Good morning. It’s Wednesday, June 14.
- Small U.S. towns lure California’s remote workers with cash.
- San Francisco mayor fiercely defends drug user crackdown.
- And another L.A. politician ensnared in corruption scandal.
Small towns across the U.S. are offering cash to lure California’s remote workers. Noblesville, a suburb of Indianapolis, has rolled out a suite of enticements: $5,000; coffee with the mayor; memberships at a coworking space, golf club, and the local chamber of commerce. Mariah Zingarelli, a fourth-generation Californian, and her husband took the bait. Three months ago, they bought a 3,500-square-foot, four-bedroom house for $495,000 in Noblesville. L.A. Times
It’s not just the Los Angeles Times that’s in pain.
A week after California’s largest newspaper eliminated 74 newsroom jobs, Southern California Public Radio, which runs LAist, said Tuesday that it was cutting 21 positions, or roughly 10% of its staff. On Monday, DotLA, a tech news site, laid off all eight of its editorial staffers, and the Athletic, the sports site founded in San Francisco, said it would lay off roughly 20 people. A survey released this month found that the year-to-date job losses in the media industry — at least 17,436 — are the highest on record. Axios | L.A. Times
Along Highway 128, connecting the Sacramento Valley to the Mendocino coast, the redwoods form a corridor so tall and dense that the sun can scarcely penetrate it. The 140-mile route meanders by picturesque farmlands, world-class wineries, hot springs, and a remote hamlet where locals still speak a folk language invented in the late 1800s. Afar included Highway 128 in a list of 10 classic California road trips.
Someone asked a popular Reddit forum, “What do you think of when you hear ‘California'” — and got more than 10,000 answers. They were nicer than you might expect. A sampling:
- “‘… knows how to party’
From California Love, Dr Dre/2Pac”
- “National Parks, beaches, redwoods and rivers.”
- “The most beautiful and diverse state in the US.”
- “Proposition 65 that says nearly everything may or may not be carcinogenic.” Reddit
San Francisco Mayor London Breed defended the city’s move to arrest more drug users in a testy exchange with a progressive lawmaker on Tuesday. County Supervisor Dean Preston, who represents the notoriously seedy Tenderloin, pushed back on the policy, noting that Black people have been disproportionately targeted in drug crackdowns. “Here we go,” said Breed, the city’s first female Black mayor, “another white man talking about Black and Brown people as if you’re the savior of those people.” SF Standard | S.F. Chronicle
Some 27,759 fans turned out to see the Oakland Athletics Tuesday night in an orchestrated demonstration of love, dubbed a “reverse boycott,” as the team’s billionaire owner seeks a move to Las Vegas. It was the largest crowd of the season and triple the average of 8,555. The A’s rose to the occasion, extending a winning streak to seven games. But news from Nevada cast a pall over the celebratory mood. On Tuesday, the Nevada Senate voted to approve $380 million in public money for a Las Vegas ballpark for the Athletics. ESPN | Mercury News
A pod of at least 30 orcas gathered in Monterey Bay on Sunday and put on a show that left whale watchers flabbergasted. Nancy Black, a marine biologist who has been studying killer whales for more than 30 years, said it was the best orca sighting she’d ever seen. “Just like kids that are in a park, they get excited and play with the other kids and may be more active,” she said. “The little ones were wrestling and rolling like a bunch of puppies.” The Guardian | S.F. Chronicle
☝️ A giant needle is now poking up from the San Francisco skyline. “Point of Infinity,” a sculpture by Tokyo-born artist Hiroshi Sugimoto, was installed in May atop a hill on Yerba Buena Island as part of a public art program. Rising 69 feet, it will double as a functioning sundial, with a granite stone marking the noon shadow on the spring and autumnal equinoxes. Sugimoto said the structure evokes the idea of curved lines that grow ever closer but never meet: “I wished to make it reach all the way to infinity, but that’s technically impossible.” N.Y. Times | KQED
Give something they’ll open every day.
