Year in Review 2015

Sleater-Kinney, <i>No Cities to Love</i>

Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love

Be honest, Sacramento: 2015 exhausted. For me, it wasn’t just the effort of trying to keep more responsible-adult plates spinning at the same time than ever before while trying to figure out how to get a few more going. It was also the constant beatdown of bad news.

Part of that is my fault, for spending time on social media; it’s a hot, confining crucible of bullshit up in there most of the time. But the IRL sadness was real: mass shootings, Donald Trump, Martin Shkreli, our sleazebag mayor and his charter school cronies gradually tightening their grip, complex geopolitics with no easy solution, Donald Trump, a seemingly endless stream of videos starring police officers executing innocent citizens. And Donald Trump.

Confronted by all of that, it’s tempting to retreat into the comforts of pop culture. And 2015 gave us a fantastic bounty of amazing art. From Mad Max: Fury Road to Selma to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, the past year was full of transcendent films, music, books, podcasts and TV.

But let’s take this opportunity to let it all go (no, not like Frozen; that was 2013). We reached out to Sacramentans to fill us in on their highs and lows of 2015, and what to look forward to in the coming year. So breathe deep, Sacramento, and try to make peace—you’ll need it for 2016.

The Sacramentans we quizzed for this story

Berry Accius: activist and founder, Voice of the Youth

Tom Armstrong: blogger and homeless advocate

Kimio Bazett: restaurateur

Paul Clegg: blogger,

Carmichael Dave: host, KHTK

Jose Di Gregorio: artist

Tamie Dramer: chairwoman, Organize Sacramento

Catherine Enfield: food blogger, a.k.a. Miss Munchie

Johnny Flores: podcast host, Serious Talk Seriously

Isaac Gonzalez: community organizer and political consultant

Ryan Graham: brewer, Track 7 Brewing Co.

Kachet Jackson-Henderson: fashion blogger,

Joe Kye: musician, Joseph in the Well

Justin Isaacks: Shuffle Six

Chris Lemos: musician

Laura Matranga: owner, Kicksville Vinyl & Vintage

Katie McCleary: founder of 916Ink, a literary nonprofit

Carla Meyer: restaurant reviewer, The Sacramento Bee

Liv Moe: executive directory, Verge Center For the Arts

Russell Rawlings: mayoral candidate

Trisha Rhomberg: owner, Old Gold

@Sac_snark: Twitter personality

Anne Marie Schubert: Sacramento County District Attorney

Sam Somers Jr.: chief, Sacramento Police Department

Michael Stevenson: producing director, Capital Stage

Melody Stone: podcast co-host, Hooks & Stone

Xochitl: local musician

Music that made an impact

Anne Marie Schubert: “Sugar,” Maroon 5. Why? Because the music video that goes with it—surprising newlyweds at their receptions—is awesome and makes me smile every time I think of it. For those couples, it’s a memory of a lifetime.

Melody Stone: Hamilton, the musical. This incredible hip-hop opera about our $10 Founding Father without a father is a work of genius and everyone should go listen to the entire soundtrack right now.

Joe Kye: I’m a bit late to the party, but the Goat Rodeo Sessions—a collaboration between Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Stuart Duncan and Edgar Meyer—dominated my playlist this year. Their interesting blend of Americana, classical and jazz is utterly captivating.

Carla Meyer: Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love, because I waited so long for a new album and this one’s great instead of just obligatory. Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly, because I love his phrasing, thoughtfulness and use of jazz.

Michael Stevenson: Sarah Jarosz. She’s amazing.

Sam Somers Jr.: Chris Cornell. Good any year.

Jose Di Gregorio: So Stressed. Specifically their album The Unlawful Trade Of Greco-Roman Art.

Kimio Bazett: Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. I love hip-hop (or anything else) that is genre-bending. For me, it is reminiscent of Outkast in that it is unexpected and unpredictable in the most beautiful way. And he kills it live.

Ryan Graham: Strung Out’s Transmission.Alpha.Delta. They have been my favorite band for years. Gotta see them play twice touring in support of the album. It was definitely a high point of the year.

