Gabriel Dillard

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BLOG: Fresno CAN stand in for Paris, if we try

With a headline like "Fresno has to stand in for Paris these days," you know a punch line isn't far behind.

Al Martinez, columnist with the Los Angeles Daily News, recently spent a night in one of Fresno's "no-star" motels en route to a vacation in Sacramento, or "Northern Fresno," as he puts it in a July 8 piece.

He sums it up thusly: "In artistic terms, Fresno would be colored gray with maybe some browns and a flash of pale green in the better parts of town, which I assume they have, although I never actually saw any." 

Being from Fresno, I'm used to this. I actually get a kick out of it. The one thing I strongly disagree with in Martinez's column is his contention that "many Fresnoians" spend their vacations in Sacramento, or Northern Fresno.

I usually opt for the coast or mountains. What about you?

And I thought "Fresnans" was the recognized collective term for the nearly 500,000 beautiful people who make this place home. "Fresnoians" doesn't work because not all of us are Armenian. Fresnexicans maybe?

Rather than get bent out of shape, let's consider the real problem: The health of Fresno's major travel corridors, most notably Highways 99 and 41. Many budget travelers just passing through will opt to stay somewhere affordable right off the freeway. And they may end up at Motel Drive off the 99, or Blackstone south of Shaw off the 41. Anyone with eyes will see those two places are home to any number of illegal activities.

The merchants in those parts of town must take the initiative, along with the city and community as a whole, to create a more favorable perception. Part of that could be supporting trailblazers, including Organic Fresno, which recently opened its restaurant and market at 903 Parkway Drive, in a place nobody imagined such an eatery would open.

Efforts such as those by Fresno City Councilmember Clint Olivier to combat human trafficking in his district along Blackstone between Shields and Gettysburg must also be supported and sustained.

In order for Fresno, and Fresnans for that matter, to ever get the respect we deserve, we must create a good first impression every time.

Because — hear me, Fresnoians — bad impressions tend to stick for life.