I just came back from Fig Garden Village and there are a ton of freaking Fresnans out there!
Wassaaaabi’s? Packed. The patio was full and there were, like, eight people waiting for a table. THIS IS AT 2:45 on a Saturday!
Whole Foods? Packed. Long line to get in and very busy in the store. Like, so busy they might as well have not had a line to get in. It was near impossible to distance from people in there and I don’t think the line outside would have made it much worse. Fuck it, let all in.
I had not been inside Whole Foods since March and I was surprised to find it just as busy (if not more so) than Save Mart. At least Save Mart has more space to keep away from yahoos.
Jack’s Urban Eats? Busy too. wasn’t completely packed but busy and junk. Again, this is 2:45 in the afternoon.
To top it all off, it is smokey as hell. It wasn’t so bad in the morning, but the winds shifted or something and things got nasty.
BUT YOU ALL JUST PACKED OUT THE PARKING LOT PATIO AT OUT OF THE BARREL LIKE NOT A DAMN THING IS GOING ON!
Dude. All the tables at Out Of The Barrel were full. Mostly full of people that are not in a “bubble” together. You could not have fit more people out there. Since everyone is drinking, no masks.
I suppose that’s cool when it’s a handful of people, but this was too much for me brain to bare.
I was going to pick up some beer there but decided to skip it after seeing that.
Maybe a little part of me has respect for people saying, “Fuck it. I don’t care if it’s a Pandemic. I don’t care that the air is shit. I’m going to live my life and if I die, I die!”
But the rest of me? People. Is eating and drinking in a parking lot or smokey patio really all that?
What would Fresno’s defining feature be? What would look cool enough and speaks to you enough to be illustrated? What jumps out at you when you look at a map of Fresno or think about Fresno in a map inspired way?
I recently came upon a website called barelymaps.com. On it are map inspired graphics (like the one above using Buffalo intersections) of a city feature, illustrated in a creative way.
There isn’t a Fresno one, as you might expect. I would love to see one though. I have some simple ideas as to what Fresno’s could be:
The Railroad Tracks (active and abandoned). That might look cool pulled off a map and featured. The Union Pacific and Santa Fe tracks (and maybe one day High-Speed Rail tracks) are very Fresno. Also, there is a track that spurs off into Southwest Fresno that I think still may be active, but I have never seen one pass through to confirm as I am only occasionally in that part of town.
Ponding Basins. I know every town has ponding basins but Fresno’s seem to be more defining. Might look cool pulled out as well.
Canals. Some of our more featured canals have been converted over into a pipe system and covered over but many remain. Enough to make a graphic with or you could include the ones covered over as if they still remain. Canals are a big reason Fresno became a city so that is defining for sure.
Swimming Pools. That would be a lot of swimming pools to feature, for sure. I have always been curious as to Fresno’s pool ratio. I would bet we have the highest pools-per-capita rate of any city outside of Phoenix, Tuscon and Las Vegas.
Freeways. We “only” have four. A well-designed poster of them could look rad.
The San Joaquin River. Our largely overlooked NW border would look sweet with everything within range of its Fresno side, featured.
Save Marts. Really, what is consistent throughout Fresno and is local? Actually, there is no Save Mart downtown or in the Edison High area or… in Southwest… well, unless you consider Sunnyside Southwest. You know what, screw those cowards.
The Grid. Nothing says Fresno more than a map grid. In fact, we could be the poster child of grids.
This one we actually can see an example of because I found a website that will let you search for a city and it will pull up a map of it the city you search for but it only features the streets, everything else is stripped away.
If you use the website and your smartphone, it will let you zoom into specific areas of the map (I couldn’t get it to do it on my laptop but I could on my phone).
I’d love it if a Fresno graphic artist made something up inspired by Fresno and the Barely Maps. Please share it if you do.
While we’re here, a friend sent me this drawing of Fig Garden Village at a time when Rock Bottom Brewing was still there ALONG with the movie theater. I had recently been really wishing the movie theater was still there, so this made me pause:
It’s been, like, two weeks, Whole Foods Fresno. Two freaking weeks I had to walk around to your main entrance instead of walking through this now dysfunctional door.
That extra walking? Not planned!
Like, 20 seconds each way. Since I have had to do it twice, that adds up to 80,000 seconds. Stop making me walk. I already couldn’t park in MY SPOT in the parking lot and now I have to do extra walking. Torture.
Maybe you can search on Amazon for “sliding door parts, retail” or something…. oh wait, would you like to change that door to a Barn Door style? They love that shit on the home-flipping shows:
Question: Does Whole Foods have to pay for Amazon Prime to get free shipping or is that a company discount thing?
How about just searching for a local door guy. Let’s look together:
We have a few possibilities but we may need to find a specialist. These seem like glass dudes. Well, I guess we’re both screwed.
I dunno, man, since Amazon bought Whole Foods, been pretty bad. Rinky dink. Next thing you know you’re going to run out of ranch dressing.
Here are some of my favorite spots in Fresno that are no longer around. Basically, the 80s for an NW Fresno kid.
Hopefully, it sparks your own memories, wherever the hell ya grew up.
Blackbeards would be number one on my list except it is somehow still there. Intact. Almost unchanged. Which is awesome and sad at the same time.
