Stories for May 2006

Wednesday, May 31

Knockin' on Heaven's Door

CORRECTION: Quite some time ago I reviewed Heaven Sent Desserts in North Park. Upon sampling many pastries and noticing no butter flavor, I thought that some of them might be made with shortening (i.e., Crisco ...

Friday, May 26

Ocean Beach First Baptist Church

When Pastor Terry Miller arrived at Ocean Beach First Baptist two and a half years ago, he had a desire to "open the doors, warm up the service, and lift up praise." He wanted a ...

Thursday, May 25

Ollie Takes Pals on Vacation in Mexico

A road trip down Baja’s unforgiving byways.

Corrugated tin sheets, rusted, dripped with paint, nipped into irregular rectangles, and fastened to each other in an unintentionally beautiful patchwork, stand as the long wall of a house. The residence across the alley from ...

Just Watch

'The show was three days, and we sold the most wine of all.'

Run, Grunion!

'When they come up, the female [grunion] actually spiral down like a drill into the sand and lay their eggs in the sand, and the males drop the milt, or sperm, onto the eggs," says ...

Maybe death is the ultimate Friday night.

May Gray is getting to me, or it could be that I ran out of my anti-depressants some time ago, or maybe it was the fact that on Monday I learned an old friend had ...

Hot Topics

I didn't have to travel far to the firefighter party in Little Italy's Firehouse Museum, but firefighters came from all over the U.S. and other countries to attend this party. I was told there were ...

Tour Kensington, one of San Diego's most gentrified neighborhoods, on a perimeter sidewalk route.

Civilized and gracious Kensington is one of the most interesting of San Diego's distinctive neighborhoods to tour -- especially by foot, on skates, or by bike. Kensington sprawls across nearly flat terrain, so skating and ...

The In-flight Answer

Dear Matthew: On my way to work the other day, I was watching what I think were seagulls flying in a V formation. I've seen ducks and geese do this, but it suddenly occurred to ...

Sweatin' in Santee

Hey, Matt: In the summer my thermometer in the open sun reads 110 to 120 degrees while the news reports 90 to 100. How do they get such low readings? Do they put their thermometers ...

A Column In Two Parts

The May 4 issue of the Reader carried a reprint of a story, "How They Ended Up In Jacumba," that I wrote in 1990. Some readers thought the story was contemporaneous, written this year, describing ...

Back When

Thirty Years Ago "I don't believe in the cult of personality, having my portrait hung all over the place like Ronald Reagan or Mao Tse Tung" is a quote from the little red book of ...

Debt

Manny Farber was a friend of mine before we ever met. I recall exactly how I was introduced. I had read Pauline Kael's jeremiad on Andrew Sarris and the auteur theory, “Circles and Squares,” in ...

The Reader's Eye on Television

When I was a little kid I underwent surgery to remove my tonsils. This is back in the early '80s. Tonsillectomies were common. Now, I think surgery is a last resort. I imagine the "last ...

Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled, and More Miserable Than Ever Before

Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled--and More Miserable Than Ever Before by Jean M. Twenge. Free Press; April 4, 2006; $25; 304 pages. FROM THE DUST JACKET: The Associated Press ...

Cheeky

'We just got back from a mini-tour up the coast," says Cheeky frontman Shant Salakian. "We went as far as San Louis Obispo. It was a new experience for us. It's the first time we've ...

Confessions and Epiphanies

Journal writing is a voyage to the interior. -- Christina Baldwin I looked around for something to throw. The thought of lashing out physically caused my heart to skip a beat in anticipation of such ...

Jeremy Menning in Providence, Rhode Island

The Best Men Before I moved to Providence a friend quizzed me on my plan to move 1,000 miles away. "Well I guess it will be me, a U-haul, and a car trailer." "Do you ...

Making Preserves

The strawberry fields are calling again, and the family is answering the call. This time, though, we're not going to cram strawberries into our mouths until we swear we'll never look at another one again. ...

Monkey Karma

After a rancorous fight with her landlord, Hot Monkey Love Café owner Alma Felan says her seven-night-a-week, all-age music venue has signed a lease for a new building. Hot Monkey Love will be moving out ...

