Tom’s Trains owner Charlie Worstell shows off a holiday-themed train in this Bee file photo from 1998 by John Walker.
I’ve only interacted with Charlie Worstell, the owner of Tom’s Trains, a few times, but when I heard that he died earlier this month, I knew I had to do a story about him. He is what makes the Tower District so unique. He was a colorful character — a talkative, cantankerous, goofy, intellectual character.
With his passing June 8 of lung cancer, many people lost a longtime friend. Even if you didn’t know him, you may have seen him holding court and telling stories on the patio at the Revue Cafe. Or you drove past his store on Van Ness Avenue and saw the long-haired guy sitting out front in a chair, reading a book and smoking a cigarette. That was Charlie.
Alternative/emo-band Jimmy Eat World will be in town Sept. 7 at the Star Palace Ballroom. Tickets are $32 and went on sale Friday. The band is probably best know (to me at least) for its hit “The Middle,” the second single from the band’s fourth album, released after the band was dropped by Capitol Records.
It (the band and the album) was later picked up by DreamWorks, so everything was cool.
The band’s latest “Damage” (its eighth), came out last Tuesday.
On a side note: This show is being promoted by Numbskull Productions, which seems to be making moves on the Fresno scene. Numbskull has been booking for 20 + years mostly in southern California and on the Central Coast, but has recently announced a string of Fresno shows including: Zavala (June 26), Machine Head (June 18), Kottonmouth Kings (July 17), Guttermouth and Agent Orange (July 23) and Joyce Manor (July 24). Numbskull founder Eddy Burgos is part of the team that has taken over the Starline venue in Tower District, so it’s logical the company would look to have a larger presence in the area.
Check out videos for “The Middle” and “How’d You Have Me” (from the new album) below.
Uploaded and ready to put in your iPod (or iPhone or whatever other device you use to listen to podcasts), it’s another episode of Flowing with Famous, where I sit down with Mike Seay to talk Fresno arts, entertainment, politics and more.
It might help if you picture us sitting at a dive bar somewhere.
In this episode we discuss:
Kenny Wizz (or Wizz as he’s known) has done the moonwalk more times than Michael Jackson ever did. As the world’s No. 1 Jackson impersonator, Wizz has performed as Michael since 1984 and done shows all over the world. He estimates he’s done 15,000 shows in Las Vegas alone.
Right now, he’s in the midst of a two-month U.S. tour followed by trips to Australia and Indonesia. Wizz’ tribute “Michael Jackson HIStory” comes to the Saroyan Theatre on Friday. The show is a recreation of what Jackson did live Jackson — a two-hour performance covering 22 songs from pop icon’s catalog of music.
And the Beehive will be giving away tickets to three lucky readers. Enter to win by leaving a comment below. We want to know what’s your favorite Jackson song and why. For my money, you can’t get better than “Dirty Diana,” which probably tells you how old I am. The contest will run through 5 p.m. Wednesday (June 19). Winners will be chosen at random and notified via email. These are actual, physical tickets, so they will need to be picked up at The Fresno Bee office (1226 E. St.) before 5 p.m. Friday.
See the full contest rules (and a video of Wizz) below.
Yep, I waste food. I try really hard not to and I’m overwhelmed with guilt when I do, but despite my best efforts, it still happens. That nasty-looking photo at right is my compost and atop that pile of egg shells and corn husks are several carrots that were perfectly usable until I forgot about them in the refrigerator.
This is especially atrocious as I’m one of two reporters working on a series of stories about the growing problem of food waste. The latest installment, which ran today, is about food waste in the home.
Americans waste 90 billion pounds of food each year. It’s not just the food, but the water and the land that grows that food that goes to waste (about 24% of all water used for growing crops goes toward food that gets wasted). And rotting food in landfills create methane gas that contributes greatly to global warming.
I’m getting better at not wasting food as I work on this series. But I’ve still got a ways to go. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. You know how it is. You shop for the week, with your menu all planned out and then a friend unexpectedly comes into town and takes you out to dinner. Or you work late and it’s just easier to stop at Chipotle than it is to start a meal from scratch at 7:30 p.m.
