Matias Bombal’s Hollywood

Black Souls

The MPAA has not rated this movie

Vitagraph Films offers Italian director Franceso Munzi’s tale of a family, the sons of goat shepherds, involved in the Derangement criminal organization in the Calabria region of Italy. Set against a bleak rural community, the growing unease between the Carbone and Barracas begins to slowly boil to steam. There are only two members of the cast which may seem familiar to U.S. audiences. Luigi, who runs things for the Carbones, is played by Marco Leonardi who first won our attention in popular Italian imports “Cinema Paradiso” and “Like Water for Chocolate.”
One of the Carbone’s muscle men, Miguel, is played by Carlos Bardem, Javier’s older brother, and has appeared in films of many nations. One does really get sense of time and place in this movie set in a contemporary time period, and the shots and scenes are longer and quieter than any U.S. made movie would ever dare to be, allowing you to study the magnificent expressive nature of the faces of the Italian actors, each one offering excellent performances.
There is violence, but not as much as you would except. It is really a tale of respect, family tradition and honor, even among gangsters. Only two of three Carbone brothers are involved with the family “business”, the third, Luciano, tends his goats and resents the nature of his brothers work. By the time this all comes to a boil, you’ll see magnificent photography and an unhurried development of the plot that matches the more traditional lifestyle of Italian culture.
There are obvious connections to American-made movie movies like the Godfather, and two unexpected developments that cause some head scratching. Subtitled. One week only, Tower Theatre.

Dior And I

The MPAA has not rated this film

From The Orchard, an independent distributor based in Los Angeles comes a fascinating look at one of the most established icons of Haute Couture, Dior.
Director Frédéric Tcheng, who is no stranger to this world having been second camera and co-producer of 2008’s “Valentino: The Last Emperor”, offers something that is not so much a documentary as it is a rare glimpse behind one of fashion’s great houses at a key point in its history, where tradition meets a new and creative talent in designer Raf Simon and shares the passion and creative work of artistry that brings fashion to life.
Tcheng cleverly intersperses vintage archival footage (in the correct aspect ratio) of Christian Dior himself from the 1945 beginnings of the leader in French and world fashion, which works in concert with the ongoing implementation of Raf Simon’s new collection from inspiration to reality in just eight weeks.
In the first moments of vintage footage, we hear the familiar voice of Edward R. Murrow, who we will later see in a few frames of his “Person to Person” show where he interviews M. Dior.
Other vintage film segments bring Dior to life as passages of his book of memoirs “Christian Dior et Moi” are read by Omar Berrada which offers beautifully expressed thoughts from the old master such as “Like flowing Sap, the creative spirit runs in the house”.
For Raf Simon, the past is not romantic for him, the future is romantic for him. Following in the footsteps of Doir who established much in the 10 years he operated the company, this is a challenge for Simon to be sure, especially to find a way to be creative within the framework of the Dior world.
One sees Harvey Weinstein, Marion Cotillard, and Sharon Stone in this movie, however the real stars here are the seamstresses, who sew history into each stitch. One seamstress remarks, “His sprit is still here; we still work for Dior.” This film is in English, French, and Italian. Subtitled for English audiences.

On the Curbs: Compton’s Market adding a full deli

Photos by Stephen Crowley Shown here is a photo from last year's East Sacramento Farmers' Market. The weekly market supports local vendors as well as vendors hailing from as far south as Salinas. The East Sacramento Farmers' Market is a year-round Saturday morning market at 35th Street and Park Way in McKinley Park. Market hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. From pralines to flowers and produce, the farmers' market exemplifies some of the best around from various types of businesses.
Photos by Stephen Crowley Shown here is a photo from last year's East Sacramento Farmers' Market. The weekly market supports local vendors as well as vendors hailing from as far south as Salinas. The East Sacramento Farmers' Market is a year-round Saturday morning market at 35th Street and Park Way in McKinley Park. Market hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. From pralines to flowers and produce, the farmers' market exemplifies some of the best around from various types of businesses.

Sunil Hans and Mike Compton were personally available at one of their recent regular Friday afternoon tasting events. Featured was Sunil’s mother’s homemade Indian food, fresh salami, and delicious non-dairy cheeses made from nuts. What brought Sunil and Mike to the occasion was a special announcement. It is true, the store will be expanding its footprint by extending square footage to the east along the Meister Way side of the store.

The addition is planned to take place in August and will make room for a full deli, meat counter, and small coffee shop / bakery. Fresh juices and other items may also be available.

