Tuesday, January 29, 2013

EXTENDED PLAY: Redwoods Chopped

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 2:12 PM

This week's news story details the $98,000 sale of redwoods planted on Caltrans right-of-way land to the Sonoma County Water Agency. It also looks at land Caltrans will be building on that was supposed to be open space, and consults The Sierra Club as to why no hippies have been chained to the iconic redwoods in protest.

Construction on January 29.

We looked at lots and lots of electronic, scanned and PDFed documents for this piece. Here's a sampling of some of the main ones.

An outline of Caltrans historic right-of-way, in a project summary of the overall 101 widening project from 2001. The map is around page 27.

A Board of Directors' agenda document detailing the interchange project.

The Environmental Impact Report for the widening project.

The agenda item talking about the Mark West Creek area open space.

The Caltrans record of Ghilotti's bid.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Worst. Date. Ever.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 5:57 PM


Dating! Ain't it grand? Well, except when it ain't. You know you've been there at some point: sitting in the car, walking home the next morning, or trying to flag a taxi to get-the-hell-outta-there. Your only consolation is texting your friend: "Worst. Date. Ever."

The other consolation lies in the fantastic leverage you now wield during "worst date" storytime, which, for the Bohemian, falls in our dating-themed Sex & Valentines issue, publishing Feb. 6. That's right: we want you to spill the beans on your worst date ever. Tell us how terrible and awkward it all was, in grisly and humorous detail, and you may be selected as one of the top three winning stories to be published on Feb. 6!

Stories should be no longer than 400 words and emailed to: letters@bohemian.com. Entries may be published with a pseudonym if desired. Winners are chosen by an editorial panel and awarded prizes sufficiently tantalizing to cleanse your memory of the awful evening in question. Entries must be submitted by Friday, Feb. 1.

Love & Kisses,
The Bohemian

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Same Track, New Name

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 11:19 AM


Erasing the worrisome burden of what to call that place near Sonoma where the really fast cars try finish a certain amount of laps before everyone else, it was announced today the place will officially be called Sonoma Raceway.

Seems obvious, right? But that's the case with all good names, like Rollerblades and Band-Aids, which are trademarked names of in-line skates and adhesive strips, respectively. No longer will journalists struggle to find consensus on what to call that paved curvy track thingy in Sonoma. No more shall we see Raceway at Sonoma, the Sonoma Racetrack or my personal favorite, the Former Infineon Raceway.

But don't try visiting www.sonomaraceway.com, because that's obviously not the correct website for the one-lane, twisty infinite road that hosts NASCAR, NHRA and other major motorsports events. The correct site is www.racesonoma.com. Because anything else would ruin the genius of the new name.

After losing sponsorship from Infineon, it would be nice to think the 300:1-scale slot car race track in Sonoma defied convention and went with a name proudly boasting its location; after all, the Wine County is world renowned. But, much like Candlestick Park, which simply couldn't find someone willing to pay millions of dollars for TV announcers just to say the company name a few dozen times per year, it's more likely a sluggish economy and hesitant accountants contributed to the new name.

Was a local discount considered? What about Mondavi Raceway? Trione Track? Coppola Causeway? (OK, that's Napa County and Causeway is a weird thing to be racing on, so nix that). How about Guy Fieri's Donkey Sauce Full Throttle Raceway at 100 Percent Grass-Fed Meyer Ranch? That one sounds like a winner to me, I'll take two.

But really, no matter what it's called, I bet there's a bunch of people who will always call it Sears Point.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

What's Next for California's Death Row?

Posted By on Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 6:05 PM

In the last seven years, not one of the 729 death row inmates has actually been injected.
That figure comes from a BANG story, which compares California's death row policies with Arizona's. Arizona, too, had a long hiatus in administering the death penalty, which was broken in 2010 when several court cases removed legal hurdles similar to California's.

