Arts & Entertainment

Best evidence that Sacramento supports a thriving art scene

Illustration By Don Button

This recent letter from one sister city to another

Dear Los Angeles,

Hey, girl! It’s Sacramento. I know, I know, long time no write, but things have been so busy here lately. I guess the flattest city in California is finally developing. In a few years my skyline will be stacked, and people are saying I look more like you every day.

That’s why I’m writing. All this attention is making me nervous, and I need some advice in the love department. I don’t know how you handle the advances of all those promoters and celebrities! Every day men in suits and SUVs and Rolexes show up bragging about their plans to spend money on me, dress me up and make me more cosmopolitan. They sound impressive with their talk of world-class living and their insistence on valet parking, but I find it hard to relax around them. I can’t help thinking they don’t like me for who I am as much as for who they want me to be. (And I know you’ve heard rumors about that body-builder movie star who’s stepping out on you and visiting me, but I swear I am not encouraging him. Honestly, I think he’s using both of us to get to that slut Washington, D.C.)

Between you and me, it’s the artists who really make my rivers rush. I know they don’t have the money and connections the developers do, but they appreciate the real me.

Did I tell you about that rapper Crazy Ballhead? He wrote a song for me, “The Valley Rumble,” and he sings it at every show. “In Sacramento,” he raps, “yeah, the people know us / because we got graffiti writers and we got the flow-ers / we got DJs, B-boys, we got the fashion / we got everything it takes to make it really happen.” He gets all his fans to sing along, and I just swoon. And when the Whiskey Rebels lead a roomful of sweaty Mohawked teens in chanting their anthem, “Sacto United,” it makes my seismically stable earth move. “Sacto united and strong / undivided, we can’t go wrong!”

And don’t think I’m just some kind of music groupie. I love my fine artists, too. When I lay out my landscapes in front of thoughtful painters like Wayne Thiebaud, Gregory Kondos and Melissa Chandon, I just about melt under the focus of their attention. And the paintings they make! My lush hillsides in oils, my Delta spread across the walls of my galleries. I’ve never felt so appreciated.

And oh, the poets! Did you know that dozens of them gathered at my 18th and Capitol intersection last month to recite verse to me for a 72-hour poetry marathon? And there have been so many poems written in my honor over the years! Former poet laureates Dennis Schmitz and Viola Weinberg collected many in The Sacramento Anthology: One Hundred Poems. These days, when the noise of construction makes it hard to hear the crows calling, let alone my own thoughts, I tune in to these words to remember who I am.

So, am I crazy to prefer the artists over the moneymen? Write back ASAP and tell me straight.

Love always,

P.S. What the heck did you do to Tom Cruise?

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