(This is the 21st installment in a weekly series with people who don’t work in journalism commenting on the news. Photography by Kevin Fiscus. If you’d like to participate, message or tweet me.)
Meet Christopher Hagel.
He’s 33, grew up in Curtis Park, graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine, lives in Fair Oaks and works outdoors.
In addition to being one of the “funny assholes” of local Twitter, he’s an art lover, a BloodSource 10 gallon blood donor, a sandwich aficionado and a “big media junkie.”
We met for the first time in September at Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co. to talk about the city of Sacramento and his thoughts on the news.
Of all the local Twitter satirists, Christopher may be my favorite pragmatist. His tweets are funny, quirky and more critical than cynical. He says he enjoys sharing news, following local gossip and tries to be apolitical.
“I’m not here for any arguments,” he says.
Scattered among a fondness for gourds, trash talking coffee drinkers and plans for a bloodless coup of Metro EDGE, Christopher has some pretty good ideas. He’d like to see the “Walk of Stars” replaced with a “Walk of Trees” wherein a tree is planted with a plaque to honor locals, a permanent farmer’s market housed in a historical depot at the downtown railyards and, maybe, a train that acts as its own farmers market stopping at multiple stations selling produce.
While he’s certainly no fan of branding before substance (see: DOCO), he’s grown to appreciate the region as an adult and considers himself optimistic. Read between the tweets and you’ll find a man partial to the people over any new development.
“We’re not LA,” Hagel says. “We’re Sacramento goddamnit. We definitely don’t dress as nice but we’re good people.”
Christopher answered the following questions by email about how he gets the news. Text submitted August 22.
How do you get your news?
NPR, Gawker, POLITICO, The New Yorker (for in-depth articles) The Guardian, BBC, The Economist, Business Insider, Sacramento Business Journal, Cowtown Eats, Eater and Variety. The Sacramento Bee, the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle are my trifecta for California news.
I like local television news for important tree falling stories and meth lab explosions. 😉
I get my news all online except the Sacramento Bee. I generally use my phone for all my news reading, but I’m old fashioned in that I still listen to plain ole radio and watch TV rather than downloading it online.
What’s the first news event you remember?
The Berlin Wall sticks in my mind as one of my earliest news’ related memories. I remember being up a little later one night and seeing strangely dressed people with weird hair. European style was strange to me as a child and it still is to some extent. I remember them standing on the wall and I remember the lighting being different. It was news footage rather than a sitcom with ‘perfect’ lighting.
What content do you pay for?
I pay for basic cable. I generally watch sports on TV and when I watch movies in the theater or Redbox them from time to time.
What’s the last great thing you ate?
Any sandwich anywhere, but particularly at Roxie Deli and Hook & Ladder.
Who’s doing it right in news?
NPR and BBC in that they both are concise and to the point, cover almost the entire world, and they also have lighter stories from time to time.
It’s the 45th anniversary of NPR. I’m celebrating by building a fort out of tote bags.
— Chris Hagel (@MullingHagel) February 26, 2015
BBC News: Where I attempt to figure out the accents of all the presenters down to the shire they come from.
— Chris Hagel (@MullingHagel) June 14, 2014
Name the three most important issues facing Sacramento.
(1) Homelessness, which includes housing and mental health — It’s an important issue to me because I see it every day in Sacramento. Why is the capital of the 8th largest economy in the world not able to provide basic housing, mental health services and human dignity to our downtrodden? How to fix it? Using the housing first philosophy which has worked in Salt Lake City, providing mental health and addiction treatment programs and job training. Politicians are not willing to make it a priority. Housing people is not cool and sexy as a new arena.
People are afraid of the homeless because there but for the grace of God go us. It reminds us how easily we could end up like that.
— Chris Hagel (@MullingHagel) November 25, 2014
A major issue that remains is when foster children turn 18. There is not enough support for them as adults, and many end up homeless.
— Chris Hagel (@MullingHagel) February 16, 2015
(2) Income inequality — More of a broader issue, but I think better wages would help. More people working at better wages even if this means cutting down hours in the workweek. The more people working the more stake they have in their own lives and our society and the more tax dollars they pay. Work gives a person meaning.
Every issue, every problem our society has. It all comes back to income inequality for me.
— Chris Hagel (@MullingHagel) March 26, 2015
(3) Environmentalism and conservation — California is overpopulated and in a severe drought. We must learn to live in harmony with nature again. Create what could be best described as a neo-agrarian society where technology and traditions working together can help us better utilize and conserve our resources.
California water conservation: Seems like a combination of tax benefits for saving water and tax penalties for wasting it are needed.
— Chris Hagel (@MullingHagel) March 5, 2015
What do you absolutely hate about the news?
Any news that doesn’t stick to the facts or tries to twist them for political reasons, or when the writer of a story makes it more about himself/herself than the issue at hand.
What’s the most important issue to you that’s not being covered well enough?
Implicit bias that affects how public servants do their jobs. I bring this up due to the lack of diversity in Sac PD. I heard Sac PD is in the process of training on implicit bias so that is good. I think California is getting better at inclusion, but we can always do better.
If you could be anywhere, an-hour-and-a-half drive away, where would you be?
The Marin Headlands just north of San Francisco. My father grew up in Marin County and I love driving over the Golden Gate Bridge to go to the rugged nature and the Pacific Ocean.
Follow Christopher (@MullingHagel) on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.