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Hey, where are those new parking meters?

Hey, where are those new parking meters?

Photo By Nick Miller

Muriel’s survival tips
Mayoral candidate Muriel Strand got a raw deal. Surely, Sacramento is open-minded and imaginative enough to listen and to be appreciative for Strand’s thoughtful ideas about sustainability, climate change and getting ready for peak-everything. But no, we just wrote her off as the “Chicken Lady.”

Given the hell Sacramento summers play on our bodies, our brains and our wallets, we asked Strand for some advice. “I can tell you how I survive summer without turning on the air conditioning,” she replied, with that mischievous smile of hers. “Wet T-shirts.” See? You blew it Sacramento. You totally blew it.

Almost certainly legal MP3 downloads
Remember how, back when the money was flowing, you bought that 80 GB iPod? You quickly loaded up the CD collection you’ve been nursing along since high school. Which leaves, what, 60 GB of empty, hungry storage space to go?

Now your music budget is thin, and you’re not too comfortable stealing, er, sharing, music from those peer-to-peer sites.

Don’t forget, library cards are free. And in the Sacramento library system, there are thousands and thousands of songs there for the taking. There’s stuff you never realized you wanted. For example, that anthology of Vietnamese folk songs? Screaming. Next time you’re walking downtown with the big headphones on, you could be rocking that Smithsonian collection of classic railroad songs. While you’re at it, beef up your audiobook collection with a copy of Curious George Rides a Bike.

Soon, your player will be bursting with MP3s, all absolutely free and totally legal—we think.

Oh, you’ll pay
The new solar-powered parking “pay and display” kiosks downtown are lame. Used to be you could swoop on a meter with 10 minutes left on it, jump out and buy your little peppermint schnapps and your Quick Pick and be back on the road before the red flag flipped up. Those days are gone, friend. Coins, cards or cash, nobody parks for free.

And don’t try to argue that the new machines save time. You’ve got to park, get out and walk to the machine, stand behind the lady from Roseville who has no idea how the thing is supposed to work, get your ticket, walk back to your car, unlock the door, put the little ticket on the dash and lock it back up. Now you’re late for schnapps.

Well, you can relive the good old days by purchasing one or more of the 1,500 retired coin-only parking meters being sold by the city at farmers’ markets around town. They’ll just cost you $50 apiece, and, well, they’re heavy and old. In fact, we don’t really know what you’re supposed to do with them. Maybe fill them with spare change, haul them down to City Hall and empty them on the counter next time you have to pay a parking ticket.

Capital Nursery
It’s not too late to get your garden growing! Capital Nursery is just the place to plant the seed. There’s no better way to save a buck than to grow your own veggies and herbs in a small patch of earth in your backyard. With more than 70 years serving the locals, staff are competent and friendly; you’ll find everything you need here for any level, novice gardener to green-thumbed pro. Capital Nursery, 4700 Freeport Boulevard; (916) 455-2601;

The corner of 12th and F streets
The best thing about watching Alkali Flats revitalize is trying out the new—or, in one case, returning—small restaurants that serve the neighborhood. Recently reopened after a fire closed the place for better than two years, 524 serves mild, Mexican-style food (though there’s cheeseburger and fries available for the thoroughly gabacho palate). The best thing? The food is fresh and filling, with a pasta soup appetizer that’s not to be missed. The next best thing? It’s in Alkali Flats and open seven days a week—a surefire way to get the neighborhood back on track and keep residents on the sidewalks through the long summer evenings. 524 Mexican Restaurant, 524 12th Street; 916) 441-3600.

Everybody loves a piece of Peace Market.

Photo By Nick Miller

Shady mobile tamale guy
If you’re walking out of the Blockbuster on Folsom Boulevard and a Mexican guy whispers, “Hey, Holmes” and points to his trunk, don’t run away; the only criminal activity that might go down is the illicit sale of some delicious treats. At least, the odds are in your favor that he’s just the shady tamale guy who sells fat and moist meat-filled or chili-cheese corn-husked delights from the trunk of his Cutlass. The shady tamale guy hits the streets hard during the summer, and he’s been spotted around Midtown on many occasions. Forget everything your mother told you about strangers and give this guy’s trunk tamales a try. They’re delicious, Holmes. Shady Tamale Guy, parking lot of the Blockbuster Video on 56th and Folsom and various locations in Midtown.

Peace Market
Why do we love Peace Market? It ain’t the service at this bunker-like corner store that keeps us coming back—it’s not unfriendly, but they won’t be calling out your name in greeting when you set the door a-jingling. Honestly, it’s because they exist in a convenience shopper’s black hole. Trudge over to Safeway for a six-pack? No, thank you. Wife needs her chocolate fix? If she thinks you’re hiking to See’s, she is sorely mistaken. Peace actually has a great selection of corner-store staples and—big plus in the summer heat—they keep it ice cold in there. Peace! 1801 O Street, (916) 442-7073.