Conversations I wish I'd overheard this year
A trip down memory lane
Who 'da thunk?
Carlos Bey, Reader contributor
Peanut butter, cheese, or lunch-meat sandwiches given out every day at 3 p.m. at St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop, 634 4th, downtown.
Just a Suggestion, You Understand
After returning from Red China in November, Colleen O’Connor said she always believed that “the corporate executives ought to be on the line riveting bolts for a week and they’d improve the working conditions of the workers.”
Two eggs, toast, hash brow ns, and coffee for 60 cents at the Sun Cafe on Market Street.
Most coldheartedly conservative acts
Most Dramatic Political Method
The long lines of Yes-on-14 campaign workers standing on both sides of Ingraham Street, Mission Boulevard, and Pacific Highway waving sombreros and placards at passing cars.
Word of the Year
Casual—originally a substitute for “mellow,” i.e., “The atmosphere was real casual.” Now more commonly “all right,” i.e., “Would it be casual to borrow your bicycle?’
Worst liberal boondoggles
Best Place to Score Dope
Still between the foot of Newport Avenue and the O.B. Pier in Ocean Beach, all the easier if your hair is short and you look like you’re on liberty from boot camp at Naval Training Center.
Most Interesting Acquisition
In 1975 Hugo Mann of West Germany bought controlling stock in FedMart, and the Bank of Tokyo took over Southern California First National Bank. In 1976 Warner Hot Springs. San Diego’s landmark and historical birthplace of the Cuneno Indians, has been sold to a West German corporation, American Ranch Ferien Gmb H & Co. Anlagen K.G., for nearly $10 million.
Conversations I wish I'd overheard this year
Latest Scam on Lower Broadway
The photo studios near the Tower Theatre where sexist women approach short-haired men and offer them photo blow-ups (pictures of your ship, pictures of liberty in Pago-Pago) for the rest of your life.
Newspaper stories that should have been printed but never were
The San Diego Magazine I-Can’t-Get-Enough-of-N'ostalgia Award
Neil Morgan, the Evening Tribune columnist gave his readers yet another account of his migration to California from North Carolina in New West's first issue in April.
Well, It’s All Relative, Isn’t It?
New West, in honoring Helen Copley for her takeover of the Copley Newspapers, cited the fact that she put Neil Morgan, “the paper’s best reporter,’’ on the Union's editorial board.
Welcome disappearances in women's fashion
Best Place to Meet a Biker
El Rabo’s in Pacific Beach.
Cheapest Tacos in Town
The Sombrero Taco Shops on g University Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard. 10 for a dollar.
Welcome disappearances in men's fashion
Pacific Telephone’s decision to list Hillcrest’s disco club, Dance Your Ass Off (formerly Fat Finger’s, before that Mickey Finn’s), as Dance Your Tail Off.
How To Try At National TV Coverage Without Really Succeeding
After being snubbed by the Ford Re-election Committee, Mayor Wilson finally decided to go to the GOP Convention in Kansas City and in his starring moment when Mike Pettit of NBC was interviewing him on the convention floor, the sound went out.
Books I wish I'd read
It Was Only Inevitable...
Male nude dancers at the Classic Cat in La Mesa on Wednesday nights.
One Way to Prevent X-Rated Movies
Calvary Chapel bought the North Park Theatre and turned it into a church.
Best Place to Meet a Moonie
Followers of Rev. Sun Moon ply both sides of Broadway and E Street near the Public Library looking for potential converts.
Cheapest Sandwich in Town
Baloney and sauerkraut on hamburger buns for 30 cents at Harry’s Market in Mission Beach.
Notable architecture events
Destroying Downtown in Order to Save It
The new multi-million dollar Federal Building finally opens for business just in time to witness 16 empty floors in the 22-story Central Federal Savings Build and a vacancy rate in the San Diego Federal Savings of 48 perceht.
Worst Place for Thumbing a Ride
Clairemont Mesa Boulevard and 805 North exit.
Most Over-reported Story of 1976
The sailing of the Star of India on July 4.
Notes retrieved from a movie reviewer's waste basket
Biggest Understatement of the Year
The Crystal Palace Theatre owners said they were closing down and going to the desert because they needed new material.
C. Arnholt Smith, Where Are You Now?
The San Diego Union ran a series in November mourning the loss of noblesse oblige in the San Diego business community.
Corniest Advertising Approach
I Found It billboards and bumperstickers.
Notable jazz in San Diego
Sourest Advertising Grapes
I Lost It bumperstickers.
Quickest Switch in the West
The removal of the acceptamos pesos mexicanos sign at the Mexican-American Bank.
Most Unbelievable Figure
The report that September’s storm Kathleen showered east San Diego County with 9.86 inches of rain and caused 6-foot waves to wash out a section of Interstate 8
The Five Most Coldheartedly Conservative Acts
Colleen O’Connor Political Writer
- The defeat of the indefatigable humanist. Jack Walsh. A dedicated idealist who spent his last eight years on the Board of Supervisors championing the causes of the disadvantaged, Walsh lost his seat by a paltry 400-plus vote margin. Walsh’s absence leaves the Board without an expert in health care, welfare, probation, all the human care services, and the Sheriffs Department.
- Not far behind in shortsightedness is the beginning of oil drilling off the coast of San Diego. With promises of more to come, the Federal Government has opened leases for the major’ oil companies to plumb the Pacific for the stuff spills are made of. San Diego’s sun will now set behind a cluster of derricks with potentially unfavorable consequences for our number two industry, tourism.
Notable classical music
- “Callous” is the adjective that best describes the Board of Supervisors’ 3-2 defeat (Walsh and Taylor dissenting) of the Office of Emergency Services’ request to apply for a federal grant to aid the victims of rape. A lack of demonstrable need was the reason given for the defeat.
- The Board of Education’s decision to continue to permit the Superintendent’s staff and other personnel to keep their options to travel first class on official business . . .at taxpayer’s expense. Reason: it wouldn’t save that much money. The lone vote to cut off the privilege, Julie Fisher.
