Culture

Has Burning Man gone commercial?

As far from the “real world” as it may seem, Burning Man is a part of our world – money, income inequality and all. Does that make Burning Man commercial? Or is it a valiant and largely effective effort to balance a culture in which money warps our politics, our religion, even our personal relationships? The answer is yes. And no. Or, as in real life, somewhere in between.

Contradictions at Milan’s Expo 2015

The Roman ruins and Renaissance cathedrals are getting some competition for tourist dollars this year from something decidedly contemporary: Milan’s Expo 2015, this year’s international exposition. Having opened in May to great fanfare – as well as charges of incompetence and indictments for corruption in its construction – features acre after acre of spectacular national pavilions that focus on this year’s theme: Food production.

A Life without Artifacts

Six months ago, I was living in a 1,600-square-foot, two-bedroom 1880 Victorian, with a formal dining room, a huge kitchen and bathroom, a foyer, a parlor and a library. A library full of books. Beautiful books, some mine for 30 years, some my grandfather’s for much longer. But after two years of dealing with the twenty-first century American Nightmare—bad loans, unemployment, short sale, foreclosure—along with a perfect storm of even more personal losses of family and friends—I’ve had to learn to let go.
So I’m letting go with a vengeance.

Sacramento’s Hottest Blogs

So you want to know what some folks really think? Check their blogs. For better and worse, bloggers can say whatever they think—and they do. Prolifically. Bloggers generally aren’t pros—their work often lacks professional editing and fact-checking—but there’s little question on where they stand, and that’s their appeal. Local bloggers who write about Sacramento give a street-level view of the city with an aura of authenticity that more managed media can lack.

Proposition 8 can go to voters

A ballot measure to ban gay marriage in California can go to voters in November, a judge ruled, over
the objection of an advocacy group that said state Attorney General Jerry Brown improperly changed its wording. A group opposed to same-sex marriage sued the state claiming Brown’s changes to the measure’s title and summary — the first words voters see on their ballots — could sway Californians to vote against it.

The Paul McCartney interview

You’d think that people would have had enough of Paul McCartney. But you look around you and you see it isn’t so. With a sold-out show at Arco Arena on Wednesday, yet another album in the Billboard Top 40 and a seemingly endless stream of books being published about his first band, the Beatles, McCartney is the object of enduring interest, especially for baby boomers who grew up with the Fab Four.

Nature’s prodigal children

Nature is disappearing, and not just where we notice it. Certainly, the natural world is going under the bulldozer at a frightening rate, from the Brazilian rain forest to North Natomas. But that’s not all that concerns Richard Louv.

What worries the journalist and author is that nature is disappearing from inside us. People are spending less and less time in natural settings and, he says, are losing touch with nature in many different ways.

Amateurs drive Infineon Raceway

Someday, anthropologists will be able to explain the human fascination with speed. Until then, we’ll just keep driving fast, faster and faster still. It’s how some of us are wired. Last week, several dozen NorCal members of the Rocklin-based CFRA, including Wong and others from the Sacramento area, brought their search for thrills to Infineon Raceway (formerly Sears Point Raceway), just off Highway 37 in Sonoma.

Underground Dining in Oakland

The Host greets us at the door. We’ve met him before, when he was wearing a T-shirt, handing out handbills at a music festival. But now he’s wearing a black dress shirt and colorful tie, and his manner is gracious and welcoming.
He is fairly beaming with pride, for we have arrived at our undisclosed location. The air smells of onion, cumin and candle wax. We have found The Restaurant.

The gracious outdoors?

The great outdoors is so great, in large part, because we get away from all the concerns and pressures that add so much stress to our civilized lives. So saying that manners matter in our outdoor activities – observing the proper “outdoor etiquette” – seems almost oxymoronic.

After all, isn’t going into the wild a chance to let loose our inner wildness? Well, yes and no.

It was 40 years ago today, 2004

It’s tempting to write off the media attention being paid to the 40th anniversary of the arrival in America, on Feb. 7, 1964, of The Beatles. People have been talking, thinking and writing about that moment for, well, 40 years. So, what’s new? A handful of stars will do a tribute to The Beatles on Sunday night’s Grammy broadcast. Books and DVDs and CDs and articles keep coming. And no matter how much you love The Beatles, you’ve got to think: Isn’t this overdoing it?

Tower Records up for Sale, 2003

The realization that Tower, which was born in Sacramento and grew to include stores all over the world, is not indestructible has prompted many to reflect on the pivotal role Tower Records has played in area culture – and in pop culture in general. In the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s in particular, Tower defined cool in Sacramento – though some may have seen it as arrogance – and it provided a unique common ground for people of varied tastes and interests. No one is more surprised at Tower’s impact than the man who founded it – Russ Solomon.

Heart Strings: Music and family

For violinist Jaime Smith, the words “family” and “music” have always been virtually interchangeable. Smith, now 24, has followed music wherever it would take her: first to the position of concertmaster of the Sacramento Youth Symphony; then to Boston, where she studied at the New England Conservatory of Music; then to Athens, Greece, on a Fulbright scholarship, where for the past year she studied and made friends and a new life, full of the Greek music she loves. And on Sept. 25, music led her into the path of a speeding car.

Kurt Vonnegut: Interview

Ask Kurt Vonnegut how it feels to be immortalized on a shopping bag, and he doesn’t hesitate. “It feels as though I should be dead, ” he deadpans wearily. Although his literary profile has been low since his heyday in the ’60s and ’70s, when he was one of America’s most popular and influential novelists, the 73-year-old writer is quite alive and still writing.