San Quentin from the Bay
  • San Quentin News
  • San Quentin from the Bay

An August 2012 story that we ran reports "ever since a successful 1978 campaign to reinstate the death penalty, California has spent roughly $4 billion and carried out only 13 executions. This breaks down to $184 million a year spent on trials and investigations, death row housing, and both state and federal appeals. Most death row inmates wait more than 20 years to see their cases resolved."
This ratio of effectiveness to cost was, of course, one of the arguments for Prop 34, which failed by 48 percent.
The BANG story looks at some of this costly legal "red tape," still in effect in California. It's both minute—how many injections to use—and lofty—that "evidence, gleaned from more than 20,000 homicide cases, that the death penalty statute is so overbroad that virtually any first-degree murder has been eligible, making it unconstitutional..."
It's worth a read.

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A Cup o' Joe

Posted By on Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Bible. Words that acknowledge both climate change and gay rights. It's hopeful—and heavy, and difficult not to wonder how much idealism will be compromised in the next four years.
Which is why the Internet seems to be turning to Uncle Joe today. The Biden, that blond(ish) bastion of no-malarcky straight talk and aviator sunglasses, is always a welcome foil to his running mate, and doubly so when the future looms large and unknown. Here are some of the best offerings of Team Joe floating around the Web today.

Leslie Knope and Joe Biden
  • Leslie Knope and Joe Biden

1. Mother Jones' refreshed this incredible retrospective, in which the VP plays Angry Birds, acts out a one-liner from CSI Miami and ignores a child.

2. If you're not familiar with him, the Onion's "Diamond" Joe Biden likes to hitchhike, show his chest hair and soliloquize about the everyman. In an excellent twist of virtual reality, Onion Joe hosted a Reddit AMA last Friday to celebrate the release of his book and was upstaged by his real alter-ego.

3. This is not recent, but it's still excellent.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Extended Play: Heavy Lifting Videos

Posted By on Sat, Jan 19, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Olympic Weightlifters fom the 2012 Redwood Empire Championships receive awards
  • Olympic Weightlifters fom the 2012 Redwood Empire Championships receive awards

It's fascinating to watch Olympic weightlifting. Just a few sends of action and with much practice having gone into it, and just one tiny flaw will throw everything off. The amount of weight that can be caught overhead is staggering, and the form of a good lift is really beautiful. Top athletes of any sport are artists, to me, and watching great Olympic lifters is like watching a 10-second masterpiece that took years to perfect.

Hossein Rezazadeh's world record 263 kilogram (580 pound) clean and jerk at the 2004 Olympics remains unbeaten:

Here it is in slow motion:

This is Behdad Salimi's world record 214 kilogram (472 pounds) lift at the New World Strongest Man competition in Paris in 2011:

And in slow motion, because it's so damn cool:

This is a great scientific high-speed camera breakdown of the snatch by Team USA:

Here's the same series exploring the clean and jerk:

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Will leaving nudists alone cause cancer?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Not according to Christina DiEdoardo.
The San Francisco-based lawyer doesn't just sport a friendly emoticon on her LinkedIn page, she's also defending your right to be naked in San Francisco before a federal judge.

Nude, or nevernude?
  • Arrested Development
  • Nude, or nevernude?

According to an article published yesterday by the Chronicle, the case challenges an ordinance scheduled to go into effect on Feb. 1. If publicly shedding your drawers is an important part of your life, you can still do so at events permitted for nakedness, like the Folsom Street Fair and Bay to Breakers.
This court case raises many questions like the one above, only hinted at in the Chronicle's coverage. Is public nakedness a form of political expression? Is it a form of artistic expression? Should we revisit the idea of a naked mayor? What about a naked city council? Would their hands need to be visible at all times?
You can read more about the history of balls-out...um...ness in SF here.

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Winner, Winner, Porky Dinner

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 10:44 AM

  • Porchetta

Pop-up dinners are awesome. 1) Prix Fixe meals are awesome. 2) Artisan meat producers are awesome. 3) Sitting at a table with people excited about food is awesome. 4) Wine pairing by people who know their stuff is awesome. 5) I am still full.

