Author: Rob Turner

Game Boy

Without stepping foot in Silicon Valley, a local kid who grew up loving games and computers started with a frozen yogurt shop and ended up building a video game company that brought a Silicon Valley giant to Sacramento. Here’s how rolling some very funny-shaped dice paid off in a very big way. And how it almost didn’t.

Cover Art

In Seattle and Vancouver, people are looking down on art these days. Literally. That’s because manhole covers are being transformed into whimsical works of urban design. With a little imagination, our streets, too, can be paved with good inventions.

"B" the Change

The Great Recession hasn’t been kind to our cultural community, stopping multiple arts seasons and projects dead in their tracks. And our city’s record on philanthropy isn’t helping. But here’s another chance to get it right.

Bright Lights, Big City

The effort to save the Kings proved that we’re a city that can come together when we want to. Now we have a chance to show how bright our future really can be.

A Competitive Spirit

A novel concept behind the new arena campaign (public input) and a strategy for a revamped Capitol Mall (a design competition) are steps in the right direction toward great civic design. But they’re just a start.

A Foolish Consistency

For four years, the Sacramento City Council has thwarted the notion of a strong-mayor system that would give this and future mayors the authority they need to govern more effectively. Here’s why the council’s argument is so weak.

Skyline Cinema

From Austin to Australia, rooftop theaters are blending the best of outdoor films with vertical vistas and lofty lounges. With the best summer nights on the planet, Sacramento is ideally situated to host the ultimate screening room with a view.

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Where She Was From

On the eve of her 77th birthday, Sacramento’s native daughter Joan Didion reflects on the untimely deaths of her husband and daughter, the difficulty of parenting, and why, as a teenager, she really, really wanted a job at the California State Fair.

Time Machines

You don’t need to be H.G. Wells to dream of time traveling. Many cities are telling their own stories using historic tours to preserve their distinctive identities. After all, what better way to journey through history than by sitting in a piece of it?

Catalyst for Change

The recent design competition to reinvigorate Capitol Mall is a big step in the right direction. But now that the ideas are on the table, let’s make sure we’re viewing the situation from the right vantage point (preferably a high one).

The Lyon King

The former chef-owner of the Zagat dining guide’s highest-rated restaurant in the Sacramento region, La Bonne Soupe Café, is back in business with a cozy new boîte in Folsom.

Where the Streets Have Two Names

The practice of bestowing honorary street names on illustrious locals is a fast-growing trend. Imagine living on Oprah Winfrey Way in Chicago or Austin’s Willie Nelson Boulevard. Here’s why we need to pave the way for our own Avenue Q-Rating.

Candles in the Wind

In many Asian countries, a centuries-old tradition of releasing lanterns into the sky has captured the imagination of millions, though the concept has been on a slow boat to America. But now San Antonio has given us a roadmap to these man-made stars.

A Santa Cause

You may not be thinking about Santa in June, but the folks at New York's Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are busy as elves. They're also gearing up for parades in Portland and Seattle. Why not put an improved Sacramento Santa Parade on our civic wish list?

Political Theater

From San Francisco to Boston and Minneapolis to Austin, small-scale, localized theater productions have captured the imaginations of locals and visitors alike for years on end. Here’s why we should have our own show that must go on (and on)

The Big Gipper

In state capitals across the country, memorials stand in tribute to our past presidents. From Austin to Boston, larger-than-life statues not only honor our country’s leaders, but also remind people of the role those cities played in their lives. It’s time to put politics aside and cast our own bronze star here.

Courting Disaster

The most expensive building in Sacramento history—a new courthouse—is set to rise downtown, but where it ends up will pit the best interests of the city against those of the county and the California government. With the future of Capitol Mall in the balance, it’s time for Sacramento to stop being prisoners of the state

Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark

For decades, movies and cartoons have borrowed heavily from classical music. But now, from L.A. to Decatur, Illinois, orchestras are turning the tables. Perhaps it’s time to lower our lights, turn on the projector and try a little Bugs with our Brahms.

