2008 seeing things

Everything you need to know about the year that will be

For our first feature story of the new year, we asked local experts (and a few talkative know-it-alls we’re acquainted with) to look into their crystal balls and tell us what 2008 holds for Sacramento.

Our panel of poets, politicos and punks (and even one bona-fide psychic) offered us a surprising range of possibilities—some are gloomy, some are optimistic. Some are well reasoned and insightful. Some are obviously the products of very disturbed minds. What can we say? Those are our sources.

We can’t promise that all of these predictions will come true, or offer any reassurances that they won’t. Time will tell. But for now, we hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them.

California über alles, again?
“Jerry Brown is going to be the next governor of California.” That’s the first prediction from David Townsend, founder of the political consulting outfit Townsend Raimundo Besler & Usher.

Sure, sure, the election’s not until 2010. But watching Brown in his first year as state attorney general, it’s obvious he’s rehearsing for a return to the governor’s mansion, or apartment. Probably more like a governor’s loft at this point. Plus, says Townsend, “The Republicans have no bench. Who do they have, Poizner? That goofball McClintock?”

The big issues that dominated the statehouse this year will be unresolved in 2008. “End of next year, we won’t have fixed the budget, we won’t have a deal on water, and we won’t have a deal on health care.”

The once and future guv.

Locally, Townsend says, “Sacramento will continue to function as a city without a mayor,” adding that while Heather Fargo’s administration at City Hall has been uninspired, “Her numbers are good,” and he sees no serious challengers on the horizon.

Townsend isn’t optimistic about Sacramento’s expensive, convoluted redevelopment efforts, and wonders “Why do they insist on trying to make people go where they don’t want to go?”

Don’t hold your breath waiting for a new “world-class arena,” either.

“We won’t have a new Kings arena. There won’t be an arena in the planning stages. And the Kings won’t make the playoffs.

“And you know what? People in Sacramento will still be happy as hell. People just like living here.”

Read, weep
For auguries of impending urbanity, SN&R turns to Richard Hansen, the good-humored, bushy-bearded wit behind the counter at the Book Collector, a cozy used bookshop and street-level literary culture factory at 24th and I streets.

He’s ready for us.

“I predict the successful ‘Mikuni-fication’ of Midtown will bring a new kind of prosperity to the neighborhood,” Hansen says. “With a Starbucks on every corner and corporate boutique stores and high-end restaurants vying for every available space, some Midtown boosters will see their dreams realized—an upscale ‘district’ preened and presentable to the Lexus set.”

A sushi-Lexus nexus? Splendid! Good thing the valet-parking infrastructure’s already in place! Oh, but wait. Hansen has more: “The small businesses that have given the neighborhood its unique character, however, will find trouble staying in Midtown as rents surge. So too their customers: the students, artisans, musicians, slackers and middle- and lower-class families who presently live on the grid. Shiny towers of costly lofts will supplant affordable housing. Oh yeah, and the parking. It’s gonna be a bitch.”

Man Coulter.

OK, so, what else? What of the culture itself? Says Hansen: “Sacramento’s drag queens will increasingly favor impersonating Ann Coulter as a ballsier alternative to Minnelli and Streisand. This will have the additional benefit of compensating for the age-old ‘Adam’s apple dilemma.’”

Excellent. And?

“Amazon’s ‘Kindle’ will be found to cause fingernail cancer. In the ensuing panic, folks will sensibly return to reading books made from paper.”

Ah-ha. Well, pardon our schadenfreude, but surely that shall register as encouraging news among those who practice the noble profession known as book-selling. Right

Maybe, but not here, Hansen says. “Sacramento, which had 19 used and independent bookstores in its downtown and Midtown in 1998, and just five in 2007, will have one less on February 1, 2010, when another local used bookstore closes its doors after 15 years in business.”

Now wait just a tattered-paperback-page-flippin’ minute. Just what is the good sir trying to tell us here? Will we need to stage some sort of intervention? A book-buy-in? A tireless grassroots campaign to get Sacramentans to, you know, actually give a crap about the culture of the written word? “It’s just a prediction, my friend—but with enough writing on the wall that it just might come true,” Hansen answers. “How’s that for noncommittal?”

It’s pretty good for noncommittal, actually. It’s pretty good for unnerving, too.


Argus sees all
Jason Daniel is the brains behind “Eyes of Argus,” a local political blog that has spies everywhere—judging by his well-informed takedowns on the Elk Grove City Council, the county sheriff and political shenanigans from Stockton to Natomas. Daniel promises an even better site in the coming year. Check him out at www.eyesofargus.net.

