Fresno in my rear-view mirror

I just flew in from Fresno… and boy, is that joke tired.

The chorus and I performed in the city I like to call “Gateway to Bakersfield” this past weekend. As it usually is whenever I’m in Fresno — which, thank heaven, is not all that often — it was blazing hot and muggy. Of course, we decided to go with a solid black stage ensemble which accentuated the heat and mugginess. The things we do for love.

Still, we had fun, and received some useful feedback from the judging panel. All in all, a worthwhile tuneup for International competition in Anaheim the first week in July.

Temperature aside, Fresno treated me rather nicely during the 24 hours I spent there.

I found inexpensive overnight lodging at a chain-affiliated establishment that caters to business travelers, which meant that the place was nearly deserted on a pre-summer weekend. (One exception: the honeymooning couple in the room next door. Congratulations, Mike and Diana. I hope you enjoy a long and happy life together.)

A helpful young woman named Patricia checked me in upon arrival. I presume that her name was Patricia, as that was the word she had tattooed across her chest. It’s possible, of course, that “Patricia” was a child, partner, or loved one of some other variety. I’m just applying Occam’s razor here.

Although the hotel had seen better days — if indeed Fresno ever had better days — my room was efficiently appointed and reasonably comfortable. Comfortable, that is, with the exception of the bed, which was hard enough to rank somewhere between corundum and diamond on the Mohs scale, and to qualify as a torture device under the Geneva Conventions. Seriously, Indian fakirs would lie on this monstrosity and plead for nails instead. I was grateful that I only needed to endure the pain for a single night.

Because we wrapped our evening of singing after usual restaurant hours, I feasted on a midnight repast at a nearby location of America’s favorite 24-hour eatery. I ordered breakfast fare — tougher for the short-order cook to screw up — which arrived quickly and quite palatably prepared. The waitress, a pleasant woman of Samoan heritage, kept my lemonade glass filled and whisked away my emptied dishes with aplomb while I pored over Wil Wheaton’s Just a Geek on my Kindle and observed the night manager’s smooth pickup technique as he attempted to score some play from a pair of local talents occupying a corner booth.

As I pulled out of town on Sunday, it occurred to me that, while Fresno might not be my cup of Earl Grey, it seemed to be working just fine for most of the people I encountered during my brief stay. The staff and patrons at the hotel, at the performance venue, at the restaurants, and at the Arco station where I filled my gas tank before departing… all appeared cheerful and satisfied. Endless 100-degree heat in the bucolic middle of nowhere doesn’t shmear my bagel, but for them what likes it — or perhaps, have no experience with any other existence — it’s a life.

And there’s not a darned thing wrong with that.

Fun Fresno factoid: Until January of this year when term limits kicked in, Fresno’s mayor was former NFL player Alan Autry, who co-starred as Carroll O’Connor’s sidekick Bubba Skinner on In the Heat of the Night back in the 1980s and ’90s. It is my firm conviction that every actor who’s ever played a supporting role on a TV series will eventually be elected to public office. Just ask Fred Thompson, Sheila Kuehl, Fred Grandy, Ben Jones, the late Sonny Bono, and yes, Clint Eastwood. (Rowdy Yates on Rawhide, for those of you too young to know or too old to remember.)

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Explore posts in the same categories: Aimless Riffing, Celebritiana, Soundtrack of My Life, Teleholics Anonymous

4 Comments on “Fresno in my rear-view mirror”

  1. Sank Says:

    What the heck, you rippin on my peeps in the Valley, it’s a fine place to live, and had I not left there in 1981, well I’d still be living there dang it.

    BTW Hot? yup, Muggy? Really? I’d never expereinced muggy being a western fellow until I moved to Minnesota. Now, in the Midwest, and a trip to New Orleans in August, I can effecitvely define muggy and knows it when I sees it.

    Still, I remember one summer in Stockton where it was over 110 in the afternoon for a week straight. Unfortuneately there was no one there to tell me I was miserable. I had to learn that later.
    Later.

  2. Hilly Says:

    You’re being so kind about Fresno…you really are! I spent some time living in the Central Valley (mostly Modesto, Ceres and Atwater) and that life completely was awful for me. Then again, if I didn’t know any better, maybe Fresno would seem like the bees knees. Man, I wish I didn’t know any better sometimes.

    Woah, tangent…sorry!

  3. SwanShadow Says:

    Sank: I’m entitled by experience to dis the Valley, my friend. I lived (in Ceres) and worked (in Modesto, Stockton, Tracy, and Manteca) for two long, hot, miserable years.

    It was easily my second-least favorite place that I’ve ever lived in the U.S., eclipsed only by the horror that is Abilene, Texas. (I spent a decade in Abilene one year.)

    Everything’s for someone. But living in the Central Valley? Not for me.

  4. SwanShadow Says:

    Hilly: I share your pain, my child.

    As noted in my reply to Sank’s comment, I lived in Ceres for two years, and worked (albeit briefly) in Modesto, though I attended a church in the latter locality throughout my tenure. You couldn’t get me to live in the Valley again if you threatened to gouge out my eyeballs with a runcible spoon.


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