In today’s column, I spend my time solving select mysteries of
downtown. Honed by countless episodes of Law and Order, my
sleuthing talents are at a high pitch. But you will have to be the
judge of that.
In today’s column, I spend my time solving select mysteries of downtown. Honed by countless episodes of Law and Order, my sleuthing talents are at a high pitch. But you will have to be the judge of that.
The first mystery: I’ve spent a fair amount of time whilst driving down Monterey admiring the woman with her demurely-crossed legs, leaning forward with great interest, who graces the round clock tower window at Lizarran. So I decided it was time to call owner Gary Walton to find out who she is. Turns out she is no gamine local but instead the model chosen by the restaurant chain.
The chain! That was a surprise. I had no idea and in my head had concocted a romantic explanation about how Gary traveled to Spain and wanted to bring the cuisine back to Gilroy.
The tapas chain is indeed authentic, started near Barcelona by a young chef. There are now restaurants in Portugal, France, Russia, China … and Gilroy was the second (of only a handful) here in the United States. Nice to be so groundbreaking!
If you visit www.lizarran-ca.com, you can see another image of that smiling woman, this time baring her midriff in a regional costume.
My brief phone call with Gary also answered another question I’d been stewing over, how to pronounce the name. I’d been starting out like I was saying “lizard” and then taking that left turn at Albuquerque. Instead, it is “Lee-zar-ron.”
The second: My next mystery to solve (and without a flashlight! In your face, Nancy Drew) was to learn the source of the store name Mango Street Kids. I was familiar with the book “The House on Mango Street” and was curious if there was some connection. Owner Amber Madrone said she saw a billboard for the play based on the book and was instantly reminded of her kids and sending them to the backyard in summertime with delicious mangoes to eat. Those good memories inspired her to name her children’s resale store.
She joked that when people would ask her if she’d read the famous Sandra Cisneros book, she’d say, “Sort of, let me go read the book real quick!” (I’m happy to report she has subsequently done her homework and says the book is “perfect.”)
Terzo: And I had to check with Pinocchio’s Pizza. What is the connection there? Stretching out the pizza dough, just like the puppet boy’s nose during a lie? I caught Tony Oliveri on the phone. It was his dad Sal who was trying to come up with a name 32 years ago, thinking that the last name Oliveri “didn’t sound like a pizza place.” He was in Lucca, Italy, sitting in a town square musing over this significant titling problem, when he looked up and noticed the great big statue before him, “like the Statue of Liberty,” said Tony-just with a more pronounced snout.
“He calls me in the middle of the night,” said Tony, who then checked with two attorneys that Disneyland wouldn’t pounce on them. “Disneyland can’t do nothing; it’s an Italian name.”
Sal retired a few years ago, but still pops in here and there to chop onions and bell peppers for this family-owned business. Best pizza west of Lucca, for puppets and humans!
Morgan Hill more gender-neutral? Nancy Drew struggled to be taken seriously, even whilst she thundered down the highway in her roadster. We’ve come a long way, baby, as the Virginia Slims cigarettes used to tell us. Still, as much as I snicker happily at the concept and title of Garlic Festival Queen, it does smack of unhealthy gender divisions. That’s why I was happy to learn that Morgan Hill’s royalty shall be female and male: Miss Mushroom and Mr. Fungi. Now, if only we could convert that “Miss” to a “Ms.”
Private eyes are watching you: Installing cameras downtown doesn’t really make it safer, unless if someone’s constantly watching the monitors and ready to jump into the BearCat at a moment’s notice. Realistically, the footage is to be viewed later if there is a crime, right? Or perhaps it’s the panopticon model where people behave better if they don’t know whether/when they’re being watched.
Erika Mailman examines fingerprints with a magnifying glass at www.erikamailman.com.