santa rosa

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Here is the Coddingtown Sign On the Back of a Truck

Posted By on Wed, Sep 11, 2013 at 12:55 PM

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  • Brian Keegan

Here's something you don't see every day, courtesy quick-thinking Bohemian reader Brian Keegan: The world-famous Coddingtown sign on the back of a truck, rolling down College Avenue.

Sentimental Santa Rosans need not worry—the sign is only temporarily down for repairs, and will be up again in about a month, spinning away.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Santa Rosa Councilwoman Shares Passion for Happiness Initiative

Posted By on Mon, Aug 19, 2013 at 5:05 PM

The-Economics-of-Happiness-1.jpg

After Julie Combs successfully campaigned for Santa Rosa City Council last year, she discovered that several issues central to her campaign were important to more than just Santa Rosa residents. In fact, several tied in directly with the nine elements that make up the Happiness Index. “Elements of it meshed so well with things that I ran on,” she says, despite learning of the GHI after she took office. It’s so important to her now that she has made it one of her priority issues.

It’s not that she is pushing for citywide implementation of the Happiness Initiative, which is a real thing, by the way. But so many of parts of the initiative can and should be implemented in revolving Santa Rosa’s issues. Take, for instance, the annexation of Roseland. “Looking at happiness,” she says, “[the initiative] makes some sense here.” Particularly the idea of participation in government and inclusion in culture. Roseland residents do not vote in citywide elections and do not have the benefit of city services, even though they live in a non-annexed island of county land that’s far more central to Santa Rosa than, say, Oakmont or Wikiup.

Continue reading »

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

So... Can We Get Married Yet?

County Clerk prepares for same-sex marriages to resume in Sonoma County

Posted By on Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 5:25 PM

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UPDATE: Marriage licenses will be issued from the county clerk's office and marriages will resume in Sonoma County on Monday, July 1.

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Bill Rousseau hasn’t married a gay couple since 2008—but in his office at the County Clerk yesterday, sure enough, his phone started ringing again.

Following yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to overturn DOMA and dismiss the opponents of Prop 8, the gates have been re-opened for Rousseau to issue licenses for and conduct legal gay marriages in California. It’s something the Sonoma County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor is anxiously awaiting, and he's not alone, if the interest from couples is any indicator.

His advice for those wanting to get married? “Be patient,” Rousseau advises, because he still has to oblige with the court’s decisions and may have to wait 25 days until he can officially perform same-sex marriages.

Patience has been a key player in the gay rights movement since supporters first celebrated in 2004 when same-sex were performed in San Francisco, and again in 2008 when they were legal statewide. Rousseau remembers being an officiant then, and recalls it being a celebratory time. “There were a lot of people who had come over to get married. It was a really exciting time, and high-energy. As the officiant, I felt very honored to be able to perform some of those services. There were couples that had been together 20, 30 years, finally getting married,” he says.

Now, Rousseau says, is the time for preparation. This gives Rousseau time to get ready for what he predicts will be a large crowd of happy spouses-to-be. “We’ve got a couple wedding rooms, and we’re going to get some more as this thing develops,” he says. “We’ve got a couple nice arbors at the clerk’s office that we can do for outdoor ceremonies as well. And we’re going to look for more depending on the demand.”

Weekly hours at the clerk’s office, too, could be extended to accommodate the demand, Rousseau says.

Same-sex couples can get the marriage process started by filling out a marriage license application online through the county office’s website. The remaining steps are simply to follow the guidelines on the site, such as remembering that a marriage, for the most part, requires one witness, and that both parties must appear in person to receive a marriage license. Fees for licenses and ceremonies are also provided.

“Keep checking the news,” Rousseau adds. “We’ll issue a press release when we know that we can start doing them.”

UPDATE: Marriage licenses will be issued from the county clerk's office and marriages will resume in Sonoma County on Monday, July 1.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

What Happened to the Covered Wagon at Montgomery Village?

Posted By on Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 5:46 PM

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A covered wagon’s sudden disappearance might not be news in other cities. But in Santa Rosa, it nearly stops traffic.

That’s what Santa Rosa residents discovered today, upon seeing that the iconic covered wagon, which for over 50 years has stood watch at Montgomery Village on the corner of Farmers Lane and Montgomery Drive, has been taken down.

I drove by Montgomery Village this morning, wondering why cars were moving so slowly. But as I got closer and noticed the wagon gone, I wasn’t the only one craning my head out the window to stare at the empty space. The wagon had been there my whole life. What happened to it?

Says David Codding, owner of Montgomery Village, “I think it’s run its course.”

The wagon was taken down yesterday, and it'll be given to Cattlemen's to use at one of their restaurants. But that's not why the wagon was taken down. To hear Codding tell it, during the remodeling process of the northwest quadrant of the shopping center, Santa Rosa’s Design Review Board had told him to get rid of the wagon.

