Monday, November 30, 2009

The Sacramento History Photo of the Week, Number 31. Childhood Recollections of Weinstocks...

Weinstock's department store was a social and retail institution in Sacramento for well over 100 years. Along the way, children - who are now adults - remember a lot of things about the warm and cozy store. However, one of the the most common recollections involves the Milk Bar. Pictured below, it was a spot reserved for kids to belly up to the bar while their parents were off shopping.

One such kid was Nancy Phillips, who grew up in Sacramento amidst the innocence of the 1940s and 50s. Part and parcel was this magical destination of Weinstock’s, a Capital city-based super business that created a reputation for excellence and family friendliness all along the West Coast. From the newness of the escalator to the flattering grown-up-ness of the Milk Bar, Weinstock’s is a spot not easily forgotten from the childhood memories of thousands of native Sacramentans. To watch a short video of Nancy's recollections of Weinstock's click the image below:

The above "Milkbar" photo and many more like it can be found in the Sacramento Public Library’s Sacramento Room which is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 1 to 5, and Thursday 1 to 8.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Magia Blanca Mexicana. Hace unos meses atrás una encantadora vendedora de libros en español basada en Nueva York me dio a conocer una editorial que se dedica a publicar libros exclusivamente dedicados a las religiones, sectas, cultos, esotericismo, y a las artes ocultas en general. En los próximos días toman ojo de nuevos títulos de esta editorial.

,,Esta obra es una exploracion sobre los efectos magicos de los ritos y plegarias a la Virgen de Guadalupe. Algunos tienen raices aztecas y sobrevivieron a la conquista espanola. Antes de la llegada de los conquistadores se adoraba a la diosa azteca Tonantzin, y cuando "La Virgen de Guadalupe" aparecio, estos ritos fueron dedicados a ella. En esta obra, 16 mujeres revelan sus rezos, practicas ceremoniales, ritos, oraciones y meditaciones a la Virgen Morena. Tambien ofrecen consejos sobre el uso del tarot, como encontrar a sus santos guardianes y como honrarlos para lograr proteccion contra el mal. Aprenda que ritos realizar en dias de celebracion y como convertirse en un sacerdote o sacerdotisa." --- Llewellyn Español

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I'm Thankful for Cake Box Mixes

Here is my two-cents on how main chefs/chief bottle washers/indentured servants can get through Thanksgiving unscathed: Don’t cook.

Cooking for the holidays is overrated. Whenever I hear someone say, “Oh, I love home cooked meals!” I translate it to mean, “Oh, I love when someone else cooks while I watch football and pretend to be too tired from eating to do anything that might resemble actual work!” Last year, after being drafted to cook the turkey at the last minute, I found myself still up at 3 am, said turkey transferred to an oversized plastic Macy’s bag as I tried to pry the neck out of the frozen carcass to get to the giblet package. Meanwhile my (useless) teenage nephew proclaimed from the family room, “I’ve never heard you curse before!”

Sometimes it’s all I can do not to brain someone with a can of cranberry sauce.

This year I decided to do something low key. I asked to dine at a restaurant, followed by dessert at our house. The way my relatives reacted one would have thought I’d asked if I could serve popsicles for dinner. They revolted. In turn, I refused to cook anything big. I don’t care how much food I have sitting around the house; it’s not like the Keebler Elves are showing up to put everything together. Someone asked, “Aren’t you going to use your apples to make apple pie?” To which I responded, “Why would I do that?” Let me see, I could buy two Mrs. Smith’s apple crumb pies for $7 or I could spend four hours and $15 in extra ingredients to make something from scratch. Gee, my poor brain is simply overwhelmed figuring out which one I’m going to do…
To please everyone, I’m bringing an apple crumb pie (the other will never make it out of the kitchen) along with an easy to fix yet highly impressive semi-homemade item. I love Sandra Lee, and it’s not just because she insists on having cocktail time even when she’s setting up a kids’ party. It’s because she also doesn’t see a reason to be chained in a kitchen. Another favorite of mine is Anne Byrn, the author of the Cake Mix Doctor series. Take a regular cake mix, throw in something you already have in your pantry, and presto! Instant good impression. Remember, if it takes more than 15 minutes to throw a dish together, it’s probably not worth the bother. Should it be too late to check out a library book, go to All Recipes for shortcut ideas. So for those of you who normally cook, take a break this year. If someone complains, offer to make them toast and popcorn the next time around.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sacrachicano, the Royal Chicano Air Force and Sacramento History Photos of the Week, Numbers 29 and 30...

