2008 Year in Review

Posted on January 22, 2009 – 4:41 PM | by OldManFoster
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by Staff

As the end of the year approached, we asked a randomly selected group (i.e. we had their email addresses somewhere handy) of Midtowners to send in their thoughts about the best, worst or most memorable things about 2008. Here’s what we got back.

Tony King Writer.

Twenty double-ought eight was a great year for “stuff.”

Musically, bands such as Fleet Foxes, The Helio Sequence, Beirut, The War On Drugs, Atlas Sound, and The Muslims (now The Soft Pack) released some mighty impressive discs. Devotion, by Baltimore’s Beach House, was the surprise discovery of the year. Imagine Cocteau Twins mixed with white people’s fascination with New Orleans voodoo, and you have some idea of this band’s spellbinding pull. Devotion is a haunting, entrancing slow-rock masterpiece, and my pick for the best album of the year.

On the movie front, there was a seemingly endless supply of great films. While I’m an admitted unrepentant James Bond fan, this year’s outing, Quantum of Solace, couldn’t hold a Walther PPK to OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies. This French import lampoons early Bond adventures brilliantly while running comic circles around the worn-out Austin Powers franchise. Then there was The Dark Knight, director Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to the inspired re-boot, Batman Begins, with a mesmerizing performance by the late Heath Ledger (whose Joker – equal parts Alex from A Clockwork Orange, John Wayne Gacy, and The Crow – is one of cinema’s all-time unforgettable characters).

My favorite film of 2008, however, is Let the Right One In, a Swedish vampire movie that is everything the over-hyped, over-wrought and over-rated Twilight is not: well acted, masterfully executed, scary, funny, and ultimately, bittersweet. And while Let the Right One In does not feature dysfunctional and petulant bad-boy bloodsuckers, it does manage to tell a story universal to outcasts and misfits everywhere: alienation, puppy love and awkwardness will always be the hallmarks of growing up.

As far as books go, two of my favorites were actually graphic novels. Artist and writer Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings tells the story of Ben Tanaka, a rampantly sarcastic, critical and insensitive young man who suddenly finds his love life and personal life in turmoil. 2008 also saw the 20th anniversary re-release of The Killing Joke, Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s imaginative and beautifully drawn back-story of Batman’s arch nemesis, The Joker. My favorite book, by far, is ex-Galaxy 500 and Luna front man, Dean Wareham’s, autobiography, Black Postcards, which left me both envious and repelled by Wareham’s experiences scrapping by on the road in two legendary indie-rock bands.

As for the rest, my guy won the White House (voting for the winner is a nice change of pace for me). For the first time in eight years (global, political and economic instability notwithstanding), I’m actually looking forward to the New Year.

no on 8Emily Scott Writer, photographer.

The Silver Lining of Prop 8.

I was a child of the 80s. The scariest thing to happen in that decade was New Kids on the Block. I would listen longingly to stories from older generations about riding on buses to attend protests in D.C. And my favorite part of Forrest Gump was when Forrest was speaking at the protest and Jenny splashed through the Reflecting Pool surrounding the Washington Monument. OK, so that really had nothing to do with the protest itself. I just thought it looked like fun.

I wish I grew up in the late 60s so I could have attended one of those protests. I have always had a secret passion for fighting against injustice but never had an opportunity to act it out until November 5, 2008 — the day after Proposition 8 passed in California. I was angered. I was outraged.

I was, though, able to find a silver lining in the Proposition 8 cloud of hate. I attended a candlelight vigil that night in the Lavender District as well as subsequent protests and walks in the days following. Something about rising up in the face of oppression makes a fire well up inside of me. It’s invigorating and energizing. As unfortunate as it was that this passed, I was consoled by the fact that I got to participate in fighting for a cause I cared so deeply about. And I am even more consoled that it may be overturned.

Now all I have to do is run through the Reflecting Pool at the Washington Monument and my life will be complete.

Lory Gil Writer and bass player for Capt. Billy’s Whiz-Bang.

2008, the Year of the Rat. This was the year that I grew up. I didn’t want to. I tried to fight it, but luck and hard work finally paid off and I had to suffer for it. After graduating college, I had goals of moving onto better things, but I really didn’t think it would happen. I kinda hoped it wouldn’t. But, here I am, all responsible and shit. Decent job, great new crib, stylin’ ride. Heck, I even went and got myself a pet! I wish I was more resistant to all of this big-girl stuff, but to be honest, I fit into it pretty nicely. I can’t help it if I prefer not to live in a dirt alley where drunk guys take dumps under my bedroom window. Yes, I’ll admit that having a job with actual medical benefits is better than sitting in the waiting room at Med 7 just to be charged $80 to be told that I have the flu (on top of the fact that I’d lose money by taking the day off from work anyway). I still hang out on weeknights, I still drive to Berkley for punk rock shows and I still can’t hold my liquor. To the kid in me, I’m sorry for letting you down, but I promise I’ll never sell the comic book collection.

Guphy Gustafson Writer, cartographer.

