Ed: On their album Frizzle Fry, the band Primus had a song called “The Toys Go Winding Down.” It starts out with a banjo-esque sound that rattles a long for a bit until that trademark Primus bass drops in. Truly fantastic. It’s a song that has always pulled me in, intrigued me, haunted me with it’s refrain of “as the toys go winding down,” and even saddened me as I dug into the lyrics
“An overaged boy of thirty-nine has left the wing today. The first time in his life he’s made that step. Be numbed by the society and plagued by insecurity. He’s entered in a race that must be won. One of the animals has left its cage today In search of better things so it seems to be. But in this land of polyurethane, Things are apt to get a bit hot. As the toys go winding down.
C.G. the Mexican is a friend of mine. We used to sit around the house watching Evil Dead. Talking about the way it used to be...We used to pull the stripers out of San Pablo bay. Now the Delta waters go down So. Cal. And the stripers start to fade away. Its pudding time! Its pudding time! As the toys go winding down.”
How does this song relate to the idea of it all coming tumbling down, especially in a Fresno context? Well, stick with me a minute longer. Recently I went on a walking tour of the Fulton Mall. Now, I’ve walked the mall hundreds of mall, and have even been on a different walking tour of it, but I love to hear the history and this tour was focusing on the Mall’s art. I knew many of the pieces, was astounded that we had a Peter Voulkos that I didn’t know about, and had a good time. But, in seeing the poor state of some of the pieces saddened me. The clock tower is especially a poignant piece. Designed as a central showpiece by Jan de Swart it has fallen in disrepair. The fiberglass separates away from the wood of the piece. Cracks abound. How did it get this way? Well, it was neglected, and allowed to get this way. This once beautiful thing was allowed to be ignored by a city that was in a race of insecurity and views of elsewhere that pulled away from its proper care. And now the clock winds down, like the mall that it centers. I hope that the two of them can be “wound back up” as we decide what is important for vibrant city.
Adam: It’s an interesting thing the policy-making of those running Fresno. It’s an interesting thing the policy-making of those running anything they were elected to run, but we’re talking about Fresno.
Fresno is a diverse, big metropolis; an agricultural metropolis that has desires of being something else. So you have these politicians and policy-makers contending with huge, sprawling diversity. They make decisions and those decisions come tumbling down on us, the citizens. They make choices and those choices come tumbling down through history. Things like the Fulton Mall and improvement of downtown that were supposed to be a 20 year project in the making and change the course of history (for better) ended up being boondoggles that failed in some senses.
So the next crop of decision-makers steps in. They attempt to pick up the pieces and they make decisions that will succeed or fail, the results of which will inevitably continue on down the line. And we find ourselves at this crossroad with a mall that has crumbling infrastructure and crumbling facades, but is still supported by people. Unfortunately, that support is diverse in scope and scale; as diverse as the city itself.
Do we tear it all out and revert back to the original? Do we leave it as it is with its current success among a population that the original designers didn’t expect? Do we try to find a happy medium that satisfies most people without watering down the alterations to the point that they aren’t successful? Can an idea without a mass of passionate support succeed in this context?
In times as troubling as these, it’s no surprise that those making the decisions about what is to be done are seeking the input of many people. It serves to dissipate the potential failure and inevitable blaming. Share the burden, whether successful or not. Regardless, it will always come down to a handful of people to make the official decisions. We can talk and form committees and do research and bounce ideas and work the numbers but at some point, a final call will come down from those in charge that we are definitely running with a particular idea. And I hope that idea works because I’d hate for this debate to be taking place again in 30 years.