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By Eric Johnson
Published Dec 11, 2023

California's Revolutionary Culture

In this week’s edition of the newsletter, we wish a happy 90th birthday to Lou Adler—a peerless impresario, brilliant producer of music and films, and a great Californian.

Lou’s first megahit was, fittingly, “California Dreamin’,” by the Mamas & the Papas—unless you count “Surf City,” by Jan and Dean, or “Wonderful World,” which Lou co-wrote with Sam Cooke. His biggest hit record was Carole King’s Tapestry, which won a Grammy in 1972 and is widely considered one of the greatest pop albums of all time. A man of vast depth and breadth, he also discovered Cheech and Chong and produced their first movie, Up in Smoke. And oh, that’s right, he gave us The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I would argue that Lou Adler’s most significant cultural contribution was the Monterey Pop Festival, and even more so the movie, Monterey Pop, which let the world see that something explosive was happening in California in 1967, and not just on the stage. Which gives us a segue to introduce this week’s first story.

Bringing California Music to the World

Monterey Pop is widely remembered for introducing both The Who and Jimi Hendrix (who got his start in London) to America. More importantly, if you ask me, the movie also introduced the California sound to a broad audience. The festival featured then-upstart bands from San Francisco including Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and Janis Joplin, and brought them together for the first time with their counterparts from Southern California—The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and the Mamas & the Papas, who were the headlining act (!).

As you may have noticed, here at California Local, we are not shy about bragging up the fact that our state leads the world in many regards. While we mostly focus on the democratic institutions of government, policy and politics, this week my colleague Sharan Street presents a magnum opus about California music documentaries.

We all know in our bones how important cultural products like music and movies can be. Even just reading a little bit about the 50-plus films presented here gives a glimpse into the richness and diversity that defines California, and, more and more, the United States. And here’s how important one of these movies was to me: I’m pretty sure that if I had not seen Monterey Pop when I was in high school, I might still be in New Jersey. I was already predisposed to California thanks to my pre-adolescent passion for the Beach Boys, and it was the Dead that fully sealed the deal—but as I was reminded while listening to the still-mindblowing Monterey Pop soundtrack yesterday, when I witnessed the revolutionary scene captured by D.A. Pennebaker in his film of the world’s first big rock festival, it sparked a flame in my teenage heart that still burns. So, thanks, Lou Adler, and happy birthday!

On that note:

California Music Docs

Tune in, turn on, and drop into these California-focused documentaries—only some of which are about the ’60s San Francisco sound.

Green Giving, Cali Style

Sustainable shopping may or may not have been invented in California, but the notion certainly thrives here. In this piece, the first by our new colleague Veronica Yoo, you will find a bunch of cool earth-friendly stuff to make your people happy.

Sustainable Solstice

Looking for greener gifts? Buy local, try organic, and embrace upcycling with goods from these California makers.

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Recent Local News

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• Craig Named Mayor of Lodi, Bregman Vice Mayor

Vice Mayor Lisa Craig was unanimously approved as mayor, becoming the fifth woman to serve in the position.

(12/08/2023) → LodiNews

• Sacramento DA Adds to Lawsuit Against City Over Homelessness Response

Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho is adding environmental violations to his lawsuit against the city of Sacramento over what he calls its failure to act regarding the homelessness crisis.

(12/06/2023) → CapPublicRadio

• As Atmospheric Rivers Become More Frequent, California Expands Research to Prepare

A new law expanding California’s atmospheric river research program goes into effect next year. It connects flood and reservoir control operations with new technologies and strategies that can help operators accurately predict the arrival of these storms.

(12/05/2023) → CapPublicRadio
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Recent Statewide News

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• Supreme Court Upholds California Ban on Conversion Therapy

By declining to hear a conservative group’s challenge, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a California ban on conversion therapy for LGBTQ youth. California is one of 22 states to ban this practice.

(12/11/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• Yosemite Trying New Strategies to Reduce Food Packaging Waste

An estimated 100,000 pizza boxes have been removed from Yosemite’s waste stream. This is because the famed park now serves pizza on trays and puts to-go portions in compostable bags, part of a move to reduce food-related waste.

(12/11/2023) → SFGate

• Here’s Why It’s Getting Harder to Buy Car Insurance in California

Californians have said they experienced added difficulty over the past year in getting car insurance. Insurer rates have gone up more than usual.

(12/10/2023) → CalMatters

• State Releases EIR for Delta Tunnel

The California Department of Water Resources released an environmental impact report for a tunnel that the state would like to build through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The report identifies potential impacts to farmland, tribal remains and endangered species of fish.

(12/08/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• Coyotes More Likely To Turn Up at Wealthier Properties in San Francisco

A coyote recently was found at the $27 million Russian Hill home of AI mogul Sam Altman. This relates to a study, which found that coyote sightings were more frequent in higher-income areas of San Francisco.

(12/08/2023) → SFGate

• Thousands of Migrant Farmworker Apartments Sit Vacant for Months

Even though California is facing a crippling housing shortage, one potential source remains untapped. The state allows thousands of apartments used for part of the year by farmworkers to otherwise sit vacant for three to six months.