Berry Accius: Hip-hop is dead. Controlled and poisoned by corporate America and ruined by culture vultures I love a lot of underground talent this way like Luke Tailor and Will Pwr.

Paul Clegg: Old-time country music, because it soothes my spirit.

Carmichael Dave: The D.O.C., No One Can Do It Better. With the NWA movie out, I, like a lot of suburban white kids of the ’80s and ’90s, was very interested to see the backstory of these childhood giants that I never understood. Rediscovering the music reminded me of perhaps the most underrated album of the gangsta rap movement. After D.O.C. released this album, he crashed his car, smashing his larynx, effectively ending his career. But not before laying down a masterpiece. People may remember “It’s Funky Enough” but the final track “The Grand Finale” featuring additional verses by Ice Cube, MC Ren and Eazy-E is (to me) the greatest rap song ever written. Check it out. Trust me.

Johnny Flores: Sleater-Kinney’s No Cities To Love. I love bands that are angry but don’t beat you over the head about it. Sleater-Kinney are one the best bands that scratch that itch for me.

Isaac Gonzalez: Adele’s “Hello,” because it’s so hard to find.

Katie McCleary: I adored Ryan Adam’s cover album of Taylor’s Swift’s 1989. He found the dark, moody side of her lyrics and created an amazing sense of urgency—it’s the kind of music that makes you want to run away and find a quiet space to look at the stars.

Kachet Jackson-Henderson: None. Because it sucks. #oldschool.

Xochitl: Currently obsessed with Sara Bareilles’ Waitress album. She was feeling a lack of creativity and decided to spark it back by writing a musical. Very brave of her to step out of her comfort zone!

Justin Isaacks: For me, I would have to say MGLA Exercises in Futility. Just straight ripping melodic second wave black metal from Poland done right. Killer record.

Your favorite restaurant of the year

Carla Meyer: Empress Tavern, because it’s beautiful, and the food is sublime.

Isaac Gonzalez: Bacon & Butter! Putting Tahoe Park on the mark in 2015 and winning many local awards for their brunch.

Justin Isaacks: Empress Tavern. Just blew me away with the style and feel as well as a killer menu. Meat lovers can expect nothing but the best.

Liv Moe: Dumpling House! One visit and the reason why is obvious.

Joe Kye: Laos Kitchen. Hands-down best chicken broth ever—clean, deeply flavorful and reeking of homemade quality.

Sam Somers Jr.: Mulvaney’s B&L. Great food and service!

Russell Rawlings: Lou’s Sushi, because sushi and because Lou. There are lots of great restaurants in Sacramento, though, and this is a very tough question.

Chando’s Tacos

Berry Accius: I have several favorites, but Chando’s Tacos: best tacos, period!

Johnny Flores: Kasbah. They’ve completely revamped their menu with fresh, authentic recipes. Plus, they make my favorite sangria in town.

Carmichael Dave: Mikuni. Taro and his crew make you feel like family, but that’s a small bonus if the food sucks. It doesn’t. It’s the best.

Anne Marie Schubert: Waffle Experience in Natomas. Why? I had a work lunch meeting there. Driving there, I wondered “Why in the world am I going to some waffle place for lunch … way too fattening and not my thing.” The food was incredible: fresh, fun and unique. You will see the restaurant filled with active-duty military and retired veterans. I hear the owner is a vet. The owners are great community partners. Fine food. Fine people.

Ryan Graham: I can’t directly answer this as it would be an ABC violation for me.

Catherine Enfield: New—Localis, love how fresh and creative the dishes are. Overall—Fish Face, it’s the perfect after-workout food: full of protein, low on calories.

Katie McCleary: Is there anything better than the shrimp and grits at The Porch? Creamy, warm and sweet cheesy grits with a pile of succulent shrimp cooked and seasoned to perfection. No. Drop mic. (P.S. The fried chicken is pretty good, too.)

Most memorable pop-culture moment

Caitlyn Jenner

Carla Meyer: Caitlyn Jenner’s interview with Diane Sawyer.

Russell Rawlings: Leonard Nimoy and B.B. King, two amazing humans, shuffled off this mortal coil.

Johnny Flores: ESPN backing out of showing K.J.’s movie once it came to light that he was accused of inappropriate behavior with a minor.

