Our thoughts at the Beehive are with the family, friends and colleagues of local filmmaker Eric Catlapp, 32, who died early this morning. The attack on him in the Tower District is one of those senseless acts of violence that has you reaching for something to steady yourself as you contemplate the randomness and brevity of life.
We’re also thinking about the close-knit Tower District. Though not all the city’s cultural events take place there, there’s something special about the neighborhood — a vitality and creative spark — that makes it seem the cultural heart of Fresno. (I’ve always told people from all over Fresno they should treasure the Tower even if they don’t go there very often. Every vibrant bigger city needs the idea of a place like this. Without it, we’re just living in a big strip mall.) We have no doubt the Tower District will band together and overcome this brutal blow.
Tributes to Catlapp are being swapped all over local social media. Here’s an inspiring one posted on the Facebook page of the CMAC (Community Media Access Collaborative):
From the CMAC:
Today we learned that one of our kindest, most productive and helpful members, Eric Catlapp, passed away. Eric was so excited about video production that he recently purchased his own camera equipment and was seldom seen without at least one camera and often more. He was a fixture here at CMAC and could often be found hanging around talking with members about projects and new ideas.
Eric was always willing to help anyone who needed it and worked for hundreds of hours on his own and other members’ projects. He loved CMAC and was devoted to our mission and our members. We will miss him greatly.
Did you see the hilarious paparazzi photo of Vince Vaughn at Disneyland being recognized by two shocked fans? Turns out the girls in the pic are from Clovis. They stopped by Channel 47 to chat with Zara Arboleda, who seized the opportunity to put a new spin on the photo.
Jordan and Amy were walking through the park on Monday when they spotted the celebrity walking with his pregnant wife, and were so excited that they stopped and pointed at him. At that moment, a picture was snapped by a paparazzi and later posted on the Internet.
I’d like to introduce you to three remarkable people: Cynthia Dallas, Lucy Del Real and Geno Ventura. They’ve been performing in “New Wrinkles,” the senior musical revue show at Fresno City College, for all 25 years of the show’s existence.
Dallas is 86. Ventura is 88. And Del Real is 89. And they’re opening tonight for a whopping 16-show run, many days with matinee AND evening performances.
We highlight these three original cast members in today’s cover story in 7. But the entire cast — there are 74 total — is to be admired. And emulated. While many people 40 and 50 years younger are spending nights rearranging themselves on their couches, this group of in-shape seniors are dancing, singing and cracking one-liners.
The production: the play “Dear Harvey,” written by Patricia Loughrey, about Harvey Milk, the gay civil rights activist and San Francisco politician assassinated in 1978.
The format: Each of the seven veteran actors, under the astute direction of Miguel Gastelum, crafted a portrait of Milk, alternating his own words with those of family, friends, colleagues and letters from the public.
My take on the play: I felt mixed about some aspects of the writing of the play, which at times feels more like a hagiography than a full-fledged portrait. It veers into occasional over-the-top veneration that I suspect Milk himself would have had a great time deflating, and the play’s narrative structure didn’t always flow. But the direction and acting more than compensate, truly elevating the experience.
The standout moment: There were many, actually, but one that sticks with me was from Hayley Galbraith depicting a lesbian struggling to come out to a friend. Within the framework of her character’s stammering, she created what seemed an intensely vivid sliver of a life.
The Fresno State Bulldog Pride Fund is staging an intriguing fundraiser with its production of “Dear Harvey,” a play by Patricia Loughrey about Harvey Milk, the gay civil rights activist and San Francisco politician assassinated in 1978. (Today is Harvey Milk Day.) The play will be presented tonight and Thursday night at The Painted Table in the Tower District.
A stellar local cast directed by Miguel A. Gastelum tackles this nearly fully staged production that includes lighting, sound and multimedia. (Because of the short rehearsal schedule, the actors are still on book.) It features seven ensemble cast members: Joel C. Abels, Matthew Freitas, Hayley Galbraith, Jennifer Lewis, Terry Lewis, Chris Mangels, and Leslie Martin.
There are a number of price points for tonight’s 7:30 p.m. opening, including options for a two-course dinner, wine-and-cheese pre-reception and dessert post-reception. On Thursday, which features general seating, pre-performance beverages and menu items will be available for purchase starting at 5:30 p.m., with the show starting at 7:30 p.m.
UPDATE: Congratulations to winners Ben Sondheim, Evelyn Westling and Jim Henderson.