Big Foot

"They are good for 2500 to 3000 tickets." That's how one local promoter described Switchfoot's local box office draw at an all-age venue. But that estimation considers paying customers. How many fans would turn out ...

Go Sit in the Corner

Solo vocalist Naomi learned what it's like to be an immigrant trying to work on a recent tour in England. "I got stopped at customs on my way in," says Naomi. "They were asking me, ...

Bringing Down Pala Bowl

"When the ratio of skaters to metalheads gets out of whack, that's when everything gets put at risk." For four years an empty pool on the Pala Indian Reservation has been a haven for skateboarders. ...

666 Postponed to Later this Summer

6-6-06 was supposed to see the reunited Slayer debut music from their first album in five years for around 11,500 fans at the Sports Arena. Unfortunately, this first date of the "Unholy Alliance Tour" was ...

Would You Commute Daily To El Centro?

El Centro and Yuma are cooling off. No, not the blistering summer heat. That hasn't changed. The economies of those two small cities between San Diego and Phoenix have been surging the past several years, ...

Mayor Takes Office Crew to Washington

This week Mayor Jerry Sanders traveled to Washington, D.C., for the third time since becoming San Diego's mayor. The trip was less extensive than the mayor's second visit to the capital, at the end of ...

Care and Feeding

Congress has been busy talking about reforming its ethics in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal, but that hasn't stopped a lot of members from hitting the road thanks to freebies offered by lobbyists, ...

Let The Sun Shine In

After more than a year of preparation, the City of San Diego is about to introduce electronic filing, which will allow the citizenry to look up and sort through the campaign finance disclosure records of ...

End of Season Closeout

Last-minute money continues to pour into local congressional campaigns. The latest donations, made in the last week, include many from big corporate interests. On May 18 Republican Brian Bilbray, running against Democrat Francine Busby, posted ...

Little Piece of Old Europe

“No cereals in our sausage, just meat. Ask my husband.”

Wednesday, May 24

Re-Enter the Dragon

"The Golden Dragon" must never plunge to earth: The neon sign is a historic landmark, so it has to shine on above University Avenue in perpetuity, even while the restaurant below has been renamed, refurbished, ...

Thursday, May 18

You Could Hear a Pin Drop At Night!

A proposition for Salton Sea and its far ripples.

I've flown over the Salton Sea many times. From the air, it doesn't look real. The blue expanse and the green fields of the Coachella and Imperial Valleys that butt up against the sea's northern ...

Mystery Label

'It's old-world style - very dry, a little bit of an earthy, peppery streak.'

Negative Strip Tease

Performance Art in Barrio Logan

'In the early '90s I had a tongue piercing, before most people knew what they were," says "extreme artist" Scott Nelson. "I would go to bars, take a nail, and nail my tongue to a ...

Thousands of Jars of Mayonnaise

I was invited to a Cinco de Mayo party at the Wave House in Mission Beach. The producer of a radio show on Free FM 103.7 called and told me that I would be able ...

Emerald Canyon in Orange County's Laguna Coast Wilderness Park attracts hikers and mountain bikers.

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is a spacious Orange County preserve covering several thousand acres of natural landscape adjacent to Laguna Beach. Emerald Canyon, one of its finer natural features, carves its way down a three-mile ...

Invertebrates Make a Play Date

Hey, Matt! Baby animals are so cute I am sad when I eat them. It's fun to watch them play. What about the birds and the bees? Do hatchling insects, ornithoids, and reptilians play? Fireball, ...

Story Time

Can you bring to mind the best story you've ever heard? On demand? Here's mine? David was a curiosity. First, his appearance, which begins, and it will stop you, with thick spectacles, the thickest glasses ...

Big Bird Comes to North Park

Our great national spokesman, Chuck Berry, pictured our country as one "where hamburgers sizzle on an open grill night and day." He wrote those words back in the pre-Golden Arches USA, when burgers didn't come ...

Back When

Thirty Years Ago "Hell, you want to know what flat broke is? Flat broke is when I had to walk seven miles home because I didn't have a penny left. Lost every cent. There was ...