- Finally, in the year of our bicentennial, the City Council’s decision not to let the people vote for their representative in the 7th district, vacated by Jim Ellis’s election to the State Assembly. Max Strobl’s selection as the new councilman makes him the fourth member of the Council so selected. If one adds on City Attorney John Witt, that makes five of the City’s 10 elected officials who were appointed to their positions.
Sports upsets of the year
The Five Most Coldheartedly Conservative Acts Of 1976
Doug Card, Ocean Beach community worker
Five Conversations I Would Like To Have Overheard
Ruth Peyton, Free-lance writer
- It was a younger Councilwoman Maureen O’Connor who supported making Council a full-time job. But now we find a more mature woman stricken with wanderlust. She vacationed for several weeks this summer, and then during the week of October 27th she was again absent from Council duties. No one knows where she was, not even her staff, and she never formally requested time off. I wish I had been there when O’Connor told Mayor Wilson she would be gone a few days. He must have known, for he marked her “excused.”
- Then there’s the ruling which says Councilmen must not discuss building projects outside hearings. It would have been fun to hear the conversation between Councilman Jess Haro and his aide, Charles Abdelnour, as they discussed the plight of Father Velimir Petakovich. Abdelnour became very involved with the Father in his efforts to secure a Council permit for houses in Clairemont. According to Abdelnour, he kept his boss “fully informed” of the developments, and presumably avoided any talk about the subject at hand. A neat trick.
- Because this time they had to do it publicly, filling the vacant scat on the City Council was a marathon struggle. On December 21st there was a- deadlock. When Mayor Wilson threatened to shelve the whole thing, the Council took a short recess. Upon returning, they took another vote and. presto, no deadlock. Mac Strobl became a member of Council. The conversations during that fruitful recess would surely have made good listening.
- Then there was that autumn luncheon in Coronado, shortly after Mayor Wilson announced he would like to be Governor. The Mayor took advantage of the situation to have a chat with Democratic money man, Larry Lawrence. It would have been most interesting to hear what advice Lawrence, who last fought his own party’s Jerry Brown, offered our hopeful Mayor.
- When City safety workers decided to take their labor gripes to the public, police negotiator Jack Pearson met with firefighter Joe Francis. To have overheard those two talking politics and City labor practices might have ranked as the thrill of the year. Amusing at least.
Jonathan Saville, Reader Theatre Critic
- Most important expansion of San Diego theatrical life. First prize: The San Diego Playgoers Series, which rediscovered the intimacy, beauty and efficiency of the Spreckels as a setting for live theatre. Second Prize: Don Wortman’s Broadway Dinner Theatre, which turned a haphazard hotel basement into a musical-comedy nightclub filled with zest, talent, fun and food.
- Most theatrically brilliant play. Equus, in the Playgoers Series, with its “horses,” its masks, its flexible single set, its on-stage audience, its skillful blending of the realistic and the visionary, and above all its capacity for creating the illusion of intense, violent human experience with an absolute minimum of paraphernalia.
- Most intellectually muddled play. Equus.
- Most delightful theatrical romp. First Prize: The Old Globe’s A Trip to Chinatown, a revival and transformation of an American Victorian farce which proved that brilliant direction, brilliant acting, and a bit of artful rewriting can make the silkiest purse out of the sowiest ear. Second Prize: The Old Globe’s Ring Around the Moon, Craig Noel’s revival of Jean Anouilh's airy, tender, melancholy French farce, which proved that a great director can reproduce this most untranslatable of theatrical styles in an American theatre, with American actors, and without any loss of its essential verve and grace.
- Best actor. G. Wood, who as Pandarus in the Shakespeare Festival’s Troilus and Cressida was at the same time utterly disgusting, utterly pathetic, extremely funny, and strangely admirable
- Best actress. First Prize: Jennifer Henn in the Old Globe’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof— beautiful, sexy, convincingly natural, bold, tender, and as technically skilled as any actress on the American stage. Second Prize: Katharine Hepburn, in the Playgoers Series’s A Matter of Gravity—beautiful, sexy, convincingly artificial, bold, tender, and as technically skilled as any actress on the American Stage.
- Most preposterous theatrical event. Les Ballets Trocadero de Monte Carlo at the Civic Theatre, a company of guys in tutus which offered a tribute to the zaniness of the late Twentieth-Century imagination, a salient example of the current obsession with reversed sexual identities, and a very funny commentary on the silliness of classical ballet.
- Worst play. First Prize shared by the Old Globe’s Kennedy’s Children, a play of infinite dullness whose author's intellectual shallowness was equalled only by his theatrical ineptness; and the Carter’s Play Strindberg, an in-joke whose humor was inaccessible to outsiders (most of the audience) and crude, cheap and tedious to boot.
- Most persistent, innovative, optimistic businessperson in San Diego’s theatre. Dave Thompson.
- Most photogenic director of a public television Humanities office. Helen Hawkins.
Five Stories That Should Have Been Printed But Never Were
Bill Ritter, Freelance reporter
- Pressure by National Steel and Shipbuilding that resulted in the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s decision to move its office from San Diego.
- Gallo Wine Company’s successful backing of an initiative that reversed a San Diego State student body policy supporting the United Farm Workers and their grape and lettuce boycott.
- Willis Allen Realty, which employs Mayor Pete Wilson’s wife Betty, handling the purchase of hamburger king and San Diego Padres owner Ray Kroc’s new home. Kroc’s choice, a $475,000 La Jolla spread, is located on Camino del Teatro, just doors from the home of infamous financial wizard Allen Glick.
- The full story behind Amour Oil’s attempted takeover of Yellow Cab, and Amour’s ties to the C. Arnholt Smith empire.
- Precinct walking by San Diego Gas and Electric employees for successful supervisorial candidate Tom Hamilton. SDG&E supervisors reportedly offered employees free beer and pizza for their efforts.
Radio-TV Five Biggest Hypes Of 1976
Mariane Collier, media consultant
- Any TV news promotional advertisements which attempt to “humanize” anchorpeople as “just plain folk," i.e.. running on the beach or sitting under trees with children. Undoubtedly these people do such things, but do the spots (the products of promotion departments also responsible for such wonders as the Henrietta and Lorenzo Music Show promos and other winners) make the anchorpeople appear to be credible newsmen or women? Most of them arc. despite the fluff and drama approach.