The Rebel Chicano Art Front, more commonly known as the Royal Chicano Air Force, proved to be one of Sacramento and the nation’s more influential art cooperatives during the 60s, 70s and 80s. Founded in 1969, and germinating from downtown Sacramento’s Alkali Flat neighborhood, the group’s crafting of posters, T-shirt designs, flags and boycott signs helped promote the Chicano movement's struggle for civil rights, labor organizing and self-definition.

Pictured above is a work done by the RCAF’s Ricardo Favela and offers a composite of imagery far beyond the overt message of a Mother’s Day 1976 dinner and dance at St. Joseph’s School at Ninth and “G.” Familiar symbols and “unifiers” of the Chicano liberation movement, the Virgin of Guadalupe and the “Eagle,” representing the United Farm Workers, are blended with encouragement to boycott the Gallo Winery.

Ramiro Martinez's rollicking Club Artistico Reno at 415 12th Street served as a cultural hothouse for Alkali Latinos for over twenty-five years. Over that span, three Spanish-language movies were filmed there and its stage was graced by Latin American singers and actors alike. To make way for 12th Street redevelopment, the Club was razed in the spring of 1987. Below, this exquisite RCAF poster, and crafted by Juanishi Orozco, promotes a music and poetry event at the Reno.

These photos and many more like them can be found in the Sacramento Public Library’s Sacramento Room which is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 1 to 5, and Thursday 1 to 8.

Make sure to also checkout, "Sacrachicano," showcasing historical and current works by some of the RCAF's major artists as well as emerging artists who are carrying on the cooperative's tradition. An important aspect of Sacrachicano is a traditional El Dia de los Muertos altar for Armando Cid and other deceased RCAF artists. The exhibit is in partnership with Galeria Posada and is curated by Gloria Burt and Juanishi Orosco. View the exhibit during library open hours through January 3, 2010.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Book Review: Vincent Bugliosi's "Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy."

The assassination of John F. Kennedy sits like a big, ugly scar upon the cheek of Lady Liberty. She remains beautiful, inspiring and entirely imperfect. But that scare – it’s there and rests in the nation’s craw like an unmade bed. It’s hard for many of us, whether alive at the time of the assassination or not, to accept the fact that a twisted, unfocused, malcontent could harm, let alone, kill, the most powerful man in the world and arguably one of the more inspirational political leaders in world history. Certainly, a Presidency, based on a new optimism and appeal to the best of humanity could never end this way. Unthinkable.

This sustained mourning and shock, spanning decades and generations, might have something to do with the fact that 7 in 10 of us think that there was something nefarious afoot, an evil plot spawned by the CIA, FBI, LBJ, the Mafia, the Castro brothers, and/or the Soviets.

Vincent Bugliosi of Charles Manson, Helter Skelter and OJ fame, takes on the issue of the assassination with this Reclaiming History: the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. While not nice to conspiracy theorists, the attorney, who actually prosecuted Lee Harvey Oswald in a 1986 mock court, facilitated by an English television channel, lays out – clearly and meticulously – a defense of the Warren Commission’s conclusion that Oswald did it by himself. I’m not sure that there’s a lasting argument that Oswald “participated,” firing shots from the 6th floor window of the depository. It seems to now come down to the other guy – a “badge man” or clean-shaven “hobo” from beyond the picket fence. Here are a few of the arguments that Bugliosi proffers.