There were a number of members from the local neighborhood associations present mingling with the usual customers. The mood was very relaxed and open. The owners helped to explain what their vision is, namely to expand the store in a manner consistent with the original structure and to maintain close ties to the community throughout the process.

Feedback from all attendees during the hour I was present was very positive and Sunil and Mike received many compliments regarding the upgrades they are making to the store.

Be sure to check out the East Sacramento Farmers Market, which is every Saturday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the East end of McKinley Park where the Shepard Garden and Arts Center is located. A special thank you to Ann Vuletich Clark, the Executive Director of East Sacramento Farmers Market, for bringing this to our community for the second year in a row. Puppies, children and smiles abound and the weather has been gorgeous.

Live music is a part of the scene and you can find updates, a list of the vendors, and other details on the website at If you or someone you know of would like to play at the market (good outdoor background types of music), please feel free to call 402-3261 for more information.

As summer approaches and more of us spend time outside, let’s remember to help keep our neighborhood safe. Be sure to join your local neighborhood watch group or start one yourself. The City of Sacramento’s Police website is an excellent resource to find out how to start a new neighborhood watch group. You can find that online at

If you are interested, starting on June 23 at 6:30 p.m. at One Speed Pizza (4818 Folsom Blvd.) and continuing every fourth Monday of the month, a group of neighbors and police officers will be meeting to talk crime prevention. Each meeting will have a different topic. The topic in June will be crime prevention through environmental design.

A great free phone app to use to learn about crime in your area is called RAIDS online. You can set the program to send you email updates every day, week, month or whenever. You get to view a map which you can set to highlight certain crimes such as burglaries, burglaries from autos, assaults, and drug offenses. It’s an excellent example of how technology can empower citizens to become aware of what is going on around them.

Michael Saeltzer is the president of East Sacramento Preservation and a local real estate agent.

Matias Bombal’s Hollywood

Matias Bombal
Matias Bombal

The Age of Adeline

The MPAA has rated this PG-13

LIONSGATE and Lakeshore Entertainment bring us “The Age of Adeline” in which Adeline Bowman, (Blake Lively), remains 29 years of age for almost a century through a mystery trick of fate during an automobile accident on an unusually snowy night in Sonoma, California in 1933.
In this romantic fantasy that spans the best years of the last century to the present, the eternally young Adeline is constantly running from her agelessness.
That is until she descends one New Years Eve in an elevator with a handsome philanthropist played by Michiel Huisman. Twenty-seven floors later, and with some persistence from him, she agrees, with trepidation, to come over for a date.
Romance blossoms, yet she remains guarded with her secret, which is in danger of being exposed unexpectedly when Harrison Ford, playing the father of Huisman, happens to have known and loved Adeline in the 1960s and is certain that it is she, much to the concern of his wife, played by actress Kathy Baker.
If you take your own sweetie to this movie, you’ll have wonderful results for this is a lively 107 years of romantic fantasy, handsomely made. The beginning of the movie unravels in a beautiful and clever way and is marvelously imagined and carried out.
The only matter that seemed a bit forced was the closing voice over narration in storyteller fashion, which is the way the movie opens. The narration, by Hugh Ross, was okay, somewhat reminiscent of “The Hudsucker Proxy” but was a bit much at the end. This movie was directed by Lee Toland Krieger.

Hot Pursuit

The MPAA has rated this PG-13

Warner Bros. releases an M-G-M and New Line Cinema comedy which teams Reese Witherspoon and beautiful Sofía Vergara. This is in no way connected to the John Cusack movie of 1987 of the same name. his is more in the vein of a “Dukes of Hazzard” meets “Cannonball Run” and features Witherspoon as a tomboy cop assigned to protect the widow of a drug lord and bring her to trial as an informant.
Off to a shaky start, they must drive a long way to Dallas. The two are at opposite ends in every imaginable way, yet must bond together as they are chased by crooked cops and mad gunmen.
The director of this movie, Anne Fletcher, makes a Hitchcock cameo as a police dispatcher in one early scene. She’s worked as an actress before turning to directing. Perhaps she should have stayed an actress.
This movie is unfunny. The chemistry between the two principals never develops, and no matter how charming Ms. Vergara may be, and she is that, she is the only redeeming aspect in this movie, which fails on many levels. Gaps in continuity and the prolonging what would have made a better television episode of 30 minutes is dragged out to 87 minutes. The preview audience laughed in many spots, however, to me, the entire production seemed trite and forced. Ms. Witherspoon has proved herself an excellent actress and comedienne in other movies, however, here her performance lacks the true ability of her talent, and seemed like she was playing dress-up for a TV skit.