- The KBG Chicken. This fits into the hype category as a truly successful gimmick for the radio stations. It is compatible with the stations' formats and makes no attempt to create an image other than what KGB AM and FM are-progressive rock stations. Excellent PR. Especially the part where the chicken gets arrested and the public rushes to its defense on the front page of every newspaper and TV newscast. Another biggie for the chicken: President Ford shakes its wing.
- Kip Hayes as “Cause of the Month.” The Mariners hockey team and two radio stations had fund raisers for the paralyzed Mt. Miguel football player. The whole thing began to look like a circus, despite Kip’s mother's gratitude. Any station that didn't promote these events eventually bowed before the implication that they were heartless bastards. The media should do as much for the many others who receive such injuries. A continuation of the glorification of football. Now we hear that a new Alpha Beta is tying a store opening to Kip Hayes with a fund raiser.
- 39 News Alive Is Catching On.” A surge in ratings during the summer Olympics on the ABC affiliate led to a logical, if unceasing, string of promotional ads to that effect. This fall’s ratings reflect a smashing drop in viewers – back to 39’s ratings last spring. While panic reigns in management, some staffers say the mood now is “39 News D.O.A.”
- The San Diego Union's ads on KFSD radio, boasting “over 200 writers, editors, and photographers bringing the news to your door every day.”
Five Biggest Radio / TV Hypes Of The Year
John Willkie, free-lance writer
- What good can you make of a musical fireworks show that carried commercials and left tons of trash at two area parks? Such was the scene when KGB staged their Skyshow, amid much on-the-air ballyhoo. By all rights, the fireworks and musical celebration of America’s bicentennial should have been run sometime near July 4th. Instead, the Skyshow took to the air on April 23—during the spring rating period—so KGB got the most of money shelled out by the program’s sponsors.
- The KCBQ ARB contest was another typical example of bicentennial hype. At the Q, the letters may have stood for their American Revolution Bicentennial contest, but using them on the air incensed local radio people, who are prohibited from mentioning the rating service’s initials. KGB program director Rick Liebert was so bothered by the contest that he sent the KGB Chicken (without costume) around town to pick up all the booklets. With 12,000 of the booklets in the back of the KGB van, the Chicken (Ted Giannoulas) drove back to the station and showed them off. In the dark of night, Liebert, having had a change of heart, left the booklets at KPRI’s front door, and started working full time keeping the story out of print. He succeeded, almost.
- The TV 8 evening news was supposed to be an effort more in line with CBS’s evening news, replacing KFMB’s previous blood-and-gore Action News. Executive News Director Peter Noyes and anchorman Dick Carlson were hired to bring some professionalism to the show. Instead of the promised documentaries and hard-hitting specials, we have received cameramen who looked through garbage cans, the weather explained twice, and letters from viewers read to us daily. It may be amusing, but how much of it is news? Competitors point out it was cheaper for the station to expand news than to pay for a half-hour situation comedy to fill the time slot.
- The newsman as news. TV 8’s Carlson, in addition to his daily exposure over the air waves, seems to have found a second career with Union columnist Burl Stiff. His appearances in Stiff’s society column have become a regular feature. Could a by-line be far off?
- The last days of KDEO. Ever since the station dropped progressive rock in 1973 (with high ratings), it’s been downhill. This year KDEO owner Mort Hall hired all former KGB announcers and tried an imitation of KGB FM, but even while the New York-based owner was hiring, he was trying to sell the money-losing property. He finally signed a deal with Lee Bartell, the former owner of KCBQ. who plans some drastic changes. Current employes, meanwhile, have resumes circulating.
Five Welcome Disappearances In Women’s Fashion
Rochelle Raffee, Something Mad, Fashion Valley
- Bras, girdles, and foundation garments. The trend is more towards a soft, womanly look which makes the best use of what you have.
- False eyelashes, which have given way to a more refined, all-day, all-night look.
- Turquoise, one of the most persistent fads, is finally on the downswing. Finer, more expensive jewelry, if less of it, is now being worn.
- Exaggerated platform shoes. Comfort shoes and sturdy boots are getting the nod for daytime, with thin heels and pointed toes being chosen for night wear.
- Polyester, acetate, and man-made fibers are out. as women learn to appreciate real fabrics: silk, wool gabardine, crepe de chine, and fine cottons.
Welcome Disappearances In Men’s Fashion
Paul Dimarchi, Lord Rebel Men's Store, Fashion Valley
- Leisure suits, which have been relegated to third-rate department stores and are worn only by paunchy used-car salesmen.
- Denim, especially the pre-washed, pre-faded variety. It’s now being replaced by brown, khaki, and multi-colored cottons.
- Long hair, which just doesn’t mean anything anymore.
- Platform shoes, which after a year’s popularity are being replaced by the opposite: low, European-style loafers.
- Silky, nylon print shirts. Woven knit shirts should reach the shelves this spring.
Books I Wish I'd Read
Fred Moramarco, director, School of Literature San Diego State
The Madrid Codices of Leonardo DaVinci. The six sumptuous volumes of this set published by McGraw Hill cost $1,250 and come in a plexiglass case. Last Christmas (1975) the publisher offered them at $750. This is not inflation, they tell us, but investment. For the commoners, there’s a volume called The Unknown Leonardo from the same publisher for a mere $34.95. I’d like to have read the former so that when I spied the latter on somebody’s glass and chrome coffee table I could say. “Nice book, but have you read The Madrid Codices?"
To Jerusalem and Back by Saul Bellow. This is also a very good book for the art of upmanship. Since Bellow won the Nobel Prize, everybody’s read Humboldt's Gift (especially since it’s out now in paper), but having read his newest would allow me to say things like, “He’s a fine novelist, but I think non-fiction is his real metier. Have you read his travel book about Jerusalem?”
Terra Nostra by Carlos Fuentes. This is a novel I really wish I’d read and may yet read if I can get over the phobia I have about dense and portentous novels over 750 pages that I caught from trying to read Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon and JR by William Gaddis. Both those are also books I wish I’d read—that is, finished.
The Hite Report. A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality by Shere Hite. I wish I’d read this because tbc subject sounds interesting.