This was my list of notes after Sonoma’s Epicurean Connection Wednesday night Victorian Farmstead/chef John Lyle pop-up dinner. Tickets were $75, including wine pairing, tax and tip. Really, that’s like a three-course dinner for $35, because this wine pairing would be at least $15 and tax and gratuity would run about $25. This is how meals in many European restaurants are priced, and it just feels like this structure respects the food more. It’s not trying to trick a diner into not realizing the total cost of an experience, it’s offering the meal at a price that’s fair for the quality (1).

To start, chicken and dumplings were good, but not as great as what was to come. The dumplings lacked a bit of flavor for my taste, but the chicken and broth made up for it. The flesh tasted so pure, an unfortunately rare trait in commercial meat (2). The dish was surprisingly light, easing my fears of carrying a lead stomach by the end of the evening.

The star, porchetta, was impeccable. Hands down wins my vote for best main dish of the year. I don’t need to eat any more, folks. We’ve already found a winner. Pork belly, laid out flat, rolled over onto itself and cooked so the skin gets crispy, the fat gets juicy and the meat gets so, so tender but not in the “cut it with your fork” way, which I always felt to just be another way to say “mushy.” The meat had so much flavor with such little seasoning, basically just salt and pepper. “The food comes perfect right out of the ground,” says Lyle. “It’s my job not to mess it up.”

John Lyle
  • John Lyle

Indeed, it came to him near perfection in its raw form. I could probably eat it as sashimi. This pork is so pure, I could taste its diet, which I imagine consisted much of wild grasses and shrubs. Sitting next to Victorian Farmstead farmer Adam Parks, I discovered he gets his pork from Marin County, though it’s one of the few meats he doesn’t raise on his own (3). His high standards are obvious, though, with the chicken and pork both surpassing already high expectations.

The pork sat atop red buttery red potatoes, cooked whole and cut in half on the plate, as well as a mixture of greens from Bloomfield Farms. The greens were on everyone’s lips during dinner. I wanted to talk about the pork, but no, everyone was so taken with the damn side dish that I didn’t even get to my Porky Pig impression (a dinner party favorite). To be fair, they were really good greens, which Lyle said was just a simple mix of kale, spinach and chard. Again, he doesn’t do much to them here, but the mixture of flavors took away from the natural bitterness that usually turns me away from greens, especially kale. Yeah, I said it. Kale sucks. But this kale, mixed with other goodies, didn’t suck. Maybe I’m beginning to see the light. Maybe I was just high on pig juice. (Wouldn’t be the first time).

Fig tart
  • Fig tart

Dessert, spelled with two esses because you always want seconds, did in fact make me want seconds (5). The fig tart was sliced like a pie, served with vanilla ice cream and a carmel sauce that stole the show and took home the award for best supporting condiment. Served with two cheeses that “literally just came in hours ago,” it was a nice comedown after the pork. The crust was king of this dessert; Lyle is a master of this craft. “It’s a gateway pastry,” he says of pie crust. It leads to nefarious debauchery such as croissants, puff pastry and other sinful doughs. If the Body of Christ were made of Lyle’s pie crust, communion would have lines out the door.

Sheana Davis
  • Sheana Davis

I didn’t mention the wine yet, but the pairings by Sheana Davis were unexpected and well chosen (4). Idell Vineyards chardonnay with the chicken didn’t overpower the lightness of the dish, and the winemaker sat across from me at the table. (It’s pretty amazing when people who made the raw ingredients for a dinner are at the table, it shows real confidence in their work, and with good reason.) The Korbin Kameron cab had about six years to mellow out, and it wasn’t really meaty or super bold. It was more like a zin, really, like a big zin, which paired so well with the pork I almost had another glass (but I’d have left the pork all alone, and I couldn’t do that). Forget pork and pinot, this is even better. And with dessert, the 2006 Parmelee Hill syrah was a great wine that went better with the cheese than fig tart. Depth makes this a good drinking wine, which makes it a smart choice for dessert. I’ve never been a fan of super sweet wines at dessert, because dessert is already sweet. Why add more sweet? This syrah was a good choice and left a wonderful lingering reminder of the evening after we left.

