Fajita Fiesta is officially no longer with us. But don’t mourn them just yet. The family behind the restaurants is running two other restaurants in town.
To catch you up: Fajita Fiesta once had three locations — one on Shaw Avenue, another at Cedar and Nees avenues and the little one downtown that was open for 25 years. They’re all gone now. The Shaw Avenue one is now Guri’s GrubHouse, a farm-to-table gastropub that we’ve written lots and lots and lots about. The Cedar and Nees location closed in 2009 after 10 years (and then became Mateo’s and most recently Uncle’s Bar & Grill, which last week had an eviction notice on the door and a disconnected phone number).
The Fajita Fiesta at Van Ness Avenue and Divisadero Street is now Papi’s Mex Grill Express, with the same family running it. Owner Raul Gutierrez saw the changes happening downtown — new lofts and young people coming in — and decided to tweak his restaurant. Instead of the traditional sit-down meal with waiters and waitresses, the restaurant is now a faster-paced order-at-the-counter affair.
UPDATE 10/13: Services will be 6 p.m. Oct. 20 at North Fresno Church, 5724 N. Fresno St.
ORIGINAL POST: George Akina’s last role in theater was one he’d always wanted to play: the King of Siam in “The King and I.” Even though he’d been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, he spent much of the last year of his life on stage, appearing with Good Company Players in “Fiddler on the Roof,”“Shrek” and — in a witty, heartfelt and beautifully crafted performance — the King in “The King and I,” which closed May 16.
Mr. Akina died Friday. He was 63.
I had the privilege of sitting down in April with Mr. Akina midway through his “King and I” run and talking about him for my Sunday column about the challenges and joys of performing the role. (Sometimes it was hard. Very hard.) His gentleness of spirit, love of family and towering Christian faith shined through on that late Friday afternoon. I suggested to him that his love of theater was remarkable, and he told me: “The theater has been life-giving to me. When I think ‘What would I be doing if it weren’t for ‘The King and I’ right now?,’ I think I’d be much sicker.”
A few days later, he sent me a follow-up email, and that’s how I ended my column:
Yes, I do love theater, but not perhaps in the same way you meant. The truth is I love God first above all else. He has given me gifts which I can express on stage. It’s when I’m on stage using those gifts that I feel the most fulfilled, most alive, and most in His will. Add to that that my work entertains, engages and touches others and there is nothing else that can surpass it, save the love and support of my wife and children.
He will be missed.
Updated 10/14: Revised information about remembrances to come.
Stephen King really tapped into something when he made the main baddie in his 1986 novel “It” an evil clown named Pennywise.
The proper psychological term is coulrophobia, or “fear of clowns.” It is no doubt in full effect here in the Valley after stories like this.
This has been posted up all over Facebook in the last week, though I was reserving judgment on the validity of the story, because I don’t believe anything that gets posted on Facebook. Ever.
It is obviously getting picked up by proper media at this point, so … What the hell?
If this is some kind of magnificent subversive art project (as some have proposed), kudos, I guess. There is something oddly fun in putting the creep to people (without you know, hurting anyone).
The super jaded part of me, the part that sees everything as an elaborate media set up (because what isn’t these days?), wonders if this is publicity stunt for FX’s latest season of “American Horror Story,” which just happens to feature a creepy-clown. Michael Banti, a local tracker of all things odd and-or creepy has his own theory over on his blog site “Weird Fresno.”
Does it freak you out that someone is “sending in the clowns,” so to speak?
Autumn is synonymous with apple season. Halloween is synonymous with spookiness. Ergo, what better items to grace your Halloween party table than some spooky apples? And the spookiest, of course, is the infamous poisoned apple — a slick, irresistibly shiny red “treat.”
Many a kitchen witch has recreated a confectionery version in candy apples, traditionally red and cinnamon flavored. But with the plethora of gel food colors available, why not kick your apple color up a notch and go for full-on creepy? Made with small, crisp Granny Smith apples, these treats will have your little princesses (and princes) clamoring for a bite.
