Scalzi and Munro in Fresno
Posted on October 27, 2017 Posted by John Scalzi 13 Comments
During our recent California sojurn, Krissy and I stopped in Fresno for a day. Why? Because, in fact, that’s where I lived when we met (I worked for the Fresno Bee newspaper), and we still have friends in the area, and we wanted to see them. One of the friends we saw was Donald Munro, who was a fellow journalist at the Bee, and who now runs the Munro Review, a site focused on the Fresno and Central California arts scene.
Most of what Donald and I did was catch up on things — it was the first time I’d been back to Fresno in about a decade — but I also did an interview with him for the Munro Review, talking about Fresno, writing and other stuff (including how I proposed to Krissy). It’s a fun interview, and you can read it here. Also, of course, if you’re interesting in the Central California arts scene, please check out the rest of the Munro Review, and put it into your daily reads. Donald’s great at what he does.
As an aside, one of the reasons that Donald is now running his own site is that the Fresno Bee rather foolishly decided that it didn’t need to cover local arts or sports in any significant way, which I think both as a former journalist and citizen of Fresno is somewhat appalling. There are over half a million people in the city of Fresno and nearly a million people in the metro area, and art and culture-related things happening on a regular basis. When I was working at the paper 25 years ago, with 150K fewer people in the city and several hundred thousand fewer people in the metro area, an entire arts and features department never ran out of things to cover.
I’m very glad Donald has decided to continue doing arts coverage in Fresno — He’s been in town there for over a quarter century and no one knows the scene better — but he shouldn’t be covering an arts scene of a million people on his own. And why a local newspaper thinks it’s wise to jettison local coverage is simply beyond me. I don’t subscribe to my own local paper (the Dayton Daily News) for national coverage. I do it so I can find out what’s going on near me. Including in the arts.
I was in a Sacramento band in the late ’90s-early ’00s. There was a Fresno band called Sparkle Jet that we used to trade gigs with so we got down to Fresno fairly frequently. We always had a great time there.
What a delightful interview! It’s warm, informative, and fun to read.
Also, I completely agree with you about the mistake of cutting local coverage from local papers. It seems counter-productive to cut what makes you distinctive…
Sweet interview… and even sweeter is the opportunity to read your proposal to Krissy. Beautiful!
My wife worked with Donald and remains plugged in to Bee (and former Bee) circles, so I’d already subscribed to the Munro Review. But I’m glad that you were able to help him spread the word — and that was a nice interview.
So sorry to hear the Ripe Tomato is gone. When I would be working in Fresno (from LA) that was my favorite restaurant. Went there the first time in 1981, the last time was in (I think) around 2001
There’s art in Fresno? Who knew?
Cool site! Thanks for the link.
What, if I may ask, drew your wife there from Ohio? Fresno is not the usual destination.
Munro is a lifeline from artists to audiences in the area and we’re all glad he’s continued to cover the arts in the area. Artists can afford to do their work here and local audiences are hungry for a wide variety of experiences. But The Bee cutting back on coverage was a blow. It hasn’t slowed the scene down much, though. It is still thriving.
Hey, thanks for the link, really. I live in coastal, not central, California, but I get to Fresno occasionally, usually for concerts by the Fresno Philharmonic, which I see that Munro covers assiduously. Cultural news websites like his have sprung up in a number of cities to combat declining newspaper coverage, and it’s a great thing to see wherever it happens.
There is an awesome instrumental surf band from Fresno, The Neptunes. They have a big sound. When they do the all doubleneck guitar lineup it is mind-blowing.
Aww, that proposal was cute. And it worked!
My impressions of Fresno (being an Easterner who’s now been in Northern CA for a while) were that William Saroyan lived there (we read him in high school English), it has lots of Armenians, a surprisingly high number of autoharp players, and as you said, Californians make jokes about it, mostly for being in the middle of nowhere.