From the Editor:
s you can see, there is not a lot of space for me this month. With the space I have, there are a few things to say. First, this is our Winter double issue. When next we see you, it will be Feburary 2010. We are all a pretty ragged bunch, and the time off will help us to recuperate. We’ll be back, rested and ready to go.
of articles and photo essays that explore issues surrounding public art and highlighting some of the best public art Fresno has to offer. Third, as for our covers, we have decided to feature two murals from around town. The pieces we feature are from two artists we have featured on the cover in the past. We have made a concerted effort to Second, this month’s issue focus- feature a new artist on the cover each es on public art. We have a wonderful set month, but as much of the public art
To the Editor
around town has been produced by artists we’ve featured in the past, it was difficult not to replicate featured artists. The Issue 7a cover features a piece by Robert Amador from the Vagabond Lofts. The Issue 7b cover features a portion of the large Econo Inn mural at 1828 Broadway Street in downtown. This portion is comprised mostly of work by Eatcho & Josh Wigger. That’s all for now, more later...
species. Fresh water, through US Navy air- themselves up by their bootstraps and built a gleaming modern nation-state for themcraft carrier technology, but land based. If the Arabs can build air conditioned majestic selves, while the other (the Palestinians) 10-30-09 buildings…they can kick down some “duck- have just spent their time blowing shit up ets” to their Palestinian brothers and sisters. and infighting. This analysis is also not unread the Palestine Report by Abid Yahya subtly racist. You are glossing entirely over If the Palestinians really want to and wondered…Why should America and the fact that Israel was able to succeed in Israel decide the fate of the Palestinian peo- make some money…can you say opium the desert to the extent that she has precisely poppies and marijuana??? Why let the ple? Where is the Arab money to help because of her oppression and exploitation Afghans corner that market? America has Palestine?? Why haven’t rich oil countries of the Palestinian people. millions and millions of customers with pumped billions into Palestine? If the Jews And your frustration at the failure can build 1,000 new homes for Jews—why mommy and daddy’s money! How about of rich Arab nations to come to the aid of haven’t the rich Arabs helped the Palestinian meth?? The Palestinian people need lead- Palestinians also makes a dangerous suggespeople build 10,000 on their land? The tion. You seem to think that, because ers who will invest a dollar and get water, Arabs can make islands in the sea, build food, energy in return, and outdo the Jewish Palestinians are mostly Arab, only Arab golf courses around golf courses and golf nations are morally obligated to help them. brothers who, since 1948, have created a courses galore, but the rich Arab countries While I share your frustration that Arab cannot build homes and water delivery sys- nice place for their people. I’ve always believed…anything the Jews can accomstates have not done more to help the tems [for the Palestinians]? plish…the Palestinian people (with good Palestinians, I’m also frustrated that every Yasser Arafat got billions of dolleaders) can do also! nation hasn’t done more. The Palestinian lars through the Palestinian Authority and Doesn’t Sharia law state…richer plight is not just an Arab problem. where oh where did that money go? brothers should help the less fortunate. Rather than Arab countries coming Certainly not to the Palestinian people! Remember, wealth and a good economy can to the aid of suffering Palestinians, a better Some non-terrorist Arab nations are using accomplish more than destructive actions! and more direct solution to the problems American help in designing, planning, and facing the Palestinians would be for Israel to building water delivery systems in the land Peace be with you, my Arab brother! end its brutal, military occupation of of the pyramids to turn 1 million acres of John Sanchez Palestinian land, the very cause of said desert into food-producing acreage—why problems, but in the absence of that option, can’t the Arab countries help Palestine? The _____ I agree that Arab states should step and help, Palestinian Authority can build power staohn, but (and this is critical) also a perfectly tions using “ocean wave” technology, to acceptable option would be for countries turn ocean waves into electricity. The full of white Christians or brown Catholics Palestinian Authority can use US Navy techFirst off, thanks for reading the report and or black non-Arab Muslims, for example, to nology to turn sea water into fresh water. help the Palestinians. I don’t care where the The Palestinian Authority can do far more to thanks for sending your letter. While I agree with your various points about ways help comes from, so long as they get help. help its people…if they have the balls to ask in which Palestinian “leaders” have let I reject your notion that countries for Arab help and IMF money to build and down (and even betrayed) the Palestinian of a certain ethnicity are the only ones turn Palestine into a modern-day Babylon! people, responsible for helping their own kind. In I haven’t even mentioned solar I take issue with a few of your other points. fact, your false assumption that I am an power to build power stations and vegetaFirst of all, Israel is a political Arab betrays your belief in that idea. I write bles to sell to the Jews! The Jews have built state, and not every Israeli is Jewish, not by a column defending the rights of the a manufacturing base in that part of the a long shot. So to refer to the actions of Palestinians, so I must be Arab, right? Why world that boggles the mind. I won’t even Israel as the actions of “the Jews” is miswould an Anglo or a Latino or a half Dehsi go into the medical technology field that leading, and dangerously so. care? they have built from scratch! Since 1948, Secondly, your analysis of the sitI want to live in a world where we the desert in Jewish lands has blossomed uation (in which you are frustrated at the all help each other, where we’re all coninto a force to be reckoned with. cerned about suffering—anyone’s, anyI will stay away from military dis- failure of the Palestinians to build opulent displays of modern capitalist wealth and in where. cussion because I want to talk about peace Thanks again for your letter. (no war) and the production of food, water, awe of Israel’s success in that regard) is a dangerous, oversimplified way of looking at Hope to hear from you again. and industries that will help the individual Palestinian!!! There should be a tree-plant- it. It suggests that there were, in 1947, these two peoples, both in a vast empty desert, Sincerely, ing system in Palestine (figs, dates, pomegranates by the thousands of acres) to sell to one of which (the Israelis) have since pulled Abid Yahya customers in surrounding countries. The Undercurrent, as an independent newspaper (of, by, and for the people), brings together a lot of different folks with a Why no oil exploration?? The lot of different ideas. That being said, The Undercurrent itself does not endorse any of the views expressed in its pages, but Palestinians can build fish farms off the endorses wholeheartedly the necessity of expressing views in all their variety—openly, honestly, and with an aim for the truth, whatever it turns out to be. To that end, we encourage our readers to send us letters. We’ll print them without edit. coast and provide fish for their people and When a letter addresses a particular article, we’ll let the writer respond. When it addresses the paper as a whole, we’ll sell the surplus to their neighbors (tilapia, respond. In this way, together, we’ll inch our collective way closer and closer to the truth. catfish in fresh water) and local salt water
Editorial Board Carlos Fierro Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Jessi Hafer Editor email@example.com Matt Espinoza Watson Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Abid Yahya Editor email@example.com Contributors:
Chris Acree Joe Aguayo Christy Arndt Christy Cole Vince Corsaro William Delara Teresa Flores Cheryl Freeland Juan C Garcia Paul Gilmore Steve Ingeman Gena Kirby Chuck McNally Antoinette Nelson Nicholas Nocketback Michael Luis Medrano Carlos “DB” Montaño Everardo Pedraza H Peter Steeves Ed Stewart Adam Wall
Christy Arndt Chuck McNally Matt Espinoza Watson Abid Yahya For advertising inquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For letters to the editor, please email email@example.com. For submission information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For subscription information, visit FresnoUndercurrent.net or send a check for $35 to “The Undercurrent” P.O. Box 4857, Fresno, CA 93744.
©2009 Out of respect for our contributors, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the permission of the Editor-in-Chief.
ON THE MEDIA Taking the Swine Out of Swine Flu 4 by Carlos Fierro SCIENCE, HEALTH, & ENVIRONMENT 5 5 6 7
Cultivating Consciousness: Shower the People You Love, With Love by Gena Kirby Integral Vision: Reaching Out to Our Male Youth: An Integral Approach to Healing the Next Generation of Men by Juan C Garcia, Everardo Pedraza, & Cheryl Freeland Holi-Daze Dos and Don’ts by Juan C Garcia Invisible Scars by William Delara
FEATURED TOPIC: PUBLIC ART 8,9 28,29
L ABOR 13 LOCAL 14
Public Art Around Town footwork and photos by Joe Aguayo Resisting Constricting Art
by Teresa Flores
GROW!: Why We Love Margaret Hudson
by Chuck McNally
From the Lost Socratic Dialogues: “The Xristos” discovered by Steve Ingeman & H Peter Steeves
SEIU is Coming Apart at the Seams by Abid Yahya
Fire Liar Dyer by Chuck McNally The Last Stand of Van Ness Auto Repair by Chris Acree
AfterWords by Carlos Fierro & Abid Yahya
STATE, NATIONAL, INTERNATIONAL The Palestine Report 16 by Abid Yahya
CALENDAR 18 20
The Undercurrent’s indie PREVIEW
MUSIC [RE]VIEWS 21 22
Meet the Musicmakers: Meet Wheels of Fortune by Christy Arndt The Sci-Fi Nightmares reviewed by Joe Aguayo
PLUGS & PROFILES 23 23
Food Not Bombs’ 1st Annual Cupcake Contest and Benefit Show by Chuck McNally
Daniel Chavez Jr and The Rocky Horror Show by Abid Yahya
The Grouch is Coming to Town by Abid Yahya The Bill Rojas Benefit by Carlos “DB” Montaño
Stop Radio Hate Campaign by Carlos Fierro
Wherever There’s a Fight reviewed by Paul Gilmore
Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar reviewed by Jessi Hafer
GAME [RE]VIEWS 27
Bored? Games!: Cribbage reviewed by Joe Aguayo & Jessi Hafer
EATS & DRINKS 30
Tower Dogs reviewed by Jessi Hafer
Bacchus Blurb: 2001 Navarro Lopez Tempranillo by Carlos Fierro
The View Looks Good From Here, Fresno by Adam & Ed
Green Up Your Thumb: African Violets 101 by Christy Cole
Misfortune Cookies by Nick Nocketback
3 Poems by Antoinette Nelson
SHORT FICTION 34
3 Flash Fiction Pieces by Michael Luis Medrano
Taking the Swine out of Swine Flu by Carlos Fierro
’ve been meaning to write about swine flu again for quite sometime. A few months back, I discussed the media’s recatagorizing of swine flu as a problem of Mexicans, namely because unpapered immigrants don’t have the same PR resources that the pig slaughtering industry does.
Early on, swine flu was seen as a problematic tag for the pig slaughtering industry, and so the PR and lobbying front for the pig slaughtering industry worked to get the swine removed from swine flu. Newspapers and media were pretty compliant, as a number of stories ran connecting swine flu with unpapered Mexicans. As a few voices started breaking though concerning the racist and misleading nature of such reports, the Mexican-centered nature of reporting started tapering off. But while this was happening, a second front had already opened up. Rather than continue the “blame the Mexicans” strategy, the attempt was made to simply change the way the epidemic was referred to. In April 2009, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) convened a hearing to discuss the “so-called swine flu.” Iowa happens to slaughter and export more pigs for meat than any other state. At the same time, campaigns were under way to change the name of the virus to “North American Influenza,” among others. It was not long after that the Obama administration made a concerted effort to act as flacks for the pig slaughtering industry. In an April 28 press briefing with Homeland Defense secretary Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, “This really isn’t swine flu. It’s H1N1 virus” (http://alturl.com/gxp6). In a follow up press release, Vilsack continued his Newspeak concerning swine flu: “Before I discuss these points, I would like to note that when I reference ‘2009-H1N1 flu,’ I am referring to the novel flu virus currently causing human illness, not flu viruses typically found in swine”
(http://alturl.com/rst2). At some very inconsequential level, Vilsack is sort of right; the virus he referred to as 2009-H1N1 flu is not typically found in pigs. But what makes the statement misleading is that it is made to disassociate the flu from pigs altogether. Yes, the flu that is affecting people is not found in pigs, but it did in fact mutate from pigs, so though swine flu is not found in pigs, the precursor of swine flu did in fact come from pigs. Referring to this flu as H1N1 is, in some ways, less descriptive than “swine flu.” Whereas swine flu refers to the variant that jumped from pigs, H1N1 refers to any number of flu viruses currently making the rounds. According to NPR science correspondent Richard Knox, “within the scientific community—and within CDC—there is a lot of tension about the Obama administration’s insistence that the virus be referred to as ‘H1N1.’ Scientifically, H1N1 is a confusing term for this new flu virus. Two-thirds of the everyday flu viruses making the rounds this flu season are H1N1. And various forms of H1N1 have circulated in humans between 1918 and 1957, and then from 1977 until the present” (http://alturl.com/vy3x). What is worse is the fact that the reason that the government (the Obama administration in particular) has muddied the waters is because of the fear that the association between the flu and pigs will hurt the pig slaughtering industry. As C Larry Pope told the New York Times, “Swine flu is a misnomer. They need to be concerned about influenza, but not eating pork.” Yet in fact, it is our consumption of pork that has led to such things as swine flu. We pack tens of thousands of animals in small areas that are breeding grounds for new virus variants, and as these variants jump from animal to human hosts, they wreak havoc. Yet, the media continually avoids the swine in “swine flu.”
You Spin Me Right Round
The administration, media, & industry engage in a little Newspeak
“This really isn't swine flu. It's H1N1 virus. That's very, very important. And it is significant because there are a lot of hard-working families whose livelihood depends on us conveying this message of safety. And it's not just simply pork production. It's also grain farmers because markets are very sensitive. They react to positive news. They also react to negative news. And the livelihoods of a lot of people are at stake here, and we want to reinforce the fact that we're doing everything we possibly can to make sure that our hog industry is sound and safe, and to make sure that consumers in this country and around the world know that American products are safe.” Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, April 28, 2009 “Pigs can be consumed, the lobbyists insisted; they can even be petted and hugged, or tickled until they squeal. But pork cannot be blamed for the pandemonium gripping the globe. The culprit, evidently, is H1N1, a strain of the flu virus. If only folks could remember that, the lobbyists said.” Washington Post, Pork Lobbyists, Ready to Reassure, May 4, 2009 “Some importers [China] don’t understand…you can’t catch Swine Flu from eating pork.”
“Swine Flu has nothing to do with pigs, right? I mean, pigs don’t catch it, right?” Contessa Brewer & Melissa Francis, MSNBC, May 4, 2009 “Referring to this virus strain as ‘swine flu’ mischaracterizes the genetic makeup of this virus and inaccurately conveys the notion that the virus is being transmitted by swine.” Bill Hall, acting assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, USA Today, April, 30, 2009
The first few weeks after the baby is born are exciting and exhausting. In our society we have gotten away from communal living. We no longer have extended families living in homes. We have managed to isolate new mothers, setting them up to fail. In many other cultures there is a period of time after the birth of the baby dedicated to nurturing or mothering the mother. The mother doesn’t play hostess but instead is showered with loving attention. Food is brought to her and she is allowed time to rest and heal, she just had a baby you know. For my “shower” for my third child I held a Blessing Way ceremony. My guests were greeted at the front door by a sign on a small table with a bowl of water afloat with rose petals. The sign suggested my guests wash their hands and symbolically leave any negative thoughts regarding pregnancy or birth in the bowl. My guests took lengths of yarn and tied them to their wrists and passed the yarn on around the circle until we were all bound together in a symbolic gesture reflecting our tie as women, daughters and mothers, and representing the symbolism of the baby tied to the mother via the umbilical cord. We then passed around scissors and broke the chain, with my guests promising to wear the yarn bracelet until I gave birth. I had them write down their fears about my impending homebirth on bits of paper. After they wrote them we put them in a jar and later after everyone left I shredded them in the paper shredder in my office without reading them. I asked my guests specifically not to bring gifts. What I requested instead was that they each sign up on pre-made forms to do any number of things. I had a dinner list assigned, and on the list I had seven places to sign up to bring dinner each day for seven days after the arrival of the baby. I had a sign-up sheet specifically for clean up, dishes, laundry, and bath time for my other children. I even had a list made up for baby holding so I would have time to just take a shower. My guests were thrilled to be able to help and I’m sure it didn’t hurt that they saved a little money, too. The ceremony was focused on me and the baby and not on things you can buy. If you are invited to a shower, give the gift of time, because it’s the most important gift you can give. Your love and true presence, not presents will be appreciated. _____ Gena Kirby is a wife, mother, Doula, Childbirth Educator, and creator of mommymattersonline.com. She is the creator and host of the radio show, “Progressive Parenting,” which airs every Thursday at 1pm on KFCF 88.1 FM. _____ *For more information on safe bed sharing, visit www.attachmentparentinginternational.org.