“They said, 'We like the building and what not, we’ll approve the building,'” Codding told me today, “'but we want that wagon gone. It just looks ridiculous.'”

I knew Codding had some disputes with the city over his initial remodeling plan (disputes with city planners run in his blood, after all) so I wondered if this was all just residual sour grapes. But I called the architect on the job, Warren Hedgpeth, and another planner at city hall. Both confirmed that the city encouraged the wagon’s removal.

To longtime locals, hearing that the City of Santa Rosa wanted a landmark like the Montgomery Village wagon taken down is downright crazy. But here’s something to consider: the wagon that was taken down yesterday isn’t the original, historic wagon. It’s a replica. The original one was moved to the corner of Patio Court and Farmers Lane years ago—where it still stands, and where Codding says it’ll stay.

It took moving the wagon to show Codding just how much people cared about it. After he took over Montgomery Village and moved the wagon three blocks south, he got so many complaints from residents that he hired some Amish workers—“back in Utah or someplace”—to build another one for the corner at Montgomery Drive and Farmers Lane.

As for the future of that now-empty corner, a landscaped plaza is planned. Several bronze statues will depict children holding an American flag and, also, children feeding deer, Codding says. A sign telling the story of Montgomery Village will be set in a rock wall, with bas relief plaques of both Hugh Codding and village namesake Billy Montgomery, who was the first person from Santa Rosa to be killed in WWII.

The original, larger wagon has a special significance: it was a gift to Hugh Codding in the mid-1950s from Hollywood actor Fred MacMurray. As Codding says, “He called up dad and said, ‘You know, what you need at Montgomery Village is a covered wagon. I have a covered wagon at my ranch that would just be perfect.’ And Dad said, ‘That’s a great idea.’”

Here's how the wagon looked in 1962, courtesy of the Sonoma County Library History Annex. Note the payphone and corner mailbox, things you don't see much anymore, as well as the lack of sidewalks. (Zoom in and you'll see signs for Hal's Toyville, Eisenhood's Deli and the Maple Shop... anyone remember these places?)

The original wagon has been through a lot over the years. Once, when maintenance workers were repainting it, they found arrows with charred tips inside. “I think kids, at night, they’d go and they’d pour gasoline on an arrow and shoot it at the wagon, trying to burn it down,” says Codding. “I heard another report that another kid, or group of kids, tried to put a detonation device in it, with wires—and it malfunctioned, obviously.”

Of course, what everyone really wants to know is: has anyone ever managed to climb up inside the wagon? “Yeah, I think some kids have climbed up into that wagon,” Codding laughs, “and God knows what they were doing up there.”

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpect(ly terrible) Journey

Posted By on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Just say no to the one ring
  • Just say no to the one ring
The night began ominously. We were finally seeing the Hobbit in its last-chance big screen showing, at the cheap-o discount theater in Santa Rosa. Just $4.50, what a bargain! “Two for Lord of the Rings,” I say, promptly corrected by the young woman printing the tickets.
“You mean the Hobbit, right?”
“Yeah, that’s it. I was close.”
She replies with an eyebrow raise without making eye contact, “It doesn’t even compare.”
“Oh, like it’s better?”
“No, worse,” she says with a smile.
“Seriously?”
“Yeah.” She looks up. “It’s terrible. Enjoy your movie.” With that, she handed us the tickets and we momentarily considered seeing what else was playing before heading into our theater. We should have considered it more seriously.

I know this is now old news, but the movie really was terrible. I like the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I like fantasy fiction. This movie took the shortest book of the series, chopped it into three movies, and added too many special effects to keep track of. It was too much for the editors, apparently, because there were unfinished portions in battle scenes. Repeated motions of computer-generated creatures were obvious and at times a sword would appear to go directly through an enemy with no reaction, like someone forgot to animate that part.

To boot, the movie was almost three hours long and there were several unnecessary musical numbers. Musical numbers! In a Tolkein film! Dwarves were cleaning up a hobbit’s house by tossing around the plates and singing. What is this, Sword in the Stone? And the physics of the battle scenes were too outrageous to ignore. A 50-pound log used as a shield repeatedly stops a giant, sharp sword swung by a giant beast? It was annoyingly impossible.

So the movie sucked, and so did one of the people in our row, we suspect. After discussing the possible sexual behavior that could be accomplished in the theater, a couple two seats over from us pulled the ol’ jacket-over-the-lap routine. I’m no prude, but this wasn’t in the back row or anything. It was loud and the film’s volume was too quiet, so everyone could hear the “coming attractions” playing smack dab in the middle of the theater. It was so quiet that when the daring duo was finished I could hear the guy next to me biting his nails—or, nubs of nails, rather—loudly and repeatedly starting and stopping, making it impossible to tune out. The guy in front of us dropped a large bottle—it sounded like a wine bottle—several times. Dude, put it in a padded bag or just leave it on the ground.