Prosecutors charged Los Angeles Councilman Curren Price with 10 counts of perjury, embezzlement, and conflict of interest on Tuesday, the latest in a series of corruption scandals to jolt the city’s political establishment. Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said Price, 72, voted to approve projects that benefited developers who paid more than $150,000 to his wife’s consulting firm. Price relinquished his committee assignments but called the charges unwarranted. L.A. Times | LAist
In November, voters in Temecula elected three evangelical Christian candidates to the district school board. Since then, the conservative majority has banned the teaching of critical race theory, blocked a social studies curriculum because it mentioned the gay rights leader Harvey Milk, and on Tuesday fired the district’s highly regarded superintendent. A protest led by teachers gathered outside a board meeting Tuesday. EdSource | KABC
The film “Flamin’ Hot,” about the rise of a real-life Latino executive at Frito-Lay, has been embraced as a triumph by many prominent Latinos. It’s a shame it’s based on a lie, wrote Gustavo Arellano:
“But the details of history don’t matter to [director Eva] Longoria; Mexican pride does. ‘Flamin’ Hot’ is the type of feel-good treacle that high school teachers screened for their Mexican American students when I was coming of age in the 1990s to make us feel better about ourselves.” L.A. Times
When news of the gold discovery in California circled the world in 1848, no population beyond U.S. shores answered the call in greater numbers than the Chinese.
By 1860, migrants from China made up nearly a third of the state’s roughly 83,000 miners. After arduous journeys across the Pacific, often in flight from hunger or warfare, they arrived to the chaotic metropolis of San Francisco with visions of freedom and opportunity. Some prospered, acquiring legal claims in the Sierra foothills.
In the Aug. 15, 1857, edition of Jackson’s Weekly Ledger, a correspondent described an elaborate Chinese mining operation that spread nearly half a mile along the Mokelumne River. “I am informed that this year the river is pretty generally owned by Chinese,” he wrote.
Chinese quarters sprung up in almost every Sierra community, one of which came to be known as a Chinese town. It was called Fiddletown, a hamlet along a tributary to the Mokelumne that was said to have been named for the fiddle-loving Missourians who lived there. Between the 1860s and 1880s, Chinese residents accounted for as much as half of Fiddletown’s population, which hovered around 1,000 souls, according to Elaine Zorbas’s local history “Banished & Embraced.” There was a gambling house, an opium den, and stores that sold Chinese food, clothes, and herbal medicines. The Lunar New Year was celebrated with cymbals, feasting, and firecrackers.
As the Chinese presence in California grew, however, so did the resentment of working-class white settlers who viewed them as competition for gold and jobs. Public officials organized boycotts of Chinese businesses and armed mobs drove Chinese miners off their claims. “The latest amusement,” the Ledger reported on Jan. 26, 1878, is “cutting off a Chinaman’s queue” — the distinctive braid of hair worn hanging from the back of the head.
Fiddletown became a refuge for Chinese migrants fleeing other Gold Country towns. But in time, it too was engulfed by a wave of xenophobia that had spread to the halls of Congress, which in 1882 barred all Chinese immigration. Two years later, arsonists torched Fiddletown’s Chinese section, leaving hundreds of people homeless. At the turn of the century, just 16 Chinese residents remained.
By the 1920s, there was just one: You Fong Chow, who went by Jimmie Chow, the caretaker of the old Chew Kee Herb Shop.
Chow was born in Fiddletown in 1885 to parents who returned to China, leaving the young boy in the custody of the local merchant Chew Kee.
Chow remained his entire life, working as a farm laborer, butcher, and handyman while sending money home to his family in China. According to oral histories included in “Banished,” Chow, a lifelong bachelor, was beloved by the townspeople, who extended regular invitations for dinner and holidays. “He was the most taken care of person you ever met,” Mary Lawrence, the wife of a friend of Chow’s, said in 1979.
When he suffered from arthritis in old age, neighbors cut wood for his stove and replaced his worn roof. Chow died of leukemia in 1965 at the age of 80 and became the only person of Chinese descent to be buried in the Fiddletown cemetery, breaking with the practice of returning remains to China to be buried with ancestors.
The Chew Kee Herb Shop, which Chow had inherited from Kee, became a state landmark. The rammed earth structure still stands, the centerpiece of what Fiddletown now regards as its proudest trait: its Chinese heritage.
Thanks for reading!
The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
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