Janey Way Memories #142

“What Goes Around, Comes Around”
The week before last, I had lunch with a group of guys who once lived on Janey Way. We met to celebrate a visit from an old friend, Jim Costamagna. Like us, Jim grew up on Janey Way, running around in the pit (the vacated sand and gravel site behind the houses on the east side of our neighborhood), competing in touch football games on the street in front of our houses, and playing the hubcap trick over on M Street. We had a lot of fun and many adventures back then.
Eventually though, we all grew up.
Some went to college, and others joined the military. Jim took a different path; he moved away.
He settled first in Denver, Colorado. Later, he headed north to Montana where he landed in the small college town of Missoula. He stuck there. He took a job with the Montana Department of Forestry, met his future wife Debbie, bought a piece of property, built his own home, and settled down to raise a family.
They raised two boys in Missoula. One suffered from severe seizures early on and still lives with the family. The other boy Justin, ultimately graduated from college in Missoula, and then moved away, much like his father had done so many years ago.
He went first to take a job in Australia. When that job ran its course, he moved to Florida, before landing in Sacramento, of all places. Here, he took a job with the State of California and settled into a career in public service.
Soon, he met a girl, and now they are engaged. They plan to marry next year.
Justin just purchased a home in West Sacramento and it looks like they are here to stay.
That is why Jim came to visit. The old home builder came home to help his son make improvements to the house he had just purchased.
So, there we sat at a restaurant in West Sacramento, having lunch and telling old stories from our childhood. I leaned over to ask Jim if he might visit Sacramento more frequently now that his son lived here. He told me they planned to do just that, most likely during the cold Montana winters. “The 50 degree temperatures here in Sacramento seem a lot better than the sub-zero Montana winter lows,” he told me with a smile on his face.
I thought to myself, “Isn’t it funny. Jim moved away to Montana so many years ago. Now his son moves back here. What goes around comes around.”
Now, our friend, Jim Costamagna, has returned to his rightful place in the Janey Way Gang.

Over The Fence

What’s next for the former Vic’s IGA?

Collected Works on Freeport Boulevard is closing. / Photos by Greg Brown
Collected Works on Freeport Boulevard is closing. / Photos by Greg Brown

What’s the latest scoop on the former Vic’s IGA Supermarket in South Land Park?
The store was shut down in March and rumors are running rampant all over social media about what will take its place. If you believe everything you read on social media a Trader Joe’s is moving in.
There’s an online petition being circulated.
A lot of residents in the neighborhood seems to want a Trader Joe’s. They are frothing at the mouth for one to open up in their neighborhood.
Slim chance that’s going to happen. Besides, the shopping center parking lot is too vast. Trader Joe’s specializes in annoying little parking lots that make shoppers irate.
Another person on a Land Park Facebook group talked about a VIVA Supermarket taking over the site. They provided a link where people could send messages to corporate headquarters begging them to locate in the South Land Park Hills Shopping Center. Viva has a local grocery store on Northgate Boulevard.
Another rumor on social media was a Dollar Tree was moving in. A guy said he heard it from somebody at the Jazzercise studio.
So you know it’s legit.
That false rumor got a lot of people worked up and angry. Folks just don’t like Dollar Tree. Let’s hope DD’s Discounts doesn’t try to weasel their way in. There’s new fencing around Vic’s Supermarket. That does not mean anything is imminent. It just means there is a fence around the building to keep it from being vandalized.
I spoke with John Chang, whose family owns the shopping center property on the right side of the South Hills Center, and he told me,
“We’re just proceeding with what is legally required to allow us to do what is next.”
Vic’s IGA filed for bankruptcy. There is a long, arduous process involved. Nothing is imminent.
I also spoke with Theodore Chang who is part of the property management company and he said, “The property has not been rented out. We have not made that decision yet, although we do have people who are interested.”
Theodore added, “We have several brokers we are working with and we’re trying to find the perfect fit for us as well as for our neighborhood”
When I asked him what are you looking to put in there? He told me, “We are keeping all of our options open. It could be anything from an athletic club to a grocery store.”
Theodore added, “We don’t have anything set in stone.”
I also asked about the aesthetic of the building and if they had plans for any demolishing of the mid-century modern designed building. “We’re not looking at anything like that. We’re just looking at getting a tenant in there. We aren’t going to make any major changes to the building itself.”
Good news for all you Sookie Lee fans.
So, when you see hunches and predictions on social media, don’t take them too seriously. The owners are working towards getting a suitable tenant in the former Vic’s IGA building. Let’s all hope it’s something that lifts up the South Land Park Hills Shopping Center.