ORIGINAL POST: For 25 years, a stalwart group of older performers has anchored Fresno’s beloved “New Wrinkles.” This annual musical revue featuring performers ages 55 and older runs May 24-June 9. The show has been at Fresno City College since its inception in 1989. We’re preparing a 7 cover story for Friday on the show’s 25th anniversary. I took the pic at right of The Bee’s photo shoot with Geno Ventura, Lucy Del Real and Cynthia Dallas, the three cast members who have been in the show all 25 years.
We’re giving away tickets to Beehive readers. I have three pairs of tickets to give away:
One pair for opening night, 7:30 p.m. Friday.
One pair for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 30.
One pair for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 6.
To enter, leave a comment on this post. If you’d like, share with us in your post your favorite “New Wrinkles’ memory from the past 24 years. In your comment, indicate which of the three performances you’d prefer to attend (or no preference). The deadline for entry is 5 p.m. Wednesday. One entry per person. I’ll be informing winners by email Wednesday evening, please check at that time. If you win, you’ll be able to pick your tickets at Will Call. Rules are on the jump.
The New York Times gives us a video sneak peek of Audra McDonald’s new album, “Go Back Home,” which comes out Tuesday. (It’s her first solo album in seven years!) McDonald invited the Times to her New York State country home, where she played Adam Guettel’s “Migratory V.” She accompanied herself on a piano that was given to her by her parents as a high school graduation present.
If you went to McDonald’s last Fresno concert, in 2011, you’ll remember she sang the same song in what became the most emotional moment in the show. I wrote at the time:
Without announcing her next song, McDonald took a seat at the piano to play and sing Adam Guettel’s “Migratory V,’ an introspective piece about the wide open sky. Afterward, she explained that she’s always wanted to overcome the fear of playing the piano in public. Her father, the noted Fresno educator Stan McDonald, used to encourage her to do that, telling her she needed to overcome that fear. He died four years ago in one of the solo experimental planes he loved to fly. “So that was for my dad,” she said.
According to her label, Nonesuch Records, many of the selections on “Go Back Home” are by composers with whom McDonald has long been associated (Adam Guettel, Michael John LaChiusa, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and Stephen Sondheim, among others) And McDonald continues her tradition of championing works by an emerging generation of composers, represented on this recording by Adam Gwon, Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich, and Will Reynolds.
The end of an era. The last McGee and Oliver siblings to graduate from the Theatre Arts Department at Fresno State. I feel honored to have directed and taught five of them — Carly Oliver, Kelsey Oliver, Dane Oliver, Matthew McGee and Aaron McGee. — with Aaron McGee and Dane Oliver.
OK, maybe part of my choking-up factor is realizing how much I’ve enjoyed the performances of all these siblings over the years. Here’s a salute to two tremendously talented families.
When I met up last week with Daisy Addicott, the Fresno art collector I profiled in Sunday’s Spotlight section, my first thought upon entering the gallery featuring her impressive collection at the Fresno Art Museum was: Wouldn’t it be cool to see the artwork that usually hangs on my walls featured in a museum?
That thought certainly has occurred to Addicott, 83, who was beaming as I walked through the exhibition with her.
Art collectors occupy a prime position in the food chain of the art world, and I found Addicott’s confidence about what she likes (minimalist and conceptual art) and assurance in her acquisition philosophy (collect local artists, especially up-and-coming ones) to be transfixing. Most of the works in the museum show are usually found on the walls of her Fresno home. I write:
The result in the new exhibition is a unifying aesthetic you notice the moment you enter the gallery. Though from different artists, it’s as if these works seem to make up a cohesive unit — not in a matchy-matchy sort of way, but more with an energized calmness, a domestic tranquility. You can tell that each one was lovingly selected, and, in their own way, adored.
It was also fun with this story getting to know the two men responsible for the show: New York artist Rodney Harder (pictured above, right) and Fresno artist Mark Rodriguez (left), both good friends of Addicott’s. They’re clearly both devoted to her. After getting to meet her, I can see why.
VIDEO: To watch a video interview with Daisy Addicott, click here. PHOTO by The Fresno Bee’s Mark Crosse.
Most people seemed to get a kick out of the recent Fresno Grizzles Kiss-Cam video, which 1) racked up millions of hits on YouTube and 2) was as fake as Velveeta. (In case you missed it, the Grizzles came back a few days later and fessed up that the couple depicted in the video — she wanted a kiss, he didn’t, and she rewarded him with a face full of cold drink — actually works for the Grizzlies.)