Lying, Despair, Jealousy, Envy. Sex, Suicide, Drugs and the Good Life by Leslie Farbcr. Don’t you wish you'd read a book with this’ title?
I'm Glad I Haven’t Read
The Canfield Decision by Spiro T. Agnew. Reading this would spoil the fun of reading Nixon’s memoirs next year. Besides, the author’s true literary forte is alliterative invective (remember “nattering nabobs of negativism”?) and not the novel.
Born Again by Charles Colson. This is described by the New York Times as an “Evangelical autobiography by the former White House hatchet man.” Enough reason to be glad not to have read it.
Blind Ambition by John Dean. I’ll have to admit to some ambivalence on this one. Finally I skipped it because I couldn’t stand the idea of paying royalties to John Dean.
A New Age Now Begins (2 volumes) by Page Smith. Billed as a “People’s history of the American Revolution,” this turns out to be (everywhere I opened it) a chronicle of generals and battles. I tried to do my Bicentennial duty, but couldn’t make it.
Why Not the Best? by Jimmy Carter. This is only one of the many Presidential campaign books that I'm glad I didn’t read.
I’m Glad I Read
Harry Belten and the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto by Barry Targan. This collection of short stories won the University of Iowa Prize for Short Fiction in 1975 but not many people seem to have noticed it. Targan is a marvelous new writer and deserves a lot more readers than he has.
The View from Highway 1, Essays on Television by Michael Arlen. Actually I read these all in The New Yorker, but now they’ve been collected in book form. If there is anyone who write about television more lucidly and intelligently than Michael Arlen, please let me know.
The Time of Illusion by Jonathan Schell. If you simply must read a Watergate book, this is the one. Schell contrasts what was going on day by day in the Nixon Administration with what was being reported in the press. A revelatory book.
Women of the Shadows by Ann Cornelisen. Cornelison writes with great sensitivity about the peasant women of Southern Italy. A unique and deeply moving book.
Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror by John Ashberry. Ashberry’s latest book of poems won the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the New York Book Critics Award for Poetry last year. It’s now available in paper from Penguin. Run out and get a copy if you haven’t read it yet.
Body, Mind, Behavior by Maggie Scarf. I'm glad I finally found someone who can write about developments in the Social and Behavioral Sciences with clarity and wit and without jargon. No easy task.
Talking at the Boundaries by David Antin. A San Diego poet invents a new verse form, which he calls the "talk poem.” The book recreates a lively sense of Antin’s traveling around America delivering his performances at various universities. galleries, etc. It's a very innovative bit of work.
I'm Sorry I Read
Passages. Predictable Crises of Adult Life by Gail Sheehy. I put this here very reluctantly because it’s a very interesting book. I'm sorry I read it, though, because I hate to think that life is so damned predictable. Who wants to know that their own personal traumas and crises are common? Passages records the death throes of Western Individualism.
Travesties by John Hawkes. It’s always difficult to watch one of your favorite writers slide into self-parody and downhill. I'm sorry I read this because I liked The Lime Twig and The Blood Oranges so much that I wish they were the last Hawkes novels I read.
Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Vonnegut has become a master of the sort of novel you can read in its entirety at one standing, in a bookstore. This one is a classic of the genre. As a matter of fact, that’s how I read it. Hi Ho.
Notable architecture events
Bruce Kamerling, president, Save Our Heritage Organization
- Demolition of the Tyrolean Terrace, the collection of important turn-of-the-century cottages on La Jolla's cove. La Jolla is rapidly becoming historically barren.
- Demolition of the La Jolla High School auditorium, designed by William Templeton Johnson. Residents had hoped to retain the building as a local cultural center.
- Demolition by Goodwill Industries of an interesting early building in the Gaslamp District only weeks before such a move would have been impossible. The site is now a parking lot.
- This city’s lending institutions for refusing to loan money on old or deteriorating buildings for restoration.
- The City of Sin Diego for approving the adoption of the Gaslamp Planned District Ordinance allowing private restoration and development of this colorful section of town.
- The County of San Diego for their decision to proceed with $ Heritage Park in Old Town, which g culminated in the moving of the £ Bushyhead (1887), Christian (1889), S2 and Burton (1893) houses after - much debate.
- Theodore Krauss for the J restoration of the Sherman/Doig c house (1887) at 2nd and Fir for § adaptive re-use as offices.
- . Don Thompson and Alex Kuhnel for their valient fight which allowed their properties, including the historic Royal Pie Bakery, to be included in the Gaslamp District after being told they were on the “wrong side” of the street.
- Jacqueline Littlefield, who has shown that, while the city only talks of redevelopment, she can produce a major theatrical season in an historic theatre (the Spreckels) and make a success of it.
SOHO also notes with pleasure the good things being done in outlying communities such as the restoration of the McKinney house (1908) by the La Mesa Historical Society, and the restoration of the Granger Music Hall( 1896-98) by the South Bay Historical Society.
Notes Retrieved From A Film Reviewer’s Waste-Basket, 1976
Duncan Shepherd, Reader film critic
- The F. Scott Fitzgerald citation, hereafter to be conferred annually on the year’s trashiest titles, should go to the man, woman, or brainstorming committee responsible for each of these: I Will, I Will... For Now; Mother, Jugs, and Speed; The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday; Sex with a Smile; and Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson.
- The Willa Cather citation for the year’s classiest title, to The Castle of Purity.
- Lack-of-imagination citations for re-cycled titles, to Born to Kill (used previously for Robert Wise’s 1947 film noir with Lawrence Tierney and Claire Trevor); The Enforcer (used previously for the 1951 Bretaigne Windust-Raoul Walsh crime-buster melodrama with Humphrey Bogart); No Way Out (used previously for Joseph Mankiewicz’s 1950 racial drama); Trackdown (used previously for the Robert Culp TV series); and Carrie (used previously for William Wyler’s 1952 treatment of the Dreiser novel. Sister Carrie).
- Excess-of-imagination citations for ill-advised title changes, to Born to Kill (formerly Cock-fighter); Super Dude (formerly Hang-Up, Blood in the Streets (formerly The Revolver); Fox and His Friends (formerly Fist-Right of Freedom); And Now My Love (formerly Toute Une Vie); and End of the Game (formerly Murder Over the Bridge, and in book form, better yet, The Judge and His Hangman).
