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Stories by John Brizzolara

Beyond This Mortal Coil

I consider the ghost story essentially optimistic: it presupposes something, after all, beyond this mortal coil. This first week of November promises to continue the interesting variety of autumnal as well as desert coastal weather ...

A Power Greater Than Ourselves

October has been very good to me. I’ll miss it. Rain and chill, overcast skies; one could squint and imagine oneself anywhere in reality as opposed to Southern California, which I never thought quite qualified. ...

Johnny Lira Comin' at Ya — Pow!

Countdown to Halloween right here on TGIF: the Gutenberg cyber all-hits all-the-time blogorama and alternative weekly fishwrap and freaky friday funfest!!! your DJ? Whaddami sayin? Your KJ! That’s keyboard jockey — Johnny Lira! Comin’ at ...

Happy Halloween Month, San Diego

If San Diego (and I don’t think we’re alone) can take Halloween as a month-long theme, why not me? And why not here? I don’t think the chamber of commerce has adopted the once-pagan holiday ...

Prince of Darkness Takes a Bite Out of October

San Diego is a town that loves its Halloween. I noticed this when I moved here in the first week of October 1980. Retail shops displayed PVC pumpkins and skulls amid ubiquitous floor-to-shoulder-height displays of ...

Van "the Man" Morrison Brings the Past to Town

Coming in to work today, I found on my desk a five-year-old copy of this publication. Pretty much five years ago to the day I had written, “It is not the usual thing for the ...

I Wasn't Crying for My Mom

This is something I heard in an anonymous setting: I said, ­“I’d like to steal this story” and was given permission to do so. “Just change my name,” Rick (­let’s call him) said. “Maybe ­it’ll ...

Norman Mailer Could Make a Phone Book Fascinating

This weekend, the second one in September, now (as of publication) passed, I will be doing something I have never done before: reading a second book in a row by Norman Mailer. I sense “T.G.I.F.” ...

Chicago Blues for a San Diego Summer's End

I must write this on the eve of Labor ­Day’s three-day weekend, so I ­can’t very well tell you how it went, how it was — what the hell. There is a distinct shade of ...

Your priest knows you spent the summer rocking and rolling

Late August and early September: the light shifts, even in Southern California. The sunlight is almost subliminally tinted with a faint amber as if in re-creation of an old daguerreotype, lending the world a certain ...

Hot Diggity Dog Ziggity Boom

Friday and Saturday this week, the 27th and 28th of August, the San Diego Symphony Summer Pops series is hosting singer Michael Feinstein in concert under the banner of “The Sinatra Project.” I’m not sure ...

Nightlife in the Rearview Mirror

This last full week of August promises to resemble summer to some degree, but that would be divination, I suppose, as ­I’m writing this a full week earlier. “Promises”; this reminds me of a blurb ...

Lean Toward the Shadows

Writing this on the eve of the first full weekend of August. Coolest summer remembered in 30 years here. Chilly in more ways than one: the buses and trolleys are peopled with more than the ...

Get Married (At Least Once)

My son will turn 33 this August, on a Friday coming up. It is a significant age for a man, at least in Christianity, and it is one-third of 100 years. He was born in ...

Heaven Is a Library

­I’m writing this toward the end of June — Friday, the 18th — and just beginning to breathe (some wheezing involved) sighs of relief at what I hope are indications that some of the worst ...

It All Comes Back with Yes and Frampton

Settling down in a Starbucks on Fifth in the Gaslamp on a drizzling Monday morning, I am attempting to pore over the U-T to see what I missed over the weekend — what, maybe, I ...

Dream a Little Dream of Fear

“People who have hallucinations after operations sometimes ­don’t seem to come all the way back. Part of them gets lost. The hallucination can be at least as good, as powerful and compelling and meaningful as ...

Elusive Salvation

I was once told by the editor who enlisted me into these pages to “write everything as if it is the last chance ­you’ll have to write anything at all.” This ­isn’t always possible, of ...

Life as Workweek

It is an age-old cliché that when in the process of shuffling off this mortal coil, one’s entire life flashes before one’s inner vision (“eyes,” they say, but I assume “inner eye” is what is ...

Hobnobbing at the Hob Nob

It is the Sunday after Thanksgiving, two days after “Black Friday,” a term originating (according to Wikipedia) with the Philadelphia PD in the 19th Century to denote this holiday’s weekend traffic that is a bitch ...

Heart-Rending Reunion

This, as far as I can tell, is a true story. I did not have a tape recorder for Jack Burnham’s story, and my own memory is increasingly unreliable. This took place two weeks before ...

Annual Dysfunctional Family Thanksgiving Dinner

Many ways of giving thanks

To Be Thankful Requires Humility To be thankful for anything much at all requires humility, I believe. I have little enough of it; in fact, I have a dichotomy common to alcoholics, and that is ...

Loosening Family Ties

For me to write of family strikes me as vaguely pretentious if not outright hypocritical. Possibly we all feel like failures in this area, at least to some degree. Those who do not I tend ...

