A Foodie’s Review

by Saeed Alkurdi

Persian cuisine, a favored mistress of my home life. Containing strong flavors of garlic, turmeric, cardamon, and cloves, all playing together like a ballet on your tongue. It’s a delicious melody that is easy to fall in love with over and over again. However, finding a place in Fresno where Persian dishes are prepared as well as the recipes you’ve grown up with has proven to be challenging, but not entirely impossible.

Phoenician Gardens is that rare find that proved the impossible was possible. It’s a restaurant where one can sit back and enjoy a casual lunch or dinner. Take out is available in case you’d rather take your special order home. It’s a first class ticket escape from the grind of everyday food, minus the passport, complete with a wait staff that is equipped with excellent service and a kind disposition.

Inside, the restaurant is spacious, clean, and the interior design suits the name ‘Phoenician Gardens’ quite appropriately. There are booths available, along with tables which are comfortable and able to accommodate small parties of 2, upwards to medium sized parties of 6.

I arrived on a Saturday night and much to my surprise there was more than enough seating available leading me to believe that reservations aren’t necessary on a regular basis. I was immediately seated by the host and asked for my drink order, which arrived a minuted later. My order of lentil soup and kibbeh (seasoned meat fried in a shell of wheat grain) was the starter. Lamb shank was what I ordered as my entree. The lentil soup arrived within a few short minutes and was, to put it bluntly, magnificent. The soup was hot and perfectly seasoned with salt and lemon. A few bits of carrots were added for some sweetness, along with a touch of minced parsley… these small touches helped the appetizer sing. The kibbeh was piping hot, crispy on the outside and lightly seasoned on the inside. It also contained pine nuts on the inside which I thought were excellent.

When the lamb shank arrived it looked simply stunning, and in fact all the plates I could see leaving the kitchen appeared just as impressive as what I had in front of me. The lamb was fork-tender and perfectly seasoned with salt, allspice, cumin, cloves, and garlic. The vegetable accompaniment that stewed alongside the lamb was saturated with all the same juices and spices, which was utterly sublime. The rice was seasoned with turmeric and cooked exceptionally well. The remaining vegetables of squash and carrots were a little undercooked leaving them a little too crisp for my taste, however, they were seasoned and coated well with olive oil.

In the end, it was a wonderful meal thoroughly enjoyed by what I am sure is one of many happy customers. The dish, the environment, the service… like I said, a terrific escape from the daily grind, one I hope you’re able to enjoy yourself.

Art Through Recoil

Blank canvas… unlimited potential or utterly terrifying in all the right ways. Or, perhaps it’s a resonant surge of both. It’s a quiet unsettling call for a challenge, one you either answer or you don’t. Nothing sends the blood racing through the veins of an artist quite like the promise of an empty canvas.

The exhilaration of such a moment was enough to have Fresno artist, Tifferz, pursuing it full time. She dove in, took the plunge, left her career, and is now chasing down that dream like it’s the last bus out of town.

Did that make you uncomfortable? For a second it did, admit it. The mere mention of leaving a career you’re good at to pursue something of the uncertain would make most people squirm in their seats. But that’s the point. Tifferz makes it her business to bring out the thing that sends you shifting awkwardly under your skin through her artwork.

“For Tifferz, it is important to embrace uncomfortable thoughts and images for what they signal to our emotions. Things which we initially recoil have valuable, and often misunderstood, significance.” Stated in an excerpt from her website. She’s not going for shock value, it’s something a little more subtle than that.

“It’s being too comfortable that makes me uneasy. I feel that pulling yourself out of your comfort zone is all about growing up and expanding your horizons… Every day I sit at my canvas I’m uncomfortable. My head fills with thoughts of ‘Am I good enough?’ ‘Will my work sell?’ Can I really make this dream a reality?’ That’s my fuel, that’s what I thrive off of. I love that every day I am challenging myself to build the dream I want more than anything. To share my art with the world,” says Tifferz.

Three years and counting, Tifferz is successfully making her dream a reality. Things are more of an adventure these days and she finds inspiration everywhere she goes, absorbing the potential in everything she sees.