In my Sunday column, I take a bigger-picture view of the incident. Sure, it was funny and harmless. But on a deeper level, I think there are larger ramifications for our culture overall. I write:
Every time something fake gets passed off as real in the media — whether it’s a fabricated video, manipulated photograph or just-plain-wrong Tweet — it erodes just a little our confidence in how we take in and process information. I think of it as a cumulative process. Watch one staged video and you might fall for it hard. Watch 100 and your first thought when watching something new could be: Is it fake? We run the risk of becoming blase, whether it’s real or not.
I talked for my column with Fresno State professor Jes Therkelsen, who teaches media culture, and he had some interesting insights to add.
In the meantime, the Grizzlies have used up their “Post Fake Video, Get Millions of Hits” card for the season.
By now, it’s pretty clear that Fresno’s infatuation with Kai, the famed — (you can insert some variation here using hatchet, hitchhiker or homeless/homefree descriptors) — has faded into something a lot less fun to write about. (And the Beehive did have its share of fun. Remember when we picked local actor Terry Lewis as a leading candidate to play him in the TV movie?)
As you know by now, Kai — who goes by Caleb L. McGillvary — was arrested Thursday for a murder committed in New Jersey. In a front-page Bee story today, reporters Jim Guy and Marc Benjamin fill you in on the details. And my Beehive colleague Joshua Tehee talked to local musicians Derek and Elizabeth Fujitsubo, and Omar Nare, to get their reactions to Kai’s downward spiral.
On my way to work this morning I found myself sitting behind an SUV in the left-turn lane at Shaw and Palm avenues displaying this license-plate frame:
DON’T MAKE ME CALL MY FLYING MONKEY’S
I called the Apostrophe Police, but I got put on hold. Instead, I pondered: If provoked, what would one call for that belonged to a flying monkey? Would it be a flying monkey’s uncle? A flying monkey’s security detail? A flying monkey’s wit and sarcasm? A flying monkey’s instinctual impulse to fling feces at an adversary? A flying monkey’s disdain for monkeys that can’t fly?
English teachers everywhere want to know.
UPDATE: My friend Amy Biancolli, arts writer extraordinaire at the Albany Times-Union, came up on Facebook with the definitive answer to my question of what one could call for that belonged to a flying monkey:
MY FLYING MONKEY’S MAMA. Cuz you don’t wanna tick her off, boy.
Marcos Dorado has been busy recently on his latest ambitious project: a salute to veterans. He’s been drawing local ones in graphite, and you can see the results tonight at Boling Fine Arts Gallery with the opening of his Veterans Portrait Project. There also will be a special reception Saturday in honor of Armed Forces Day. After the show closes, the veterans will get to take their portraits home. What a treat!
Thank goodness for our politically courageous and oh-so-wise Fresno County Board of Supervisors, which is attracting a great deal of attention after vigorously debating on Tuesday whether it should support our community’s children. (A watered-down resolution was passed only after axing the part about supporting children’s programs.) As we all know, the board wields tremendous power with every resolution it passes — the citizenry wakes each morning in an anxious tizzy wondering what great new earth-shaking proclamation has been promulgated — and it’s good to know that greedy children won’t be able to raid our treasury under the watchful eyes of our no-nonsense elected officials.
With that in mind, we used our patented Beehive Time Machine™ to look forward at the Board of Supervisors’ coming resolutions on five other hugely controversial issues:
MOTHERHOOD: In June, the board will wrestle with this always sticky concern. A resolution supporting mothers in general will be tabled, replaced with one lauding only those with good sugar-cookie recipes.
GEORGE WASHINGTON: Sure, you might expect this one to be a no-brainer. But in July, board members will express concerns about wooden teeth. By passing such a resolution, could it be construed as coming out in support of free dentures under Obamacare?
PHOTOSYNTHESIS: In August, things get downright scientific with a spirited back-and-forth on this heated topic. Do plants really have the right to “take” light and convert it into chemical energy? Sounds a little socialistic to us.
WASHING HANDS BEFORE SURGERY: Don’t people in this country have the right to have their open wounds probed by doctors who just licked their hands clean after lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings? Highlight: Supervisor Judy Case, a registered nurse, will demand that the complete minutes from the 1719 annual meeting of the Royal College of Physicians of London be added to the September resolution.
FRESNO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: In the ultimate meta-resolution, the board in October will debate whether it should approve of itself. Steven Spielberg has already bought the movie rights.