A Fear of Cold and Dark

It may well be behind us as this sees print, but I will comment again on the fascination this part of the country has with the macabre at this time of year. Between Halloween — ...

Friday Night Frights Part II

My friend Christian Cullen was telling me a story of how he was robbed in his apartment at dead-blank, carotid-artery range by two inept assailants with a .45. They mistook Cullen for a major marijuana ...

Hog-Tied with Christmas Lights

Here is a tale told to me on a Friday night, one that may sound like so much ramadoola (an old hepcat word I miss) or worse. I cannot prove a word of it, but ...

Fire Lane

Do this on a Friday or Saturday night — almost any night, really. Impress your date, your friends, kids, mom or dad, freak out your dog; it will only cost what you want it to, ...

Page to the Stage

Gregory Page is back from Australia, where he toured on his own, then hooked up with Steve Poltz to re-form the Rugburns Down Under. Page being the rugburn — or “Sideburn,” as he termed it. ...

Brizz vs. Ninjas

Another hot — really freaking hot — August weekend. A Sunday morning, actually, and I’m greeting the (in theory) post-church crowd in and around Horton Plaza with the perfectly civil question, “Wassup? Know I’m sayin’?” ...

A Threat from the East

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your ...

Everything's Happening, But Nothing's Going On

It could be someone’s living room in 1969, say, just outside of An Hoa: open air — no bullet holes or mortar scars — a kind of scrub palm and bird of paradise dream of ...

A Con Love Story

Marlon Castle, 22, got in line for the entrance to the San Diego Convention Center after having stood in line for 20 minutes at the will-call window for his ticket. The ticket is worn around ...

John's Fair Maiden

It’s over, you know that. But it’s not. It’s never over. Year after year it comes back; and every goober, his brother, and his family will be there jamming traffic for miles on three freeways, ...

You Must Keep Reading

Haven’t done this for a while. Seems indicated: recommendations for summer beach reading. In the past few months I have happened upon three extraordinarily excellent novels I’d like to share with any dear and constant ...

We Hijacked a Theater

Junior Wells and John Belushi must have been grinning up from wherever they are now — mumbling and slurring with cocaine-and-Tanqueray-addled approval at “Doc” Holliday’s riffing over the keyboard — a faux Hammond B-3 setting ...

How's It Goin', Everybody?

June has had damp cool about it. The sky, for most of the month, scallop and oyster clouds. Congealing bruises showed at intervals beneath the marine layer, a kind of lividity: the chill skin of ...

Hula Hoop Revolution II

Speaking with a few young dudes and a few chicks up here in North County, I asked, “What’s up with your weekend?” this past last Friday/Saturday of gloom and damp in May. Justin Daum is ...

Escondido by Night

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 ...

Port-O-Protector

How to explain what I was doing in Escondido as parking-lot cop on a Friday night in May for “Cruisin’ Grand: Pre-’74 American Hot Rods, Customs, Classics, Vintage & Muscle Cars.” Since I was 15, ...

Diversion from the Humdrum

It seems as if the same number of people now spend their Friday nights watching YouTube (and other nights, and sometimes 24/7 — the meth users, for example) as once watched DVDs and VCRs (VCRs ...

Thoughts at 4:13 a.m.

“Remorse, emptiness, relief, disbelief, sadness, feeling older, morally diminished.” These are feelings expressed to me in an email from a friend and fellow writer about the death of his son-in-law. But they could as well ...

Moral Failure?

Not all Fridays — let’s face it — are fun, games, leisure, and license. Some suck. Not unlike a very recent one, a several-day visit to what I will call Palomino Hospital in the horse ...

Peruvian Currency

Friday again. Payday again. You’ve been down to Ramen noodle soup since Wednesday. You’re in North County, but you are far from retiring, much less retiring rich. Vons is on the bus route along Rancho ...

Crash

Fridays are paydays for many working people, and it reinforces in some that sense of license implicit on the eve of the weekend. One example of this is the way people drive late on a ...

Cute Little Thing

I am writing this the day before that God-forsaken Hallmark idiocy, Valentine’s Day, and it is Friday the 13th. This seems to spell doomed love. There are other kinds of real affection. I have several ...

People-Watching

In these harsh, Bush-shadowed times as the sun sets on the empire of the two Georges from Texas, it is not surprising that our Friday nights may find us with a shortage of funds slated ...

The Road to Perdition

One recent Friday your columnist started out from San Marcos after five days with his disturbed son — maybe ten hours’ sleep, total. The whole five days. Fear and heartbreak inform the ride to Carlsbad; ...

Elephant and Castle

On a recent Friday night I was staying at the downtown YMCA. Don’t ask. The irony in its being referred to as the “Y” for “Young” was not lost on me. I wondered if the ...

Hi. I used to live here. Can I come in?

What a house means.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, Freud pointed out. He would never have said the same thing about a house. Certainly Carl Jung would not. In my case, as I approach my former address ...

Parking Lot Thrashers

Sometimes, on a Friday night, if you’re a kid and you live in the wilds of San Marcos, all you have are your friends, your skateboard, and a 7-Eleven. Here’re four guys; we’ll call them ...

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