We finished the movie, astonished at our accomplishment. Both of us, it turns out, had wanted secretly for the other to lean in and whisper, “Let’s go get fro-yo.” But whether pride or just bad timing, neither caught on. By the time the marathon of unnecessary soliloquies was over, fro-yo was closed and we were annoyed. Moral of the story? Listen to your ticket booth attendant. She knows her stuff.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Jack McAuliffe, Total Goddamn Hero of Craft Beer, Returns to Sonoma County

Posted By on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 11:57 AM

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Inevitably, anyone who's polished off a few pints at the Russian River Brewing Co. in Santa Rosa eventually looks up, sees a sign on the wall that reads "New Albion Brewery," and wonders, "What the hell's that sign mean?"

As any beer snob sitting at your table will quickly tell you, New Albion happens to be hailed as the first "microbrewery," at least as we know the term now. They may explain that New Albion, in Sonoma, pioneered the way small-batch beer was made. They may even report that New Albion founder Jack McAuliffe lived in mythic seclusion for almost 30 years, brewing out of the limelight in Texas, completely unaware of his status as a totally goddamn awesome pioneer of the craft beer movement until his rediscovery a few years ago.

That's why it's kind of a big deal that on Thursday, Jan. 10, the Russian River Brewing Co. welcomes the man himself, Jack McAuliffe, back to Sonoma County. And who's coming with him? Ahem: Jim Koch, from Samuel Adams.

The whole thing's a celebration of Samuel Adams' re-release of New Albion Ale—a nice gesture on Sam Adam's part using Jack's original recipe. I'll let Russian River's Natalie Cilurzo take over:

Brewing pioneer Jack McAuliffe and the legendary Jim Koch, the face of Sam Adams, will be at the pub from 6-8pm discussing their recent "collaboration" on the resurrection of New Albion Ale! New Albion Brewery was located in Sonoma, California, from 1976 to 1983. This was the first newly licensed start-up craft brewery in the United States after the repeal of prohibition right here in Sonoma County. It's safe to say Jack was the first nanobrewer back when no such term existed. Vinnie and I were lucky enough to get our hands on the original New Albion Brewery sign which has hung proudly in our pub since the day we opened.

We will have New Albion Ale on draft at the pub that evening and hopefully for a few days after. Boston Beer is releasing bottles with an incredible reproduction of the original label for national distribution, but I'm not sure how much or where it will be available. I'm just excited to have it on draft at the pub while Jack McAuliffe and Jim Koch are both in the house! This is such a rare opportunity to have these two brewing legends in our brewpub at the same time.

Needless to say, I'd advise getting there early.

Jack McAuliffe and Jim Koch speak at Russian River Brewing Co. on Thursday, Jan. 10, from 6-8pm. 725 Fourth St., Santa Rosa. Free... and packed. 707.545.2337.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Downtown Santa Rosa Loses a Candy Shop

Posted By on Mon, Jan 7, 2013 at 3:47 PM

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Goodbye, $1.49 soft-serve cones at Wednesday Night Market: Sweet Tooth, the short-lived candy shop on Fourth Street in Santa Rosa, is closing.

During the store's closeout sale, everything is 75% off.

Last week, the store's windows were newspapered up, with a note indicating that the store was being renovated and the frozen yogurt machines serviced. But today, there were customers filling up bags full of cheap candy and bidding their adieus.

The space, which formerly housed Fleet Feet and, long ago, Burlington Bakery, is up for lease. Given that Santa Rosa is now allowing wine tasting rooms downtown, who knows what might occupy it next?

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Farmed Salmon Worth Another Look

Posted By on Tue, Nov 6, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Salmon with pear vinegar cream by John Ash
  • Salmon with pear vinegar cream by John Ash

There are two opinions on farmed salmon. One says that salmon is salmon and it’s good for you no matter where it’s from. The other says farmed salmon is horrible for your body and the environment no matter where it’s from. Whereas though the latter school of thought may have once been the case, in the past few years there have been dramatic changes made in the way salmon is being farmed; it now takes another level of investigation to determine what really is the wave of the future.

John Ash
  • John Ash

Chef John Ash has been involved with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program since it launched in 1999. The organization is regarded as the most stringent guide of what’s sustainable in terms of fishing and what’s safe for the human body in terms of minerals and pollutants. Currently, farmed salmon is on the “Avoid” list because of environmental concerns from the process and the amount of fish it takes to feed the salmon. The current standard, according to the Seafood Watch, is three pounds of feeder fish for every pound of farmed salmon harvested. It doesn’t take a math whiz to figure out that isn’t sustainable, and that’s one of the main reasons the program does not endorse the practice. But if the wild population of salmon continues to be the only source that’s used for food, even with the best regulations on fisheries it is estimated there will be none left by the end of this generation.