The Reader's Eye on Television

One time I got a haircut in a Polish train station. I wouldn't recommend it. The woman who gave me the cut must have been an amateur ornithologist because she fashioned the side of my ...

Tossing Possible Names

TRAVEL AGENTS "The name was adopted from a classic Dragnet episode that dealt with psychoactive drugs like LSD, and 'travel agent' was a term for someone who guided you on your trip, so to speak. ...

Mr. Bling

An unusual skirmish in the battle of the sexes.

"I grabbed the palm-sized, diamond-studded medallion hanging from a platinum chain around his neck and said, “I see you brought your bling."

Horse: How the Horse Has Shaped Civilization

Horse: How the Horse Has Shaped Civilizations by J. Edward Chamberlain. BlueBridge, 2006; $24.95; 288 pages, including 25 black and white illustrations. FROM THE DUST JACKET: Ever since the dawn of human history, horses have ...

A Tale of Two Sandwiches

“It’s so strong, they have banned it on Paris public transport.”

Foothills Christian Church, El Cajon

"This is what I like worship to be like," said one teenaged boy to another before the service began. "A guitar solo in every song." He was right. The opening 25 minutes might have been ...

Faces of God

When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude. -- G.K. Chesterton "I spare no expense when it comes to my girls," Dad said ...

Jeremy Menning in Providence, Rhode Island

At the Queen's Table My grandmother once told me, "Through 59 years of marriage, Jeremy, I never once considered leaving your grandfather." She shrugged her shoulders, folded her hands, and added, "I did consider murder ...

Punx, Unite!

After being burned in a pay-to-play ticket scam, Troy Troyus of the Abrasives formed Punx Union to organize shows for local and touring acts. With the help of his band members and other musicians, Troyus ...

"They contacted us."

Strangers Six guitarist Luke Johnson said his three-year-old local band didn't have to lift a telephone to get on MTV2. "They were following how many hits we got on purevolume.com. That and myspace.com." Based on ...

High Impact

Metal Blade Records' all-metal roster of 20-plus bands was known for death metal (Cattle Decapitation, Cannibal Corpse, Goatwhore), progressive metal (Fates Warning, Psychotic Waltz), and hard-rock names that go back to the 1980s (Armored Saint). ...

Heavy Metal Taxi

"People like to keep the party going between clubs." To pay the rent, metal drummer Kurt McCracken drives a cab for San Diego Taxi. He says 60 to 70 percent of his clients are regulars ...

Teak Furniture

Bernice's furniture has had a hard year. Half of her dining room chairs collapsed. "I think it's because of my hubby's beer belly," she jested. A few months later, the dining room table lost a ...

Walls Have History

The Kraken in Carlsbad celebrates 30 years' operating in the same locale on Saturday, May 20. There will be an afternoon barbeque and Blue Heat and other local bands performing in the evening. "I opened ...

"New Yorkers really like San Diego music"

"New Yorkers really like San Diego music," says Grams guitarist Chuck Schiele, who has played or promoted around a dozen NYC shows during the past year. "They came. They clapped. They bought CDs. All the ...

Sanders Reps Our Town in Big Apple

During last fall's election campaign, Jerry Sanders told voters that if elected mayor he would take a positive message abou San Diego on the road. In late March, Sanders traveled to New York and Washington, ...

Bad PR

A popular part-time teacher of advertising in the School of Communication at San Diego State University has been dumped, and he claims it's because old-line professors were upset that he criticized the system that guarantees ...

Droopy

Despite a bit more reportorial enterprise and jazzy Sunday front pages, circulation at the Union-Tribune continues its long decline. According to numbers released last week by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, in the six-month period ...

Pro Football Too Corrupt for Sin City?

Las Vegas is trying to woo the Chargers. Sports reporters say there could be a roadblock: major professional sports leagues claim they are reluctant to see teams relocate to Sin City. The gambling industry might ...

Thursday, May 11

My Life As a Mammal

A young mother brings a small man into the world with a detailed account.