Ryan Graham: Watching Ronda Rousey get knocked out. Sometimes even the most talented athletes need a dose of humility.

Anne Marie Schubert: I’m pretty naive and uninformed on pop culture. I would say the unraveling of Bill Cosby has to be my most memorable event of 2015. Why? Twenty-seven women having the courage to step forward on 48 Hours was one of my most significant memories of all time.

@Sac_snark: Drake and Vivek Ranadive’s friendship. That shit is so ridiculous it’s hilarious.

Isaac Gonzalez: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s like the best cover album of all time, in a movie!

Liv Moe: “Hotline Bling,” both because I love the video and for James Turrell’s response.

Tamie Dramer: Losing both The Daily Show and Colbert Report.

Sam Somers Jr.: A new Star Wars, because the Force is nothing to mess with.

Carmichael Dave: Star Wars. The one (semi-) constant since childhood.

Katie McCleary: The Force Awakens, i.e., the best Star Wars movie ever made, gave us hardcore fans what we always wanted after the original three. Screw the prequels. Thanks, J.J. Abrams!

Kachet Jackson-Henderson: Bill Cosby and all of the women. Because all of the WOMEN!

Xochitl: Demi Lovato performing. This girl has been through hell and back. After rehab she has come back stronger than ever.

Political lesson of 2015

Isaac Gonzalez: There is no such thing as a private email.

Ryan Graham: Hate rhetoric and fear-mongering play well with the American public.

Anne Marie Schubert: Just because you are a billionaire doesn’t mean you are qualified to be president of the United States.

Jose Di Gregorio: Be kind and grateful to others. Don’t talk shit about people with different backgrounds, but stand up for yourself against bigots, bullies and fascists.

Paul Clegg: Don’t elect anyone who scapegoats minority groups and immigrants.

Trisha Rhomberg: Never be surprised at how stupid your fellow countrymen can be.

Berry Accius: It’s a lesson I already knew: Politics is not about the people, but the money certain people put into their political agenda.

Kimio Bazett: 1. Pictures/Internet are forever #dongs. 2. Shock/awe still work on most folks (i.e. Trump).

Tom Armstrong: Republicans are very confused and in need of psychiatric help

Johnny Flores: Guns are more important than citizens.

Carmichael Dave: I’ve always been a Republican. And now the party has turned into a festering hunk of psycho. I’m a political orphan. Change is coming. It’s inevitable. Can’t continue like this much longer. Too much weird.

Carla Meyer: There’s life after Celebrity Apprentice.

Liv Moe: When embarking on a project, consider the expectations of all involved at the outset.

Tamie Dramer: Don’t bother to expect the City Council to do the right thing, but fight like hell anyway.

Sam Somers Jr.: Words matter.

Catherine Enfield: That history repeats itself. Watching racism, bigotry and ignorance constantly rise up over and over. I’m actually not into following politics, but the next election is scaring me.

Katie McCleary: It’s scary and fascinating that Trump is likely to win the Republican ticket. What does that say about us and our participation in democracy? It says we don’t care—that we value pop culture over thoughtful government. That’s frightening. Those who vote for him are just pissing away their opportunity to be smart and engaged citizens.

Kachet Jackson-Henderson: If you have a lot of money, anyone can be a frontrunner in a presidential election

Best TV of the year

Russell Rawlings: The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime. I love Philip K. Dick and “alternative history” as a fictional genre. It’s very well done, and very cinematic. I’m sure that this is Ridley Scott’s fault.

Liv Moe: It’s pathetic, but I watch a lot of competitive cooking shows. Because I’m always operating on a bunch of crazy deadlines there’s something therapeutic about watching someone else freak out for 45 minutes.

Ryan Graham: New show: Blindspot, totally unsuspected and well done. Old show: The Americans. Who doesn’t love Cold War cat-and-mouse programming?

Kimio Bazett: 1. The Walking Dead. 2. Parts Unknown. 3. The Leftovers.

Melody Stone: I’m loving the quirky, how-did-this-get-made musical rom-com Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I thoroughly enjoyed binge watching season two of Transparent. But my favorite is going to have to be Netflix’s series about an alcoholic private investigator with super-strength, Jessica Jones.

