Every year since 1990, St. Seraphim Orthodox Church on Mountain View Road in Santa Rosa has drawn hundreds of ethnic food enthusiasts to its hallowed grounds for Glendi, a multicultural food and music extravaganza. But this year a multitude of factors has combined to force the cancellation of the festival.
There will be no latkas, dolmas, baklava or Balkan folk dancing this year. And there will be no children making the discovery that weird-looking gloopy stuff from another country actually tastes good, or finding out that not all music includes half-naked, died-haired woman singing in autotune—at least not at St. Seraphim.
Why, you ask? Construction of a Parish Hall and storage area has been considered for quite some time by church leaders, and last year it was decided to take on the project. But an extended rainy season and “many levels of bureaucracy conceived to keep us all safe and healthy in this modern world,” according to the church, delayed the project. The concrete had not even cured until Independence Day.
A letter of explanation[.pdf] posted on the church’s website almost feels like it has tears leaking out. Words like “disappointment” and “sad realization” combined with “bureaucracy” and “construction” pepper the one-page announcement.
But never fear, for the party will go on: Glendi will return in September 2012 as “the Best Glendi Ever,” says the church.—Nicolas Grizzle
" We lived outside of Forestville, in a trailer attached to an old fire house. We had moved up from Los Angeles a few months before, and wasted no time becoming obsessed with Bay Area music—Green Day, Blatz, Mr. T Experience, Nuisance, Spitboy, and Victims Family. By this time, VF had put out a few albums. They played a hybrid of punk, funk, and metal that we loved—remember, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were good back then too.Victims Family played at the Arlene Francis Center this past weekend—their first show in Santa Rosa in nearly 20 years. I made to the Sunday matinee show, but supposedly the Saturday night show turned into an epic, drunken, humid, mosh-fest. Sunday’s show was decidedly more mellow, but still had the contingent of old drunk Natty Light-drinking skater dudes in the front row. Sometimes these reunion shows are the closest thing we will experience to a high school reunion.All members of the band were in fine form. Ralph Spight can still yelp, and growl, and wail on the guitar with as much intensity as ever. Larry Boothroyd still dominates on the bass—playing it with the smoothness and confidence of someone who has been digging into the strings for thirty years. Tim Solyan still plays like a fantastical drum beast. In an April 2010 interview with the Bohemian, Spight said, "It's always been a kind of challenge to stay in touch with how passionate we feel about the music that we play and all the things that you get into a band for. It's nice to get back to a point of remembering why we got into it and what we love about it." And this attitude was reflected in the energy and power of the show. It was also rad just to see the crowd reaction—the pure delight of long-time fans seeing the band back in action.Of course, I had to engage in a bit of navel-gazing, and about halfway through their long set I started thinking about whether I really still truly loved the music of Victims Family, or whether my enjoyment was purely nostalgic. And in the end, I had to admit that I probably wouldn’t even listen to Victims Family now, if I came across them without all the historical baggage. This is just one of the realities of aging—music doesn’t retain the same potency for everyone. I think my love of Victims Family was tied up with discovering punk rock, and learning how to play guitar, and being high on politics, and moving to a new place.
I mean, I still feel high on life most times—but I have a different soundtrack. Which is fine. And seeing Victims Family, grey-hairs and all, still ruled.
Thomas is leaving Video Droid this Saturday, and yes, everyone else who works there is fantastic. But Thomas has truly been the face of the place on the late-night: drumming up conversation with customers, playing Camp Lo on the stereo and recommending the best experimental underground Samurai movies you've never seen. I caught up with him while he bumped Kid Cudi's "Day n Nite" played over Flash Gordon on his next-to-last-ever shift.
When did you start working here?
I started working here about six and a half years ago, I believe. Before here, I worked briefly at something called Calico Corners, which was, like, an upholstery type thing. But my main job before that had been Hot Topic, where I'd been assistant manager for a few years.
What was the first movie you ever put on your 'Employee Picks' rack?
The first movie I wanted to put on it was The Way of the Gun, but unfortunately it was already taken! So I can't remember what the first one was. It might have been The Warriors, I'm sure.
Who was the worst customer ever?
You get some people who cuss you out, you catch some people urinating on the building. A lot of the worst people aren't customers at all, just transients. I've had people pull out full-size jugs of vodka and start chugging it in the middle of the store, just wasted, and then not remember why they're not allowed in the building! Every two months, you'd be like, "Nah. You're still kicked out of here."Who was the best customer?