Argus has a unique take on the upcoming Sacramento mayor’s race. Meaning, he thinks there will be one.

Whither Fargo?

“Roger Dickinson rocks Sacramento when he tosses his hat into the mayor’s race. Shaking off the political disaster of [the arena sales tax measures] Q & R, Roger will open up a can of whoop-ass on Heather Fargo and her ‘Re-Elect an Android Campaign.’”

Another contender won’t recover so well: “Rob Fong will still be standing in front of a mirror holding his “Yes on Q & R” sign with a single tear rolling down his cheek.”

Perennial candidate, bounty hunter Leonard Padilla, will try a different sort of campaign, mounting his “most ambitious project to date—Leonard Padilla’s Wonderful Walking Homeless Guys Reality Show Tour—sponsored by Smith & Wesson. Cameras will follow Padilla and his army of Homeless Guys as they erect new homeless camping spots in every major neighborhood in Sacramento.”

In the eyes of Argus, the future of Sacramento’s premiere power couple is bleak. “Sacramento will witness the public break up of the Maloof Brothers.”

The repeated failures of a new arena, he says, their mediocre basketball team, and “the pressures of being a nationally sought-after-sexy-millionaire-casino-building-duo” will ruin their relationship.

Spiltsville for Maloofs!

“After a nasty court battle, Joe will receive the rights to the new arena while Gavin will get the Monarchs and Ron Artest’s dog—and a lifetime pass to Arco’s snack bar.”

And what about that new arena? “The Cal Expo arena deal will finally get through all the red tape and will finally break ground. … Who am I kidding?”

Winning Streak?
Tim Foster, front-man for Th’ Losin’ Streaks, and publisher of the Midtown Monthly has one prediction, short and sweet, like a favorite punk song.

“My prediction is that the Bananas will finally, finally win the Sammie for Best Punk Band in 2008! And then they’ll lose it on the way home.”

Counter bean
Gustavo Arellano, the Mexican of the SN&R back pages column ¡Ask a Mexican!, predicts that with rhetoric from the 2008 presidential campaign stoking the fire, the immigration debate will be even more heated than anyone ever imagined it could in a country without a cute little nickname like “Nazi Germany.” He does see one bright side, however: “Exhausted from all those swings they will have taken at their favorite political piñata—Mexicans—by the time the November election rolls around Sacto Know Nothings will have switched to Guatemalans.”

Bikes are cooking
Jeffery Rosenhall, de facto public-information officer for the Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen, checked in with his consensus-based, volunteer-run organization and predicted a bright year for the bicycle scene here in Sacramento.

“We hope this year Sacramento will be designated silver or better as a bike community. Last year, we were designated bronze,” says Rosenhall, who believes enough progressive changes happened to warrant a bump up. “This would give Sacramento some well-deserved recognition and increase our ability to get more funding for bike projects.”

The city of Sacramento in 2007 started a three- to two-lane street conversion in Midtown to make room for bike lanes, a project the Bicycle Kitchen predicts will expand more into the downtown core. For those who drive, Rosenhall said, “We’d really like to see a city car-share program come to Sacramento.”

An idea that floated around last year and may resurface again is the implementation of a citywide bike fleet. Rosenhall said he’s not yet sure who would pick up the reigns—if it will be an organic grassroots effort or more of a structured government project—but in the meantime, the Bicycle Kitchen “had the idea of painting a whole bunch of bikes red and calling them ‘Tomato Bikes’ and putting them out for free.”

The year of the symbiotic lovefest, Coelho style.

Photo by Larry Dalton

Fashion goes local
When seeking fashion predictions for 2008, SN&R looked no further than Olivia Coelho, owner of Olipom boutique and co-owner of 2007’s breakout vintage clothing and furniture store Bows and Arrows. Though she’s seen many a talented designer feel underappreciated in Sacramento because it’s “hard to sell your goods for what they’re worth here,” Coelho has a simple solution: a citywide focus on buying local goods.

“Let’s scratch backs and support one another,” Coelho said. “It would be fun to track dollar bills in this town and see them go from one person to another around town and never leave.”

And just which fashionable backs should we scratch? According to Coelho, fashion designers Jamaica Cole, Lindsay Campbell and “the brilliant” Amy Hemmens are worth keeping an eye on in 2008.

“A little bird told me that Amy might be opening a boutique in downtown in the coming year. Hush hush.”

Coehlo’s also excited about local silkscreeners “who just keep getting better,” like Pretty Trashy (designed by Bows and Arrows co-owner Trisha Rhomberg), Porkchop, Paul Imagine, Judd Hertzler, Stellarocco, and Skinner.

