Downtown shuffle

Postmodern ruins: When construction stalled early this summer on the ambitious retail/loft developments planned for both sides of 19th Street at L Street, Bites was forlorn. Maybe not as forlorn as all those nearby furniture shops that were hoping to make a bundle selling the kind of artsy bohemian furnishing no upscale loft dweller can live without, but forlorn nonetheless. At the time, spokespeople insisted construction would resume within a month.

Since then, nothing much has happened: The north side of L Street now boasts a partially constructed edifice that’s beginning to attract graffiti and is taking on the look of postmodern ruins. The south side of the street, meanwhile, hosts a massive hill that, prior to being diminished by the recent rains, was slightly taller than the nearby Chipotle. The tiny mountain has begun to sprout various forms of vegetation, and rumor has it that a small group of hobbits will be moving in shortly.

Meanwhile, the redirection of one-way downtown speedways into two-way bicycle-laned avenues also has been postponed until spring, although we’re all getting the benefits of those weird little concrete islands that jut out from various corners along 19th and 21st streets. Built as traffic-calming devices, they are proving remarkably efficient at trapping dead leaves and rainwater, resulting in lots of stagnant little swamps that would make tropical mosquito colonies feel very much at home here in Sacramento.

Demon tobacky: Bites was amused to find in Bill Lockyer’s settlement with Safeway a provision that prohibits the retail grocery giant from selling “candy, chewing gum or similar items designed to look like cigarettes.”

Sure, Bites believes the young ’uns should be kept away from the demon tobacky, but the idea that any and all representations of any and all vices must somehow be outlawed seems to be going just a bit far.

After all, Bites personally grew up in the upstate New York hometown of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, where silhouetted profiles of FDR and his trademark cigarette holder could be seen everywhere you turned. Yet, in spite of this seminal influence, Bites has never been tempted, as a child or an adult, to take up smoking. Nor has Bites even seen anyone using a cigarette holder in real life. Not even ironically.

The same goes for bubble-gum cigars: Bites chomped ’em and chewed ’em but somehow never got hooked on the real thing.

In fact, the whole idea of using candy to teach values gets pretty sticky. Just ask California first lady Maria Shriver, who recently used peer pressure to convince a school kid that reading is fun and important. When he came around to the rest of the class’s point of view, Shriver bemoaned the fact that she didn’t have any candy on her to help reinforce the lesson. “Give us money instead,” squealed one precious toddler. “A 20!” shouted another.

Maybe Lockyer should look into banning those gold-wrapped chocolate coins while he’s at it.

KVIE bites: Local PBS affiliate KVIE continues to draw criticism for its unique programming decisions. While affiliates around the country are content to broadcast the network’s award-winning offerings, KVIE always has been determined to take a “counterintuitive” approach. “Despite numerous tie-in events and educational efforts across the country, KVIE has refused to broadcast [the child-sex-trade documentary] The Day My God Died,” writes one angry viewer, adding that the station aired “another hard-hitting documentary about pet dogs instead.” Why is this not a surprise, coming as it does from the station that bucked the trend for years by refusing to air Bill Moyers in prime time? KVIE may miss the boat when it comes to important national programming, but if you’re looking to see another fund-raising special from self-help guru Wayne Dyer or a rebroadcast of the Moody Blues live in concert, you’ve come to the right place.