Good Eats, the popular little barbecue joint that was housed inside Vic’s IGA, was planning to move into the former Brick Oven Pizza building. It sounded like a perfect match. Bring on the red checkered tablecloths!
I asked Good Eats owner Eric McFadden about the move over the phone recently and he told me, “It’s not gonna happen right now. I got a lot of my business when Vic’s was open and that store isn’t open anymore. Right now I’m playing it by ear.”
He added, “Because it ain’t cheap to run a business.”
Right now Eric and his Good Eats are over at Goeman’s Lounge on Franklin Boulevard. So if you miss the comfort food at Good Eats head on over to Goeman’s for some comfort.
“This is gonna work for now. I’m not going anywhere right now.”
McFadden plans on unleashing the “Big Mama Grill” next month over at Goeman’s. His hours are Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
New Little Library Pops Up In Hollywood Park
Little Libraries are popping up all over Sacramento. The cool thing is they’re open 24 hours a day and you won’t get charged a late fee for an overdue book.
The latest little library is on Helen Way in Hollywood Park. It was installed by Margaret Buggy, who’s an English teacher at Christian Brothers High School. She had heard of the Little Library movement through a cousin in Central Pennsylvania. Margaret was also inspired by the little library on Sherwood Way.

Community engagement through books…what a novel idea.
A charming, quirky, little library made of wood. It’s a small house of books with a little glass door that sits atop a wooden stump.
It looks like a birdhouse with books inside of it.
Maybe in a Utopian Neighborhood World folks could gather and discuss literature in person.
The concept for the Little Library is simple: You take a book, you leave a book. The part that makes it more fascinating is you get to see the reading habits of your neighbors.
There was a wide array of good books to choose from including “The Memorium” by Vaclav Havel, “Tell No One” by Harlan Coben, even some children’s books like “There’s a Tarantula In My Homework.” There were also a few book by Mary Higgins Clark.
Another one of the books in the Little Library was “The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian.” The book by Sherman Alexie made the list of most challenged books of 2014 by the American Library Association.
There are quite a few subversives in Hollywood Park. Let’s hope they add some more banned books to the Little Library on Helen.
The key to making the Little Library a success is to leave a book you recommend or find interesting, maybe even a childhood favorite.
And where did Margaret get all the books for the library? Margaret said, “over the past five months, I’ve been collecting books from family, friends, co-workers – anyplace I could get my hands on them!  I am an avid reader and so are my boys, Eli (11) and John (9).  We’re always going through books in the house.  Years ago, I gave up saving all of them, so my boys and I liked the idea of being able to pass books on through the little library.”
If you want to build your own Little Library for your neighborhood get more info at
Farewell To Collected Works
Collected Works on Freeport Boulevard is retiring. The store has been a fixture in Land Park for 27 years. They must have been doing something right.
Collected Works has always been THEE shop to buy special gifts and collectables for mom, grandma, or the wife. I dropped in to see how the retirement sale was going and it was a madhouse. Items were flying off the shelves with rapid speed right before Mother’s Day. Everything was 25 percent off.
Store owner Bobbi Gould thought she was going to be open through the middle of June, but since folks have been rabidly bargain shopping the store’s almost empty.
Good luck in retirement and thanks for being there when I needed a last minute gift for mom.
Send items of interest to

Over The Fence with Greg Brown

Rail To Trail in South Land Park

Brian Ebbert, Sharon Louie, and her daughter hanging out on the Del Rio Trail to discuss the Rail to Trail
Brian Ebbert, Sharon Louie, and her daughter hanging out on the Del Rio Trail to discuss the Rail to Trail

