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Winners: Famous Choice Awards 2011
As a game, try thinking of the Famous Choice Awards as a sort of Family-Feud quiz for the blog set.
We’ve asked our users to rate their favorites in 20 categories of things we care about — mainly Fresno-tinged food, music and controversies — and put the main answers on the board ... er internet. For those who follow such things, there a few surprises among this year’s winners. For everyone else it’s a decent introduction to what us blogger-types were thinking about in the mid-part of 2011.
After two weeks of voting, the results are in.
And, the survey says:
No surprises here. Fierce Creatures and Strange Vine are THE local bands to watch. The bands represent the two divergent musical philosophies that are popular in indie music today. As a two-piece, Strange Vine is stripped-down simplicity with drummer Ian Blesse and Toby Cordova doing double duty (sometimes on a single instrument). Fierce Creatures on the other hand play music with a collective mind, with a roster of seven members (not counting various special guests that are called up at any given show).
- Van Ness Avenue/Tower District
It’s probably little coincidence that Fresno’s most walkable neighborhood would also have its best bike lanes.
Blog, blogger or website
In the city’s blogger community, The Fresno Beehive is royalty. And rightfully so. The site has been around as long as any other and thrown off any mega-media stigma by consistently churning out solid, relevant content that often sets community discourse.
Travis Sheridan wears hats on top of hats on top of hats. He seems to have his fingers in just about every creative pie he can find — including a few gigs as a stand-up comic. You can catch him in one of his many not-quite-day jobs as the on-field emcee at all Fresno Grizzlies home games.
The short story? Walmart ran a contest to give away $1 million to help fight hunger. Fresno didn’t win.
More than sour grapes, the contest (and how it was handled) was a media-magnet, earning several front-page stories and leading newscasts for at least a week. It was either a PR disaster or the smartest campaign ever, depending on the perspective. The upshot was it showed the power of Facebook as a community-building tool.
Did They Say Fresno? moment
We love it when people outside of Fresno mention our little burg, even when they’re bashing us—which is usually the case. So when gubernatorial candidate and Richie-rich Meg Whitman compared Fresno to Detroit (and by that she meant awful), locals got up in arms. Whitman went on to waste close to $144 million to NOT become governor, so, it all worked out.
Kiel Famellos-Schmidt had made it a mission to look out for the built environment in Fresno. Through his blog site and twitter feed he looks at design and architecture as it relates to sustainability and quality of life in the city. That’s everything from the downtown and Fulton Mall revitalization (or redevelopment) to the demise (or postponement) of the Southeast Growth Area. Oh, and he also brought Pecha Kucha night to Fresno.
It makes sense that these two events share this award. They’re both based on the same underlying principal. That is, they are both authentic celebrations of Fresno’s artist endeavors, done in non-traditional means. The Rogue celebrated its 10th anniversary in March and the Fresno Urban Sound Experience will be back downtown for its fourth year Sept. 29 and Oct. 1.
According to its website, Fresno’s Swede Fest is the only festival in the world dedicated to sweded films, which is just one reason it should be celebrated. More than that, this is the type of event Fresno does best — totally organic, completely homegrown and overflowing with creative juices. It’s like the soccer of artistic endeavors. It costs next to nothing to play. If you’ve never been, Swede Fest 7 is 5 p.m. May 14 at Full Circle Brewing Company.
Food for starving artist types (as in cheap)
As far as Mexican food goes, there is better than Robertitos. But for those late nights when you’re slightly drunk and starving and all you have left in your pocket is a wrinkled five spot you somehow didn’t spend on beer, you won’t find better. Especially since the places is open 24-hours and have infiltrated just about every neighborhood. We suggest: the giant plate of nachos or the sports burrito.
Some would argue that this category should go to Clovis native Chris Colfer — he of “Glee” fame. Those people are confusing Freslebrity with actual celebrity. We’re talking community-specific psuedo-celebrity and Chuck Leonard is tops. Anyone who’s seen him walk through the Tower District knows that.
- No answer
Apparently, Famous users couldn’t come to a consensus on this category. That’s fine. We’ll just choose the entry we like best. So the winner is … your mom.
Tokyo Garden had the largest selection of songs you’ve ever seen, lots of obscure (to me) country western and R&B stuff. This was one of (if not THE) first place in town that did karaoke, way back in the ’80s. We could be making that up, but you can still tell your friends like it’s truth. Someone broke in and stole the equipment a while back, and we haven’t heard whether it’s been replaced. So, you may be stuck the Brig.
- Tiago-Sequoia beer
We’ve talked about Tioga-Sequoia before. The craft brewery set up shop downtown (just south of the Chuck) in February and got right to work cranking out some tasty brews – including the General Sherman IPA, Tamarak Amber Lager, the Pike Pilsner and the Mt. Whitney Pale Ale. Brewers are working on a re-imagined Half-Dome, which should be available soon.
Gone are the days of the roach coach. The day Dusty Buns Bistro rolled into town, we realized we can demand better from food trucks. Much, much better. Like, gourmet foods created from local, organic sources. There is still some question as to the legal logistics of what Dusty Buns is doing, but while that’s getting figured out, there will still be an hour-long line every Thursday night along Wishon Avenue. FYI: It’s worth the wait.
The formula for putting on a great show is ridiculously complicated. But John Esquivel, the Fresno surrogate for Numbskull Productions and guy-in-charge at Religious Appeal, has the basics down. Book good bands, give them a place to play (a house, a club, a basement) and treat them well. If you can get some hype, the kids will show and everyone will have the best night of their lives.
Show of the year
The Fierce Creatures/ Silent Comedy show at Fulton 55 proved the band’s ability to follow through its hype and the venue’s ability to host a big crowd—parking and downtown dangers be damned. The band played to a frenzied crowd that was at capacity. It was so crowded, I couldn’t get in without resorting to “do you know who I am?”
Also, there was that “Wizard of Oz” prequel everyone loves.
We’ll always root, root, root for the home team. It’s just way more fun when they’re affiliated with the World Series Champs.
Tavern/Watering Hole/Dive Bar
The Brig is the bar du jour for the hip crowd — those looking for a place to hang that’s both low key AND full of character, which it has in spades. It’s a no-frills watering hole kinda place. It’s got no windows, just a heavy wooden door that faces Blackstone avenues and a bar tender with a mullet and a fanny pack.
We’re not prone for hyperbole, but Fulton 55 is the sort of game changing venue we’ve been advocating for a long while. It has a capacity of 500 (perfect for those slightly-too-big-for-a-club bands), two bars, good aesthetics and managment that’s easy to work with.