Shower the People You Love with Love
nvariably, as a Doula and childbirth educator, I will hear my clients bemoan their feelings of unpreparedness. Are they afraid they won’t be good parents; are they afraid of how their lives will change? Yes, but after some probing, what I discovered to be the greatest worry is that they haven’t bought the things they think they need. So, I go down the list that I have put together over the last seven years of experience as a mother: l Arms, yours or your partner’s. l Breasts, preferably mom’s. l A bed (your baby can share yours safely).* l Diapers. l A sling or wrap to carry baby comfortably with
you. l A blanket or two (any regular blanket cut in half or fourths will do). l Baby clothes.
That’s it, seriously. Most couples look at me as if I must be joking. I am not. Our culture has not only convinced women that they are not responsible for their own births and that they don’t know how to birth, but that they can’t be good mothers unless they buy all or most of the necessary gadgets to do so. When I look back at the registry I had put together as a first time mom, I have to laugh. I had registered for over $2300.00 worth of stuff! That’s a ton of money! I ended up with a gorgeous crib (that we never used), a changing table (that we never used), a big stroller (that got used about 12 times the first year...we used the sling a lot!), a ton of clothes (out-grown in 2 months) and the craziest of all, a Diaper Genie! After we found out how much the refill of plastic bags cost it was quickly put on Craigslist. After our daughter was one year old, I made it my mission to tell all of my friends how ridiculous all of the gifts we couldn’t wait for turned out to be. The best gift was our daughter in the end. What I wish I could’ve asked for at my first shower was for my friends and relatives to give their time.
Reaching Out to Our Male Youth: An Integral Approach to Healing the Next Generation of Men
feelings and “be a man” without ever knowing what a healthy man looks like. Fr. Richard Rohr, spirituality author and progressive •43% of U.S. children live withFranciscan priest, has stated that out their father. underneath a lot of male anger and •The number of single mother violence is unacknowledged grief. households has increased 304% Countless males have not been since 1960. taught healthy ways to grieve their •90% of homeless and runaway losses; they have not been taught children are from fatherless how to confront, integrate and homes. heal their life’s painful experi•60% of youth suicides are from ences. It is common for men and boys to simply repress their emofatherless homes. tions, act tough, and “move on” •U.S. gang membership has increased from 50,000 in 1975 to with their lives, only to experience relationship difficulties with their 730,000 in 2002. wives, girlfriends, significant oth•71% of high school dropouts ers, co-workers and authority figcome from fatherless homes. ures such as teachers and employ•85% of incarcerated youth come ers. Un-integrated, imbalanced from fatherless homes. and unhealed men continue to (www.boystomenccc.org) extend this dysfunction in their •And just recently, here in the relationships with their children, Central Valley, we have witnessed and thereby continue to perpetuate the expansion of our Juvenile a cycle of dysfunction, addiction, Hall, the majority of which is pop- violence, sadness, grief, shame, ulated by boys of color. and anger. Beyond this current crisis These statistics are daunt- in the male psyche and spirit, ing, but underscore the crisis that there is hope, which is even more our society is experiencing. It real, that ushers in a new way of highlights the contemporary crisis relating to life’s pain and wounds, of the male psyche and spirit. to transform them into sacred Males in our community are carwounds of healing power. This rying unhealed wounds into their says that one has gone through the adult lives; they’re aging without pain and come to a place of conthe tools to befriend and process frontation, integration, forgivetheir inner grief and childhood ness, healing and transcendence. wounds of abuse, be they physiThis is the place of real masculine cal, psychological, verbal or sexual. Many men simply stuff their Vision continued next page... id you know that…
energy and power that inspires, that lights the fire in the belly to go after and reach their goals, and transform their lives. This kind of energy not only changes their lives, but the life of our own community, culture, and world. Carl Jung stated, “Every time we take a step toward healing and wholeness, we bring the whole universe with us.” Indeed, we are all interrelated, and the healing of one person is the healing of all. In Fresno, we have taken steps to promote this process of integration, healing, and transformation of the male psyche and spirit. We have had three decades of combined experience in men’s work and male spirituality. This past summer we worked with a group of teenage boys interested in learning healthy ways to become men. In a six-week initiatory program, they were acquainted with being able to speak about their emotional life as well as clarifying goals in honest and sincere ways. They learned to practice a non-discursive (without words) form of contemplative prayer, or silent meditation, known as Centering Prayer. At the end of the pilot program, they were presented with the opportunity to attend a male Rite of Passage Adventure Weekend (ROPAW) in Santa Barbara, California, a challenge that they took. Here is what Max, one of the participants and current youth leaders says about the Rite of Passage Adventure Weekend he experienced on September 4-6, 2009:
“What I liked the most about the rite-of-passage experience were the people I met...inspiring people...from different parts of the world...[who] taught me important things. To see people you have never met explain the deepest, personal parts of themselves is so interesting to watch and to take part of; I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to gain life experience. Plus, more than half of the people there are totally hilarious. Would I recommend this to other teenagers? Oh yeah, most definitely. I don’t want to say that you’ll come out of it as a different person, but there’s definitely some change, and it’s definitely positive. As I said, if you’re looking to gain life experience, or even if you’re feeling troubled, I guarantee that it would be a great decision to go. I was even a little unsure about it when I went, but afterwards, I had no regrets whatsoever. It’s a positive experience, something strange and unforgettable, and I absolutely recommend it to anyone and everyone.” The boys who participate in the initiation process are called Journeymen, or J-Men, for short; no longer considered boys, they are on their way, on their journey to becoming men. The Journeymen group meets twice per month beginning in January and throughout 2010. We also run a men’s Integration Group, or I-Group, which is open to men who are over the age of 21. We have similar processes in this group, which are geared more toward the adult male (and which we will cover in more detail in February’s column of Integral Vision). Also, we will cover the theme of the new science of change, neuroscience, which, when combined with contemplative practice, creates new neuro-pathways toward liberation. ______ Anyone who is interested in learning more, or has questions or comments, may contact Juan Garcia at (559)229-3085 or email@example.com, or Everardo Pedraza at (559)230-9736 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Holi-Daze Dos and Don’ts
any factors may contribute to the holiday blues: increased stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, inability to be with family, memories of past holiday celebrations, over-commercialization, change in diet, change in daily routines, and a lack of money to buy gifts. There is a long list of recommended Dos and Don’ts for managing your holiday blues. The most important things to remember are that it’s a normal response to a stress-filled time of the year, and you don’t have to suffer unnecessarily. Find someone to talk with who can help you through this difficult time—a family member, friend, member of the clergy, physician or professional counselor. Do follow the three basics for good health: Eat right, get plenty of rest, and exercise regularly. For peace of mind, organize your time: Make lists, prioritize, make a budget and follow it.
THE DOs OF MANAGING HOLIDAY BLUES •Do let go of the past and create new or different ways to celebrate. •Do allow yourself to feel sad, lonely, or melancholy—these are normal feelings, particularly at holiday times. •Do something for someone else. •Do enjoy activities that are friendly. •Do spend time with people who care about you. •Do spend time with new people or a different set of friends or family. •Do contact someone with whom you have lost touch with. •Do treat yourself as a special holiday guest. •Do give yourself a break—plan to prepare (or buy) one special gift, and take in one special event. The rest can be ordinary, but will seem special because of the time of year and the people you’re with. •Make gifts, send letters, or make a family newsletter. THE DON’Ts OF MANAGING HOLIDAY BLUES •Don’t drink too much alcohol. •Don’t overindulge in holiday foods, especially those high in sugar and fat. •Don’t have unrealistic expectations of yourself and others. •Don’t dwell on the past. •Don’t focus on what you don’t have. •Don’t spend money that you don’t have. ______ If anyone has concerns or needs to talk to someone during the holidays, you can call Fresno Family Counseling Center at 229-3085 and someone will either answer or get back to you. ______ Dr. Juan G. Garcia is a contemplative therapist and professor of Counselor Education at CSU Fresno. He can be reached at email@example.com.
by Dr Juan Garcia
(1) Josh Wigger (in the alley behind the Econo Inn at 1828 Broadway Street downtown) (2) Mike Howe (on the side of the Pearl Building on Fulton downtown) (3) Robert Amador (Vagabond Lofts at 1805 Broadway Street) (4) Josh Wigger (Vagabond Lofts) (5) Mike Howe & Josh Wigger (Iron Bird Lofts on Divisadero & Fulton) (6) Mike Howe, Robert Amador, & Josh Wigger (across Echo Street from Fresno High School)
(1) The Yokuts Indian by Clement Renzi (RIP) (on the Fulton Mall) (2) Brandon Greer (atop the Iron Bird Lofts at Divisadero and Fulton) (3) Brandon Greer (atop the Iron Bird Lofts) (4) The Visit by Clement Renzi (on the Fulton Mall) (5) Brandon Greer (in the Vagabond Lofts courtyard) (6) La Grand Laveuse by Pierre Auguste Renoir (Yes, a Renoir on the Fulton Mall) (7) Arbre Echelle by Francois Stahly (on the Fulton Mall) (8) Clock Tower by Jan De Swaart (on the Fulton Mall)
RESISTING CONSTRICTING ART: We Don’t Need No Stinkin Regulations Public art
by Teresa Flores
o there we were, eight artists standing on the sidewalk in the Tower District in the middle of a press conference. Local TV reporters, newspaper writers, supporters and anybody with a camera in their pocket surrounded us as Pastor Tim Goetz from The Well Community Church explained to the community how the 150-foot mural that we had painted on the side of The Well’s Good Neighbor Thrift Store had never intended to shock or offend the neighbors along Wilson Street, or any part of the community for that matter. When the store manager agreed to let us paint the Tower District’s newest mural, he was excited to have the store support an addition to the many murals that have been painted in the Tower District and the Cultural Arts District. In the course of two weeks, he wasn’t expecting neighbors to be arguing in the street about it, or news trucks to show up three times a day for live broadcasts after it was vandalized. And, well, neither were we. Following Josh Wigger’s lead, we worked for weeks to gather donated paint from the community, called out to the other artists we knew to join us, and searched far and wide for just a wall for all of us to paint on. Standing in front of so many cameras was astonishing for us all.
History (FCASH) brought up the idea of initiating an official, city-sanctioned mural policy. A draft of it had already been written by the Fresno Arts Council in 2007 and approved by the Board of Supervisors for all public art projects funded by Fresno County, but it was never officially put into place within the city of Fresno. With the timing of the controversy, it would seem to be the perfect opportunity to slip these guidelines into place and interrupt the renaissance of public art happening in the city. The absence of mural guidelines has allowed an entire art movement to flourish. Local developer Reza Assemi, who has played a big part in making the recent murals in town a reality, says, “One of the things that makes Fresno beautiful is the artistic freedom we have. Private property owners can get together with artists and make decisions about what they want on their walls.” With such an open atmosphere, artists have had the ability to create public artwork that is true to their vision—a freedom not always available to public artists. “None of those pieces would’ve gone up if we had guidelines,” he explains. “You look at cities they’re using as examples, like Portland, and the guidelines are so constricting, you don’t see any good public art coming out of places In the past ten years, sixteen murals have been painted downtown in like that. Why stifle the movement that’s happening?” the Cultural Arts District and many In an interview on Valley others are scattered throughout the Public Radio, mayor Ashley Tower District and along Olive Swearengin said, “I love public art. I Avenue. A large amount of these love the murals that we see in downmurals have been painted on privately town Fresno… I’m excited about owned buildings and funded through what’s going on, and the rejuvenation Creative Fresno. At this point in time, of the cultural arts community we’ve the City of Fresno has no set guideseen in recent years.” While it’s good lines or policies on privately funded public art, particularly murals, but the to hear that the mayor supports the murals, in the same interview she also controversy that has been generated talks about her support for regulating around this mural has sparked the them. These two positions contradict question of a need for guidelines. In the days that followed the each other, because, had there been regulations in place, none of the controversy surrounding the mural, murals that she loves would have ever Cynthia Cooper from the Fresno been painted. Coalition for the Arts, Science and
For over a month now, talk about mural guidelines and a policy becoming official has been in the air. Several meetings have been held to discuss what might be included within them, but none of the eight artists—several of whom have completed a majority of Fresno’s most recent murals—have been invited to any of these meetings to voice their opinion. At the time of writing this article, the controversy over the Wilson street mural seems like it will not be going away anytime soon. Representatives from The Well have met with the neighbors in the community and have recorded their concerns and suggested changes to the mural. Among these changes are requiring the woman (that Ramiro Martinez painted) to have her (already nondescript) breasts covered, and that the menacing figures hovering over the baby (by Mike Howe) be changed to be not so menacing… And from what it seems, neither of the artists are willing to modify their work. Now, some might say that this is exactly why a mural commission or guidelines are necessary, but the fact is that, if the guidelines were official city policy, this piece of artwork never would have been allowed to begin with. And yes, controversy would have been avoided, but a beautiful work of art also would never have been created. ______ Teresa Flores graduated from Fresno State in 2008 with a BA in Art with an emphasis in Drawing and Painting. Her artwork has been shown in several venues around Fresno including the Rogue Festival and Arte Americas. She is an experimental/documentary filmmaker and her films have been shown in Fresno and Los Angeles. She currently teaches at California Arts Academy and the Fresno Art Museum and dodges crumpled papers as a substitute teacher.
f you’re from Fresno, you have undoubtedly seen one of Margaret Hudson’s works of art. Most folks are familiar with her clay sculptures of animals that grace many of our gardens, but she also has some of the most beautiful and vivid paintings of flowers I have ever seen. Margaret has also blessed our community for years by introducing many of us to our ability to create art from the earth and from our hearts, and I was one of many lucky students to be able
to visit her secret garden in the heart of Fresno as a youth. She continues to be one of my favorite Fresnans and I am constantly surrounded by her art. The little critters that Margaret has created over the years remind us of our connection to wildlife and nature, and some of her other pieces inspire peace in other ways (such as St. Francis and the world peace bear). One of my favorite Christmas presents I have ever given anyone was a St. Francis sculpture I gave to my grandma a couple years back, and I am looking forward to giving more of Margaret’s sculptures to family this year. I'm also hoping to bring some of the various pieces that my family has into the “nursery” at
Earth Arts Studio for a little healing, and I’m specifically thinking of my step-mom’s little quail (which is missing its head plume and needs some tender loving care.) For more information on Margaret’s sculptures and art, visit her website (margarethudson.com) or, better yet, visit her studio— Earth Arts Studio at 1946 E. Swift. You can also call for more info or directions at (559) 222-2420, or email her at MargaretLHudson@gmail.com. ______ Chuck McNally loves Margaret’s mountain lions, squirrels, and bears, oh my! Her artwork inspires him to get in the garden, grow, and create art from his own hands. It also reminds him of all our relations.
