For the past six years, I've done for my job what most people do for fun.
Concerts, movies, TV, festivals. This was my job, and I loved my job.
In fact, for as long as I can remember, I've loved entertainment. It's not just the fun of it all -- though that is an obvious draw -- but it's what it means to people. This process of making and sharing one's art helps makes the hard parts of our everyday lives a a little more bearable.
To every yin there is a yang. In tough times, we look for distractions. In good times we look for meaning. All work and no play makes everyone dull -- not just Jack.
Sadly, due to economic realities at the paper, I will no longer cover entertainment for The Bee. Instead, I'll be a business reporter for the Work & Money section, where the economic realities of the region will become my bread and butter.
It has been my great honor getting to know all of you and having you share your work and passion with me. And, on a personal note, this job has allowed me to meet people I've admired and idolized for years.
A few highlights:
Running after native son George Lucas to lob Modesto-related questions his way.
Having Loretta Lynn sing me a couple bars of a new, unreleased song.
Asking indie rocker Ani DiFranco about her enormous shoes.
Chatting with Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, until his publicist had to drag the photographer and me away.
Getting called "darling" by Oscar winner and professional eccentric Billy Bob Thornton.
Being hugged by the future "30 Rock" star Tracy Morgan (p.s. Watch that show. Seriously, if it gets cancelled because you're not watching, I'm coming to your house and blaming you personally).
But for all the big-name stars and touring acts I've encountered, what has really made this job special is you. All the hard work and dedication that the area artists, musicians, promoters and organizers have poured into making Modesto a better, more interesting place is inspiring and important.
A thriving entertainment scene is an essential part of any healthy city. People want to live where there are fun things to do, period.
I know that Modesto and the Central Valley's arts and entertainment community will continue to grow. It seems like almost every week, a new band emerges or a new artist impresses or a new actor gets her break, and so on and so on.
When I came to this job in February 2003, I wrote in my first column, "I can't wait to see it all happen."
I still can't. While I won't be covering it for you anymore, know that I always will be a supporter, a booster and, most important, a fan.
So long, and thanks for all the fish.
Elsewhere around the Scene:
Grammy-nominated R&B performer and producer Jon B performs tonight at the Palladium for the Big E Birthday Bash. The singer's 1997 release, "Cool Relax," went platinum, and its single, "They Don't Know," was a Top 10 Billboard hit. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 before 10 p.m. For more, go to www.ehpresents.com. ...
Help out while rocking out at the Modesto Sound Fundraiser Concert from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Tenth Street Plaza in Modesto. The all-ages, free show will feature eight area bands. Performing will be LD 50, Gianna Joy, The Cottons, Scott Bartenhagen, Drew Blum, Caroline Chiesa, Danny DeLeon Band and Speechless Story. While the concert is free, raffle and VIP seating will be sold. Call 573-0533 or visit modestosound.com. ...
Cowboy up a weekend earlier for the Western Artisan Show in Oakdale. The Women of Western Art have moved their show from the weekend of the Oakdale Rodeo to today through Sunday at the Gene Bianchi Community Center. Doors open at
6 p.m. today for a reception. The event is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. ...
And finally, sharpen your scissors and get to Sacramento, area stylists. Producers from the Bravo reality series "Shear Genius" will hold an open casting call for its upcoming third season in the capitol.
The casting session is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at The Global Hair & Beauty Expo at the Sacramento Convention Center. Stylists must be at least 21 years old, licensed and have worked for three years as a hairstylist.
Applicants must bring a mannequin, shears and other accessories. They also must bring their portfolio, cosmetology license, an ID, résumé, portfolio, headshot and completed application.
Tickets for the expo are $35 in advance, $45 at the door. For more information or an application, visit castingduo.com/sg3.