“I think, sometimes, I drive my boyfriend crazy when I tell him all of the different ideas I have going on my head at one time. When I’m out and about… I stop and take pictures. I sketch them in my sketchbook or save the image for further inspiration down the road. Music is also a big inspiration… I usually paint to Louis Armstrong,” shares Tifferz.

The New Orleans spirit is present in Tifferz’s work, but not entirely because she’s listening to Satchmo while in the zone. It isn’t necessarily pulsating in the actual subject matter of her work, it’s the overall presentation of how the piece was assembled. Tifferz’s art is typically found with loud and bold colors that waltz over the canvas with zero apologies.

“When you walk down the streets of the French Quarter, you can see history all over the place and at the same time, you can feel so much life running through its veins… I feel like my work reflects my time in the city,” offers Tifferz.

Currently, Tifferz is working on a set of new pieces and as a result, taking a break from shows. She’s been very fortunate and has actually run out of her original artwork for viewing. Now is the time to go back and hit the blank canvases running, and she’ll be doing it in a different way this time.

“I’ve started to work on larger, more elaborate pieces. I’ve recently started doing collage pieces and I love it! … It challenges me to think outside the box and not be too focused on one area of the painting,” Tifferz states.

Of course, previous works are still available to view online by visiting her website www.TifferzArt.com, but there’s no timeline yet in when her new series will be ready for showing. In the meantime, fans of her work may actually commission Tifferz for custom, personalized pieces of art. Just visit her website and start the conversation, she’s happy to take on new challenges as clients are always helping her stretch the artistic muscle and move in directions she never quite anticipated.

“I’ve had some clients this year test my artistic limits and it was great. I’m learning what I am capable of through my commission work. For instance, up until this year, I had never done figure work… I didn’t realize that I’d like painting the human form, and now I’m loving it,” says Tifferz.

Stay connected with Tifferz’s artistic journey by following her work on Facebook under ‘Tifferz’ for her artist page and ‘Tiffany Salter’ for her personal page, on Instagram @tifferz_art and on her website, www.TifferzArt.com.

2 Love or 2 Hate

by Anglia Walpool

2 Love or 2 Hate is the electrifying goth-rock band currently rocking the Central Valley and captivating large audiences. It’s an explosive and, what some would consider, an addicting kind of sound that explores the depth behind the concepts of ‘love’ and ‘hate.’ Industrial, electronic, brooding, dark.. these are just a few adjectives that only begin to describe the music 2 Love or 2 Hate creates. And they’re doing it all out of Hanford, CA.

The initial beginnings of the group started out like any other, with passion. David Buyense (vocals/programming) and Julie Nevea Rios (Vocals) have a deeply shared appreciation and love for music with a goth-rock atmosphere. As they decided to write together, the songs developed with a unique sound. Soon they had a new project with a new direction and sound they wanted to expand. Bassist, Michael Areklett, was quickly recruited to the project. Areklett is the former longtime member of ‘London After Midnight’, which had a presence in the LA music scene going as far back as the late 90s. Not long after Arkelett joined the group did Anthony Detroit find himself recruited to 2 Love or 2 Hate as the resident drummer. DeTroia’s background is similar to what the new project was focused on, new-wave, electronic and futuristic pop with former band ‘The Chamberlains’. Guitarist, Fernando, added the finishing touches to round out the band you see on stage today as 2 Love or 2 Hate.

“When I listen to 2 Love or 2 Hate I am always blown away. David Buyers has an extraordinary voice, it provides the most dubious pleasure of enjoying music far ahead of its time,” offered Fresno City College student Amy Kendrick, who’s also a die-hard fan.

Since forming the band in 2014, 2 Love or 2 Hate has made quite the impression with their songs ‘Heaven and Hell’, ‘Ruin’, ‘Bow Down’, and ‘Slip’ just to name a few. All of these and more can be found on Spotify if you’re eager to skip ahead and check out the band while you’re finishing this article.

For any band, live performances are a huge part of getting your name out there. And even though the group was created just 2 years ago, each of the musicians have already acquired some hard earned experience prior to joining 2 Love or 2 Hate from their work in previous projects. As most bands strive for perfection with performances or even perfection at a perceived ‘looseness’, they’ve learned to let go. For 2 Love or 2 Hate, there are “no mistakes on stage.”

