Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
Posts tagged "Sacramento"

After four long years, I finally made my triumphant return to one of my favorite bookstores in the world — The Book Worm in Sacramento. FYI: this is basically what my personal library looks like (the history room at The Book Worm) except they have more bookshelves while I have more piles.

Asker atinyripple Asks:
Are you excited about the new downtown arena being built?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Absolutely. I’m excited about the prospect of a new arena being built in the heart of downtown Sacramento because I’m positive it will revitalize a part of the city that badly needs it and that could truly be a fantastic area. Downtown Sacramento is so pedestrian-friendly and capable of being a great destination for visitors and tourists that I think the new Kings arena is undoubtedly going to be an economic boost and the type of project that takes Sacramento to another level — a place that it should be considering the size of the city. That’s something that a lot of people tend to be surprised by when they visit Sacramento — they don’t recognize how big of a city it actually is, and a vibrant entertainment district downtown that gives those restaurants and bars and clubs and other businesses a reason to be open past the early evening when the government employees head home will raise Sacramento’s profile.

Plus, the renderings of the new arena look really cool, and keeping the Kings in Sacramento helped save the soul of the city. Kevin Johnson will never have to pay for a drink in Sacramento for as long as he lives for the part he played in saving the Kings. KJ was a star in the NBA for the Phoenix Suns and never played for the Kings, but for what Mayor Johnson did for the city, the Kings should retire his jersey number as a tribute anyway.  

So, yes, I’m definitely excited, and I’m happy that I’m back home in Sacramento to see the construction of the new arena and the evolution of my city.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
You commented on the NBA earlier and I know you're from sacramento so what do you think about kevin johnson's role?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Kevin Johnson is a superstar.  The work that KJ — former NBA star, Sacramento native, and current Mayor of Sacramento — did over the past few years to help save the Sacramento Kings, get the new Sacramento arena project on track, and rebuild the city’s trust and hope in the Kings after the Maloof family nearly ruined professional basketball in Sacramento made him a hero in my hometown.  Now, with the Donald Sterling situation, Mayor Johnson took a leadership role in consultation with Chris Paul and the NBA Player’s Association and has been an eloquent voice on behalf of the players over the past few days.

KJ is a political star, but he’s in a tough spot.  Currently, Jerry Brown is running for re-election as Governor of California (and is a shoo-in for re-election).  Governor Brown will seemingly serve until 2019.  Mayor Johnson would normally be a rising political star possibly in line for a shot at Governor, but he’s got a couple other young, rising (or already-risen) political stars amongst California Democrats — Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Kamala Harris, either of whom will likely want a shot at the Governor’s office, eventually.  If either Senator Boxer or Senator Feinstein finally decide to step down, there’s a possibility that a Senate seat might be a good fit for Kevin Johnson.  I think Kamala Harris has a better shot and brighter prospects nationally, but Kevin Johnson can’t be counted out.  Who knows?  Maybe he’ll happily remain in his hometown of Sacramento, but I think he has bigger ambitions…

So, after four long years, I’m thinking about going…home.

Hey Sacramento: Four people killed and 14 other wounded in 11 separate shootings last weekend?! What’s going on back home? Stay safe this weekend.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Hope you don't mind a personal question but I was curious about when and where you were born
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I don’t mind personal questions at all.  If it’s something I don’t want to answer, I won’t, but I really don’t have much of a problem with most of the personal questions that I am asked.  

I was born at 1:23 PM on January 20, 1980 at Sutter Memorial Hospital in downtown Sacramento, California.  Oddly enough for what I would eventually do with my life, my birthday is Presidential Inauguration Day.  While there wasn’t an inauguration on the day I was born in 1980 (Jimmy Carter was entering the final year of his Presidency; Ronald Reagan was inaugurated on my 1st birthday), I was born on the same day as Super Bowl XIV between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams.  

There’s no need to calculate which Super Bowl that was and which Super Bowl just took place.  It makes me sound old.  

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Odd question-Are you the same Anthony Bergen who was on the Kid Chris show in California and Philly? If not you can ignore this question, lol!!
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Goddamn, have you been stalking me since 2002?  Yes, I was part of the KiddChris Show in Sacramento and then long-distance when he was on in San Antonio and Philadelphia (although I did make two live appearances in Philly because my fans demanded it).  However, I was the voice of reason and never did anything inappropriate or that would be considered “shock-jock” material, no matter what doctored audio that might exist out there that suggests otherwise.  