Just the whole community of customers. There's a lot of teachers and whatnot around here. I can't think of any single best customer, but the whole community—a lot of them know each other. A lot of them are from the educator field, as well, which is why I don't mind extending the teacher discount to more than films just for class, because teachers have to pay so much out of their own money.
Have you ever saved any movies from the dollar sales where you were like, "We can't sell that shit! We have to keep it in stock?"
They're all right here! [Motions to gigantic pile of movies he's saved from tomorrow's sale, including Joe Golds' Secret, Dance With the Devil, Lords of Flatbush, Punisher: War Zone, Uzumaki (Spiral), The Hills Have Eyes Pt. II, Hostel Pt. II, Psycho II and III, Air Guitar Nation, Best of the Power Rangers, and Samurai Jack]What's your all-time favorite terrible movie?
Oh, so many. Gymkata might win out. It stars 1984 Olympic gymnastics Gold Medal winner Kurt Thomas, traveling around Eastern Europe fighting ninjas. It's so bad, I love it. I watch it all the time. That might be my all-time favorite bad movie.
Which movie that you've shown on the in-store TVs has received the most complaints?
Well, I mean, I've shown Oldboy and Battle Royale in here. I watched The Thing for Halloween one year. I just watched Prince of Darkness. I watch a lot of John Carpenter movies that I really shouldn't in here. Then there's that scene from Mean Girls where they talk about the Burn Book, that drew a big complaint. But usually it's just parents with their kids in the store, goin' like, "Hey guys." I try to be on top of that. You gotta pick the night well. Some nights I can totally show Oldboy, and other nights Mean Girls will get complaints. Or Bring It On.
What's your favorite story about tracking down a movie that someone hasn't returned yet?
Usually someone will just be like, "I know who that person is." I've never broken into anyone's house or stalked someone of Facebook. Three Criterion movies, two years ago, for your second rental? I'll just charge the card. I'll always make a call first, but I enjoy charging the cards. It's like, "Let's decide however many late fees we're gonna charge you on top of that." If it's just some whatever movie, I'll give 'em a deal, but sometimes I'll be like, "That movie?! Oooooooooohhhhh!"What has been the most-stolen movie at Video Droid?
Blow, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, American Me, Blood In, Blood Out (Bound by Honor). I've had some of those stolen out of my picks before. Some movies we just stopped ordering for a while, like Fear & Loathing, because the Criterion edition was the only edition available for a long time. A lot of David Lynch stuff. Wild at Heart. David Lynch fans are shifty people. Cheech & Chong is kind of hard to keep track of, but usually with those people they just forget.
Have you ever been offered anything other than money to pay for late fees?
Food. Food's easy to get me with. People have brought me enchiladas, brownies. Regular amounts of wine, alcohol, beer. It's easy to get me with beer. Dave has a story about a girl offering to flash him if he would rent her a new release before the official date. Unfortunately that's never happened to me, I woulda been all hell yeah.
Didn't you have a death metal band that played one show in the parking lot here?
Uh, yeah. Shitstorm. Shitstorm played a show here once. Heironymous played here a couple times, that was my band. We had a few people coming in off the street going "Yeah, brother! Yeah, brother!"What is your proudest contribution to the decór around here?
A lot of little touches, but I think the one I'm most proud of hung above the adult section. It's the Italian passage that hangs over the entrance to hell in Dante's inferno, and it ends with the "Abandon hope all ye who enter." That I'm going to be taking with me.
What are you gonna miss the most about working here?
Oh, a lot. I've spent a lot of time here. The co-workers. Some of the customers. The movies. Oh, the movies. I just love movies and film. I love everything about 'em.Thomas is off to tech-ier pastures, working for Sonic.net. If you're modem's acting up and you happen to get him as your customer service rep, make him feel at home and start asking about Jean-Luc Godard.Best of luck, holmes.
Steve Doty is a diehard Russian River Brewing Co. fan. Unfortunately, it turns out that he's not as diehard as those who started lining up outside the downtown brewpub early this morning. On the sidewalk today at 1pm, wearing a Pliny the Younger shirt, he surveyed the line ahead of him with his wife, Erin. "I didn't think it would be this crazy," he said, shaking his head. "Obviously, I was wrong."
