Downtown San Diego Stories

Show thief!

Conrad Tao runs away with the entire evening at San Diego Symphony

Conrad Tao stole the show twice on Saturday, May 2, at Symphony Hall. He tore the place apart with the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No. 1 and then upstaged that monster with the conclusion of Prokofiev’s ...

"Hot Rod" DeMink firing on all pistons

Local blues man anticipates upcoming Gator by the Bay showcase

Blues guitarist Jerry DeMink has played music professionally for 30 years in front of all types of audiences. Still, he admits being daunted at a recent gig: Playing for the children at an orphanage down ...

No marketing, sharing, or promotion, please!

What if the sparsely attended Symphony realized it was 2015?

Never, ever, record a symphony or opera concert. Ever. If you do, it will be a blatant and vile transgression against the very foundations of what your friends want you to share with them. (And ...

San Diego Rep explores the Uncanny Valley between you and your replicant

Will you be you?

Robots became so human-like that thoughts of playing God plagued their creators.

Living on the edge with no living wage

Another day of action observed, another day of inaction from politicos

Activists pushing for a higher minimum wage through the labor-backed Fight for 15 campaign staged their biggest protest yet on Wednesday. Starting early on the morning of April 15, the protest — timed to coincide ...

Greatest of the great

The 50th Anniversary Gala at San Diego Opera may be a monumental experience

The voice was bouncing off the back wall of the house and echoing back onto the stage. The goosebumps were making their rounds through the assembly. It was obvious that this was going to be ...

What kind of racket is Civic San Diego?

Agency’s backers seek less oversight while one of their boardmembers sues

The Downtown San Diego Partnership, a nonprofit business-minded organization, is stepping up its defense of Civic San Diego, the private nonprofit in charge of permitting in select neighborhoods and handling redevelopment functions throughout the city. ...

Happy hour all day at La Mentirosa by Karina's

Seduced by scallops and sliders amidst a colorful lesson in Mexican history.

It’s not every day you get greeted by a president’s grandson. I’m in this oasis I’ve come across at the empty end of B Street, near City College. It’s called, uh, “The Liar.” Or, because ...

Next generation of excellence

The second year of Ben Vereen Awards “celebrates excellence in high school musical theater”

Now in its second year, the Ben Vereen Awards “celebrates excellence in high school musical theater.” On April 26, 20 nominees from the local high schools compete to be in the Top Ten representing San ...

Brunch at Searsucker in the Gaslamp

Food win, cocktail fail

When someone invites me to dine downtown, my initial reaction is usually one of dread. I can’t consider meeting up with friends or attending an event in the Gaslamp without first suffering through images of ...

Samples at the Symphony

The weekend is booked with classical music

The San Diego Symphony is offering a pay-what-you-want sampling of next year's season. The orchestra will be performing sections of the 2015-2016 season. There will be an open bar. I mean, the bar will be ...

The green people are at the door, Mr. Mayor

Citizens show up at city hall to ask for Climate Action Plan specifics

A host of green-minded organizations gathered in front of city hall on Monday afternoon (April 6) to ask mayor Kevin Faulconer to devote additional funding to begin implementing some of the measures in his draft ...

Immediate masterpiece at San Diego Symphony

Shostakovich's Tenth Symphony was an instant classic at release

"There is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of Men for this treachery." I'm going to switch up that Tolkien quote and say, "There is no sufficient honor in Elvish, Entish, or the ...

Last call: Oedipus El Rey, You Can't Take It with You, Baby with the Bathwater

Three very different, beautifully performed shows must end their runs this Sunday.

Oedipus El Rey, San Diego Rep. This isn’t Sophocles’ Oedipus, its playwright Luis Alfaro’s Oedipus Gomez. He rises from prison to become a Scarface-like, L.A. drug lord who has faith only in himself (“God’s ego’s ...

Good idea: 365 days of homeless housing

Council to vote on St. Vincent de Paul proposal tomorrow

On Tuesday, March 24, the San Diego City Council will vote on whether to approve a proposal by St. Vincent de Paul Village for year-round "interim housing" for the city’s homeless. But on Sunday morning, ...

Unfolding fatality

SD Rep presents marvelous, tragic version of Oedipus El Rey

A young man and an older woman, both naked, make tender love in silk sheets amid a roseate aura. They haven’t known each other long, but found common goals and dreams. A blazing sense they ...

Satisfactory clank!

Total taste heaven in the shape of an artichoke, a burger, mussels

Getting escorted out of Lou & Mickey’s...to the redesigned patio.