Now Chris and the crew are spreading their filth in Cincinnati, but I refuse to appear on the new version of the show because Cincinnati’s not a large enough media market for someone of my celebrity stature.

Asker calispeaks Asks:
All presidential politics aside. What's your thoughts on the Sacramento Kings, new owners and plan for new arena? Oh and when are you coming out here for a game? Lol.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

What’s up, little brother?!  Our birthdays are coming up.  (Calispeaks is my “little brother” because we were born one day apart in the same year — 1992, ahem.)

I’m getting my news from a distance, but from everything I hear, Vivek Ranadive, the new owner of the Kings, has been incredible.  I love the dude’s creativity and enthusiasm.  And I was pleasantly surprised to read Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, David and Goliath, which spends the first chapter focusing on how Vivek found what works to his advantage to find success (not with the Kings, FYI) against the odds.  I’m very thankful for Vivek Ranadive, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, and NBA Commissioner David Stern — they not only saved the Kings, but they saved the city of Sacramento.

From what I’ve heard of the arena plan, I’m excited.  I really hope it revitalizes downtown, which has so much potential and has been such a disappointment for so long.  I’m getting local, but it’s surprising that the sites that have always been rumored for a new arena — the railyards and Cal Expo — were passed over for Downtown Plaza.  But it makes a lot of sense because it could turn K Street into something really special and Old Sacramento could be reborn.  (By the way, I always thought the former McClellan Air Force Base was the perfect spot for an arena.  Cleanup of the site would be tough, but it would be the best place in the city when it comes to traffic on gameday from every direction.)

I don’t know when I’m coming back!  I need to visit.  I miss everybody and I miss my city.  I miss walking around Capitol Park, grabbing some food at the Esquire Grill, or sitting in the lobby of the Sheraton Grand and drinking like a gentleman.  Honestly, I’d love to see another game in ARCO Arena (I’m not calling it by its new name) before it closes.  I’ll miss that place, especially since we (me and you) had the run of it so many times when the Monarchs were playing!  Are there plans to bring the Monarchs back?  Little known fact: everyone’s favorite Tumblr Presidential historian (that’s me, I hope) was a huge fan of the WNBA when the Sacramento Monarchs were in the league and rarely missed a game.

I miss you, Cali!  The state and my friend.  We’ll catch up on the phone sometime soon.

YES!  Of course!  Supreme Pro Wrestling — third Sunday of every month — where I am 1-0 in my professional wrestling career after defeating Sir Samurai and his evil Honor Society in 2006.

A Tale of Two Cities.

Asker wwoo Asks:
Hey Anthony, love the work that you do, but I will have to disagree with the comment that you made that "Both Sacramento and Seattle deserve an NBA franchise. Both cities have shown that they can support their NBA teams. " Since 2008, The Kings have had at least the 4th lowest attendance or worse and have been in the bottom 3rd for attendance% in those years. I obviously don't know how much the kings mean to the city from a social level but economically, i would disagree that sac deserves ateam
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Sacramento has two out of the five longest sellout streaks in NBA history — the Kings have sold out all 41 home games in Sacramento for 19 out of their 28 seasons in California.  And many of those seasons were when the Kings were absolutely dreadful — the Mitch Richmond, Lionel Simmons, Wayman Tisdale, Olden Polynice era.  

Since 2008, the attendance has dropped mostly because the Maloofs turned into the worst owners in the NBA and actively seemed to be destroying basketball in Sacramento.  Plus, Sacramento was in the midst of an economic crisis that was even worsw than the national crisis.  The unemployment average and home foreclosure rates in Sacramento were significantly higher than the average throughout the nation.  And during that time, not only did the Kings have really bad teams and no star player to market, but the Maloofs continued raising ticket prices.  When ticket prices were lowered, the fans started filling ARCO Arena again.  

And I hate to pick on Seattle because I truly do believe they deserve an NBA team, but during the 23 seasons that there were NBA teams in Sacramento and Seattle (1985-2008), the Kings averaged better attendance than the Sonics in 20 of the seasons, even though the Sonics usually had far better teams.  During that time, the Kings sold out every game for 19 seasons; the Sonics sold out every game in just 6 seasons.  It’s also worth pointing out that throughout the 3-year-long saga that has seen the Maloofs doing everything they can to get the Kings out of Sacramento, fans continued coming to games and showing their love for the team.  During the Sonics last two seasons in Key Arena (basketball capacity: 17,072) fans in Seattle didn’t exactly show up in droves to express their support.  In 2006-2007, the Sonics averaged 15,955 each home game.  In their final season in Seattle, 2007-2008, the Sonics averaged 13,355 fans per game — leaving nearly 4,000 empty seats every single night.  I know that Seattle fans were pissed about having a lame-duck team that was packed for Oklahoma City, but I’m just saying: that wouldn’t have happened in Sacramento.  Hell, it didn’t happen in Sacramento — and the Kings looked like a lame-duck team in 2011 AND 2013.

