Podcast Stockton Turns 10

Podcast Stockton Turns 10

Today marks 10 years since the release of the first episode of Podcast Stockton. Aside from my family and my professional career, Podcast Stockton remains one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. Podcast Stockton was a true labor of love for many years... and 107 episodes! I wouldn’t be who am I today if it weren’t for the show. 

In response to coverage of my hometown that nearly always focused on the negative, I released the first episode of Podcast Stockton on March 22, 2009. Choosing to focus on the positive side of Stockton, I wanted to bring listeners local business reviews, commentary on local issues, and interviews with local residents.

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Number 8 Most Boring City?

Downtown Stockton, photo taken July 31, 2010 

Downtown Stockton, photo taken July 31, 2010 

My friend Wes, the CEO of Visit Stockton, was the first to text me to tell me that my picture had been used in a post entitled “The 10 Most Boring Cities in America”. He wasn’t the only one though. My partners on Podcast Stockton as well as a few other friends also brought it to my attention. I wish I had time to write a response right away, but I didn’t. My wife and I were too busy rushing home from work in time to get ready to go out and celebrate the wonderful work that Puentes is doing with the Boggs Tract Community Farm. We celebrated Puentes, a local non-profit dedicated to spreading the knowledge and the development of sustainable technology through beyond-organic farming, by enjoying a wonderful meal and beer pairing (side note: High Water Brewing is pretty amazing), listening to some wonderful music by Horatio Monroe, catching up with great friends and meeting some great new friends at the Mile Wine Company on the Miracle Mile. 

What is really unfortunate is that we really wanted to attend the event at the beautiful Haggin Museum, which they hold every first and third Thursday of the month. Tonight was the Tamara Phelan Trio, a wonderful music group. Sadly, we missed that event in favor of the fundraising event supporting Puentes.  

After a long, fun night, we headed home. I was too tired to write and wondered, with all the goings on in Stockton, will there ever be time to write? 

When News 10, a station whose morning news program I have watched for most of my adult life, included my picture in the story, I was upset. Especially since the original article used a completely different picture. But now, I am tired of being defensive. I have no time to be defensive. There’s too much to do to get angry about some real estate blog saying we have a boring city. But to have News 10 use my photo? Ouch. I love this city and have dedicated so much to help show it in a positive light. 

Well, there’s a Stockton Ports game tomorrow so I better get this post written before I go to bed, otherwise there’ll never be time. And the weekend? Seriously? No way I’ll get time to write then. With the free bike ride sponsored by the San Joaquin Bike Coalition, practice with our local blind baseball team, the California Rays, and Astronomy in the Park on Saturday, it’s too bad I won’t have much time to write. Oh man, the Delta Nights Blues Band is playing at Whirlow’s on Saturday night. Decisions, decisions, decisions. Well, at least we have a couple of weeks before the classic movies at the Fox start up again. What’s that? You’ve never heard of the Friends Of The Fox's Classic Movie Series? I am bummed that we can’t make it to the Maya Angelou celebration this weekend at the library that bears her name. 

Besides the ever expanding live music calendar and great restaurants and bars, my wife and I are lucky to have to have very dear friends in this community and we always seem to fill up our calendars with activities with them. By the way, have you seen Wendi Maxwell and Tres Hot Jazz perform? Seriously, they are hot!

A couple of nights ago, I took my grand daughter and her auntie, the youngest daughter of my wife and I, to the first Concert in the Park of the season. Of course, like we always do, we had an incredibly fun time. Same old story: we saw some great friends and enjoyed meeting new ones. Just another summer Wednesday night in Stockton. 

Of course, I could have opted to go to Finnegan’s, or any of the other great bars in town filled with lots of great people, albeit not with the kids. But, as always, there are too many things to do at any given time. What I can always go for is a savory crepe at Midtown Creperie, but again, too many things to do, not enough time. 

The team at Visit Stockton maintain the single best events calendar for Stockton. I know, because once, my compadres on the Podcast Stockton team tried to do everything on the calendar in one weekend. We failed. Miserably. Literally. By late-afternoon on that Saturday we threw in the towel. We just couldn’t do it. Clearly we are one of the most boring cities in America. By the way, wasn’t someone working on a sarcasm punctuation mark? 

Look, we know we are a city that has bore the brunt of national news media punches about our property values (by the way, did you see this?), crime, foreclosures, and our course, the big one: the bankruptcy. But does that mean we aren't a vibrant city full of people that love it here and love to have a good time? Not on your life. 

Clearly, the writers of this meaningless list never subscribed to the Visit Stockton Weekend Activities Guide. And I am not even going to suggest that they do. Screw these lists. We’ve been on enough of them. We know who we are and what we have. Like Red’s Coffee, the best coffee shop in town, we know that. We are tired of being the punching bag for list-makers who are only interested in getting clicks and impressions.