Utopian ideas often sound so good … and so easy. But actually implementing them in the real world can be trickier than it seems.
In a collection of performance pieces titled “God Will Not Have His Work Made Manifest by Cowards,” a group of artists — mostly from Los Angeles — on Sunday will gather at a Valley location well known for its history with utopian movements: the Hatchery, located in Badger near the entrance to Sequoia National Park. The program starts at 2 p.m., with arrival suggested by 1:45 p.m. The Hatchery’s address is 50616 Highway 245 in Badger. Check out the details online so you know what you’ll be getting into: No open-toed shoes allowed, watch out for rattlesnakes, watch out for broken glass, and you have to sign a liability waiver before entering the property.
If you’ve never been able to experience the Hatchery, it’s a really interesting place. I was last there in 2011 for a big and wonderful art exhibition titled “The Hatchery: East of Fresno.” 40 artists from around the world displayed their work in a vast building that used to be an aircraft hanger from the days of the Church of Synanon, the 1970s era drug-rehabilitation program that morphed into a cult. Most of the site-specific works riffed off the Synanon theme.
Later the compound was converted into an Islamic community known as Baladullah.
Is it possible, that Green Day, a band whom I loathed in high school (because I was too cool and they weren’t the Misfits or Minor Threat or even the Riverdales) is eligible for induction in the hall? In order to be get on the ballot their first single or album must have been released in 1989 or before.
Looking at the rest of the field (which includes Nine Inch Nails, N.W.A., the Smiths, Lou Reed, Sting, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Kraftwerk, Chic, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, the Marvelettes, the Spinners, Stevie Ray Vaughan, War and Bill Withers) one wonders what definition of “rock and roll” is being used here.
UPDATE 10/16: We had a robust turnout for our “Jersey Boys” giveaway with 293 total entries (including Beehive comments and mailed-in comments). Our winners are Jennifer Heintz and Susan Gilbert.
ORIGINAL POST: “Oh what a night” it will be on Oct. 28 when the national tour of “Jersey Boys” swaggers into the Saroyan Theatre for a six-day run. Broadway fans have waited for years for this big-deal jukebox musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons to reach Fresno. The title is one of the highlights of the season, along with the upcoming “Book of Mormon” in July.
Here’s the exciting news for Beehive readers: Two lucky winners will each receive a pair of opening-night tickets PLUS the original Broadway cast recording CD. I’ll pick the winners randomly. To enter, leave a comment on this post answering this question: What’s your favorite Four Seasons song? (If you’re not sure, just say “My Eyes Adored You” — it’s my favorite.)
Deadline to enter is 10 a.m. Thursday. Please don’t enter more than once. I’ll be informing our winners by email on Thursday, so keep a watch on your inbox. If I haven’t heard back from a winner by 10 a.m. next Friday (Oct. 17), I reserve the right to pick another. You’ll need to be able to pick up your tickets and CD at The Bee. Rules are on the jump.
It’s been close to a decade since the Eagles stopped through town. The band — whose greatest hits album is one of the 10 best-selling records of all time — played the Save Mart Center two years running in 2004 and 2005.
Both times there were close to 10,000 in attendance.
The band returned to the Save Mart Center last night as part of its “History of the Eagles” tour. We want to hear from those who were there.
How was the crowd? Were locals fans as excited for the band as they were a decade ago? Given that this tour is supposed to span the band’s entire career (and promised some songs that have never been played lived before), what was the set-list like? Any unusual choice? Any of the hits get left out? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section. Then, click over to The Bee to see our photo gallery from last night’s show.
While you are locked in your house worrying about whether it’s ebola or tuberculosis that will kill you first, the rest of us will be enjoying some live music. If you care to join, here is a list of happenings through next week. We call it BANDGEEEK!
