Fresno Letting The Past Die Again

Gut wrenching stuff for Fresno architecture this past week.

We first learned that a different group of assholes (different from the Tower Theatre assholes) have taken over the Liberty Theater (Fresno’s oldest) and gutted it:

Before:

Then the gutting:

Like [takes deep breath] THEY REMOVED A WHOLE DAMN BALCONY WITHOUT PERMISSION!

The Fresno Bee’s Marek Warszawski does some great follow up work to find out how they were able to get away with this.

Basically, the city approved them to do SOME demolition inside but not all of what they did and then city never really came out to make sure they were taking care in what they were ripping out, so the contractor had carte blanche to keep ripping.

Fine them. stop construction. do what you can, City of Fresno, but it’s too late now. It’s gone. Can’t get it back. 

Is Kylo Ren overseeing renovations?

NEVER, KYLO! 

I’ll never join the Dark Side nor will I abide the Liberty being gutted to become a church. It’s NOT what it was meant to be.

It makes me sick. I mean, William Saroyan used to hang out in that balcony – Bill would definitely have been a Jedi, btw.

When I was part of Creative Fresno we helped put on some shows in the Liberty. It gave me the chance to explore all around that theater and I was amazed at how everything appeared to be original.

In fact, the projector room was still there with the old projector equipment, looking like someone just quit one day, in like 1952, and nothing had been touched since.

Now it’s just fucking gone.

The Dumb Drum dudes put together a great video around that time, exploring the theater with (ironically) a focus on the now fucking gone, balcony:

I used to think that a business or church taking over an old unused building, even for some different purpose than the building was intended, was better than it sitting there and rotting away. Not anymore.

Better to sit and rot in faint hope that it one day will be restored, than to be gutted.

As an example, Hotel Fresno sat FOREVER, rotting away. There was a lot of talk that it would be better to just tear it down. But now, people will be staying/living there again WITH as much of the original architecture retained or restored.

So, we can do things properly here, sadly it takes people that respect Fresno. It seems there are a lot of churches around that don’t.

*Pics stolen from Vintage Fresno’s Instagram feedand Miguel Arias.

Fresno Needs A Damn Beer Hall!

German Beer Hall – by thorquabbin on Flicker

We do. We need one – you know, when the COVID is gone (someday I hope to delete that statement from this post).

Just a straight up fucking BEER HALL!

Take one large hall. Then add…

  • A bunch of long-ass tables.
  • A solid list of beers on tap.
  • Pitchers (You remember pitchers, right!?)
  • One simple food – likey tacos. All the meat variants and veggie variants – BUT THATS IT! Don’t fuck with a bunch a different things!
  • Lots of water around.
  • A safe, open, welcoming, friendly environment.
  • A large bathroom for all peoples.
  • A large wait staff that comes to your table very regularly so you never have to get up and try to wedge yourself into a busy bar to hopefully get a bartender’s attention.

It’s actually really simple. Not that fucking hard to do and nobody is doing it exactly like that. IT WOULD RAKE!!

And it wouldn’t matter where you put it. How about one of you assholes with money just fucking do it already!?!!

The Cool As Hell Bart Simpson Fresno Mural Is Already Gone

I thought Floydy photoshop it. When I realized it was real it was like “Oh wow, how cool.”

You don’t always see cool stuff like that just come out of nowhere.

In case you didn’t recognize the Downtown Club that was Bart Simpson on that old parking garage at Inyo coming up on Van Ness.

And then it was gone.

Lame, dude.

At least some of us got to enjoy it for a weekend.

I Need KFSR To Do A Damn Thing

(KFSR Studio – picture source here)

Somebody needs to get on KFSR and make some noise. A DJ during Evening Eclectic is what I am specifically requesting.

Evening Eclectic used to have actual DJs and shifts and they’d tell you about who was being played.

Now it’s all pretty boring. No DJ (that I have heard in a while) and it’s just some programmed music with no backbone or thru line.

The Jazz-all-day format is fine. I understand it pays the bills and it’s a nice palate cleanse for the head during the day.

I haven’t come for that today.

Organic energy. It’s hard for me to articulate but there is something special that you get from a person in the studio LIVE as you listen. It feels like you’re hanging out with someone.

Radio has lost so much of that. Even most of the DJs that are in the studio on the regular stations are five minutes ahead of everything and are barely given a chance to talk. So when they are speaking it’s slightly delayed and for just a moment.

Or it has already been recorded like a podcast.

One of the few things radio has over podcasts (live energy where you are not exactly sure what will happen), they have mostly dropped – KFSR’s Evening Eclectic included.

Spotify algorithms, podcasts, and music blogs have taken some of the use for the kind of shows KFSR used to have, I guess. Still sucks.

Every semester a new crop of DJs would come through, all with their radio name and own music theme. Some bad, some good, some you hear on Fresno radio today (I can remember hearing 95.7 The Fox’s “Carter” on her KFSR show back in the day).

KFSR does have shows on the weekend to listen to but nothing for new music or current students, it seems.

I don’t know what happened over there. Why are there are no DJs during Evening Eclectic? Just random-ass music plays. It’s worse than an algorithm. It has no information. No guts.

And hey, I am a podcaster. I am not suppose to be begging radio to be better. I am supposed to be taking advantage of its weaknesses. I like to think I do. But it still doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear a healthy college station kicking ass on Fresno’s airwaves.

Be better, KFSR. Save Evening Eclectic. Save college radio in Fresno. Stop being boring.

The Guilt of Corona

I had not sat down inside or outside a Fresno business for nine months. Until…

Yep. I broke down and went to the new (still improving) beer garden setup at Zack’s Brewing in Downtown Fresno.

I had a couple beers along with some tri-tip.