Today's 11am release of Russian River Brewing Co.'s Pliny the Younger—a beer of the Gods that last year sold out instantly and was then traded on Criagslist and eBay for up to $160 per growler—caused such a havoc that a line stretched all the way down Fourth Street in Santa Rosa. Steve, sadly, stood at the very end. "Last year we got in pretty quick," he said. "There's a cult for it. I mean, it's a little bit of a gimmicky thing—you really would not want a pint of this every day after work. But you can't get a beer like this, with so many hops in one beer, anywhere else. It's more like a hop wine than a beer."
Mentioning that people used to put hops in their pillows to aid sleep, Steve, a home brewer himself, says a high-hop beer like Pliny the Younger has medicinal qualities. "Or," offered Erin, as the line didn't move at all, "you could have a reaction where it's too much. An overdose of hops."
Last year, Steve and Erin had no problem getting their beer fix, but obviously, word has gotten out about Pliny the Younger. This year, Russian River Brewing Co. took a different approach to their release: rather than sell truckloads of off-sale beer for opportunist collectors to trade and sell for exorbitant prices, angering the everyman beer drinker, they're meting out two weeks' worth of the beer from a select number of kegs each day—no one knows exactly how many. The only way to get it to go, as they say, is "in your tummy," but they'll be pouring it until Feb. 17 so everyone should be able to get a taste.
And how does it taste? We caught up with Imi Doktor, a Hungarian beer fan, coming out the brewery's back exit. "It's just as good as last year," he told us. "I would travel 5,000 miles just to get it."
As for Steve and Erin, we can only guess that they're looking up Pliny the Younger clone recipes on beer blogs right now.
Established as Santa Rosa's meager answer to downtown Portland's famous blocks-long street food carts, Munch Mondays so far is just a handful of trucks. That's bound to change. The crowd today wasn't just a bunch of food bloggers and culture vultures—it was made up of businesspeople on a lunch break, downtown residents and merchants out for a quick bite. In other words, exactly the people Munch Mondays had hoped to attract. "I just feel bad that we're out of so many things," quipped Jilly Dorman (above), co-owner of the Street-Eatz truck and unofficial spokesperson for food cart owners.I couldn't stay long, so I just grabbed a quick burrito from La Texanita, which had the shortest lines. (Dim Sum Charlie's and Fork seemed to be slammed, and the Chicago Hot Dog guy who usually sells in Anarchy Alley next to Ting Hao was doing brisk business too.) But in the short time I was there, I did run into Bob Coburn, of the original Bob's Fruit Truck. After selling food and wrangling with the law (and with the perception of competition from Petrini's Market) for 25 years on Highway 12, a case could be made that Bob was the original street food purveyor in Santa Rosa.But that's not true, actually, and brings to mind an important story.In his old age, while working as a low-paid janitor at the courthouse, Santa Rosa's native son Julio Carrillo—who essentially founded this city with his philanthropic gifts of land—sold tamales for a time on Fourth Street in Courthouse Square to make ends meet. Historically, that would make Julio Carrillo the original street food purveyor on Santa Rosa. No wonder we love street food so much! It's in our blood, people.A little more info. on Munch Mondays is here. Be there each Monday, from 11:30am-2:00pm, in what we still charmingly refer to as the "White House Parking Lot," even though the White House department store hasn't been there for over 30 years but damn if I don't remember watching cartoons in a little coin-op booth while my mom shopped there when I was 5. Bring an appetite, 'cause this burrito I just finished at my desk was outstanding.
As I walked in to Summerfield Cinemas’ grand opening party last night, a friend—on his way out—stopped me. “It’s like the Sonoma County glitterati in there,” he said. “Even Sal Rosano is here. I almost touched his hair to finally see if it was real.”
He was right. In the packed lobby, after new owner Dan Tocchini’s speech, county supervisor Shirlee Zane got up and talked about the films that have inspired her, including My Dog Skip and Gosford Park. Former Supervisor Tim Smith—standing among friends who made fun of Zane while she spoke—kept his cool while exchanging glances with Supervisor Paul Kelley. Councilman Ernesto Olivares, poised to be the next mayor of Santa Rosa, characteristically said a few encouraging words and not much more.