Carmichael Dave: South Park. Continues to be the smartest show on television and it’s not close.

Sam Somers Jr.: The Blacklist. James Spader, enough said!

Chris Lemos: I discovered Maron this year, and really dig it. Not sure if it came out this year or not though.

Isaac Gonzalez: The Soup, but it was canceled this year to make more room for Kardashian-type programming.

<i>Broad City</i>

Joe Kye: Broad City. Hilarious, witty social commentary on the plight of the modern 20-something-year-old.

Paul Clegg: Mad Men, because it clarified vague impressions I had from the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Anne Marie Schubert: House of Cards. I sure hope politics isn’t that twisted.

Laura Matranga: I enjoy the home renovation show Rehab Addict with Nicole Curtis. It’s the only one on TV that doesn’t make me cringe.

Tamie Dramer: Show Me a Hero miniseries from HBO, because the story was so relevant and similar to Sacramento’s affordable-housing struggles.

Carla Meyer: Transparent and Luther (old episodes on the latter; am catching up on Netflix). Transparent is so intimate and its characters so flawed yet recognizably human. Luther is just juicy—exciting police drama.

@Sac_snark: When Patton Oswalt “guest starred” on Good Day Sacramento.

Catherine Enfield: Jessica Jones—raw, real, not a ridiculous storyline

Tom Armstrong: The series Mr. Robot. Why? It was enthralling. I was constantly trying to anticipate what might happen next.

Katie McCleary: I’m always late to the “what’s on TV” game, but we started watching The Goldbergs and I have fallen deeply in love with the structure and story of the show. It’s like a funnier version of The Wonder Years, but for those of us who grew up in the ’80s. The show has great actors, genius comedic timing and provides a great commentary on ’80s pop culture. Patton Oswalt provides the voice-over of the grownup boy looking back on his childhood and it’s just perfect.

Best movie of the year

Carla Meyer: Room. Such terrific performances by (Elk Grove’s own) Brie Larson and the wonderful young actor Jacob Tremblay. So much tension and intimacy.

Berry Accius: This is tough because I had two and the reason why is it spoke to my childhood and me coming up as teen, Straight Outta Compton! Shit, that was me, my era, this is how I moved back in the days. During the late ’80s early ’90s, what youth wasn’t influenced by NWA?

Kimio Bazett: I really enjoyed The Martian. I was able to really imagine myself in Matt Damon’s position and I love a good survival story. That, and the idea of being able to put human interests over geopolitics, however unrealistic.

Tamie Dramer: Selma. Because it is good to be inspired over and over by the civil-rights movement and that setbacks can be overcome with determination and good organizing!

<i>Star Wars: The Force Awakens</i>

Michael Stevenson: Star Wars. You know why.

Sam Somers Jr.: American Sniper and Selma … love movies based on real people and events.

Anne Marie Schubert: Pixels. Why? Because my kids loved it. I did love the popcorn that came with it.

Paul Clegg: Spotlight, because it showed how important journalism is in our society.

@Sac_snark: The Down in the Valley premiere, because K.J. went through with his whole red carpet gala shindig after ESPN said they were pulling the film.

Ryan Graham: With my kids, I only go to kid movies. So, I’ll say Minions.

Katie McCleary: Inside Out is Pixar’s best-written film to date—the movie made me bawl and swoon all at the same time. It’s the story of how emotions work in conjunction with memory and how, when combined, they become the building blocks of personality. Pixar did a great job at casting Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Fear (Bill Hader). It took an extremely complex subject and broke it down into delightful animation for all ages.

Isaac Gonzalez: Mad Max, because you’re not supposed to be able to make in this kind of movie in Hollywood anymore, but somehow George Miller pulled it off.

The year’s most inspiring person

Paul Clegg: The three Sacramentans who risked their lives to thwart a terrorist on a French train. They did the right thing at the right time in a foreign country.

Bernie Sanders

Joe Kye: Bernie Sanders. Because he’s not about the charade and parade of modern-day politics, he’s about representing and reinvigorating the middle class. Feel the Bern!

