Our land of light, sound and soul

Peligro Brass band performing at Harlow's on Saturday afternoon, June 15. Photograph by Phil Kampel

By Scott Thomas Anderson

California remains the world’s fifth-largest economy and one of the most culturally diverse places on earth. Our north side of the state is at least half of that international heartbeat. Nevertheless, if one were to just read headlines from regional news outlets, they might think absolutely nothing meaningful is happening here: The click-bait obsession some media outfits in Sacramento have is simply out of control. 

In the last week, reporting agencies – ones supposedly dedicated to the Greater Capital Area – have spent their time and resources to produce stories about animal attacks that happened three states away, and on the eye-opening real estate prices attached to celebrity homes, and on cash-flush lottery winners jumping around the Jersey Shore, and even on changes that Carnival Cruise line is making to its guest cabins. In one case, a historic and allegedly reputable Sacramento news outlet even ran a story about a “pond creature” discovered in China. That’s the kind of tabloid idiocy that I used to see in the supermarket line as a kid on the cover of The Weekly World News – right next to headlines about Batboy’s impending adoption. 

I probably shouldn’t be surprised about the Chinese pond creature headline, given that the same Sacramento news agency just posted a job opening for a reporter and made it clear that any candidate “must embrace A.I.” That’s a pretty direct way for a newspaper’s management to openly acknowledge how much they hate their own product, and how much they despise any trace of nuance, creativity or humanity shining through whatever they produce, while simultaneously admitting how little faith they have in their editors to work competently or mentor young writers who want the profession of journalism to survive. At the moment, most newsrooms in California are fighting to stop A.I. from auto-plagiarizing their stories and dispersing them under falsely produced photographs and bylines of reporters who don’t exist; but in our neck of the woods, I guess we have legacy publications who think they’re so shit at their jobs that they need the robots to take over as quickly as possible.

What’s really sad about all of this misallocated coverage is that there is so much actually happening in our part of California – so many stories and pictures and vignettes that speak to who we are as a community.

Poi Rogers performing at The Side Door on June 13. Photograph by Mae McCoy

For example, last week I spent Thursday night at The Side Door watching the duet Poi Rogers from Santa Cruz. This talented couple provided a sundown infused with their rare mix of cowboy campfire rhythms and blazing tiki bar tenderness. The audience absolutely loved it. By Saturday I was having morning margaritas at one of the city’s dockside bars, watching boaters head off on the tumbling waves as they navigated a luminous early river light. It wasn’t long before I was stumbling into an afternoon show at Harlow’s, being met by the fierce wall of sound that is Peligro Brass. If Peligro’s shadow-boxing beats and hard, soaring horns can’t get your feet moving, then probably nothing can. The following daybreak, I made it to Victoria Island in the Delta to watch families hurrying into fields to pick their own blueberries at the height of the season. I didn’t get in on this wholesome antioxidant action but rather observed it from the doorway of Sabbatical Distillery – located on the same fourth-generation homestead – as I drank corn whiskey and lemon-infused vodka made from South Delta crops. I topped the weekend off at the Isleton Crawdad Festival, the highlight of which was standing next to chef “Savory Dave” Jackson as he grilled up goat, duck, crawfish, octopus and a whole alligator rubbed down in Cajun spices. The smell of the thick meat smoke, mingled with some blistering rifts from a live blues band, made for a moment of pure summer nirvana.

If people in our region could have that array of experiences – and many others – in one four-day stretch on the calendar, then it would seem there’s a lot of digital ink worth dedicating to Sacramento rather than out-of-state animal attacks or pond creature sightings in China.

*This is an opinion piece by the Editor of Sacramento News & Review. Scott Thomas Anderson is also the writer and producer of the crime documentary podcast “Trace of the Devastation,” as well as “Drinkers with Writing Problems,” a podcast about travel, culture and libations.

Pit master “Savory Dave” Jackson cooks alongside Louisiana Sue Ramon at the Isleton Crawdad Festival on Sunday, June 16. Jackson has a catering business called Savory Dave Catering.

*Sacramento News & Review and its partners in the nonprofit journalism collaborative Solving Sacramento have been working together to produce meaningful local coverage of the region, particularly when it comes to arts and culture. 

Our content is free, but not free to produce

If you value our local news, arts and entertainment coverage, become an SN&R supporter with a one-time or recurring donation. Help us keep our reporters at work, bringing you the stories that need to be told.


Stay Updated

For the latest local news, arts and entertainment, sign up for our newsletter.
We'll tell you the story behind the story.

Be the first to comment on "Our land of light, sound and soul"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.