So, I’m vowing to do a better job. Anybody out there want to join me? The story include a list of tips, some surprising, about how to not waste food. And Ramona the Super Nonwaster shares how she keeps her garbage can almost empty in my profile of her.
On Friday I wrote about Fresno music festivals, specifically The Catacomb Party, which is happening July 20 and just announced its official lineup. In the column, I also mentioned a number of other local music festivals. I knew I would be unable to mention them all.
I was correct.
Lou Beck emailed in to remind me of the Sounds of Mardi Gras Jazz Festival, put on by the Fresno Dixieland Society during the second weekend in February each year. It is a traditional Dixieland festival, one of two left in the Western United States.
Chef Zong Yi Liu and Jennifer Pan, one of the new investors in the business.
Fans of the popular Hunan Chinese Restaurant have been dying to know when the original location at Cedar and Herndon will reopen and now we have an answer: Saturday.
The restaurant has been closed for five months while new investors pumped fresh life into the place. (Hunan 2 at Herndon and Clovis has remained open.) A wall was knocked down in the dining room to expand it and the interior has been completely redone. The kitchen was also expanded and now has all new equipment, making Chef Zong Yi Liu very happy. The changes have allowed him to add new dishes and there’s now 168 entrees and appetizers to choose from. (Don’t worry, the popular butter cream prawns is still on the menu, but now there’s golden sand prawns, a saltier, less sweet version of the dish.)
Hunan also has an unusual new sister business, a furniture and art store. Heaven & Earth opens Saturday too, two doors down from the restaurant. It’s the first store in the U.S. run by the interior design and construction firm that owns it in Taiwan. It’s part store and part museum, with one-of-kind pieces such as the nearly 900-year-old stone goat selling for $95,000. There’s so many historical artifacts in the store that Hunan diners are encouraged to browse the store like museum before or after eating.
A heartfelt farewell to Mike Scott, who departed CBS47 this morning just a few days short of his 30th anniversary with the station. Here’s a shot of him with the morning team. Mike, if you add up the number of happy moments you’ve added to people’s lives over the years, it’s impressive. Keep us posted on Twitter about Robbie’s charmed dog life. We’ll see you at the movies.
It’s not unusual for a director to have to cut a scene or two when a film begins to run long. There was a time when that footage would be lost but now it often shows up as “deleted scenes” when the movie or TV show is finally released on DVD.
There wasn’t a lot left over when directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg finished shooting the dark comedy “This Is the End.” The movie was produced on a very tight budget so they tried not to film anything that wouldn’t be in the final cut. Despite their best efforts, there’s one scene that didn’t make the movie. And, the odds of it being on the DVD are slim.
In last Friday’s 7 section, we gave a big splash to the Woodward Shakespeare Festival’s season-opening production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The show opens 8 p.m. today and continues through July 6 at the 13 Acres Stage in Woodward Park, one of those magical places in which no matter how hot of a Fresno day came before it, gentle breezes make a pleasant evening.
A major player in “Midsummer” is Puck, of course. Mohammad Shehata, who should be familiar to Beehive readers (he traveled to Washington, D.C. in April to compete in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival), promises an expressive rendition of the character. At a recent Bee photo shoot, he demonstrated that he can open his eyes wider than a dinner plate. We were so impressed we decided to offer you three different Mohammad’s-eye views:
By the way, I’m told that it’s best to arrive half an hour before curtain so you can experience some merry mischief meted out by the fairies.
You’re going to have some free time weekend, now that you have to give up filing for that patent on your DNA. Worry not, there is plenty to do, especially if you’re a music fan. For a close-to-complete-but-not-at-all list, I present your weekly installment of BANDGEEEEEK!!!
I hope you have your affairs in order because the end is here. It’s bad enough the network and cable channels are filled with a seemingly endless list of disgusting and vile reality shows. But TLC — that at one time stood for The Learning Channel but now stands or Totally Lame Channel — has taken reality TV to a whole new appalling level.
The 9 p.m. July 17 season opener for “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” will be a “Watch ‘n Sniff” event. Take a moment to think about that.
