Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Mayor reads mean tweets about downtown Fresno

If you’re looking for a morning chuckle, check this out. You know how Jimmy Kimmel has celebrities read mean tweets about themselves on his show? Well, last night at the State of Downtown 2015 event Mayor Ashley Swearengin read some mean tweets about downtown Fresno. I can honestly say I never thought I’d hear the words, “I legit saw a hooker twerk,” come out of our mayor’s mouth. Take a look at the video student writer Rory Appleton shot.

Fresno general plan update may soon get a vote, but we shouldn’t count on it


In advance of Thursday’s public hearing on Fresno’s 2035 general plan update, please grant me this one political post.

If you care about the future growth and development of the city, you’ve no doubt been following the movement of the city’s 2035 general plan update.

The plan, which lays out the policies and procedures that will guide the city in the next two decades, went before the planning commission last night. It will get a full-on public hearing 5 p.m. Thursday and the city expects to fill the Exhibit Hall at the convention center with interested parties. If Mayor Ashley Swearengin gets her way, the plan will go before the city council at its Dec. 18 meeting.

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Warnors Theatre Complex gets new management


The Warnors Center for the Performing Arts — which includes the historic Warnors Theatre and the accompanying venues and commercial spaces on Fulton street — is a beacon for a revitalized Cultural Arts District in downtown.

The nonprofit foundation that oversees the complex wants to keep it that way.

“Improvements to, and restoration of, the venues are desperately needed to keep up with increased growth and development downtown,” says Sally Caglia, who sits on the board of directors for the nonprofit.

Her family once owned the theater.

“It is imperative the Warnors Board does its due diligence to make that happen, and for Warnors to remain an active historic centerpiece for downtown,” she says.

Earlier this month, the board brought in a new manager for the complex to help create strategic, fiscal scrutiny of its operations, Caglia says.

The casual observer probably hasn’t noticed. Any changes so far seem to be behind-the-scenes.

“At the moment nothing has really changed, ” says Gene Day, who now serves as the Warnors Complex Manager. “We have all the same kinds of events that have been there for the last couple of years,” he says.

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A closer look at Fresno’s postage stamp mural

IMG_2083FranCisco Vargas‘ latest mural was designed to be a landmark in (and an ode to) Fresno. The 125-foot-long mural, which was unveiled on Saturday, features images of some of the area’s most famous people and places (think William Saroyan, half-dome and M. Theo Kearney, among others).

It is designed as a postage stamp and is the largest such mural in United States, according to Vargas, who also painted the second largest such mural (that one is in Illinois).

This is a welcomed addition to public art pieces already up in what is now known as (for obvious reasons) the Mural District. It was commissioned by the Downtown Fresno Partnership in conjunction with Creative Fresno.

Check out a full view of the mural in this quick video I took at Saturday’s unveiling.

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7 picks for 7 days: Jan. 10-16

I’m getting back on track with the 7 picks for 7 days feature, a list of fun things to do over the next week. This week’s version — picks for today through next Thursday — offer a variety of entertainment, from acclaimed movies to new TV shows, theater and music.

7 picks for 7 days

OK, so after taking off a couple weeks, I’m back with a new round of 7 picks for 7 days – a list of fun thing to do each day Friday, Nov. 15 through Thursday, Nov. 21. This week’s picks include a hot country band live at the Save Mart Center, a touring Broadway musical at Saroyan Theatre and this month’s silent movie at the Warnors Theatre.

7 picks for 7 days

October is full of things to do, including these 7 picks for Oct. 17-23. From a silent film at the historic downtown Warnors Theatre to Fresno State Football, a beer festival and a big-time rock concert, these are some of the best bets for your entertainment.