"Kissinger" keeps it to a low rumble

The Reader's interview with Patrick Carfizzi continues in part 2 of 3

Nixon in China opens on Saturday March 14th at the Civic Theater. The showtime is 7 p.m. We continue with our interview of big-bad-Kissinger, Patrick Carfizzi. Part 1 of this interview is also available. San ...

Downtown baa-becue

Saltbox's lamb sliders ain't sheepish

If you can get in through the two-ton door, this place has some surprising bargains. It's Friday afternoon around fiveish. I have just resisted the temptations of the House of Blues and its $2 Happy ...

New brewer a “Local” product

Taking a look at the homebrewer hired to man the Local’s brewpub project

Time flies when you’re covering a craft brewing scene that, in the past three years, has seen 78 brewery-owned hospitality venues come online within San Diego County. Of those, 55 were the products of completely ...

The Great? Not at all!

Schubert's Ninth is bad, bad music and the San Diego Symphony is in a slump.

I'm renaming Schubert's Symphony No. 9, known as The Great Symphony. I'm going to call it The Great Tediousness. This symphony goes nowhere, and for what feels like an eternity. I must admit that when ...

Lift-off achieved

Expectations are met with West Side Story at San Diego Musical Theatre

On the difficulty of making a musical, Brooks Atkinson wrote: “No one would undertake the intricate, painful, gargantuan, hysterical task… unless he had more enthusiasm than most people have about anything.” Imagine a musical conceived ...

Quad AleHouse coming to Gaslamp

Fifth Avenue address was a former Navy locker facility

The term “quad” can mean several things. My favorite reference is to the burliest, highest-alcohol of the Monastic Belgian abbey-style ales, the quadrupel, but it also refers to central meeting places such as those found ...

Instant pour convenience

Local coffee roasters have arrived downtown. The West Bean has been keeping regular hours at its new central Broadway location since soft opening in late January, serving a short roster of its own beans via ...

Greatness abounds

Two excellent and celebrated pieces will be played at two major venues this weekend

The Great Symphony — it's not the title that Schubert chose, or would have chosen, but it has stuck. The nickname was intended to differentiate this C major symphony from the Little C major Symphony ...

Cavemen ate these

Get stuffed on Meze-Greek’s fusion foods

Two ancient tastes and methods, one downtown fusion joint.

Schiff, Giovanni and death

The weekend is ripe with world-class classical-music concerts

Andras Schiff has been knighted for his ability to play the piano and he’s going to be giving a concert this weekend at Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla next the Contemporary Art Museum at 8 ...

More than a late-night munchies spot

Veg-friendly student favorite good enough for all

I'd actually never been to Pokéz, though I've heard about it repeatedly over the years. Everybody I know who went to college in this town seems to have fond memories of the "vegetarian Mexican eatery." ...

Upscale harem

Ed skips the hookah and inhales a panini

“Hookahs are definitely cheaper there,” she says. “But you get less of a head-rush from them.”

City council's secret high-rise deal

Did lobbyists and campaign cash pave way for snap purchase?

A lot of San Diego's city business is done at a snail's pace, inching slowly through city hall before reaching a city council committee and then the full council for final consideration before an often-contentious ...

Weekend scramble

The classical schedule is a little different for January 29-31

With conductors canceling and the San Diego Symphony doing double duty at Symphony Hall and the Civic Theater, it’s time to shuffle things around this week. I want to talk first about Opera on the ...

San Diego Opera happy

But this year’s saviors will need to come through in the future

The San Diego Opera, which went through death throes last year, then recovered, is starting its 50th season in remarkably good shape. Saturday night’s opening of Puccini’s La Bohème was sold out, and Sunday (Super ...

Bring in the big cats

Chinese Historical Museum to install guardian lion statues on sidewalk

Civic San Diego is expected to approve the installation of two guardian lion statues at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum downtown. The statues, about ten feet tall including pedestals, will stand on the sidewalks ...

Stars of 2014

SD Performing Arts League will honor volunteers at a special ceremony.

The San Diego Performing Arts League announced the volunteers it will honor at the 22nd Star Awards Ceremony, on January 26. Every year, 40 arts organizations select a volunteer for special recognition. SCPAL President D. ...

Intermittent pleasure

Steal Heaven unrealized, but earnest

Earnest intentions, not fully realized. There’s about 35 minutes of solid entertainment and edification in Herbert Siguenza’s 90-plus minute tribute to Abbie Hoffman, activist, co-founder of the Youth International Party (aka. the “Yippies”), and media ...

