Yes, Hanson. I've followed them for the last 13 years, enduring the nonstop jokes (13 years of "That middle one is a hot girl" is an exercise in patience) and even worse, the ad-lib lyrics to Mmmbop that people think are so clever. I'd long abandoned the notion that maybe they'd fall in love with me (me!) and then come to appreciate the place so close to my heart. Even through my creepy semi-stalker attempts to talk to them (ending in asking them to predict the sex of my unborn, incubating baby or tell me their favorite Steve Martin movie) I entertained no notions that they might suddenly decide Fresno was worthy of a tour stop. Or at least dinner on the way from one place to the next, yeesh, I'm not particular.
So I have to say a big big big thank you to the band Motel Drive for not only rocking it here at home, but for making my night last night as I watched the livestream of them jamming with my unrequited loves before the show in San Francisco. I couldn't think of a better band to represent Fresno to a bunch of Hanson fans and I just really am still all fangirly about the fact that a band that's played at a NOtown function at Audie's opened for HANSON.
You guys just don't get how huge this was for me. And that's okay with me. More Hanson to myself.
If you haven't heard Motel Drive, get out from under your rock (or would that be rockabilly?) and have a listen. They're great. Fresnawesome, even.
*And a sad note. I had already purchased my ticket for the NIGHT BEFORE and since I couldn't get the extra day away from the fam and work and all of those other non-Hanson obligations all I got of this glory was the webcast. LAME. No wonder I have never succeeded as a Fresnambassador to Hanson. **And a sadder note... Oh my GOD I was ridiculous when talking to them. I should stick to screaming from the mob.
But then, while wandering around the town, I couldn't help but think to myself "Man, I love Fresno."
Not saying Chico is a crap-hole. Quite the opposite, it's nice. Quaint. Hippie-hipster kids hang out in the park and play bongos. The one homeless person I saw was laying down on a bench reading classic literature. There are like 5 bicycle shops within a mile of each other. This is a place that is pretty comfortable in it's own awesomeness.
That may be partially why I was really missing Fresno, even if I was just there overnight. My BFFF and better half Guinness Wrecker made the comment; "The thing about Fresno that makes it more likeable than Chico is that it isn't concerned with being a stereotype of itself."
And it's true. I felt not-eco/health conscious-enough, despite my TOMS shoes, when I wandered into the health food store. I felt not urbane enough when I ordered my fruit salad (yummy yummy) and Mexican mocha at the cafe. In Fresno you don't need to wear hemp clothing to shop at whole foods and no need to carry your entitled snob card to buy an overpriced coffee drink. Guinness also feared we were maybe in Brigadoon instead of Chico.
I'm not bagging on Chico, It's a really nice place. Decent midnight Mexican food where they don't mind if you've just had a few beers and a shot of Wild Turkey- and no one at the hotel came out to call the cops when we jumped into the pool in our uniforms the second we got back from the game. If it had been OC we would probably be in a jail cell still. Plus, that Fakin'-Bacon-Veganaise BLT sandwich I bought at the health food store was pretty tasty. No complaints there. It did make me appreciate my hometown though- at least I know where I can find a good karaoke bar on a Saturday night if I need one.
One of the hats I wear is as the Area Representative for an awesome Student Exchange Organization, and one of my responsibilities is... taa-daa... taking the students out for activities around town. I know, right? For all of those out of town friends who never visit me, don't worry, I can practice my "Where would take an out of towner?" answer on these unsuspecting kids while I wait for you to come see me.
Anyway, in late may I had a few students who couldn't make it to our Art Hop walk, so I wanted to take them out for something really special and memorable that would be so OMGFRESNO that it would blow their international minds.
So, uh, duh, we went on a Mural Walk through Downtown Fresno's Mural District. Did you even know that we have a mural district? I was vaguely aware that yeah, there were a lot of murals, but I didn't know it was an actual thing until this spring.
We started at Iron Bird Cafe with some cold juice blends and took off, drinks in hand, to enjoy some of Fresno's finest public art, set against the backdrop of the businesses, studios and living spaces. Pioneered by artist and developer Reza Assemi, this part of the city has become a vibrant hub of artistic activity.
There is a map that shows where most of the murals are, so armed with that, a few pages printed about some of the artists that contributed to the pieces and an sense of adventure (hey, it's late May and we're walking in the afternoon, that is brave!) we took off. We didn't have to go too far for our first pieces, The Iron Bird Lofts are already known for their public art.