And don’t get me going on our wonderful parks and the delta! The delta. You know, the greatest waterway in Northern California. 

What I do want is for the fine folks at News 10 to kindly remove my photograph from their post. I do not want my name and photograph associated with such a post. I understand that my Flickr settings are such that allow them to use my photo in a noncommercial manner with accreditation. They have credited me by listing my name, but since they have advertisements on their page I consider it commercial. Not to mention, using my picture to speak negatively of my city, where I choose to live and raise my family, especially since it was not taken in that spirit, is hurtful. Send a camera down here and capture your own picture. (Update: Ian Hill, Executive Producer of Digital & Social for News 10 sent me a message within a couple of hours of this post letting me know he had replaced the image.)

(But seriously, Dan, Keba, Jeff, Chris, Melissa, Rob… big fan here! And Walt, you too!)

Gotta go. Too much to do. And by the way, I’ve been to Plano (number 6 on that same list). Years ago it reminded me of the Ontario, California of Northern Texas. Not too bad. The trick is dining where the die-hard locals eat. There’s nothing wrong with Saltgrass Steak House, but it doesn’t define that city anymore than Applebee’s defines ours. 

Gotta go…  

See you around town!

Stockton Pride 2013

This Saturday is Stockton Pride 2013. Once again, It will be held at Oak Grove Regional Park from 11 AM to 7 PM. 

The Stockton Pride Festival is the only event of it's kind here in Stockton. Last year, the turnout was greater than expected and event organizers are planning for more for this year's event. 

Nicholas Hatten, Executive Director of San Joaquin Pride Center described this year's event as "The year of more.  More entertainment, more activities, more food, more vendors and booths."

When asked about the importance of having an event like Stockton Pride in our community, Hatten said, there is "still a fear of the unknown" as it relates to the LGBT community and that events such as this give everyone a chance to see their culture and see them as individuals as well as members of the community.  

"In Stockton, we have a long way to go for equality. We're not San Francisco, we're not Sacramento", said Hatten. Not getting as much support as larger cities is one reason that this event is important. Hatten continues, "Our kids are most at risk". Stockton Pride creates an environment of tolerance and understanding that can lead to meaningful conversations about diversity and help educate the public about the importance of respect, tolerance and equality.


Stockton Pride is a family event and will feature a teen area and children's zone ran by the San Joaquin Pride Center youth group.

Join in the food, fun, entertainment. You can also help support the Stockton Pride Festival and have a chance to win some fabulous prizes by purchasing a raffle ticket for $5 .


Admission is free, and entrance to the park is only $6 per car.  

For more information on the San Joaquin Pride Center and tomorrow's Stockton Pride 2013, visit  sjpridecenter.org and stocktonpride.weebly.com. Also, be sure to Like Stockton Pride on Facebook at facebook.com/StocktonPride.

We hope to see you Saturday at Oak Grove Regional Park! 

Podcast Stockton versus California Rays

This morning, the Podcast Stockton team challenged the California Rays Beep Baseball team. The home team has a new name (they were formerly known as the Stockton Stingrays) but the result was exactly the same as every other time these two teams have squared off. 

In case you don't know about beep baseball, here's a brief primer: Beep baseball is an adaptive version of baseball played by athletes that are visually impaired where all players wear blindfolds.  

We started off with a two-run lead in the first inning with runs from Shawn (our most consistent hitter and scorer) and me (yes, Matt actually scored a run, his first one ever). The Rays blanked out in the bottom of the first inning and we all thought this was our year!

But then, fresh off her trip to the 2013 NBBA World Series in Columbus, Georgia, team captain Jennifer Boylan connected on her second pitch and had no problem scoring.  

Jennifer scored another run and Luke came out of retirement to add two runs as well. Rays rookie, Miguel, who has shown incredible skills during practice this year, scored his first run.  

The final score was 2-5. But for those that have heard us talk about beep baseball before you know that is not the end of the story.  

In the sixth and final inning, the Rays allowed us to hit sighted (did I mention that we play with blindfolds) . This tradition of allowing the sighted team to hit without blindfolds has yet to change the result of the game, but this year we felt different. Although our first three batters were able to connect with the ball, none were able to get to the base before being fielded out by our opponents. Shawn even knocked the BEEP out of the ball, and I'm not censoring, he literally knocked the BEEP out of the ball! They even gave us go through our entire rotation and still, none of us were able to score. Eric, who also played in the 2013 NBBA World Series, made a few putouts look easy. Jennifer and Terrence also helped ensure we'd score no more runs, and Miguel, gets his first putout!

Stay up to date on the California Rays by liking them on Facebook at facebook.com/blindbaseball.

Thank you to the California Rays for taking the field with us: Jennifer, Eric, Luke, David, Miguel, and Terrence. And thank you to the wonderful volunteers: Robert, Rosemary, Josie, Araceli, and Terrence Jr. 