(The two photographs at top left appeared originally on the blog, www.knorq.wordpress.com.)
to be alive is to grow to grow is to sprout to push up thru the hard packed earth of impossible situations into the light to leaf to bud bursting into full bloom —a poem by Margaret Hudson (on a painting in one of her garden studios)
“My art springs from a very deep love of nature and the earth. It is simple and direct. I hope each flower speaks directly to you as it did to me, both in the garden and in its painting. I celebrate each blossom in its rich early morning color and in the joyous rhythm of its dancing petals.I celebrate it in its opening and full bloom and also in its fading and brokenness. It is the cycle of life—my life. It lifts me beyond myself into a oneness with all of life and the Eternal.” —Margaret Hudson
through the population, heterosexuals seeking the right to marry.... X: Could you hold this end for a second, Socrates? S: Oh. Sure. …the livestock market tanking, the price of leech insurance skyrocketing… X: That should do it. Now, what were you saying? S: I’m just not sure this is a wise expenditure of money, Xristos. I mean, it’s good and all. I guess. Actually, is it good? I’m a notoriously bad judge of these things. X: Of course it’s good, Socrates. S: Ah. Okay. X: You seem unconvinced. S: Well…why? Why is it good? X: It’s profound, Socrates. By swaddling the Acropolis in gauzy material I am symbolizing the motherly nurturing of the principles of democracy for which Athens is so well-regarded. Also, the wind catches the fabric and causes it to ripple like the feathers on the wings of an eagle. The onlookers below can ocrates: What ho, Xristos? Up to a litimagine that the Acropolis is actually soaring tle youthful hijinks, perhaps? over them. Or, if you don’t like eagles, think of it like an enormous mummy. Egypt is the Xristos: What do you mean, origin of language, they say, and also of mumSocrates? mies, so you can see the whole thing is a sort S: Well, I was just on my way to the of metaphor for…for Egypt and language and Parthenon and I see that you are busy toiletstuff. papering the Acropolis. S: Well put, Xristos. I am beginning X: I’m doing no such thing. What’s to feel slightly better about this now. But I “toilet paper”? still wonder if it is worth the cost. Perhaps S: My friend, I’m afraid I have, as it this sort of “art” is something that could just were, caught you “red handed.” Or what else be described in a papyrus pamphlet rather am I to think you’re doing? You have a than actually carried out since it seems to be gigantic roll of cloth which you are unspoolmore about the idea and the concept than ing around all the monuments of this sacred about the actual experience. Why spend so outcropping. much money actually doing it, then? X: “Unspooling”? You call this X: For one thing, it’s an expression of “unspooling”? You don’t understand my art, state power. The ability to marshal funds Socrates. toward large-scale municipal projects is an S: Oh! I beg your pardon. I didn’t effective way of exercising psychological conrealize it was “art.” Well, that makes all the trol over a diverse population. Who wants to difference then. The authorities will probably stand against the government when the govgo easy on you after your arrest. ernment is powerful enough to accomplish X: I’m not going to be arrested. This such feats? is what they call a “municipal” artwork. It’s S: That does explain why the Boule sanctioned by the city-state—heck, it’s even would be inclined to appropriate funds for funded by the city-state. Pericles is a big fan such a display, I suppose. But still. I want a of my work, you know. more personal connection to this. Isn’t there S: I see… anything you can tell me that would convince X: You look perplexed, Socrates. I me that this is worthwhile? I mean, to me, have heard tales of your inner “daemon” who personally. occasionally appears to you and warns you X: Of course. Let me think a minute. against falling into error, and that at such S: … times as you are visited by this daemon your X: Ah! Consider this, Socrates. The face takes on the appearance of one suffering gauzy material that is wrapped around the from severe gas pains. Is that what’s happen- Parthenon—look at it. See how it clings to ing right now? For you do, truly, appear the columns? How the wind causes it to philosophical and/or gassy. move in waves across the underlying strucS: I’m sorry, young Xristos, but I’m ture, pressing along the structure in one place having no small amount of trouble accepting to reveal a definitive shape, obscuring the that this is where my hard-earned tax drachma underlying form in other places with billows are going. Especially in times such as these, and folds? And look at the sunlight filtering facing the challenges that the city-state is fac- through the diaphanous fabric. You can make ing. War on multiple fronts, a plague raging
out the shapes of structures only in outline, in silhouette, idealized. S: Yes, go on. X: Can you imagine if that were a woman under that fabric? It’s practically pornographic! S: Wow! Yes, you’re right! I was wondering why I was becoming aroused. X: It’s a big, pornographic Acropolis, hovering over the citizens of Athens like a massive prostitute about to— S: Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa! You can’t display an enormous pornographic prostitute out in public like this! X: Why not, Socrates? S: The kids! Think of the kids, Xristos. What if the children look up and see this diaphanous image of fornication looming over them. Don’t you think they’ll be encouraged to engage in the sorts of behaviors you’re representing here? X: Well…I suppose some might. But isn’t that healthy? Aren’t they just exploring their natural bodily functions? S: Their bodily functions are shameful, Xristos. They should be home playing with tiny terracotta penises, reenacting the gods’ explorations of their bodily functions. Indeed, by encouraging children to explore their own sexuality, rather than the sexuality of the gods—as depicted, for instance, in those charming marble statues of satyrs raping maenads over there near that elementary school across the quad—your work of “art” is blasphemy and destroys the family. X: I freely admit that my art may challenge some viewers. Such bald-faced assertions of raw sexuality are intended to confront the hypocrisies of our society, in which it is still considered improper for an older man openly to engage in intercrural intercourse with a lad, in the gymnasium, in broad daylight, completely covered in oil, without first presenting the young man’s chaperone with a rooster. This is the whole point of art. To confront people. To push boundaries, explode forms, get people out of their comfort zones. S: Explode what-now? X: My point, Socrates, is that art is fundamentally revolutionary and anti-establishment, and so it’s going to be shocking to some people. S: But didn’t you also say that it serves to legitimize the city-state? X: Yes. S: … X: Ah! Right. I see the point. You are trying to catch me in one of those “logic traps” that you are known for setting for your interlocutors. You get me to say that my art legitimizes authority and the status quo, and then you get me to say that it challenges that same authority and status quo. Then I look like a fool who eventually admits he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Next thing you know, I’m reduced to saying things such as “I see” and “Of course, Socrates” in your little dialogues while you go on and on pretending
not to know anything while holding forth all night long. Well, it won’t work. S: I don’t know what you mean. I’m a simple, old man. The least-wisest man in Athens. X: Right. S: I might point out, however, that you have said two contradictory things about your own “art.” X: You see! I knew it! But look, it won’t work. I am not worried about being out-maneuvered in a battle of wits because I’m an artist and philosophy has nothing to say about the arts. And besides, the meaning of art is in whatever you feel it is, so if two meanings of art are contradictory, that just means two different people feel differently about it. And thus both meanings are true. Art, by this understanding, would thus serve to bring the polis together in discussion, pointing both to that which ties us together and to the diversity that makes us strong, and that, my friend, is a profundity two-fer! S: I see. X: And does it not follow, then, that the best art would be the sort of art that thus encouraged reflection and conversation? S: Of course, Xristos. X: And so it…that means…you…if you take the art to…uh… S: Hmm? X: Well…the aesthetic has…uh…help me out here, Socrates. I’m not sure I know what I’m talking about. S: I think you mean to say that Beauty is actually not in the eye of the beholder but is, instead, an immutable Form, secondary only to the Form of the Good in the eternal Realm of Being. And further, that all works of worldly art are, by their very nature, poor imitations of the things that they appear to represent, directing our minds to a copy of a copy, a shadow of a shadow, a picture of a particular, and thus even further from the Truth. Consequently, public works of art, if we are forced to have them, must be especially diligent in their efforts to direct our attention away from their true nature and toward some sort of lesson that might actually be beneficial to the city-state. Isn’t that what you mean to say? X: Oh. Uh. Sure, why not? S: So let me ask this, Xristos. People have to look at this thing you have created everyday. And their taxes are going to support it. Don’t you think you have a responsibility to get it right? X: I guess, I just don’t know what that really means. S: For one, it means not turning the Acropolis into a piece of porn. And furthermore, why don’t you do some actual art. I mean, if you have this grant from the Boule— for better or for worse—why not use it to make a nice piece of pottery with paintings of valiant Athenian soldiers winning some war? Or how about a nice statue to be placed in the
Dialogues continued next page...
agora—you now, something that wouldn’t be controversial, something like a marble depiction of Zeus in the form of a swan giving it to a human girl. Not only would such work be an attempt to instruct the good citizens of our city-state, but it would be actual art as well. X: You don’t think my cloth-wrapping project is real art? S: Well, you are wrapping the cloth around real art, so there’s that. To be honest, it just seems unnecessary and self-indulgent. Like last year when for a week or so in the summer there were little parasols placed into the hands of all of the statues of the gods around town. I can’t tell you how many times people came up to me to ask me to comment on this. “Oh, wise Socrates, tell us if this is good art!” Like I would want to spend my time thinking about some idiot who just sticks umbrellas in statues. X: Yeah…heh heh…a…uh…real idiot… S: I mean, you can stick a feather up your butt but it doesn’t make you a chicken, right? So what I started saying to people after the summer of bumbling bumbershoots is that in my ideal Republic, I would ban city-state sponsored art forever. And even consider banning artists. X: But you yourself speak so eloquently about things, Socrates. Your myths and analogies are beautiful and your philosophy is known for its great aesthetic achievements as well as its uncovering of truth. Can we really take your words at face value when you are so artistically raging against the place of art in the community? S: … X: I mean, if… S: Hey, look! There’s my old student Serranokos. Serranokos: Socrates! How great to see you. Soc: And it is a pleasure to see you as well. It has been far too long. What brings you to the Acropolis today? Are you meeting a group of students here? Serranokos was one of my best students years ago, Xristos, and I knew he would go on to be a great philosopher and teacher in his own right. So tell us, Serranokos, what will you be lecturing on today? Ser: Oh, I’m afraid I’m not philosophizing much these days, Socrates. There just wasn’t much money in that line of work. Or security. Or respect. Or fulfillment.
Soc: I see, I see. So do tell us what you have been doing with yourself. Ser: I’m an artist. Soc: Ugh… Suddenly my stomach is not so well. X: Socrates is getting that “philosophical” look again. So, Serranokos. Might I have seen your work? Ser: It’s mostly been conceptual and small up to this point. But the reason that I’m out today is that I’m actually on my way to the Parthenon. I’ve received a grant from the city-state to put up some of my work there.
SEIU IS COMING APART AT THE SEAMS by Abid Yahya
[Xristos and Serranokos bump fists.]
Soc: [clutching abdomen]
X: Do tell! So what are you
Ser: Well, I’ve got this beautiful marble statue of Athena that I’ve been working on. Soc: Hmm? Oh. Well, that sounds sure to enoble the city-state. Ser: And I have a huge wine vat that I emptied out some time ago and began peeing in day after day. Soc: Oh! Ow! Argh! Ser: It’s almost full now, so the plan is to lower the statue upside down into the vat and install the whole thing at the foot of the west side of the Parthenon. I call it “Ourein Athena.” Soc: Ahhhh!! Ser: What’s wrong, old friend? You seem in terrible pain? X: Oh, maybe it’s not philosophy this time. Soc: Oof! X: He’s really super-gassy. Ser: Wait. Wait. I’m being spoken to by my Muse. Hold that thought, Socrates. I can work with this. Let me go home and get another covered vat and another grant application. I have a collaboration idea you won’t believe! _____ H. Peter Steeves is Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. _____ Steven J. Ingeman is an independent scholar and Circulation Supervisor at Mary Riley Styles Library in Falls Church, VA and can be reached at email@example.com.
Fresno County homecare workers who support NUHW ralled outside of SEIU UHW’s local office on 24 November to protest SEIU’s shady behavior during the election
LOOKS LIKE SEIU STOLE THE VOTE IN FRESNO
enclosed pre-paid envelope. Some homecare workers began displaying large NUHW signs in their windows or screen doors in order to ward off SEIU organizers, but this only seemed to cause them to visit more often. And many workers’ NUHW signs mysteriously disappeared. Many homecare workers claim to have felt besieged during the campaign, constantly being called and visited at home by SEIU organizers, who made increasingly obvious threats, especially to workers who told them they supported NUHW or who displayed an NUHW sign
or sticker on their door. It’s hard to see how anyone could describe n June, the more than 10,000 home healthcare what happened as a free and fair vote. When the vote workers of Fresno County (who are currently memcount took place, under the authority of the State bers of the labor union, SEIU UHW) held a vote. Mediation and Conciliation Service, NUHW ended up Thousands of homecare workers, upset at the 27 behind SEIU by just over 200 votes, with nearly 6,000 January hostile takeover of their until-then-independent total votes cast. SEIU local union by SEIU’s Washington DC-based On Tuesday, 10 November, though, it became henchpeople, founded a union of their own (called the clear that it was even worse than all that. At that afterNational Union of Healthcare Workers, NUHW) and noon’s Fresno County Board of Supervisors meeting, a signed a petition, forcing a vote among the membercertain Carlos Martinez addressed the board. Martinez ship: SEIU, NUHW, or no union at all. was one of the 1,200 organizers SEIU brought to SEIU (not about to let 10,000 members break Fresno during the campaign, but he has since quit his away from the union, taking their dues money with job with SEIU. He told the board that he had been them), shipped an unprecedented 1,200 organizers into trained and specifically instructed during the campaign Fresno and spent a whopping $10 million of members’ to visit Spanish-speaking homecare workers and tell dues money in an attempt to stop homecare workers them that SEIU could use their social security numbers from voting in NUHW as their union. In a very real to trigger a deportation process if they didn’t vote for and disgusting way, SEIU used its own members’ SEIU. He also carried out instructions he was given to money against them. take ballots directly from workers and mark them for NUHW’s campaign was a real grassroots SEIU himself and to remove ballots from envelopes effort. Longtime community activists throughout and literally change the vote if the worker had voted Fresno got involved, working side by side with home- for NUHW, knowing full well that such a ballot would care workers to get the message out about the need for end up not being counted. Untold hundreds, maybe real local democracy in their union and about the need thousands, of votes that workers intended to go to to stop SEIU’s attempt to corporatize the labor moveNUHW were simply stolen. ment. However, as the campaign carried on, more and Most disturbing, though, is that Martinez more homecare workers began telling NUHW volunclaims to have taken his moral concerns with this stuff teers disturbing stories about SEIU. Purple-clad SEIU to higher ups in SEIU, to the National Labor Relations organizers had, it appeared, been threatening homecare Board, to the Public Employment Relations Board workers that they would lose their health insurance, (PERB), and to the State of California Mediation and lose their current wages, or even be deported if they Conciliation Service (the latter two being the very boddidn’t vote for SEIU. Many workers reported being ies charged with ensuring that the vote and vote count visited at home by three or four or five SEIU organiz- are fair!), all of who amazingly did nothing about it. ers at a time, often many times per day, something that (Visit nuhw.org to see a video, which went public on obviously scared many of them. 19 November, of testimony from Fresno County homeThe vote took place during the first two weeks of June 2009. Workers received a ballot in the SEIU continued next page... mail and had two weeks to return their votes in an
care workers about the ways in which their rights were violated by SEIU.) On 6 November, NUHW formally filed charges against SEIU with PERB, built with evidence from the testimony of Martinez and others. It seems likely that, at the very least, PERB will order a re-run of the election, though, given the extent of SEIU’s shady behavior, even a fair re-run seems unlikely. The effects of SEIU organizer-thugs’ lies and threats linger in our town long after the organizer-thugs themselves have left. The only real justice here would be for the election to be given to NUHW, the workers’ real choice.