Tom Armstrong: The pope had a good year. The president gave some inspiring speeches.

Michael Stevenson: Jimmy Carter. Endurance.

Anne Marie Schubert: San Bernardino Sheriff’s Detective Jorge Lucero. He walked into a room of complete strangers and told them he would take a bullet for them. In that moment in time and terror—the dedication and willingness of a police officer to risk his or her life for others rose above all other debates that have questioned the professionalism and sacrifices of the men and women of law enforcement.

Isaac Gonzalez: Bernie Sanders! Because without him we wouldn’t be having any real conversation about the democratic nominee for president.

Russell Rawlings: Without a doubt, Bernie Sanders deserves this title. I’m inspired that we have a starting point toward progress, even given that the rest of the political landscape looks both frightening and dire.

Kimio Bazett: Of those that I met personally, probably Alice Waters. Listening to her talk about changing the food habits of poor children was pretty damn humbling. Changing the world right here in California, one child at a time. Tangible.

Katie McCleary: It’s difficult to find an inspiring person in a sea of sensationalized stories about celebrities turned criminals … and so I will turn locally to Jessica Rhodes, the executive director of the Yoga Seed Collective. She has this amazing ability to inspire fun and creativity while also exuding calmness. She is warm, authentic, optimistic, is utterly present and deeply cares about helping people, usually the most unfortunate, in Sacramento find balance through yoga.

One thing to leave behind in 2015

Paul Clegg: The idea that DeMarcus Cousins of the Kings is maturing as an athlete and team leader. It’s satisfying to be a good judge of human nature.

Carmichael Dave: The heat. I sound old, but I hate the heat. And it seemed like it was hot pretty much the whole year. I can’t move because I’m a native and I love this city with all my heart, but I’m destined to be one of those old men yelling about the heat. It’s a lock.

Chris Lemos: Hopefully Donald Trump.

Melody Stone: Can this be the last year for ugly Christmas sweaters? I’m so sick of that tradition.

Kimio Bazett: If we can leave the mass shootings in this country behind I think that would be ideal. I was in Stockton for the Cleveland School shooting, which was I believe the first of it’s kind. Every single one that happens these days triggers something in me.

Ryan Graham: The drought.

Isaac Gonzalez: The drought (finger crossed! Come on, El Nino!)

Carla Meyer: The drought (fingers crossed).

Sam Somers Jr.: You know that procedure they do when you turn 50? Done!

Trisha Rhomberg: Diapers.

Katie McCleary: It’s time for this nation to eradicate racism. What a stupid tragedy that so much violence in communities across the nation in 2015 was against black men … often young black men who had talents to share with the world. Honest conversations need to happen in homes, schools, and churches across America that addresses the roots of racism and privilege (in its various forms) that doesn’t shame people into silence, but rather illuminates the many layered issues at hand and propels them to seek understanding and resolutions towards a better world.

The one news moment you will never forget

Russell Rawlings: The death of Freddie Carlos Gray and the subsequent protests in Baltimore. Sadly, we need reminders that racial inequality still exists, and this was a glaring example. We all need to remember and learn from the situation.

Melody Stone: 2015 had more shootings than I care to remember; but I was working in the Capital Public Radio newsroom during the attacks on Paris and watching that news roll in hit me hard. I spent the afternoon updating stories, retweeting news sources and sobbing.

Tamie Dramer: The mayor saying he will not seek a third term.

Michael Stevenson: Paris attacks.


@Sac_snark: Jared Fogle being a pervert. The foot-long jokes were pretty great.

Sam Somers Jr: They found water on Mars! I was hoping they would find martians!

Tom Armstrong: The terrorist attacks in Paris. We seem always to be slipping further and further away from peace.

Anne Marie Schubert: San Bernardino.

Trisha Rhomberg: November Paris bombing. Knowing the band, knowing people, such a huge and sad piece of the world. Horrific everyday possibilities are just mind boggling. People are scarier than sharks.

Paul Clegg: Donald Trump’s call to ban Muslim immigrants. It was a chilling reminder of the ugliness that lies in society’s gutter.

Berry Accius: Police across America continue to kill black people without repercussions. After one year of rebellions all across America, in 2015 it only got worse, nothing has gotten better.