And thank you to the rest of our team: Manny, Greg, Missy, Rod, Shawn, Shawn Jr., and to everyone that came out and watched us.

Check out the pictures at Facebook.com/PodcastStockton.

Stockton-Con Podcast

Hopefully, you had a chance to attend last Sunday's Stockton-Con at the Stockton Arena. Mike Millerick and the rest of the Stockton-Con and Stockton Arena teams put on an amazing show. 

Until next year's event, stay up to date on all things Stockton-Con with the Stockton-Con Podcast. Mike Millerick and J.D. Fox continue the conversation even after last weekend's successful event with recent guests such as comic book artists, Tony Fleecs, Tone Rodriguez, and Dan Parsons, and cosplay artist Ivy Doomkitty.

Check out their show at stocktoncon.com/blog.

And here are some great pics and videos to help you re-live Stockton-Con 2.0:

James Vallesteros on Facebook 

The_Con_Fluence Covers video 

The Examiner



While there has not been a date set for next year's event, it seems certain there will be one.

See you all at next year's Stockton-Con.

Matthew O'Connor as Alien

Matthew O'Connor as Alien

Stockton, We Can Overcome This

originally published on mattbeckwith.com

Last night, our city council took the first step toward bankruptcy. By the end of the week, Stockton will be the largest US city to file for bankruptcy protection.

All of a sudden, being labeled "America's Most Miserable City" a couple of times by some magazine doesn't sound so bad.

We ran out of money.

There are many reasons why. Our city leaders made poor decisions during the economic boom. Unscrupulous mortgage lending practices flooded the central valley with home buyers leading to increased property values which swelled the city with the sweet nectar of property tax revenue. We banked on this gravy train continuing forever.

Then of course, it did not.

 Now, Stockton's favorite pastime is the blame-game. So many of us want to point the finger at someone.

The police and fire unions, previous mayors and council members, former city manager Mr. Milne, and even city employees themselves have all been the target of someone's blame.

We need to stop blaming. We've already diagnosed what happened so we can be pretty sure it won't happen again, blaming people isn't going to solve anything.

We certainly cannot blame city employees. They did exactly what we would all do. Well, I'll speak for myself here. I would have done the same thing. Even the double dipping. Given an opportunity to advance economically, in a way that seems completely healthy at the time, we'd all do it! Plus, most city employees are hard working people that care deeply about our city.

As are the members of our city council and our Mayor. If you don't like what they're doing, vote for someone else. Otherwise, find a productive way to help. Our council members have a difficult task; I can't imagine why anyone in their right mind would want that job. I am grateful that some people choose to do it and I appreciate their strength in the face of such adversity.

Facing a budget shortfall of $26 million, and ballooning debt in the hundreds of millions, it seems the city made the best choice.

Now, it's time to get on with making Stockton great. Do we have an uphill battle? Oh hell yes. The likes of which most of us could have never imagined. But we can do it.

We can overcome this.

We know there are many great things about Stockton. Let's keep our cool and not let the stigma of bankruptcy distract us from making our city a place we can be proud of. We need to continue to shop locally and do our part to make our neighborhoods safer and stronger.

Most of all, we need to get involved. Talk to our neighbors. Talk to our council members. Attend council meetings, or watch online. Ask questions. If we spent the last 20 years watching our local leaders as much as we have during the last few months, we likely wouldn't have been in such a mess.

Let's make it great, Stockton! The future of our city depends on it.

With all of the emotion of the last couple of days, this made me laugh:


Walk A Mile In Her Shoes 2011

Today, I walked a mile in her shoes. This was my second year participating in this event in Stockton which was, once again, held at the Banner Island Ballpark. Although this was Stockton's fourth annual Walk A Mile event, the event's roots go back to 2001. My brother and I arrived at the home of our Stockton Ports this morning just after 8 AM and each picked out a pair of gorgeous pumps. Since I don't know all of the lingo, let's say they were high and they were skinny.

Before the walk began, all of the men gathered in one section of the ballpark and heard from Amanda King from KWIN and Joelle Gomez, Women's Center Executive Director. We also joined Lt. David Sant, from the Tracy Police Department, in a pledge to do our part to end sexual violence. Amanda King read a letter that was sent to the Women's Center by a rape survivor. It told of how she was poisoned, raped and left for dead. She made it to the hospital where they treated her physical trauma. She credited the Women's Center for saving her life. It was a somber moment for us all and a good reminder of why we were walking.

This year, the walk went around the ballpark three times (twice last year) which was right at one mile. JR and I started around the middle of the pack but ended up coming in last. Once again, there was a lot of support along the way. And we needed it! The crowd yelling by the starting line really helped with each lap.

We had a great time and only hurt a little at the end. It's always great to see the community come out and support causes like this, even though I'd prefer to live in a world where this type of event wasn't needed.