SR Entertainment Group partner and developer Richard Coombs raised a toast to all those who’ve made the Summerfield Cinemas happen, including fellow partner Larry Wasem and property owner Lynn Duggan. Local boy-made-good Rider Strong got up and introduced his new movie, and walking around the perimeter of the crowd was former Santa Rosa Mayor Mike Martini, who ten years ago successfully pushed for the Roxy Stadium 14’s monopoly on movie theaters in downtown Santa Rosa.
Jan Klingelhofer, the film buyer from the Rafael Film Center who’s been hired as booker for the Summerfield, spoke about the importance of independent films, yet in the entire evening’s speeches, not a word was mentioned of the Rialto Cinemas or of Ky Boyd, who pioneered the format in Sonoma County. One conspicuous employee of the building’s former tenant was present, however: former Rialto manager Mary Ann Wade, in the lobby she once reported to every day, scoping the packed house and no doubt feeling completely bewildered at the crazy scene.
Movies at Summerfield Cinemas start today—and in a move that no one can find any reason to be upset about, movies at Tocchini's Third Street Cinemas are now just $3.00, day or night, all the time, starting now, making it the first true second-run theater in Sonoma County with discounted prices since Empire Cinemas in Rohnert Park closed over ten years ago.
Today, while walking to pick up a sandwich, I was thrilled to see a man in a fedora with a microphone and cassette deck around his shoulder, interviewing people on Fourth Street. I approached. "Are you a Man on the Street?!" I asked. "Sure," he said. "I'm talking about validation. Do you have any thoughts on being validated by others? Have you thought about that much?""Not really at all!" I replied."Well, this'll be good, then," he said.
The next thing I knew, the tape was rolling, and the man began asking me about my upbringing, and about being validated—by my parents, peers and friends."Do you think you could be validated by an inanimate object, like this flower pot?" he asked."I can honestly say I have never considered the possibility before," I replied. Validated by a flower pot?
And then in all seriousness, the man said, "Why haven't you?"
Right then and there I figured the guy to be a total crank, and started wondering how I'd ever get out of his loopy clutches. But then he started talking about local businesses, and downtown parking, and it all became clear: he was conducting interviews about Santa Rosa's downtown parking validation program.
Things opened up from there. I told him what I knew about downtown parking, and we bantered, and then I said I had to get back to work. "You've been fired," he told me.
I saw a nametag on his microphone. "Wait, what'd you say your name was again?" I asked."Mal," he said. "Mal Sharpe."
I couldn't believe it. The Mal Sharpe. Of course. The surreal wit, the post-beatnik banter, the zany humor. Mal Sharpe, the definitive Man on the Street. Mal Sharpe, who with Jim Coyle revolutionized the art with a series of albums on Warner Bros. records in the early 1960s. What in the world was Mal Sharpe doing in Santa Rosa?"City hired me," he said.
I don't know how much longer Mal's going to be on Fourth Street talking to people, but I do know this: you should get down there and be interviewed by him while you can. It's a validating feeling, I tell you.
Good News for Street Food: Beginning Nov. 22, the Wells Fargo Center will join the rising trend of mobile food purveyors by hosting the Street-Eatz food truck outside the venue at concerts and events.“I’m delighted with the opportunity,” Street-Eatz owner Jilly Dorman says.
The partnership aims to alleviate stress for event-goers by providing food on the grounds. “A lot of people come straight from work or other places and haven’t had an opportunity to grab food,” explains WFC's Kristi Buffo. “People need something before the show other than cookies and juice, and they want something healthy. In general, the idea is to provide something convenient that is healthy as well.”
As one of the most popular mobile food trucks in the area, Street-Eatz operates on a rotating-location basis on weekdays and sets up in Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa on weekend nights after 9pm.
While Street-Eatz will offer their trademark dishes before shows–pulled pork sandwiches, coconut curry vegetables, chicken flautas, vegetarian fried tofu and more— it won't serve beverages. “We have a strong beverage service here,” Buffo explains. It's undetermined whether or not Street-Eatz will serve food during intermissions.
The Street-Eatz truck will be found near the fountain structure on the west side of the building, adjacent to the lobby. “We’ll put out chairs and tables and make it enjoyable for guests,” Buffo says.
Street-Eatz makes its debut at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday, Nov. 22, at the Daniel Tosh comedy show. (And speaking of comedy, they've also got Kathy Griffin coming back on Jan. 29.)—Haley Sansom