carol's kitchen

Thursday, September 15, 2016

DREAMS CAN COME TRUE

It appears my major civic troubles are over.  I’ll get my park, now in the capable hands of Mayor Davis’s Ad-Hoc Committee, which will manage to deal with Mr. Chiodo without me – please don’t ask why.  I’m confident PB will look after the interests of those of us who actually use the park.

And, it’s looking very much like we’ve toppled Goliath with our mighty slingshot.  The cement factory story should be made into a movie.  I’ve already proposed to depict this historic event in pictures on the walls of the city, just as the ancient Egyptians related their great battles on the walls of tombs.  It’s a story that needs to be told, and passed down through the generations.

I also think that million dollars dangled in front of us by the port and factory folks should be contributed to the south Vallejo neighborhood anyway.  For nothing.  Just because we worked so hard to defeat them. And reimburse our costs too. 

While I’m asking, put an upscale health-spa on that beautiful southern waterfront, and a sports/concert stadium, and a ferry stop and a private boat dock so Zuckerberg and his wife can use their speed boat when they come to Vallejo for mud masks and massages. And a five-star lunch.

Dreaming of Vallejo of the future, inspired by the new General Plan I’m proud to say I worked on ever since I moved to Vallejo two years ago.  The best thing democracy has to offer is the opportunity to participate, which I can do here in Vallejo, and is one of the things I love best about living in this city. 

Now I can dream of Farraday Future spending hundreds of millions here, and think about the prospect of fresh blood and intelligence in local government, and enjoy that feeling of hope I sense in the air while watching the river flow beside Independence Park.  It gives me courage to think about what else I want.
 
Here it comes: Not only do I want a peaceful, beautiful family park across the way from where I live, I want to re-route all busses and trucks from Mare Island Way to another street, Sonoma Blvd. for example.  Put a roundabout in the place where Curtola Parkway meets Sonoma Boulevard to divert heavy traffic to Sonoma, already a commercial thoroughfare. 

Mare Island Way needs to be quieted down so we can hear sea lions honk around the boats near the old shipyards, watch flocks of seagulls cawing into the wind, notice migrating geese fly in formation overhead, and wonder about the whacked-out drummer-boy who tap-tap-taps his day away as though heralding in some great event that’s sure to come.

Consider the well-being of present residents as well as future buyers and renters of the luxury apartments, condos, and homes guaranteed to appear on the waterfront, sooner or later. 

And, wouldn’t it be nice to have gondolas carry us over to Mare Island?

I said I was dreaming.

P.S. If you don’t know the drummer-boy I’m talking about you don’t know my park.



Sunday, September 04, 2016

SHOW ME THE MONEY!


Ha ha ha!  I’m glad to see I’m not the only one worried about the outcome of the vote when the Orcem/VMT project comes before our city council in a couple of months.  Two others are also worried, as we can see from the report on the front page of today’s paper.  Orcem’s president & VMT’s owner are so worried they’re willing to pay the city a million bucks to vote for them.

But I'm not worried any more.  It’s nice to know they’re not as sure of themselves as we think they are; it’s not the “done deal” rumors would have us believe.  If it was a sure thing we wouldn’t see a nickel more than what they have to pay.  After all, it’s business.

The part of this story that makes me most happy is, by making this offer, VMT/Orcem have shot themselves in the foot – royally!  How can our venerable Mayor or any City Councilor vote for them and accept the money?  Think about it. 

By going public with their bribe, VMT/Orcem have ruined their chances of getting the deal.  If our city leaders accept the money and then vote for them for all the world to see, what does that say about our leaders?  Even the wise men of Chelm would know better than to do that.

(And, doesn’t this make the nature of their business even more suspect?)

And yet, it seems to me there’s a price for everything in this material world; business is business after all.  Everyone knows a measly million dollars doesn’t go very far these days.  This is the era of The Billions.  I say, show us a Few Billion and at least give us something to think about.  



Friday, August 26, 2016

AN AFTERNOON AT THE OPERA

Opera in Vallejo? Preposterous, but true. It’s not the San Francisco Opera or L’Opera de Paris, or anything even remotely like them, but it’s a living, breathing phenomenon playing here in our far-flung little town and I doubt anyone can walk away unmoved.

Isn’t being moved the reason we go to the opera?

All you need to do is open your mind and allow yourself to feel the wrenching pain of Verdi’s heart-breaking melodrama, Il Trovatori, playing now at a ramshackle (but improving) theater in town, performed by good singers and a little orchestra, who managed to transport us to exactly the place where the composer and librettist wanted us to be — in the deepest, darkest depths of despair.


I experienced a variety of emotions — starting with pleasure at having found a parking spot across the street on Broadway (try that in New York or Paris), where I was greeted by the theater’s owner, who opened the front door for me. I handed over $25 to the amiable ticket seller, and chose a seat in the front row.

There were only a handful of us in the audience, and all but two had grey hair (this is not an opera for sissies). No curtain, no mise en scene, no frills, but pretty good costumes, which allowed us to believe we were in an earlier time in history, except for one fellow’s trousers which looked like his regular street pants.


A sceptic by nature, I was braced for the worst, but that never happened. My emotions were stirred from the very first notes. To begin with, I felt doubt and denial, but by the time that memorable Sunday matinee performance played its final chords, I’d experienced the whole gamut of emotions, including surprise, acceptance, astonishment, horror, misery and utter despair.