WATER TOWER: Bee reporter George Hostetter has an interesting Fresno City Council preview story in Thursday’s paper about the likelihood of the Fresno Arts Council assuming the lease and management of the iconic downtown Fresno Water Tower. From the story:
The deal is a no-brainer, of course. The nonprofit Arts Council would pay no rent at the city-owned tower, but would foot the bill for things like electricity and the janitor. The lease is for three years, with two one-year options.
The Water Tower already is a magnet for visitors in search of tips on stuff to see and places to visit. The tower’s interior is chock full of work from the area’s finest artists, all sensibly priced.
The Arts Council will retain both missions. City Hall is the big winner — it won’t suffer the shame of having what is perhaps the city’s best-known landmark shuttered by municipal stinginess.
If you haven’t stopped by the Water Tower recently, by the way, put it on your list of downtown things to do. It’s a cheery environment inside, and don’t forget to look up and see the beautiful ceiling.
Yes, the Portland doom metal band shares the record with its comrades in noise Sandworm (a thrashish metal band from Providence, RI), and technically, each band does get the same amount of vinyl space.
But Sandworm has 10 tracks on its side of the record. The Body has just one — a 16-minute blast of expansive darkness call “The Manic Fire.”
This tells you most of what you need to know about The Body.
Formed in 1999 by drummer Lee Buford and guitarist Chip King, The Body has forged its place as one of underground metal’s most brutal bands — incorporating avant-garde composition and elements of noise and experimental electronic music with doom and black-metal. Pitchfork describes King’s vocals as “the sound of exaggerated nightmares, his shrill scream so anxiety-inducing that it puts your animal brain on high alert for imminent danger…”
It’s tough to give the band’s music a fitting description, says Buford, in town tonight for a show at Audie’s Olympic Tavern with Sandworm and locals Inside the Sun and Keeper.
You never forget your first visit to “Avenue Q.” Eleven years after the irreverent musical opened in New York, I’m long past the days when puppet sex can shock me. But there’s still great joy in repeated viewings of this show. The best part about Fresno City College’s accomplished production is watching it with an audience that obviously includes lots of first-timers. As they discover the silly joys of this clever, tuneful musical — a decidedly adult-oriented take on “Sesame Street” — it’s like reliving the experience for the first time.
No question about it: There are a lot of moving parts required to deliver a satisfactory version of “Avenue Q,” and for the most part director Charles Erven and his creative team bring it together with flair. The biggest weakness is the sound. (I’ll get to that in a moment, alas.) But in terms of acting, direction, vocals, choreography and general stagecraft — and the very fine live band — I found a lot to applaud at the Saturday evening performance I saw.
The band — which plays 7 p.m. Saturday at the Big Fresno Fair — is one of the most successful to come out of the ’70s arena rock scene and continues to be a staple on classic rock radio (and at karaoke joints, no doubt).
We have tickets to Saturday’s show we’ll be giving to away to a Beehive reader. To enter to win, leave a comment in this post. What is your favorite radio rock hit (the songs you sing along to every time it comes on)? This contest is another quick one. You have until noon tomorrow. Winners will be chosen at random, notified by email and must be able to pick up tickets at The Fresno Bee office (1626 E. Street) during normal business hours.
Check out a video from REO Speedwagon (and complete contest rules) on the jump.
The first thing Rosemarie DeWitt does after walking into the small room at the Beverly Hills Hilton is introduce herself. That’s really not necessary as she’s built up a long resume of work that includes the cable series “The United States of Tara” and “Mad Men.”
I also had just seen her in “Kill the Messenger,” the movie that has brought together the actress and the press.
“I just wanted to make sure that you didn’t mistake me for Jeremy Renner,” DeWitt jokes. Renner is her co-star in “Messenger” and he’s also at the Hilton to meet with the press. “He’s got that whole sexy, bad-ass thing but I think I’m a lot cuter.”
She’s right. But, DeWitt has also show in past work she can play a bad ass when necessary.
When the Lynch siblings — Rydel, Riker, Ross and Rocky — moved to Los Angeles seven years ago, they were looking to start their careers as actors and dancers. Maybe they would sing some, maybe land in a commercial or two.