When I informed my best friend almost nine years ago that I was expecting a male child, she said, after a distinct pause, "I can't even imagine you with boys." I couldn't imagine it either, ...

Purple Teeth

'I can get a full-bodied Cab for 30 bucks? Right on!'

History Now

'Bringing a picture of your dog and saying, 'This is my family dog,' is not much of a story," says San Diego Public Library representative Lynn Whitehouse. "But if you bring a picture of your ...

“Steak Satisfaction”

"Well, what did you think your Friday nights would be like?" one might well ask of oneself if one were in the habit of that sort of thing. Friday nights in San Diego cannot be ...

Cowboy Caviar

I hit two parties in one day. The first was an afternoon affair in PB. A guy named Bruce wanted to get rid of a bunch of Rocky Mountain oysters, or as he called them, ...

Learn about Kumeyaay culture and get a fine view of Lake Hodges on the Piedras Pintadas Trail near Escondido.

Just south of today's city of Escondido a lazy river once ran, fed by tentacle-like tributaries that drew water from as far away as the desert-bordering mountains, several days journey to the east. On the ...

Note the Star

Dear Matt: When I opened my wallet this morning, I pulled out a dollar and noticed it had a little star printed on it, right after the serial number. None of my other dollars has ...

Wandering Juice

Matthew: First of all, what do Tropicana and Minute Maid and companies like that do with all the orange peels they generate? Is there a use for them? Second, why is orange juice in containers ...

Second Look

A year ago I wrote a column welcoming the Golden Baseball League (GBL) into the pitiless predatory jungle of sports capitalism. The GBL, an independent Class A baseball league headquartered in Pleasanton, California, opened for ...

Mental Illness

Strange and Amazing 'If I leave, they're going to come get me. They're going to kill me. They want me dead." "Do you at least want your curtains open?" I asked. "No," he said. "They'll ...

Back When

Thirty Years Ago These are the best cars the English ever made, no matter what anyone may say about how much that is saying. (Some would have you believe that England could have won the ...

The Reader's Eye on Television

When you wake up in the morning, the alarm is worse than a nightmare. The sound of it sends waves of nausea through your body. That's how it works, on the principle that you're sickened ...

Edge of Magic

DAMARU "The Damaru is a two-sided percussion instrument that is shaken with two balls striking the membranes as part of spiritual practices in Tibet, India, and Nepal. The most powerful Damarus are created from human ...

The Death of Achilles: A Fandorin Mystery

The Death of Achilles: A Novel (Erast Fandorin Mystery) by Boris Akunin; translated by Andrew Bromfield. Random House, 2006; $12.95; 320 pages. FROM THE JACKET: In 1882, after six years of adventures abroad, the renowned ...

Crosspointe Life Church, La Mesa

"Holy Spirit, we invite you into this place," intoned the singer from the stage of the plush green Sanctuary. "Have your way. We love you." Then he broke into buoyant song, his driving acoustic guitar ...

The Girl in the Painting

“There must be some damned thing I can afford in there. Hell, I’m worth it.”

Where Is the Hate?

Lil Uno released his CD, The Streets, on his Sicko Records label. The title track borrows a riff from "Still Water (Love)," the 1970 hit by the Four Tops. "We had to go through an ...

Stirred Up

"There was an incident that started inside ['Canes] and got carried outside," says Stone Senses sax player Mike Flanagan. He says "a riot" occurred outside the South Mission Beach nightclub on April 28. Irieside, C-Clan, ...

Belly Up to the Band

During Devendra Banhart's near-sold-out show at the Belly Up Tavern on April 27, the performer said he needed a beer and then left the stage for a few minutes. While onstage, Banhart asked if there ...

Small Labeled

"31G's financial situation is not [the] best at the moment," says record-label co-owner Allysia Edwards. "We left our old distributor, the Lumberjack Mordam music group, to go with Redeye. Lumberjack wasn't too happy about us ...

Boy, Shakira

"I don't do drag, I do impersonation," says Louis Padilla of his Shakira lookalike act. "Drag is about looks, about being as much like a lady as possible, but an impersonation is a whole show; ...