(12/07/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• At-Home COVID Tests Can Be Reimbursable in California

Although the federal government is providing four free COVID tests per month, that’s not the only way to get them. Aetna and Blue Shield of California members can be reimbursed for up to eight at-home tests per month, while Kaiser Permanente is offering discounts on tests.

(12/07/2023) → KQED

• Native American Tribe to Get Back 40 Acres of Land from State

The Fort Independence Indian Community is getting the Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at no cost in 2024. Native Americans had lived on this land for centuries before the hatchery’s construction.

(12/06/2023) → SFGate

• State Might Soon Require Replacing Broken A/C Units

California energy regulators are considering requiring homeowners to replace broken air-conditioning systems with heat pumps or HVAC systems that are more energy efficient. The change would go into effect in 2026.

(12/06/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• Moms Who Suffer Domestic Abuse Can Lose Their Kids. But Does This Policy Make Any Sense?

California’s “failure to protect” law allows child welfare agencies to take kids from households scarred by domestic violence. Advocates say the separation can worsen a family’s trauma.

(12/06/2023) → CalMatters

• High-Speed Rail Project Connecting SoCal to Las Vegas Wins Grant

Private company Brightline secured a $3 billion grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation toward a 218-mile high-speed rail line from Rancho Cucamonga to Las Vegas. The line would allow people to make the trip to Sin City in a little over two hours.

(12/05/2023) → Los Angeles Times

• DMV Shift Appears to Spur Drop in ‘No Party Preference’ Voter Sign-Ups

The California Department of Motor Vehicles changed its voter registration process in 2019 to put a party selection dropdown on the same page. Since then, the number of people registering as Republicans or Democrats has jumped close to 20 points.

(12/04/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• New Assembly Labor Committee Chair Faces Ongoing Worker Unrest, but Scores Some Wins

With nine months’ experience in the Assembly, Liz Ortega will lead the Labor committee after a strike-filled summer and several wins for low-wage workers.

(12/04/2023) → CalMatters

• Oakland Might Have to Pay Developers Millions Over Coal Terminal

An Alameda County judge ruled on Nov. 22 that the city of Oakland thwarted a proposed coal export terminal. The judge will rule if the developer who sued is entitled to $159 million in damages or moving forward with the project.

(12/04/2023) → KQED
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Government Announcements

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Image of City of Lodi seal. City of Lodi   (12/08/2023)

Christmas Tree Disposal

Image of City of Lodi seal. City of Lodi   (12/08/2023)

2024 Mokelumne Current Newspaper seeking student work focused on Mokelumne River Watershed

The upcoming 11th annual Mokelumne Current newspaper is seeking student work from Lodi students focused on the Mokelumne River watershed. Scanned artwork, or typed written work, is due by March 1, 2024 to
Image of City of Lodi seal. City of Lodi   (12/05/2023)

Lodi Fire Santa Truck Routes

Santa Claus is coming to town! Join the Lodi Fire Department this December as we escort Santa around town in the fire truck to spread holiday cheer and support local families.
Image of City of Lodi seal. City of Lodi   (12/05/2023)

Proposition 218 Notification and Protest Hearing Process

The Lodi City Council will consider proposed water and wastewater rate increases at a public hearing at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 17, 2024, at Carnegie Forum, 305 W. Pine Street, Lodi. A majority protest would stop the proposed future rate increases.
Image of City of Tracy seal. City of Tracy   (11/30/2023)

City of Tracy Offers Free Tracer Fixed Route Bus Service this Winter

Tracy, Calif. – Take advantage of free TRACER Fixed Route bus rides to your holiday and winter Tracy destinations beginning December 1, 2023, through February 29, 2024. The TRACER Public Transit System’s Fixed Routes serve all major holiday shopping...
Image of City of Lodi seal. City of Lodi   (11/29/2023)

With nonprofit partnership, City of Lodi expands funding opportunities for local small businesses

The City of Lodi launches its partnership with Sacramento-based nonprofit California Capital FDC to create a new loan program for small businesses and entrepreneurs in the City of Lodi.
Image of City of Tracy seal. City of Tracy   (11/13/2023)

City of Tracy Makes History by Becoming Home to America’s First Commercial Direct Air Capture Facility

Tracy, Calif. – The Tracy City Council proudly welcomed Heirloom, the country’s first commercial Direct Air Capture facility, to the Tracy community at their ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier today. Located at 4750 South Holly Drive in Tracy, the...
Image of City of Lodi seal. City of Lodi   (11/07/2023)

Annual Leaf Removal Program

The City of Lodi will begin its Annual Leaf Removal Program on Monday, November 27, 2023. We need your cooperation for a successful program.
Image of City of Lodi seal. City of Lodi   (11/07/2023)

Community Videos Coming Soon

We are pleased to announce our partnership with CGI Digital to coordinate and produce a series of educational videos highlighting all we have to offer to residents, visitors and businesses.
Image of City of Tracy seal. City of Tracy   (10/24/2023)

Notice of Open Public Comment Period and Hybrid Public Meeting: City of Tracy Draft Housing Element

Tracy, Calif. – The City of Tracy Draft Housing Element is now available for public review and comment through November 6, 2023. Physical copies of the Draft Housing Element are available at Tracy City Hall (333 Civic Center Plaza) and the Tracy...