“Man of Steel,” the latest big screen adaptation of the the Superman story, is very different from all of the other TV and film versions that have gone before it. I’m not just talking about the lack of certain well known elements associated with the comic book icon — no Fortress of Solitude, big S on the back of his cape or kryptonite — but in the way the story is told.
Director Zack Snyder has opted to go darker with his film. That ranges from the deeper hues in Superman’s suit to the percussion-heavy score by Hans Zimmer. You’ve heard Zimmer work in the movies “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Rango” and “Inception.”
Fred Bologna closed the chapter on a remarkable run last weekend. He directed “New Wrinkles,” the annual senior showcase revue at Fresno City College, for 10 years. His last production, “New Wrinkles Turns Silver,” marked the franchise’s 25th anniversary.
Bologna now lives in Carmel, but he hasn’t forgotten Fresno. After 40 years with Good Company Players, he plans to direct January’s “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” which happened to be the company’s very first show back in 1973.
I caught up with Bologna for an interview before “New Wrinkles” closed, and I wanted to be sure to acknowledge his sustained contribution to Fresno’s cultural scene — not only with “Wrinkles,” but in general.
Question: Were you hesitant at all when you first took on the role of directing “New Wrinkles”?
No. I had taught elementary school for 11 years, third grade. I told the interviewing committee when they asked me why I thought I could direct a troupe of senior citizens that I had taught third graders. Working with a performing group of senior citizens would be about the same. But, I had been artistic director of the fresno balllet, taught and directed and choreographed for Roosevlt School of the Arts, Good Company Players, and many other theater organizations. I felt that I could make this work. I did get a little nervous when I discovered the first rehearsal that Tom Wright (the former director of “New Wrinkles”) and his wife showed up. They stayed for three years.
The Daily Meal website has named Dusty Buns one of the country’s top 101 food trucks. The Fresno favorite landed at No. 55 on the list and is the only Valley food truck on the list. (And an extra special “yea” for beating out some trucks from L.A. and New York.)
Owners Kristin and Dustin Stewart weren’t even sure what people were talking about when the “congratulations” texts started rolling in today. But they quickly figured it out. “We are stoked,” Dustin says. “We’re just so excited to be here and our team is so pumped again.”
You can read a little about methodology of how Daily Meal editors made their picks at on the website, but here’s a sampling:
The inaugural list of The Daily Meal’s best food trucks canvassed more than 30 cities. Added to those were staff favorites, trucks praised by organizations, and national and local publications, both in print and online. Editors consulted popular review sites and critical appraisal. They analyzed trucks’ number of Twitter followers and Facebook “likes.” … That methodology applied in 2013, save some differences.
My headlights are pretty gross: yellow, spotty and pretty dingy. Whereas I would guess they are that way because they are HEADLIGHTS and it is within their nature to become grody, others might surmise that the true reason is that I pay ZERO attention to them. Whatevs.
I’ve tried various things to clean them: soap and water and elbow grease, and when that failed, Windex and more elbow grease; and then I politely gave up. If the stupid things wanted to be filthy, far be it from me to interfere. And I went about having a normal, I’ll-ignore-you-if-you-continue-to-work relationship with the headlights.
That is, until my father-in-law happened to notice their cheddar-like appearance, and unknowingly threw down a DIY gauntlet: “Toothpaste will clean that, you know.”
“Toothpaste, you say?” A simple, household cleaning agent designed specifically to remove yellowy gunk, applied here to specifically remove yellowy gunk? That sounded just crazy enough to work! Behold, my experiment.
Local musicians are mourning the loss of longtime Fresno guitarist Allen Rodriguez, who died on Saturday at the age of 57. Rodriguez was part of a community of musicians that started playing in the area in the late 1970s and produced bands like Gang’s Back.
Fresno was a little smaller of a place back then, and Arturo Aldana remembers everyone getting together for jam sessions at Kearney or Roeding park. “Until they threw us out,” says Aldana, who started playing music in 1971, mostly because of Rodriguez. The two remained friends throughout the years. He remembers Rodriguez as a talented guitar player who was well liked by many. “We was always working, always playing in bands,” Aldana says. In fact, he was in the middle of a gig Saturday, when he started feeling ill.