Roger Hedgecock and Merry Space Cadets

Thirty-seven years ago today (5/11/69), the Grateful Dead headlined SDSU's Spring Fling concert at the Aztec Bowl. One of Spring Fling's promoters was future city mayor Roger Hedgecock. The Dead appeared along with Canned Heat, ...

Jeremy Menning in Providence, Rhode Island

Dog and Pony Show On a dreary Saturday with rain in the forecast and nowhere to go, Rhiana and I decided to practice dancing for our wedding. I queued up the music files in the ...

Anti-Aguirre Plans Hatched Over Breakfast

'We are losing the war," lamented Kris Michell, an aide to Mayor Sanders, Saturday morning, April 22, at Ortega's restaurant in Ocean Beach. That's according to my source -- to be identified in this column ...

Reservoir Keepers Get Sweet Deals

In houses only minutes from their jobs, reservoir keepers remain on call 24 hours a day. Who would begrudge them the low rents they pay the city? I ask keeper Diane Dine what it's like ...

Non-Alcoholic Beverages

I thought I was going to get off easy. This year's family reunion is slated for mid-June. There should be about 150 of us, but unlike years past, which have seen me cooking up a ...

Big Eaters

San Diego's legislative delegation continues to chow down and otherwise carouse at the expense of the Third House, Sacramento's nickname for the horde of free-spending lobbyists who frequently exercise more power over the fate of ...

Political Costs

San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders has filed a disclosure statement covering the income and expenses of the Inaugural and Transition Fund, set up in late January by a group of wealthy donors. It was ostensibly ...

Beam Me Up, Scotty

Three-course dinner for two: $130. Bottle of David Bruce Pinot Noir: $58. Panoramic view of the bay, the bridge, the downtown skyline: Priceless. The food is pretty good, too. Island Prime shares a building (formerly ...

Thursday, May 4

Missionary Man

A poet’s love for a man of the cloth.

Well, I was born an original sinner I was born from original sin And if I had a dollar bill for everything I've done There'd be a mountain of money piled up to my chin. ...

Enviable Predicament

'When you walk into a cafe in Paris and have a wonderful Bordeaux Superior, you are drinking Merlot.'

The Big Picture

'Some people think they're looking at a video and think that it's fake," says Bob Nanz, the San Diego Astronomy Association's North County coordinator. "Especially Saturn, because you can really see the rings. I say, ...

Is it sad or is it darned plucky of me...?

I remember seven years ago decrying the choice of writing about bars and coffee houses simply because they were so obvious, but I did not count on the ineluctable factor of coffee and rock music ...

Purge and Rally

March was an active month for parties -- St. Patrick's Day, March Madness, National Corn Dog Day. You didn't know there was a Corn Dog Day? Neither did I. A group of UCSD students did, ...

Enjoy unobstructed, post-fire views from Stonewall Peak in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.

Stonewall Peak's angular summit of white granitic rock is a conspicuous landmark throughout Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. Although Stonewall stands some 800 feet lower than nearby Cuyamaca Peak, its central position and steep, south slope ...

Summer Reading Column

I was going to begin by observing that most books about sports are dreck, but after turning the thought over, I'll modify that statement to, most books about anything are dreck. Still, there is dreck ...

Rancho Ant-o

Heymatt: When my daughter was a child, she had an ant farm. I thought it had a hospital and a cemetery. Do ants have hospitals and cemeteries? Naomi, the net Were they out behind the ...

California Wonderin'

Dear Matt: If California is the Golden State, why is Nevada the Silver State? Shouldn't it be called the Silvery State? Or should we be known as the Gold State? Worried in North County Heymatt: ...

Exploding Gatorade

Hey, Matt: I picked up a Gatorade bottle off the street with some liquid in it. When I unscrewed the cap to dump the liquid out, it exploded. The cap blasted off with a bang, ...

The Step Up

“You get judges, ministers, teachers as customers because there’re always interesting tastes.”

Back When

Thirty Years Ago Victor laughs to himself thinking about how easy it is to bunk honkies. Anyone who is a transient is sure to get his ass kicked in a dope deal because, as Victor ...