Also: Kevin Johnson for President.

59 plays
It's Been A Long Time Comin

H-Wood: Proud To Be From The S.A.C.

A Birthday Ramble. 

I’m a long way away from Sacramento.  I left nearly three years ago and haven’t been back, and there have always been days where I hated it as much as I loved it, but Sacramento is and will always be my home.  And, 33 years ago today, January 20, 1980, I was born right downtown, at Sutter Memorial Hospital.

For the first three decades of my life, for better or worse, Sacramento raised me and made me who I am.  The scars on my body and the creases on my face bear the names of the streets that I prowled — El Camino Avenue, Fulton Avenue, Arden Way, Watt Avenue, Marconi Avenue, Edison Avenue, Howe Avenue, Bell Street, Northgate Boulevard, Grand Avenue, Norwood, Auburn Boulevard, Lerwick, Larchwood, Ball Way, Kent Drive.  

The light in my eyes reflect my favorite haunts: Capitol Park ringed by its barrier of palm trees, Old Sacramento, Tower Bridge, the Esquire Grill, the lobby of the Sheraton Grand, an empty Light Rail train in mid-morning, the view from the multi-story parking garage directly across L Street from the State Capitol building, the seismograph a few steps away from the door to the Governor’s office, the orange trees on the grounds of the Capitol where, if you know where to stand, you can peek directly into the window of the Governor’s office, the cigar shop on Front Street, the stretch of 160 between Arden Fair Mall and the wild licorice bushes near the Radisson and American River levee where you could smell the Wonder Bread factory cooking early in the morning.

The shadows on my face and the perpetual bags under my eyes are reminders of long days and never-ending nights.  Some of them were fun, some of them were not, but all of them were experiences.  Friendships established, relationships demolished, life always being lived.  Everything shaded by the sheer number of trees — practically anything can grow in Sacramento’s climate — not merely dotting the city, but populating it.  Trees all over the city like my memories — wild, diverse, growing, dying, happy, sad, overcrowded at times, but sometimes lonely.

People like to say that they’ve made mistakes in their lives and then add that they regret nothing.  I’ve made mistakes in my life and I regret many of them.  I even regret some of the things that weren’t mistaken.  We don’t learn from mistakes.  We learn from the consequences of our mistakes — and those are usually called “regrets”.  For many years, I lived too slowly, and then I lived too fast.  With many people, I loved too quickly, and then I loved too harsh.  When somebody hurt me — especially somebody that I cared about — I often tried to destroy them and who they were to me and what we shared.  Up until recently, I still did that — annihilate attachments, eliminate emotions, crush connections, liquidate love, ravage relationships…eradicate, exterminate, desolate, shatter, sabotage, vaporize, ruin, ruin, ruin.  Today, at 33 years old, I now actively seek to preserve rather than obliterate.  Seems odd that I should have to work so hard at preservation when, professionally, my life’s work — the study and promotion of history — is, at its core, an act of preservation.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not all darkness and shadows, debris fields and wastelands.  Like everyone, I’m simply visited by the cloud of depression that Winston Churchill would call “the black dog”.  But I am in a better place than I have been in close to ten years.  I have somehow found a way to actually make a living with my writing.  It’s so surreal and such a long time coming that I still feel like I tricked somebody.  The idea of advertising revenue and royalty checks backed by real money, legitimate legal tender, coming my way because of words that I wrote continues to blow me away.  For years, I wondered what it would be like to be a professional writer and, in many ways, it’s inexplicable.  For some reason, I always figured that I would realize that I had reached that point when some editor sat me down and said “You’re hired.”  But, really, I didn’t recognize that I had reached that level until it suddenly hit me that I was somehow getting paid for the things that I was writing.  By no means have I “made it”, but I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do, and, at 33, that makes me happy.  It still doesn’t feel quite real, but it feels right.  It feels like I deserve it because, despite those mistakes and regrets, this is the one thing that I’ve always worked hard at and taken completely, utterly, 100% seriously.