I wasn’t able to attend the Fresno Philharmonic’s last concert of the season, a pops offering featuring The Texas Tenors, but I’m told by management that it featured significantly better sound than in the past. (The “Rat Pack” pops concert in February was not a stellar sound experience.) The key: bringing in outside sound equipment. I asked Stephen Wilson, the orchestra’s executive director, to explain. He writes:
The Texas Tenors put on a great show and the sound was in my view (and theirs) excellent. The Texas Tenors travel with their own sound engineer, so I trust their opinion on this. The sound equipment brought in to Saroyan by the Fresno Philharmonic for this concert achieved a significant improvement in sound quality for our audience.
For years I’ve been writing that the Saroyan Theatre’s acoustics aren’t really the cause of sound woes: It’s more about equipment and expertise. In bringing in its own equipment, the Fresno Philharmonic now joins the vast majority of presenters at the Saroyan. (A house sound system does exist, but it’s problematic.) The other important thing is a good sound engineer who has enough time to learn the idiosyncrasies of the house. (That’s something that doesn’t always happen with touring Broadway productions.)
Anybody else at Saturday’s concert care to share an opinion about the sound?
After the jump: the word on the orchestra’s configuration on stage.
As Stefon on “Saturday Night Live” might say (and, by the way, word came today that Bill Hader is leaving “SNL”), this Bee story by Chief Waterfowl Correspondent George Hostetter has it all: Charming baby creatures in peril. Big bad bureaucracy. Anguished neighbors. The heartstring-tugging motif of sad little wading pools instead of a big, abundant lake. Plus, it’s hot. We all know what it’s like to stew in our Fresno juices.
The one thing this story does not have, as Kyle Lowe correctly points out on Facebook, is Ryan Gosling. Or his immediate relatives. We would not want to be known, after all, as the city that puts the (nearly) Sexiest Man Alive in imminent danger.
Bee reporter Pablo Lopez has a choice read in today’s Bee comparing the search for Fresno State’s next president, which is secret, with Fresno State’s recent successful search for a business school dean, which was public:
CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White and trustee Pete Mehas, who is the chairman of the Fresno State search committee, said keeping a lid on the selection process yields a bigger pool of candidates. If the search were open to the public, they said, an established university president could lose job security and donors might stop giving if the president indicates interest in a post elsewhere.
But a finalist for business dean put a dent in that argument when he said his boss supported his decision to apply. ”My boss is one of my references,” said Kenneth R. Lord, associate dean at the Kania School of Management, University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, Reedley College on Thursday presented three finalists for its own presidential position. Funny how there doesn’t seem to be any need for secrecy at the community college level.
I have no doubt the CSU brass will push the secrecy thing through to the bitter end. But the holier-than-thou approach just emphasizes the point that the Cal State system is far too top-heavy and centralized. (I think the secrecy has a lot to do with ego. You feel more important as an institution if you get to play the clandestine game.)
Plus: a letter writer calls the Bee’s continued focus on the secrecy of the presidential search “petulant.” Yes, how dare we ask for openness in a government job search?
There’s no better day to highlight my good friend Joshua Seftel’s fun web series “My Mom on Movies” than today. I lead off my Sunday Spotlight column with this clever offering from Seftel, a Manhattan-based filmmaker, who has turned his regular Skype sessions with his mother into a series of quirky video commentaries. That’s all thanks to Pat Seftel, 75, who brings a distinctive “Jewish mother” take on pop culture. One of my favorites is the episode on “50 Shades of Grey”:
In my column I also salute some exemplary portrayals of mothers on local stages and give a surprise shout-out to Cynthia Stuart, the well-known Fresno Philharmonic violinist. And … I tip my hat to my own beloved mother as well.
OOPS: Rule No. 1 when deciding to fly solo around the world: remember your passport. [Bee]
THE SPRAWL DIARIES: Decades from now, when columns of ranch-style houses march all the way up to Millerton Lake and beyond, people sitting in gridlocked traffic and breathing even worse air won’t look kindly back on yesterday. On this double-header day, the Fresno City Council got all gung-ho for the proposed health-sciences university at Millerton Lake — despite an outpouring of critics who said the campus should go downtown. Plus: The City Council agreed to drop its lawsuit over a proposed mega-development along Highway 41 in Madera County. The developer of the 5,200-home Tesoro Viejo community can move forward without legal threat. We’ll have lots of fun paying for all that infrastructure — money that could have gone to strengthening Fresno’s urban core. There are some politicians in Fresno who don’t just hop in and out of the pockets of developers; they’re sewn in there permanently.