“Who he was was defined by his music,” says Rodriguez’ son, Adrian Rodriguez. He knew the man mostly as a father, but often got to watch him perform and even joined in for a time, playing the congas. Rodriguez’ world was the music scene and his absence is being felt by many, Adrian says.
To honor Rodriguez’ memory and influence, Aldana and others are putting together a jam session 2 p.m. Friday at the American Legion Post 509 (3509 N. First St.) and welcome those who knew him to participate.
Here is a video of a young Rodriguez that’s being passed around. It encapsulates Rodriguez’ performing style.
Fresno Filmworks has built an audience by filling the void created by the city’s cineplex monopoly. The group screens first-run films (both international and American, both feature and documentary) that would otherwise get delegated to the Netflix cue (or Amazon Prime, I suppose). The films tend toward the unconventional (for those with blockbuster tastes) and the venue is no multiplex.
Like, you can order a scotch in the lobby. And drink it. In the theater.
For June, Filmworks is pushing even those boundaries some, with its first ever double feature. That’s two different independent films in one night. The award-winning independent comedy “Gimme The Loot,” will screen at 5:30 p.m., followed by the campy B-movie throwback “The Ghastly Love of Johnny X,” at 8 p.m.
As a bonus, “Johnny X” director Paul Bunnell, star Will Keenan, costume designer Kristina West and executive producer Mark Willoughby will be on hand after the screening to talk about the film.
As a double bonus, there will be an after-party at The Voice Shop. Admission is free with a ticket stub from either program. There will be music, snacks and a cash bar.
Filmworks has generously offered us tickets to give away to our readers. To enter, simple leave a comment below telling us what’s the best movie you’ve seen Filmworks present (I particularly liked “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson”). The contest will close at noon, June 13. Winners will be chosen at random and notified via email.
We will give out one pair of tickets to each show, so be sure to tell us which you’d like to see.
You can read more about eachfilm over at the Filmwork’s Film Forum blog. Check out the film trailers (and the full contest rules) below.
If you follow Fresno-area theater on this blog, then you know Marc Gonzalez, whose enthusiasm for the stage extends both to performing and spectating. I already told you last week how he, Mady Broach and Daniel Hernandez scored tickets to the Tony Awards by winning the ticket lottery. Now that he’s just finished up his action-packed visit to New York, which he topped off Sunday night with the Tonys, I’m giving his photos a standing ovation. Gonzalez has never met a stage door he didn’t like, and he got some great photos with some of Broadway’s biggest names. Below, Gonzalez with Sigourney Weaver after a performance of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”
Gonzalez, who was flying back to Fresno on Monday afternoon, will be updating his blog later this week. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of what looks like a most satisfying theater binge.
You’ve got to love proud parents. They make the best PR reps.
For instance, Gary Warner, who emailed in to let us know his children (son Scott and daughter Kristi) will be performing on Thursday night at Yosemite Ranch.
This is actually a good tip.
Some will no doubt remember Scott (who now attends Belmont University in Nashville), from his days making electro-pop music under the name RoboPop. And his sister Kristi is making a name for herself as a country singer, dping Nashville’s club and café writers rounds, open mic nights at the like. Recently, she competed at the Wildhorse Saloon’s Battle for the Saddle competition, and did fairly well, according to dad.
Thursday’s show starts at 9 p.m. There’s no cover. Here’s a link to the flier with some more details.
And here is a video of Scott (looking a bit like Mike Patton) at Zapp’s Park, followed by one of Kristi doing a cover of Patti Loveless’ “Jealous Bone.”
