I can recall the days when Fresno’s Tower District had a few used bookstores and a great independent movie rental store. A weekend afternoon of book looking could easily take one to Hart’s Haven on Van Ness, then, Valley Bookstore on Olive Avenue and then to the indie video store and rent Koyaanisqatsi for a night in with the boyfriend, if one can imagine that. Well, times have changed. People watch Netflix now, or movies on bootleg, films are easily retrieved without a rental card, Netflix does not charge late fees and books are now read on handheld devices.
Bookstores have all but dwindled to the lone survivor, the last diamond in the tower, Hart’s Haven. Yet, in the midst of the Tower District there is creativity everywhere on display, from the beautiful array of murals, in depth discussions on life and, yes, literature can be heard in any café one enters.
In a world where information is so easily retrieved through technology, we want everything fast, and we want it now, it is not surprising that bookstores and the love of books is diminishing, most do not want to wait 296 pages with an extended epilogue for an ending.
Fresno’s Tower District has been able to still hold on, ever so tightly to the undercurrent of art and a love of literature, although it is surrounded by modern-day discount stores, Valentino’s still thrives, a Panaderia replaced Lauck’s Bakery, yet, Café Corazon Café still beats on, and the big ole’ Chicken Pie Shop with its scrumptious homemade peach cobbler still reigns. I love the Tower District for all these little things, the local element is so strong there, and huge business seems less visible. I have loved it since my days as a teenage punk buying creepers at Valentino’s and Sid & Nancy tees. I lived in the Tower most of my adult life, my son was raised a Tower kid. We went to plays, ate local, bought local and used to always walk to the bookstores from our home for a gem of a book.
Since I’ve lived in Madera, I have missed those days. Here in Madera, there is one art gallery and it is almost unheard of, sorry, but it is just not a Broadway Studio or Arte Americas. There is no theater, other than high school theatre, which I admit is really good, the few I’ve seen. Yet, there are no, I mean not one, bookstore, new or used. There is only one coffee shop, and you guessed it, it is that hooker Starbucks.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not talking bad about my new home in Madera. I like living here. I like the small town atmosphere. I just hate having to drive to Fresno for arts, books, theatre and anything that involves life. Yet, that is exactly what I did today. With my youngest son in tow, we drove to the Tower District; we had lunch at Sal’s and went to the diamond that still shines on called, Hart’s Haven. I hope one day Madera will contain a street, or a hub of a fragment of what the Tower holds. And maybe I’m missing something, maybe you are a Maderan, and know places or cool spots I am not privy too, please enlighten me.
So all that rambling for this- Hart’s Haven sells a box of books for $10.00. I purchased D.H. Lawrence books, Homer, Plato, Isaac Bashevis Singer books, and a few books from a local writer from Clovis by the name of Jessica Seymour, titled "Trapped" and "the Untold Secrets of a Single Mom" both books published by Tate Publishing. I will be reading and reviewing these books soon. I hope they are good. I always root for a local writer.
Thanks for reading my rant. Continue to read, learn, question everything and find the answers. Feed your mind, increase your knowledge, you don’t know everything, neither do I, but before we die, we sure in hell must try. J