MALIBU GRAND PRIX FRESNO
In the same place the Costco parking lot is now, behind the shopping center at the NE corner of Blackstone & Herndon, was Malibu Grand Prix. Letting kids race little Indy-style cars seems like a bad idea, but I never heard of anyone getting seriously hurt at it.
I think I spent more time in the arcade playing Tempest than on the race track. It was always a bit intimidating to me to drive those things … There. I said it. The Malibu cars, made for children, intimidated me. Didn’t know I’d be working out childhood issues today.
“I really could get into this!” is not something I ever said though. For the record.
WOODWARD PARK DRIVE IN
We no longer have a drive-in movie theater in Fresno and it sucks. The last one we had was Woodward, which is now a Home Depot and a Costco – definitely not an upgrade.
I can still remember going to the concession stand in the center, stealing looks at the other movies playing that I was too young to watch, enjoying the perfect Fresno Summer Nights and only half paying attention to the movie we came to see.
Madera still has one in operation, if you want to try and experience that again.
VIDEO GAME CAGE AT BLACKSTONE TOYS R US
This used to be the only place (that I can remember) you could get any game you wanted. Saving up money to get the latest hot game, only to find they were sold out of it, was always a bummer.
Bringing up the paper tag that represented the game, taking it to the cage and having them hand over the actual game, is one of the more satisfying things from childhood I recall. Is that sad?
TOWER RECORDS IN THE KMART SHOPPING CENTER
I got this picture from former Tower Records (OG location) worker, Dale Stewart of Capitol Punishment fame.
Records to the left. Tapes to the right. CDs eventually taking over. Record displays in the center. 45s of the Top Twenty Songs. These are the memories.
FESTIVAL GAME PALACE
It was not easy to try and make a $5 bill last for an afternoon, but I managed somehow. Shout out to Paperboy and the manual hockey game by the snack bar.
Dear God I could watch this all day:
THE GRAPE TRAY
It was next to the original Fresno Cost Plus at the NW corner of Shaw & Fresno. A sandwich shop, deli, and wine store. The reason I remember is it had a unique upstairs eating area unlike any in Fresno. I guess there is something about sitting and looking out over the shop from up high while having a salami & swiss.
The Grape Tray is still around. But it’s now at Palm & Bullard in the Opus One shopping center. And it’s just a wine shop. No cool upstairs or sandwiches. Boring.
I think it’s even in the spot that used to have a tiny record shop I would stop into after school and rarely buy something, much to the owner’s chagrin – wish I could remember the name of it.
FIG GARDEN LIQUOR (Original)
I know it’s still there but when I was a kid, Tom Seaver’s Father-In-Law owned it. He had the best (non-card shop) baseball card selection in town. He would even hand out autographed pictures of Tom Seaver to those of us that seemed like they cared. I got one or two over the years.
ARTHUR’S TOYS ON BLACKSTONE
The place to be even after Toys R Us opened. No other place could I look at custom electric cars to add to my track. It’s now Whitie’s Pets and went in there recently and was able to conjure a tiny bit of the vibe.
This is not me but I had the exact setup. Now I feel like going out and buying one:
The hobby shop place in Fig Garden Village that sold model airplanes and cars, Bob’s Village Hobby. (Read about owner, Bob Hansen, here). My memories of the place are faint, but it definitely inspired me to hang my model planes from my bedroom ceiling.
The Fig Garden Movie Theater. I so much wish it was still there. If you are too young to remember, it was located roughly where the Deli Delicious and noodle place is, in the back NE corner of Fig Garden Village.
Festival Cinemas. Saw all the important 80s movies there. Empire Strikes Back. Raiders of the Lost Ark. The greats.
I could go on for a while, as I’m sure you could too. Often I wonder what my kid will one day fondly remember about Fresno? It definitely won’t be a Drive-In.
Since Amazon bought Whole Foods, people are a little worried about Amazon taking over all the things. I would be worried too except Wal Mart already did it, so let’s stop freaking out. Maybe focus on stopping Wal Mart and not worry so much about Whole Foods until they are dealt with.
Anywayyyy, the Fresno Whole Foods, located in Fig Garden Village, may not have a top ranking parking lot, but it is an interesting one.
I know what you’re thinking “Holy shit, this asshole is going to do another parking related post. What the hell is this site and why am I still here!?”
LOOK, BRO! People like this stuff. It’s like, everyday life and crap. It’s fun.
PARKING LOT BREAK DOWN
I’ll get to my favorite parking spot in a second. But first, the worst place to park? The Main Lot. You could also call this the Western Lot:
Oh sure, it looks benign now. But it’s tight and super annoying. You know how many Prius you have to avoid in this area? Look, I can see one in that picture already. I never park in this area.
As an extension to this lot, there is the area next to Habit Burger’s patio. I do sometimes park here, but only when going to Habit and not when I am just shopping at Whole Foods.
I’m not sure I would walk THIS far (even though I am a big advocate of walking instead of driving around searching for the closest spot), but if you’re feeling adventurous and really don’t want to park next to anyone, get out to the North side as it gets closer to the Wassabbi’s parking. No drama out here (except for a dude that can’t park straight):
This one has chargers. And hey, there is even a car getting charged up as we speak. Way to save some air, dude:
While not all of us can park in those particular stalls, I do like that lot to park in. The area closer to the apartments is a good one because it’s not busy.