Johnny Flores: Paris and San Bernardino shootings.

Ryan Graham: The Paris terrorist attacks. The family and I were in Amsterdam that night waiting to fly home the next day.

Isaac Gonzalez: The Paris attacks, not because of what those terrible people did, but because of the outpouring of support from all over the world.

Katie McCleary: Same-sex couples can marry! That’s awesome.

Kachet Jackson-Henderson: Paris attacks. I had just been visiting, and had noticed troops all around with guns at popular places. My initial thought was someone important must’ve been visiting, not that the country was on alert.

Best thing you read all year?

Liv Moe: I’ve read a lot of great books this year, although Sally Mann’s biography left the biggest impression. Mann’s meditations on art and photography caused me to reconsider what I value as an artist, curator and arts administrator. In an age where art as experience and spectacle continues to gain traction, the concept that we might appreciate something in a meditative, thoughtful way, seems comparatively quiet but also refreshing.

Sam Somers Jr.: The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

Russell Rawlings: The Political Campaign Desk Reference, by Michael McNamara.

Paul Clegg: Tiger Force by Michael Sallah and Mitch Weiss. It revealed that atrocities committed by U.S. forces in Vietnam were commonplace and unpunished.

Tom Armstrong: Islam and the Future of Tolerance.

Michael Stevenson: Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Anne Marie Schubert: The Sacramento Bee story, “Genny’s World: Homeless in Sacramento; A death on the streets.”

Berry Accius: The Destruction of Black Civilization, by Chancellor Williams.

Isaac Gonzalez: “K.J. Sues SN&R!”

Carmichael Dave: Twitter. An open book into our cruel, awesome, crazy, wonderful society. I’m addicted. We have been brought together like never before on social media, and I’m still not sure it’s a good thing.

Miranda July, author of <i>The First Bad Man</i>

Carla Meyer: The First Bad Man, by Miranda July. Sleater-Kinney and Miranda July. I obviously have a type!

Catherine Enfield: Well, I actually listened to The Third Plate by Dan Barber. It really opens up your mind to bigger thoughts regarding the farm-to-fork movement and sustainable food.

Katie McCleary: Hands down the best book published in 2015 was by our very own Christian Kiefer. His novel The Animals is about a man hiding from his wretched past at an animal sanctuary in Northern Idaho and what happens to the animals, the woman he loves and himself when the enemy comes calling. Literary and lush sentences with a good plot? That’s good stuff.

What will you miss the most about 2015?

Liv Moe: A year spent enjoying the company of my friends and loved ones.

Chris Lemos: Affordable parking downtown.

Carla Meyer: I only get to review Empress Tavern the one time.

Tamie Dramer: Cosmo Garvin.

Michael Stevenson: Being younger.

Kimio Bazett: Believe it or not I will actually miss Arco Arena a little. It’s the end of an era and things are about to get a lot fancier in Sacramento. But I think we are ready.

Sam Somers Jr.: The snowball fight with my daughters when we cut our Christmas tree. Didn’t want it to end, but it will always be a great memory.

Ryan Graham: My kids at ages nine and six. They’ll never be this age again.

Carmichael Dave: That for eight months of 2015 I was still in my 30s.

Russell Rawlings: All of the dry weather. Before I get roasted for this, I know that we need rain and I do love rain. Unfortunately, it’s very inconvenient for traveling outdoors in a powerchair! I am overjoyed that we are getting some rain again, but I do wish that it would happen between 2-6 a.m.

Jose Di Gregorio: That this was the year I really tried to forge my own path with my life. In turn it’s what I will look forward to continuing in 2016.

Trisha Rhomberg: The cleanliness of new floors. We moved into a newly refurbished loft and the new appliances and shiny floors are beginning to dull.

Johnny Flores: Having Jon Stewart on The Daily Show and that my 30s are over.

@Sac_snark: My innocence.

Katie McCleary: Another year has flown by and my children are a year older and I have more wrinkles and all the amazing things that happened are now memories. I always mourn the closing of December, but look forward to new adventures in 2016. I will also miss pizza rat.

Joe Kye: Nothing! The show must go on!