NEW YORK TIMES GUSHES: Critique of Audra McDonald’s Lincoln Center concert begins: “Absolutely thrilling.” If you ordered up your own critical review, could it start any better? [New York Times]
UNSCARY BEER: Evidently the folks who run this Saturday’s Fresno Craft Beer Festival (which isn’t actually in Fresno) are sticking by their downtown bashing in an effort to lure folks out to Avenue 7 in Madera. The festival’s website still says: “No more hot parking lot festivals or trying to find a parking spot in scary part of the city. Our place is beautiful, spacious, safe and FUN!” [Fresno Craft Beer Festival]
Two Absurdist One Acts: “Play” by Samuel Beckett and “The Bald Soprano,” by Eugene Ionesco. Directed by Ruth Griffin. March 14-22, 2014.
“Othello,” by William Shakespeare. Directed by Brad Myers. May 2-10, 2014
Strong, interesting season. “Clybourne Park” is a very recent Broadway Tony winner — I saw it last season and it’s superb. I love the thought of an Absurdist double-header. And something tells me this isn’t going to be your grandfather’s “Our Town.”
Time for a quick Fresno Philharmonic giveaway: We’re giving away a pair of tickets to Saturday’s concert featuring the Texas Tenors, which I told you about in my Weekend Picks. The THIRD commenter on this post will win tickets to the 8 p.m. show. I won’t publish any comments until we have our winner. You’ll be able to pick up the tickets at Will Call.
No repeat entries, please. Leave a real email address and check it, please, because that’s how I’ll notify the winner. Rules are on the jump.
1. THE TEXAS TENORS
The Fresno Philharmonic ends its season with a twang. The Texas Tenors, who shot to fame on “America’s Got Talent,” have been touring the country for four years now, and they’ve developed quite a specialty performing in pops concerts with local orchestras. I talked to JC Fisher — the “country boy” of the act — for Friday’s 7 section. The 8 p.m. Saturday concert, which will feature a mix of country, classical and Broadway/pop tunes, should be a whoop and a holler. [Details]
UPDATE NO. 3: CBS47′s Zara Arboleda declares authoritatively on Twitter: “Told you! The couple who “broke up” on Fresno Grizzlies’ Kiss Cam staged it. Now I have “official” confirmation. Ha!” She links to this pic, and writes on her Facebook page that both work for the team.
UPDATE NO. 2: Yes, this is silly stuff, but we’ve already opened this can of worms, so … now another Los Angeles Times writer has weighed in and thinks the video is fake (but interestingly never acknowledges his more trusting colleague). And NPR gets in on the action, too.
UPDATE: On his national Yahoo baseball blog Big League Stew, Beehive alum Mike Oz is likewise skeptical about the veracity of the Grizzlies video. But the sweet and trusting Los Angeles Times reports the story with the earnestness of a cute little mouse approaching a piece of cheese in a trap. Meanwhile, Beehive reader Ron Anderson finds a photo on a Grizzlies gallery of a staff member who looks very much like the spurned woman in the video.
The New York Times doesn’t byline many stories from Fresno, but it did this trend story posted today about cities naming poet laureates.
Of course, the Times gets in an anti-Fresno crack right off:
This city has long been an object of ridicule.
The other Fresno parts of the story, which include an engaging portrayal of new city poet laureate James Tyner, pretty much satisfy the Big City Looks Down on the Hinterlands Times Check-List: Photo of ominous alley scene that includes graffiti, overturned shopping cart and stray garbage? Check. Quotation about nothing to do here? Check. Reference to cultural wasteland? Check. Lavish use of the word “dust”? Check.
The story is livened up by a fun exchange with Philip Levine, former national poet laureate, who asks if too many poet laureates could devalue the title, then shares a very funny anecdote:
During decades of teaching creative writing at California State University, Fresno, Mr. Levine was credited with nurturing generations of poets. But, he recalled, when he moved here in the late 1950s, there was only one small bookstore, from which the chairman of his department waved him away.
“He said: ‘I called up once and asked if they carried poetry magazines. They said yes. When I went down there, it was poultry magazines,’ ” Mr. Levine said.
The Times piece is interesting, and I’m certainly not Times-bashing. The story is well-written and accurate, even if it doesn’t mention any of our cultural amenities (besides some good poets). It’s hard to fit nuance into a short story that already has a definitive theme. But in the spirit of complexity, I do find it interesting, as a New York City lover, how little of the grime of the Big Apple makes it into the pages of the Times on a daily basis. Just once I’d like to see a photograph of Donald Trump up against a wall of graffiti.