I Found Your Socks
Originally, this article was to be list of my top 5 things about Sac in 2008, but a pair of socks have caused me to change horses midstream. Quickly, here is that top 5: 5. Dad’s kitchen’s England family. Great cooks, great people, great family. Yum. 4. The News and Review – I used to pick it up only for the show listings and then I didn’t pick it up at all. Now every Thursday, I devour every word except the show listings (undietacos, dude). Currently, it is the perfect weekly for this tree hugging lefty Sacramentan. Funny, too. 3. The Witchdome and house parties. Wheee! 2. Bobby Jackson! Welcome back, good man! And number one – The new improved ladies room at The Streets of London. 3 stalls, no waiting.jackon's back

Here is my secret real best of 2008 – Sac’s constancy. While riding my bike past 26th and S and seeing the same pair of black socks that have been sitting there for a few seasons, I realized how much I loved seeing them every day. Those socks have gone from a clean nice pair that I considered picking up to a smooshed up ball of yuck. I hope those socks are there when I write the best of 2009. Sacramento, while changing and developing like crazy is at essence still the same. It is still a city of gorgeous towering trees and old homes. I can still get a delicious gut buster at Bud’s Buffet or check out a book at the beautiful McKinley library. When I walk up to the bar at Old Ironsides, will Art know what I am drinking? You bet he will! So while I appreciate all the great new stuff that has come to Sac (Hot Dogs! Luigi’s Fun Garden!), I am grateful that it is still the city with which I fell in love so many years ago.

Carla Frances, photographer at large.

ObamaIn 2008 I got to help elect a President I cared about. Things changed. People kept using that word, “change”. Some things stayed the same, but no one is going to remember that. 2008 is going in the history books. And in those books the word they will use is “change”. America is on the verge of ending its run as a super-power. Maybe that new President will do something about it. I’m starting to charge money for my photographs. Before 2008 I didn’t even own a camera. One time this year, I paid $100 for a tank of gas. Four months later, I paid $20. Britney Spears, whose first record came out when I was in 7th grade, thus ensuring that she would always be a part of my life, went crazy. I moved to Sacramento. It’s the city of trees, but it’s also the city where I first was able to become the person I always intended to be. Sacramento, oh city of my heart. Oh how you welcome with open arms. And even though I’ve lived here for only a year, I’ve seen it change. Why are there drunken bros all over the art walk? Why isn’t Dad’s Kitchen actually my dad’s kitchen, so I could just hang out there and eat forever? Wherefor art thou, Olipom? And seriously… Kevin Johnson? But Sacramento still has those trees. I still am in love with the same boy I’ve been in love with since I was a teenager. Gay people still can’t get married in California. Some things stayed the same. So that’s it. 2008. Some things changed, some things stayed the same. But what will be remembered is the change.

John Downs – Technical Director for the French Film Festival

Sac DryLooking back on 2008, it’s definitely the simple things that Sacramento has to offer that brought the greatest pleasures. Pioneer Days at Fort Sutter, for example, is old hat for some, but always provides a solid afternoon of entertainment. The best part of this year’s celebration was the discovery of Sac City Dry Goods, a late 19th century emporium of clothing and sundry. This year we treated ourselves to a family series subscription to the B St. Theater and caught the hilarious theatrical production of P.D. Eastman’s classic Go, Dog. Go! The 7th Sacramento French Film Festival screened The Red Balloon and 400 Blows, two of my favorite films of all time. The Horsecow transformed their new long narrow space on the Sacramento River into an experience of its own, melding with their surroundings and producing new performances and happenings. Mustaches were relinquished from the realm of fascists and Village People and now more and more Sacramentians are sporting a handsome mustache. Weekly get-togethers with friends and neighbors like for pints at the Rubicon on Tuesdays, classic films and cocktails on Wednesdays, or Music Night on Thursdays provided regular and consistent diversions throughout the year. The ongoing transformation of some Midtown intersections to traffic circles instead of roundabouts was certainly not a highlight, however and discussing the lack of planning by the planning department brought us hours of enjoyment. Finally, I’m still amazed that our kids can get a free public Montessori education at the California Montessori Project Capitol Campus in Midtown; I hope the City and School District play ball and help the school find a real school campus with grass in the play yard and room to add more students and 7th and 8th grades. That would make my best of 2009.

capitolJames W. Cameron Writer, painter.
My wife Pamela and I were back in San Francisco, Herb Caen’s Baghdad by the Bay, our home for nearly 20 years, and the atmosphere was electric, infectious, crackling with energy and redolent with the sights and smells that had been so precious to us. Floating up California Street in a cab, I felt the mystique of the place burrowing into my bones with its magnificent views of the shimmering Bay, bridges soaring into the wind washed sky, cable cars chugging up the hilly streets, and everywhere the gawking tourists clogging the streets. The Opera House, Davies Symphony Hall, and the nation’s most beautiful City Hall glided by as we did some gawking of our own.

There was the Mission with its special Latin flavor, the button down ambiance of the Financial District, once my regular beat, the coffee houses of North Beach, and the street bustle and gutterul sounds of Chinatown as steamed ducks, hanging head down in the tiny restaurant windows, stared lifelessly at us. There was mouth watering seafood at the Hayes Street Grill, Buffalo stew at Tommy’s Joynt, and the corned beef, pastrami and singing waiters at Max’s Opera Café. The familiar fever was creeping back and invading our senses. Why did we ever leave?

But after three days, it was clear. Sacramento has become our new home and as much as we still love The City, Sac is where our life together is centered. Back in our comfortable Midtown home with our magnificent State Capitol looming just a few steps away and the glorious foliage of Capitol Park serving as a canopy over head, we understood that this Sactown centre ville is where we belong. So it was back to the future. Our future is here.

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