Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sign Up for the 24-Hour Band Contest!

Join a one-night-only band for our 2012 NorBay Awards on July 14!

Posted By on Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 2:47 PM

For this year's NorBay Awards held on July 14, we here at the Bohemian are premiering an exciting new experiment: the 24-Hour Band Contest.

Here's how it works: You sign up for the contest. You tell us your name, the instrument (or instruments) you play, your experience level and practice space situation. All ages and all experience levels are welcome.

Then, on July 13 at 6pm, we'll meet at the Arlene Francis Center in Santa Rosa. We'll pick names randomly, assembling bands made up of complete strangers—a singer, a drummer, a bassist, a guitarist, a singer, a keyboard player, a horn player, an accordionist, a rapper, a kazoo player… anything goes!

The bands will then have 24 hours together to get to work in the practice space, writing two original songs and learning one cover song, and returning to perform the very next night at the 2012 NorBays! Prizes will be awarded to the winning band.

Are you in? Of course you’re in. Sign up by clicking here!

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Matt Groening Ends His 'Life in Hell'

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2012 at 5:03 PM

Some fans’ lives in hell might just be beginning, now that Matt Groening’s announced he’s retiring his Life in Hell newspaper comic strip, which printed its final (1669th!) strip last Friday, June 15.

Life in Hell, which ran in the Bohemian for over ten years, featured three talking rabbits (one of which has only one ear, curiously) and a gay couple. The characters began their careers through Groening’s self-publication in 1978, later running in the LA Weekly in the ’80s.

At the zenith of the strip’s popularity, Groening’s five characters appeared in 379 newspapers—but as more papers turned to cutting their comics content due to restraints in budget, this number dwindled down to 38. Even the comic’s first home canned the strip in 2009.

In an interview with USA Today, Groening admits that Life in Hell prevented him “from doing other projects.” He had originally blocked out his Friday afternoons for the comic but now hopes to spend the newly cleared time slot to other new things in his life. “I’ve had great fun, in a Sisyphean kind of way,” Groening told the Poynter Institute, “but the time has come to let Binky and Sheba and Bongo and Akbar and Jeff take some time off.”

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

French Laundry’s in the HenHouse

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2012 at 2:58 PM

HenHouses Shane Goepel making Oyster Stout
“I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I think how it happened was that they got a sample from a friend of a friend,” says Shane Goepel. “They emailed us back saying that wanted to carry it.”

Goepel, brewer at HenHouse Brewing Co. in Petaluma, is understandably excited about the news that the French Laundry will be offering HenHouse’s Oyster Stout on their menu. “We’re really excited to have a different clientele,” he adds. “It’s cool to be represented in such a prestigious restaurant.”

As mentioned in Ken Weaver’s Bohemian profile of the small craft-brewers, HenHouse’s Oyster Stout is brewed in two variations: one using crushed oyster shells—the type soon to be offered at Thomas Keller’s Yountville icon—and one where the whole oyster is thrown in the batch, an unusual procedure HenHouse has been experimenting with. All HenHouse’s oysters are sourced locally.

Goepel doesn’t foresee an immediate increase of production of the beer, and as of right now, Henhouse is already operating at 100 percent: three men with daytime jobs and a passion for brewing beer. “All of us would love to give up our day jobs, but we’re a small system, and we’re really working at it,” Goepel says.

“We love to make this beer, and we’ll make this beer for as long as the brew is in operation. We’ll make as much as we can.”

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Floating on Air

Taking a ride in the Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon classic in Windsor

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Jimmy Long fills his hot air balloon, the Sonoma Star, Friday for a preview flight for the Windsor Hot Air Balloon Classic this weekend. - NICOLAS GRIZZLE
  • Nicolas Grizzle
  • Jimmy Long fills his hot air balloon, the Sonoma Star, Friday for a preview flight for the Windsor Hot Air Balloon Classic this weekend.

That hot air balloon in the iPhone 4s commercial? That’s Jimmy Long’s Sonoma Star. I rode in it this morning over vineyards, lakes, neighborhoods—and, this being Northern California, pot farms.

Long is one of 26 pilots in the Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic this weekend in Windsor. He’s also one of just eight commercial hot air balloon pilots in Sonoma County (the FAA requires a “lighter than air” certification for licensed pilots to fly a balloon).

"That’s cool, Jimmy. So, how long have you been flying?" I asked.

Jimmy looked at me. “About two weeks now.”

Apparently pilots like to mess with passengers when they’re the only two people in a wicker basket 350 feet above the ground. (Really, he’s been participating in the Hot Air Balloon Classic for five years, for fun and to show local pride, and piloting longer than that.)

So we take off from Keiser Park around 7am, soaring majestically over the Sonoma County Airport, the Windsor Golf Club and hundreds of acres of vineyards. Past the paved roads and cul-de-sacs is where the true beauty of Sonoma County comes to life: we’re surrounded by mountain ranges, vineyards and oak trees enveloped in a clear blue sky. A trace of wind pushes us south, and with eyes closed, it’s impossible to tell we are even moving.