Instead, the group — with the help of family friend Ellington Lee Ratliff — started its own pop-rock band, R5 (though Riker landed a spot on “Glee” and Ross has his own series on the Disney Channel).
The band — which plays 1 p.m. Saturday at the Big Fresno Fair — released its Hollywood Records debut last year.
We have tickets to Saturday’s show we’ll give to away to a Beehive reader. To enter to win, leave a comment in this post. Would you ever play music with your siblings? Why or why not? This contest is another quick one. You have until 5 p.m. tonight. Winners will be chosen at random, notified by email and must be able to pick up tickets at The Fresno Bee office (1626 E. Street) during normal business hours.
Check out a video from R5 (and complete contest rules) on the jump.
“Race” checks the platitudes and niceties at the door. Walk into the inner sanctum of the law firm depicted in David Mamet’s brusque and provocative drama, which continues through Saturday at Fresno State, and you’ll get the “fly on the wall” treatment – people speaking in brutally frank terms about what the play refers to as this nation’s most incendiary topic.
“I know there is nothing a white person can say to a black person about race which is not both incorrect and offensive,” the grizzled white attorney tells his young black associate. Within these walls, however, the politically correct rules of the game are suspended. Those things do get said. In very frank terms.
In several ways I like the Fresno State production of “Race” more than the actual play itself. Director Thomas-Whit Ellis has crafted a hard-hitting, thoughtfully staged outing that effectively captures what is at the essence of any Mamet play: a slugfest.
Justin Moore’s life is a country song. The 30-year-old country star singer grew up in (and moved back to) Poyen, Ark., a town of 300 people. He dreamed of playing baseball or basketball until he realized he was 5-feet-6 and 140 pounds. He went to college for all of three weeks before he finally moved to Nashville to try his hand at music.
It proved to a good move. Moore was named New Artist of the Year at the American County Music Awards in April. That’s a year after the release of “Off the Beaten Path, ” and five years after his self-titled debut hit No. 3 on Billboard’s Country charts. The singer headlined Visalia’s JugFest 2014 in May and plays 7 p.m. Thursday as part of the Big Fresno Fair’s concert series.
We have tickets to give away to a Beehive reader. To enter to win, leave a comment in this post. Tell us why you love country music (doesn’t need to be specific to Moore). The contest is a quick one. You have until 5 p.m. tonight. Winners will be chosen at random, notified by email and must be able to pick up tickets at The Fresno Bee office (1626 E. Street) during normal business hours.
Check out a video from Moore (and complete contest rules) on the jump.
Back in July, I told you about the City of Fresno’s updated 2035 General Plan, which lays out the policies and procedures that will determine how the city grows and develops in the next two decades.
The plan (which should come before the council by early next year one hopes) is being hotly debated by two camps. There are those who believe “in having a development guide that attempts to rebuild older, deteriorating neighborhoods and finally apply the breaks to urban sprawl” (as per The Fresno Bee) and those working to retain the status quo (zero infill and an ever-expanding sphere of influence).
Grilled cheese fans in northeast Fresno can get their melty goodness on at the newly opened Grilled Chz restaurant at Cedar and Herndon avenues. The restaurant opened last week at 7059 N. Cedar Ave., in the same shopping center as John’s Incredible Pizza. This location is technically a move, as the owners closed the Grilled Chz at Willow and Nees avenues, opting for a more high-profile location. (The Grilled Chz on West Shaw near West Avenue is still open.)
But enough about real estate. Let’s talk about the food. If you’re unfamiliar with Grilled Chz, the menu includes just about any kind of grilled cheese you can imagine, along with tomato soup, chili, fries and dessert sandwiches. The gooey sandwich pictured at right is the restaurant’s best seller: the “extreme grilled chz” with cheddar cheese, macaroni and cheese inside, along with caramelized onions and smoked bacon with cheddar crusted onto the outside of the bread. The restaurant’s “molten extravaganza” of double-cream French Brie, bacon, sliced almonds, and homemade fig paste got some attention from AAA’s magazine “Via” last spring. See the full menu here.