“We just keep going. There are no ‘mistakes on stage. It’s all a live representation of a moment or 2 in creation. Being on stage is like a war; there will be blood, bruises, fire and things that go wrong… and that’s what makes it all go right. It’s how we feel at the time and we interpret it that matters,” explains Rios.

The approach they take with their live performances isn’t just a mantra to live by, but something to experience as well. It lends something unique that the audience can feel.

“Powerful performance to say the least, very dark melodic with electronic melodies that cut deep within the confines of our souls,” says local fan, Christina Death.

With all that being said, it still doesn’t solve the issue of pre-performance jitters, something almost all artists can agree to an affliction.

“I can only answer for myself, and the answer is YES. But I think it’s more of a rush of anticipation, which means good nerves,” Rios continued. And on the topic of experience and getting started? “We are all beginners. Stay humble. The other thing is ugly.”

The electrifying band always leave their fans begging for more. 2 LOVE OR 2 HATE  have also made a guest appearance on Sick Wit It! A local comedy variety show performing their hit song “Heaven or Hell” which you’ll be able to find on Comcast channel 93 or AT&T Uverse channel 99 on Saturdays and Thursdays at 8pm and 11:30pm.

If you’re looking for more ways to enjoy the electrifying goth-rock band, you can find them on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Fresno Film Festival

by Lisa Talley

The multiplex. It’s been the staple for moviegoers to experience the magic of film. We’re blasted with blockbusters in the summer and gifted with dramas in the fall. In a way, mainstream movies connect us throughout every corner of the country by sharing the same story. But with this, through solely exposing ourselves to major commercial studio films, we miss something… something unique, something daring… something that can only be felt and experienced in an independent film.

To be fair, major studios do find themselves in the rare position to make some uniquely noteworthy movies, but independent films give us something a little more personal and sometimes a little more raw. Without the overwhelming need for capital gain, independent filmmakers are in a league of their own. Theirs is a drive to tell a story that needs to be told. That’s it. It’s a love for cinema and a love for storytelling that brings these films to life. So if you’re looking for a little more out of your movie-going experience, you may just want to check out the Fresno Film Festival on November 11th.

Hosted by Fresno Filmworks, the Fresno Film Festival will be held over the course of 3 days and it will feature 8 independent films (short descriptions to the right). The annual event will be celebrating its 12th installment at the historic Tower Theatre and boasts extras such as beer, wine, and spirits which are made available to patrons over the age of 21 for purchase. There will be guest appearances such as János Edelényi, director of “The Carer” on November 12th, as well as US poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera on November 13th. Opening night will also have something special in way of a ‘social gathering’; after the showing of “The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble”, audience members are welcome to join the reception that will be held in the Tower Theatre lobby. Patrons will enjoy terrazzo with champagne and hor d’oeuvres from Casa de Tamales and Between the Sheets Baklava. Admission to the reception is included with your ticket to the opening night film.

Each film for the festival was chosen with the utmost care, members from the Fresno Filmworks board form a festival programming committee to research possible candidates. The committee determines a film’s eligibility based on the following criteria: the film must be first-run, meaning that the films aren’t available on the home market in places like Netflix or RedBox, and it has a distributor or is currently playing the festival circuit (screening at other film festivals). From there the board develops the program with a strong focus, to present a diverse selection of films that represent different countries and cultural perspectives.

The festival will have tickets to each individual film available for $10, and $8 for students and seniors. Die-hard film buffs will be happy to know that there is a festival pass good for all 3 days complete with access to both the opening reception and as well as the Sunday after party held at Fresno Music Academy & Arts (formerly the Voice Shop) with food and drink. It should be noted that only those with festival passes and sponsors will have access to this particular social event.

Trailers for each of the films can be seen online at www.FresnoFilmworks.org. Visit the website to also learn more about the event, after parties and how to purchase tickets.

Fresno Filmworks has been bringing first-run, feature-length independent and foreign language cinema to Fresno every month at the Tower Theatre for almost 15 years. The non-profit organization is completely volunteer run and possesses a passion for filling the need in providing alternative cinema in Fresno. Follow them on social media to stay up to date on their events all year round.

