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I am staying in Escondido. I am unfamiliar with this town (which is called a city) and so I set out to explore on a Friday night and a Saturday afternoon. For purists who demand a strict adherence to Friday-night leisure guidance, I plead disqualification and, with any necessary apology, suggest that you are on the wrong page.

I began walking west on Grand: plan A was to cover a live hip-hop group at the Metaphor Café at Second and Juniper. This proved impractical for obscure political reasons regarding my landlords and a previous owner of the Metaphor. It is uninteresting and unclear. Never mind. This particular Friday night in May, five acts were featured: Koncept Lost, Suspekt Styles, Identical Opposites Krew, 33rd Infantry, and the Lost Angels. I thought it might be funny — you know, a kranky[sic] old guy who hates rap torturing himself at his own expense. I contented myself with speaking briefly, outside, with 20-year-old Billy Valdez, the “main man” and son of the owner. He told me about the $7 cover charge and how the 8:30 show would be kicked off by DJ Sinn. An exquisite pleasure, no doubt. I’ll never know.

Back to Grand. The storefront cop shop is next door to the F Street Bookstore for adults. This produced an inward grin, as I recall. Across the street is the LLL Reptile store. Didn’t go in. I’d wake up screaming: lizards, boas eating live hamsters, maybe. Back on the north side of the street is A Bird Haven, if birds are in short supply in your life. On either side of Grand are coin stores for the numismatic enthusiast, and Escondido Coin & Loan might lend you money.

Escondido Joe’s Coffee Shop (north side) has two computers available for maybe half an hour, free with any purchase. You might meet Christina Santana, a pretty 24-year-old usually behind the counter in the mornings, but not necessarily. Santana has been slinging joe at Joe’s since she was 17. If she can’t make you smile, double up on your Prozac. She told me popular items at the shop are Boba drinks. Apparently these are tapioca balls one drops into a drink for a novel flavor. Don’t ask me any more about them. I’m just saying...

There are two bars in the immediate downtown area: O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub and Steak House (Live Music) and Pounder’s. I explored neither for more than political reasons.

At 121 Grand is an art gallery of the same name. The show I checked out, “Kids Kaleidoscope,” is no longer there. It was more than remarkable, the talent in these very young renderers. That presentation is replaced by “Noah’s Art,” a benefit for the Humane Society. Can’t tell you firsthand, but I’m thinking it will be depictions of lovable animals. Joan Segel, a pleasant and enthusiastic senior, is the gallery coordinator there.

If you live in Escondido, the library at Second and Kalmia is free. If you don’t reside in the city, it is still a very good library to check out. I checked out a VHS of Zulu Dawn with Peter O’Toole and Burt Lancaster, a movie I haven’t seen in almost 30 years. Also, George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman on the March. Once hooked on the Flashman series, one becomes a slave: and I was unaware of this recent (2005) installment on the exploits of this wonderful, simpering coward.

Two blocks north of Grand, along Escondido Boulevard, you’ll find the Regal Cinemas with a Cold Stone Creamery next to it in a not-so-mini mini mall. I watched Angels and Demons in there — wonderful, distracting nonsense, comfortable seats.

Finding little offbeat in downtown Escondido this particular weekend. That may be due to the plentitude of policemen on-beat up here. One is constantly reassured that law and order is a priority in this community by the regularity of passing marked cruisers, the ubiquitous uniforms in coffee shops, diners, and the 7-Eleven. If you intend to so much as scoff at a minor city ordinance for your Friday night or weekend amusement, I would do it elsewhere.

I nearly forgot to mention Elaine’s Book Mark, a mostly used-paperback bookstore in the heart of downtown. Half price, they are, with a $2 minimum for a book, if you find an old one with a cover price of, say, $1.95. In Escondido one may find oneself with an early night on one’s hands, and a book may be just the thing to cap it off in this Mayberry with cell phones.

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Comments

magicsfive June 12, 2009 @ 5:46 p.m.

ok. i guess i meant i shouldn't be unkind about it. see you soon :)

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cdeerinck June 12, 2009 @ 11:07 a.m.

Wow, your review consists mostly of NOT going into all these places. To top it off, you didn't even realize that the Cold Stone has been closed for months. So basically, you walked down the street, and watched a movie. Amazing. I hope you don't get paid much for this type of super-sleuth work.

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David Dodd June 12, 2009 @ 1:51 p.m.

I should invite Mr. Brizzolara to Tijuana sometime. We could NOT go into places and he would still have plenty to write about.

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SDaniels June 12, 2009 @ 2:27 p.m.

Hey, chill on Mr. Brizz, guys! His columns are infrequently a little less focused, but they are alternated with pure gems of mnemosyne and a wit that does not always fail. Despite the changes and upheavals he's experienced, the column is still called "TGIF," and he plays on this stubborn constraint sometimes with irony, and sometimes with sarcasm.

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David Dodd June 12, 2009 @ 2:35 p.m.

Don't get me wrong, Ms. D, he's good. Wit, sarcasm, and irony are right up there on my list of what I enjoy in a writer. But I do confess that, as enjoyable as was the Seinfeld show - "a show about nothing", I sympathise with those who wouldn't so much mind it if Mr. Brizz would at least have a beer once in a while. I am quite sure that his opinion of the beer, the tavern, and the patrons would entertain and delight one and all.

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karengina June 12, 2009 @ 2:47 p.m.

Brizz is the best writer the Reader has. Aside from the wit and honesty he puts into his stories, he also has quite a rich vocabulary; unexpected from a man who should have lost all his brain cells long ago to alcohol. I enjoy his stories, but I can also see how they might be an acquired taste for some.