MORE THUGGERY IS AFOOT
On 16 and 17 November, two fundraisers were held in San Francisco and Los Angeles for the Fund for Union Democracy and Reform, a legal defense fund established to help 26 ex-SEIU UHW staffers fend off the trivial and ridiculous legal challenges that SEIU has mounted against them in the wake of SEIU’s takeover. Most of the 26 are now volunteering with NUHW. The San Francisco fundraiser was hosted by the California Democratic Party chairman John Burton, labor veteran Dolores Huerta, and a slough of other politicians, activists, and union folk. It’s been reported in the media that SEIU’s California president, Bill Lloyd, attempted to blackmail Burton by threatening to cut off SEIU’s large yearly donation to the California Democratic Party if Burton did not stop supporting NUHW. The Los Angeles fundraiser was hosted by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), the union representing public schoolteachers in LA. SEIU also tried to strong-arm UTLA, threatening to step on UTLA’s turf and organize charter schoolteachers if they didn’t back off their pro-NUHW stance. Perhaps worse, SEIU picketed both events, burning bridges with all of the other unions, politicians, and activists who attended in defiance of SEIU’s ugly picket lines. At the LA event, in a perverse and inexact rehashing of scenes from Birmingham and Selma, SEIU staff even pelted attendees of the fundraiser with eggs and water bottles. It was a strange scene, labor activists and politicians entering the building, jovial and upbeat, busted eggs dripping down their backs. Among those pegged with eggs hurled by SEIU was Josh Pechthalt, vice president of UTLA. One can’t help but wonder when SEIU will begin appearing at pro-NUHW events brandishing more than merely eggs and water bottles. One also can’t help but wonder who is steering the ship that is SEIU. Their increasingly single-minded obsession with trying to bring down the workers’ movement that is NUHW, even at the cost of burning useful bridges all around them, suggests that SEIU’s corrupt mission in California might be on the brink of a total breakdown.
Fire Liar Dyer
Dyer is still supported by other parts of the community, including his bosses, the Mayor and City Manager. These people seem to think that Dyer is merely doing a good job under difficult circumstances. These circumstances involve a “war” by Chuck McNally he declared on whole segments of the community under the guise of preventing violence “It is impossible, virtually impossible, for me tor test that the girl was supposed to have and stopping the growth of gangs. This has taken at police headquarters. Jerry Dyer was involved an occupation by the Multi Agency to judge another person. I believe in second chances. I won’t give up on people. I believe promoted to sergeant in 1985, shortly after Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC) and that everyone is salvageable because everyone these allegations of rape originally surfaced other special militarized units of the Police is savable. I believe in those second chances and suddenly disappeared. They reappeared Department that have increasingly pigeonbecause God gave me a second chance in my in the mid 90s as Dyer served as a spokesper- holed huge segments of our community as son for the Police Department between the fall suspects and criminals. We have gone down life, with my family and with my career.” —Chief Jerry Dyer, at Northwest of 1995 and the spring of 1997. He often this road before with the Violent Crimes Church in February 1999, before becoming appeared on the news in this role, and a Suppression Unit, and it ended with African FPD Chief. woman called the Police Department asking American folks being humiliated on the southhow they could allow Dyer to represent them west side of town while on their way back on television when he had previously raped a from church. That way also led us to police “As you know, the past is the past and we minor. This led to another Internal Affairs should be forgiven the past, but my brother shootings, allegations of people trying to cominvestigation that then-Chief Ed Winchester wasn’t given an opportunity to be forgiven. mit “suicide by cop,” and whole segments of His court date is 6 feet underground for steal- asked for, and led to Dyer claiming that he Fresno residents not trusting the police who ing beer.” are supposed to “protect and —David Gamez, brother of serve” them. When Dyer was Julian “Boo Boo” Celaya, to given a second chance and Dyer on July 24, 2001 promoted to the Chief position back in the summer of 2001, hen Jerry Dyer became he promised that he would Chief on August 2, 2001, it address these problems and was just weeks after Fresno rebuild the Police Departments Police officers had killed Julian “Boo relations with the community Boo” Celaya for stealing two 12 to inspire trust. However, packs from a liquor store and trying Dyer has continually proven to drive away from an attempted trafhimself a hypocrite in this matfic stop. Officers alleged that they ter as 40 people have now died had heard a shot and believed that on his watch as Chief of the Celaya was armed from a report they Fresno Police Department. If received from the owner of the liquor he really believes in second store. Three different officers shot at chances, and that everyone is the van that Celaya was driving, and “salvageable” and “savable” as he was killed by numerous bullets he once said, then why has he including a shotgun blast to the head. allowed police officers under The shooting of Celaya was the third his direction to continue to act photo by Mike Rhodes, posted on indybay.org shooting by police in less than 6 days. as judge, jury and executioner? Police shot and injured a woman who Ultimately, the reason why I find myself writ“couldn’t recall” what the woman caller was slammed her car into the front doors of City ing this story and digging up these old bones speaking about. This is also when Dyer began from the closet is because of things Chief Hall during a police chase on July 18th, and to speak about not being proud of things he later claimed that she was trying to commit Dyer recently said in response to the police had done in his past, and about his experience killings of Steven Vargas and John Cooper. “suicide by cop.” And on July 16th, Roderick Lee Bertolette was shot and killed at finding God and being born again. At this The last week of October 2009 was strangely time Dyer had already been promoted to lieu- reminiscent of that week back in July 2001 a hotel in northwest Fresno by plainclothes tenant. He was promoted to captain in 1997 undercover officers attempting to arrest him when Celaya and Bertolette were killed by and then to deputy chief and assistant chief in police and a woman was accused of trying to on drug charges. 1999. Dyer has claimed that his criminal his- commit “suicide by cop.” Dyer jumped in Around the same time as these front of cameras and passed judgment on shootings, the Fresno Bee published an article tory is in the past, including his history of lying and cheating. He claims that he was a Vargas and Cooper, claiming that Vargas was exposing Jerry Dyer’s past, focusing on allesinner in the 1980s, but that, since he has on parole and defaming him in other ways, gations made against him in the mid 80s that found God, he has walked the straight and and that Cooper was trying to simply commit he had committed statutory rape against a 14 “suicide by cop.” Dyer had previously or 15 year old girl that he had met at Danae’s narrow path. Some people think that Jerry Dyer described the power that media coverage has Gym on Blackstone just south of Shields. The over the public’s perception of law enforceallegations were only investigated by internal should never have been elevated to be Chief of the Fresno Police Department in the first ment in his acceptance speech back in 2001, affairs officers in the police department and it and has shown himself to be very skilled at seems that they were never brought to the dis- place. “The public will never know the truth as to whether Dyer should be on Megan’s list spinning the media to his purposes. This trict attorney’s office. Charges mysteriously faded away, even though the Fresno Bee story or whether he should even be chief of police,” media savvy goes back to his days as police said a member of the Fresno Brown Berets at spokesman, and has been reflected in his quotes a police source as saying that Dyer even admitted to them that he had sex with the a rally in response to the recent round of girl and that he was anxious about a lie detec- police-on-civilian killings. However, Chief
Fire Dyer continued next page...
Fire Dyer continued...
ongoing attempts to spin every police shooting under his tenure as justified. Chief Dyer knows what he is doing when he jumps in front of a camera and starts to justify yet another shooting, while failing to think twice about the humanity of the person shot or of how their death will affect their friends and family. Dyer may have once been able to hide the truth through various methods, protected by a “thin blue line” of silence, a police code that protected him and other police from getting in trouble for their actions. That line may have been shattered this year in the Bay Area with the videotaped execution of Oscar Grant by former BART police officer Mehserle on New Year’s morning, and the uprising in Oakland and community pressure that followed and forced the District Attorney to file murder charges on Mehserle. In Fresno that line is being questioned like never before as police officers were caught stealing cars to start the year out, were videotaped beating a homeless man in February, and have killed eight people this year so far. Increasing numbers of people are finally waking up, realizing that Dyer is a liar, and demanding that the Mayor and City Manager fire Dyer. For more info on the campaign to Fire Dyer email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit Indymedia’s Central Valley page at http://www.indybay.org/centralvalley. For a list of those killed by Fresno Police, go to http://www.cccjc.org/home/stolenlives.php. ______ Chuck McNally was raised in Fresno and graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a degree in Ethnic Studies after spending many years involved in various campus and community struggles, including working with Berkeley Copwatch. ______ Notes: Quotes and background information are from these articles: l The Fresno Bee, “Cops twice probed allegation Dyer had affair with girl, 16: New Fresno chief, city officials won’t answer questions about problems early in his career,” by Doug Hoagland, July22, 2001. l The Fresno Bee, “Calming the Tension: Incoming Police Chief Jerry Dyer meets with the family of a man killed by Fresno officers,” by Matthew Kreamer, Wednesday, July 25, 2001.
The Last Stand of Van Ness Auto Repair R by Chris Acree
unning a small business in Fresno has become one of the most precarious endeavors in the San Joaquin Valley. For this, I commend Jim Medina and his efforts to restore the historic landmark now known as Van Ness Auto Repair. Established in 1926, this registered historic landmark was the first service station in California. Thousands of Fresnans who garage sale or walk the tree-lined sidewalks of Van Ness know the station and the nostalgic character that it exudes. It is one of the few stations that has survived long enough to have serviced Model Ts, World War II military vehicles, and the hybrid Prius (Prii?) in their respective heydays.
Russ Clements opened the station and kept it alive, or, as his son says, it kept Russ alive, until his passing. He worked seven days a week selling gasoline, ice, Coca Cola, firewood, .22 shells, and every sort of convenience item even before the emergence of the modern mini-mart phenomenon. Clements’ station became a fixture in the neighborhood and survived over the decades, mostly due to his reliable service and faithful clientele who would rather keep it local than drive across town for repairs. Looking back on the family legacy, his son Jim recalls how, over the years, it was not the gasoline sales that kept the business alive, but the service of vehicles. “No one,” he says, “can survive on gasoline sales alone. You have to get under the hood to make a sale.” This was never truer than during WWII when gas rationing was instituted nationwide to protect the short supply of tire rubber. He also recalled that it wasn’t until the mid 1970s when business began to dip as the larger stations and stores began drawing away customers. Over the years, however, this 6500 sq-ft corner lot probably did more business in this town than any other lot of its size. Eventually the station changed hands and the once-vibrant corner became still. The building was boarded up, surrounded by chainlink fence and barbed-wire, and in moved the proverbial shady characters which come as a fixture to most empty and blighted buildings around town. It wasn’t until 2000 that a new owner came by with a vision to open his own service station in the historic spot. Burdened with funding an ongoing EPA cleanup effort, Jim Medina opened shop and got to work. Over the years, he would find that the client base never left and that the spot had more history than he expected.
He meticulously restored the historic fuel pumps and painstakingly found replacement compressors for the old Coke machine as neighbors helped him paint. As he was repairing a chipped corner brick near the pumps, an older woman popped in out of nowhere and scolded him, saying that she made that mark when she was 16 driving her dad’s Studebaker and it would be a shame to destroy that history. This is when it sank in for Jim; this
was not his station alone, it belonged to the local community. After nearly a quarter of a million dollars was invested to renovate and operate this historic site, the station is now postcard-ready and again a source of pride for many neighbors. In January 2003, across town on Fresno’s Westside, a fire ignited, setting ablaze nearly four acres of demolition debris stacked two stories high. This event is now known as the infamous Archie Crippen fire. Plumes of black smoke filled the skies prompting hundreds of Westside residents to seek medical care. The public cost of cleanup was millions of dollars and led to the revocation of the Conditional Use Permit for Crippen’s debris storage facility. The permit revocation was the first shut-down in Fresno’s history. Enter the CUP Strike Team: a sub-unit of Fresno City Code Enforcement whose mission is to enforce permit conditions and ensure that recycling facilities and other “high-risk” land-uses do not pose significant threats to life, health and safety, or the environment. Little was known about the team until the Fresno City Planning Commission met on November 18th of 2009 to discuss an appeal of the City’s first shutdown order since the Crippen fire. By some odd twist of fate, and after years of case-building, Van Ness Auto Repair was the victim of the City’s second-ever CUP revocation. So what were the events leading up to Mr. Richard Salinas’s (Strike Team Director) actions when, escorted by two police cars, he walked onto the grounds of Van Ness Auto Repair and posted shut-down orders across its
windows? Was this gracious neighbor and his excellent auto service a front for some dark dealing that only the Strike Team was privy to? A mock trial ensued with the owner and his lawyer, Tom Boyajian, against the Strike Team and their city attorneys to decide the fate of the station and its six employees. All this in the middle of Fresno’s greatest depression and only weeks before Christmas. The hundreds of supporters who packed the chambers eagerly awaited to hear the severity of the accusations. When photosequences presented by the City failed to show anything more than employees lifting hoods, checking dipsticks, and moving cars from the street to the repair-bay, the crowd scoffed at the absurdity of the evidence. Mr. Salinas held strong that these were actually violations, Jim’s business had outgrown the location, and that Mr. Medina was “a victim of his own success.” In the eyes of his friends and neighbors, it was the Strike Force that was on trial. The meeting would go on for four and a half hours, and then resume on December 2nd for another four hours. It’s scheduled to resume again on December 16th for final arguments, public testimony, and the commission’s decision. So far the public sentiment seemed to be nearly a thousand supporters against two neighbors who were in opposition (most likely the same neighbors who registered nearly 40 complaints without more than a handful of minor violations). When Mr. Salinas stated that he did not know the full extent of the station’s historic status, when he stated that he was unaware of the EPA cleanup efforts, when he stated that he did not know how many people were responsible for the long string of complaints, I figured it was just a colossal misunderstanding on the City’s behalf. However, when he continued to explain that there was no flexibility that would allow employees to check dipsticks and open hoods, I figured this could not be anything more than a personal vendetta or a grand canyon-sized gap in code enforcement’s equitable distribution of staff resources. It only took Jim 45 minutes to circle the neighborhood and photograph dozens of service shops with far more severe potential violations, blighted businesses with boarded windows, trash, and graffiti, and evidence that one more empty business could lead to the next phase of decline for a once-thriving neighborhood. Attend the December 16th meeting at City hall and see for yourself whether Van Ness Auto Repair, the second service station in the US, will become the second victim of Fresno City’s CUP graveyard. _____ Chris Acree is a neighbor and supporter of Van Ness Auto Repair.
27 November 2009
MENDING THE WALL
n Monday, 9 November, Germany hosted a pompous ceremony to honor the twentieth anniversary of the day the Berlin Wall, that infamous symbol of division and oppression, finally fell. “We remember the tears of joy, the faces of delight, the liberation,” said Lutheran Bishop
Wolfgang Huber, one of the many speakers. Obama spoke via video, introduced by Hillary Clinton as bearing a message for “those who believe, even in the face of cynicism and doubt and oppression, that walls can truly come down.” There
were many such statements made throughout the day. U2 even played a concert, and dignitaries from around the world were in attendance. It was all over the news, hailed as the anniversary of a glorious and important day in modern world history.
Yet, in a perfect example of the media’s nearsighted hypocrisy, no one said a word about the monstrous West Bank wall planted into Palestinian land by Israeli troops, now over 400 miles long and
counting, 26 feet tall, still under construction, and reinforced with trenches, electrified metal fencing, automated motion detectors, and watchtowers occupied by snipers. It’s downright medieval, and it snakes through the occupied West Bank, allegedly keeping Pales-tinian terrorists out of Israel while actually keeping thousands of Palestinian civilians off of their own land and away from their own crops, jobs, schools, and families. Furthermore, Israel’s construction of the wall is illegal under international law, as ruled by the International Court of Justice (the world court) in 2004.
Israel’s continuing construction of the thing has been met by nearly constant protests from Palestinians
whose lives are shattered in its wake. Artists, however, have found their own way to protest the wall’s presence…by decorating it with lovely and loaded irony.
THE WEST BANKSY
Perhaps no one has done more to mend the wall in this way than Banksy, the elusive and mysterious British guerilla artist whose unprecedentedly clever graffiti/stencil work has brought him worldwide fame.