- The “sic” joke citation for the funniest typographical errors, to Breakfast Pass, in place of Break heart Pass, in the San Diego Union-Tribune movie ads; and High Philosophy, in place of High Velocity, in the Los Angeles Times movie ads.
- The Gore Vidal swelled-head award, to Paul Schrader, author of Taxi Driver and Obsession (“Before I sat down to write Taxi Driver, I reread Sartre’s Nausea, because I saw the script as an attempt to take the European existential hero— that is. the man from The Stranger, Notes from the Underground, Nausea, Pickpocket, Le Feu Follet, and A Man Escaped —and put him in an American context”).
- The Ingmar Bergman would-you-like- to-see-my-scar award, to Ingmar Bergman, director of Face to Face.
- The Lina Wertmuller overnight sensation award, to Jean-Charles Tacchella, director of Cousin, Cousine.
- The Muhammad Ali come-back-of-the-year award, to Roy Rogers, star of Mackintosh and T.J.
- The most-for-your-money consumer commendations for the best first-run double features in San Diego, to Jeff Lieberman’s Squirm plus Sergio Sollima’s Blood in the Streets (at the Casino); Marvin Chomsky’s Mackintosh and T.J. plus John Sturges’s Chino (at the California); and Joseph Losey’s The Romantic Englishwoman plus Lina Wertmuller’s Seven Beauties (at the Center 3 Cinemas).
- The least-for-yoqr-money consumer condemnation for the paltriest first-run double feature, to George McCowan's Shadow of the Hawk plus Anthony Dawson’s The Stranger and the Gunfighter (multiple bookings).
- Movies whose arrival in San Diego is impatiently awaited: Susan Sontag’s Promised Lands, John Cassavetes’ The Killing of a Chinese Bookie; Yves Robert’s Salut I’Artiste, Satyajit Ray’s Distant Thunder, Ba bet Schroeder’s Idi Amin Dada.
- The Pauline Kael citation for the hyperbole of the year in movie criticism (a toss-up):
a. “Streisand is a woman other women will identify with and men will yearn for.” (Richard Cuskelly, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, on A Star Is Born.)
b. “If you’re a romanticist, you’ll love it.” (David Sheehan, CBS-TV, on A Star Is Born.)
c. “The match-lighting ceremony is guaranteed to break your heart.” (Aaron Gold, Chicago Tribune, on A Star Is Born.)
d. Any other comment that casts a favorable light on A Star Is Born.
- Lines that were written for future use in San Diego Reader movie reviews but that somehow never encountered the proper opportunity during 1976:
a. “If you see but one movie all year, let it be___”
b. “Run, don’t walk, to____”
c. “ _____ is an unmitigated masterpiece, a work of absolute genius.”
d. “A moving picture.”
e. “1 do not know how you can continue with your life until you have seen_____
Notable Folk Music
Ken Kramer, Kramer’s Folk, KPBS-FM
The voice on the telephone is softspoken and the words carefully measured. “I'm a local musician,” he says, “and I was wondering how somebody gets on your program?” “Well,” comes the reply, “sounds good. Where can I hear you perform? Are you working in town?” “Actually,” the caller says, “I was hoping that somebody might be listening and want to hire me.”
W.B. Reid, a young and immensely talented blues guitarist and folk singer, drops by with his skilled performing partner Jay Waelder. Together they've developed a tight act. Of the local grassroots country-folk and string band groups Bruce and Jay as The Fly By Nyte Review are the hottest. They talk of having opened the Don McLean concert a few weeks back, and of working briefly at Mountain Mama's. They've done a wedding. They’re booked into Orango’s in a couple of months. Meanwhile, they play for quarters in the park. They, too, are out of steady work.
Kenny Hall, probably the finest mandolin picker west of the Mississippi River, plays a two-week engagement at a hamburger and beer bar in Hillcrest.
Martin Henry, a superb country music performer, plays a weekend at a local music store. He takes home a fistful of small bills and change that might cover the cost of his gasoline.
Lani Kurnik admits that she’s looking for something better than the YMCA hoots. And Lani, you deserve better. But San Diego's restaurants and clubs will continue to reflect the public “Captain and Tenille” preference for reverberated pop-vocal with leisure suit electric piano back-up. And though we folk fans may continue to grouse about local talent being unappreciated and underpaid. I’m often given to wonder how much we have done to advance the cause.
As an example, there are few who would dispute the caliber of talent appearing at the San Diego Folk Festival. That one gathering of musicians creates tremendous good feeling in the folk community for the music that is performed and exchanged there. But there is apparently much bitterness among the San Diego artists who may receive limited pay, or be asked to appear in concerts and workshops for nothing.
A good night may find Orango’s restaurant seating 25 people for a show. The Folk Arts concerts drew perhaps a dozen. Another example of the lukewarm regard that the local folk establishment has for San Diego performers? Perhaps that. But also it illustrates the fact that San Diego's “folk scene” lacks any sense of promotion. In contrast, a second example is provided by San Diego folk singers Walt Richards and Howard Caine. Walt has been among folk musicians in San Diego for years; his skills as a folk performer are unquestioned. Howard is a famed actor and able folksinger and he will be happy to tell you. The two were booked into Orango's for one weekend last year. They made the personal effort to enthusiastically spread the word that those concerts would be special events. Capacity crowds attended both performances. They may not have been so significant musically, but they were a demonstration that San Diego will turn out and appreciate a professional presentation by artists who believe in themselves. That Walt Richards-Howard Caine program will remain an important event not so much for w hat happened on the stage as for the message that emerged from its success. We can be proud of boosting the folk music of our local artists, or San Diego can settle for being a silent flag-stop for performers from Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Folk Music In San Diego
Lou Curtiss, Folk Arts Rare Records
Any year-end review must start with the San Diego State University Folk Festival. Now in its 11th year, it sets the tone for much of what happens in our area. At the festival (coming up April 19-24) it’s possible to hear such imports as Louisiana Cajun music, Mississippi Delta blues, Cape Breton Island fiddling, and the men and women who made classic recordings in the 20s and 30s. This yearly influx of various styles continues to have a profound impact on local performers, and has been the inspiration for such gatherings as the Balboa Park Banjo and Fiddle Contests, the New England-style country dances at United Commercial Travellers Hall, and the folk concerts at Orango's restaurant. The festival and its spinoffs provide San Diego with the opportunity to hear old time music on a fairly regular basis, but there arc needs as yet unfulfilled.
