Storm watch

Photo By Jon Modrow

Last Friday morning, Tyrone Nickel woke up to “a sonic boom” just outside his Midtown apartment. His pet macaws and lovebirds squawked manically. The artwork on his walls had fallen. And the branchy trunk of a 40-foot oak tree had smashed through his kitchen.

One hour later, Jon Modrow also found himself face-to-face with the intruding oak. The Golden Bear, the Midtown bar that Modrow owns, sits directly below Nickel’s apartment. Its kitchen and back patio were also damaged when the tree uprooted from beneath the sidewalk and came crashing down on the building.

All across Sacramento, there was wreckage. Wind speeds topped out at 65 miles per hour. A speed sign on Highway 50 lay snapped in half. A cement garbage can on J Street was tipped over and cracked. Gutters flooded and branches lay everywhere. Now add a 40-foot tree bearing its chunky roots to 23rd Street.

By 2 p.m., rain dripped wildly through every crack in the Bear’s patio roof, sounding like a rattlesnake shimmying its tail in the debris. It would take an entire day to dismember and remove the tree.

But in spite of all that, the Bear resumed its drink service that very evening. They’re good at weathering setbacks.

2007 was a challenging year for the Midtown bar. The once-crowded venue was reduced to a capacity of 49 people, the back patio was closed, and the bar’s live music—once the rock ’n’ roll stomping ground of DJ Roger—was put on hold. But there were signs of hope: The capacity eventually got raised to 75. The back patio got reopened. And the smaller crowd meant the music could legally resume.

Then the tree fell.

And instead of moping in defeat, everyone responded with optimism.

“I’d have no problem staying here,” said Nickel, a foreign-currency trader and hairstylist who begins work at Spanish Fly Hair Garage in two weeks.

And the Bear staff was hard at work last Friday when SN&R stopped by. It’s a unique workday that finds one employee counting cash in the register till while another assesses the gaping hole in the venue’s kitchen ceiling and still others communicate with treecutters dismembering the oak that has crashed through the apartment upstairs.

“If anyone wants to check out the devastation and have a beer, they’re welcome to come through,” said Modrow.