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magicsfive June 12, 2009 @ 4:21 p.m.

you know what...you're right. i am in no position whatsoever to criticize. i take it back. :)

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David Dodd June 12, 2009 @ 4:52 p.m.

No, magics, you certainly ARE in a position to criticize! Please, do so. If I ever write anything you don't like, I want to hear it. I would never take it personally.

Criticism is certainly part of reading a publication. I think Mr. Brizzolara is a very good writer, but sometimes good writers miss the mark. I've missed the mark many times. I never took it personally, and my guess is that most good writers don't. If I ever get to become a good writer, I will have criticism to thank for it.

I will have YOU to thank for it.

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SDaniels June 12, 2009 @ 11:28 p.m.

refried, I totally agree, and you know my position on the absolute necessity of literary criticism. It just gets tiring to hear careless and uninformed commentary or lazy, mindless invective. A lot of such pizzle is frequently leveled at Duncan too, with nothing to back it up, and it always seems a product of the reader's defensive frustration over just not understanding what he writes.

Mr. Brizz does fall off the wagon now and then, and has written some about it--a couple of months back he wrote about having a few drinks and talking with some tourists over at the Elephant by the bay. I don't think he needs to do so in order to write a great piece, and would rather see him guard his already fragile health--to write and be as well as he can.

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David Dodd June 12, 2009 @ 11:40 p.m.

I know darling. I'm sorry. I will promise you three things: I'll never fall off of the wagon (not an option in my life), I'll always respect your opinion (only a fool would not), and I'll attempt to better clarify my comments. Root beer would've been a better choice in my comment, I simply meant that the experience makes for the story. Great writing is wasted without a good story.

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SDaniels June 13, 2009 @ 12:07 a.m.

Likewise, I promise not to fall off my trike, respect your opinions, and I can always clarify my own (sometimes sputtered) comments. I also promise to let you buy me a pisco sour, or a scotch and soda.

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MsGrant June 13, 2009 @ 10 a.m.

I've met John. He is extremely intelligent. I think many just don't get it. Most folks in our lovely city have it so well that they have no tolerance for the morose, whereas I love it. They want to be immediately gratified and easily entertained. John offers neither. And that's why I love him.

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NotQuiteADiva June 13, 2009 @ 9:18 p.m.

How did the haters find their way in here? It seems, where ever you go there they are… How I despise them! Well, TGIF is our special place for folks who enjoy a little melancholy with their meal, so take your bitchy attitudes and piss off, you twits!

(And no, I’m not talking to Refried or SD, but you should probably run along too, although all these posts in our quiet little nook just might be a good thing…)

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EricBlair June 15, 2009 @ 12:12 a.m.

You know, many years ago, I was sitting in a bar with John Brizzolara. John had just had a cover story in The Reader, or a local magazine (I cannot remember which) published.

A fellow walked up, tipsy, and demanded truculently of Mr. Brizzolara "what that damned story was about."

John looked at him for a moment, and exhaled smoke like an Italian dragon. "It was about," he drawled, "500 bucks."

Look: every writer ping-pongs between writing deathless prose and jumping through hoops to get the check. And never think for a second that free lancers don't get plenty of editorial tweaking and criticism.

For the folks who don't like John's stuff, I have a simple solution: write better things yourself, and get them published. There is value in criticism, to be sure, but the most beautiful words in the English language begin with "...pay to the order of..." That's a steal from Robert Heinlein, but every writer I know agrees with the sentiment.

So: go forth and show the world that you can write better! If you can, great. John would tip his hat; I have never seen him be unkind about the published work of others.

Me, I am glad to see John's work, and hear more about his progress through a challenging life. He does it with more dignity than most people in his shoes. And with more than a little humor, even when it is of the gallow's variety.

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SDaniels June 15, 2009 @ 12:18 a.m.

NotQuiteADiva, why exactly should we "run along?" There's quite a bit of hate as well as presumption in your own vocabulary. If you want a quieter little nook, why not start and stay with your own blogs? These forums are free for all to comment and discuss, and you are not the only longtime reader of Mr Brizzolara's work. So it seems rather silly and childish to growl and mark your territory out on his threads, no?

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SDaniels June 15, 2009 @ 12:28 a.m.

EricBlair opined succinctly:

"...And with more than a little humor, even when it is of the gallow's variety."

Hmm, I have read this anecode before, Mr. Blair--only last time you said "wise dragon." What does an Italian dragon look like? Of what era? :)

"John looked at him for a moment, and exhaled smoke like an Italian dragon. "It was about," he drawled, "500 bucks.""

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magicsfive June 15, 2009 @ 10:13 a.m.

oh, I could never write anything better, I'm not a writer. that is why i retracted what i said. not only because it wasn't nice and also because i realize i couldn't do better, so who am I to say anything negative about his writing? NQAD, you might want to remove the NQ from your name. run along, now. :D

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NotQuiteADiva June 16, 2009 @ 5:41 p.m.

SD, Magics

I apologize.

My tone was intended as humorous indignation, but I can never seem to get it right. I shall take your advice. I, in fact, am the one that needs to run along! Indeed, I am in the final stages of purging myself from the www and I intend this to be my final digital scribblings…

And there was much rejoicing! :P

Peace

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magicsfive June 16, 2009 @ 5:52 p.m.

ahh, well NQAD...in that case, stick around! ;)

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SDaniels June 17, 2009 @ 12:08 a.m.

Apology accepted, and sorry we didn't get it. Why purge? I mean, isn't the Net a purge in itself? C'mon, let's put on the mouse ears and form the J. Brizz pyramid club! :)

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rickeysays June 17, 2009 @ 12:28 a.m.

Eric thanks for the Heinlein quote. You made some dusty synapses fire that haven't been used for years. It took me back to that period of my life when I was discovering him for the first time(years ago).

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