First, we need a good coffee house run by people who know something about old time music and will hire local musicians. The Orango’s concerts have been a stop-gap measure, but can't continue alone. For a town that once had 15 or 20 places for local musicians to play and didn't cater to a cocktail bar crowd, it sure would be nice to have just one place today.
Secondly, we could use more varied radio programming. There was a time when local stations provided listeners with a decent cross section of tastes, but now there seems to be a mad rush to converge on an A Flat monotone. It sells, and it’s sad. One notable exception is KPBS FM (89.5) at San Diego State which programs a wide variety of old time music including the Folk Festival USA series. Ken Kramer’s nightly folk show, the Steve I.aVere blues show, and starting in March, Ken Swerilas and I will be doing an old time country music show. The only other station helping matters is KSON with Wayne Rice and his bluegrass show on Sundays.
Finally, I must complain about you, the San Diegans who don't attend concerts, or go to meetings, or write letters to radio stations making your feelings known. Please remember, the folk scene here is w hat you make it. Have an old timey year.
Franklin Pierce, musician
- The Amateur Night award to the management of the Catamaran Hotel who. spying the opportunity to cash in on a good thing, dumped Joe Marillo and the Society for the Preservation of Jazz and attempted to produce their own concerts. Their efforts at booking lacked the personal touch provided by Marillo. and many artists vowed never to return. The jazz was discontinued with a whimper.
- The Only the Strong Survive award to Joe Marillo who somehow manages to find a place to play and continues to nurse the mortally wounded Society for the Preservation of Jazz.
- An honorary doctorate of music to Ron Galon (Jazz Spectrum. KPBS-FM) for providing San Diego listeners with consistently excellent programming and for his tireless efforts to broadcast live performances by local musicians.
- The Truth in Advertising award to San Diego's Esquire Holmes and the tobacco sponsors of the KOOL Jazz. Festival for staging yet another of these immensely disappointing concerts, and for deceiving countless young enthusiasts who now believe that Isaac Hayes is a jazz musician.
- The Birdland award to the Crossroads (4th and Market) for continuing to be the closest thing to a San Diego jazz club.
- The We Love You Madly award to Charles Mingus. Anthony Braxton. El in Jones, and McCoy Tyner, all of whom appeared at SDSU's Backdoor and brought to town the finest jazz last year.
- The Encore award to the management of the Backdoor for making 1976 a salvageable year for live performances.
- The Broadcasting Memorial award to the late Richard Upton, program director and driving force behind City College’s KSDS-FM. still the only all-jazz radio station in San Diego.
Jonathan Saville, Reader music critic
- Most important expansion of San Diego musical life. First Prize: Basically Baroque, the summer chamber music series, which demonstrated the elegant pleasures of listening to good music in the atmosphere of elegant private homes. Second Prize: The Pacific Lyric Theatre, which—through its lovely production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas—disclosed the fact that the Old Globe is a perfect theatre for chamber opera.
- Most tremendous singer. Soprano Jessye Norman, whose grand and exquisite performance of Wagner’s Wesendonck Songs with the San Diego Symphony proved once again that she is one of the most cherishable vocal artists of our time.
- Most charming and talented violinist. The First Prize is shared by Eugene Fodor. whose recital at San Diego State renewed the delights of the virtuoso tradition, with all its unashamed self-display; and Zina Schiff, whose deeply felt, consummately lyrical performance of the Samuel Barber Violin Concerto with the Sinfonia demonstrated how a fine artist can probe into what appears to be a mediocre work and reveal it as a masterpiece.
- Most intelligent pianist. Thomas Ungar, whose recital at UCSD was notable for its profound understanding of a broad range of musical styles.
- Most spectacular pianist. Lorin Hollander, whose dazzling, sizzling performance of the Saint-Saens Fifth Piano Concerto with the San Diego Symphony demonstrated how a technically brilliant artist can skim the surface of what appears to be a mediocre work and reveal it as a stupendous mediocre work.
- Best operatic performance. Peter Eros’s overwhelmingly powerful reading of Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, which demonstrated— among other things -that the San Diego Symphony is now capable of playing the most demanding scores without any need of apology to the composer, the audience, or the Muse.
- Performances of Twentieth-Century music for which San Diego audiences ought to be grateful. Schoenberg's Quartet No. 4. performed so compellingly by the Juilliard Quartet at Sherwood Hall that it was in fact almost possible— almost but not quite—for the audience to leave the hall whistling the tunes. Bartok’s Quartet No. 4. played with an uncanny feel for rhythmic and coloristic effects by the Tokyo Quartet at Mandeville Auditorium. Janacek’s Quartet No. I, intense virtually to the point of harshness in the hypnotic interpretation of the Prague Quartet at Sherwood Hall. Varese’s Hyperprism, skillfully performed by an expanded Sinfonia of San Diego under the enterprising direction of John Garvey.
- Twentieth-Century composer most neglected by San Diego. Igor Stravinsky.
- Worst instrumental performance. Edward Tarr, whose disastrous concert with the La Jolla Chamber Orchestra taught the lesson that a fine trumpeter who tries to play the horn is likely to become a halting, stuttering babe on both instruments.
- Most destructive interference by a meddling stage director with a great work of art. Patrick Bakman's skittering, twittering, busy-busy direction of the San Diego Opera's Otello.
- Most persistent, innovative, optimistic businessperson in San Diego’s musical life. Joan Brown.
- Most persistent, innovative, optimistic expert in getting creditors to be patient. Joan Brown.
- Special award for the ownership of the best reproducing piano in the West. Ken Caswell.
- Special award for the ownership of the most complete collection of opera recordings in the USA. Ed Durbeck III.
- Most promising young artist. Avlana Kineret Eisenberg.
- Most fanatical supporter of Ralph Vaughan Williams. J.D. Steyers.