But her vision for a locally focused “symbiotic love fest” extends beyond fashion.

Regarding Sacramento’s general evolution, Coelho said, “New development and revitalization sound good in theory, but if it prices out all the artists and musicians and small businesses, then you are left with a glossy yet stagnant city. My hope is that the city will help to work with people with a vision to facilitate creative spaces. More art spaces, venues, and community functions.”

And more house parties. Coelho hopes Sacramento’s sustainable, grassrooted future won’t evolve at the expense of fun: “Let’s get back to basics and rock the house parties and dance.” We can’t argue with that.


Release the stem cells!

Stem-cell futures
When asked to project the stem-cell debate into 2008, the folks from the Center for Genetics and Society came forth with an optimistic forecast—basically, that policy-makers on the state and national level will recognize the need for more oversight on issues related to the emerging biotechnologies.

The center’s associate executive director, Marcy Darnovsky, predicted in an e-mail that “state legislators will turn their attention to serious fixes” for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, an agency she described as “funded entirely by $3 billion in public funds, but operating as a quasi-private fiefdom of a board that is dominated by heads of universities, research institutes, and companies looking for a slice of the hefty pie.” Also, legislators will finally pay heed in the coming year to public-interest groups that have rightfully warned about future scandals at the agency ever since voters created it by passing Proposition 71 in 2004. Sure enough, wrote Darnovsky, “as soon as money started to go out the door, scandal happened.”

Regarding the agency’s controversial board chairman, businessman Robert Klein, the center simply predicts he will see the wisdom of leaving his post “as the extent of his own conflicts of interest becomes more fully and widely known.”

At the national level, Darnovsky thinks the Democrats “will back away from using stem-cell research as a wedge issue, as evidence accumulates that ordinary cells can be ‘reprogrammed’ into acting like embryonic stem cells.” However, she expects the next president to loosen the Bush administration’s “overly strict limits on federal funding for embryonic-stem-cell research.”

Finally, Darnovsky’s crystal ball conjures a future where citizens take a more clear-eyed look at the social implications of human biotechnologies. Americans “will take up the political and policy challenges of distinguishing between their beneficial uses and their dangerous applications—for example, cloned children, ‘designed’ babies, and ‘designer medicine’—that could undermine social equality, human rights and the common good.”

Doubting Thomas
Besides being pretty much the legal authority on the California Environmental Quality Act, local land-use and environmental-law juggernaut Remy, Thomas, Moose and Manley LLP regularly consults on Sacramento’s evolving urban landscape. Founding partner Tina Thomas advised SN&R, pro bono, on what to expect in ’08 from the ongoing development of local urban development. “Projects proposed in the city will focus on walkability, access to transit and ‘green’ construction,” she said. Hey, that sounds promising.

“The site previously known as Saca Towers will sit vacant,” Thomas continued, “although the new owners will seek new entitlements from the city proposing a more modest height and unit count.”

Downtown Plaza’s Westfield shopping center, meanwhile, “will continue to be an eyesore and embarrassment to the city as vacancies continue to increase and the effects of deferred maintenance become apparent,” she went on. “The pigeon population at Westfield will likely exceed the pigeon population at St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy.”

Well, that’s something, isn’t it? Said the counselor: “Venice is significantly more charming.” Oh. Right. Good point.

Thomas envisioned a new general plan allowing development north of Elkhorn Boulevard in north Natomas. But, she said, “This will also result in litigation between the city and environmental groups. Even if the city prevails in litigation, because of endangered-species issues, many years will pass—perhaps 10 years—before the first home is constructed north of Elkhorn.”

But hang on; there must be some good news. Right?

Another year of Mohanna …

Photo by Larry Dalton

“The city will file an eminent-domain action against developer Moe Mohanna, leaving K Street in limbo for many years as lawyers duke it out in courts,” Thomas said. “Unfortunately, the rail-yards project will also become mired in litigation filed by, among others, labor unions.”

Sheesh. We meant good news for non-lawyers. “Council members Sheedy, Fong, McCarty, Pannell and Mayor Fargo will handily win re-election.” Check. Anything else? “Cal Expo and the NBA will reach an agreement for construction of an arena at Cal Expo.” Great. “Litigation will undoubtedly follow any approval of the new Kings arena,” Thomas added. Ah. There it is again. The L word.

“All in all, it looks to be a good year for lawyers here in Sacramento,” the seasoned attorney concluded, “as land-use skirmishes head toward court and the market remains in limbo.”

