Normal Heights Stories

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. ...

Cat ladies

Feline frenzy in San Diego

I’m not a cat person — mostly due to a silvery scar on my arm that I got as a child from the claws of my neighbor’s grumpy tabby cat. Also, cats make me sneeze ...

Adams Avenue music festival only free to you and me

Business district's annual money-loser, "Unplugged," turns to online fundraiser Kickstarter for relief

Adams Avenue Unplugged, the free music festival set for April 26 and 27 has launched a fundraiser on Kickstarter to help pay for the costs of the street fair, which takes over two miles of ...

Art for art's sake on Adams Avenue

Transmedia experiences coming to four blocks in Normal Heights

“We, as many artists, divorce ourselves in a sense, whether it’s conscious or not, from the notion that we’re making something to be displayed for sale so that someone can collect it,” says Robyko Sanchez. ...

Arm candy

Purses worn in San Diego

“You're never too fat for a new purse.” ― Nia Vardalos I gained a couple of pounds over the holiday season. As a result of my refusal to go up a dress size, I have ...

New drinks for Sycamore Den, problems with cocktails as such

Winter menu has some successes, but it also illustrates the growing problem of high-minded bartenders and the bars that employ them

In addition to Sycamore Den’s decision to get a few bites of food on the bar menu, the Normal Heights cocktail lounge with the beards-and-shotguns flair has a new series of winter cocktails ($9) rife ...

Sycamore Den, part one: the food

Normal Heights cocktail bar expands the menu to include meat and cheese boards

“Sycamore Den got food!” That was the rumor, anyways, that the Normal Heights hipster-centric cocktail lounge, styled after a dreamy and favorable vision of the 1970s where men were men, had augmented its menu with ...

Not really church music

“The number could be off by a few in either direction, but I think it’s been around 520.” Carey Driscoll says he’s lost count of the number of shows he has produced over ten years ...

AMSD: Unplugged unplugged?

No pews for you

A new pastor plans to remove the pews at United Methodist Church in Normal Heights so he can interact more with congregants. But, no pews means that Carey Driscoll will have no seating for his Acoustic Music San Diego audiences. So, he’ll end the ten-year-long series of shows.

St. Didacus Catholic Parish

The thought of celibacy was painful and confusing

Father Michael Sinor of St. Didacus Catholic Parish says he “ran away from the idea of being a priest. I didn’t think I could be celibate.”

Blood, Sweat, and Spit: Memories of Adams Avenue Theater and the Rock Palace

A quarter-century after the concerts at Adams Avenue Theater and the Palace, a blogger imagines an entryway streaked with the scuff of Doc Martens and cigarette butts; blood, sweat, and spit in the hall; the pit, swinging fists and bodies, a stage bomb, a swan dive from the balcony...

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