The Del Rio Trail in South Land Park sounds like something John Wayne would have rode a Stagecoach through in one of those old movie Westerns. “Alright, pilgrim. I’ll meet you on the Del Rio trail.”
The natural trail has primarily been used by locals as a 4-mile public walking trail. One spot along the trail is nicknamed the “Secret Glorious Place” by a local Waldorf pre-school teacher.
The sights and sounds of birds and bees are everywhere. California poppies and wildflowers blooming throughout the trail. There’s also a strong scent of springtime in Sacramento along the trail.
There’s a “No Trespassing” sign that everybody ignores and some janky gates that don’t keep anybody out. The trail is lined with backyard fences along the way.
The Del Rio Trail is owned by Regional Transit. They bought it back in the 80s as surplus property thinking one day they’d run the Blue Line through there. These days they have no use for it.
It’s now up for sale. I saw the new For Sale sign staked on the corner of San Mateo and Riverside.
The State Parks and Recreation Commission was proposing an excursion train full of tourists chugging through the four mile stretch of the Del Rio Trail on its way to Pocket Road from Old Sacramento. There would be a stop in between at the Sacramento Zoo. Once the neighborhood learned about it they mobilized and expressed vocal opposition to the train traffic traveling through their quiet neighborhood.
It worked.
State Parks backed down and agreed to remove the four-mile neighborhood section from its general plan and a revised plan was adopted last May. The State Parks and Recreation Commission approved the train stations at the Sacramento Zoo and at Pocket Road.
This raises a question as to how will the trains travel from Old Sacramento to Pocket Road without using the South Land Park tracks?
Could there be a round two battle brewing over the tourist trains?
Hopefully, not. Although, there are still concerns from local residents.
A group of neighbors have joined together with the leadership of the South Land Park Neighborhood Association and the City Of Sacramento. They call themselves the South Land Park Trail and Greenbelt Committee. The committee includes residents from South Land Park Hills, South Land Park Terrace, and local high school students. They are creating a neighborhood action plan for the four miles of abandoned tracks that run from Sutterville Road, behind Sprouts, and extends to Pocket Road near Freeport Boulevard. It would be a multi-use trail. Pedestrians, bicyclists and dog walkers would co-exist in harmony along the urban trail.
In the wider sections of the trail they’d like to create community gardens where a school group or neighborhood could plant organic gardens. Some parts of the Del Rio Trail can get gritty. Wider sections towards the South are brownfields with some trash from Freeport and illegal camping. The goal is to improve and protect the neighborhood.
Give the trail some TLC.
I met with Brian Ebbert and Sharon Louie on the Del Rio Trail one sunny afternoon to learn more about the rail to trail idea. Brian and Sharon are both members of the South Land Park Trail and Greenbelt Committee, also known as the “rail to trail” team.
“The rail to trail proposal is more than just a local amenity, it’s also to prevent the trains from coming through our neighborhood,” Brian told me. They want to be pre-emptive and pro-active.
“There’s a pot of money out there for bike trails,” Brian said.
The project is being considered for future grant funds that have a goal of improving bicycle and pedestrian mobility. The next step for the Rail to Trail team is to reach out to the community and engage with residents.
If you want to be a part of the rail to trail team or have comments or suggestions, contact Committee Chairperson Sharon Louie at

Movie Making At Awesome Video

Awesome Video, the iconic Land Park video store on the corner that has outlasted them all, recently became a movie set for some aspiring student filmmakers from San Francisco State University.
For several days a cast and crew took over Awesome Video and shot a short film entitled “I Hate The Color Red.” It’s a story about a brother and sister who inherit their parents’ video store. They try to keep the video store alive, and in part, their parents alive, too.
The title idea, “I Hate The Color Red”, comes from the fact that the video store is in the red. Another reason for the title is Redbox, as well as the red envelopes Netflix uses to deliver their movies.
The film’s producer Laura Chenault quipped, “Redbox is the bane of the video store owner’s existence.”
The director of the short film, Jazmin Jamias, told me it was hard to find a video store big enough to film in.
When she first stepped foot in Awesome Video she was impressed with the size, the look, and all the cool posters on the wall. She thought the store had a nostalgic sense to it.
Jazmin was also excited about finding an old school video store jewel like Awesome Video. “When I saw the ‘Criterion Collection’ I knew this was my video store.”
The owner of Awesome Video, Maithu Bui, agreed to the filming because she has a passion for movies. “This is just like a love affair, that’s why I am here. The store is for the neighborhood and this is a neighborhood picture. I hope neighbors see us that way.”
Where did the idea of the short film come from? Jazmin was thinking about the things she liked to do when she was younger. “When I was in high school I was going to the video store almost every day,” he said.
Jazmin mentioned she had a Blockbuster Video and a Hollywood Video in her hometown of Vallejo. Going to the video store, sifting through the movie titles and talking to other movie lovers is “Something I miss doing,” Jazmine said.
When Netflix came out and Redbox followed, the local video stores started disappearing. Hollywood Video, Blockbuster…gone. Now it’s all about streaming movies on demand from the convenience of your couch.
Awesome Video has outlasted them all!
“The movie is really about human connection, Jazmin said. That was one of the biggest things I wanted to convey”. She added, “Sometimes technology takes that away.”
Producer Laura Chenault, told me “I devour movies and film and I love Awesome Video, I wish we had one in my neighborhood, I really do.”
Once the film is completed I’ll let readers know when and where they can see it. I even make a cameo in the film with my five year old son, Freddy. Perhaps a special exclusive red carpet showing at Awesome Video. Wouldn’t that be, awesome?
Got an item for Over The Fence?