Well, that explains it. That thunder we thought we heard the other night probably just was the sound of a thousand popping corks at the Remy, Thomas, Moose and Manley New Year’s Eve bash.

The dean of narcomancy
Local indie-shaman (and frontman for the band Be Brave Bold Robot) Dean Haakenson knows a little something about wordsmithing, so it’s no surprise that he foresees some vocabulary shifts on the horizon. “Everybody will begin to call submarine sandwiches ‘grinders’,” says Haakenson, “and the phrase, ‘It feels like potato weather’ will be heard much more often.”

Other impending events have come to him in his dreams. On the environmental front, he saw Sacramento leaders tiring of the age-old question, “What the heck ever happened to the good old days, the way Sacramento used to be?” They’ll at last force themselves to come up with an answer, and that answer will be … floods. “Sacramento used to flood all the time,” he explains, “so in an effort to recreate Sacramento’s glory days, the levees will be lowered … and Sacramento still won’t flood because the Earth revoked our rain privileges.”

Also troubling, Haakenson predicts that “for the first time in ‘recorded’ history, it will become a statistical fact that there are more people in the world in possession of image-capturing devices (cell-phone cameras, digital cameras, film cameras, movie cameras of smaller and smaller varieties) than there are people with a basic knowledge of Emergency Medical Procedures (cardiopulmonary resuscitation, the Heimlich, how to give an effective hug).”

But Haakenson has some good news for twentysomethings: “Every single person born on or between the dates of January 1, 1979, and December 31, 1988, will get made love to, at least once, in the year 2008.”

Oh yeah, he also predicts that the Second Coming will finally take place, but Christ will return only to explain that, “For several decades now there has been a book on Earth that was meant to replace the Bible—The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut.”


The year of good Karma
Dr. Barbara O’Connor, a Sac State communications professor, predicts that 2008 will be the year that “the rubber hits the road” for local media companies (and all media companies) trying to figure out how to stay relevant and hold onto readers in the online age.

The Sacramento Bee’s new editor, Melanie Sill, is the most obvious example of a local media leader poised to help make the transition. “She was known for her online work in North Carolina, and the Bee brought her in to do that,” says O’Connor.

“Everybody in the media is chasing the Web. But they haven’t developed a business case for it. I think there’s a real urgency now.” Look for the Bee to do even more video and interactive content.

… But bye-bye to Doolittle.

Rubber fragments will also be left in the road traversed by Congressman John Doolittle this year. Or maybe he just hits the road: “This is the year that he goes away,” O’Connor predicts.

With Doolittle covered in stink from the Jack Abramoff scandal and facing an ongoing federal investigation, the GOP might be better off jettisoning the congressman in the spring. “It’s in the Republicans’ interest to beat Doolittle in the primary,” says O’Connor. “But I think he wins,” which she considers a boon for the Democratic nominee, who she figures to be Charlie Brown.

The political fortunes of state Sen. Darrell Steinberg are going in the opposite direction of Doolittle’s—O’Connor predicts he’ll be the next pro tem of the Senate.

And while many of our other prognosticators have been downright gloomy about the prospects of downtown development and redevelopment, O’Connor sees a “year of good karma,” with solid progress in the rail yards, the waterfront and downtown generally.

“Finally, things people have been working on for 20 years are coming to fruition.”

Future headlines
You’re young, impressionable and don’t quite know what to do with your abilities to bend spoons, read thoughts and speak with the dead using only your mind. What do you do? You enroll in the Berkeley Psychic Institute of Sacramento, which is part of the first, foremost and largest clairvoyant training ground in the United States. Founded in 1972 as a psychic kindergarten, BPI “is a sanctuary for exploring what it means to be psychic,” according to Jennifer Tom, BPI Sacramento’s director. “The goal is to advance the awareness, understanding and control of one’s own psychic abilities.”

Tom claims more than 100,000 folks have taken six-week meditation classes and over 3,000 have graduated as psychic ministers at BPI’s Midtown campus (2018 19th Street), which also offers lectures, aura readings, spiritual healings, psychic-abilities demonstrations and an intensive clairvoyant training program. In fact, you can call (916) 441-7780 or log on to berkeleypsychic.org for more details—but you already know that if you’re clairvoyant.

Based on consultations with others at the institute, Tom telepathically sent SN&R the following list of BPI 2008 predictions—if by “telepathically” you mean “via e-mail”:

“1.) The Schwarzenegger administration will peak in its accomplishments this fall, allowing Arnold Schwarzenegger to leave office on a high note.