Banksy, whose face has been photographed maybe once, and who once famously remarked that the West Bank wall is “the ultimate activity holiday destination for graffiti writers,” traveled to the West Bank in 2005, where he endured some very tense situations involving angry Palestinians, angry Israelis, and angry Israeli soldiers in order to produce the unprecedented and brilliant works of art pictured below.
lobal warming skeptics are having a field day with the release of hacked emails from the University of East Anglia & the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). In a series of emails, researchers from the NCAR discuss how or whether to release information that may be seen as contrary to human-caused warming. Other emails discuss “tricks” that may be used to help explain gaps in information. Other emails simply deride global warming skeptics. One exchange that has caused much commotion is an exchange between NCAR researcher Kevin Trenberth and other scientists. In the exchange, Trenberth, addressing a climate variation that he cannot account for, writes, “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t…” Though some of the scientists involved expressed outrage over the hacked emails, I think that this is, in the end, a good thing. Perhaps a lesson in humility is needed. The implementation of “tricks” or creative problem solving, or whatever they might like to call it, helps no one but the scientist’s ego. The truth is some problems are too big and complex even for today’s scientists. And when there are gaps in understanding, they shouldn’t be hidden, but addressed seriously. Manipulation, even when the manipulator believes he is doing so for good reasons, is, in the end, manipulation. And even though science may not be democratic, responses to the science, especially with regard to policy, do exist within a democratic realm (or should). ~CF
’ve written in the past about direct-to-customer advertising of prescription drugs. Studies have found that direct-to-customer has an incredible effect on drug sales, and this is true in general, but it’s not necessarily true in specific instances. Not all ad campaigns are successful, and, interestingly, when an ad campaign goes sour, we all pay, in the form of
French minister of culture, published an its military, cutting its number of officers from 355,000 to 150,000, its number of units “autobiography” in 2005, called The Bad Life, from 1,890 to just 172 and its overall standing in which he admitted to procuring young male prostitutes while on vacation in Bangkok. army from 1.2million to 1million by 2012. This new doctrine is seen as an insurance pol- Mitterand, the nephew of former Socialist president Francois Mitterand, icy during what could be appointed to his current govseen by others as instabilernment post by president ity. Russia’s refashioned Sarkozy in June 2009, wrote military thinking, accord“I got into the habit of paying to Vitaly Shlykov, forhigher taxes, a sort of unofficial subsidized ing for boys...All these ritumer Soviet war planner, is loss due to expensive failed ad campaigns. als of the market for youths, a move away from “largeA new study in the Archives of the slave market excite me scale conventional conInternal Medicine led by Michael Law of the enormously…The profusion flicts with NATO” (as Centre for Health Services and Policy of very attractive and immequoted in the Nov. 16 Research at the University of British diately available young boys issue of the Christian Columbia found that an ad campaign for the puts me in a state of desire Science Monitor) and drug Plavix failed to increase sales of the drug toward a military that I no longer need to hinto a desired level. Because of this, the makers equipped for small der nor hide...as I know that of Plavix increased its price. The subsidies I will not be refused.” regional wars. ~CF from American tax payers comes by way of A recent stink has Medicaid footing a bigger bill for Plavix’s been made about it because n Russia, in the city of inflated price due to its failed ad campaign. he’s now in a top governPerm, three homeless The $350million campaign from ment post, and he’s respondmen were arrested last 2001 to 2005 failed to increase usage among ed pretty unapologetically. week, suspected of murMedicaid recipients. However, it did increase “All the people who accuse der, but with a twist. cost for Medicaid recipients, to the tune of me of that type of thing Allegedly, the three men, $207million in additional Medicaid payments. out of some “personal hostility,” killed their should be ashamed…Each time I was with It is a win/win for the drug companies. 25-year-old victim using knives and a hampeople who were my age, or who were five Multi-hundred-million dollar ad campaigns mer, and then ate him, and then sold the left- years younger—there wasn’t the slightest mostly increase sales ambiguity—and who were consenting,” he over meat to a local kebab shop, which then enough to make a may or may not have (“It was not immediate- said. $350million campaign ly clear,” said one news report) unwittingly Sounds like some serious backpedalworth it, and if it doesn’t, sold some of the ing to me. After all, the American Taxpayer human meat to he wrote those senpicks up the bill. (For an customers who tences, used the words abstract of the study, then may have boys, youths, young, “Costs and Consequences become inadverand slave. And he’s of Direct-to-Consumer the minister of CULtent cannibals. Advertising for TURE. They say fast Clopidogrel in With guys food is nasty, but Medicaid,” see like this running the I’ll take Carl’s Jr. http://alturl.com/xj92.) French government, over a kebab ~CF it’s no wonder they’re stand in Perm any so bothered by day. ~AY ussia is in the Muslim women who process of inking a want to cover their rederic new military doctrine, which includes proviheads. ~AY Mitterand, sions for nuclear strikes in regional conflicts. Of course, this brings to mind the small war that broke out between Russia and Georgia last year. And Russia has suggested that it is just such conflicts that the new doctrine US soldiers total US total US US soldiers would address. killed in Nov 09 soldiers killed soldiers killed killed in Nov 09 Russia is in the process of drastically shrinking its standing military, and as they do so, this is seen as little more than saber rattling as they go through a transition that could be seen as weakness. The line between paranoia and actual threat is actually hard to pinpoint. With more former Soviet IRAQ IRAQ AFGHANISTAN AFGHANISTAN satellites clamoring to make their way into the EU, NATO strengthening its presence further east, and the US increasing troop lev- We have not included numbers for civilian casualties because, though there are many studies and sources positing estimates, there is els in Afghanistan, Russia may feel itself no single, reliable, regularly-updated source of data regarding civilian casualties. Just assume that the number of civilians killed in vulnerable. Iraq and Afghanistan dwarfs even the number of American soldiers injured, let alone killed, each and every month. But Russia continues to scale back
Casualty Counter 932
THE ARGYLE PIMPS far left
TRISTEZA• DEAN ANDREWS (THE ALBUM LEAF)
CHUCK DIMES right
ALEXANDRIA BURNING • THE TELL-TALE HEARTBREAKERS
Long-time indie staple Tristeza hit the road in support of a new release, Fate Unfolds (Better Looking Records), out 12/1. The band is remarkably consistent, but don’t be fooled: one would be hard-pressed to assign them to one genre. Sans vocals and with gorgeous, reverb-y guitar melodies, solid rhythms, and a nice dynamic range, they flirt with psychedelia, post-rock, current indie, early 90s emo, even an occasional Latin touch. Make your own genre assignment when they hit the stage in Visalia with Drew Andrews of Album Leaf, mere weeks before T H U D E C 1 0 The that band releases their latest work on 9 0 0 P M • 2 1 + • $ 5 Sub Pop Records.
Alexandria Burning will take the stage to celebrate their debut CD, The Fear Gospels, a project three years in the making. In its live incarnation, the band includes members of The Shroud, The Sleepover Disaster, and Wax Erratic, and the group’s sound is decidedly dark, but with a healthy garage-rock energy. AB welcomes remarkable band The Tell-tale Heartbreakers (South Bay) to open the show, and the band has partnered once again with DJ and promoter extraordinaire Maverick Cadaverick, who will spin a fitting variety of goth/new wave/alternative F R I D E C 1 1 music before, between, and after the 9 3 0 P M • 2 1 + • $ 6 bands.
It’ll be worth the short hop to Merced for this show at the Partisan, a first road stop for Fresno band Brother Luke & The Comrades’ new tour. The band rarely ventures out, which makes this a very special occasion. Jonathan Hadden (Rademacher)joins the band for this tour. Kindred indie/electro group Kid Mud (San Francisco) are a nicely sensible fit for the show if their recordings are any indication, and as KM appears to be a solo project, it’ll be very interesting to see what their live line-up will be. To complete the hat-trick, Partisan co-owner RC will S A T D E C 1 2 anchor the show with his band, the 9 0 0 P M • 2 1 + • $ 5 ever-amazing El Olio Wolof.
Arguably the biggest booking for Fresno in December, this show is sure to please. The English Beat have a long, rich history with a catalog full of hits, to the degree that one can hardly find a compilation of 80s music that doesn’t include a contribution from the band, but the band regrouped in the 90s for tour after tour. This is their third time in Fresno in recent memory. Frontman Dave Wakeling and the band still do the ska and reggae with a new wave touch like no other band can. You’ll surely hear all of the hits just the way you remember them, and you can likely expect those choice Public tunes to be part of the S A T D E C 1 9 General set. Check out myspace.com/ 9 0 0 P M • 2 1 + • $ T B A clubfredmusic for the ticket price.
EL OLIO WOLOF • BROTHER LUKE & THE COMRADES • KID MUD
CHUCK DIMES • 40 WATT HYPE • PRO
Head north to check out this show at posh spot Aqua Shi, featuring local emcee Chuck Dimes. One of the biggest names in the local hip hop scene, Dimes has shared stages with “next-level” hip hop performers such as KRSOne, The Hieroglyphics, and Pigeon John. His reputation as a storyteller is widely known, as is his penchant for positivity. Don’t expect softballs, though, as Dimes is equally adept at using cynicism and sarcasm to get the story told. Famous Fresnans 40 Watt Hype (who’ve likewise shared many a big stage with the likes of The Roots, S A T D E C 1 9 The Pharcyde, Fishbone, and 311) out a strong bill for this Love, 1 0 0 0 P M • 2 1 + • $ T B A round The Captive Promotion.
A Q U A
S H I
THE QUIET AMERICANS
After a Tokyo Garden debut that was a smashing success, The Quiet Americans open up 2010 at Audie’s. TQA are officially Luke Giffen of Fresno shoegazers The Sleepover Disaster, with Eli Reyes (Rademacher, Fay Wrays), and Winston Goertz-Giffen of (Saything). The band’s music falls on the continuum of guitar-heavy indie rock and power pop, and, given the musical ability of its members, TQA are destined to become a fast local favorite. Also appearing will be New York-based one-man electro-band Phillip Seymour Hoffman (not the actor) and indie S U N J A N 1 0 noise/electro outfit Professor Calculus 9 3 0 P M • 2 1 + • $ 6 (Los Angeles).
THE ENGLISH BEAT
THE ARGYLE PIMPS • ROBOPOP
It’s good to have Mr. Boney Beezly back in town for many reasons, not the least of which is more local Argyle Pimps shows. If you haven’t seen these guys, WTF? Beezly and partner in crime Cockamamie Jamie lay it down old school style with a touch of lounge and a big dose of humor. Completing the bill for this Love, The Captive Promotion are electro-pop favorites Robopop and DJ Johnny Q. Expect a positive vibe and be prepared to do a whole lot of dancing. Bonus tip for guys who are not down with dancing: show + dancing = lots of girls at the show. D E C 2 6 Merry Christmas, and don’t say we S A T 9 0 0 P M • A L L A G E S • $5 never gave you anything.
THE FRUIT BATS • EXTRA CLASSIC BAND
This show sees The Fruit Bats (Sub Pop), back in the States after an extensive tour of Europe and the UK. Reminiscent of some of the poppier 1970s folk rock groups—the band references Little River Band among influences—and yet still at home among the jangliest of the current indie folk and pop bands (think The Shins, Fleet Foxes, Iron & Wine), this group has folk-y acoustic guitar pop down. The group’s strong vocal harmonies, married to their great sense of melody and catchy lyrics, make for an entertaining show. San Francisco duo Extra Classic Band proT U E J A N 2 6 vide solid support for this Sound ‘N’ 9 0 0 P M • A L L A G E S • $ 5 Vision promotion.
HOWIE & SONS
page THE VENUES / Cellar Door = 101 W Main St, Visalia • The Exit = 1533 E Belmont, Fresno • Audie’s Olympic Club Fred= 1426 N Van Ness, Fresno • Howie &
20 Veni Vidi Vici = 1116 N Fulton, Fresno • Babylon = 1064 N Fulton, Fresno • The Venue = 1148 7th St, Sanger • Aqua Shi = 1144 E Champlain, Fresno
Sons Pizza = 2430 S Mooney, Visalia • The Starline = 831 E Fern, Fresno • The Partisan = 432 W Main St, Merced • Tokyo Garden = 1711 Fulton, Fresno •
to me to get well / You’re a walking testament to the beauty of health,” and these lyrics parallel the sense of well-being that their music elicits. It’s very open-hearted in the way that indie rock music should be. Perhaps as good fortune would have it, they unintentionally continue the legacy of great indie bands such as The Flaming Lips, The Pixies, and Pavement. They’ve resourcefully drawn upon their diverse musical background and interest in jazz, African, Brazilian and Pakistani music, as well as progressive rock, where they arrive at a common ground. “When I first heard Pavement, it was inspiring to have a more natural-soundting everything to sound right and making paradoxical quality, being both cheerful and ing voice. The Velvet Underground was also MEET WHEELS OF FORTUNE a major influence, and I think Stephen sure the songs fit together.” The resulting cryptic. Malkmus was probably inspired quite a bit In reference to his songwriting, fter formally assembling their group album captures the beauty and innocence of by them, too. We all listen to a lot of differNiilo said, “I’m trying to convey a certain earlier this year, Wheels of Fortune several different moods, and is conveyed ent music and have different tastes,” Niilo with the enchanting likeness of a fairytale. feeling or situation that people can undereagerly recorded their first fullsaid. “Usually I try to create a story, and stand or relate to.” length, self-titled album in Fresno; and proOn “Alone in the Sea,” their “Earthly Need” is a necessary ceeded to thoughtfully arrange and mix the the lyrics have a few different inspirations; improvisational competence and free-jazz and it doesn’t necessarily have an autobio- sugar-low, although emotionally comrecording in Santa Monica under their influences prove to be among their most graphical or literal meaning.” Niilo’s song- pelling, and demonstrates their cultivated auspicious strengths together. Here especialstyle. The band’s ly, the whole band experiments with sound artistry is reflected in and texture. Niilo isn’t afraid to get up close their discerning use of to the microphone, to let the listener hear basic elements of rock the subtle nuances of his voice. This focus music in an unforced is magnetic, and intensifies the wonderfully manner, allowing their bizarre guitar solo, which feels like an songs to take form in encounter with a strange entity on a dark the same way that a night in the sea. painter’s tiny brush“The sort of noisy breakdown at strokes eventually the end just happened during practice and complete a painting. we decided to just do that during the song,” On “Health,” Niilo said in retrospect. the music is self-posOne of Niilo’s favorite songs on photos by Shannon Hunter sessed and clever. The the album is “The Answer is Nothing,” vocals are fun to sing which sounds nostalgic of The Velvet writing is quirky, yet meaningful at closer along to, and the acoustic guitar and bass supervision. Underground. Some of these songs could’ve inspection; and he sings with an unforgetare always engaging. In their effective Niilo Smeds, their vocalist, is only been written by someone in love, like tably honest quality, which is comparable to expression of sunny contentedness, they accompanied by Dylan Tidyman-Jones, the acoustically delicate song, Stephen Malkmus of Pavement, to some also avoid the sappiness that other indie Andrew Bunnell and James Brittain-Gore; extent. rock bands have succumbed to. and several guest musicians contributed Musicmakers continued next page... On “Give It All Back,” Niilo Niilo sings, “You’re an inspiration backing vocals, percussion and mandolin on expressively sings “Baby the album. Niilo spoke with me about the won’t you drive me down creative process and elaborated on the to the river / We’re band’s inventive style. gonna turn that sweating “We didn’t specify who played the into a shiver.” The perinstruments on the album, because we all cussion flows without did a bunch of different things; everybody restriction, evoking the sang some backup vocals here and there, charm of The Flaming and we all played piano,” said Niilo. They Lips’ early years. The naturally have fun making music and colguitar rises and falls brillaborating their different tastes and musical liantly as Niilo’s self-conbackgrounds, and that is immediately appartained lyrics include, ent in the recording. “Dig up the body / Turn “I feel like when it comes out well, over the verdict and just it’s really spontaneous and not planned at give it all back….” This all; but we do work on the songs a lot, getsong in particular has a
The Sci-Fi Nightmares
“Concrescere.” It’s apparent that Wheels of Fortune are intuitive when it comes to working together. The relationship between the guitar and vocals is particularly instinctive, as they complete each other’s emotional dynamics. This essential album will surely inspire other artists in particular, because the purity of their artistic expression is very graceful. You can count on hearing more from Wheels of Fortune in the future, as they will be performing frequently in Fresno. They will also be busy writing and recording a follow-up album, to be
released tentatively next spring. The Wheels of Fortune CD can be purchased at Yoshi Now or Spinners Records and it can be streamed and downloaded at www.wheelsoffortune.org. _____ Christy Arndt is a Fresno native and CSUF graduate. If you are a local musician and would like to be interviewed for “Meet the Musicmakers,” please contact her at email@example.com.
