By Carol Pearlman – November 19, 2014



Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.

HaHaHaHaHaHa HaHaHaHaHaHa HaHaHaHaHaHa HaHaHaHaHaHaHaHa



While gazing at the hulking cranes of Mare Island on Sunday morning, a flock of wild geese flew overhead in perfect V formation. It was a thrilling sight that made me wonder if they’re heading south for the winter or had they heard the news about the casinos.

I heard about casinos, & other projects, proposed to the mayor, his side-kicks, & the general public in a presentation at city hall last week. There were 6 elite teams of master developers, with plans for the commercial exploitation of a large area on the north side of Mare Island that made Vallejo sound like a gold mine they were ready to dig – and plunder.

It was also interesting to hear the representative of the impoverished Koi Nation, who’d gotten the guilt of the US government to grant all kinds of favors they say they’ll bring to Vallejo in return for land. They’d give us wampum, we’d turn the territory over to them and get a casino, and, if one can believe this, 7 million visitors per year.

Did you hear the Mayor of Detroit talk about how difficult it is to return from bankruptcy? (It was aired on NPR, the radio station that plays all day long in my kitchen.) He cited Vallejo as an example of a small city in the process of recovery that would take longer & was even more difficult to achieve than Detroit. He made us sound like a lost cause.

Sometimes, after reading reports about our school board & some of our politicians, and listening to the outspoken cynics, it sounds like everything here is wrong. But, observing those rich, smart developers ready & eager to put their money & resources on the table, my heart swelled with pride. I imagined Vallejo coming up aces; our high-school students winning prizes, a crime-free town, my property value going way up. They like us, I thought; they really like us.

But, will our honorable city officials recognize what’s best for Vallejo and play our cards right?

The developers, especially the casino people, were drooling, rubbing their hands together with glee, over the profits they foresee flowing in from a piece of perfectly situated coastal land in the hub of the Bay area, between San Francisco & Napa.

There was talk of world class gaming, entertainment centers, high class hotels, restaurants, shops, & all the business they’d bring to our fair city. If six teams of brilliant master planners, architects, engineers, techies, and money-men want to own it, and are willing to invest a hundred million, it must be true.

Then, how come we don’t develop Vallejo ourselves? What do we need them for? Why not get those brains & bankbooks working for us? Isn’t that what Detroit is doing? Shouldn’t we be the ones calling the shots?

I found this announcement in the news last week, “The City of Vallejo is pleased to report that the Standard & Poor’s Credit Rating Service has raised its underlying rating on Vallejo, California Series 1999 certificates of participation (COPs) to ‘BB-‘ from ‘CCC+’ with a ‘Stable’ outlook.”

While dreaming of my prosperous city, with great schools, rising real-estate values, and shops like Whole Foods and Cartier, I couldn’t help imagining of those 7 million visitors, and all the traffic that comes with them. We’ll need a tunnel from the freeway & other entrances into town, stopping at the ferry & continuing on to Mare Island, and a bridge on the south side of the city, maybe two, and peripheral roads to keep traffic out of downtown. Let’s bring in trolleys.

For personal and civic reasons, I’ve become obsessed with the idea of cleaning & fixing up the blotch of dirt beside the river south of the ferry that is covered in pigeon shit, and used by the wind to fling dust & grime onto the dwellings whose inhabitants already suffer from noise & dirt of the traffic on Mare Island Way. Repairs to this park got no votes in the recent participatory voting, but it needs to be done, for me, my neighbors, and the city.

Casinos or not, we need good restaurants in Vallejo. Now. Whenever I consider dining out I don’t know where to go. I think I’m living in the wilderness, where folks eat stuff that comes out of a freezer or a central kitchen thousands of miles away. Ok, some of our joints may be fancier than others, but as far as I’m concerned it’s all just grub. I want real cooking, real food.

I cook & eat three meals a day at home, seven days a week, 4 weeks a month, and I’m getting a little tired. Sometimes, I want to eat out, good, simple wholesome, tasty, fresh food – not chain food, canned food, bad food warmed in the microwave. I challenge the chefs of Vallejo to come up with the good stuff. You can do it! Let’s go!

I refuse to lower my standards and expectations of food as I do for local opera performances.

