Posts Tagged ‘Fresno’

Dear Time: Thanks for nothing.

June 6, 2014
I guess transpeople are trendy, now that Time says so.

I guess transpeople are trendy, now that Time says so.

One of the big buzzes at the beginning of last week (the day after Memorial Day) was that a transperson was to be featured on the cover of Time — Laverne Cox, one of the co-stars of Orange Is the New Black. Time teased us with a Q-and-A with Ms. Cox but kept the online version of the cover story behind a subscriber paywall. Some of my wonderful and extremely supportive friends were excited about this and messaged me on Facebook and sent links to the Q-and-A and offered me their copies of the issue when they were finished with it. And I, too, was somewhat excited, cautiously curious at how Time would play this story.

I finally got a copy in the mail at the beginning of the week (courtesy of my friend and former Fresno Bee colleague, Diana Ramirez-Simon), and, well, I wanted to read it and let it swirl around a little bit before I added my two cents to what I’ve been calling the last frontier of civil rights for some time now.

Okay, I’ve read it, all nine pages — actually, four pages, after you take out the photos and the half-page of air on the lede page — and, well, I’m not happy. Time, thanks for nothing. I’ll explain …

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Going Home, The Prequel: Loose ends

October 16, 2012

One of Fresno’s best-known landmarks, at the south end of Van Ness Avenue. At one time, before freeways. it welcomed visitors from the south.

Oct. 15, 2012

Note: It’s been two months since I, with a lot of help, loaded up a rental truck, attached my car to the back and began the journey into the next chapter of my life: the move home to Connecticut from Fresno after eight years of transition in ways I never could have imagined. Well, after a huge bout of self-doubt, regaining confidence, losing my religion and finally convincing myself again that I might actually be a real writer — well, here goes. Strap in:

I had long envisioned — hoped for — the Hollywood ending to what I’ve been through the last nearly five years, between the gender transition that started in January 2008 and the joblessness hell that began in March 2009. I imagined that, after all I’ve been through, there would finally be a great job waiting for me at the end of the rainbow — that I would be able to return East the conquering heroine to a great job, and then everything else would fall into place like so many dominoes.

Well, we all know that Hollywood is bullshit. And that life comes at you whether you’re ready or not.

And instead of coming home to hosannas and a wonderful new life, riding a atop a figurative white charger, I’d be driving across the country in the hottest time of the year in a yellow Penske rental truck, my rickety ’96 Camry attached to the back, with no job, lots of uncertainty and just as much blind faith.

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Well, here comes my next step, ready or not — help!

July 2, 2012

The exit off 84 in Waterbury that will get me home.

This is something I just posted on my Facebook wall …

Monday, July 2, 2012, 3:30 a.m. PDT

Well, friends, friendly faces and kinfolk …

I don’t know how I’m gonna do this, but just past halftime of 2012 — this year of great change — great change is finally hitting me. And, ready or not, I have no choice.

I’ve pondered this the last two days — told my mother and a handful of friends — and up until this past evening, I wasn’t 100 percent sure. And even now, as I polish and finish this letter I started two days ago, it feels somewhat surreal. But after recording my lead vocals last night for “Out of Step” with The Backstabbers for the forthcoming Reducers tribute album, I feel I’ve done the last thing I’ve needed to finish here in Fresno.

Drazzle drazzle, drazzle drone — time for this one to come home.

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The Fresno Autorama: I miss it already

March 16, 2011

George Barris brought his Munsters Koach to the 2008 Fresno Autorama. Photo by Franorama World.

UPDATE 3/6/12: The Fresno Autorama has officially been laid to rest. My former Fresno Bee colleague (and former neighbor) Paula Lloyd — who herself retired this past Friday — interviewed Blackie Gejeian the week before; he was letting everyone know of his decision to shut the show down permanently. And thus ends one of the coolest things about Fresno. As I said a year ago, I miss it already.

*****

I moved to Fresno seven years ago March 23 from the other side of the country — and just missed, by a couple days, one of the coolest events in this cowtown of a half-million, or any other town, for that matter: the annual Fresno Autorama.

But I made it a point to go every year after that. And along the way, I finally grew the sense to bring a camera with me.

It was the brainchild and the baby of Blackie Gejeian, a legendary local motorhead, from a family of Armenian genocide-surviving raisin farmers in Easton, who wasn’t old-school; he was pre-school. (And until the plaque honoring him was unveiled outside the Fresno Convention Center last March, I never knew his name was Mike.)

He returned from the Navy after World War II and started building hot rods to race. Then, after an illegal race nearly killed him, he started customizing them — and chroming the undercarriage, things we take for granted now. And placing mirrors beneath the cars so people could see the handiwork, another car show staple we take for granted. That was Blackie’s doing, too.

And his work became renowned among the auto crowd. Such as the Ala Kart — which he, along with a Fresno pal, the ’29 Ford truck’s original owner, Richard Peters, and legendary customizer George Barris conjured at an L.A. coffee shop in 1957. (Two years later, AMT made it the first show car model. And I have a Hot Wheels version somewhere, in a four-car Barris collection.)

And then he started the Autorama. And it became an event of international renown, one of the biggest custom car shows in North America.

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ALBUM REVIEW: “The Underground Garden” — Blake Jones & the Trike Shop (self-released)

April 24, 2010

Blake Jones & the Trike Shop emerge from "The Underground Garden" to release their new album April 24 at Audie's Olympic in Fresno. From left: Leland Vander Poel, Martin Hansen, Jones, John Shafer and Mike Scott.

In a perfect world, I would love for my California friends to be able to meet my East Coast friends. And I wish my fellow music fiends back in New Haven and New York could get to see Blake Jones play at least once.

He’s in his late 40s, like me, and has been part of the Fresno music scene since the late ’70s. He was one of the first people I met here — one Saturday morning at Spinners Records in the Tower District in January 2004, while I was out here on my job interview. And he and his wife, Lauri, are two of the nicest and most supportive people in the universe.

A pop composer extraordinaire whose whose earlier work reminded me of Lennon & McCartney meets Brian Wilson meets XTC, with a dash of Zappa and a dollop of theremins, he currently performs in three configurations: with The Trike Shop; his Ill-Advised Solo Shows; and, very infrequently, a Beatle band called Ticket to Ride that plays the obscure stuff (say, “Think for Yourself,” “What You’re Doing” and the German songs).

Well, barring me winning MegaMillions, I don’t think my east and west coasts will ever meet. But those of you shackled by geography can really get to know him and his heart, musically and spiritually, through the Trike Shop’s wonderful new album, “The Underground Garden,” which he’ll unveil Saturday night (April 24) at Audie’s Olympic in Fresno. Maybe his latest bit of musical agriculture will become something else for which the Central San Joaquin Valley can be world-famous.

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