Check out the pictures from today (graciously taken by my wife) - Facebook or Flickr.


Chestnut Does It Again

Joey Chestnut did not disappoint his many fans in Stockton today. He easily beat out the rest of the field this afternoon and earned a new world record. At the end of 10 minutes, he had consumed 9 pounds, 5.2 ounces of deep fried asparagus. Chestnut, the 27 year old competitor from San Jose who took the stage amidst cheers from the crowd, has held the world records for eating pork ribs, steak, chicken wings and Krystal burgers. He already broke the asparagus eating world record in 2008 when he ate 8.6 pounds of our favorite fried veggie.

For those of you that never seen competitive eating up close and personal, here's a short video I shot.

Stonie, Chestnut, and Bertoletti

Stonie, Chestnut, and Bertoletti


Matt Stonie, the 18-year-old new-comer from San Jose, debuted today on the competitive eating scene and took third place just behind second place finisher, Patrick Bertoletti. Come back on Monday for our next episode of Podcast Stockton to hear from Joey Chestnut and Matt Stonie.

And check out the pictures from today's event.

Stockton Ports 2011 Home Opener

Baseball is back in Stockton. Tonight, the Stockton Ports defeated the Modesto Nuts 3-1 in their 2011 home opener.

After the Stockton Thunder lost to the Utah Grizzlies in the first round of the ECHL playoffs, and we all find ourselves with a hockey hang over, it's time to go out and root for our boys of summer.

I love going to opening day. Running in to old friends and seeing the crowd cheer for their local team is always awesome. And don't forget about the great food (Kinders and How Ya Bean are my favorites) and Kids Zone. Tonight my daughter and I each tried out the Speed Pitch. With my three pitches at 44 MPH I doubt any scouts will be calling me.

With almost 70 home games between now and the beginning of September, make sure you get out to a game! Go Ports!

Carrie Underwood at the Arena

At the last minute, and thanks to the Downtown Stockton Alliance Facebook post about available tickets, my wife and I decided to take our daughters to the Carrie Underwood concert. We got to our seats in section 212 just before 7:30 and just before Sons of Sylvia took the stage. The Clark brothers from Virginia opened up with Led Zeppelin's Rock and Roll.

They entertained as the audience filed in and even played a short "bluegrass picking" tune that didn't seem to be a big hit with the crowd but, as a bluegrass and newgrass fan I enjoyed it.

Billy Currington took the stage later in the night and the opened with "How County Boys Roll". The ladies seemed to go nuts every time his face (and his curls) showed up on the video screen at either side of the stage.

The crowd noise level went up when he performed "People are Crazy", especially during the "... beer is good" part. He closed his set with my personal favorite "Good Directions".

Underwood took the stage a little after 9 with "Cowboy Casanova".

After a couple of songs she told the crowd that she likes to learn about the cities where she performs by looking at Wikipedia. She asked, "you guys have an Asparagus Festival?" and the fans cheered! She said they celebrate Okrafest back in her home town of Checotah, Oklahoma.

She performed favorites like "Wasted", "Some Hearts", "Temporary Home", "All American Girl", and " So Small". After walking off the stage, she returned in the bed of a blue pickup truck (complete with "Carrie" on the tailgate) and was hoisted above the audience while she sang John Denver's hit, "Country Roads". Judging by the crowd, "Undo It", with it's chunky and distorted resonator guitar rhythms, was certainly a favorite.

Carrie Underwood, Stockton Arena

Carrie Underwood, Stockton Arena

Underwood took a few breaks to talk to the audience and told of how she grew up singing everywhere. The Arena got louder with every mention of American Idol. She said that if her life hadn't turned out the way it did she would've likely still been singing, maybe even at the Asparagus Festival. I always enjoy it when artists talk to the crowd and she seemed to do so often and comfortably.

My favorite performance of the night was "Jesus Take The Wheel" with a few lines from "How Great Thou Art" at the end. She sang it masterfully and was full of emotion. I also think that, besides the very end of the show, the crowd was at its loudest at that point.

She brought Sons of Sylvia back on stage and performed the duet "What Can I Say" from her 2010 release Play On. She payed homage to The Grand Ol' Opry when she performed "I Told You So" with Randy Travis on video.

She closed her set with a very loud "Last Name" before coming back for an encore with "Before He Cheats" and "Songs Like This".

We were all glad we went. It was an awesome show. Great music and theatrics! I'm no fashion expert but Underwood looked exquisite, especially in the dress that lit up. Our daughters had a great time and there seemed to be a pretty diverse cross section of music fans there. I even spotted Thunder President Dan Chapman and United Way of San Joaquin CEO Andy Prokop. I've not yet seen how many tickets were sold but it looked to be just short of being sold out.

This show, and last week's Snoop Dogg / Ice Cube show, are exactly what make Stockton great!