I attended the opening of Tosca at the cold, drafty Mira Theatre, together with about 18 other brave souls, and I must say, it was a unique experience, starting with the strange pants the male singers wore, salvaged that morning, no doubt, from the bins of the thrift store down the street, which is probably the reason someone came out and made a plea for money after the first act.

Most of the singing wasn’t too bad. The orchestra earned their pay, except for the cellist who didn’t arrive until halfway through the second act. She slid into her seat, unpacked her instrument, switched on the light of her music stand, raised her bow & entered the music seamlessly. No one even blinked. I’m guessing they left out the overture because she wasn’t there.

The conductor, poor fellow, had to lead the band perched on the armrest between 2 seats in the first row, which must have been quite painful, to say the least. He fell off once, and knocked out his light once, but was saved by the first violinist, without missing a beat.

In spite of all that, I confess I enjoyed my night at the opera in Vallejo. Puccini may not have agreed, but Groucho would have loved it.


  1. November 19, 2014 @ 3:29 pm the macroneurotic

    … and buy my book. i forgot to remind you. go to you won’t be sorry.


  2. November 19, 2014 @ 5:54 pm Jiimmy W. Genn

    Hello, For the waterfront area you mentioned, would it not be great (WIBG) if it became the Bay Area’s most notable Veteran’s Memorial Park? I honor the efforts expended to have our current Veteran Memorial Park. But this is another time in our History to adapt, to go to what is next for celebrating our Service. The current location will always be in danger of being walled in, and lost to development. Besides, its scope is to small. We have artifacts that need a home. WIBG if our Vet Memorial Park was a full use park (some are suggesting a scaled version of a submarine for our children)? Of course, it would have celebratory areas and memorials, with room for future Memorials. A waterfront location, adjacent to the Independence Park and going to the old Brinkman’s location. This would secure its Future and show our Proud Military History. Thank you.


  3. November 20, 2014 @ 4:32 pm Jeff

    I often find myself trying to describe to friends and acquaintances the opera experience at the MIRA. It’s a challenge but you have done a great job of it and made me laugh, too. I think everyone should experience opera at the MIRA. It is indeed a unique and–damn it, yes!–enjoyable experience.


  4. November 24, 2014 @ 11:51 am What The

    “they give us wampum”… Take your racism someplace else.


  5. November 26, 2014 @ 9:06 am Half-empty?

    I’ve enjoyed Carol’s postings about moving to Vallejo & getting settled. That said, by now I wonder if her cup isn’t half-empty most of the time, especially with the comment, “I refuse to lower my standards…” That has an air of entitlement that rubs me the wrong way, especially when her comments are ended (again) by the request to buy her book. It’s probably not her intent, but the net message comes across as “you’re not good enough, I’m here so change already, and by the way, please buy my book.”

    I agree, I’d also love more variety & higher quality in local restaurants. But like it or not, Vallejo is more urban frontier than it is a full-fledged member of the SF Bay Area. We have to build and rebuild; we are under-developed for a city of our size.

    For restaurants in particular, there are some significant obstacles. One is disposable income — not as high in Vallejo as in other areas. Another is capital — and right-sized business ideas. Fixed-locations restaurants require a huge investment, a steady stream of customers, and impeccable management skills — restaurants are an unforgiving business. Maybe the right solution for Vallejo would be to encourage food trucks that could grow their market & expertise before sinking their money into fixed locations. Back to Carol — rather than just decrying what’s missing, it would be more helpful if she turned her thoughts to creative solutions.

    I cringe when I see Vallejo’s old slogan, “City of Opportunity” on the signs that announce Vallejo. Still, there really is an opportunity — and also a need. The power of the pen is helpful — but even more helpful is rolling up your sleeves. You want bigger audiences for local opera? I’m certain Verismo would accept your help. You think Mira needs better climate control? That’s another group that can always use volunteers. By the way, in the half-empty vs half-full POV, how many cities of 100k population have frequent opera performances? How about all-volunteer community centers & theaters?

    One POV is to dismiss local theater & tell us how much better it is elsewhere. Another POV might be to celebrate that a low-income town *has* frequent opera *and* an all-volunteer community center. Hmm, how many CA cities have that? Most any you might name are almost certainly ones with larger populations & higher incomes.


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