1) Counsel for the Commission, Burt Griffin, was hell bent on finding a conspiracy. Like so many of the younger members of the group (including Arlen Specter), they wanted to be heroes. They wanted to find something that would enable a springboard effect for their political careers. Yet, there was nothing.
2) The members of the Commission had little motivation to facilitate a conspiracy. Why would they fetter their careers and sully their legacies with conspiring to kill the Commander-in-Chief?
3) Why would an ardent Marxist join forces with the CIA, the actual agency that planned the botched invasion at the Bay of Pigs?
4) The Warren Commission took 10 months to compile its report, conducting tests, interviews and research all on its own, without using much at all of the FBI’s - thought my many to be dubious - investigative conclusions. J. Edgar Hoover, suspected to be an enabler for conspiracy, was a scoundrel all on his own and didn’t need to add coup d’état to his resume.

There’s a whole lot more to Bugliosi’s argument than this. Plus, as someone whose read a few assassination treatises, his layout and narrative of the events in Dallas is impressive. Also, for those of us who are medically-minded, his description of the treatment of both the President and assassin are unprecedented in their detail. He also produces myriad facts about the assassination, so easily lost.

1) Jack Ruby thought Lee Harvey Oswald was handsome – thought he looked a lot like Paul Newman.
2) At a funeral where Oswald’s pallbearers were newsmen, the lone floral arrangements were donated by a mysterious figure named Virginia Leach.
3) In spite of numerous appeals from a jumpy Secret Service, LBJ refused to ride in a covered limo during the funeral procession to Arlington, stating that he’d “rather die than be afraid to die.”
4) Kennedy’s longtime aid, Ken O’Donnell, and the Secret Service, bull rushed the Dallas County Coroner and several Dallas city police officers to get the President’s body out of Parkland Hospital. When the coroner said that he had no interest in the person in the coffin, but that Texas state law required an autopsy be done, O’Donnell exclaimed “go ---- yourself” and the group tore off to Love Field to return to Washington.

If you think something smelled rotten that day in Dallas (I continue to), then I still recommend reading Bugliosi’s work. A sharp study of the Kennedy assassination should include a strong dialectic of ideas – if you care enough to read about the assassination, you owe the fallen President and the truth that much. The 46th anniversary of JFK's death falls on Sunday, the 22nd of November at 10:30 AM PDT.

Friday, November 6, 2009


,,Tres Días" de Francisco Javier Gutiérrez

¿Qué harías sí tuvieras solo tres días para vivir? ¡Encontrarías a alguien para hacer el amor a todas horas! ¡Comerías todas las delicias que siempre has gozado! ¿Qué? ¿Qué? En ésta película del director andaluz Francisco Javier Gutiérrez ha desempeñado una película sorprendente muy a la americana: Tres Días ó según el título en inglés ,,Before the Fall."

En esta película un meteorito estallará contra la Tierra en tres días y todo el mundo está loco ... los gobiernos pierden su legitimidad, la gente se desespera y causan situaciones anárquicos, algunos se suicidan, otros buscan satisfacer sus deseos lujuriosos. Algunos otros interesantemente buscan a vengarse antes de morirse en una final absoluta. Esa es la situación de esta familia que terminan siendo el blanco de las hazañas maléficas de un asesino recién escapado de una prisión.
¡Un final irónico!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Got Doughboy? The Great War in the Great Valley and Sacramento History Photo of the Week, Number 28...

Think about it. Not since the 14th century's Black Death had Europe experienced such a monumental loss of life. The plague claimed one of every three European. Worldwide, the Great War One killed 16 million people. It also formed the nexus of where the time-tested tactics and strategies of the Little Corporal met the buzzsaw of technology.

And though an ocean and continent away, the War touched Sacramento in so many ways. On Thursday night at the Central Library, a few days before Veterans' Day, on November 5, from 6:00 to 8:00, we will talk about World War One and how it came to claim a spot in the Sacramento Valley for nearly two years. The ways in which we ate, worked, learned, spent and related to one another were all affected.

The photo above is of the 1917 Cadet Corps at Sacramento High School. In the spring of 1918, Sac High and several other area high schools, gathered their forces at Del Paso Park near present day Auburn and Watt Avenues to learn how to make war. The exercises lasted for a week.

This photo and many more like it can be found in the Sacramento Public Library’s Sacramento Room which is open to the public Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday 1 to 5, and Thursday 1 to 8.