The award for best Tony Awards closing number goes to: Neil Patrick Harris and five-time Tony winner (and Fresnan) Audra McDonald in a reworked version of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind.” [Audra McDonald's Facebook]
Just a Peach: The much-loved Masumoto family’s peaches take center stage with the release Tuesday of their new book, “The Perfect Peach.”[The Bee]
Not a joke: Fresno pair featured on TLC’s “My Teen is Pregnant & So Am I.” [The Bee]
A rotten ranking: Lots of so-called national surveys that give Fresno low rankings are a little silly. (Remember when we were declared America’s drunkest city?) But a new one from the Trust for Public Land, which lists us as the lowest ranked of the nation’s top 40 cities in terms of citywide parks systems, is just plain sobering. Politicians, are you paying attention? [Atlantic magazine]
Once upon a time: Create your own “Modern Fairytale.” [The Germ]
Tops, dresses, shoes, premium denim and the occasional prom dress fill the store — which is more than double the size of its previous space. There are Express tops, White House/Black Market blazers, and 7 for all Mankind jeans. A pair of Coach clogs originally priced at $230 are priced at $40 at T & T. Most clothing costs between $9 and $15 and is name brand. “No Walmart or Target,” says owner Ly Sing Raymundi.
The extra space allows Raymundi to begin carrying home decor and small furniture such as chairs. She’s also looking for more consignors to sell their clothing and decor and fill up some of the new space. Contact the store about selling.
A one-of-kind product also sold at T & T are the “pop portraits” by local artist Laurie Moe. Moe paints mostly black-and-white portraits of celebrities including Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, along with custom orders of average people, even pets.
It was a horrible, terrible, no-good, awful heat situation this past weekend. One-hundred eight degrees does not work for my constitution — it is simply inhumane, I tell you (*fans face with hand*). Such heat is not even suitable for comfortable poolside resting. Other first world problem? My air conditioner makes life a wee-bit too chilly for napping easily.
Whatever is a girl to do? (*flustered sigh*)
But last week, Robert Rodriguez gave me yet ANOTHER mouth-watering recipe to drool over, this one helping with the otherwise intolerable heat: Cherry limeade ice pops.
The official lineup of this year’s Catacomb Party has just been released. It’s got some big names and a couple of surprises for hardcore fans of the scene.
Let’s get right in and discuss.
Headliners: Last year the festival was headlined by Fierce Creatures (it was the band’s party, after all). This year, Nigerian drummer Tony Allen will co-headline the show with Fresno’s own Fashawn. Allen has been making music since the 1960s and is an Afrobeat legend. Fashawn is home-town hero. This alone will secure a crowd.
Out-of-towners: While the lineup is heavy on the locals, there is a good draw of national, touring acts. Most have played the area before, including post-punk band Seahaven (who has established a following), San Francisco indie-band Animal Friend and hip-hop sample-master Diabase.
The locals: Putting Fashawn aside, the local lineup is solid and includes workhorse band like Sahab and Light Thieves, along with the much hyped Le Wolves and Sci-Fi Caper. The big surprise is the reunion of Sleepover Disaster. There is a generation who may have never seen this influential local band. This will be a welcomed introduction.
Again, the whole event takes place July 20 on the Fulton Mall. It will be free and all ages.
In case you’ve forgotten, last year’s Catacomb Party (essentially the Fierce Creatures’ album release show), was a free mini- music festival on the Fulton Mall. It was such a success, organizers decided to run with the idea for another year.
Take a look at the full lineup and tell us what you think?
Fresno Grand Opera announced its 2013-14 lineup to season ticket holders this week. It doesn’t feature any traditional opera. But it does promise a big local production of “Les Miserables.”
“Les Miserables” opens Jan. 17 and will play four performances at the Saroyan Theatre. This will be a local production, not the revamped national tour that has been traveling the country for a few years and is currently in Sacramento. The revamped version, which tightens the storyline and eliminates the trademark turntable, is slated to open on Broadway in March, marking a return to New York after an absence of many years.
National tours of “Les Miserables” played at the Saroyan Theatre in 1993, 1996 and 2000, but this is the first time an original production of the musical will take the stage there.
The opera’s general director, Ronald D. Eichman, said the principal members in the Fresno production have all either performed in the national tour or on Broadway, adding:
Additionally, some ensemble roles are cast with artists who have national experience, and we fully anticipate that the balance of the locally and regionally cast ensemble will deliver on a national caliber level.
Eichman calls the upcoming “Les Miserables” the largest scale production in the company’s history, financially and otherwise. “We have been anticipating this production for three years, when we were notified of the release date for the licensing to produce it,” he said.
Single-ticket prices for “Les Miserables” range from $55-$130.