Honoring The Dead

The roots of Halloween travel much deeper than candy, costumes, scary movies and the occasional prank. The name itself is an evolution of Allhallowmas, celebrated on November 1st, who’s name eventually shortened to All Hallow’s Eve as a nod to the night before. If you know your history, then you know that Allhallowmas was the original name for All Saints Day.

However, All Saints Day took a page from Celtic Pagan traditions when the Catholic church decided to place their holy day on November 1st in order to convert those pagans to Christianity. Samhain (pronounced SAH-win), ‘Summer’s End’ is a time to commemorate the end of the harvest season and the coming of winter. Traditionally, the festival would take place during a full Celtic day which was marked from sunset to sunset, meaning that Samhain would start on October 31st, and end on November 1st.

Paganism is an umbrella term used in reference to nature-based religions and belief structures. There is no such thing as a ‘Devil’ or ‘Devil Worship’ in paganism, the devil is a Christian concept only. Since this is a common mistake, it is important to note the difference and separation when discussing paganism in general.

Samhain is also known as the Festival of the Dead, meaning that it was a time to remember those who were recently lost, to honor the ancestors, and likewise marked a time when the crops had all been harvested and the world moved towards the quiet sleep of winter. The earth was perceived as ‘dying’ with nature withering down into a dormant sleep and the sun sitting lower in the sky, keeping much of the world in darkness as the days became shorter.

It was believed then and is still believed by some now, that during this time the veil between the living and dead became very thin. Families would spend the time honoring their dead with candles, offerings of incense or food. It’s, for most, a very personal holiday and a memorial of sorts. It’s a way to reconnect with those beloved who have passed.

Over time, the traditions have changed to incorporate different beliefs. Some believe that the dead will wander during this time, and even though we have a chance to commune with our ancestors and lost loved ones, there are those who have no family and nowhere to go. Food would be set out, candles or lanterns lit to help those lonely souls find solace along their way. Others believe that not all the dead had good intentions, that those lost spirits are unfriendly and potentially harmful. People would disguise themselves with costumes to confuse the dead and drive them away.

So if you feel deeply connected to this time of year, you may just be hearing the echo of an ancient time when the idea of death wasn’t so terrifying, but in fact, was seen as a necessary part of the life cycle. Halloween can trace its roots all the way back to Samhain, and although the traditions have changed on how we treat this time of year, the old ways are very much evident in the celebrations of today.

This Is Halloween

By Lisa Talley

It’s October… Finally. If you’re like me, this is the time where you finally get to breathe and let out your inner little goblin-kid. It’s a skip down the hallway and through the garage door to bring down the boxes and dust off your foam gravestones, maniacally laughing doorbells and the all too real giant fuzzy spider. And while everyone else is thinking football Sundays, sweaters and pumpkin flavored everything, we’re thinking about how we can make those cotton spider webs stretch as far across the front of the house as possible.

There’s so much to think about, what to be for Halloween? Should I throw a party, or just go to one? When is it appropriate to schedule my first Horror-Movie-A-Thon? And even though Halloween falls on one day of the year, we all know that the entire month October is dedicated to everything spooky, strange and fun. For people like us, Fresno (and even the entire Central Valley) can be a playground of haunted houses and attractions. But where to start? Where to look? It’s a good thing you have an issue of The Fresno Flyer in your hands.

For some, October has a completely different meaning away from jump scares and monsters. Historically speaking, the time of year associated with Halloween is often tied to remembering our ancestors (see ‘Honoring The Dead‘). On October 29th from 5pm – 9pm, Arte Americas is hosting a Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration with their 29th Annual CALAGALA, held at the Eaton Plaza. The event will have live music, face painters, food trucks, Folklorico Dancers and more. It’s family friendly and admission is only $3. More info can be found at www.ArteAmericas.org.

Now, if a good ole fashioned scare is your thing, sometimes the classics really are the best. And there is no better staple of haunted attractions in the Central Valley than Hobb’s Grove. Practice makes perfect and these guys have certainly had the time to hone their craft into an amazing feat of terrorizing wonder. Hobb’s Grove is a place that has something for everyone, whether you’re an adrenaline junkie like me, jumping in line for the gnarliest, freakiest scare, or if you’d rather leave that up to everyone else while you quietly eat your candy corn. The level of scare ranges from the mild Hayride to the creepy Haunted House, all the way to the terrifying Haunted Forest. I highly recommend everyone taking advantage of all 3, however, I should warn you, I once had a friend tear off the path and run plumb into the dark while in the Haunted Forest and another friend fell into a petrified ball on the floor inside the Haunted House… so, you know, be ready for some serious fun. Visit their website, www.HobbsGrove.com.

