An Open Discussion: Second Saturday Shooting

We’re still reeling from this weekend’s shooting at Second Saturday.  Although the eruption of violence did not come as a complete surprise given the size of the crowds, none of us here predicted anything like this. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families and we hope that this tragedy will inspire actions that will make Second Saturday safer for all.

What is the answer? How do we make Second Saturday safe and fun for all?

Like most Midtowners, we’ve been both excited and concerned by the explosive growth of this event. Seeing the neighborhood full of people has been a joy, even if the crowd’s sometimes surly behavior has not. As Second Saturday has shifted from its initial focus as an art event to more of ‘block party,’ many Midtown residents have voiced their displeasure. Our own Bill Burg has often been on the frontlines of these discussions- relating his own experiences with drunks in his yard at 4AM, cleaning up their trash and even washing their piss off his porch. Ironically, the homeless population that is so often the subject of public scorn has caused Burg far less trouble than the drunken suburbanites who come to Midtown for the party.

Yesterday, MBA head Rob Kerth, Midtown Neighborhood Association’s Matt Piner, and Sac PD captain Dana Matthes were guests on KXJZ’s INSIGHT program, hosted by Jeffrey Callison.  The good news is that no one at the city, from the Mayor on down, is suggesting the same drastic reaction that killed K Street’s Thursday Night Market.   How they will handle the event from here on out is still an open question.

So, we offer an open forum here: What do YOU suggest?  What do you like, or not like, about Second Saturday?  What will make it better?

Bobby Burns

By Tony King  photos courtesy of Jerry Perry and Peter Wedel

It’s been ten years since Midtown Sacramento’s most colorful resident shuffled off this mortal coil.  While Midtown has always had its fair share of eccentric and offbeat characters, none can compare to the elderly hipster who dressed in wild outfits, sang scat as he danced down the street and played the drums like two jackrabbits on their honeymoon. Read more »

Keeping Midtown Janky

By Sarah Singleton   Photo by Scott Duncan

Melanie Dinos created 100 “Keep Midtown Janky” stickers last year and gave them out to friends for fun.  It’s a year later and the plain black and white stickers can be seen on cars, bikes and doors all around town. Read more »

Bertolucci = Off the Chain!

Dick Bertolucci’s Living Library appearance this past Sunday brought in a full house of auto and history enthusiasts, filling every seat and leaving 20 or so fans standing in the aisles.  Local auto historian Bruce Woodward handled the questions, and Bertolucci shared the stage with longtime friend and customer, Buddy Ohanesian.  Originally slated for an hour, the program stretched to nearly TWO hours to accommodate questions and Bertolucci and Ohanesian’s engrossing tales.

Ohanesian (pronounced O’ HAN uh shun) hired Bertolucci and legendary custom pioneer Harry Westergard to create the Ohanesian Merc, a radically modified 1940 Mercury that was named one of the Top Ten Kustoms of All Time by Hot Rod Magazine!  Westergard began the transformation in the early forties, with Bertolucci completing the work later.  The metalwork in the car’s removable custom roof marked the then barely-out-of-his-teens Bertolucci as a master craftsman.  The car survives today and was recently featured at the Pebble Beach Concours D’Elegance.

Dick had great stories and Bruce just let him tell them without getting in the way. He painted a picture of a way of life that is totally gone now.  A junkyard across the street from Memorial Auditorium, 80 mile an hour street races on K Street, running a bodyshop out of a one car garage in a residential neighborhood, all the kustom work being done piecemeal because nobody had the money to do more than a tiny bit at a time.   As we were setting up the event, Bertolucci and Ohanesian reminisced about Harry Westergard –  chatting about one of the true originals in Kustom work, who died 61 years ago when he hit a tree at one hundred miles and hour, splitting his hot rodded T Bird in half.

Buddy Ohanesian added some great anecdotes, including a tale of being pulled over outside of Oakland in the Merc – a jewelry store had just been robbed and his car was riding so low the cops thought he had the stolen safe in his trunk!

Most people didn’t notice, but Bruce also brought a carload of goodies which were sprinkled behind the ‘stage’ area: a ’37 DeSoto ripple bumper, Packard and LaSalle grilles, a nose off a midget racer… pretty cool stuff!   Thanks again to everybody who came out. It was an amazing chance to hear a master craftsman – and a really decent, nice guy – speak; I was stoked that so many people showed their support for a true Living Legend!

Dick Bertolucci at the Living Library: 7PM Sunday, August 22

I’ve been excited about most of the Sacramento Living Library guests, but I am SUPER stoked about this Sunday’s guest, Dick Bertolucci.

Dick Bertolucci is exactly the type of person I’d hoped to spotlight when Time Tested Books asked me for some input on speakers for the series.  The word ‘legend’ gets bandied about quite a bit these days, but Dick Bertolucci actually deserves the label.  Although he is best known in Sacramento as the owner of an East Sac autobody shop, he is renowned worldwide as one of the originators of the California ‘Kustom’ automobile.  One fan from the Netherlands maintains an extensive online database cataloguing Bertolucci’s work.  This Sunday will be an opportunity to hear the story from the hometown boy himself.

Sacramento has long been a hotbed of auto enthusiasm (see ‘Hot August Knights’ from the August ’08 MM).  The central valley may lacked an oceanfront and mountain ranges, but we had plenty of long straight roads, and even more important, plenty of military/aircraft/engineering activity.  The jobs in those industries provided both good wages and an intimacy with machines; those dual components of Sacramento life encouraged innovation in auto design – both for functional and aesthetic purposes.

