Features

The Long Way Home

Earlier this year, Land Park journalist Martin Kuz spent five weeks in Ukraine, both as a reporter covering Russia’s invasion of his late father’s homeland and as a son hoping to better understand the forces that shaped his father’s life. He returned to Sacramento—home to the largest concentration of Ukrainian immigrants in the United States—with a profound new understanding of his complex heritage forged by war and loss. In this essay, Kuz chronicles his journey at the intersection of global history and personal identity.

A Viral Sensation

When Dr. Richard Corsi floated an idea on Twitter for a highly effective, inexpensive, DIY air purifier to help lower the risk of Covid, his light-bulb moment went viral in the best possible way. Now many of America’s top scientists—and even the White House—are touting the invention, and people all over the planet are thinking inside the box.

Word Play

How do you put the fun in fundamental? One Sacramento youth literacy group, 916 Ink, believes the answer lies in turning the traditional rules of reading and writing upside down. That means prioritizing story over structure, publication over perfection, and joy over judgment. And realizing that every flame of creativity starts with a spark.

The Shops Around the Corner

Talk about a Hollywood ending. Over two decades since Meg Ryan’s sweet little children’s bookshop lost the battle to Tom Hanks’ big bad Fox Books, it looks like indie bookstores around the country (and around town) may have won the retail war. With April 30 marking Independent Bookstore Day this year, we’re spotlighting a dozen of our favorite local literary nooks in the Sacramento region. Trust us, this story is a real page-turner.

A Life of Crime (the Perfectly Legal Kind)

John Lescroart became an “overnight” success at 45, and the Davis author has since published 19 New York Times best-selling legal thrillers, with his 30th novel due out in late March. Meet the man with his ink-stained finger on the pulse of American crime stories.

Double Vision

With their new Sacramento-centric HGTV home design series, premiering March 12, Land Park’s Kele Dobrinski and Christina Valencia are helping couples find their aesthetic middle ground. And when they’re not swatch-buckling on a national television show, the husband-and-wife duo are helping redefine and reinvigorate both the private and public spaces where locals want to spend their time—from a jazzy new patio for an East Sacramento restaurant to a complete rebranding strategy for Broadway’s Tower District. Their story-driven work has led to the cornerstone of their design philosophy: making memories.

Getting Back on Track

Five years ago, Sacramento Regional Transit was on the verge of derailing. Riders felt unsafe, staff morale was low, and the agency was flat broke. Then Henry Li stepped in. He cut costs, launched innovative programs targeting climate change, equity and customer service, and built a $30 million reserve—leading him to be named, effectively, America’s public transit CEO of the year in 2019. But when Covid hit, ridership plunged, a key funding mechanism was pulled from the ballot, and now the future of commuting is a looming question mark. Whether you ride public transit or not, his decisions will affect your commute, the air you breathe and, in many ways big and small, the future of Sacramento. Henry Li is now arriving.

Perfect Picnics

We’ve filled our wicker baskets with the best takeout en route to eight sonnet-worthy spots across the region for your alfresco dining pleasure. Whether you’re unpacking a gourmet BLT on toasted artisan bread while gazing upon a sweeping view of Gold Country or digging into a bucket of crispy fried chicken while smelling the roses at McKinley Park, we prove that life in the wake of a pandemic can be a picnic after all. (Just don’t forget the sunscreen.)

Nut Tree Forever

If you lived in Northern California any time from the ’50s to the ’90s, your memories likely contain vivid flickers of Vacaville’s Nut Tree—the roadside oasis that lured generations of kids and adults alike. Was it an amusement park so wondrous that even Walt Disney himself visited? Or was it California’s original farm-to-fork capital? Or a modern art and design mecca that was first to bring mid-century Eames furniture to the NorCal masses? It was all of that and more. It was also, as it happens, the creative vision of a group of Sacramento artists, designers, architects and, yes, candymakers. And now, in 2021, it’s turning 100. Let’s all jump on that miniature train—you know the one—and take a ride back in time for a Kodachrome encounter.

Field of Dreams

On the first day of spring, Ruhstaller Farm—our region’s only brewery designed in the spiritual mold of a soil-to-sip winery—officially opened, with a hop yard surrounding towering twin kilns inspired by 19th-century California pioneers and 20th-century Parisian postmodernism. The Farm, with its mission to produce beer defined by the Sacramento Valley’s rich agricultural heritage, is the fruition of a decade-long vision for J-E Paino—brewer, farmer, storyteller and a tenacious optimist who runs decidedly against the grain.

The Heart of a Giant

When it comes to baseball, Dusty Baker plays to win. He's also living proof that the most important stats aren't measured in hits and runs, but in heart and soul.

Once Upon a Time in Mezcalifornia

For centuries, mezcal—the ancient intoxicant steeped in Mexican tradition—has sprouted almost exclusively from the vast agave farms south of our border. But one Yolo County hobbyist farmer believes that climate change, of all things, has the potential to spur a California version of the storied spirit to take root right here. And despite extraordinary odds, he might just get his day in the sun.

SF Giants Assistant Coach Alyssa Nakken

On the evening of July 20, San Francisco Giants assistant coach Alyssa Nakken coolly jogged out to first base in an exhibition game against the Oakland A’s. There were no fans in the stands to cheer her, but the world was watching as she became the first woman to coach on the field in a Major League Baseball matchup. The historic moment was the second, in fact, for the former Sacramento State softball star, who was anointed as the first full-time female coach in the major leagues in January. Here, the Woodland native talks about breaking down barriers, coaching in the age of the coronavirus, and trading the turf for the surf in her off time.

The Sweet Life

On the eve of his 100th birthday, Wayne Thiebaud—the Sacramento painter best known for his evocative portrayals of desserts that look good enough to eat—talks about the new pieces he’s working on (yes, he’s still wielding a brush—and a tennis racket!), his favorite kind of pie, and why, despite his status as one of America’s most important living artists, he still sees himself as “just an old art teacher.”

Alone Together

Through his project “6ft Apart,” Sacramento-based documentary photographer Andri Tambunan shares the stories of households around town, including his own, as they navigate the coronavirus crisis.

Fever Pitch

Are you ready for some major league fútbol? MLS has finally tapped Sacramento to join its very exclusive club. Here’s an in-depth look at the new stadium and how it will raise the game for both soccer fans and our city.

In the Name of the Father

After graduating from UC Davis in 1967, Stephen Kaltenbach headed east and thrived in the heady New York art world, exhibiting alongside future greats like Richard Serra and Bruce Nauman, and inhabiting provocative alter egos à la Sacha Baron Cohen before Sacha Baron Cohen was even born. But it was his return to Davis that resulted in one of Sacramento’s most beloved paintings: a hauntingly evocative portrait of his dying father. With the launch of his first solo American museum show in over 40 years, the artist reflects on the man who inspired his masterwork and his own starring role as both father and son.