- Most assiduous concert-goer. Karen Roberson.
- Most enjoyable music discussion radio series on Sunday evenings at 9:30. KFSD’s “Classical Conversations.’’ which next Sunday will present a discussion between the Reader's music critic and guitarist Joseph Trotter on the subject of classical guitar music.
Steve Esmedina, Reader contributor
Creative Orchestra Music, Anthony Braxton; The People’s Republic, The Revolutionary Ensemble; Red Card. Streetwalkers; Coincide, Dewey Redman; Another Green World. Eno; Closeness, Charlie Haden; Some People Can Do What They Like, Robert Palmer; For Players Only, Jazz Composers Orchestra; A Sight on the Town, Rod Stewart; The Wild Tchoupitoulas.
- The Andy Warhol 15 Minute Superstardom Award. Bruce Springsteen, 1975’s instant genius, who. because of a legal squabble with his ex-manager, spared us another of his Fonzie-inspired operettas.
- Extra! Extra! Read All About It! I’ve Got a Team and We’re Gonna Shout It! Award. Stevie Wonder, for the eight-minute plus “Black Man” from Songs in the Key of Life in which America’s melting pot is reviewed for its accomplishments. The score: blacks-9, reds-6, yellows-4, whites-4, and browns-3.
- Roll Over Beethoven and Tell Rimski-Korsakov the News Award. Walter Murphy, for his disco versions of “The Fifth” and “Flight of the Bumblebee."
- Al Jolson Award. The Bee Gees, Leo Sayer, Boz Scaggs and The Doobie Brothers for finding a reason for being in funky, get-down disco.
- Breaking Up Is Hard to Do Award. Roxy Music, one of the finest rock bands ever, who disbanded earlier in the year, and have yet to prove that the move was a wise one.
- Promoter of the Year Award. Paul Maderos, former head honcho of the Backdoor, who in the first three months of '76 brought Patti Smith. Elvin Jones and Anthony Braxton to San Diego.
- Best concerts. Keith Jarrett. UCSD Gym; Anthony Braxton. Backdoor; Robert Palmer. La Paloma; Elvin Jones. Backdoor; Average White Band. Golden Hall; Bob Marley and the Waiters, Civic Theatre, and Patti Smith. Backdoor.
Sports Upsets Of The Year
Alan Pesin, Reader sports writer
Boxing—In Yankee Stadium, on a chill September '76 evening, defending heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali was thoroughly pummeled by the game's number one contender. Ken Norton. Despite the obvious, both judges and the referee awarded the unanimous decision to the champ Ali. Evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, all protests proved futile. Norton returned to Hollywood to continue his movie career, newly martyred. More upset was O.J. Simpson, who still hopes someday to become the face in films.
Football—After years of constant bickering and dickering, San Diego Charger Coy Bacon was finally traded to a contending team, the Cincinnati Bengals. Week after week Bacon led the Bengals to victory. On nationally televised games he excelled. His Sunday afternoon fumble-recovery-long run-lateral touchdown and Monday night sacks of James Harris were replayed again and again. Then with Bacon's most cherished ambition, the playoffs, just one win away, the Bengals were blown out by Oakland. After the game, a dejected Bacon announced his retirement. The Steelers clinched the playoff berth the following Saturday. On Sunday the down-in-the-mouth. Bacon-less Bengals played at Shea Stadium against the Jets and Joe Namath’s swan song at quarterback. The Bengals. fifteen point favorites at the beginning of the week, were only favored by eleven points at game time. But Cincinnati desecrated the Jets 42-3. On Grandstand. Bacon was the featured performer, smothering Namath again and again. Somebody had forgotten that Bacon's second most cherished ambition was making the All-Pro team just one more time. More upset was Guy Dennis who. having forgot, bet S20 on the Jets.
Horse Racing—The Kentucky Derby found Foolish Pleasure’s brother-in-law. Honest Pleasure, favored over a weak field which included Puerto Rican-owned Bold Foiltes. who had lost two sprint races at Santa Anita to a non-stakes winning colt. Sure Fire. Over one million dollars was wagered on Honest Pleasure at Churchill Downs racetrack, another million at the future books in Nevada and Mexico, and a few million more w ith illegal bookies around the country. Bold Forbes won wire-lo-wire. Most upset was President Ford, who bided his time, then announced his intention to make Puerto Rico the 51st state, thereby subjecting Puerto Ricans to the federal income tax for the first time.
Skiing—Vladimir “Spider” Sabich. who received press credentials for the 1976 Winter Olympics through the good offices of a powerful friend at the Games, was unsuccessful in his attempt to gain photo credentials for his girlfriend Claudine Longet, w ho was forced to watch the action on a fuzzy television set. Most upset was (w'ho else?) Claudine Longet, who bided her time, then asked Spider to teach her how to fire a gun at point-blank range.
Tennis- Because of a bad back and sprained ankle. Jimmy Connors’ mother announced that Jimmy would have to pass up playing for the United States in the Davis Cup regionals in order to play for $160,000 in the Caesar's Palace WCT Challenge Cup. After whipping through his three opponents (despite a bad limp and a hunched posture). Connors, his girlfriend, and his mother retired to the penthouse suite of San Diego’s luxurious Westgate Plaza Hotel for a short recuperation period. Most upset was C. Arnholt Smith, who broke into hives when he saw a long-hair without a lie sta)ing in his monument to good banking practices.
Michele Dennis, financial analyst
The Roller Coaster Award
To Rohr Industries, which had its shareholders scared to death throughout the year with gigantic losses and skirmishes with banks— but then turned to doubling the price of the stock in December.
The Unhappy Shareholders' Award
To FedMart Corporation management whose tact in handling founder and ousted chairman Sol Price and sympathetic shareholders was tantamount to Sherman marching through Georgia. And just about as expensive, once court costs are figured.
The Lifesaving Award
To Bob Dicker, president of Walker Scott, whose resuscitation of the department store chain just may mean survival for one of San Diego’s traditions.
The Hide-and-Go-Seek Award
A tie, to both Cubic Corporation and lvac Corporation, two local companies that decided in 1976 to hold their annual meetings in New York.