reminiscent of another Fresno pop punk band of days gone by. Can’t quite put my finger on it though. Email me if it comes to mind. Check out 608 Kisses Records (2009) myspace.com/scifinightmares, and if reviewed by Joe Aguayo their music floats your boat, make sure to go check them, and others, ’m not going to say that this band is for they can actually out at Fresno Fest—an everyone. I know the mere mention of pull off. all day, all ages festival Lyrically, the words “pop-punk” is enough to featuring more than 20 this album is inspire dismissive chuckles and rolling of hardcore/punk acts at teenaged hearteyes for many of the refined audiophiles Chinatown Youth break inspiring among the readership of this rag. But if Center & CAFE melodrama and a you’re one of those people that still woninfoshop—on fascination with ders why anyone ever thought it was a December 19th. good idea to take and mess with the formu- campy B-movie violence. What’s not to ______ love? la the Ramones came up with all those Joe Aguayo is a returning student at I know that it’s probably been years ago, then Hatchet by The Sci-Fi Fresno City College who also works to done more times and by more bands than Nightmares is going to be right up your anyone would care to count, but the “Don’t keep our air clean at the San Joaquin alley. Valley Air Pollution Control District. You’ll probably crap yourself lis- do it...” part in “Hatchet Pt 2” is strangely
tening to them if you’re into bands like The Riverdales or The Huntingtons. There’s also the added bonus that the band’s lead singer isn’t trying to sound like Joey Ramone or a happy Glenn Danzig. Stupid is what a happy Glenn Danzig sounds like, in case you were wondering. As with a majority of the bands in this genre, there’s nothing overly complicated here. The songs have a simple, yet solid rhythm with a mid tempo feel that moves along in that “just-get-to-the-goodpart” kinda way. Each song also features a catchy, and never overdone, lead guitar hook. Check the opening riff for “Hatchet pt 1” for a good example of what I’m talking about. And while some bands fail horribly in the vocal melody and harmony departments, The Sci-Fi Nightmares do just fine. These guys write vocal melodies that
Food Not Bombs’ 1st Annual Cupcake Contest and Benefit Show
DANIEL CHAVEZ JR & THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW by Abid Yahya
by Chuck McNally
n Thursday, December 10th at 8pm, Food Not Bombs will be holding a benefit show and cupcake contest at Full Circle Brewery at 620 F Street (just north of Ventura). Wheels of Fortune, Primer Skyline and Yesterday’s Chonies will be playing, and the donation is only $3. Make sure to bring enough extra money for some of the amazing spirits that Full Circle brews on site – including many different kinds of beer, mead, and pulque.
every Sunday in Courthouse Park around 3pm. Help is always needed and greatly appreciated, and nothing is more therapeutic than chopping veggies and serving folks a good meal. Meals are prepared at CAFE Infoshop every Sunday at noon at 935 F St. in Chinatown. See ya there or at the benefit. I can almost see and taste the cupcakes already, and am looking forward to the music and good spirits. Prizes for the cupcake If contest have you fancy been donated yourself a by Tower baker, you Health and are chalYoshi Now. lenged to ______ bring your Chuck McNally finest cupcakes, loves food and thinks sell them to benebombs are really bad, fit Food Not Bombs, and wonders if anyone and enter the cupcake concan outdo the cupcakes from test. Prizes will be given for the Charlotte’s Bakery. He is counting most creative, best tasting, and best the days until the show and looks fordecorated cupcakes. All proceeds ward to wetting his whistle on some from the show and cupcake sales will spirits. Viva Comida!! go towards Food Not Bombs, which is an all-volunteer group that serves
fter last year’s sold-out New Year’s Eve performance, California Public Theater (CPT) is bringing The Rocky Horror Show back to Fresno’s Tower Theater to help us ring in 2010. As Daniel Chavez Jr (who is directing this year’s performance) put it during our interview, it will be perfect for “those who want to have fun on New Year’s Eve, but who don’t want to go barhopping all night.”
The Rocky Horror Show was first performed in England on 16 June 1973. By 1976, thousands upon thousands of showings of the stage play had been performed around the world, and a film version (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) had been released. After a New York showing of the film in 1976 where audience members began shouting and throwing props at the screen, showings of THRPS became the cult phenomenon of audience participation that it is today. It’s now common for spontaneous performances of the play to take place while the film plays on the screen behind, complete with costumes and props.
“It’s not your normal theater experience,” Chavez explained. It’s more of a party. People in the audience yell, dance, and throw things. It’s a lot of fun. You don’t just buy a ticket, sit down, and watch a play. You can become more involved.” While that may sound fun to a lot of people, those who would prefer to just watch can do just that. “If you wanna remain unnoticed and just enjoy the show, that’s no problem,” Chavez reminded me. Chavez, who, in addition to directing the show, is also choreographing and playing the lead role of Frankfurter (the triple-threat of musical theater), grew up in Dinuba, studied music at Chico State, and has been back in the valley since 2005. He also directs the musical theater program at California Arts Academy. Needless to say, when he takes the stage on New Year’s Eve, he brings a lot of talent with him, and it’d be a shame to miss the spectacle. And last year’s performance sold out 11 out of 12 nights. This year, though, there are only two showings (New Year’s Eve and 2 January), so don’t sleep on this. Both shows start at 8pm. Tickets are available at the Tower Theater box office. And for those who want to see the show and do some barhopping after the first show, fear not; it’ll end around 10. “We’re attaching an after-show New Year’s party to the first performance,” Chavez also shared. It’ll take place at the spot next door to the theater, and you can call CPT’s Eric Day at (559) 907-2676 for tickets. Also, on 5 December, the cast and live musicians behind the performance will play an open, full rehearsal of the show (“sort of a preview concert,” Chavez said) at Audie’s Olympic at around 10:45pm.
THE GROUCH IS COMING TO TOWN
by Abid Yahya
’ve recently caught wind of some exciting news. Apparently, the Grouch is coming to town, where he’ll bless our little burg with some of the finest rhymes on the left coast. The Grouch, for those who don’t know, is an emcee out of Oakland, who came up with the Living Legends, but who has been quite prolific both as a solo artist and as half of the duo known as G&E (or Grouch & Eligh). The stage at the Starline will play host to his almost nasally, a bit nerdy, yet all sultry and jazzy and
Grouch continued next page...
The Bill Rojas Benefit
by Carlos ÒDBÓ Montan˜o
hile I was growing up, I attended Christian Temple Church, located on the corner of Fourth and Washington in East Fresno. There was an usher, Brother Bill, who served for many years. He kind of reminded me of an uncle or older cousin. He had tattoos, slicked-back hair, and a cool older car. Despite his rough exterior, you could tell Bill Rojas had a kind heart. He was definitely a positive role model. Recently, Bill was involved in a near-fatal motorcycle accident that has left him unable to walk. Doctors say that, with rigorous therapy, he should be walking again in about one year. Bill and his family are faced with many challenges, both physically and mentally. I felt the need to somehow assist Bill Rojas and his family in this trying time. On Saturday, December 19th, the Bill Rojas Benefit will be taking place at the Babylon, located at 1064 N. Fulton, in Fresno’s Tower District. DB and the Struggle, The Patrick Contreras Band, and Nightwolf will be performing, starting at 9:00pm. There will be a raffle and appetizers, provided by Bobby Salazar’s. The cover charge is $8.00 for the 21 and older crowd. All proceeds will be donated to the Bill Rojas Family. Come out and have a good time for a good cause! ______ Carlos “DB” Montaño is the frontman for the local group, DB & the Struggle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
fresh, lyrical stylings. It will be quite a display, I’m sure, so don’t miss it. The show’s line-up is still taking shape as we go to print, but fellow Living Legend, Aesop, will definitely be on the bill, and rumors are going around about other emcees who might join the lineup. So, seriously, don’t miss it. The show goes down on Tuesday, 29 December, at the Starline (839 E Fern). The time of the event is still up in the air, but there will likely be a cover charge of somewhere between $10 and $15. Also, at 3pm that afternoon, there will be a free meet-&-greet with the Grouch at Smokehouse Grill at 1231 Van Ness Ave in downtown Fresno.
STOP RADIO HATE CAMPAIGN
by Carlos Fierro
resno’s Stop Radio Hate Campaign got under way last month as a way to discuss the state of radio in our fair city. A follow up meeting is slated for December 19 at 2p at the Fresno Main Library’s Sarah McCradle Room. The campaign is an outgrowth of the concerns of many residents in Fresno concerning the particularly disturbing nature of talk radio here in the valley. The range of radio voices has skewed significantly toward the derogatory, abusive, offensive, intolerant, anti-discursive, misleading, and, perhaps worst of all, wrongheaded and ignorant.
Needless to say, the state of radio in Fresno, and across the country, is worrying. There is very little on the airwaves that would count as serious/thoughtful discourse. Rather we are treated to aeolists the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Mike Savage, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin (many of whom can be heard locally), and locally the airwaves are polluted by the poverty of discourse with personalities like Ray Appleton, Chris Daniel, Inga Barks, and Pastor Jim Franklin. Of course, complaining about such programming is like pissing into the wind. Such personalities find homes on the radio because huge audiences welcome them. The more difficult mission for the Stop Radio Hate Campaign is to provide alternatives that do in fact look to serious discourse rather than liberal versions of conservative counterparts. You can help do so by attending.
Wherever There’s A Fight:
how runaway slaves, suffragists, immigrants, strikers, and poets shaped civil liberties in California Heyday Books (2009) Elaine Elinson & Stan Yogi
ost Californians have been exposed to at least the rudimentary outlines of their state’s history, and even that fourth grade white-washing probably let some “negativism” through. Most folks know at least a few stories of California’s historical “wrongs,” usually dealing with Chinese railroad workers or the internment of those of Japanese descent during WWII. We can all give that knowing, solemn nod of recognition when someone reminds us of some of the more sordid parts of our past.
lenged discriminatory anti-Chinese taxes, to Frank Wilkinson, who waged a decades-long campaign against the anti-communist witch hunting of HUAC, to Ed Roberts, a pioneer in the disability rights movement, Elinson and Yogi have put together an almost encyclopedic compendium of victories and defeats for civil liberties in California over the past 160 years. The sheer volume of stories here is almost overwhelming. This is both a small critiLately, though, a cism and a big comkind of impatience has crept pliment. Plowing into discussions of the through the stories, past—a “get over it” attione can get the tude. There is even a tenimpression that dency back toward apolosomeone has been getics. It has become a cleaning out the files mark of historical intelliat the ACLU offices. gence to talk about how For each chapter’s very complicated it all is, — the rights of immigrants, the rights of topic and to denounce the self-righteousness of women, the rights of workers, the right to free those who suggest that the word “wrong” — the authors trace expression, and eight more should apply to anything in history. “You out a century and more of struggle. But while have to put yourself back in the time,” folks the arrangement of the book is awkward, the say. “You have to consider the hysteria suroverall impression one is left with is not rounding the attack on Pearl Harbor—we repetitiveness, but the massive moral weight were afraid of a Japanese attack! They of it all. The old sayings, “The price of liberbelieved they were defending their country.” I would be the last to suggest that we ty is eternal vigilance,” and “Freedom is a shouldn’t try to put ourselves back in the time constant struggle,” take on new meaning. After 469 pages of Wherever or that we should replace thoughtful analysis There’s a Fight, these are no of the past with simplified slogans and preslonger slogans, but a historient-minded condemnations. But if we are to cal reality. avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, we Elinson and Yogi do should at least recognize them as mistakes. Although not pull punches. For help on this task, two long-time employthey give proper attention to ees of the ACLU of Northern California, important victories in the Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi, have written an struggle for gay rights, or the excellent guide, Wherever There’s a Fight: right to free speech, or the How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, right to privacy, they rightly Immigrants, Strikers and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California, published by Heyday refuse to regard these as complete or permanent victories. Books. They eschew the tendency to From Biddy Mason, a slave who present history as a march of won her freedom from her Texas master, to progress. Things have, over Lin Sing, a Chinese immigrant who chal-
reviewed by Paul Gilmore
time, improved, but Elinson and Yogi make clear that it isn’t some evolutionary process— the mere passage of time—that has improved things. Although they perhaps give short shrift to the efforts of social movements in creating room for dissent in California, Wherever There’s a Fight is a sobering reminder that the extension of freedom is rarely the result of “the people” rising up and defending their rights from some corrupt oligarchy. Elinson and Yogi point out that, instead, these victories have often come through the courts in spite of the wishes of the majority. Here we get to the central insights of this study. Two common threads run through these stories. One is the tendency of those with power to overreach and abuse it, and the second is the willingness of most citizens to not only let them, but to actually help them do just that. Being familiar with most of the stories in this book, but having looked at them in isolation, I must say that I had not given proper weight to the tradition of vigilantism in California. In case after case, from the San Francisco crime wave of the 1850s, to the strikes of the 1930s, to the silencing of dissent in the 1950s, we see the “better people” of the community, Legionnaires, and other ax-handle wielding vigilantes—California’s own brown shirts—working arm-in-arm with state power to eliminate the rights and freedoms of unpopular minorities. I’m tempted to say that this was the modus operandi of power in California. Without romanticizing the courts, and recognizing their limitations, Elinson and Yogi rightly celebrate the judiciary in protect-
ing liberty in the face of such pressure. But in quoting Justice Robert Jackson, in his dissent from Korematsu, which upheld Japanese internment, Elinson and Yogi offer a warning. Echoing Madison’s argument that the Bill of Rights is a mere “parchment barrier” against the encroachments of power, Jackson pointed out that the judiciary has limited power and the “chief constraint upon those who command the physical forces of the country… must be their responsibility to the political judgments of their contemporaries and to the moral judgments of history.” When the anti-immigrant mob is just beneath the surface, when vigilantism is often formalized in the initiative process, as in Prop 8, when the Obama administration embraces much of the surveillance society installed by Bush, we have an enormous responsibility. Elinson and Yogi have armed us for the fight. ______ Paul Gilmore teaches history at Fresno City College. He has lived in Fresno since 2001. In the 20th century, Paul lived in various exotic locations, including Baraboo, Wisconsin and Atlanta, Georgia. He has come to like Fresno more. Paul is interested in all sorts of history, but especially that which is not widely known, under the surface — under the surface in the sense of the mountain of ice beneath the iceberg, or perhaps an “undercurrent.” Regardless of the metaphor, he hopes you understand that the iceberg symbol isn’t meant to be a negative thing — in this metaphor, you’re not on the Titantic. You’re the iceberg. Paul can be reached at email@example.com.
Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar Lifelong Book (2009)
Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero (authors of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Veganomicon, and Vegan with a Vengeance)
by Joe Aguayo & Jessi Hafer
reviewed by Jessi Hafer
egan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar is nothing short of remarkable. First, I can’t imagine many books including so many cookie recipes— VCIYCJ has over 100 recipes spanning a huge range of cookie manifestations, from drop cookies, bar cookies, biscotti, and so on. Second, just about all of the recipes sound amazing. It was very challenging picking a handful to start with for this review (I ended up having my fellow taste testers vote). Third, all of these cookies are vegan, yet you wouldn’t know it to taste them.
to agar and arrowroot (both of which might be found at health food stores). The bars had a perfect balance of sweetness and tartness. I suggest you use parchment paper when you make these so they will come out of the pan easier. But these Lemon Bars can stand up and even overtake nonvegan varieties. My non-vegan taste testers were impressed with Magical Coconut Cookie Bars. These are rich and showy, with a graham cracker bottom, chocolate, coconut, and pecans, all tied together with coconut milk and brown sugar reduction as an ingenious substitute for condensed milk. Peanut Butter Blondies were Some of the most intriguing confidently peanut-buttery and very easy recipes are homemade/vegan versions of These were a hit with my fourto make. commercially available cookies, such as year old nephew, too. Nutter Betters (like Nutter Butters), I also made Carrot Raisin Spice Minonos (like Milanos), Lazy Samoas Chewies, which were like carrot cake in (like the Girl Scout Cookie), and Ooh La cookie form. I was a bit skeptical about Las (like Oreos). As the authors quip, this one, but the addition of shredded “Vegan Oreos, finally! Oh wait, Oreos coconut gave these an awesome texture are already vegan. But still—these are and tied together the carrot and raisins even more vegan.” It’s also easy to be awestruck by beautifully. Vegan Cookies Invade Your recipes you thought you’d never ever get Cookie Jar includes must-have cookie to have as a vegan, such as the Big Fat classics along with innovative impressCrispy Rice Squares (like rice crispy your-friends cookies. Each is presented treats, but without the non-vegetarian with simple instructions and the authors’ marshmallows) or the Lemon Bars. sense of fun. There are tons of color picHaving made the Lemon Bars, they surtures to provide inspiration. With holipassed my wildest dreams. If you don’t this is day baking just around the corner, avoid gelatin, you can’t appreciate the the perfect time to pick up a copy. heart breaking realization that you can’t have lemon bars. But the gel in this recipe is actually very gelatin-like, thanks
essi: Since it’s the time of year for traditions and family time, we’re going old school with Cribbage. Because lets face it: your Uncle Bob is not ready for Power Grid or Nerf Russian Roulette. Joe: Yeah—economic board games like Power Grid combined with overeating sounds like the stuff that naps are made of. And you probably already have enough family drama without shooting your Tia Nata in the eye with an errant Nerf bullet. If you’re new to Cribbage, you need to read the rules on your own, or find someone that doesn’t make up rules as she goes along. Jessi: I didn’t make up rules. It just so happens that the rules seem a little odd at first. Cribbage works well for 2, 3, or 4 players with slight modifications to the way cards are dealt. Detailed Cribbage rules come with most Cribbage boards, or you can find them online. Some things to keep in mind: The board is for keeping score. The dealer scores the 4 cards in the “Crib.” You’ll get points from your hand in two ways. First, you’ll get points as you and your opponent take turns laying down cards in “pegging” (moving the pegs to keep score). Second, you’ll get points for your hand at the end. In a two-player game, each player is dealt 6 cards: 4 for yourself, 2 given to the dealer’s Crib. Cut the deck and flip the community card. You’ll play the cards in the round. Then you each count your hands, then the dealer counts the Crib.
What kinds of things get you points? In pegging, you get 2 points if you get to 31, and you’ll get 1 point if you play the last card in the process of trying to get to 31 (then the count starts over). Two points whenever cards add up to fifteen. For runs of three or more, and flushes of four or five: one point for each card involved. Pairs/multiples: 2 points for each pair. It does start getting crazy when you get things like “double runs”—a 4, 5, 5, 6, for example. Joe: At first, it can be a bit intimidating with “double runs,” “double double runs,” and so forth, but once you’ve seen these hands a few times, it really speeds up the game to know their point values. Besides, it’s just fun to have names for particular cribbage hands. A coworker has a name for a 0-point crib: A Lindy. Get it!? (For the youngsters out there, ask your grandparents about Charles Lindbergh and his empty crib.) I threw my hat into the ring and came up with “Jazz hands”: when you have only 2 pair. You hold them up and shake them, as if to say, “This is all I got!” Also, I can’t believe you’re teaching our beloved readers the same way you taught me! Sure, these are the rules until: “Oh hey, I turned up a jack on the cut! Two points for me!” Whatever! Jessi: Yeah, you weren’t happy about the points for the Jacks. When a Jack is flipped for the community card, the dealer gets two points. You get 1 point for the Jack that’s the same suit as the community card. Joe: I have not confirmed the existence of this alleged “Jacks” rule. Sounds dubious at best. Jessi: You asked two random coworkers who both knew about it… Joe: I find it interesting that you left out “muggins,” especially considering the fact that you derive such joy from it. “Muggins” is when you steal your opponent’s unclaimed points. Nerf Russian Roulette is starting to sound better and better….
(1) Mike Howe, Christian Vargas, Eric Beltrans,
Samantha Lazcano, & Creighton Geigle (on the wall of Poladianâ€™s Alterations at Olive & Echo) (2) Jamie Ortega & Guillermo Lopez (on the Downtown Church Administration Building at 1441 Fulton Street) (3) Christian Vargas, Eric Beltrans & Samantha Lazcano (on the back wall of Teazer at 645 East Olive Avenue) (4) Robert Amador (at the soon-to-be-opened Broadway Lofts at 1625 Broadway) (5) Jason Graham & Robert Amador (on the back wall of Broadway Studios downtown)
(6) part of a huge collaboration mural on the side of Broadway Studios (7) the rest of that mural
(1) Josh Wigger (the basketball courts at Hamilton School at Clinton and Palm) (2) on the wall of Food King at 961 E Home (3) Josh Wigger (behind Audie's Olympic at 1426 N Van Ness) (4) on the wall of Stefanelli Distribution at 1945 W Yale Ave (5) behind the African American Historical and Cultural Museum
by Jessi Hafer
f you haven’t had the opportunity to acquaint yourself with the king of Spanish grapes, now’s the time. Tempranillo (little early one, in Spanish) is a nice, rich, dark red wine that has both fruity and earthy (everything from vanilla to leather) undertones. The Tempranillo that I’ve been drinking lately is the 2001 Navarro Lopez. It’s a Spanish wine, although California vineyards have begun growing the varietal and producing nice wines with it. In fact, Fresno State’s winery has produced a very nice bottle.
809 E Olive Ave
11am – 10pm, Monday – Thursday 11am – 3am, Friday – Saturday (closed Sundays)
he Tower District’s newest restaurant, Tower Dogs, has vegan hotdogs!
Why would a vegan want a hotdog? Several reasons. Part of it is wanting the same kinds of experiences as everyone else. This past summer I had my first baseball game hotdog when I went to see the Giants (such a vegetarian friendly stadium!), and I was so happy I could have cried. Another reason is that vegan hotdogs give you an excuse to eat sauerkraut and relish. Part of what I really like about Tower Dogs is that, so far, going there has been an exercise of spontaneity, whereas going out for food is often a premeditated ordeal for me (like going to a Giants game for a hotdog). Tower Dogs is inexpensive, and their hours are good (what better way to end a night out in the Tower than a 3am hotdog?). The staff are also really nice there. An added bonus is that Steve Duquette, one of the owners, is really proactive and open minded about making sure there are vegan options on the menu. He plans on expanding their vegan hotdog choices to include a couple of new options (including the Tofurkey Italian Sausages, which are very good). You can substitute the vegan hotdog on any of the items on the menu. On my first visit, I went with three vegan friends and ordered five different types of hotdogs. We had each cut into 4 pieces so
we could each try all of them. It ended up being a whimsical, unexpectedly sushi-like experience. Of course we tried the Tower Vegan, which has Thai peanut sauce, red peppers, and cilantro. It sounds odd, but it was actually quite good. We tried the Tower Kraut, and I liked the sauerkraut they use. The Tower Kraut is pretty basic, though. While that’s sometimes nice, on my subsequent visits, a favorite choice for me has been to add sauerkraut to the Chicago Style, which has tomatoes, onion, peppers, relish, pickles, and mustard—exactly what you’d expect the perfect hotdog to have. We’ve also become fans of the Californian, which has avocado, grilled onion, and mustard (and, usually, bacon and cheese, so vegans should ask to have those omitted). Last but not least is the Vegan Chili Dog—not only is the chili homemade, but it has a really nice kick to it. It won’t send you running for a cold drink, but it definitively lets you know it’s there. There are at least thirteen hotdog items on the menu, and it seems that, every time I go in, they’ve added something new to the list. Duquette said that, when he opened Tower Dogs in October, he knew that Fresno didn’t have anything like this yet, and he wanted to keep it cheap and keep it simple. Having been there several times now, I think this no-nonsense approach is really a big part of their charm.
The 2001 Navarro Lopez has a vanilla, raspberry, oak bouquet. It’s a dry wine that doesn’t have the fruit flavor that you might expect from the aromas, but the vanilla and oak do come though. It is a bit thinner than you might expect from the rich color of the wine, but it is a very smooth wine that has a pleasant aftertaste with almost no tannins. This wine opens up quite a bit with a little time to breathe, so make sure you cork it early. This wine wouldn’t hold up against a heavy dinner, but with a lighter meal or on its own, it’s a great glass.
Choose Your MisFortune
Then look over at page 31 and see what your misfortune holds
d—I look around Fresno and I see a lot of public art, especially downtown. In the Fulton Mall alone, we have pieces by Clement Renzi, Auguste Renoir, Jan de Swart, Peter Voulkos, some seriously famous artists. Those artists are just the tip of the iceberg for the mall. Off the mall, Downtown Fresno is dotted with many more sculptural pieces, and much more. We also have a mural district (muraldistrict.com) that is spreading and opening up the eyes of Fresno to a greater possibility of public art. But it seems that the rest of Fresno is hesitant, if not openly opposed to public art. Even the Tower district, which has been known as an area for arts & entertainment, has struggled to really embrace public art, as seen in the recent controversy over the mural on Neighborhood Thrift Store. Adam, why do you think that public art seems to be accepted and cherished downtown, but is either left out of or discouraged in other parts of Fresno? Adam—I think part of it has to do with the idea that Downtown Fresno has a district set aside. The art is “caged” in. Art has been stirring things up and causing trouble for ages. Thus, mural districts, museums, and galleries are okay. They are labeled, safe places to voluntarily go and look at art. But as soon as people have to accidentally interact with art or they have the slightest feeling of imposition,
some of them get upset. Let me tell you, I’ve knocked over my fair share of caricaturists’ easels at the beach in my day; those rascals are always trying to draw my tiny ears and nose. Rent a space and pay taxes, you vultures! Ed—Holy crap, that’s funny. But I do agree that maybe it’s about those areas being set aside, and maybe even a destination of sorts. The art downtown is in parks, or on buildings in a business district, not in your neighborhood. When it shows up in your neighborhood, then it’s problematic. Seriously, in all of the online debates over the mural in the Tower District, there were a lot of comments about having to see it everyday; and a lot of people didn’t want to be subjected to something they had no say in. Then again, maybe these same people like schlock-like Thomas Kincaid or paintings of flowers above their toilets. So, if we can stick murals and other art in a part of town we rarely see, then it’s okay. What I wonder is why corporate or business centers in Fresno don’t have public art like other major cities? Is it that Fresno doesn’t like art, isn’t willing to pay for art, or doesn’t know art exists? Adam—Well, I imagine part of it has to do with the same people who feel they are being assaulted by the gargoyles at Iron Bird Lofts or the 100+ foot mural at Neighborhood Thrift store. If I were a business owner trying to drum up customers in this tough
economy, a squeaky wheel loudly proclaiming negative opinions about the public art I incorporated into my venture would certainly make me think twice about it. It’s unfortunate, but it seems to be what happens in some cases. To me, it rings of a cultural problem. Has the artloving culture of Fresno reached critical mass? Has it grown big enough to wield lobbying power in the actual design and construction of the community? Has Fresno reached that point where incorporating art into the city’s body and soul is no big deal? Ed—I think the art-loving community in Fresno hasn’t quite made it yet. It’s growing, but it still has a way to go before it can wield its power over Fresno. And, I totally understand it when it’s controversial art, but why hasn’t Fresno embraced “safe” public art? Do you remember the part in Fight Club when they blew up a sculpture so it would roll into a coffee shop, when Bob was shot? The piece that they blew up was just a huge sphere on a base. Corporate Fresno should be purchasing pieces to have in front of their business or in the strip mall. Instead of public art, it seems that Fresno installs fountains or flowerbeds. Those are fine, but give me some art. And I guess those of us who think like this are still in the minority. Adam—Hmm...now I wonder if there isn’t more art than we think. I’d be curious to tour a few business parks and see if they do indeed have any concrete sculptures or bland commercial art around. I think we’ll get there soon though. We’ll grow as a city and with that growth will come an appreciation for different things, public art being one of them. With Fresno on the cusp of green development, I think we have a unique position with our essentially clean slate to do some really innovative crossover art and make beautiful additions to our fair town.
by Nick Nocketback
1 Without giving too much away, you will have a small stroke soon.
Don’t b e hum ble, yo u’re no t so g reat.
People may say youre a dick...but you don’t think so
4 When you fail at sim plicity, you’ve simply failed at life.. .try again
ve ore, you’ ntion wh e tt a ittering w Tw k no --keep k ic pr Don’t loo le ly litt ome a sil just bec
can trust my advice, right? Anyway, almost everyone is familiar with the African violet…you know… the thickleaved, never-blooming, dusty plants your grandma had in her living room. They can actually be very beautiful and relatively easy keepers with a little know-how. At little quiz and history first… African violets come from… you guessed it, Africa… and they are what kind of plant? Nope, not violets! They are actually gesneriads; their flowers look similar to that of violets, thus the common name, but they are not related to violets at all (although for the purpose of this article, they may be referred to as “violets”). They have been cultivated, bred and mutated from less than 10 original (and not very exciting) species lbert Camus said, “Autumn is a secinto thousands of different varieties. Colors ond spring when every leaf is a of flowers range from red, pink, purple and flower.” Is it that he is an overzealyellow with leaves that can be deep to light ously romantic Frenchman, or is it my invari- green, green and white (called variegated) and able winter-is-coming doldrums that makes even speckled with pink. In their natural his comment seem like total b.s.? As I write habitat, African violets grow under tree this, the trees are changing (and if change has canopies in temperate and humid forests. to come, at least it is in good colors), but the Typically, they grow in acidic mulch from tree sunlight is dull and the chill in the air makes leaves on top of gravelly or rocky ground. me want to huddle in my house until March. Thus, they have bright indirect light, are kept So this month, I am focusing on indoor plants, moist (but not wet) with excellent drainage. namely, the humble African violet. So, how do we turn your living room into an African rain forest? Ok, maybe Full disclosure: I have grown African violets competitively in the past (yep, not. But I can at least help you feel confident enough to try to grow some violets, or salvage they have competitions for these things). I realize that, in many people’s eyes, I have just the ones that you already have. Here’s a breakdown: descended into a level of nerdiness I may l Light: As bright as you can get without never transcend, but at least you know you being hot or direct. Violets are sensitive plants that can’t handle heat, cold or direct sunlight. A good rule of thumb is if you are comfortable, they will be. Most people don’t give them enough light, and have lack-luster results because of it, so try to find the best light that you can. l Humidity: Violets appreciate humidity, and there are a few simple ways to provide it. The first idea is to get a shallow tray filled with gravel and a small amount of water, and place the potted violet on top (make sure that the plant is not standing in the water though). Another idea (my personal favorite) is to simply have a group of plants in an area—they make their own little humidified bio-sphere. The last idea is to grow them in a humid part of the house (i.e. kitchen or bathroom). To be perfectly honest with you, violets will still do okay with little or no effort in the humidity department, but of course they will perform better the better you treat them. l Soil: African violets do best with acidic soil, but again, regular potting soil will usually be okay. Peat moss is a great thing to
have in the soil mix. It holds water well and is naturally acidic. Commercially prepared African violet soil mixes will also usually suffice. It is important to health (and especially to blooming) to repot your plant at least once a year, preferably two to three times. More on that later… l Water: Violets like moisture, but never soggy and certainly never dry. I water mine once a week, putting just enough to fill its reservoir and making sure it doesn’t stand in the water for more than a few hours. It’s best to try and keep it evenly moist if possible.
