You might think Zach Braff is a destitute hobo, the way he was begging for money on the internet last week. But no! Zach Braff is in fact a very famous and wealthy actor, screenwriter, producer and director, and Zach Braff is also the donor who just pitched in enough money to save the Rio Theater in Monte Rio.
That's right: the star of Scrubs and Garden State put the Rio's fundraising efforts over their $60,000 goal just today—meaning that the cutest little Quonset hut theater in Sonoma County will be able to buy a digital projector, thereby appeasing the big-movie-studio ogres and staying open to bring life and love and entertainment to the deep reaches of West County.
On Facebook, Braff testified about the Rio Theater that he "Can't wait to see a movie there!"
Congratulations to the Rio Theater, which opened in 1950 and has become a favorite of ours here at the Bohemian. The quaint one-screen is a true small-town gem, refreshingly removed from the moviegoing experience at huge megaplexes. With its hand-picked music, personalized slides, and fabric from Christo's fence hanging from the ceiling, it's a beloved staple of the West County community. (For the full story of the Rio Theater, see Stephen Gross' history of the place, here.)
May the Rio last another 63 years or more—and you can bet that sometime soon, they'll be showing Braff's upcoming film, Wish I Was Here.
At the annual California Newspaper Publishers Association awards luncheon on April 27, the Bohemian was honored to take home two awards. Competing in a category with 35 other weekly newspapers statewide, staff writer Leilani Clark won second place in the Best Feature Story category for her cover story detailing the crackdown on medical marijuana growers and dispensaries ("Smoked Out," May 2, 2012). In addition, the Bohemian staff won second place in the Special Section category for our Best Of issue spotlighting longstanding local businesses that have thrived for 40 years or more ("Best Of: Legends," March 21, 2012). Furthermore, Blue Ribbon certificates were awarded to William Smith and Sara Sanger for their Bohemian work in illustration and photography, respectively.
This marks three statewide awards and seven national awards that the Bohemian has won in the last five years for excellence in journalism. Frankly, we're honored, and will continue to work hard to bring you the best paper possible.
Blasting Sonny Rollins in Joy
Bay Area News Group reported yesterday that former North Bay congresswoman Lynn Woolsey is part of a public hearing on the government and extraterrestrial life.
According to the story, the hearing was organized by Paradigm Research Group, which it calls "a UFO conspiracy-theory group in Bethesda, Md., founded by activist Stephen Bassett, which invited the former lawmakers to use their House-honed skills in interviewing witnesses."
It also features a 2011 quote from the White House in response to Bassett's information requests: "the U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race. In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public's eye."
But hey, Lynn Woolsey and a handful of senators and representatives will be presented with all the facts (?) this week.
You can read the BANG story here.
Several weeks after our story on the Herczog tragedy, in which an allegedly schizophrenic son killed his father, Mother Jones has written a much longer, more comprehensive piece on the incident, as well as some of the systemic issues that cause us to criminalize instead of treating our mentally ill.
You can read the piece here.
The trial for Houston Herczog began Monday. You can read the Press Democrat's account here.
Virgin America, recently rated highest in terms of customer satisfaction in an Airline Quality Rating (AQR) study conducted by researchers at Purdue University and Wichita State University, is finding itself in hot water after a man filed a $500,000 lawsuit on Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Franisco. He was detained by the FBI after causing a scene on a Philadelphia-to-San Francisco flight. He says the allegations that he swore at flight attendant are untrue, but says nothing about the accusation of "maliciously leaving a toilet unflushed" on his April 28 flight.
Even on a plane, the old adage rings true: if it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down.
Spoonbar is a wonderful restaurant on its own. The place is beautiful and the food just as pleasing. The bar is highly acclaimed and it has a great reputation. So, why take a chance with pop-up dinners when the day-to-day operations are seemingly solid enough on their own? Because Spoonbar is not just about subsisting at a high level, it's about taking risks and pushing the boundaries to celebrate the culinary nirvana that is the North Bay.
Upon arrival at the Moonlight Brewing popup dinner April 25, Spoonbar's mixologist Daniel Sorentino served up a cocktail made with Death and Taxes beer, Genever gin, housemaid ginger beer, molasses, allspice and lactic acid. The best thing about this was the use of appropriate, large cubes of ice. It was an experiment, a risk, and though it worked well enough, I was expecting something more smooth and refreshing like the beer it was based upon. This cocktail was instead full of strong flavors with a warm profile, but the surprise and innovation was appreciated.
Third course reintroduced meat to the menu with wage beef tartare, red jalapeño and a puffed rice cracker paired with Twist of Fate bitter ale. The style of beer doesn't always accurately describe the taste of Moonlight's brews. This "bitter" was more of a rich amber ale, which was a great choice with the rich, sweet raw beef. The red, sweet jalapeño contributed to the sweetness with a touch of heat, and the cracker played up the beer's hop flavor. Could it get any better than this?