Danny Collins

The MPAA has rated this R

From Bleeker Street Media comes “Danny Collins”, a fictional story about a successful singer, in the vein of Neil Diamond, played by Al Pacino. In a short period prologue, we see that the young singer Danny Collins is interviewed for a “Rolling Stone”-type newspaper, where he reveals that he is inspired by John Lennon.
Flash forward to the present, where his manager, played by Christopher Plummer, brings him a life changing gift: a letter that had been written to Collins in 1971 from John Lennon that he never received in that era. It becomes a life changing catalyst for Collins for the contents of the letter from Lennon offer encouragement and advice to remain himself, even to call him on his private telephone for a visit.
This affects Collins deeply, and he looks to make a change in his life by heading to New Jersey where he holes up in an small hotel managed by Annette Bening, who is fantastic on screen.
Mr. Collins has an estranged son played by Bobby Cannavale who lives near the hotel. His wife, played by Jennifer Garner, is the mother of a little girl and has one more on the way. Danny tries hard to right past wrongs.
The cast alone is fantastic and there are some very fine performances from them. The dialogue is very well written and the idea of the movie is itself intriguing. This is terrific work from a first time director, Dan Fogelman, and is the best movie released this year to the present.

Janey Way Memories #131

The Picture on Aunt Margaret’s Wall

Janey Way
Janey Way

When I was growing up on Janey Way, we spent lots of time at my Aunt Margaret’s house on Hillsborough Lane in South Land Park.
By the time I hit teen age, Grandma Petta had grown too old to host our extended family gatherings at Thanksgiving and Christmas, so Aunt Margaret took on that responsibility. She had a big house with a game room in the back. That made it a perfect place for all the children in our expanding extended family.
Besides the game room with its full sized pool table, the thing I remember most about Aunt Margaret’s house is a painting which hung on her living room wall. It featured towering rocks in colors of red, pink, brown and tan, contrast against a brilliant blue sky. The horizon lay covered with cactus and small evergreens. You could see a smattering of snow in the distance.
I pondered what I saw in this picture. It seemed surreal. How could snow be found in such a parched looking landscape? A few weeks ago I found the answer to this question.
My wife Barbara and I had seen an ad on television touting the national parks in Utah. We were taken by the beauty of these sites, so we decided to go and see them.
The wonders I saw there, brought back memories of Aunt Margaret’s picture.
We visited three national parks and one state park: Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Canyon Reef national parks and Petrified Forest state park.
Bryce Canyon Park brought back long-forgotten memories of the painting on Aunt Margaret’s wall. Towering, shear-faced rocks spread out across the horizon. Interspersed among them, were smaller rocks with human shapes, forged by weather over millions of years. Small pines and cactus filled the spaces between the rocks, and nestled underneath it all, were patches of white snow. Yes, in the mountainous dessert, eight thousand feet above sea level, they still have snow in April.
It is true, reality is stranger than fiction. There is a place where rocks are pink and red, the sky is bluer than one could ever imagine and snow covers the parched ground. I don’t know where the picture on Aunt Margaret’s wall is today, but I do know where it was most likely painted. It is real, not the figment on some artist’s imagination.
Now, the painting that so impressed me in my youth, is yet another unforgettable, Janey Way memory.

Over the Fence


Freddy happily enjoys his Batman popsicle from the Ice Cream Man. / Photo by Greg Brown

Freddy happily enjoys his Batman popsicle from the Ice Cream Man. / Photo by Greg Brown

The Ice Cream Man brings back memories of childhood, like running after the ice cream truck and waving a quarter I shook from my piggy bank on a hot summer day.

The Ice Cream Man was trucking through our neighborhood the other day. I could hear the familiar ice cream truck jingle.

I yelled to my 5-year-old-son, “Ice Cream Man!”

My wife and I looked at each other and thought, “Why not? It’s good times.”

So we all went out front and waited for the ice cream man to stop at our house. My 5-year-old-son got a Batman ice cream on a stick. He was very excited about picking out an ice cream treat from a passing vehicle. Now every time he hears the Ice Cream Man he thinks it’s carte blanche to “get more ice cream.” We now have weekly limits on fudgsicle bar consumption.

