Normal Heights Stories

Protomartyr: a post-punk take on the Bible's Job

There was something of a talk-show-host-addressing-an-audience-after-a-national-tragedy vibe

“Welcome to the new America, I guess,” mumbled frontman Joe Casey a few songs into Detroit band Protomartyr’s set the night after Election Day. And then, just off-mic: “What a bummer.” The band launched into ...

Food-trucked out on Adams Avenue

Unenthused locals take pass on Bay Area company's pop-up biz

Adams Avenue businesses are considering a pitch from a San Francisco Bay Area company that holds pop-up events with food trucks, music, and more to start an event at the Masonic meeting hall on the ...

Twenty-four-string stew

Only four guitars will do for the big rock that is Diarrhea Planet

If one were to travel back to when AOR guitar-rock ruled the charts, they would have a difficult time tracking down a band that featured four guitarists. Welcome to the 24-string world known as Diarrhea ...

Park-starved residents locked out of school playgrounds

"Responsibility for opening seems unclear and too often forgotten."

At least three of San Diego's joint-use playground parks have limited or eliminated public access to playgrounds in North Park, Normal Heights, and Kensington, and no one knows who is responsible. After three days of ...

Decidedly not-fancy lobster rolls

Like getting Baja fish tacos off a food truck in Maine

Shopping for beer makes me hungry. Actually, it makes me thirsty, the kind of thirst that precipitates going home to try a few of the beers that I just purchased. That in turn makes me ...

That ain't the Yawpers

Denver-based cowpunk trio keeps country gritty

When imagining a band composed of two acoustic guitar players and a drummer, most would envision some sort of mellow country or folk group. That ain’t the Yawpers. The Yawpers play acoustic guitars, but they ...

Peter Sprague's guitar knows no genre

Sprague will be joined by vocalists Leonard Patton, Nina Francis, and Gregory Page at Java Joe's on Sunday

Peter Sprague alone on the small stage is enough. But double down by putting the show in an arts venue where there is no bad seat, and add Leonard Patton, Nina Francis, and Gregory Page ...

What's going on at San Diego Global Vision Academies?

Founder abruptly departs, salaried teachers substituting elsewhere...

With the sudden departure of its founder Dena Harris — who took her four children with her — parents of students at the San Diego Global Vision Academies in Normal Heights say they are worried ...

Normal Heights' Chutes Park would've been fun

But, developer left with funds and someone else's wife

In January of 1907, the Venice Construction Company optioned from D.C. Collier's Ralston Realty 50 acres of land in a canyon on the northeast end of Adams Avenue overlooking Ward Road in Normal Heights. Water ...

City's Get It Done app not getting it done

"Your site says it was closed but nothing was done."

Get it done? Hell, the city apparently can't even count the number of reports coming into the Get It Done app and its companion online complaint system launched barely three months ago. Dozens of reports ...

Why "Normal Heights"?

Safely assumed answer is over 100 years old

"Why is this neighborhood named 'Normal Heights'?" is a question asked frequently by residents and non-residents of this neighborhood. Here is the answer: In 1905, when Col. D.C. Collier and the University Heights Syndicate bought ...

What is “San Diego-style” barbecue?

Mark’s Bark does it in Normal Heights

So much is (justly) made of barbecue styles. It’s the ultimate sign of a culinary asshat to say, “You can’t get good XYZ-style barbecue outside of XYZ place.” But there’s a nugget of truth in ...

One hot Headache

Aussie pub-rockers Royal Headache get Soda Bar bouncing

Before Royal Headache started their set, I spotted their bassist, Joe, taking a stab at the NFL Blitz ’99 arcade game nestled in the club’s main room. Perhaps he was using it to learn the ...

Concert artist brings energy and hair

Artist Jimmy Ovadia creates a new gig

Most jobs associated with concerts have been around for years — musician, roadie, sound tech, merch guy. Jimmy Ovadia created a new job description, and he says it’s been his primary means of support for ...

SDPD wife helped crack case of North Park attacker

"We do care, cops do care. I live in the neighborhood."

Though she was instrumental in cracking the 2014 case of the serial attacker in North Park and Normal Heights, Carrie Spillane didn't feel right about accepting the $10,000 reward. So she asked the city to ...

Enter the Fro zone with AJ Froman

O.B. band hopes the Zappa rock documentary provokes interest in odd prog

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Freak Out!, the first of some 60 Frank Zappa albums. Last weekend a new documentary called Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words was released to ...

Royal Headache and festivals for fuel

Aussie indie act storms our shores on the way to Pitchfork

Though they come from “the land down unda,” Australia’s Royal Headache has been growing a loyal following in the states. That’s not bad for a quartet two LPs into the game. The group is about ...