We headed down Broadway, Checked out the Econo Inn, Headed over to H Street to see the H Street Lofts and The Vagabond Lofts, Checked out the Broadway lofts, and went all the way to Tulare, where we fell completely in love with Broadway Studios (pictured) and KJWL's larger than larger than life Sinatra. (We had one of the host-dads along with us and I think this was his favorite of all!) Against the wall of the Cornerstone Church is a mural of sheet music for Amazing Grace.
We made out way back up Fulton and saw a lot of murals that aren't on this map yet, including some pretty cool alleyways. This isn't a tour you can't really enjoy by car, but would be perfect on bike. If you do decide to go and walk the Mural District allot a good couple of hours to really let yourself enjoy the pieces and have a leisurely stroll around. Probably not a good idea to do in 108° heat, either, so plan accordingly before you get out there and check it out.
(Photo is of exchange students Liza (Palestine) and Ploy (Thailand) with yours truly in front of the mural on Broadway Studios in the alleyway sandwiched between them and KJWL. I'm looking for host families for the 2010-2011 school year, let me know if you're interested!)
Clearly the middle of the year is a more difficult time for a blog-a-thon than the fresh new beginning, oh I had such enthusiasm to start July off, and my list was so complete. I'll be working on catching up, but boy-howdy have things been busyaround here. I guess the best way to prove my point that there is no excuse for boredom in Fresno is to live the busy Fresno lifestyle, right?
Sorry to disappoint (if you actually were following along) but expect all of those bloggies I had lined up for the whole month (all but the last day were filled in!) to find their way out into the blogosphere eventually! In the meanwhile, enjoy this city!
I've blogged about produce profusely. I love me some veggies, what can I say? But I do want to take a few moments to point out that Fridays in the Summertime are one of my favorite times because they mix produce and play at the Old Town Clovis Farmer's Market.
While it technically isn't Fresno, its close enough and lets be real- the fruit is coming from Fresno. And Sanger. And all of those little towns I forget exist because I'm a Fresnocentric spaz. So give me this, okay?
I love that you can go and get all of your fruits and veggies for the week and grab dinner in one place. I especially like that I can get Kettle Corn and consider it dinner. Want to shake your butt too? There is live music. Interested in running into an old acquaintance or two? Its bound to happen- I ran into half of the Hanson fan club I was part of in high school last week. (So, it was two people, how many people do you think liked Hanson? We were few but proud.)
Its great because the community really comes together. Everyone mills around, their kids play and dance together, and we get in touch with our local farmers. It was a highlight of the Summer for me growing up and it still is one of those surefire mood brighteners now. Get your produce on!
The house was built in 1888, the Meux family moving into it in January 1889, and it was occupied by a Meux family member until the 1970's. These days it is in the hands of the City of Fresno, and you can take a tour of it and get an idea of how people lived here over a hundred years ago. (Without AC!)
I love it because I like anything that requires passion to keep it around. This is a place that requires upkeep not only of the grounds but also of the memories and history around it. When I went for the first time as a kid I was amazed by the concept that Fresno hasn't always been the Fresno we live in today. A Lady's Chair? It filled my mind with the big ole dresses and corsets and awesome hair and hats and gloves and covered ankles. I had never thought about our community as being one of those kinds of places that had, you know... ladies. It helped me to appreciate where I lived at a young age.
Take a tour, see for yourself why this is one of Fresno's beautiful gems.
Sure sometimes you get stuck in a Celine Dion back to back with Barbara Streisand back to back with Linda Ronstadt rut, but holy cow, despite the divas KJWL always delivers a completely Fresno-centric radio experience. Everything about this station is community oriented- one of the perks of being locally owned, no doubt. They host an Art Hop stop every month and give the featured artists and musicians air time, which I think is pretty awesome. (Also awesome is the GIGANTIC mural of Frank Sinatra by their back entrance.)
They have community oriented segments throughout the day like Eye on Education and Valley Jewels to remind us that whether or not we like Michael Bublé, we're all still part of this city together. And don't even get me started on how stinkin' rad Feleena Sutton is. I've had the chance to meet her and she is just so positive and amazing. (And that Bruce guy is pretty cool too...)
KJWL Shares space with KYNO in the middle of Downtown just steps away from the Fulton Mall, and I love them for keeping it Fresno and really making the space they're in a jewel. (Get it? I'm so punny.) Honestly though, I love them for a lot of things.
I'm sure I could say more, but I'm too busy rocking out to Baby by Bobby McFerrin right now. Who else plays that? NO ONE. Case closed.