My thoughts went out of control as the opera unfolded. I resolved to write my last will and testament as soon as I got home, and talk to my family about my final hours, or days, or whatever. I recalled the horrible doctor who described my demise as an agonizing scene with bloody needles and tubes. All sorts of terrible images went through my mind while I witnessed the murder of one’s children, torture of enemies, mothers burning alive at the stake, suicide, fratricide, and the pain of unrequited love.


You’d think it’d be difficult to imagine the soprano who played Leona as a beautiful young virgin maiden, or that her lover could be played by a man who looked old enough to be her father, or that the mother of the hero was young enough to be his granddaughter, but none of that mattered.
The music did its job in spite of all obstacles.

Only the violinist, who played like Jack Benny, brought me back to reality from time to time, but, it was a difficult piece to perform. Nevertheless, the orchestra and singers learned the score, the lyrics, the arias, the staging and movements; they changed costumes and lighting and remembered their entrances and exits. They did their job well enough to put me through the wringer for nearly three hours, and then mercifully released me back into the sunshine of the day.


I recommend Il Trovatore, performed by the Verissimo Opera Company, at the Bay Area Stage Theater in downtown Vallejo.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

BY ANY OTHER NAME...

VALLEJO SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK

Speaking as a New Yorker, having attended the renown, elaborate Central Park theater performances, I want to praise our very own Shakespeare in The Park people for their magnificent work.

I went to see their production of TAMING OF THE SHREW last week in a noisy outdoor amphitheater in Martinez, with bed sheets hanging from a wire as a back drop and a small tent behind serving as the backstage, in modern dress, with a bench and a chair and no other props. 

We sat on cement steps under the warm sun, and were as enchanted as those New York thespians in their fabulous park with all their fancy la dee da.  The acting was superb, especially the lead, Petruccio, president of the Vallejo Rotary Club, whose power blew us away, and his brilliant co-star who also produced, Dalia Vidor.  But, they were all good, every single one of them.

The play was so well produced, directed & performed we were utterly captivated and forgot where we were.  Theater is magic. Thanks to Vallejo Shakespeare in the Park!

Monday, August 01, 2016

WE'VE BEEN HAD - AGAIN!

Why does Vallejo need FUSE to find and train someone for the important job of marketing our city to potential businesses?  Why can't we hire people who are already trained?  Why can't we hire a highly qualified, experienced professional who has references, a resume of successes and verifiable accomplishments, important connections and a proven track-record working with other cities to do exactly what we need?  Surely these professionals already exist.  We might even have such people among us.

If I needed a heart surgeon I would seek out the best, most experienced one I could find.  I would not go to Truoro University and ask them to find a pre-med student whom they would then train to become a doctor, and specialize in heart surgery to operate on me - and watch over him and give him refresher courses while he did it. 

As I watched the presentation Tuesday night at City Hall, I kept thinking what a fine sales person the FUSE organization sent, offering vagaries, non-specifics, and avoiding direct questions with slick language that told little more, as far as I could tell, than how good they are in selling themselves.  That alone should have told us what they were about.  How many times did Councilman McConnell ask the same question about who pays the cost of the refresher-course training hours after the person is hired?  Three! The same number of times the question was avoided; the third time received a head-shake when he offered the obvious answer.  (The answer is "Vallejo does.") 

If I was looking for a job I might go to FUSE, but I wouldn't be on the buying end.  Why should the city of Vallejo pay $60,000 to find someone for us ?  Why should we be benefactors for FUSE?  I don't see what they can do for us that we can't do better ourselves.

My brilliant City Council and Mayor voted unanimously in favor of FUSE, while expressing "hopes" about what the FUSE trainee should do.  "HOPES" not requirements or expectations, but HOPES.  The wise men of Chelm have spoken again.  Good luck, Vallejo.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

CEMENT = FLOUR

 

THE TRICKY-WICKED CEMENT CAKE
The many layers to the Orcem/VMT Scary-Tale inspired a 3-tiered cake, rising from nourishing flour to deadly cement, picking up sacks of gold on the way and erupting in four fat cats.  The myriad hidden layers contain the tale of a beautiful waterfront transformed by a monster-destroyer that wants to rob the city of its future.  The four figures who dominate the scene ride high on their creation, enticing us to partake of their cement cake that will poison all who come near. 



DONT LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT!!!

© 2016 Flora & Howard Zolin – Vallejo: Artists/Creators
           Carol Pearlman - Vallejo: Scribe/Political Consultant

Friday, July 01, 2016

FOOD FOOD FOOD


Kudos to the organizers of Sacto MoFo food trucks Wednesday for hitting the bull’s eye on an activity that finally brings the community together.  Art hasn’t done it.  Politics don’t cut it.  No cultural event I’ve seen in this town has done it.   

Music would do it if done right: free outdoor evening concerts when the weather is right --  jazz, blues, hip hop, rock and roll -- might rouse otherwise reluctant citizens.  But when it comes to food, Vallejoans proved yesterday they’re willing and able to show up in numbers for their burritos and tacos, burgers and dogs – and a real good time was had by all. 


I joined the crowd around 5 o'clock on the downtown waterfront for an early dinner on the grass, served up by amiable vendors with colorful vehicles, and not only did I enjoy a tasty, juicy meal of pork belly tacos with apple slaw, I got to see and schmooze with folks of all ages from all over Vallejo.


I will not think about Roi Choi's celebrated Korean tacos or the other gourmet fusion cuisines from the trucks I loved so much in L.A.; I will not.  I will be here now.  It was a wonderful event and I look forward to the next one.