Jim Hastings was trying to talk with his wife, Inside Publications publisher Cecily Hastings, over lunch in a restaurant at San Francisco’s Ferry Building, but he noticed that he didn’t have her full attention and asked what was distracting her.
The moment proved to be the genesis for Hastings’ new book, “Inside Sacramento: The Most Interesting Neighborhood Places in America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital,” (Inside Publications, $35, 207 pages), a book that highlights businesses, public art and other spaces that reflect the essence of this city.
“I told Jim, ‘You know, I just saw this book on Oakland, and I really think this is something our city could benefit from. And he said, ‘Place your order, and go back and buy it, and bring it back and let’s talk about it,’” Hastings said. “So I did. I ran back and got a copy. ... We looked at it over lunch, and we brought it home.”
Then Hastings studied the guides from Visit Sacramento (formerly Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau) and ordered dozens of publicly and privately financed visitor guides from other cities around the Golden State. She told me she felt like there was a void she could fill.
“Our city is so underappreciated and underrated, not only by outsiders as a destination to visit or as someone who might be considering moving here, but I think also by residents,” Hastings said. “People get married and comfortable in their own neighborhoods, and they don’t realize that a few miles away in another neighborhood, there are so many treasures.”
The book cost roughly $75,000 to produce with $40,000 spent on photography alone. To bankroll the project, Hastings solicited funds from nearly two dozen businesses, business associations and prominent individuals. That list includes Visit Sacramento, the Downtown Sacramento Partnership and developer Mark Friedman of Fulcrum Property.
“It’s like a love letter to everything that makes Sacramento great,” Friedman told me. “The book ... identifies businesses and places that are unique to our community and shows just the originality and beauty of each of them.”
The book features restaurants such as South and Ella as well as public art installations. Geographically, it focuses on the central city and adjacent neighborhoods. At last month’s public launch party, Mayor-elect Darrell Steinberg suggested that residents buy it, use it as their bucket list for experiencing the city and then pass it along to a newcomer.
Hastings is hoping the book will find a spot in every hotel room in the city. They’re available at retailers such as Time-Tested Books (1114 21st St.); Selland’s Market Cafe (5340 H St.) and the Crocker Art Museum gift shop (216 O St.). Order it online at InsideSacBook.com ...
Purely a passion play: Actor and El Dorado Hills native Eric Presnall, 27, paused to take a break from performing last year and instead dove into writing, directing and fundraising for his first short film, “Amusia.”
The film, which tells the story of a young boy who develops a new relationship with music after losing his hearing in a traumatic accident, will have its world premiere at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 13 at Sacramento’s Tower Theatre (2508 Land Park Drive). Tickets are available at eventbrite.com for $7-10.
“I started learning about percussionists and DJs and rock bands that were prominent in the deaf community,” he said. “I loved every second of it. I had a friend who was writing a story loosely based on a child who was deaf, and because we both had a musically driven background in singing and entertaining, we wondered, if that hadn’t been an option for us when we were children, would everything still be the same? As soon as we put the two together, we ended coming up with ‘Amusia.’ ”
Before filming “Amusia,” Presnall had been performing in a couple of touring Broadway shows: “American Idiot” and “Mamma Mia!” He used his earnings from those years to provide initial funding for “Amusia” but was able to recoup his expenditures through an Indiegogo.com campaign that raised nearly $31,000. “Amusia” was largely filmed in the Sacramento region.