The “S” word is being used a lot these days in Fresno, and that’s a good thing. It’d be a healthy civic exercise for all of us to turn toward the Sierra every day upon arising, even if we can’t see the mountains, and chant: “No sprawl, no sprawl, no sprawl.”
It’s easy to take a pessimistic view of growth in Fresno County, with developers and the politicians they slather with campaign contributions constantly pushing for the short-term profits to be made in converting pristine land into housing developments, strip malls and, yes, health-sciences university campuses. Such leapfrog development does create jobs. Too often, however, the costs of such development in terms of infrastructure, traffic, pollution, loss of farmland and destruction of open spaces are conveniently left out of the equation.
But at least some people are trying to make a case against sprawl instead of accepting it as inevitable, like an unstoppable fungus.
Some local links to peruse:
TOO FAR OUT: Bee writer Kurtis Alexander looks at the City of Fresno’s attempt to convince the Assemi family to move its proposed Millerton Lake health-sciences university, planned for way out in the hinterlands far from hospitals and public transportation, to downtown. In a smartly planned county, such a large-scale project out in the middle of nowhere on prime open land simply wouldn’t be allowed. Proponents of the health-science campus say there isn’t any “room” to build it in Fresno, including downtown. Um, has anyone heard of a concept called multi-story buildings? They’re quite in fashion these days. [Bee]
Taco Truck Throwdown 2 was huge last night. The Fresno Grizzlies report attendance at 11,463, with more than 7,000 presales. No word yet on how many tacos were sold. But based on what I saw, it’s going to be a huge number. Look at all those people in line!
Thirteen taco trucks competed in the throwdown and two awards were given: People’s Choice and Judges’ Choice. Anybody who bought a taco was eligible to vote for the People’s Choice crown. Six judges sampled all 13 trucks and rated them 1-10. Our panel included: Liz Gonzales from KMPH, Danny Salas from Q97, Jason Oliveira from ABC 30, Richard Franco from New Rock 104.1, Bobby Salazar and me. Here are the results.
1. El Premio Mayor
2. La Elegante
3. Dusty Buns
1. El Premio Mayor
2. Dusty Buns and La Elegante (tie)
3. El Super Antojito
4. Tako BBQ
5. El Mexicano
Today is the first day of the The Market on Kern, the kinda-new farmer’s market aimed at downtown workers. I say “kinda new” because it’s an updated version of The Market on the Mall, which started a few years ago on the Fulton Mall.
The market occupies Kern Street between M and N streets, which is where Starbucks, Quiznos, etc. live. The reason for the move? It’s believed that there would be more foot-traffic from workers in the new location. But you should also keep this in mind if you frequently drive in that area. The Market on Kern runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays through Oct. 31.
I love this photo by Bee photographer Craig Kohlruss of the boarded up main entrance to Hotel Fresno. The contrast between the beauty of the door and arched window work with the graffiti and scarred floor says wonders.
This is just one of many photos from Craig on the hotel, which was the subject of a front-page story in today’s Bee. Reporter George Hostetter explains the plans to renovate the hotel into a space featuring apartments and businesses. The estimated cost is $16.5 million and the financing uncertain. There’s a lot of uncertainty about the project, but Hostetter writes about its promise:
Last week the expo held its 7th convention in downtown. The event featured more than 200 artists, including some celebrities and lots of music. Next year’s event will be on Cinco de Mayo weekend, which is May 5-6.
Organizers say they “love Fresno” and the “enthusiastic attendees.” It’s great to see an event like this one catch on and gain some traction. I didn’t go to this year’s event, but I have attended in the past. It’s a fun environment – full of lots of buzz (I mean that literally).
With “Wicked” doing a 16-show run over nearly two weeks in Fresno, there are dozens of actors and crew members who’ll be looking for something to do with their down time and days off Monday and Tuesday. According to Donald’s interviews, they’re staying in four different hotels (I’m guessing in downtown). So I thought the Beehive community could offer some suggestions. I’ll get us started.
