I’m excited to get back to Sacramento State, where my second year as the faculty adviser for The State Hornet student news publication commences in less than a week. Technically, my job title is "Professional Journalist in Residence"—a pretty good title, as far as titles go. (Journalist rule of thumb: Job titles besides "owner" or "editor" mean nothing to anybody but those distributing the business cards.) I’m excited to get going with this and everything else the next five months promises, which is… a lot.
I highly, highly recommend this weekend’s extraordinary Sacramento Bee expose about Carissa Carpenter, a would-be studio mogul who has spent the better part of two decades persuading people to believe she had the juice to build a multibillion-dollar entertainment resort and production facility in the region. She didn’t, she doesn’t and she never will.
Filmmakers and officials in Sacramento have known about Carpenter for a while. She’s distinctly symbolic of the phenomenon I often picture vis a vis the Kings: A city that has struggled desperately to reconcile its imagined self with its real identity. That struggle is reflected in the saga of someone like Carpenter, who has managed to charm some of the region’s most impressionable leaders and unscrupulous developers alike, and who claims to be on a first-name basis with George Lucas. It’s a story of a reeling psyche in a small, choppy pool better known as the Sacramento film community.
The Bee’s story took me back to 2003, when I first learned of Carpenter as an undergraduate studying journalism at Sacramento State University. My final piece for my advanced reporting class covered the film scene — or the fragments of a film scene — growing up, like me in Sacramento. It was never published. I revisited that piece today and present it as-is (or as-was) below.
I’m sure that despite Carpenter’s unrelenting delusions, plenty else has changed in 10 years. But plenty else has not. I enjoyed looking back on the other side of the story of filmmaking in my hometown, which is like any place else: Some people talk, some people do.
Today at the Classical, I’m privileged — and not just a little saddened — to chart the fall and rise and fall and imminent disappearance of my beloved Sacramento Kings:
The Kings’ futility runs much deeper than the usual peaks and troughs associated with the NBA, because the Kings’ near-win over the Lakers was the closest Sacramento ever got to reconciling the city’s imagined self with its real identity. Instead, we developed a perspective on winning from losing, made all the worse by having no other pro sports team to balance the anguish. Long-suffering Boston Red Sox fans had two Celtics dynasties; White Sox and Cubs fans had the Bulls, if they wanted them. Outsiders like to recall the Kings’ upswing as a heady, bittersweet marvel of civic renaissance, but believe me: There is nothing bittersweet about Sacramento and its Kings. It is all bitter.
And the rest…