Tower, a love story

Unabashed praise from a predisposed witness

Meet you at the crossroads?

Meet you at the crossroads?

William J. Hughes is a local writer and security guard for the Tower Cafe

The Tower Cafe at Broadway and Land Park Drive sits at a genuine Sacramento crossroads, both historically and aesthetically. For me, someone who’s been employed by Tower as a security guard for several years now, this corner is by far the most compelling setting in the city.

Lobbyists and wine merchants, preachers and punks all take turns on the benches placed around the plaza fountain. Here come three lowriders, phone company hard hats, all of whom feel quite at home in the green garden, comfortable with the cafe’s décor and more than OK with its cuisine.

Now comes the president pro tem of the California Senate down the walkway, followed by four young hip-hopsters, all baggy pants, cellphones and headsets. Remember: This is the cafe where Russ Solomon’s Tower Records began its unimaginable run. Those neon dancers above the cafe’s entrance, “Go, daddy, go,” come straight out of our city’s history.

The iconic tower on the Tower Theatre, with its rotting marquee, has come to represent the state capital of California, almost more so than the Capitol dome—I should know, having once been a tour supervisor at the restored Capitol. The theater could use a benefactor, no doubt, but its doors remain open. I’ve written to Oracle’s Larry Ellison, Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas, “Come purchase the property. Come put your name on the theater.” No answer yet.

Two street guys push their carts under the marquee, followed by the mayor of Sacramento, then two retired California Highway Patrol troopers. And don’t forget the weekend brunch crowd—festive, patient, more than willing to wait however long it takes in the rain, cold, fog or heat.

Friends and families, strollers and backpacks, two guys lookin’ for used cigarettes, everybody moving, movie discussion groups, hot chocolate, a unique place to sit outside in the sun under a canopy of Japanese maples that are most sensuous and shady. And here comes Chuck Yeager of The Right Stuff, on his way to breakfast with Tower Cafe’s owner, operator and benefactor, Jim Seyman.

That nonsense about Sacramento not being a world-class city? It means nothing at this crossroads. It means nothing to the children at the Tower fountain, wishing pennies in hand.