Maybe having random strangers in weird costumes jumping out at you isn’t your thing. No worries, there’s something for everyone this year. Fox Theatre in Visalia is pulling out the stops and going way back in cinema history with a silent classic, Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror. If you’re unfamiliar with the film, you’re in for a treat. It’s the vampire story that began all vampire legends in Hollywood, but it’s a far cry from glitter and gothic romance. Nosferatu is terrible, cold, and barely resembling a human form, desperate for living blood. On October 28th at 8pm, the film will be accompanied by the performance of a live soundtrack, performed by acclaimed Sacramento-based musician, Dean Mora. Beer, wine, and other concessions will be made available for purchase. Costumes are encouraged. More information can be found at www.FoxVisalia.org

Of course, I cannot forget my introverts, those of you who cringe at the idea of having to be around anyone but a select few. Don’t worry, I’ve got a great list of movies to add to your roster of Horror-Movie-A-Thon potentials to watch with a small audience (if any at all). While all the usuals are tempting to indulge i.e. “Halloween”, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “Friday the 13th”, “Nightmare on Elm St.” etc. I challenge you to try something a little different and really go for the gold in the horror genre. Here are some I think everyone should try at least once: “Evil Dead” (either the 2013 reboot or the original, both are outstanding), “The Witch“, “It Follows“, “28 Days Later” and “Goodnight Mommy“. Some of the most original scary stories come from overseas and these are great ones to try if you’re not already watching foreign films: “Audition“, “A Tale of Two Sisters“, “[Rec]“, “The Devil’s Backbone“. And lastly, here are some that fit the theme of Halloween, but take the edge off and lend some comic relief: “Shaun of the Dead“, “Zombieland“, “Ginger Snaps“, “Cabin in the Woods“, “An American Werewolf in London” and “Dead Snow“.

No matter how you decide to enjoy your Halloween themed month, be safe out there, and don’t be afraid of a good scare. (no pun intended)

Changing View On Change

by Mary Bell

Since this publication changed its name, maybe I should comment on ‘change’. When you think of change, do you think happy thoughts or panic?  For some people, change means growth and adventure. Other people go immediately to fear and resistance. How many times have you heard people say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

In some situations, that saying works well. The problem comes when you try to define “broke.” For some people, broke means a thing or idea no longer works or performs the way you want it to. The focus is on the results. If you get the results or answer you want, then it must not be broken.

Why is this bad? Because it’s too tempting to skip to the easy solution. You want a quick fix and immediate results. All because you get immediate results does not necessarily mean that a thing is fixed and functional. (I mean no offense to duct tape. Please don’t misunderstand my point!) You tend to forget about the long-term impact of something and just go with what works in the moment.

Here’s an example, a pipe in your home bursts. One immediate way to stop the water from flooding the house is to turn off the water to the house. Problem solved. The busted pipe is no longer leaking. But it is not fixed. It’s just not leaking. You can’t live the rest of your life with the water turned off to the house. Eventually, you are going to have to find another way to deal with the problem.

Our health is the same way. You can pop a pill and make the pain go away. But this does not solve the problem of what caused the pain in the first place. Five hours later, you are going to have to deal with the cause again. If you continue to pop the pills for the immediate results, eventually you will have to deal with the damage to your liver and other organs. (Many over-the-counter drugs now come with a warning label about the damage they can cause to your organs.)

This brings us back to the idea of change. By adopting a new definition of “broken” and “fixed,” change can become our friend. Stop thinking about simply making the pain stop; change your thinking to one of solving the problem of what caused the pain. Change the way you define “fixed” and you will gain long-term health and wellness – not just four hours of relief.

If you need help with this change in how you think of change, give me a call at 559-400-1352. I’m happy to help you change your changes. 

You can also find out more about me, the services I provide and any of the products I offer by going to my website.