Letters for March 27, 2008

Letter of the week
Black man seeks White House

Barack Obama’s black.

In case we hadn’t noticed or it hadn’t quite sunk in yet, this fact has now been brought emphatically to our attention. Shoved right in our face.

It was bound to happen. The race card has been played. With the game on the line, with everybody “all in” (poker talk—thanks ESPN), out comes the card that, sadly, trumps all others. No point in holding it. When the stakes are this high, it’s about winning, not about how you play the game.

That saying about “birds of a feather” is all too true. It’s not just human nature–it’s nature. Humans haven’t risen above it. We never will.

And so, the card is played. Just to point out: “F.Y.I.—Barack’s black. Really.” He’s not a white man with brown skin, he’s a black man. He didn’t decide to become black when he entered politics, to boost his career … he’s been black all his life. He was born black—and even more damning and damaging, he was raised by blacks. He knows them. Associates with them. Loves and is loved by them. He worships with them—with people who stand up in the pews in response to a fiery sermon from a controversial and charismatic preacher who condemns social injustice and criticizes the establishment for its part or indifference. (Imagine that—a controversial preacher. One who ruffles the establishment.) He feels the frustration, fear and anger. Anger not about what happened 150 years ago, but about what happened yesterday and what will happen tomorrow—if not to him personally, to one of his own. He suffers with them, the slights and the insults (“He’s only accomplished what he has because he’s black, not because he’s worthy … ”), quietly, because he must. He knows what it’s like to be black. He is.

He hasn’t denied it, but wisely, he hasn’t flaunted it. It shouldn’t be the issue, but unfortunately, it is.

Sorry, senator, the word’s out. And now it’s open season. Bye-bye … it’s been good to know you.

Steve Lord

Heather Fargo or bust

Re Cosmo Garvin’s “The big show” (SN&R Feature, March 20):

The only person of substance running for mayor of Sacramento is Heather Fargo. This city is urbanizing at a breakneck pace and requires more of an understanding of the management of an enterprise approaching Fortune 1000 size than a musician, an aging hippie, a wannabe Ted Nugent Republican, a perennial pol whose private life is as silly as a reality show or one of the most irresponsible real-estate developers in Sacramento history.

I was struck by the lack of awareness, to put it politely, of one candidate as to why Sacramento has incurred a $50 million deficit going into the next fiscal season—obviously this candidate doesn’t understand the tie between declines in property values and city revenues—NEXT! Then there’s poor ol’ Padilla, who never seems to miss a local campaign run, though he attracts fewer voters than those who actually pass the bar as a result of attending the McLaw school he runs. And finally, the aging jock/good-guy-come-home/developer candidate, who, in announcing his campaign, had not one substantive thing to say about how he would “change” city governance, and is there probably as a result of his numerous and legend real-estate development code violations, and this even despite unprecedented leniencies and forbearances worth hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars granted by local government on his behalf.

These are the best alternatives this city can offer? Oy vey!

Alex Berg

Too poor to pay to play

Re Cosmo Garvin’s “Pay to play” (SN&R Feature Sidebar, March 20):

Thanks for your exposure of the facts regarding city elections. The upfront money ($10,000) which you referred to in your story about the city’s public-financing system is, as you pointed out, a significant financial hurdle for a potential challenger in the mayor’s race to overcome. Only those with the financial wherewithal to have that kind of money personally (Kevin Johnson) or who are well connected (incumbents) are able to use public financing. Even that is unlikely to happen, because in accepting public financing, one would have to accept spending limitations.

The number of candidates who have accepted the spending limits is disappointing to those of us who backed public financing. My wife, L.R. Roberts, ran for city council last time. She had to spend almost all of the money she raised, close to $700, to pay for a city translation into Spanish of her candidate statement. Candidates are not allowed to use their own translators. The city translation translated her opposition to large corporations as sociedades. She would have had to raise more than $7,000 to even get a penny of public financing. Her incumbent opponent raised more than $45,000 from anti-union sources, such as Kevin Johnson, the Maloofs and Rex Moore.

Regular working people are excluded from running for city council. This leads to our current situation where a front for big developers is running against a front for the Metro Chamber of Commerce. Working families are left in the cold.

Richard Perry

We’ll drink to that!

Re “Booze & Review” (SN&R Feature, March 13):

Beer, booze and brew? Wait a minute! Haven’t you SN&R folks been reviewing this topic just about every issue? Are you attempting to tap into the home-brew connoisseur business? Or is it just part of the deal to appease those drinking and bar ads sprayed throughout your crisp paper pages?

How about wellness and recovery for a change of pace?

Eric Zuniga
Wellness and Recovery Center

All-ages rages

Re Nicholas Miller’s “All-ages all over?” (SN&R Feature, March 6):

I absolutely take exception to some of the ridiculous and self-serving comments made in the story regarding the lack of all-ages venues in Sacramento.

First off, no one disputes that we need another Cattle Club or Club Can’t Tell in this city for all-ages live music events, and if someone could ever find the money, patience and not meet resistance from the bureaucrats to put an all-ages venue together, I’d be the first one in line to do whatever I could to support the place. My gut feeling is that if it hasn’t happened already, it’s probably not ever going to happen, at least not in our beloved Midtown.

