30 miles of bad road and 38,000 gestures for charity

Never heard this Gilroy-centric line, but when Doug the veteran Las Vegas cab driver who used to run a Vegas casino poker room “back in the day” heard we were from the Garlic Capital he immediately showed his hand. “You know what they called a hand with three 10s?” We didn’t have a clue what the old-time poker players called it. “They’d say, ‘I’ve got 30 miles of bad road between San Jose and Gilroy.’ ” Miss Jenny and I laughed out loud. The card quip referred to the 30-mile stretch of Monterey Highway. Before the new U.S. 101 it was known as “Blood Alley” – a nasty stretch of stoplights, accidents, backed-up traffic and fruit-peddling stands, the latter being its lone saving grace. It seems like so long ago, but the Sig Sanchez Freeway between Morgan Hill and San Jose opened less than 10 years ago in 2003.
’Twas a tad more more than 10 years ago that the statuesque Gracie Garcia of Gracie’s Antiques downtown donned smooth and silken garb to pose for an alluring glamour photo shoot curled up in a chair. I don’t know the whole story, but I’m going to ask her soon. Anyway, at the smashingly successful Operation Interdependence fundraiser for the troops Wednesday night at the Milias Restaurant, owners Adam Sanchez and Ann Zyburra asked me to guess who the woman in this photo they had by the door was. I pondered, perused  and, yes, stared and gave two names, “Madonna” in a throwback photo shoot or “Bette Davis.” Adam and Ann are going to hang Gracie’s stunning photo on the wall, and that’s what’s so very cool about the Milias – it’s fascinatingly local and truly dedicated to Gilroy.   
So is Cory Still who showed off his diverse artwork at the OI fundraiser while people sipped wines from Martin Ranch and Fortino and enjoyed the house appetizers. Cory manages the bar at the VFW Hall just down the street from the Milias, but his passion is art. He had lithographs and originals on display that ranged from a cool depiction of the home ballpark of the San Francisco Giants to an interpretive still life of a high-end perfume bottle. Cory’s work would be great for a showing at the Gilroy Arts Center.
Look for the grand new Arts Center marquis coming soon from Young’s Signs (now waiting patiently backstage in Richard Young’s garage) within the next two weeks. Also, once the city gets the wall built to protect the Porcella’s Music building’s flank, there’s a very cool plan by the Gilroy Arts Alliance to project family-friendly outdoor movies onto the wall. That’s perfect for Gilroy summers. Lawn chairs on the grassy area, a fun movie and also the Arts Alliance could make a little moolah on the popcorn concession.
The Garlic Festival Board wisely sought counsel from volunteer groups, mostly non-profit organizations which have been hit hard by economic cutbacks, and decided to forego the annual volunteer picnic. Volunteer President Hugh Davis said that should allow a 5 to 8 percent boost in cash proceeds to participating organizations. At the Board level, a costly proposal to have the picnic at the San Francisco Giants game, which would have carried a $20,000 or so price tag, was shelved in favor of applying funds to 2012 revenue distribution. The event had been held at Gilroy Gardens, but only 800 to 1,000 of the 4,000-plus volunteers attended. “The revenue used to produce a post-Festival gathering for volunteers will instead be included in the final distribution to our charities,” Davis said. And that quote is right on the money for the fest’s mission. After all, while the Garlic Festival party is hard work, it’s the only party that matters and the true reward for a volunteer is knowing that you’re helping to make your community a better place.
Gilroy Police could really help make Las Animas Veterans Park and the area near the amphitheater in Christmas Hill Park better places – safer, a more comfortable place for many to walk or spend time and also protect Little League ears from the disgusting lyrics blasting from boom boxes and cars – if bicycle patrols were brought back when the weather turns nice. Just sayin’ …
Courtesy of Rob Hoffman, a sort of unofficial ambassador of Fernwood Winery on Gilroy’s Redwood Retreat Road, I had the lucky opportunity to taste the ’09 Cabernet from Matt Oetinger at the Milias. Earthy and smooth, it’s a gem that will age very well. Disappointed, though, that Matt and Valerie’s place won’t be open for our Passport Tour this weekend. C’mon Matt, you’re on our side of the mountain.
Good idea to bring an umbrella if you’re headed out to wine taste on Saturday.
Super news from last Saturday’s annual and ever-popular St. Patrick’s Day fund-raising dinner-auction event for St. Joseph’s Family Center. Our very own locally run, multi-faceted and efficient charitable organization that feeds the hungry and helps those in need – from baby food to help with the PG&E bill – raised a record amount, more than $38,000. Now that’s a true blessing … Uncle Father Dan’s brogue-laden jokes must have really brought the charitable spirit out … that and a wee bit of Jameson’s are a powerful combination. The hit auction item – a “Frida Kahlo” dinner offered by the dynamic and generous duo of Rachel and John Perez. Squash blossom soup, beef tenderloins and green chile chicken chalupas were among the menu items, all paired with different tequilas. Amidst all the tragic news upon my return to town, this was good for the ear and the heart.
Wonder if the local churches and the Gilroy Police could form an “early warning” network for Gilroy veterans returning from combat zones. Maybe a visit from a chaplain could have prevented such a distressing tragedy.

Reach Editor Mark Derry at [email protected]

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