I always forget Sonoma is only half an hour from Santa Rosa and half an hour from Petaluma. Actually, it’s about the same to drive between SR and P-Town as it is from either city to Sonoma, and much more pleasant. The only tough thing is passing up the great, super cheap taco-portunities on the way to the Promised Land.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Twelve and On Fire

'Troublemaker' a Pre-Teen Angst Spectacle at Berkeley Rep

Posted By on Thu, Jan 17, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Bradley Boatright is a troublemaker.

Twelve years old, possessed of a potent imagination, haunted by a childhood tragedy he considers the critical piece in his origin story, Bradley (played with elastic authenticity by New York actor Gabriel King) sees himself as the hero of an epic comic book adventure—though the real details of is life may be anything but comic. In Dan LeFranc’s colorful new youth-riot spectacle Troublemaker, or the Freakin’ Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatwright—running through Feb. 3 at Berkeley Repertory Theater—pre-teen angst is blended with unexpected insight. In three distinct acts, LeFranc heightens everything: the youthful dialogue is a gloriously stylized barrage of code words and slyly softened obscenities. Bullies behave like super-villains from a James Bond movie. Adults are seen as monsters, Nazis, zombies, or pirates. And though Bradley likes to treat his best friend Mickey Minkle (Chad Goodridge) as his sidekick, by the third act, even Bradley is forced to admit that maybe his troublemaking behavior is masking a monster-sized insecurity. Directed by Lila Neugebauer, the slightly stretched show is a whimsically awesome coming of age story, with an ending that is not exactly happy—but it is surprisingly, hopefully, painfully, real.

For showtime information, see Berkeley Repertory Theater.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Coffee Champions Crowned Thursday

Posted By on Tue, Jan 15, 2013 at 3:37 PM


Battle of the Baristas, the long-lost chapter in the fight for Middle Earth, is taking place Jan. 17 at 6pm in Sebastopol. OK, it has nothing to do with Lord of the Rings, but it does have a lot to do with coffee and local food and drink, so it's pretty cool, nonetheless. Three baristas from Oliver's Market will vie for a grand prize of a trip to a Guatemalan coffee farm with Sebastopol roaster Taylor Maid Farms or a fabulous home espresso kit.

I try to imagine that last line in the voice of Monty Hall from “Let's Make a Deal.” But that's what too much coffee does to a person, makes them imagine things read in game show hosts' voices. Everything sounds so exciting and full of promise. But I digress, back to the barista smackdown. It roughly follows the rules of the World Barista Championship, though there is no signature drink and it includes a trivia section. What is this, Jeopardy? Sorry, I mean, What is, Jeopardy? No, that didn't work, either.

But back to the championship thing. Seven baristas total from all three Oliver's Markets in Sonoma County competed in the semifinals Jan. 7-9. The winners, Marghi Sulas (Oliver's Stony Point), Aubrey Bell (Oliver's Montecito) and Tanu Peleti (Oliver's Cotati) will be judged on temperature, texture, foam art and overall presentation for a shot of espresso and a latte, says Taylor Maid Marketing Manager Kara Klinge, as well as their shouts of “NO WHAMMY, NO WHAMMY, NO WHAMMYYYY AAAAAANNNNNDDDDDD STOP!” No wait, that's the game show network leaking out of my head again.

But seriously, the coffee contest is going to be great. There will be music from the Restless Sons Band, food from East West Cafe and Bakery Angelica and a keg of kombucha, in case the coffee buzz isn't enough to calm those shaky hands. This whole thing came about through Taylor Maid and Oliver's, who have been partners for the past seven years with Oliver's serving the Sebastopol-roasted coffee exclusively for all it's hot coffee drinks.

Battle of the Baristas commences Thursday, Jan. 17 at Taylor Maid Farms. 7190 Keating Ave., Sebastopol. 6pm. Free. www.taylormaidfarms.com.

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