“I’m an old guy,” says Ash at a demonstration this morning for a new company offering sustainably-farmed salmon. “I’ve seen the ups and downs of farmed salmon.” He even took a tour in 1981 of a salmon farm in Norway, but it was less than inspiring. “It was like conventional chicken farming,” he says. “You could literally walk across the water on the backs of the salmon.” This created the need for extensive antibiotics and still resulted in low-quality fish. Fast forward thirty years, and companies are still trying to figure out how to sustainably farm the world’s favorite fish, but things are getting significantly better.

Japanese style roasted salmon by John Ash
  • Japanese style roasted salmon by John Ash

For example, Verlasso, the company he was endorsing and which supplied the fish for a cooking demonstration to about 30 students, media members and fish buyers at the SRJC Culinary Café, has found a way to control the ratio of feeder fish to 1:1 by supplementing omega 3-rich sardines, anchovies and herring with omega 3-rich yeast borne from algae. Coloring of the flesh comes not from dyes or chemical agents fed to the fish, but from beta carotene harvested from another type of algae, “which is what makes flamingoes pink,” says Verlasso Director Allyson Fish (yes, that’s her real name). The resulting mixture is pressed into pellets and fed to the salmon. As for Ash’s first farm experience, Verlasso is among a new breed of companies expanding the size of their ocean-based pens, giving the fish enough room to keep them from getting sick en masse.

Jennifer Bushman
  • Jennifer Bushman

Despite the slew of feel-good facts about any company, and no matter how environmentally friendly the farms are, the bottom line boils down to taste. Will chefs and consumers buy this? Does it taste better than what’s available now? With endorsements from Ash and chef Jennifer Bushman, who also spoke on behalf of Verlasso this morning, the tide may be turning on the farmed salmon debate. It tastes good, with a fat percentage closer to wild salmon than any other farmed Atlantic salmon (which is by far the most popular farmed salmon species). Ash said, “I don’t think you could tell the difference,” between Verlasso and wild Atlantic salmon. One caveat to this argument, however, is there may not be a chance to tell the difference. Wild Atlantic salmon are all but extinct due to overfishing. Pacific salmon is a different species, therefore will have a different flavor to begin with, farmed or wild.

But no matter how tasty farmed salmon is, wild salmon will always be preferred by top chefs. David Holman, executive chef with the Charlie Palmer restaurant group in Reno, said he has to keep salmon on the menu year-round due to customer demand, but chooses to offer wild salmon when in season. He says customers are always informed of the origin of their fish.

SRJC culinary students taste the lecture
  • SRJC culinary students taste the lecture

Holman cited showcasing local ingredients and seasonal bounty as reasons, but it’s no coincidence that wild salmon does taste better. As a former fishmonger, I have never had anything from a farm that tastes as good as wild salmon. Consumers know this, too. Wild salmon, even at $25 per pound, was nearly impossible to keep in stock when we could get it. Farmed salmon, despite being from a sustainable farm similar to Verlasso, sat neglected in the corner of the case even though it was half the price.

Jodie Lau, of Sonoma County supermarket chain G&G, was on hand with other executives from the market. All seemed impressed with the fish and the company, and Lau said she hoped the market could look into ways to begin carrying the fish year-round. If offered at $10.99 per pound retail, it would be comparable in price to other farmed salmon of lesser quality.

Verlasso is trying to break the stigma of farmed salmon not just for profit, but for the future of the world’s fish supply, says Allyson Fish. The company is working with Seafood Watch in hopes it will become the first farmed salmon to earn a “recommended buy” from the organization. It’s one of six aquaculture companies, the only one producing salmon, vying for this certification. By shooting for the top, this opens the door for other groups like the Marine Stewardship Council to look at farmed fish in a different light, and hopefully help change public perception through education.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Santa Rosa Tap Dancer

Posted By on Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 10:25 AM

Mark Morgan started tapdancing five years ago, but when he broke his leg in San Francisco, he moved to Santa Rosa and kept on dancing. He has a plate in his leg, but still keeps the beat. I caught him tappin' in downtown Santa Rosa last night and had to take a video. He is busking partly for fun, partly to keep busy. When he's not doing electrical work or welding, he practices his dance moves. He says he just finished his part for a music video for SF band Urban Cigar Crisis, so keep an eye out for him.

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Photos: Sonoma County Fair

Horses, hats, rides and more - a photo slideshow from the fair

Posted By on Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 4:50 PM

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