuson, a server from 33rd Street Bistro, triumphed in the women’s division. They were each awarded $150 and one free night stay in an executive suite at 1801 L Street Apartments Second-place winners included Carlos Gonzalez of Zócalo and Ali Lazzaretto of Hot Italian, who were awarded $100. Blake Taylor of Sapporo Grill Japanese Steakhouse and Kristi Warren, a server at […]

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Pink Martini shakes it up

What could be more refreshing on a hot July night than a nice, cool martini? For a thousand fans at the Mondavi Center in Davis last night, the perfect martini was pink. Crisp and cool, elegant and sophisticated, Pink Martini was fresh and fun and funky. Pink Martini is a “small orchestra” from Portland which manages to produce a sound both wildly exotic and comfortably accessible to their diverse audiences. The ensemble of talented musicians produces a repertoire spanning several continents, a few of centuries and a baker’s dozen of genres. Ravel’s “Bolero” led off the program, starting with some hand drums, string bass and Pansy Chang’s beautiful cello. As the piece built and expanded to include the entire orchestra, the rapt audience settled in for an evening of Pink Martini’s signature performance magic. Throughout an entirely enjoyable program, the Pink Martini musicians showcased their considerable talents as they traded off solos and riffed against each other. From a Mozart violin concerto to a raucous jazz piece, each number illuminated another side to this popular group. As most members of the group have studied languages, cultures and music from far beyond America, the program is spiced with songs in Spanish, French, Chinese and Turkish. Two entirely different tunes were created from the base of Schubert’s “Fantasie in F Minor” for four hands. The Afro-Cuban-flavored feisty […]

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The River Cats Return to Raley Field For Their Final Homestand Of The Season

 The Sacramento River Cats return home for the final home stanza of the regular season after an amazing road trip in which they went 7-1. The homestand begins Saturday night with a four-game series with the Portland Beavers. The River Cats will be honoring three local heroes in Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker and Chicago Cubs first baseman Derek Lee. The first 1,500 people in attendance will get to choose from the three bobbleheads. The person whose bobblehead runs out first will be named the 2009 River Cats High School Hero. The fans in attendance should be excited to see Dana Eveland (8-4, 4.94) take the mound for Sacramento against Wade LeBlanc (3-9, 4.11). The Highway 99 rivalry comes to a close for the 2009 season beginning Wednesday. The River Cats will take on the Fresno Grizzlies in the most anticipated series of the season. As of August 21 the River Cats have 12.5 game lead over Fresno for the PCL Pacific South Division lead with just 17 games left to go in the regular season. Sacramento’s magic number to win the division is at five games. Coincidently, their series with Fresno is a five-game series. The Highway 99 series will be a busy five days at Raley Field. Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. start is German Heritage Night, Thursday night is Happy […]

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River Cats Begin The Dog Days of Summer With a Big Home Stand

August is the month where they separate the men from the boys. The Sacramento River Cats look to be one of the upper-tier teams in the Pacific Coast League. Tickets for the first round of the playoffs went on sale Wednesday at Raley Field. Even though Tony DeFrancesco’s club has a 7.5 game lead over their rival the Fresno Grizzlies in the Pacific South Division, Sacramento still feels they must always look in the rear-view mirror to see which team is creeping up behind them. The River Cats begin an eight-game home stand tonight that will go a long ways in deciding who they might face down the road in the playoffs. Sacramento begins its home stand against the Oklahoma City RedHawks. As of Wednesday, Oklahoma City (55-54) is 5 games behind the Albuquerque Isotopes for the American South Division lead. James Simmons (6-5, 5.38) takes the mound Wednesday against Elizardo Ramirez (7-8, 4.19) in what promises to be a run-scoring affair. Happy Hour on Thursday begins with Miller Lite ‘Que & Brew at Raley Field. Friday and Saturday are big nights for the River Cats. Friday is Library Night and Raider Nation Night at the ballpark. Kids who participated in the River Cats Summer Reading Program can enjoy a night at the stadium, while in the process meet Raiders legend Jim Otto who will […]

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In The Heat Of Summer The River Cats Are In The Middle Of A Sizzling Pennant Race

 As the Sacramento River Cats finish up a four game-series with the Las Vegas 51s, the Fresno Grizzlies and Reno Aces are in Sacramento’s rear-view mirror in the PCL Pacific South Division standings. The River Cats are in the middle of a pennant race, and July will go a long way in deciding who wins the division. Sacramento plays Fresno and Reno eight times each in July. Sacramento begins the month with a three-game series at Raley Field against Fresno. As of Tuesday, the River Cats are six games ahead of the Grizzlies in the division. Sacramento then goes on the road for their longest road trip of the season, starting with four in Reno. The Aces trail the River Cats by seven games in the division. On July 8 they travel to Fresno to take on the Grizzlies in a humongous five-game series. The River Cats get a much-needed three-day break, as the All-Star break is July 13-15. The second half of the season kicks off at Raley Field when the River Cats play Reno in a quick three-game stanza before hitting the road again for eight games. Sacramento will begin their series with Fresno on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. Shawn Chacon (1-1, 3.46) will take the mound for the River Cats and Ramon Ortiz (1-1, 2.96) will be pitching for the Grizzlies in […]

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Left Coast Capitol Cities: Standing in the Shadows of Giants?

I need answers. There has been something that’s plagued me for many years and I need your help in getting some insight. Why is it that the three states that make the west coast of the United States are all known for cities other than their capitols? That’s my question. It’s simple. Understand, I’m a native Sacramentan. I’m a braggart when it comes to Sacramento and it always boggled me when people dissed our city, laughing in my face, saying, "Isn’t LA the capitol?" But traveling around, I discovered this odd trend (three makes a trend!): All the cities people find magnificent on the west coast are not the capitol. Why?! Starting from the north, here’s my very scientific study:   WASHINGTON — Is it Seattle with it’s Puget Sound, thriving music scene, and famous Pike Place Market?  Nope, it’s Olympia. OREGON — Is it Portland with it’s many bridges, Willamette River, and lovely Powell’s Books?  Nope, it’s Salem.   CALIFORNIA — Is it LA with its Hollywood stars, music business, and Kobe Bryant? Nope. Oh, oh, waiit, then it must be San Francisco with it’s Golden Gate Bridge, thriving art scene, and hunky Gavin Newsom?  Nope, it’s Sacramento.   What’s the deal?

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