Master Stroke in Investments
To George Soares, former chief executive of Campbell Industries, who acquired 2.700 shares of the company’s stock in October, only to see Campbell voluntarily halt trading in November. Soares was fired in December.
Top Investment of the Year
The Mexican peso, for those who sold short. Unfortunately, though, most San Diego investors went long.
Corporate Planning Award
To Sea World, which did nothing to prevent an MCA Corporation takeover when the Los Angeles-based company bought eight percent of Sea World stock in August. No wonder the company expressed surprise when MCA made an unfriendly bid for the company in November. (There is a happy ending, however, for Harcourt-Brace-Jovanovich made a larger bid of $50 million and peacefully acquired Sea World.)
The Gourmet Award
To the hardworking environmentalists, who are doing their best to make tuna the rare delicacy that salmon is.
Interest in the Community Award
To San Diego Trust and Savings Bank, which declined to shell out $1,000 for a membership in the Economic Research Development Corporation, a group which works to bring new industry to San Diego.
Sale of the Year
To Calbiochem. which sold its Triazure drug in 1975 and not only avoided bankruptcy by doing so but also regained fiscal health. In August of 1976, the drug was pulled off the market by the Food & Drug Administration, at relatively little cost to Biochem.
Prodigal Son Award
To Imperial Savings and Loan, which after years of changing locations for its top executives, finally brought them back here.
Nearsighted Loan Policies
To Home Federal Savings and Loan, which has had to extricate itself this year on loans made in years past to the like of Royal Inns of America, Saratoga Development and Le Baron Hotels—all in bankruptcy.
Eleanor Widmer, Reader food critic
Since we tend to be a nation that breeds and discards fashions in a hurry, the types of restaurants that proliferate in any given year reflect the general concern with novelty, rather than quality.
To begin with the most obvious trend, 1976 saw the multiplication in more than necessary numbers of the soup kitchen. When the first local soup kitchen appeared on the scene at the end of 1975 (The Hungry Years, Clairemont Mesa Boulevard), it seemed a welcome addition to our dining concept. Now. there are so many soup and salad bars that they are barely worth noting, the latter-day versions of cafeterias. While they each advertise a "home-made product” (often the bread), the soups are usually commercially canned, with a few fresh vegetables added to preserve the myth of “home-made.”
Of the soup kitchens. The Gazebo has the least appetizing of soups and salads. and its atmosphere, unlike the slick Soup Exchange and Village Kettle, both in I.a Jolla, does reflect the urgent grubbiness of the 30s. Frankly, these soup kitchens are not the bargains they are alleged to be. In theory, each is an "all you can eat” place. In fact, you can't eat much of the soups or the salads because they don't stimulate the taste buds. Unless, like Beowulf, you can gulp things piecemeal, the soup kitchen doesn’t prove too satisfactory for dinner, though it may have some virtues as a cafeteria for lunch. The “all you can eat” gimmick proves to be just that. It's conceivably better to have one excellent cup of soup than the possibility of 4 or 5 mediocre to bad ones. Most soup kitchens that I visit are jammed, which can be attributed less to the quality of the food than the desire for propinquity, the same phenomenon of mass participation in crowded beaches on Sunday.
At the other end of the spectrum, disappointment came from the so-called posh restaurants, dinners of over $10 per person. Of these, Mon Ami in Solana Beach offered much clashing of knives and the wheeling of carts, but the courses are too many without any of them being first-rate or outstanding.
When I visited France, I was often amazed at the ceremony of carving, only to find one slice of meat on my plate, along with a heavy portion of gristle. At Mon Ami. the slicing of a pear for dessert is an exhibition not to be missed, but gazing upon the thin soggy slice of pear and the soft cherries that I would reject at any supermarket, I marveled at the gap between the concept and the realization. The idea of a prix fixe dinner ($12.95) with soup, pate, sausage, salad, seafood, meat, dessert, seemed fine. But nothing quite works at Mon Ami.
La Maison ties Pescadeux in Ocean Beach and Casino Valadier in Pacilic Beach arc also uneven in their dishes, although the patio at the Casino Valadier and the atmosphere within are charming. Both of these are costly beyond what they produce.
A pleasant surprise in the $10 and up dinner proved Trelowarth's in La Jolla. The physical setting is unpromising but the international cuisine offers a chance for adventure.
What has added most to creating a more cosmopolitan atmosphere in San Diego is the rise of the ethnic restaurant. In former times, ethnic in San Diego meant Mexican. At present we have a spate of Lebanese, Korean, Greek, even Portuguese. Of the Lebanese, the Haiji Baba on Garnet Avenue offers the most for your money. Ahn's, on Engineer Avenue, is the most Americanized of the Korean (not too much garlic or peppers) and Seoul House, on Adams Avenue, is closer to authentic Korean cooking without overbearing seasoning.
I’m sorry about the demise of the Greek restaurant, the Acropolis Express, which the owners, with rancor, attributed to my negative review. Two weeks before the place closed. I did return, and the owner, without knowing who I was, castigated "that awful review woman.” It's not my intention to close down small businesses, but even with the new cook at the Acropolis Express and the improvement in the moussaka, the place had an air of demoralization: the dishes were too cold and brought at the wrong time. The owner implored my party, including myself, to sign a petition against "this terrible person.” Yet the function of the reviewer is to assess and a evaluate. Inevitably, this creates pain.
John Canady, the reviewer of the New York Times, reported that he frequently received calls of desperation from small restaurants that were failing. But when he sometimes acceded to the pleas he knew almost immediately why the place was doomed to fail: insufficient performance in a competitive world.
It would give me pleasure to praise, rather than detract, from the worth of restaurants. Yet this is an imperfect world and with it must be included far from perfect restaurants. Most of the new seafood restaurants, including Jacob Taylor's in Solana Beach, are exploitative in price. The two Basque restaurants. The Halcyon and the Villa Basque duplicate each other's menus. Chu Dynasty in Coronado offers fine Mandarin food, as does the vegetarian restaurant, the Prophet. But I can't praise many of the other vegetarian places because vegetarian doesn't necessarily equal good.
What’s left? Always the hope that 1977 will produce the restaurant with excellent food and service at the modest total price of $6. I can dream, can’t I?