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Opinion: Stop comparing Sac to S.F.

This is a story that I felt needed to be written – about a story that I feel never should have been.

Anyone who was born and raised in Sacramento, or has spent a considerable amount of time living here, is forced to recognize one unfortunate yet immutable truth: Sacramento has long had, or has at least been perceived to have, an inferiority complex to larger cities. In particular, to San Francisco.

I’m not saying everyone in Sacramento has it – but if you don’t crack a laugh while trying to tell me that you don’t know anyone in Sacramento that does have it, then I will certainly crack one before you finish your sentence.

It’s the age-old mid-size city paradox, often one that’s entirely self-imposed: we’re too big a city to identify ourselves as a small town, yet we’re not quite big enough to “have what they have.” This perception has been a bunion on our civic heel for years, the kind we’ve limped around with for so long, would we even notice if it healed?

Beer Week just ended (that cheering sound you just heard was my liver), as did Fashion Week – both on the heels of Bacon Fest. With so many people having spent the last month out and about in Sacramento, and even with the Kings seemingly one foot and four toes out the door, there is no arguing the fact that it’s a good time to be a Sacramentan.

That’s why Sacramento Magazine’s March 2013 cover story entitled “Sac vs. S.F.: 35 Reasons Why We’re Better” comes off like the high school freshman who spends every hour of his summer in the gym and pounding protein shakes so he can bulk up and fight back against the senior bully – only to find out that the bully never even wanted to fight anyway.

Or, the guy who rents a Ferrari and an escort to go to his high school reunion to show the cheerleader who would never give him the time of day that he’s “made it,” when he is already happily married.

Many of the claims that SacMag makes are valid points about things Sacramento can and should be truly proud of:

“Something to Chew On:” An ode to the accessibility, friendliness and sustainability of our local restaurant scene. Absolutely no argument here (more on that later).

“Home Sweet Home:” How financially accessible is it to rent or own here vs. there? Not even a conversation, really. There’s a reason why minimum wage in the City hit north of $10 per hour in January of 2013.

Some of the claims are just simply strange:

“Our Bridge is Actually Golden:” Mmmmmmmm-kay, not even sure I’d waste a bottle of Cook’s bought on sale at CVS toasting the paint job on the Tower Bridge.

“Target Loves Us:” Apparently San Francisco has only one Target store to our five. Translation: We buy quintuple the crap.

“Ban Francisco:” A shot against all the things that The City has attempted to legislate out, including Happy Meals and pet goldfish (which may be somehow correlated if anyone has tried those new McFish Bites). Yep, not quite as arbitrary as say, trying to limit the operating capacity of mobile food trucks.

“Our Mayor Can Beat Their Mayor in a Game of 1 On 1.” Really? Let’s look ahead a couple years and see how the five-on-five will go when the Warriors are transplanted to a proposed new S.F. waterfront arena, and the only team playing in our arena is Granite Bay boys varsity.

Claims like these feel like desperate reaches to finish a list that should have only been maybe half as long – assuming there is a reason why it should have even been started in the first place.

There isn’t, and it shouldn’t have been.

What’s really unfortunate about how badly this article misses the boat is that it was sitting right near the dock the whole time. It is sandwiched right between two other stories that perfectly illustrate this writer’s point – one is about the B Street Theatre’s planned new state-of-the-art digs on Capitol and 27th, the other a list of marquee products made right here in Sactown, such as Blue Diamond almonds and Ruhstaller Beer (if you’ve never had their Captain black IPA, do it now!).

With positive things like these (and so many more) to report, the fundamental question surrounding Sacramento Magazine’s article emerges: Why can’t we be content to take pride in what we have without feebly comparing it to something else?

Take a look at what happened a few weeks ago during Bacon Fest, and more recently, Beer Week. There is no denying the old adage that beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy – and with all due respect to our herbivorous readers, there is similar truth to bacon.

But when the dust settled, it was bigger than bacon or beer. It was a chance for local residents to hit the town for happy hours, special dinner menus, unique creations, and large-scale events, making bacon and beer the vehicles for a B-12 shot of local appreciation. It was a chance for our local chefs (quickly emerging as a tour de force in the culinary world) to show off what they can do under a pork belly veil, and a chance for local watering holes to build mightily on their base of loyal regulars with guest taps, tasting flights and other events.

And look what happened. Local establishments were reporting record attendance during Bacon Fest. And Beer Week…well, if you attended any events, you know what it was like out there, up to and including Saturday’s Capitol Beer Fest at Cal Expo or Pangaea Cafe’s "Super Blow Sunday" where they attempted to clear out the remaining kegs after an insanely popular week.

Beer Week wasn’t just about the beer. Bacon Fest wasn’t just about the bacon. This town has a pulse right now, and there is no doubt that those who live here are responding to it.

These are the kinds of things we should be starting a list over, and there is so much happening that could be put on such a list. There are a ton of reasons to be excited about life in Sacramento, all of them happening right now.

Lists that grasp at straws while trying to compare us to other cities are the kind of thing that makes us seem petty and desperate to get our big boy pants, when we’re all perfectly happy in shorts and flip flops. Why? Because summer is comin’, so let’s get ready to crack a twenty-two of Ruhstaller, head for Concerts in the Park, grab a late dinner at Pizza Rock, and keep this town alive into the night.

Who’s with me…?

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