Fender Factory Opens to Public

Though it moved a relatively short distance from downtown Fullerton to the bucolic splendor of Corona (cough), Fender has truly come a long way. Birthed in a small shop where Orange County tinkerer Leo Fender repaired radios, the company has created some of the most beautiful instruments to ever grace the stage. Last week, in what proved to be a Willy Wonka moment, the venerable manufacturer of rock & roll's most iconic artifacts opened the doors of its Corona facility to media and assorted VIPs for the first time in its 65-year history, unveiling a new visitor center housing a large collection of guitars, historical photographs and a small theater. Phyllis Fender, the diminutive gray-haired widow of Leo, smiled broadly as she declared the 8,600-square-foot facility to be "Disneyland East." Speaking fondly of her husband, Phyllis mentioned that though he was unable to have children, he found immense fulfillment and pride in his work. "Those guitars that went out the door were his children. . . . He dreamed constantly of what could make your music better," she said. The ghosts of OC were in the room as well: A small theater screened images of early Fender employee George Fullerton taking a camera crew on a walking tour; Fullerton died in 2009. The film documented three spots located around the Fullerton Transportation Center, as well as what was once the company's largest OC facility: A drab gray building at 500 S. Raymond (now Jimi's Bar and Grill) marks the spot where the first Stratocaster was manufactured. From a Sept. 16 Heard Mentality blog post by Brandon Ferguson.


Santa Ana-based Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble is announcing that it is "going GYPSY!" The company is leaving the second floor of the Knights of Pythias building that it has called home for the past five years; by month's end, Breath of Fire will take on a nomadic persona and function artistically through alternative outlets. "The space was once a white-walled, mini-blinded, two-room office space—converted into black box with seating of up to 75," the award-winning organization's press release recounts. "Within the four walls, the body of work covered issues such as homelessness, immigration, war, the undocumented, living with HIV, the undertold stories of local struggles and heroism, revolutions, segregation, queer cuentos [stories], unrequited love, and the classics." Situated on the corner of Fifth Street and Broadway, the company, under the artistic directorship of Sara Guerrero, staged many notable plays, hosted new playwright festivals and networked with a who's-who of Latina theater, bringing Cherrie Moraga, Monica Palacios and Real Women Have Curves scribe Josefina Lopez to OC. From a Sept. 16 post by Gabriel San Roman. 


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