Raising the Roof

Cities everywhere are discovering the environmental (and aesthetic) benefits of green roofs. And from Chicago to Austin, city halls that are setting the example. As a city with our own green ambitions, isn’t it time we planted some seeds of change?

A Bridge to Our Future

With a year-long study about building a new bridge for the River City in its final stages, now is the time to think big and bold. But forget New York and San Francisco. Let’s follow Redding’s lead instead.

The Pour de France

In recent decades, American cities have begun celebrating Bastille Day—July 14—with a waiters’ race modeled after a historic Parisian competition. It mixes tradition and civility with modern-day philanthropy and urban excitement. On your mark, get set, Bordeaux!

Up in the Air

With no observation decks in Sacramento, only a few lucky high-rise office workers and helicopter traffic reporters get a bird’s-eye view of our town. But in cities like Chicago and Houston, tethered balloons are giving locals and visitors a whole new reason to look up

A Claes Act

Just ask San Francisco, Milan or even Des Moines: Landing a larger-than-life sculpture by Claes Oldenburg in your city is an artistic triumph. But if we want our own, we need to act fast. He's in his '80s. And yes, he’s still taking commissions.

Meals on Wheels

Urban streets lined with food trucks have long thrived in metropolises like New York and Chicago. But in recent years, western cities like Portland and Austin have seen an explosion in mobile eateries, too, boasting convenience, ethnic diversity and recession-friendly prices. With a little civic cooperation, Sacramento could enjoy its own moveable feast.

A Birthday Wish

In a collision of artistic serendipity, our city’s greatest artist, Wayne Thiebaud, and our greatest museum, the Crocker, both celebrate major milestones next fall. Here’s why we hope they both take the cake

The Super Dome

Access to the beautiful Capitol dome and its 360-degree views ended during World War II. But other capital cities like Denver and Topeka, Kansas are raising the roof on their capitols by reopening their domes and allowing for more historical education, increased tourism and stunning views. These days, the State of California is taking a lot from its citizens. Here’s an easy way to give something back.

Let There Be Lights

From London and Helsinki to Montreal and Washington, D.C., cities across the worldare using their cathedrals as giant canvases for dramatic light and music shows. With Easter upon us and plans for K Street finally picking up speed, now is the time to think about how our own historic cathedral can take center stage

“Pop” Art

Two men hope to pay tribute to their fathers by building what could become an instant architectural icon. But it won’t be a piece of cake.

Almond Joy

In Washington, D.C., the National Cherry Blossom Festival draws over a million visitors every March, generating $150 million for the region. In Macon, Georgia, they draw 300,000 people. Here in the City of Trees, we have a nutty idea for a festival of our own.

Marquee Façade

Downtown is about to get a serious shot of economic adrenaline. The Cosmopolitan opens in October, the swanky Citizen Hotel in November and, in February, downtown hosts America’s biggest bike race. But with all the progress, there are still some buildings that aren’t ready for their close-up. Let’s take some cues from Beijing, Detroit and even Gary, Indiana and put on a happy façade

Tune Town

Another jazz festival just ended, and with it, the sound of music in the air in Sacramento. In cities from Austin to Seattle and New York to New Orleans, street music creates an ambience that shapes a city’s urban experience for locals and visitors alike. It’s time for Sacramento to get in tune with the times.

Critical Mass

The country’s most prestigious restaurant guide, Zagat, has never included Sacramento. But with a flood of new restaurants opening in recent years—many with pedigreed chefs, managers and designers—there should be no reservations about adding the capital city

Electric Avenue

Sacramento is painfully light on parades, even though we threw one of the best ones in history. Here’s one bright idea.

Walk This Way

Hollywood doles out stars on its sidewalks, and St. Louis has a Walk of Fame filled with notable names. So does Toronto, and even Lansing, Michigan. Sacramento has had more than its share of great people—artists, actors, statesmen, athletes, business leaders and others—who’ve come from or lived here. It’s time to celebrate them in a public way and take a step in the right direction.