I also love to eat and this is an exciting time for food lovers in Fresno. No, I’m not talking the Fresno Fair.
As my colleagues Bethany Clough and Bob Rodriguez have reported, several hip new restaurants and drinking establishments have opened in the last month or so, including a gastropub, a small-chain modern-day Hof Brau and a bottle shop.
Below are my reviews of each. If you’ve been to any of the three, we’d love to know your thoughts. Add your reviews in the comments section.
Several web sites, including Variety, are reporting that director Jamie Babbit’s next movie will be “Fresno.” The film will be written by KareyDornetto whose past work includes writing for the TV series “Community” and “Portlandia.”
Natasha Lyonne (“Orange is the New Black”) and Judy Greer (“Arrested Development”) will play sisters in the dark comedy. Their characters will be working at a Fresno hotel cleaning rooms. Things go very bad when they accidentally kill one of the guests.
There’s no word yet on where the movie will be filmed. It’s currently scheduled to be released in 2015.
Babbit previously directed Lyonne in the 1999 feature “But I’m a Cheerleader.” The director’s “Itty Bitty Titty Committee” was one of the films screened at the 18th annual Reel Pride Film Festival in 2007. At the 2002 Reel Pride, Babbit was on a filmmakers’ forum discussion panel that also included Q. Allan Brocka, Glenn Gaylord, Lee Friedlander, Gerald McCullouch and Christine J. Russo.
Molly Shannon, Fred Armisen, Ron Livingston and Jessica St. Clair are also in the cast of “Fresno.”
The last time Fresno served as the backdrop for a production was the 1986 mini-series, “Fresno,” starring Carol Burnett and Dabney Coleman.
In the midst of the ’60s British invasion, Paul Revere became an American rock and roll icon.
With his band, the Raiders, the organist had a string of hit singles including “Louie Louie” (it was a bigger hit for the Kingsmen) and “Kicks” (they also recorded a version of “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” which later became a hit for the Monkees). The band is best known for the 1971 hit “Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian).”
During his heyday, Revere was known as “the madman of rock and roll,” which probably had to do with his on-stage antics, including dressing up in 18th century military uniforms, complete with the tricorner hats.
Offstage, the man could be all business.
“He played rock and roll, but he was a businessman,” says Bill Burns, who started the local band Papa Clutch & the Shfiters in 1978.
Burns met Revere several times over the years, and in the late ’80s his group (known as the Shifters at the time) was the surf-rock house band at Kicks in Reno. The club was owned by Revere, who had hired the band for the gig. “He was one of the good guys in rock and roll,” Burns says.
Burns also got the opportunity to share the stage with Revere’s band — in one instance Papa Clutch and the Shifters actually played headline to the Raiders at Safari Night show at Fresno’s Chaffee Zoo.
“Because of sound check problems, they played first and we followed them, asking the audience to give our ‘opening act’ a big hand. Paul was sitting in the audience and laughed harder than most,” Burns says.
“Great guy who was always on the rock ‘n roll make!”
The Fresno City College and Fresno State theater seasons kick off tonight with two very different shows: the irreverent musical “Avenue Q” and the searing drama “Race.” You can’t dawdle when it comes to seeing either show, because both only run through Oct. 11.
I had a fun time conducting video “tell-all” interviews, above, with Kate and Rod, two of the puppet stars of “Avenue Q” at Fresno City College. It’s celebrity journalism at its finest. You can also read my 7 section interview with director Charles Erven.
And with David Mamet’s “Race,” pictured below, at Fresno State, we made the play the cover story in Friday’s 7 section. Director Thomas-Whit Ellis talks about his decision to stage this provocative play.
Pictured: Mitchell Lam Hau, Ryan Woods, Joel Young and Breayre Tender in “Race.”