It’s looking good, the beer is still awesome, food was great and it all felt weird.

I sat outside and away from everyone. Wore a mask except to drink and eat. I felt safe enough.

But I didn’t have to go. I could have stayed home. This is what I have done this whole Pandemic: Getting takeout & delivery. No inside or even parking lot seating, for me.

But I broke, had some beers and got some flack for it on Facebook with a reminder of how things are going out there:

I can’t say disagree with the flack. But I wanted to support a friend’s business and have a Birthday Beer.

Zack’s and Tioga are making things as safe as possible and I was thirsty for an hour of normalcy.

We have all made our Corona choices somewhere. A tasty beverage on a nice Sunday afternoon broke me.

Now I gotta re-focus, a long Winter lies ahead.

Goodbye, Eli Reyes

Fresno’s music scene was shaken this weekend as we learned of the passing of Eli Reyes.

I sadly had not seen Eli in some time. But I saw a lot of him when he was actively drumming for (what seemed like) every band in Fresno and when he would return from L.A., sometimes just to fill in for somebody’s band.

I want to be able to say things about Eli that would live up to my thoughts. It’s difficult. I’m not up to the task.

But I want to make sure to say that he was a wonderful man that was a joy to be around. Loved making music. He was one of the few Fresno musicians that could get me out of the house on a weeknight to see a show.

I miss the sweaty post-show bear hugs.

With that, really, I’d rather read what others have to say about Eli. So I pulled some things I found from the Fresno music community. Hope everyone is cool with it.

Rest easy, Eli, you were always so kind and so upbeat. I was always happy to see you setup a drum kit and then have multiple bands that you were apart of change out through the night. The ever so famous “Eli Fest” within FUSE will always hold a special place in Fresno music history.

Matt Nap

Sad to hear the news that my old friend Eli Reyes has passed away 🙁 He was such a kind soul… the kind of fellow you’d always love to bump into while you were out.

Paul Chesterson

“This really hurts. I want to say that Fresno lost a treasure, but we all know that Eli was so much more than that.

I challenge you to name a musician that crossed every stage in Fresno off his list whether it was CYC, Fulton 55, and tons more that probably don’t even exist anymore. Eli was the guy you could catch at an acoustic show and hang out with afterwards to talk about punk and hardcore.

When I was younger, I was in awe of Eli and I was very fortunate to have become friends with him over the years. He, like myself, would show up to shows by himself sometimes and we would hang out and catch up on whatever was going on in our lives.

I was always so excited when I would book one of his projects. I remember a few times, whether it was a Fay Wrays set with Touche Amore at CYC or at Catacomb Party, where I put someone else in charge and said “Keep an eye on things because I gotta see this.”What I would do to say that one more time.”

-John Esquivel

“I met Eli about 20 years ago and have been his friend and bandmate ever since. There were times when Eli was really easy to love. There were times when he was difficult to love but you loved him all the same because of who he was: a kind, loving, caring, and fiercely loyal friend.

He tattooed the Albert Camus quote: “Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” That quote captures what it was like to be Eli’s friend. And Eli and I walked beside one another through a lot of life moments. He will be dearly missed. He is still dearly loved.

Eli played in countless bands (this is no hyperbole) in Fresno, all over the Central Valley of California, and Los Angeles, and really anywhere he could pummel a drum set. There will certainly be a lot of reminiscing of Eli playing music and those memories are wonderful and good, but they only scratch the surface of who he really was. Because at the end of the day people create music and Eli loved music because Eli loved people.

This is my friend Eli and I will miss him very much.”

-Benji McEntee

There was no one like Eli. Pure joy and positive energy. He was a driving force of the independent music community. An awesome drummer undoubtedly but most memorable to me is how Eli would selflessly go out his way to help others and advocate for the band and people he loved. His enthusiasm was infectious and he made you want to be a better person.

Warren Woodward

“Eli loved music more than anyone else I know. He was everybody’s drummer. My favorite memories of him are when we played in the Jumpbacks with Jacquie, and recording the last Soma Holidays record. He didn’t argue. He was kind. He was not prideful, even when he had every right to be.

When I picture him now, he’s frozen in time. Mid 20’s. Knee-length black jacket, black car. Beautiful white DW drumset, that was always in his backseat because he was always on his way to or from band practice or a show. Chain smoking Marlboro lights. Insisting that no one goes home. He wanted every night to last forever.

The last thing I said to him before the coma was “We will jam again someday”. I still believe that’s true.”

-Luke Deniston

“A guy who was a fixture in the scene for a real long time and someone I’ve know from a long time back. Lots of people felt what he was about. RIP.”

-Josh Tehee

“Gutted right now. LA’s music scene lost a tremendous performer and we’ve all lost a dear dear friend. Eli was the first to offer a helping hand and had an infectious positivity about the world. He worked his butt off and always did so with that huge smile. I’m going to miss you Eli. RIP”

-Ashley Wagner

“Eli Reyes was a fierce drummer and a good friend. We spent long hours at Livingstone’s musing over murder ballads and Nick Cave, rejoicing over each other and music we loved. He was the first person I ever met who fiercely celebrated the mere fact that his friends existed. He loved with everything he could give and it was always a gift to witness.

…every time he joined me on stage throughout the years I was always reminded about how important the heart of the drummer is to the drums themselves. He would take to them like Animal and it was the most glorious expression of self that I’ve seen nearly anyone commit to. He taught me the importance of getting every ounce of tone out of your kit and I selected every drummer I have ever worked with Eli as one of the blueprints.”

-Kat Jones

There are a lot more stories about Eli. Sorry if your thoughts are not here, this are just some I found and thought were relevant.

Continue reading “Goodbye, Eli Reyes”