The Grizzlies are at home, so they can head over to Chukchansi Park for a hot dog and some dippin’ dots in a SF Giants cap. (I’m thinkin’ Thirsty Thursdays are out.)
Have you ever wanted to be on “The Amazing Race?” Got a bike, scooter, skateboard or some other non-motorized wheeled way to get around? Quick on the draw when it comes to text messages?
Know a few things about downtown Fresno? Want a $15,000 diamond ring?
If you said “Yes” to all of those, then you should definitely check out Saturday’s Race for the Ring, an inaugural text message-based scavenger hunt happening around downtown Fresno. This event sounds really cool. Here a few reasons why:
The prizes are crazy — a $15,000 ring from Roger’s Jewelers, plus about $10,000 dollars in other prizes.
It’s all happening downtown, which is always great.
Scavenger hunts are super fun. If you disagree, you’re wrong.
Yesterday was FUSE Fest and, as far as I could see, a good time was had by all who attended.
It was incredible to see downtown alive with the sound of music, as festival attendees hopped from place to place, sampling a smÃ¶rgasbord of sound from venues such as Iron Bird Cafe, Tokyo Garden, Star Palace, Frank’s Place, the Warnor’s Theatre Fishbowl and the K-Jewel Art Gallery.
So what we want to know is, what was your favorite part of FUSE Fest? Was it a particular act, a favorite venue, or perhaps the deliciously aromatic food from the Dusty Buns Bistro bus? What do you want to see again next year, and what do you hope to see added?
1. EXPERIENCE FRESNO SOUNDS
No surprise what’s the top of the list — it’s the Fresno Urban Sound Experience. As a big proponent of local music, I think this one-day, 40-act, seven-venue festival is your best opportunity to sample the variety and talent of our local music scene. For $20 you get as-much-as-you-can-listen-to local music in a handful of cool downtown venues. For more, read my column from today’s paper, or check out the festival site. The Bee also put together a handy schedule and venue map PDF.
TICKETS: Festival passes cost $20, or $15 in advance. Admission gets you access to every show in every venue, including ours. For the entire band schedule, go here. For more F.U.S.E. info, head to the festival site.
Noticed the construction across from Iron Bird Lofts? Wondering what it is?
Well, music fans and concert-goers will be happy to hear it’s going to a new music club called Fulton 55.
Here’s what you need to know.
NAME: Fulton 55
ADDRESS: 55 Fulton St. (corner of Fulton and Divisadero streets)
SPECS: Fulton 55 is a 7,500-square-foot venue that will hold about 500 people. It’s two stories, with the second level looking down onto the stage. There are bars and restrooms on both floors, plus a green room on the side of the stage. There are plans to add a kitchen in the future.
EXPECTED OPENING: Late November/Early December, pending a Nov. 3 planning commission meeting.
PHILOSOPHY: “We’re looking to do a venue here in Fresno to try and pick up shows that normally pass Fresno,” says general manager Tony Martin, who previously was the GM at Club Fred from 1990-1995 and whose experience in the concert industry includes time working at Pollstar.
“We’d like to have early doors, showtimes, etc, to get people into the show and out at a reasonable time. This isn’t going to be a neighborhood bar, it is going to be a live music entertainment place, similar to what the Great American Music Hall does in S.F. We will have comedy, folk, rock, ska, almost anything, except music that has a history of bringing in a rough crowd. With our initial response from agents and promoters, we should have no problem bringing in quality entertainment into the venue!”
Well, we’re making this year’s festival — Oct. 23, tattoo it on your face! — a little bit fresher. The Beehive is hosting its own showcase inside the festival this year.
We’re calling it the “Fresh Voices” showcase and filling it with fresh local talent.
It’s happening at the K-Jewel Art Gallery (which is pretty fancy). Everything is included in your regular FUSE ticket — which you can buy right now, right here. It’s just another helping of great local music.
