Love bites

Not that Valentine’s Day is about love as much as it is some grand candy/floral/restaurateur/greeting card complex conspiracy to pry cash out of our wallets. Wait. Stop. That wasn’t very positive. Old habits are hard to break. But now, without further ado, The Love Column:

What is hip: First stop on the love train is freshly installed Speaker of the Assembly Herb Wesson. Sure, this post isn’t as powerful as it once was, and Wesson got there mostly by his back-slapping and fund-raising abilities. But the brother’s got both soul and smarts, and he makes a great figurehead, at least if his Tuesday evening inaugural party last week at the Sheraton Grand Hotel Ballroom was any indicator.

After being introduced by Governor Gray Davis, Wesson took the mike with the ease of a lounge singer, then proceeded to rattle off from memory the names of all 80 members of the Assembly, and even a few Senators in attendance, calling everyone to the stage to bask in recognition and common purpose.

And as the funk band hit it, the entire legislative body started movin', groovin', doin’ their thang. “What is hip?” was the musical question posed by the singer, and many legislators answered in actions, with the Democrats proving to have far more soul than the Republicans (big surprise, right?).

Davis Democrat Helen Thomson lingered on the stage long after many of her colleagues had fled back to the safe circles of staffers and lobbyists, throwing an arm around the singer and bumping his hip to the beat. Meanwhile, Davis stiffly clapped along, looking about as wooden and unhip as ever.

On the dance floor, both Darrell Steinberg and Fred Keeley tore it up, showing some great moves and a real sense of being animated by the music. Bites doesn’t trust any politician who doesn’t dance with abandon, because soul should be more important than image in politics, even if we’ve been trending in the opposite direction.

For example, Keeley was Soul Brother #1 that evening, dancing all night long and exuding an aura of love … and making Bites determined to go after the political jackals who recently handed his seat to the Republicans during reapportionment. But we’ll save that venom for a future column.

Love shack: Sacramento City officials deserve a belated Bites buss for taking ownership of the old Pacific Gas & Electric property along the Sacramento River, and for pledging to have it developed into some kind of groovy riverfront use like an amphitheater, community center or microbrewery.

Anything that could host live music would gain the Bites Seal of Approval, particularly if it renovated and utilized that haunting hulk of a building, with its great sense of both style and history.

Fair umpire: Let’s also do a quick loving shout-out to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which last week ruled that some provisions of California’s “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law are unconstitutional, deeming a life sentence for petty theft to be cruel and unusual punishment.

Now might be a good time for reconciliation and reconsideration on this issue. Californians were a little upset over some heinous, high-profile crimes in 1994 when they passed the toughest tough-on-criminals measure in the country. Let’s reform this thing and show that we can be as just as we are tough.

Silver lining: Finally, Bites wants to join in the chorus of praise for local freestyle skier Shannon Bahrke, who snagged the silver medal during the Olympic women’s moguls competition last weekend. She’s a testament to the talent up the hill.

On any given weekend, at Tahoe-area resorts such as Sierra-at-Tahoe, Squaw Valley, Heavenly or Alpine Meadows, you’ll find thousands of your neighbors shredding the slopes and reveling in the lifestyle to which our area is so conducive.

So feel the love, enjoy your lives and we’ll get back to biting next week.