Whenever I think “Ice Cream Man” I think Van Halen. “Oh my my, I’m your ice cream man,stop me when I’m passin’ by. They say all my flavors are guaranteed to satisfy.”

Ah yes, more childhood memories.

Unfortunately, Over The Fence has learned that a Hollywood Park resident has officially complained to the city of Sacramento about the ice cream truck weaving through the neighborhood and selling frozen treats.

A woman is actually trying to campaign against the ice cream truck, and believes that it turns the neighborhood into “ghetto city.” Her biggest complaint is that the ice cream truck music is “too loud.”

I assume she’s never been to a Van Halen concert.

Now granted, ice cream trucks aren’t what they used to be. But what is these days? Most of the ice cream trucks driving through the neighborhood are beat up old vans. But, c’mon. Trying to shut down a childhood tradition seems NIMBY 3.0.

It’s a war against Eskimo Pies!

Perhaps a gated community would be a better location for folks who hate ice cream trucks and the loud tinny music they bring. Over The Fence will keep you posted on the ice cream truck controversy.

Steve Stewart serves up another taco plate on Taco Tuesday. / Photo by Greg Brown

Steve Stewart serves up another taco plate on Taco Tuesday. / Photo by Greg Brown


It’s Taco Tuesdays at Leonardo da Vinci School during the Land Park Pacific Little League games. Every Tuesday afternoon, League Umpire and Chief Steve Stewart, and his partner and cook, Steve Ysias, offer street-style chicken or beef tacos with beans, rice and chips, too.

Steve Ysias told me he’s the cook and Steve Stewart is the mouth. “Works out perfect,” he said.

It’s only five bucks a plate. That’s a cheap meal. Part of the proceeds go to LPPLL.

I had a one of the chicken tacos…delicious! Steve told me he marinades the meat for days. The smell of Mexican street tacos wafted through the crowd of parents watching their kiddos play ball at the LDV baseball field. It seemed to entice them into ordering the taco plate because Steve got cleaned out. No more beans and rice. He had a post game taco rush.

Kenny Romeo was scraping the plate with his fork when I asked him, “How’s the food?” He said, “I think the empty plate speaks for itself.”

Steve and his crew will be back every Tuesday at LdV in Hollywood Park for more Taco Tuesdays. Drop on by and dinner’s done.


Now it’s time for some rumor patrol about the Curtis Park Village project. I was told by a Curtis Park activist that developer Paul Petrovich was interested in buying the two properties across from the development on Sutterville Road. One building houses the Sacramento Art Glass and the other is American River Finishing.

Some residents were theorizing that Petrovich wants to use it as a spot for a gas station across the street from the CPV if his gas station permit is denied.

On Nextdoor, Neelie Joyce, who owns Sacramento Art Glass said, “Petrovich is trying to buy the property my business is on at 2500 Sutterville Road. He’s attempting to bypass the CPV problem and tear down our business to place the gas station there, across the street from the current development. I know there have been talks; the property is not necessarily available for sale (at this moment – ask again next week) – but we’re pretty scared!! If the property owners decide to sell, there’s not much anyone can do!!”

I tried to contact the owner of the two buildings, Paulette Erfert, but she never returned my phone calls.

I reached out to Petrovich via e-mail about this rumor and he wrote, “I looked at Paulette’s property a while ago and it didn’t make sense due to the enormous amount of infrastructure to develop it.”

So there you have it. Rumor squashed.

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OVER THE FENCE Irish Eyes Were Smilin’ At Brownie’s Lounge