African Violets 101
l Fertilizer: I add a water-soluble, all-purpose fertilizer to the water every time I water (to almost all of my plants, for that matter). If you want to encourage more blooms, pick a fertilizer with a high middle number, like 530-10, or the like. The middle number, denoting phosphorus, is the chief element for flowering. l Blooming: Yeah, yeah, water it, fertilize it, but how do you get the darn things to flower? Okay… Violets grow from the center of the plant, in circular layers or “rings” (although not hollow or visible) if you will. Each ring grows, on average, 3 leaves (usually evenly spaced around the plant), and has the ability to grow flowers also. Once the ring has grown leaves or flowers, it will never grow any of it again. (It will sometimes grow little clones of itself, but that is a different article!) Therefore, in order to get flowers, you must have the plant constantly grow and make new rings. The way to do this is to keep the violet happy with the above suggestions, and to strip the bottom leaves and roots away and repot it once or twice per year. I have to tell you, I delight in horrifying people by teaching them how to repot their plants. The process goes like this for an established plant: Take the plant out of the pot, gently snap off 2-4 layers or rings of leaves from the bottom of the plant (6-12 leaves evenly spaced around the plant). Cut off about 1/3 of the roots at the very bottom of the root structure. You should have a plant with a naked “neck”, or little trunk, and less roots when you are done. Next, place the violet back into the pot, usually in the same size, but gauge it based on the size of the plant, and place new soil between the roots and the where the leaves begin. Hopefully the bare neck of the plant will come up to a little
below where the top of the pot is, so you won’t have the neck exposed. Make sure the soil is moist, and water and fertilize as usual. Violets are plants, like tomatoes, that can grow roots from the stem (other plants will just rot if you have soil, etc., around the stem) so don’t worry about the lack of roots, or leaves for that matter. Sometimes, this relatively harsh treatment will put a plant into “shock”, in which case the plant will wilt and be generally pissed off. If this happens, you can place the plant (the entire plant and pot) in a sealed (yes, sealed) plastic bag. It acts as a humidified hospital for the plant. In all my years of growing violets, I can’t remember ever having to do this, and I have never lost a plant to repotting, even though the repotting process seems like inevitable death! l Where and what to buy: African violets are everywhere, from discount retailers to the higher end nurseries, to fancy mail-order growers and hybridizers. The best resource is the Fresno African Violet Society’s sale, where you can ask someone directly about a plant. Always look for a shiny-leaved, generally healthy plant. Make sure there are no holes in the leaves or insects on it (especially white fuzzy ones, aka mealy bugs, as they are hard to eradicate). For beginners, I would suggest a variety with solid green leaves (less fussy than other varieties) and some open flowers, but also a few still in bud (so you can enjoy the flowers longer). If you are a more experienced grower, or are just comfortable with plants in general, then grab anything that catches your eye. l More information: There are many Internet sources for more information, including diagrams and videos for repotting and propagating. The African Violet Society of America is a great resource for beginners and veterans alike. You can join the society and receive their magazines, etc., but member or not, their website is also helpful in looking up varieties you might want to grow. There is a local chapter of the African Violet Society, with lovely members and once-monthly meetings, and they occasionally have shows and sales (dates and locations vary). Please e-mail me for more information. So forget Camus’ “leaves are flowers” metaphor and focus on what e.e. cummings wrote, “The Earth laughs in flowers.” The weather may be cold and dreary, and you, like me, may be in quasi-hibernation until spring comes around again; but you can surround yourself with happy little reminders that, whatever the season, there’s always room for a little extra beauty and laughter. Happy holidays. _____ Christy Cole writes this from her plant-filled cave, where she is sleeping and eating until the trees bloom again. She is a teacher and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Antoinette Nelson
MY DEAD BODY
i entered the bathroom and tripped on a swollen foot; wayward and pointed straight at me with its biggest toe. and on my hands and knees i found Myself, quietly dead; i fondled my very own limp arm flung exactly seven inches from the purple brown of my squashed plum navel and finally realised that I truly do possess my mother’s face and sat agape of the resemblance so that my mother was compliant and flung over the white tile in that cold room and not me which helped to keep me from pulling my hair out TRIAGE
I don’t want you to find yourself in My poetry; Don’t want you to sink Your fingers into my words and pull out Whole handfuls of your skin and hair; As though I was scavenging bits of you From a deserted dinner table, Taking them home and carving Them into words. I wouldn’t do that, put you into my works And then show them to you; I’m no kid, round-faced and proud Of the drawing I made, a house with you and me in it; And you’re no benevolent Mom, grinning At the sweetness of it all.
I woke up next to you in the morning With sunlight pouring in through the window all Over your thick comforters like wet butter pouring All over thick brown toast, and I saw your narrow Coffee-bronzed face burrowed into the blankets So that only the ends of your heavy black Eyebrows, pointing to the peaks of your little Ears showed. You were breathing lightly Into your pillow, and I reached out and touched Your hair, a crow-black chunk of your hair, And you moved ever so little. I spent a moment Entranced by the minutiae of your motions, Fascinated by the way waves of light from the window Above your bed gathered and twinkled on your skin Like crowded stars in a toffee-coloured galaxy. My feelings for you always come warmly from My heart at times like this, like great hot loaves of Bread from an oven: swollen as your lips, they Deflate with a tiny nudge from the reality of things, Or grow stale like slices of toast left out overnight And harden to stone. Right now however, with you lying beside my body, Curled into a comma shape and breathing hot dewy Clouds onto your pillow, I feel like warm, wet chocolate And all I want to do is to pour myself Over your smooth henna elbows and knees while Your long eyelashes flutter in your sleep. _____ Antoinette Nelson lives in Fresno after a three-year hiatus in Los Angeles. She is attending Fresno State and studying Cell Biology. She is 24 and still can’t swim.
3 Flash Fiction Pieces P i e m o n te Õ s
nating in the hot pepper’s juice; the yellow heat swelling at the back of his throat. The heat, now Miguelito ordered the imported proscuitto and asked the cashier to growing in him like a fever, makes his forehead cry as the sweat be generous with the pico. “It’s very hot sir, are you streams down his face; stings his eyes. sure?” he asked. “Shit, I can’t see,” he “Yeah man, I can handle snapped, feeling his way along the it.” Miguelito said with chile condeli counter—fingers gliding on fidence. He paid the clerk, nabbed the glass showcasing the fresh the sandwich from his hands and pasta salads and cheeses; the clamped down. homemade sausages with fancy In that moment of fresh names. baked bread and the salivating “Dude, what are you tongue, between the olive oil rack doing?” the clerk asked, sighing at and the deli clerk’s I told you so the blind teen in the store. eyes, young Miguel experienced “I need water,” Miguelito Italian salsa—made that day to hammered. He remembered the burn his lips. refrigerator at the back of the He experienced the diced store, that the small journey was pepperoncinis, the small tears of garlic, the slivers of carrots mari- but a few steps from where he was
at. Miguelito waved hands, stumbled away from the counter like a drunk among the bread loaves, the jars of marinated this and marinated that. Miguelito could not see and he was knocking Italian groceries off the counters. “Stop that!” the clerk shouted as he followed the bumbling customer, picking up boxes of pastas and placing them back in their respective spaces. “I don’t care,” Miguelito replied, his face already red, like a habanero. “I. Am. In need. Of water.” The refrigerator was exactly where Miguelito imagined it to be. It was the large kind like the ones you would see at a corner market or liquor store—he was merely inches from the glass door where the cold liquid was kept. “Bro, you don’t wanna open that,” the cashier warned, pointing at the Frigidaire Miguelito did not know was empty. It was empty because a disgruntled employee left a dead rat in the freezer, unplugged it from the back, and let the gray flesh rot over night. He was fired because he was caught stuffing expensive proscuitto down his pants. “Don’t eat the Italian salsa!” he said, as he was escorted out the building the day before the clerk was hired to replace him; “It’s worse than a mutha fucker!” he yelled, his voice booming as if to create an echo that would reach Miguelito the very moment he were to open the fridge; his eyes beginning to tear from the hot Italian Salsa right about now.
H e c t o r F i n d s Hi s Mu s e
by Michael Luis Medrano
di-da—my name is Hector. Even when I walk the downtown streets I never look to see where I’m going. I walk. I write. I record everthing I see on the page, my fourth journal in as many days. Was taught this at the writer’s workshop, upstairs above the art gallery—write what you hear, what you see, become a slimy poet of the streets. Get lower than the rats and roaches and record the day from this lens! “You have to,” Meta the workshop leader tells me. “Otherwise why write?” When it is my turn to share poems I pass and tell the poets I haven’t written any. I even fail to mention how I filled four journals with observations of my neighborhood cuz I don’t think they’re any good. On top of that, I’m the youngest and brownest poet of the group, armed with brand new journal number five. But no one at 1630 Van Ness, in the middle of Downtown Fresno, knows this. “Hector, you haven’t read for us in weeks,” Meta says, “why don’t you share a poem?” I nod no. “What do you mean, no?” Meta snatches the blank book from my hands like a scorpion with incredible pinchers. “ And Hector, why are you looking at my feet when I’m trying to read your work.? Up here, eye-to-eye! What? Do you like my toes?” My eyes roll to her face and she is squinting as if she doesn’t get what I’m writing about. “My name is Hector. My name is Hector? This is it? This is crap! My name is Hector, hmmph.” My name is Hector—bada-da-di-da, ba-da-da-di-da.
My name is Hector. My name is Hector. My name is Hector. The small sentence repeating in the “You. Hector. Over here, white space, my journal. I am Mijo I’m Talkin’ to you! Ay chanting the sound of the name in cabron, wish he’d get his fairy tale the music, repeating in my head head out of that god damn book! like a catchy pop song—ba-da-da-
He’s always writing, down the street he writes, not minding the traffic—he’s gonna get hit one of these days.” I write my name in elegant tag scribble, like the gangstas on the block who spray their terrific wild names on backyard fences—Shadow, Gremlin, El Louie (that’s the best one), even my Tio Johnny, yeah, he’s calling me from up the block, seven houses from Nana’s where he lives. Looks like he’s washing his prize Cadillac, and there’s a pretty girl in the backseat wiping the rear window with newspaper and Windex. She looks too young to be my tia. Yeah, my tio’s got his name somewhere too. Johnny Locs. I’m not crazy like Tio Johnny who’s done prison time. I ain’t got no street name. I am Hector Luis Alarcon, in fancy letters. “Hector, get your crazy head out of that book,” Tio Johnny yells, his voice deeper than a pit bull growl. “Hey Tio.” “Mijo, where you goin’?” I ignore the question and tell my tio that Nana’s got breakfast made. He don’t need to know where I’m heading out to. Don’t want him to laugh or say something that’ll piss me off or something. “Nah,” he replies. “Your grandparents don’t want me over there.” “What do you mean?” “They jus…,” Tio Johnny lets out a sigh, pops his second can of O’Douls of the day cuz he’s tryin’ to quit drinking. “…don’t want me over there.” The near beer makes Tio burp loud, his face sours as if he tastes the gas coming up. “Sobrino, why do you write so much?” Tio changes the subject because the Alarcons never
Fiction continued next page...
talk their problems out loud.” “Like what, Tio?” I remember the label on the beer bottle, my tio not completing sentences to get to his truth. “You know, walking and writing at the same time.” “I don’t know, it’s what I do.” “Well, I don’t understand it. I think you should quit.” “Quit writing?” I fire back. I crane my neck like a giraffe, try to gain a peek of Tio’s new love interest. “Where’s Tia Lucy?” I try to make eye contact with the girl in the backseat, but she turns away before I can make out her face. “She’s in the bedroom, probably recovering from a hangover,” he says without remorse. “You shouldn’t be fucking up on her,” I reply, jamming my finger into my tio’s chest. “That’s your wife. Didn’t you tell me you wanted to make a family with her?” “Mind your business, cabron,” Tio pushes me. I fall on my ass—a bone hard drop to cement and my journal flying out of my pocket. “Let me see this, you little fuck!” Tio snatches the journal from the concrete, fast, like Meta at the writer’s workshop. He opens the hard cover, breathes in, and starts to read as I get up and dust myself. “Hey Hector, you damn good.” His hard glare, curled lips slowly worked into a smile as he turned the pages of my journal and mumbled as he read. “Thanks,” I reply, hoping he’ll give me back my book before he starts reading the passages about himself and his drinking. “That’s cool, I can’t believe I’m in here, and Nana, and the whole family even!” “Tio, you’re not upset?” “About what, cuz your tellin’ the truth, er, I mean your truth, right?” Tio wraps his tattooed arms around me, kisses my forehead, and messes up my forehead like when I was little. “Yeah, that’s how I see things. So, you’re sure you’re not upset? “Upset? Hell no! Let me tell you something, Sobrino, I’ve seen drama…my whole life’s a drama, so this ain’t shit to me. Say…” “Yeah, Tio?” “Why don’t you join my new girl for breakfast?”
“Like I said, Tio, what about Tia countless novels he had borrowed from friends; Short-Stories by Chekov; “Sheiiittt!” Tio says as he One Hundred Years of Solitude, stretches the word as far as he can. In the and how infuriated they Alarcon family, a curse with extra vowels became when he had means, not right now, or, I’m not ready to given back the books, face my truth. “Well since you don’t want half-read, unready to to eat with your favorite uncle, how bout’ discuss the great literature beyond the a lift?” parameters of cof“I’m on my way to the writer’s fee shop disworkshop, Tio, in downtown, and no, I don’t need a ride, I’ll walk.” I go on with course. The man knew nothing my small journey, jotting down the images that I hear, all the colors, sounds, else but to pedal and smells of the barrio enter my journal, down bustling like mind breaths, my walking meditation Olive Ave, confused in his own singing out, my name is Hector, ba-dalogic; the great da-di-da ba-da-da-di-da. scroll of books he refused to finish; all Th e M an Wh o those stories and H at e d E n di n g s incomplete narratives swirling in the basket of his The man pedaled down Olive Avenue, brain; and of course, the colorwhenever he shopped for groceries— ful globes of fruit protruding plastic bags dangling from the handlebars through plastic bags that dangled like like earrings, a stem from a loose orange earrings on the handlebars poking through the emblem on the wrap- of the old bike, so old, that per from the store—a thorn perhaps fore- the man who hated endings shadowing an event in the man’s life had no clue what was to which would mean he’d end up losing happen next. everything. _____ But the man paid no attention to Michael Luis Medrano is endings. For example, he loathed the the author of Born in the final acts in plays and once walked out in Cavity of Sunsets the middle of Romeo & Juliet; how the (Bilingual Press, 2009). He man stumbled through the last row, holds an MFA in creative blocking the view of a woman who was writing from the University on the verge of tears, her husband madof Minnesota, Twin Cities, dogging the man who was on his way to and has performed his exit just as Juliet were to stab herself and work at Stanford take the fall. And even in the solitary of University, The Loft his study, when the day’s light faded into Literary Arts Center in evening; he would read the classics; Minneapolis, and the Moby Dick, Metamorphosis, and relished University of Colorado, in not completing those great books Boulder. His work is forthbecause he lusted only for the fever of the coming or has appeared in read; he would care less whether Ahab North American Review, would finally hook the mighty whale or Bombay Gin, and The when Mr. or Mrs. Samsa discovered their Cortland Review among pitiful, workaholic of a son, transformed others. Medrano is the host as a roach. Neither of these events would of the bimonthly move the man and he would smirk, give "Pakatelas," a literary out a guffaw, and head out, into the radio show on KFCF Fresno night, on a bicycle of worn tires, 88.1FM. His new collection rusted chrome; inadequacy of his brakes. of poems, When You Left What, if anything, would move To Burn At Sea, is seeking the man? What would help him fill that a publisher. empty gap in the mind he believed he had that others didn’t? He remembered the couple he stumbled over at the Shakespeare festival; how his clumsiness and fear of endings prevented them from enjoying the show. He remembered the Lucy?”
Undercurrent Dec/Jan 2009/10