Downtown restaurant Sumtin’ Ta Eat offers a little bit of everything

Triangle, Urban thrift, Sumtin ta eat 060Sumtin’ Ta Eat is at its most basic a restaurant, but the new business has so many other labels you could slap on it: Christian lounge, dessert bar, internet cafe, comedy club, a place you can rent for meetings or special events of up to 300 people, a place to have your book club or Bible study or play or live musical performance, and, on Sundays, a place for Christian poetry readings, gospel karaoke and praise dancers worshiping the Lord. Whew!

The business has taken over the spot at 2039 Kern St. at Van Ness that has been home to Karma Ultra Lounge and Fagan’s Irish Pub (and quite a few others things in recent years).

The menu includes fried chicken, pork chops, fried fish and sides such as yams, black-eyed peas and — during its grand opening Wednesday — some darn tasty green beans I got to sample. The menu changes daily and though pigs feet may occasionally appear on the menu, it’s not always soul food, says owner Stephanie Mitchell. She recommends customers keep tabs on the Facebook page to see what’s featured that day. There’s a $7 lunch box special Monday through Thursday.

One unusual tidbit: She got the city to remove some of the parking meters in front of the restaurant. Customers can call in an order, drive up to the white zone in front 15 minutes later and an employee will bring the food out. The customer pays in cash or with plastic using a little attachment to a phone.

And if you’re not Christian, don’t worry, Mitchell says. They play gospel music, but “we don’t just come up and say ‘Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!’” she says.

Downtown Fresno gets frozen yogurt


Photo courtesy of Yogurt Etc.

Downtown Fresno now has a froyo place. Yogurt Etc. opened Thursday on Kern Street downtown near Starbucks.

The business sells all kinds of yogurt (acai berry sorbet and Greek honey yogurt, for example, and the mayor was testing out the southern salted butter pecan yogurt at this morning’s ribbon cutting), including gluten free, sugar free and fat free yogurts. There’s all kinds of toppings too, including some grown on local farms.

The “Etc.” in the name refers to the other breakfast and lunch items on the menu: Five different kinds of hot dogs, and chili (including vegan hot dogs and vegan chili), cereal, bagels, steel-cut oatmeal and egg cups with herbs, spices and toppings such as ham and cheese.

Yogurt Etc. was founded by 2007 Bullard High grad David Goldberg and Hector Parra. The business is at 2311 Kern Street in the former Robeks space. Yogurt Etc. will be open from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, and closed on Sundays unless there is an event happening at the Fresno Convention Center across the street.

Sprawl is the word


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]

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More food trucks downtown on Fridays

The new Cart Hop food truck event starts today. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., six food vendors will be selling their yummy lunches at Eaton Plaza near the water tower. (See map here.)

Participating are:


Taco Truck Throwdown 2 recap


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!

tacojudges.jpgThirteen 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.

People’s Choice:
1. El Premio Mayor
2. La Elegante
3. Dusty Buns

Judges’ Choice:
1. El Premio Mayor
2. Dusty Buns and La Elegante (tie)
3. El Super Antojito
4. Tako BBQ
5. El Mexicano

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Today: The Market on Kern debuts


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.

This year, though, The Downtown Fresno Partnership decided to move the market — and, in a rare development, blocked off a portion of Kern Street to accommodate it. It’s another of those shake-things-up ideas from new CEO Kate Borders, who you may remember, wants you to rappel down the old Security Bank Building.

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.

PREVIOUSLY: It’s farmers market season and that means lots of local tasty food

Talking points: Restoring Hotel Fresno


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:

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Scope out the Fuse Fest schedule


The folks at the Fresno Urban Sound Experience (or, Fuse Fest) have unleashed the schedule for this this year’s festival, which is Friday and Saturday.

There are close to 50 bands playing our all-local, all-downtown music festival. It’s like the all-you-can-eat buffet of local music, so I hope you’re hungry, Fresno.

To get up to speed on all things Fuse Fest, check out the latest Flowing with Famous podcast or revisit this video. Then browse the list below and start your scheduling. Remember, tickets cost $15 per day or $20 for both.