I’m not going to announce the names yet, because I’m still working out some details. But the idea was to pick new artists, fresh artists, people whose names you might not know right now, but you might a year from now. We hope to see you there.
The latest venture by promoter Rick Mirigian to spice up Chukchansi Park and downtown nightlife? He’s starting up comedy shows at The Chuk prior to the The Penthouse (aka The 600 Club) slips into nightclub mode on Saturday nights.
Headlining the inaugural show this Saturday is Ellis Rodriguez, a multi-racial comic from NorCal who served in the Marines at one point. Doors open at 8 p.m. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. and runs until 10 p.m. when the club opens. A $10 cover gets you into both, or you can hit up @RGMFresno on Twitter to get on the guest list for free.
TECH N9NE + WOODWARD PARK? Rapper Tech N9ne is at playing at the Woodward Park Amphitheatre tomorrow night. So far we haven’t heard any upright North Fresnans complaining about a kinda-juggalo rapper playing the park, so that’s good. E-40, Krizz Kaliko and others are there too. More info here.
THE FAIR BEGINS; QUESTIONS ABOUND: The Big Fresno Fair starts on Wednesday. Sammy Hagar kicks off the concert series, making his first appearance in Fresno since the demise of Fresno Wabo. What will he say? Anything? Will he make fun of Milt Barbis again? Will Fresno still love him? Also, comic Carlos Mencia performs Thursday. Doesn’t the fair have a rule against act swearing? How is that going to work?
THE TREASURY DEBUTS: A cool-sounding spot opening for Thursday’s ArtHop is The Treasury, a downtown art gallery, office space, by-appointment fashion boutique. It’s on Van Ness, near Divisadero, not far from Iron Bird Cafe.
1. GET A TASTE OF ELY GUERRA
I’m super intrigued by Saturday’s performance by Ely Guerra at Audie’s Olympic. Guerra is a Mexican singer/songwriter whose music has enough appeal to crossover to the indie rock kids that Love the Captive usually brings out to its shows. Guerra’s a star, no doubt (check out this recent NY Daily News profile) but I have to wonder if Fresno’s gonna show up for this one. Hope so.
UPDATE: There was a strong turnout at last night’s Fulton Mall community meeting, an estimate of 400+, to hear about eight proposed plans. The picture above is the most drastic change — opening the mall to traffic and adding a street car. Other options ranged all the way to “do nothing.” If you weren’t there, here’s how you can catch up:
That’s what I learned during the fun ride of the Tour de Fresno Saturday. If you’re not familiar, the Tour de Fresno is a charity biking event that starts in downtown Fresno and then branches out across the city and into the foothills depending on the route you sign up for. I chose to do the shortest route, the fun ride, which took riders through the heart of Fresno. It was a real treat.
What really stood out was how much this bike event exposed people to a part of the city they normally avoid. I’ve run across lots of people over the years who have strong views on why they avoid downtown and The Tower District, mostly because of a perception about high crime rates and scary people. Saturday, it was apparent I was surrounded by folks who don’t frequent the area.
Towards the end of the ride, as we biked through The Tower District to head back to downtown, one guy described The Tower to his group of friends this way: “This is where the artsy, gays and lesbians hang out.” I laughed, especially as I rode past the Tower Theatre where the Reel Pride Festival was in its final weekend.
As you might remember, the first two Rumble in the Parks were in Woodward Park. Having MMA in Fresno’s serene park caused a big fuss and ultimately turned into a campaign issue for Mayor Ashley Swearegin, who vowed to stop it.
This time around, the controversy is a little bit different — apparently the event just didn’t live up to the hype. The two-day event, organized by your favorite polarizing promoter Rick Mirigian, promised 60 MMA, boxing and wrestling matches, but fell way short of that. It was fight promoter Jason Wiener, however, who booked the MMA matches that never materialized.