Hush, Puppy—Cesar Millan
, the Emmy-nominated star of cable television’s “The Dog Whisperer,” bought one of his first pieces of art not long ago at a show that Morgan Stanley rotates among its California offices. The clay sculpture, by Auburn artist J Randall Smith, is of a dog, remote control in paw, watching the TV show in question while enjoying some takeout Chinese food. Millan then donated the piece to the National Geographic Channel, which airs his program, “as a way of saying thank you for his success,” according to Smith. It’s now on permanent display at the channel’s corporate headquarters in Washington, D.C. That alone was a heady experience for Smith, most of whose sculptures are abstract pieces he’s branded “kraku”—a bit of wordplay based on the fact that he first creates recognizable objects using an ancient Japanese firing process called raku then deliberately cracks them up and randomly reassembles them. But the thrills continued when he, his wife, Catherine, and daughter, Marin Nicole Boggs, were invited to attend a big Emmy party in Hollywood. Alas, “The Dog Whisperer” didn’t cop the award that night. (I think the category was Best Cable Show Avidly Watched by Approximately 147 people.) Instead, it went to “Extreme Makeover, Home Edition.” (My money had been on “Desperate Housepets” or “CSI: Kennel.”) Smith’s work, which you can enjoy at his website (jrandallsmith.com), is, like his first name, unique. The “J” (no period) is the first letter of a Danish name pronounced Yeppie. Smith isn’t remotely Danish, however. “A man of that name told my grandfather that if he named his first grandson after him, he’d supply me with overalls my whole life,” Smith says. “I don’t think we ever saw the overalls, but that’s how I got the name.” Not a bad story. Overall.
Getting the Lead Out—In her 26 years with Club Pheasant—the landmark, mostly Italian restaurant in West Sacramento—Sheila Schuford has turned one of the banes of waitressing into a kind of karmic experience. Since customers are always walking off with her pens after they sign their credit card bills, Schuford carries at least 10 pens in her apron at all times. She freely dispenses them and doesn’t sweat it when people fail to return them, unintentionally or otherwise. But when customers leave behind their own pens, she grabs them off the table and adds them to her revolving collection. (That’s the karmic part, in case you wondered if I was going to get back to that. Well, of course I was. What goes around comes around.) Schuford is 52. She lives with her mom, Jodie Schuford, who worked at Club Pheasant for 37 years and is the same age as the place: 71. “Our careers overlapped for a while,” Sheila says. “And even now, Mom can outwork me any day of the week when we do remodeling projects at home.” Projects that pencil out, natch.
Greco Roamin’—This is for those of you who frequent Il Fornaio in downtown Sacramento or either of the area’s Piatti restaurants and wondered whatever became of the charming, diligent Greek-American Panos Joulios, who managed all three places at different times. Well, he decided to give his career a vitamin boost by signing on as a regional manager with Jamba Juice, the chain of fruit-drink shops that also funds a transitional school to provide education for homeless kids. Joulios ended his e-mail response to my inquiry as to his whereabouts with the Greek word “Yiasou!”—which, as you know, means either “Howdy!” or “Remove me from this mailing list at once.”