Tied Together with A Patented Algorithm

ChrisChrisChris is a different kind of band: front man Chris Decatur is live onstage in San Diego while the other performers beam in from different locales. Bassist Chris Capri and drummer Chris Hardy are transmitting ...

The Reader's Eye on Television

Having bronchitis afforded me a rare view of the bleak daytime-television channelscape I don't normally enjoy. For a week the coughing banged me up and rattled me awake before regular programming had begun. First thing ...

A Loeb Classical Library Reader

A Loeb Classical Library Reader (Loeb Classical Library), edited by Jeffrey Henderson. Oxford University Press, 2006; 234 pages; $9.95 (paperback). FROM THE DUST JACKET: This selection of lapidary nuggets drawn from 33 of antiquity's major ...

Cheap Sex

Cheap Sex is on a growing list of local performers sounding off with politicized lyrics. The title track of their debut album, Launch Off to War, paraphrases the old Country Joe cheer ("What the fuck ...

Not Quite Straight Outta Baghdad

Somehow, some way, someday / We're gonna burn this bitch down for what they did in Abu Ghraib / Somebody, somewhere, say something / I've tried myself and I haven't changed one thing. "A lot ...

Beach-Blanket Bummer

After a ten-year run, the annual Rob Machado Surf Classic and Beach Fair has been canceled. Held every September at Seaside Reef in Cardiff, the surf contest/festival hosted eight to ten bands during the two-day ...

Heavy, Beautiful

"I can still rock," says Danny Weis, cofounder of Iron Butterfly. The guitarist, who lives in Canada, spent the majority of his youth in El Cajon. "I fondly remember the years I would go see ...

Switchband

When Minnesota State University (Mankato) students voted for the band they wanted to play their annual spring concert, first choices included My Chemical Romance, Jack Johnson, Dashboard Confessional, or Brooks & Dunn. Because the fees ...

Baby Goliath vs. the Shambles

"We were contacted by lawyers for Babyshambles a few years back," says Shambles front man Bart Mendoza. "When the Libertines broke up, they wanted to call their new band the Shambles. We'd already had records ...

Truth Squad

"I was the kid on the ground doing pushups with my tongue," says 13-year-old Jade Gilley of her role for a Kellogg's Mini Swirls commercial. Gilley, who attends seventh grade in Vista, has been dancing ...

Henderson Suit Gets Padres One Dollar Bill

Rejoice, fans. The Padres are one dollar richer. The team's long-running malicious-prosecution suit against former councilmember Bruce Henderson was settled last month for a buck. Henderson pays that sum to the Padres. But it's dwarfed ...

Park and Road Snag

In a surprise visit, San Diego District 7 councilman Jim Madaffer appeared at the City's December 1 Planning Commission meeting. Visits by councilmembers are "rare," writes Commissioner Carolyn Chase in the April San Diego Earth ...

Tolerance

I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strangely, I am ungrateful to these teachers. -- Kahlil Gibran The woman with one dreadlock in her otherwise ...

Jeremy Menning in Providence, Rhode Island

Cornfield Playgrounds The cornfield I grew up playing in is gone. On a recent visit to my hometown, I looked into the early morning sunrise over a street of designer brick ranches. While walking through ...

Influence peddling

That big two-page ad in the Sunday Union-Tribune of April 16 touting San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders's proposed budget was the brainchild of Pam Hardy, "communications director" for Councilman Scott Peters, according to documents obtained ...

The Don and John Moores

Padres owner John Moores has given $100,000 to Rebuilding California, a so-called issue advocacy committee controlled by state senate leader Don Perata. Since the beginning of February, Democrat Perata has raised $570,000 to promote his ...

Berry-Picking Fields

I yearn for the country, for the smell of grass, horses, and fresh produce. I worry that my kids are becoming urbanites. The sight of a horse or a cow is like a UFO sighting ...

She Sells C-Food by the Shore

The first warm day of spring, I headed for Harbor Island to catch some rays at lunch. A few minutes later, I was sitting on the lanai at the water's edge at Island Prime C ...