Who’s Next

Who’s Next

News of a murder next to Sutter Lawn Tennis Club arrived as a text message from a friend. My first thought was the location must be confused with the Sutter Club located near the Capitol.

It was no mistake. The unthinkable happened in my neighborhood. An older gentleman was shot in the face with a rifle. He was on his way to his weekly card game at Sutter Lawn.

In an instant Charles Starzynski joined James Raleigh and Mary Kate Tibbitts as a murder victim in one of our city’s best neighborhoods.

Our Joan Didion

Our Joan Didion

Joan Didion, the trailblazing Sacramento-born writer who died a year ago, is getting her due in her hometown.
Didion, 87, was one of her generation’s most celebrated writers. But except for a white mansion with a wrap-around front porch at 2000 22nd St., there are few visible signs she ever lived here.

The reasons aren’t clear. Sacramento has always been skittish about boasting on its celebrities, and a number of Didion fans believe she never cared for the place.

They point to comments made in her writing and elsewhere—“Anybody who talks about California hedonism has never spent a Christmas in Sacramento,” for instance—and how she couldn’t wait to flee after graduation from C.K. McClatchy High School in 1952.

But many ambitious young people feel constrained by their hometowns. There is ample evidence she cared deeply for the city and its surroundings.

Neighborhood Vibe

Neighborhood Vibe

When restaurant partners Chris Sinclair, Raphael Jimenez Rivera and Matt Brown created Bodega, they wanted an East Coast feel with Caribbean flair. It’s a taste of home they can share with their West Coast neighborhood.

“In New York and New Jersey you can get Puerto Rican food, Caribbean food almost everywhere,” Sinclair tells me. “It’s as common as tacos are out here on the West Coast.”

The neighborhood approves. The reception has been stellar since Bodega’s August opening. Diners come from around the corner and across the region to visit the Pocket shopping center where the restaurant sits.

Despite rave reviews, Sinclair thinks of Bodega as a humble neighborhood bar and family restaurant. “Two of the three owners live in the neighborhood, and all of us have kids,” he says. “We want neighbors to come out for a lively dinner, families to come over after the soccer game, and everything in between.”

Wine Not?

Wine Not?

In 2009, I was senior chaplain responsible for Sunday worship services at the Air Force Field Hospital in Balad, Iraq.

One Sunday, a few hours before our 10 a.m. service, I watched my sleepwalking chaplain assistant, Sgt. Peoples, fuss with chapel arrangements as if preparing for a pope.

He adorned the altar with properly colored cloths. He arranged the folding chairs, loaded with Bibles. Pouring the communion cups was his last job.

“How many cups should I prepare, Sir?”

Hello, Neighbor!

Hello, Neighbor!

You’ve probably driven by it countless times, a Spanish-style building shaded by trees along J Street between 52nd and 53rd streets. You’ve even stopped there at the traffic light on Rodeo Way.

An ornately painted sign identifies the building as A.W. McClaskey Adult Center. It was once El Dorado Elementary School. Today it houses various classes, several focused on adults with developmental disabilities.

When seismic regulations were ordered in the 1970s, the site was deemed too expensive to retrofit for kids but perfect for adults. In 1978, the building was repurposed as the A. Warren McClaskey Adult Center, named for a former Sacramento City Unified adult education director.

“Before legislation desecrated adult education, we used to have 10 apportionment areas,” says Susan Lytle Gilmore, principal at McClaskey since 1992.

Dirt Cheap

Dirt Cheap

After 37 years, I’ve finally figured out the curse of the Kings. It’s all about real estate.

I’m not talking about a real estate curse that involves ancient Native American burial grounds.

For some Kings fans, the fictional image of bones beneath old Arco Arena explained why the team was so lousy.
The burial grounds theory collapsed when the team moved Downtown. If anything, the Kings got worse on K Street.