“2.) There will be increased awareness of global warming this year spurred on by a large march occurring in New York this coming spring.

“3.) There will be exposure of a federal government cover-up involving pollution of both the East and West Coast shorelines of the U.S. this year.

“4.) The Sacramento Kings may find a temporary home in Cal Expo this year. If not, they will move to Las Vegas.

“5.) Due to excessive mudslinging in the presidential campaigns, the winner of the presidential elections in 2008 will be a dark horse who has yet to be recognized as a viable candidate.”

Power to the people!
Peter Asmus is the author of Reinventing Electric Utilities (Island Press, 1997), Reaping the Wind (Island Press, 2001) and Introduction to Energy (University of California, 2008) and a member of the band Space Debris. With Congress’ failure to pass an energy bill with incentives for solar and wind power and the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s blockage of California’s efforts to cut carbon from our cars, Asmus foresees a citizenry motivated by global-climate change taking matters—and especially power—into their own hands in ’08.

“Be prepared for statewide ballot measures; some good, some bad,” predicts Asmus, whose name has appeared in SN&R over the years as a writer, source and story subject. “I also sense we may witness unholy alliances designed to hoodwink the general public into believing we need certain technologies that are bogus.”

As a for instance, Asmus asks, “Do we really want to turn to nuclear energy?”

But he also sees the potential for “massive creativity with new kinds of energy sources, whether they are floating generators on the ocean shore or kite-like generators beaming down electricity from high up in the sky. Several communities in the Bay Area and Central Valley will also develop their own energy plans, leapfrogging over the entrenched complacency of private utility companies such as Pacific Gas & Electric.”

If the government and private utilities continue to get in the way, the people will go around them to secure “green energy to fuel advances against the global climate change threat,” Asmus predicts.

Alchemy and augury
The Alchemist Community Development Corporation may have a hard time topping last year’s successes. The nonprofit organization inaugurated an Urban Farm Stand in Alkali Flats and was awarded a 30-month grant to expand the stands to new locations in Sacramento County, bringing healthy produce to people who may not have access otherwise. Still, co-founders Wendy Carter and Lisa Nelson see even more good times ahead.

“The grassroots movement for sustainable communities will grow stronger. Community gardens will become more common throughout the city and front-yard gardens will dot the urban landscape,” they said.

True, Carter and Nelson predict the declining housing market will continue to have serious implications in 2008.

“The effect of the troubled housing market will become visible at the neighborhood level, especially in older neighborhoods and low-income communities.”

But new approaches to housing—including land trusts and “limited equity co-ops” will emerge in response to the growing numbers of bank-owned, boarded-up houses and devastated families.

What rhymes with “succulent nipples”?
Gene Bloom—Sacramento’s most refined and prolific erotic poet—answers to many names, like the high-culture “Marquis de Bloom,” or the frighteningly descriptive “Ram Dog.” Come to think of it, maybe “refined” is too strong a word. Perhaps just “prolific” will do. Whether he’s documenting his stint in prison or describing the act of “slathering your nipples / mouth lips and / eyes / with hot lava Eruptus,” Bloom is never without commentary. So with such literary (and sexual) prowess, why wouldn’t we hit him up for New Year’s predictions?

Ladies and gentlemen, the next President of the United States of America!

Here’s why: He’s nuts. We had no idea the amount of disastrous, irresponsible miscalculations one man could be capable of. For instance, take Bloom’s bet that “Paul Reubens, a.k.a. Pee-Wee Herman, will throw in his hat at the Democratic National Convention as a presidential candidate.” Jeez, Bloom, it’s just wrong. And come to think of it, it’s downright insulting to even entertain the notion that a child-porn-collecting public masturbator would stoop so low.

Well maybe Bloom’s international scope is more refined.

Says Bloom: Switzerland will announce “its intention of becoming a world power and will instill a standing army in hot spots around the world,” and the Chinese will claim that “anorexia doesn’t exist” in their country. Now what exactly are we supposed to do with this information?

Never mind. In the celebrity world, Bloom tells us that Tom Cruise will come out of the closet … as a heterosexual. Well, this being SN&R, we’ll do the calculations, so you don’t have to: Let’s see, carry the 9, find the square root … nope, totally wrong again, Mr. Bloom.

In a final (and rare) moment of clarity, this horned-up poet finally warns us, “The world will continue to go round and round again in an attempt to end ‘Dervishing power.’” Huh?

“Trust in the Bloom / flowering eternally,” he says, winking. Then he floats, genie-like, back to his trans-meditative state of poetic lust and total confusion.