Overripe cherries, before the squirrels got to them

2011 Rivera Rupicolo at Proprietor’s Reserve

Since the state is shaped like a mitten, Michiganders often hold up their left hand so that they can point to where they’re from. Italians are generally too proud to point to a thigh-high boot, ...

Nothing like a headbanger

After a mugging in Oakland, Nothing's Nicky Palermo releases his best record yet

Domenic “Nicky” Palermo began recording songs as Nothing about five years ago in Philadelphia. He was depressed and in the midst of a nervous breakdown. Nothing’s initial demo couldn’t be deemed a “bedroom project,” as ...

El Cajon Blvd. facelift exposes intricate brickwork

O'Connor's Church Goods building façade hid c. 1908 beauty

A work crew recently tearing the stucco face off the old O'Connor's Church Goods building on El Cajon Boulevard uncovered an intricate red brick face that one planning group member said "may be the prettiest ...

New Ward Canyon dog park not mutt-tough?

Complaints about bark ground cover causing splinters

Normal Heights and Kensington dog owners took their concerns over the new Ward Canyon–adjacent dog park to the Adams Avenue Recreation Council last week (May 25). The rec council took up the matter in response ...

Normal Heights is not Memphis

Burnside begs to be described as “unpretentious”

A little while back, I caught wind that hipster sandwich shop Burnside had rebooted itself with a barbecue theme. As self-appointed local barbecue doyen, a position I realize is somewhat oxymoronic, I knew I had ...

That's Colonel Wilkes to you

Southern-gothic singer/songwriter J.D. Wilkes hits the Hideout on Monday

J.D. Wilkes is a backwoods renaissance man. The singer/banjoist/harmonica player may have invented punk bluegrass when he fronted the Legendary Shack Shakers and later, a tamer version of that same ethic with his wife in ...

Scum, Rise!

Post-punks Protomartyr pack Soda Bar

Detroit quartet Protomartyr delivered a blistering set of post-punk goodness to Soda Bar. The band performed selections from all three of their albums, which the packed house lapped up like enthusiastic Rottweilers. Vocalist Joe Casey’s ...

Massive plans for bike lanes where? When?

Association of governments has some answers but not all

The first time I heard about the San Diego Association of Governments’ plans to significantly change the street alongside my house was at a planning-group meeting — for a different community. I was stunned for ...

Ward Canyon Neighborhood Park makes room for mutts

Dogs unleashed!

The Normal Heights Community Association, with support from the Adams Recreation Council (and the city's Park and Recreation Department), the Normal Heights Community Planning Group, and the Adams Avenue Business Association worked for nearly a ...

Old man Ward might be proud

Canyon's name can’t be traced to a specific person

Some history before the interim off-leash dog park opens next month at Ward Canyon Neighborhood Park… Ward Canyon in Normal Heights appeared on maps in 1921 as a "Deep and Steep Grade to Mission Valley," ...

Now you know: Kids in Heat

Catch the up-and-coming locals Sunday with Nobunny at Soda Bar

Mikey Belknap’s helium-spiked vocals ended up at Kids in Heat’s lead microphone almost randomly. “My brother Stan was always playing guitar in bands. I wasn’t a musician, just really into skating. I was in Texas ...

The Sabbitch is back

All-female Sabbath tribute rocks Soda Bar on Saturday

Over the years, Black Sabbath has proven to be an easy mark for the creative tribute band. In a recent issue I wrote about Mac Sabbath, a bona fide tribute that, while keeping the music ...

Normal Heights library rivalry

Kensington had more parking and a bigger building

On Wednesday, July 28, 2010, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new central library in downtown San Diego, one month and 56 years after the current library at Eighth and E Streets opened in ...

Big woof for Ward Canyon

City gets working on Normal Heights dog park

On Monday, October 19, the ground for the interim off-leash dog park at Ward Canyon Neighborhood Park in Normal Heights was cleared and leveled and orange temporary fencing set up. There was no official groundbreaking"ceremony, ...

Coconut & Canoe

TikiTronic plays bachelor pad lounge you can dance to

“We are fans of the tiki culture,” says Andy Tolley, who as Captain Coconut plays with Freddy Canoe (Rick Roessler) in TikiTronic. “We’re very retro culture. Bachelor-pad lounge mixed with space age.” It’s not Nick ...

Dog park controversial in Normal Heights

Parks and Recreation Department finds $22,000 to fund project

An August 26 email from District 3 councilman Todd Gloria's office to the Normal Heights Community Association provided an update on the plans for an interim off-leash dog park at Ward Canyon Neighborhood Park. A ...

Venice Pizza House does it old-school delicious

The crust is thicker than New York and thinner than Chicago

The nature of journalism, even food writing, is to report “news,” not “olds.” The result is that foodies and food writers will often focus on the next food trend or new eating spot at the ...