PHOTO BY Greg Brown
PHOTO BY Greg Brown

They really know how to throw a St. Patrick’s Day party at Brownie’s Lounge. Bagpipers playing traditional Irish tunes, patrons decked out in green were tipping back pints, and over 800 pounds of corned beef were cooked and ready to be served to the hungry St. Patrick’s Day revelers.
Clair Brownie, the colorful longtime owner of Brownie’s Lounge, was all decked out in a St. Patrick’s Day outfit…kilt and all. I asked Brownie, “Are you Irish?” He said, “well, hell yeah I am.”
Tim Taormina came to Brownie’s with his wife because Marie Calendars on Freeport sold out of corned beef. “That’s why we’re here,” he said. He just had to have corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day! There was some question whether or not Tim would actually get to fulfill his mission of corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day. At first Brownie’s told him they were sold out. Tim said, “I’m Italian/Sicilian, I forcefully demanded I get the last two dinners.” It worked because they relented and Mr. Taormina got his corned beef and cabbage dinner.
Tony Soprano would have been proud.
The City Of Sacramento pipe band, led by music director Liz Tubbs, was playing Garyowen while weaving through the packed house with the other bagpipers at Brownie’s Lounge.
Garyowen is known to have been used by Irish regiments as a drinking song, which is really what most folks were doing:
“Instead of spa we drink brown ale
And pay the reckoning on the nail
For debt no man should go to jail
From Garyowen to glory”
Liz and her husband Bill were wearing “his and her” kilts while Brownie’s grand-daughter, Jessica Bach, was following behind with the big tip jar full of cash.
Jessica told me, “I grew up here at Brownie’s Lounge. I actually see more of my family on St. Patrick’s Day than I do at Christmas.”
Just then the bagpipers started another traditional Irish tune, “Wearin’ Of The Green,” and Jessica was on her way to get more tips from the crowd inside the bar.
The bagpipes weren’t the only music at Brownie’s Lounge on St. Patrick’s Day.
As soon as the bagpipers left, Doug Meredith and his one man band started up on the tiny Brownie’s Lounge stage. Doug strummed the guitar and played a wide variety of music from country, R&B, rock, and of course some good ole’ traditional Irish tunes. The bar was definitely heating up with a packed house and the corned beef cooking. Doug Meredith was feeling the heat as he sang “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” with a trickle of sweat pouring down from his brow. The backdrop was a giant cardboard cut-out of Clair Brownie in a kilt surrounded by flashing green lights. The evening had a surreal feel to it.
The crowd loved it: Corned beef, cabbage, kilts and a little bit of kitsch at Brownie’s Lounge.

Shopping Cart Retrieval Service

Sometimes I drive down the road and notice an abandoned shopping cart. What happens to it once somebody removes it from the store?
Who you gonna call? David Fisher’s Cart Retrieval Service, of course.
I actually stumbled upon David while he was returning abandoned shopping carts to Vic’s IGA from parts unknown.
It all started back in the 90s when David worked for a grocery store in north Sacramento. He picked up the carts for the store. One day he was running some errands out in North Highlands and he saw a recycling center that had numerous abandoned shopping carts. He stopped by to see if any of them belonged to the store he worked at.
There were quite a few that belonged to the 98 Cent Store. Then a light went off in his head.
David decided to talk to Gary Cino, the owner of the 98 Cent Clearance Centers, and asked if he was interested in having him pick them up and return them to the stores.
Cino agreed and offered a dollar a cart.
April 1 of 1998 David got his business license and made it legal. He’s been returning shopping carts to their original owners ever since.
David, who is a South Land Park resident, usually gets between 50 to 100 carts a day. He also covers the Woodland and Davis area, too.
“I just put ‘em in there and strap ‘em down,” he said.
He’s also helping out the community. He gets calls and texts about shopping carts abandoned on the side of the road, down an embankment, or abandoned in an apartment complex. Several neighborhood associations have put his contact information in their newsletters.

I asked David if he feels bad about taking a shopping cart from a homeless person. He said, “I used to, but you have to remember they’re in possession of stolen property.”
And the shopping carts aren’t cheap. According to David, the smaller ones that Rite-Aid or Walgreens have are about $80 each. The carts Winco, Food Co and Raley’s use can run as high as $200-$250 a piece.
That’s why stores want to hire somebody like David to go pick them up. Dollars and cents. “If a store loses 20 carts a month, that could be $5,000 a month they’ve lost in revenue,” David said.
At the Wal-Mart in Woodland, David told me he “picks up at least 40 carts a week. These carts run about $150, so if I didn’t bring these back and Wal-Mart had to replace them they’re looking at $6,000 a week to replace shopping carts.”
David told me Wal-Mart has the most shopping cart theft of any other store in Sacramento.
So if you see a lonely shopping cart on the side of the road give David Fisher a call or text. He’ll be glad to pick it up and return it to its rightful store owner. Call 916-812-3885 for David’s cart retrieval service.
The spots the abandoned shopping carts end up are recycling centers, apartment complexes, and certain neighborhoods. “You learn the hot spots”.
He also gets calls from the City of Sacramento, Sac PD, ‘They all have my phone number.
He’s the go-to-guy for abandoned shopping carts.
I find carts for Raley’s Bel-air, Winco, all those stores.
He rarely gets into confrontations with the people who are stealing the shopping carts. Although, one time a guy was throwing stuff at David because he didn’t want to give up the cart. The guy tried to sick his dog on him. “I played it smart, I had some of my lunch left so I took part of my hamburger and gave it to his dog. The dog and I became friends.”