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Tattoo Expo sticking around Fresno


The Fresno Convention and Entertainment Center announced last night that it has signed a deal to keep the Tattoo Convention in Fresno for 4 more years.

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).

The Beehive Asks: What should the ‘Wicked’ cast do in Fresno on its day off?

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.)


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A Fresno scavenger hunt with a $15K diamond ring on the line


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:

  1. The prizes are crazy — a $15,000 ring from Roger’s Jewelers, plus about $10,000 dollars in other prizes.
  2. It’s all happening downtown, which is always great.
  3. Scavenger hunts are super fun. If you disagree, you’re wrong.
  4. Money raised at the event goes toward Fresno First Steps Home, which you might remember as the mayor’s initiative to end homelessness.

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Fresno Urban Sound Experience: What does it mean for Fresno?


In preppin’ for today’s column in The Bee — about the importance of this weekend’s Fresno Urban Sound Experience — I floated a query out to the grassroots team that organizes the festival: What does F.U.S.E. mean to Fresno? Why does it matter?

I expected they’d each have something interesting to say, and they did. I had to use bits and pieces in my column. But I enjoyed reading everything, and I hope you will too.

So here it is:

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Five Things You Should Do This Weekend

Other than hoping the Giants can close it out …

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.


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The Beehive gets ‘Fresh’ at Fresno Urban Sound Experience


I already teased you with info about the “Fresh Voices” showcase that The Beehive is putting together for Saturday’s Fresno Urban Sound Experience. It’s fitting I give you the whole scoop now that we’re days away.

Here’s how things are looking:

5:30 p.m.Local Honey
6:30 p.m. – Clave (ft. Omar Nare and friends)
7:30 p.m.The Capital is Burning
8:30 p.m.Omotola
9:30 p.m.I Do Not Exist

I’m excited to see all these acts, as I personally see great potential from each of them. So I hope you check them out too.

VENUE: We’re in the K-Jewel Art Gallery at 1415 Fulton St., across from Warnors Theatre.

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.

New venue alert! Fulton 55


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!”

The Beehive + Fresno Urban Sound Experience + Fresh Voices


You’re looking forward to the Fresno Urban Sound Experience. I’m looking forward to it. Everybody’s looking forward to it. Right?

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.

So in addition to the 30+ already-announced bands playing the festival, and the recently announced DJ venue, we’re going to have five more local artists playing our stage.

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.

Fres-Know: This is a declaration of war

NEWS: There’s a public ceremony for Fresno’s 125th b-day on Tuesday. [The Bee]

SPORTS: Pat Hill says he’s not panicking after ‘Dogs’ loss to Hawaii. [The Bee]

GO TO THIS: More revealed about Fresno Urban Sound Experience 2010. [The Fresnan]

FUN & GAMES: Guess how many people walk the Fulton Mall. [Downtown Association]

NEWS: What if the pot prop passes? [The Bee]

GOOD READ: 2-year-old with snapped spine is making miracle recovery. [The Bee]

BLOGGINGS: Clovis guy starts real “My Name is Earl” mission. [The Real Earl]

CONGRATS: The full Frebby winner/honorable mention list released. [Frebby Awards]

BUY LOCAL: New store, Ga Ga Chic, opens at Fig Garden Village. [Word on the Street]

UNRELATED: A Justin Bieber fan declares war on the JB haters — NSFW. [Daily What]

Five Things You Should Do This Weekend


While also celebrating 10/10/10 …

Cinnamon rolls, concerts, games you’ll never win, the best people-watching in town — it’s all there at The Big Fresno Fair, and you know you wanna go.

For the fair’s first weekend, the concert lineup includes Joe Nichols & Stealing Angels (tonight), Chubby Checker (Saturday), Selena Gomez (2 p.m. Sunday, but sold out) and Lupillo Rivera (7:30 p.m. Sunday and free). You can read about some other stuff that made our fair “to-do list” right here.

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