Dick Bertolucci began ‘improving’ the looks of stock automobiles in the late thirties.  Leaving most of the mechanical work to his father, Bertolucci focused instead on the aesthetics of the automobile.  Along with a few local contemporaries like Harry Westergard and Sam and George Barris, Bertolucci played an integral role in creating the styles that eventually came to epitomize the Custom car movement: lowered stance, fadeaway fenders, chopped tops, and deep finish paint.  Bertolucci, though very young, was regarded as a master for his ability to shape metal body panels that were better than those from the factory.

In conversation with local auto historian Bruce Woodward, Bertolucci will discuss his life, his role in the birth of the ‘Kustom’ movement, and his times with Westergard and the Barris Bros.   The aesthetic that Dick Bertolucci helped create has gone from the mark of a small regional subculture to become ubiquitous.  From American Grafitti to Hot Rod Magazine to the design for the PT Cruiser, California ‘Kustom’ touches are everywhere.

Don’t miss this chance to hear it straight from the master himself.

Dick Bertolucci
in conversation with Bruce Woodward
Saturday August 22, 7PM
Time Tested Books, 1114 21st Street
All Ages, Free

Weekend Tip Sheet

Lots going on Thursday/Friday/Saturday- here’s the MidMo guide to your weekend:

Thursday 8/5
The Verge Jumble Preview Party

The Verge Center for the Arts is hosting its first public fundraiser at the new 7th and S location tonight!  $15 gets you food, drink, DJIng by Scott Soriano AND first crack at the incredible pile of treasures the Verge has collected for their rummage sale.

Verge Center for the Arts, 625 S Street, 7PM, $15

Friday, 8/6
The Ground Chuck Show
Lovable Midtown screever Ground Chuck started doing standup comedy last year – here’s your chance to catch his act as he hosts a latenight show of his favorite comics at the Comedy Spot. He may have a guitar and amp with him, maybe a drum set, he may play videos… who knows? “This is Ground Chuck doing whatever he wants,” says organizer Keith Lowell Jensen (who’ll do his own set earlier that night). “We’re just giving him free reign and trusting that hanging out with Chuck for an hour or so is going to be a good time.”  We can’t think of a better way to wrap up a Friday night.

The Comedy Spot, 1050 20th Street, 11PM, $6

Saturday 8/7
The Zeros, Dungeons and Drag Queens and Blue Diamonds

They’re back!  34 years after forming in a Chula Vista garage, and 33 years after they released their seminal “Don’t Push Me Around” single on Bomp! Records, The Zeros are here to remind you what punk rock and roll is all about.   I know, I know, reunion gigs pretty much always suck, but forget all those crappy comebacks you’ve seen from bands who never should have left the nursing home – these guys bring it.  I saw ‘em at Gilman earlier this year and they were better than they had any right to be.  Here’s some local TV footage from 1977 (starts wobbly, gets good quick).
And show up early – openers Blue Diamonds have a basketful of choice garage chestnuts (including a Fugs cover!) for you.

Blue Lamp, 1400 Alhambra Blvd, 21+, 9PM

California State Fair: 20th and H in Midtown!

The California State Fair opens tomorrow… but did you know that the State Fair used to be held IN Midtown? Bill Burg’s got the details…

City Blows it on K Street – AGAIN

We’ve been following this story for about a year now.

When local boutique Artifacts opened up in the old Toy Room space on K Street, we cheered. Artifacts offers art supplies, clothing, art books and assorted hipster/skateboarder knicknacks. They have also mounted some of the best art shows in the city over the past couple of years.

When the store moved into the space next door to the old Toy Room, they did a great job of remodeling that store- the best part was the sleek wood slat facade that replaced the store’s cheap and crappy ’80s storefront.  While the upgrade wasn’t quite as nice as the Cosmopolitan building at 10th and K, it is the next-best upgrade K Street has seen.

So what does the city do?  Makes them tear it out, of course.  Turns out that the building dates to 1870, and the new facade isn’t within preservation standards.  That would be fine (and in fact we’d be cheering the decision)  IF any part of the original facade was left.  Anyone familiar with K Street knows that the storefront that Artifacts replaced was not even from the 197os, let alone the 1870s.  The damage was done LONG ago.

Did the building owners file the correct permits?  No.   Does that mean that  a blighted strip in the most intensely screwed up region of Downtown should lose one of the most appealing storefronts?   Why is it that the city could not have worked with them to make the best of a bad situation?  When the city is throwing tens of millions of dollars at rehabbing K Street, why is it that they didn’t do what was clearly the best for everyone?

Money.  If we were talking about a multi-million dollar business created by a large developer, the city would not only have worked with them on the permits, they’d have thrown five or ten million city dollars their way to grease the wheels. 

What about the history, you say?  Remember, this is the same city that happily tore down the historic Merriam at 13th and J for a poorly thought out expansion of the convention center, tore down the historic Francesca Building so that the Hyatt would have a view of the Capitol and, best of all, tore down the Gold Rush-era Ebner Building in Old Sac so that a REPLICA could be built in its place.  Why a replica rather than restoring the building?  Because building a replica is cheaper than restoring the real building.  So much for history.

Way to go.

Midtown State Fair

By William Burg

The California Exposition and State Fairgrounds, site of the California state fair since 1968, seems like a permanent fixture to many Sacramentans. Older generations still remember the old fairgrounds at Stockton and Broadway. But that site was not the original location of the fair either; it was chosen when Sacramento’s urban growth crowded the fairgrounds out of their first permanent home – in Midtown at 20th and H Streets. Read more »

Art Picks, July 2010

Flatlanders III
Nelson Gallery
July 8 – August 15
Reception: July 8, 5:30-7:30PM

Nelson Gallery Director Renny Pritikin’s biennial Flatlanders show is always something to see, and this year’s edition features an intriguing mix of newer talent and artists with long history in the region. Read more »