The main entree was slow roasted duck with ramps and sunchokes. This was paired with Points North, which tasted like an American schwarzbier (because, I found out later, it is). This dark brew is thick and rich, notes of fruits like prunes and red wine grapes. It went well enough with the duck, but it seemed that the pairings had plateaued with the previous course. Again, the food was superb, but I would have loved another slice of succulent duck.
Spoonbar proved once again that it is one of the better restaurants in Sonoma County, not just an over-hyped, overpriced Friday night reservation destination. Events like this should fill up fast in the future, and not just for fans of the hard-to-get beer.
The same week we ran our tragic story about the Herczog family, This American Life also ran a story about a son who killed his father. He pleaded NGI (Not Guilty by reason of Insanity) like the Herczog case.
However, a judge, jury and several doctors decided he was faking and he was put in prison for ten years, until another doctor (with the same name as the first doctor) realized something was wrong.
This is an amazing podcast that you should listen to if you have any interest in the deeply complex and sometimes flawed issue of NGI trials.
Listen to it here.
This week, both the Press Democrat and the North Bay Business Journal published opinion pieces written by community members on the potential benefits and pitfalls of Sonoma Clean Power, a "community choice program" designed to provide "green electricity at competitive prices to the residents and businesses of Sonoma County," according to the program's website.
The program, if approved by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, who unanimously approved to launch the program in December of last year, will provide energy to current PG&E customers who choose not to opt out and stay with PG&E.
Today in the Press Democrat, county supervisor Efren Carrillo and Public Utilities board member Dick Dowd co-authored YES ON SONOMA CLEAN POWER: Give Residents Control, Choice (all-caps theirs, incidentally) arguing that "Sonoma Clean Power will deliver greener power at a competitive price while creating a new permanent source of income to run local programs."
Also in the Press Democrat today, Hunter Stern, business representative with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 1245, argues in NO ON SONOMA CLEAN POWER: Higher cost, more greenhouse gases, that public power will bring higher costs and less "green energy" with the onset of this program.
Meanwhile, the Monday issue of the North Bay Business Journal ran 'Sonoma Clean Power carries potential economic benefits,' by Sonoma County Water Agency Public Information Officer Amy Christopherson Bolten.
Bolten leads off her column with this statement:
Sonoma Clean Power is a community choice aggregation program being developed by the Sonoma County Water Agency to purchase electricity for Sonoma County customers. This program has multiple benefits and risks, is complex and not well understood by Sonoma County residents and businesses. In order to help the North Bay Business Journal readers understand the various aspects of Sonoma Clean Power, the Journal is partnering with the Sonoma County Water Agency to publish a series of articles discussing the various aspects of this effort. This article discusses the potential for development of locally sited renewable power facilities.
(Great intention, but I wonder how many of the risks the water agency will discuss in this media partnership, considering that it's the very agency in charge of, and pushing for, the program. Indeed, the SCWA is the current home for Sonoma Clean Power's temporary website.)
These pieces follow several in-depth stories published in the PD and the NBBJ in the last week about the program.
"Five months from now, Sonoma County intends to launch its program to become the power supplier to 220,000 local homes and businesses, displacing Pacific Gas and Electric Co. from its position of energy dominance. At stake in the short term is up to $170 million in annual revenue," states a story by Brett Wilkison.
The North Bay Business Journal's story, by Eric Gneckow, states the program offers "the clearest picture yet of expected pricing from a renewable energy—focused power agency under development in Sonoma County, a new report shows that a typical business customer in the launch phase of Sonoma Clean Power could expect to pay between 3.1 percent less per month and a half-percent more than conventional utility rates."
I have to say, even with all the coverage this is getting, the opinion pieces, to me, kind of get in the way of my feeling like I have a true understanding of the benefits, risks and the potential monetary gains and losses that will come if this program is launched.
A 2011 Bohemian cover story by Darwin Bond-Graham examined the early stages of Sonoma Clean Power, and noted that while Marin's public power agency buys much of its power from Shell—hardly a green source—Sonoma County has a number of local greener options, even including chicken poop.
A 2012 follow-up article by Rachel Dovey found that the SCWA was in talks with nine potential suppliers, including Consolidated Edison, Calpine and Goldman-Sachs. And while cost estimates for consumers ranged from a $4 to $10 increase per month, Bond-Graham followed up with Paul Fenn, who wrote the 2002 California law that enables cities and counties develop their own sources of local power; Fenn at the time said a zero-rate increase in rates, or even a decrease, was possible.
Santa Rosa's Imaginists theater company announced today it's touring summer show will be fully funded thanks to a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Arts.
Imaginists Artistic Director Amy Pinto is excited about the possibilities this funding opens up. "Because of it, we can take more performances to the Redwood Empire Food Bank Summer Lunch sites," she says. "And tour Federico Garcia Lorca's 'The Billy-Club Puppets' to local parks on the weekends. This is the beginning of a new era for the Medicine Show."
The grant supports the Art is Medicine Show (El Show el Arte es Medicina), a series of free, bilingual performances in Santa Rosa. The shows will tour by bicycle caravan through July and August. Along with a core group of professional actors, the Imaginists offers internships to high school seniors and college level students.