"That was good" — yes, very good

San Diego Symphony and Edo de Waart play nice together

As mentioned, Edo de Waart made his San Diego Symphony debut this past weekend. I attended the Sunday afternoon concert of January 11. The format of the concert was typical: overture, concerto, large symphonic piece. ...

Nice soup, but where're my wontons?

Rainy day delivery works out, with a hitch

Rainy days are bad enough, but when it's both a cold and rainy evening I respond like any self-respecting Southern Californian: by ordering Thai soup delivery. This time I opted for the Horton Plaza-adjacent Mint ...

Inconsistent beauty at Rama

Attractive setting and a standout dish doesn't justify Gaslamp upcharge

I love Thai food almost as much as I love Mexican, but both cuisines suffer from the same problem: It’s really good and (often) really cheap, which makes it hard to justify shelling out more ...

Sir Neville out, de Waart in

Neville Marriner was to conduct the San Diego Symphony but is ill

Sir Neville Marriner, known to many as the founder of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, was supposed to be conducting the San Diego Symphony on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of this week. ...

Six-foot orgasm

Rachmaninoff's symphony of requited love.

During intermission I exchanged the awkward tight-lipped smiles symphony goers give each other. I texted a few friends about the David Bruce piece which, by the way, was entitled Fragile Light. Then the lights went ...

Just let it go, old man

David Bruce guides us toward the light in world premiere.

An old man sitting behind me said, "Gil Shaham is good" to the lady accompanying him. God help me to stop being that guy. If we ever go to a concert together and I try ...

Dessert followed by veggies

San Diego Symphony ends the concert with the vegetable dish.

Sometimes we’ve gotta eat our veggies after we have dessert. I’ve never tried it, but it’s basically what happened during the last half of the San Diego Symphony concert on Saturday night. The first half ...

Kate Smith sings again

Stephanie Blythe to sing standards for San Diego Opera.

Stephanie Blythe is bringing her one-woman show about Kate Smith, "We'll Meet Again: The Songs of Kate Smith," to the Balboa Theater on Thursday, December 11 at 7 p.m. Blythe was here last April to ...

Last call for Les Miz at SDSU, Enron, Honky

Three strong shows must close by December 7 — don't miss them.

Before it begins to look a LOT like Christmas, there’s still time to catch three shows that must close Sunday. 1.) Les Miserables in Concert at SDSU. Lamb’s Players did a minimalist version of the ...

Place for picky eaters

Kid-friendly health-food spot sets up at the New Children's Museum.

I started out as a picky eater, one of those kids who plucks the olives off his pizza, or fishes the onions out of his goulash. I suppose I'm still fussy, though my pickiness has ...

Mahler Seventh? No problem.

San Diego Symphony capably delivers Tchaikovsky and even Mahler's "problem child."

“It’s kind of like a road trip, you’ve gotta at least try.” I was trying to be jocular during intermission on Saturday night but the gentleman I was trying to engage with my humor stared ...

Mahler's problem child

Maestro Ling discusses Mahler's Seventh Symphony.

Let’s talk a little more about Mahler. His Seventh Symphony is this weekend at San Diego Symphony and I was able to speak to non other than Maestro Ling about Mahler’s “problem child”. We spoke ...

Words as weapons

Honky at San Diego Rep animates a conversation about "demographics."

“Sup now?” Peter wrote an ad for a basketball sneaker, the Sky Max. Told to target “urban” youth from 14 to 24, he assumed that meant young black men and invented the expression “sup now?” ...

Timpani and GTOs

San Diego Symphony revs it engine.

There is a quality about Leonard Bernstein’s music which has kept it fresh and cool for decades. Saturday’s Opus 2014 Gala Concert opened with Three Dance Episodes from On the Town. I wonder if someday ...

Equal parts sun and shade

Liz Miela crafts Encore's Champagne Lemongrass Mojito

Mixers and historians of the dram are both debating: does the Mojito derive its name from the spiced Cuban citrus seasoning known in those parts as mojo, or from the Spanish word mojadito (“a little ...

Rachmaninoff is a rose, is a rose, is a rose

Lola Astanova plays Rachmaninoff and Chopin at San Diego Symphony.

Authenticity happens when your actions reinforce your beliefs and ideas — you know, those beliefs and ideas that you won't shut up about. The ones your family roles their eyes at while you protest, "Hey, ...

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