Late night sandwiches at Burnside

Around the time the food arrived, so did a hungry friend, fresh from the party

Last weekend I found myself drinking canned craft beer at an underground synth-pop show in an apartment upstairs from a fabric store on Adams. People at the party seemed pretty energized and were just starting ...

Bye bye Broke Girls, hello Backyard Café

Normal Heights lost a coffee shop in June, then promptly gained a replacement, as the owners of Broke Girls Coffee Bar (3562 Adams Ave) sold their business, brewing equipment and all, and moved on to ...

Surprise! Three Rugburns reunions next week

Shows in North Park and Normal Heights

“Yes, we decided we wanted to play a show because [bassist] John Castro was gonna be in town from NYC,” Rugburns ringleader Steve Poltz revealed to the Reader about the band’s surprise reunion next Tuesday, ...

Interim dog park will do

Gloria says yea, Faulconer has final say on Normal Heights park funding

Normal Heights has been waiting for an off-leash dog park for ten years, and it looks like this year it might get it. Sort of. After holding a dog-park rally in February, collecting 1200 signatures ...

Land woe

Sailboat and trailer part ways on Adams Avenue

A day of sailing did not end well for a driver towing his boat home late Saturday afternoon on March 21. The boat sailed off its trailer and docked itself along Adams Avenue. Witness Alex ...

Satan's spice scale

Tasty food beneath the fire at DaoFu in Normal Heights

“The spice scale is one to ten, but three is medium,” said our server. She looked to be in her early twenties, but she worked the tables in the small, crowded space with the easy, ...

Dog towns

Ward Canyon park would serve several neighborhoods

The Normal Heights Community Association is leading a new effort to bring a bona fide dog park to mid-city. The group is set to launch a public relations campaign in hopes of convincing elected officials ...

Now Try This: Duck Wings at the Rabbit Hole

Normal Heights' new sports bar does a tough dish right

Duck wings can suck. Compared to chicken wings, they’re scrawny, and filled with connective tissue, which makes them hard to cook. The extra fat lurking beneath the skin makes it borderline impossible to achieve the ...

Bine & Vine looks the part

Recently renovated standout bottle shop ups its game with redone interiors

Believe it or not, there was a time when craft-stocked bottle shops weren’t in every neighborhood throughout San Diego. Sure, there was craft beer, even the local variety, but it took awhile for the retail ...

Festival style on Adams Avenue

“I made them from my dead cat’s bones.”

Ever notice how groups of friends often share similar tastes in style? I ran into several groups of ladies who wore complementary frocks at the Adams Avenue Street festival. Lein Gage, Lora Mathis and Daliah ...

Put a lid on it

A photographer, an artist, and a musician talk about the hats that complete their looks.

Hats can make a creative man. Pharrell's Vivienne Westwood vintage hat worn to the Grammys has since become a Halloween costume option. Slash’ has been wearing his iconic top hat, that he famously shoplifted prior ...

Lies, lies, signature-gatherers lie

Minimum-wage-hike proponents claim they were duped by petition reps

Former California assemblywoman Lori Saldaña held a press conference on Tuesday, September 9, highlighting "hundreds" of San Diego voters officially submitting forms to withdraw their signatures from a signature-gathering effort intended to place the city's ...

Temporary trailer-park market

Shops on wheels in Normal Heights

“STOP, Poppa, and look!” Our four-year old daughter yelled from the backseat of our SUV. Saturdays are usually a family day, when we take our daughter for a cruise to the park or beach and ...

How to get the church back into the world?

Catch a new vision for life or faith.

Membership: 120 Pastor: Brent Ross Age: 40 Born: Albuquerque, NM Formation: Vanderbilt Divinity School, Nashville, TN; Garrett Evangelical Seminary, Evanston, IL Years Ordained: 5 San Diego Reader: What’s your favorite subject on which to preach? ...

Normal Heights planners vote on Barrio plan

"The neighborhoods should have a say in their own affairs."

The Normal Heights Community Planning Group last week took a confusing vote of 4 ayes, 0 nays, and 11 abstentions on whether or not to support the Barrio Logan community plan — which would finally ...

Outta here: Homes become houses on wheels

Academy of Our Lady of Peace rids itself of two structures

The City of San Diego has removed two single-family homes from Academy of Our Lady of Peace–owned property, per a previous consent decree. The removal had been ordered to occur by May 1, 2014. The ...

Look out — burglaries in Normal Heights

All three within a block of each other

San Diego police say Normal Heights residents need to lock their doors and windows — a series of burglaries recently hit the normally quiet neighborhood north of Adams Avenue. The burglaries took place during the ...

Let it out, let it all out

Tribal Baroque comes to San Diego

Tribal Baroque is in town for a handful of "prayformances" in Balboa Park near Casa del Prado Theater, on April 24 from 3-5 p.m., April 26 at 9 p.m., and April 27 from 3-5 p.m. ...

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!

Close