Swooping down to about 15 feet, Jimmy shows off some nifty piloting skills hovering above a group of vineyard workers. From even 100 feet up, we can hear dogs barking, peacocks crowing and even the rustling of workers brushing by grape leaves in the field. Skipping past a nearby tree, we get close enough that I can pluck a fruit, or a nut, or something, from a branch about 30 feet in the air.

Seeing my amazement at this fancy maneuver, Jimmy takes us closer to a couple more trees. His favorite thing about flying balloons, he says, is sharing the experience with others. My favorite thing, here above the county, is letting the wind take us wherever it may, having real control only over altitude and seeing the area from a whole new perspective. But I suppose one might get used to that after a few trips.

We land once in a soft dirt field in Windsor, but we figure it might be easier to pick up the balloon in a different spot, so off we go to find a more suitable landing space. After picking up some significant speed (22 knots!) we end up all the way in southwest Santa Rosa, flying over a couple pot farms (the rottweilers and fenced-off gardens tip us off). Coming in for a landing isn’t easy, as the winds change at different altitudes. We end up in a farm, which may or may not have been neighboring yet another marijuana growing operation, with a very nice man who helps us get the balloon and basket from out of his goat and sheep pen.

The goats were skeptical at first, but let us pass.

Jimmy says it’s common to land on farms, and that most people are welcoming. Some even request him to land near their house so they can watch the spectacle.

If you go hot-air ballooning, wear comfy clothes and don’t bring a picnic basket or wear high heels. Oh! And when using a camera/phone, make sure it’s somehow fastened to your body – my poor note-taking pen slipped to an early death, 200 feet below.

The 22nd annual Hot Air Balloon Classic begins Saturday, June 16, at 5am in Keiser Park with “dawn patrol” tether rides and a 6:30am main launch. In addition to balloon rides, there will be food and craft booths, kids’ activities and much more. Tickets are $10 for 13 years and older, $6 for 6- to 12-year-olds, with no charge for ages under 6. For more info, check out or call 707.838.5345.

UPDATE!: The Hot Air Balloon Classic also drives the girls wild.

Hovering above a landing site in the Sonoma Star, piloted by Jimmy Long. - NICOLAS GRIZZLE
  • Nicolas Grizzle
  • Hovering above a landing site in the Sonoma Star, piloted by Jimmy Long.
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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Revealed: The Man Behind 'Who Is Stacey Lawson'

Paul Andersen, the man behind the 'Who Is Stacey Lawson' website, has come forward just two days before Tuesday's election.

Posted By on Sun, Jun 3, 2012 at 8:01 AM


Two days before the election, the man behind the 'Who Is Stacey Lawson' website has come forward.

In a coming-out post on his site late Saturday night, "long-time politico" Paul Andersen says he deliberately remained anonymous because he knew it would mean the site would attract more attention.

'Who Is Stacey Lawson' uncovered details about Lawson's upbringing, her history in Silicon Valley, her move to Marin, her spiritual guru Dattreya Siva Baba, her large campaign donations, her writings on Huffington Post and more. In his words:

This whole endeavor started because I was interested in how someone who’s a complete unknown could raise so much money — which in today’s day and age makes her an instant contender among a group of candidates that actually have significant governmental experience.

Stacey Lawson has barely lived in this district for three years. She has no public service experience in our community. She doesn’t even own a house, instead renting a mansion in her current location of San Rafael. Who had even heard of Stacey Lawson before last fall?

With a strong political research background I took it upon myself to do some digging. This is actually the type of research journalists used to do, but unfortunately there aren’t any journalists that do this at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat (unless you’re declared an enemy of the editorial board, like Michael Allen).

Andersen insists the whole project has only cost $205, circumventing the requirement for an FEC filing, and says the site has been "purely voluntary." However, expect feathers to be ruffled by the fact that Andersen was Susan Adams' campaign manager from August 2011 to the beginning of April 2012. "I left for a variety of personal and political reasons," he says in the post. "I want to state clearly that the Adams campaign had no knowledge of my activities with the 'Who Is Stacey Lawson?' website."

Adams, a Lawson opponent, is not considered a frontrunner.

Andersen previously ran a site called RiggsWatch in the mid-'90s to monitor Frank Riggs' actions in Congress. Over the years, he has worked for Dan Hamburg, the SEIU and served as councilmember in Ukiah.

It was Lawson's status as a wealthy, well-connected newcomer that caused Anderson to start digging:

As it turned out, Stacey Lawson has her own personal fortune from her well-timed sale of a failing company during the heyday of Silicon Valley in the late 1990′s when a company losing money was actually considered a winning proposition. This also allowed her to ingratiate herself with wealthy benefactors such as investment bankers and venture capitalists. She also has significant ties to the well-funded new-age community through her guru.

This is all reflected in the fact that fully 80% of her money comes from outside the 2nd Congressional District and nearly half from out of state. 70% of her money comes from people who have contributed the maximum $2500 to her primary election. Nearly 60 people have actually contributed the maximum of $5000 for her primary and potential general election campaigns.

Because she is such an unknown, we really don’t know what to expect from her which makes her funding sources so important. We don’t know what she has pledged to the high-tech and investment banking industries that are funding her campaign. The Stacey Lawson campaign is unfortunately a prime example of the power of money in politics, which I think most people would agree is one of the prime reasons we’re in the mess we’re in.

Read the whole thing here.

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