We have been out of Sacramento for 24 hours now so it’s time to look back and share some impressions while they are fresh and of the mind and not the memory. Flying into Sacramento is like diving into a miles long patchwork of streams and parcels of farmland.
You feel like you’re landing in a pasture when your plane touches down. There is no doubt this part of California thrives on agriculture and living from the land. This Sacramento Reloaded post generally deals with experiences within a 30 minute walking radius of the Sheraton Grand hotel in four directions of the wind.
1. Everything closes at 5pm. Good luck finding an open deli or a Starbucks or a restaurant if you’re thirsty or hungry at 5:01pm. On the East Coast we are used to the 24-Hour Deli and eating and drinking joints that close at 2:00am and open again at 5:00am. Our hotel only served food in their restaurant from 6:30am-2:00pm and from 5:30pm-9:00pm. If you were hungry in the afternoon you were on your own! We are used to hotels having eating places open for 24 hours a day.
2. Janna noticed the children in Sacramento are more fearful than those in New York City and Jersey City. Sacramento children walk in fear of strangers and they make too much eye contact that reveals their terror. On the East Coast, children do not worry if you’re a local or a tourist — is there a difference? — they just go along with their business and don’t bother looking you in the eye unless you cause them trouble and then they stare you down eye-to-eye to send terror into your being! Sacramento children appear more vulnerable and unnerved by the unfamiliar than their East Coast peers.
3. Sacramento is rebuilding its urban core so walking down a main drag like J Street is a fascinating experience because one store will be deserted while another is just opening. The architecture of Sacramento is mixed and confusing — the old does not blend well with the new — and there is an aesthetic disconnect between buildings on the same block. One wonders how the city planners wish their city to look and feel 20 years from now.
4. People who work in service positions in Sacramento are incredibly friendly! They will welcome you to the store and then thank you for shopping even if you don’t purchase anything. They will even strike up a genuine conversation! That kind of honest earnestness was refreshing.
5. Arco Arena — the venue where the Kings play basketball — is old and small and the floors are made of wood and you have an old time feeling of returning to the pinnacles of your childhood. The day will come when Arco Arena is torn down in favor of steel and concrete and the bigger and the impersonal so now is the time to visit the college game atmosphere in a professional sport setting and that mix of the heartfelt and the exceptional are sweet and reminiscent of more innocent times.
6. Sacramento blends the Christian and the Jewish better than New York. Janna has a lot of Jewish and Christian friends in New York and it is always a struggle for her to find a holiday card that blends the best of both religions into a universal human experience. New York separates the holidays into individual cards while Sacramento offers a large and beautiful mix of blended cards. Watch for them in an upcoming holiday theme here on your favorite Urban Semiotic blog!
7. The homeless and indigent live and wander on the streets outside of Human Services centers in Sacramento just like on the East Coast. Most people in Sacramento who drive will never experience the underbelly of that miserable street life but for those who regularly walk throughout the day on the East Coast will know what to look for, and what to avoid, in the Sacramento City services streets.
8. The main J Street drag has at least seven bridals stores along a 10 block stretch. Janna had never seen so many big bridal stores sardined into one location and she has no interest in weddings — but the budding Sacramento bridal stores cannot, and shall not, be ignored!
9. When the stores open at 11:00am on a Sunday in Sacramento people are lined up outside the store to get in while on the East Coast people don’t start entering the stores until Noon even though the stores are open at 10:00am.
10. There is more human space in Sacramento. You can walk down the aisle of a store and not bump into another person passing the other way. The “Open Air” architecture where the “hallways of the mall” and the “corridors of the schools” are exposed to the outside elements are a culture shock coming from the rough-weathered Midwest and East Coast experience where all hallways and corridors are covered and connected to the entrances they are serving. We spent most of our time in Sacramento but we were fortunate to have a three hour tour of Davis on Saturday with Jeff as our expert guide.
Davis is gooey and oozing and smart and agrarian and friendly and just-like-Nebraska except with better weather and wealthier people. Davis is the place to live. Sacramento is the place to visit and work. “Causeway” is the word of the day everyday between Davis and Sacramento because the causeway serves as the wide and stretching and obvious Maginot Line of defense dividing the cultured from the uncouth. Perhaps in the future we’ll cover Davis as we have covered Sacramento when we spend more time interacting with the peopled landscape of The City of Davis.