…Tried to Save Fullerton.

City Council candidate, civic and literary advocate, art gallery owner, University English professor, punk rock musician, club promoter, lo-fi portrait artist, prolific blogger, bar habitue, chicken strips connoisseur and Fullerton’s staunch friend all rolled into the burly, long-haired, strawberry blonde, bearded man is the wonder that is Jesse La Tour.

Some two decades ago, there was a burgeoning artist revolution happening in Fullerton; music, poetry and art flourished and became a way of life for many people. Establishments like the Hub (Cafe) and Wing-ed Heart Cafe were the stomping and breeding grounds for this culture. Eventually, and unfortunately, the movement succumbed to an untimely death and the town became a white-washed shell littered with drinking establishments and tattoo parlors.

In May 2008, Jesse, along with Chuck Oldfield, Landon Lewis, Nick Balderas, Steve Westbrook and Tony Bach, opened up Hibbleton Art Gallery next to time-honored Mulberry Street (the city’s own version of “Cheers”). According to Urban Dictionary, Hibbleton “is a small group of people who exhibit great amounts of awesomeness but only when necessary”. They were a tiny, but formidable militia of underground art purveyors. People began to take notice and rejoiced; Hibbleton was the creative impetus that Fullerton needed. With the visionary focus of Michael and Candace Magoski of the Magoski Art Colony (a future feature article), where Hibbleton is presently located, Fullerton Art Walk was born and the artist resurgence once again took full effect.

In his personal blog, Jesse waxes poetic and profound. He channels his humorous side with letters to “Beatrice”, a lost love, in chapters called Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. Another section, entitled The Town I Live In, “is a work-in-progress. It is a literary and photographic mosaic of my hometown of Fullerton, California. It includes research, observations, personal experiences, and reflections”.

When Jesse launched his grass-roots campaign to run for City Council, little did we know that other people would take him seriously, much less actually vote for him. Having lived in Fullerton for over 20 years, he felt that he had to take an active role to dismantle the status quo that had malignantly and ineffectively been lurking in the Council’s belfries. The almost 5,000 votes that Jesse garnered were extremely encouraging, but not enough to topple the corrupt stronghold of Bankhead and McKinley (their average dollars spent per vote was six dollars compared to Jesse’s twenty cents). Not completely disheartened by his loss, Jesse has confirmed his candidacy for City Council come 2012.

There are those that speculate whether Jesse’s untoward appearance may have dashed his chances of winning the City Council seat. Please enjoy this satire created by Landon Lewis and Ali Kilian to form your own opinions.

While Jesse La Tour is not anyone’s concept of an overnight success story, he is a man known for making a resolute and noble effort to better Fullerton — The Town We Live In. Today, we salute you Mr. Fullerton’s mulit-faceted, persevering, atypical hero. This Bud’s for you. Happy Birthday, Jesse.

 

photos courtesy of: Jesse La Tour, Rachel Pedroso and Jesse’s friends & relatives on Facebook


Corky Nepomuceno

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