Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Courtesy Light Thieves

South By Southwest (SXSW) may be the biggest gathering of music, entertainment and technology leaders on the planet. The annual festival in Austin is not just a place where Google unveils its latest products, and where Edward Snowden makes his first public address since becoming a whistleblower on NSA spying. It’s also where many up and coming bands and DJs go to make a name for themselves on a national stage, including some from the San Joaquin Valley.

This week on Valley Writers Read, Howard Hendrix reads “Red Rover, Red Rover.”  This is a science fiction story about a billionaire who, along with his talking dog “Cogzie,” decides to move to Mars.  Soon, and often, the dog reminds him how mankind has abused dogs, which gets the two of them into a big fight.  

Benjamin Boone

Fresno jazz artist, educator and composer Benjamin Boone has embarked on a fascinating new musical journey: mixing his music with the poems of former Poet Laureate of the United States and Pulitzer Prize winner Philip Levine. 

Levine, who is a longtime Fresno resident is among the nation's most revered poets. He's also a big jazz fan, dating back to his youth in Detroit. In fact, many of his poems reference jazz, including iconic stars like Clifford Brown and John Coltrane. 

This week on Valley Writers Read, Mark Arax reads from “The King of California.”  This is the story of how some cotton farmers dried out the largest fresh water lake west of the Mississippi (Tulare Lake) and made it into a huge cotton empire.  The lead grower, J.G. Boswell, believes in making a factory out of the fields and goes by the saying “from the lab to the fields to the gin.”

This week on Valley Writers Read we hear a story by Fresno author Jim Ashford titled "Country Roads." Back in high school, Tom Carson fought off some bullies who were after Billy Slurd.  So that when Billy passed away, he left Tom a present-- a magic 1956 Ford Thunderbird that turned into a time machine.  When you tuned in the radio, all you could hear is 1956 radio talk –  Al Radka carries on about Mrs. Winterbottom and KYNO broadcasts of the Fresno Cardinals.

This week on Valley Writers Read, we hear a story by Hope Nisly titled "Milk Run." Austin and Jed escape from the half-way house in which they're incarcerated and live in the mountains selling pine cones to vacationers.  But they get re-arrested and soon find themselves being transported back to prison.  They try to tip over the van they're in, but don't succeed.  So now face many more years of imprisonment.

Gary Hill reads “There's No One At Manubi, Only Flies.”  This story takes place in the huge Gibson Desert of Australia.  A desert tribe desperately hopes a distant rain cloud will end the drought.  But it doesn't.  But just as they prepare to die of thirst, they see a water truck in the distance.  However, even if it saves them, some will not want to go to the mission with the truck but remain in their ancestral home.  

Valerie Schultz reads “Some Kind of Bee” and “Four Seasons and The Moon.”  Grandma is driving down the street when a bee blows in the window.  She's so distracted she loses concentration and wrecks the car.  Now all she can talk about is how old she is, just old enough to make funeral arrangements.  But she's in for a big surprise!

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of John Steinbeck’s tale of the Dust Bowl emigration to California – the Grapes of Wrath. Late last year, Cal State Bakersfield launched a year-long celebration of the book and its author, which includes an event taking place Wednesday night at CSUB titled “If Steinbeck was a Farmer.”

Jim Benelli reads “Big Joe and the Red Headed Hitchhiker.”  A beer-drinking, Buck Owens-loving truck driver is on his way to St. Louis with a load of tomatoes.  He picks up a red-headed  hitchhiker who knows all the words to Buck Owens' songs but somehow disappears after the truck has an accident out in the Mojave desert.