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Friday, today, I took a taxi to the office. The driver looked familiar, though I had forgotten his name. He told me but wishes to remain anonymous. I’ll call him Mel, and he reads this column pretty much regularly. He said he likes the personal stuff rather than just the “something to do on Fridays stuff.” He said he thought most regular readers would agree. He asked about my son, though he has never met him. He asked me about my foot and said he was sorry I broke it but he was glad to see I looked all right. He said he thought that people were concerned about me. He was extremely nice and asked about things I’d forgotten I’d ever written about. This started a conversation about newspaper or magazine columns as car wrecks. On the whole, it was kind of a kick, a shot in the arm, as they say (or used to), and more than a little unsettling. Mel was pretty complimentary, but his words have left me uncertain about how to handle the column at hand. Personal or Friday Stuff To Do?

All right. Let’s see. Steve Earle is going to be at The Belly Up. That interests me, but it is on the 23rd, Sunday. Not only is Earle an excellent musician and songwriter, he is a very good fiction writer as well. I understand he was not a very good criminal, however.

As for Friday night? Any night, really, order the seafood pasta at Vincenzo’s at 1702 India Street, at the corner of Date. That’s where I’ll probably go when I get to the bottom of my column space and see the used RV ads encroaching. You really don’t need a whole lot else to make your Friday night complete besides Vincenzo’s seafood pasta, but let me think anyway. Meanwhile....

The foot’s better, but not completely. The doctor told me I would not lose the leg to infection. That was a relief because there was some question about it. The cast got wet — I swear I don’t know how except for rain last month — and it wasn’t looking good. It didn’t smell good either, for that matter. It will be another three weeks or a month of hobbling around. During that time I hope to be withdrawing from narcotic pain meds. Haven’t been drinking for quite a while.

This will be published the first day of spring. For Friday, the second day of spring, I recommend doing something outdoors. Maybe just walk on the beach or through Balboa Park. If you’re really ambitious, I would hike the trail at Torrey Pines. I can’t do it, but you could, and the second day of spring would be invigorating, renewing. But you have a job. All right, let’s see about Friday night. No concerts listed at Humphrey’s for that night, but you could eat there. The food is very good, though it’s been a while for me. If you arrive, say around Happy Hour at the Lounge, you’ll catch the Corvells live. I’ve personally never heard them, but their name is evocative of simpler times so that might be pleasant. If you arrive or stay late you’ll catch the Detroit Underground, nine pieces judging by their photo. With a name like that you know they’d damn well better deliver decent Motown. If they weren’t any good, we’ve certainly got enough ex-Detroiters in San Diego to have formed a lynching party some time ago. I may not make it but it’s possible. I would very much like to hear some Temptations and Marvin Gaye done live and well. A good a way as any to greet spring.

A word on that: I for one, will be applauding spring as vigorously, maybe more so, than anyone. I don’t know about you, but this past winter sucked horribly. I’ll include last fall in there too, for me anyway. I’ve had bad winters; this last one is up there in the top three. Or would that be the bottom three?

Yeah, my son’s doing all right, Mel. He’s got problems, maybe more than the average person, but he’s a tough, smart guy. Thanks for asking.

I don’t think I’m alone in classifying these past four months as a little colder, a little wetter, with a tad more hostility from the heavens than we’re used to here. All the more reason to embrace the season rotation. Those from elsewhere (almost anywhere elsewhere except the stone tropics maybe) complain that there are no seasons in San Diego. I used to be one of them, but I’ve changed my perception. I now tend to see San Diegans who have lived here for a few years as people more finely attuned to changes in their environment. That goes for weather, urban sprawl, and development, as well as politics. For good or ill, San Diegans seem to know how to use, manipulate, enjoy, co-exist with, and/or exploit the immediate world around them. A broad generalization maybe, but I believe there is something to it, and it may not necessarily be a compliment. Just as I’ve said in the past, San Diegans seem to have little sense of humor about where they live, I’ve been shown to be wrong. Maybe a lot.

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EricBlair March 19, 2008 @ 8:31 p.m.

Brother John, I don't have an elegant quote from people far smarter than your old friend here. But there is a truth: we all have a funhouse mirror inside our heads, when we examine what happens to us in our lives.

Some people exaggerate the good, others exaggerate the bad. Few seem to see life as it is, which is probably a blessing. The truth is a harsh emetic for almost everyone to swallow.

But I hope that your taxidriver Mel has reminded you that there are many, many people who wish you and your son goodwill and happiness. I include myself among that throng. Since I no longer live in San Diego, I cannot put myself out in front of the crowd, raising a lighter in tribute. But I am like one of those long time Grateful Dead fans, following your career from afar, and wishing you well.

Try to remember all the goodwill that exists for you out there when the bad mojo threatens to envelope you. My life is so much richer for your friendship over the years, and I am far, far from the only person who believes that to be true.

You are quality, John. And as I have long said, I only wish you would treat yourself with the patience, humor, and forgiveness you have extended to people like myself over the years. You deserve it.

I wish I was in San Diego to go share some seafood pasta with you. Or some carne asada made the right way!


vwatson222 March 21, 2008 @ 9:12 a.m.

Where do I put in my vote for writing more personal columns? There are hundreds of columns on what to do in San Diego on a Friday night, but only one about the life of you, your son, and your experiences. This is a great asset to the readers in San Diego. I moved here from the east coast three years ago, and your column was a comfort of sorts. A reminder that not every one in San Diego adopted "no worries" as their motto. I prefer the personal columns, but I will continue reading your column either way.


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