That said, what the fuck is up with writer Nicholas Miller spouting crap like, “There isn’t a dedicated, legit all-ages venue in the city … and it’s killing local music” and “So how’d Sacramento’s all-ages rock music scene die? Or, who killed it?” Or Jerry Perry, who should absolutely know better, proclaiming, “For the last six or seven years, nobody has been connecting local bands to the all-ages scene.”

Bullshit. Youngsters may not have a Cattle Club to see/hear live bands these days, but to dismiss the idea that there is a living, breathing all-ages scene in this town is clueless and inexcusable. In the last 12 years or so, I personally have worked my ass off to book all-ages events at whatever local venue would allow me to, and it has been a monumental struggle.

Consider the original Java City and Capitol Garage, Cambire Cafe, Café Paris, the original and current True Love Coffeehouse, Java Lounge (and probably a couple more I’m forgetting), and nobody who has actually been paying attention can truthfully say that the all-ages scene is not alive and kicking (no pun intended). Sure, the venues may not be the ideal places to see/hear live music, but there have been so many incredible, creative, fun things happening in Midtown since the closing of the Cattle Club that certainly were not going on at most of the 21-and-over places Jerry books at.

In all that time, I was fortunate enough to have booked everyone from the Yah Mos, Groovie Ghoulies, Popgun and Deathray to Richard March, Onelinedrawing, Jackie Greene, Didley Squat and hundreds more, both local and nationally known, and guess what? It was predominantly the kids who came out and supported those shows. While bands like the Knockoffs and the Secretions were playing over-21 shows at Old Ironsides and the Distillery, they were also playing big shows for the kids at some of the smaller, “less important” all-ages venues and doing quite well, and kids were able to come out and experience live music on a pretty regular basis.

Again, maybe these particular venues weren’t too great in the eyes of Jerry or Tim Foster, but they served many under-21s very well and helped cultivate a newer, younger youth-oriented scene (or various factions of an overall scene) throughout the area.

And what the fuck is up with not even giving Java Lounge a mention? The place has been Midtown’s sole consistent all-ages venue for bands for the last two years or so and even took last year’s Best All-Ages Venue in SN&R’s Best of Sacramento issue, and they don’t even rate a small blurb? Am I missing something here?

Since it’s now been proclaimed in big, bold letters that the all-ages music scene in Sac is dead or dying, would it then be OK to suggest that people booking mostly 21-and-over shows are contributing to its death, too? Probably not. Fuck it, I’m gonna anyway.

Kevin Seconds

What about young people?

Re Nicholas Miller’s “All-ages all over?” (SN&R Feature, March 6):

I was glad to see this article, but it would have been much stronger if it had presented the voices of young people who are putting on, playing and attending shows in Midtown and beyond. Where was the coverage of their modern-day successes and struggles? Without a doubt, there have been plenty of successes—for proof, head over to www.myspace.com/sacramentopunkshows (that’s a shameless plug) and see that in the next four weeks, there are around 30 all-ages shows happening in the area—and that’s just stuff that is somehow punkish-related.

This is far more activity than in any of the mythological all-ages glory days of times past. Those shows are often being put on by young people, feature loads of local and touring bands of all ages and are attended by hundreds of local young music lovers.

All-ages all over? Hardly. Yes, Club Minimal was cool, the Cattle Club was nifty and The Loft was special. History is fun, but this is 2008, and there’s a whole lot that could have been said about today that somehow didn’t make it in the article.

For instance, I wish the author could have connected the dots between the ridiculous hassles Stewart Katz went through 25 years ago and the absurd behavior on the part of local police in shutting down the all-ages Food Not Bombs benefit concert scheduled last month. For all the success that the Sacramento all-ages music scene is having these days, the fact remains that right now, the city still makes it difficult to do all-ages shows, and there are some great stories to be told by young folks who are striving to do things right now! I would love to see those stories show up in SN&R.

Yet, in spite of city policies and police behavior that can make all-ages shows difficult, young folks in Sacramento are using their ingenuity and brilliance to create a vibrant music scene. They have shown repeatedly that they will not allow themselves to be silenced by adults who don’t seem to like them or their music. Media outlets that ignore them simply result in the creation of their own decentralized ways of communicating.

I’ve been fortunate to take part in the all-ages punk scene in Sacramento for 25 years, and right now there are more shows than ever, tons of great bands made up of teenagers and a wealth of enthusiastic audiences of all ages coming out to support the scene.

Never mind the death knell ringing over at SN&R, the all-ages music scene in Sacramento is alive and well in the capable hands of intelligent, empowered, creative young people.

Craig Usher

CorrectionIn “The big show” (SN&R Feature, March 20), an incorrect date for the June 3 Sacramento mayoral election appeared in Shawn Eldredge’s candidate profile, Adam Daniel’s campaign Web site (www.adamdaniel4mayor.com) was omitted due to an editing error and we left out a word in Charles Barkley’s “The Round Mound of Rebound” nickname. Our sincerest apologies to Eldredge, Daniel and Sir Charles. These corrections have been made online.