I like the fact that my birthday is close to the beginning of the year.  It allows me to feel like the new year is genuinely a new year for me.  The past few years have been difficult — personally, professionally, emotionally, and even physically.  Of course, 33 isn’t 63, but I feel every day of every month of my life when I wake up in the morning.  I feel it in my bones.  I see it in my eyes.  But I’m still here.  I have all of limbs and all of my hair, and I know my brain is still working hard because I can’t slow it down when I try to sleep.  That race never ends.  

It’s 2013 and I am 33.  I like the number “3”.  All of my life, whenever I set an alarm or set the microwave or have a target number of sets for a workout, the target number I use always either has a “3” in it or is divisible by 3.  I don’t have many superstitions, but that is one of them.  So, both 2013 and the age of 33 give me an optimistic feeling.  I haven’t had a great year since 2002 or 2003.  Some of them have been downright horrible, particularly 2005, 2009, 2010, and 2011.  Last year was a bit better, but I feel like the year 2013 and the age of 33 will prove that I have turned the page.  I don’t exactly know why or how, but I’m now old enough to realize that hope and optimism should never be dismissed.  For the past decade, I have been so thirsty for reason and hungry for logic that I’ve needed to know the explanation for everything.  That hasn’t necessarily resulted in happiness, so I’m going to let hope and optimism stick around this year.

I didn’t really mean to ramble on like this or get all philosophical just because it’s my birthday.  It just happened.  And, let’s be honest, I just wrote a whole bunch of words without really saying anything.  But, I rarely get personal here.  However, hearing this song brings back a lot of memories and a blank computer screen, blinking icon, and welcoming keyboard was an invitation to open up for once.

I am a long way away from Sacramento — in more ways than just the mileage distance.  I am a better person than I was three years ago, two years ago, even five months ago.  Goals that I have set — goals which seemed to never get any closer for many years — have been met and more have been established.  I feel like I learn something new every day.  When I don’t, I feel like that day has been a failure and, although 33 doesn’t seem old, who knows how many days I actually have left to learn, create, teach, share?  I’m a long way from Sacramento and I don’t have family here.  I don’t have many friends here.  But I have a huge personal library of books that I rarely have had to pay for.  I published my own first book and people actually bought it (and continue to buy it).  I’m in the process of finishing my second book.  The book reviews that I write have received attention from publishers and big-name authors who I have revered.  I’ve become a person who college kids will e-mail with questions about their studies and a historian that mainstream news outlets like Bloomberg have reached out to for commentary.  I’m in a good place.

I am a long way from those street signs that I mentioned.  I now live in a tiny town of about 2,000 people — a town the size of my junior high school.  I’m not kept awake by police helicopters or hours of sirens.  I’m not worried when I take a walk to the grocery store or the park.  I live in peace, as we all should.  As H-Wood’s song says, I’m proud to be from Sacramento, but I’m also proud to be in New Haven.  I’m proud to have made it to where I am.  I’m proud to know that, at 33, I have made improvements, made my life better, made people who know me proud of what I have become.

I am a long way away from Sacramento, but in many ways, I am still home.  I’m proud to be from the S.A.C., but I’m also proud to be me.  Yes, I feel every day of my 33 years and, while I used to look young for my age, I now look every day of 33, too.  But what I feel is 33 years of memories and experiences that continue to shape me and, hopefully, make an impact on others.  Maybe I don’t love enough or put enough trust in others, but I will.  It’s taken me all this time to finally love and trust myself, so I think I’m ready to try it out on others.  I’d like to think that this is an example of that because in this new year of my life, I’m going to try to lift the curtain and share my history, as well as our country’s history.  Don’t worry — you’re not going to get rambling dissertations like this all the time — but I wanted to share this today so that I can make sure that I’m accountable for the improvements I strive to continue.  Of course, it’s far easier sharing myself with 10,000 readers who I don’t know than on person that I do (yes, you read that correctly, I’d rather stand and talk in front of a crowd of 80,000 than sit in a small group of three).  

Alright, alright, enough out of me.  Thanks to everybody who is sending birthday wishes today and to anyone bored brave enough to make it to the end of this post.  It’s 2013, I’m 33, I’m proud to be from the S.A.C., I’m proud to be where I am right now, and I look forward to my next year of sunshine and shadows and, of course, plenty of history.