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How Did You Quit Smoking?

Thirty-Five Years Ago
Unlikely as it seems, San Diego has an expanding core of rock bands doing original material, and taking their cue from the San Francisco bands of seven years ago, these outlaw units have taken to producing their own concerts. Superficially, our town San Diego seems too provincial to have spawned any kind of creative music scene, with the FM stations becoming more formatted along AM lines. But the results of the Horsefeathers/Harlequin concert last Saturday in the Balboa Park Club indicate that there is an audience here ready for musical hues beyond the monochromatic regimentation of bump songs and Elton John’s latest assembly line masterpieces.
“OUTLAW BANDS,” Ted Navin Burke, September 11, 1975

Thirty Years Ago
I’d been smoking on and off since junior high — 10, 15 years. Some friends of mine and I had a three-way bet going for one hundred dollars. If any of us caught the other one smoking, we’d split the money. That didn’t keep us from smoking. We just kept paying each other off. — Patty Hart, Bartendress, Ocean Beach
OFF THE CUFF: “HOW DID YOU QUIT SMOKING?” Lin Jakary, September 11, 1980

Twenty-Five Years Ago
The taller man at the microphone has just been introduced as José Sinatra, and he waves in the direction of his accompanist, whom he introduces to the bemused onlookers as the Troy Dante Quintet. Sinatra himself is a psychedelic blue-plate special, his outfit a cheap feast of clashing colors and vomitive patterns. After a few words of greeting, Sinatra and Dante launch into a rather spindly version of Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra.
“YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL,” John D’Agostino, September 12, 1985

Twenty Years Ago
I have never strayed far from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I have read it at least twice a year since 1965 and as a graduate student had the herculean task of plowing through a majority of the criticism of the play. I thought I had a pretty firm grasp of the Bard’s tragedy of dilatory revenge. But when I opened the text recently to prepare for the Old Globe Theatre’s production, in a flash I understood one of its basic givens for the first time — that Hamlet’s father has been dead for almost two months.
“THROUGH NATURE TO ETERNITY,” Jeff Smith, September 13, 1990

Fifteen Years Ago
Hallmark’s Star Trek–inspired Romulan Warbird Christmas tree ornament is the most recent human-behavior update my television has beamed my way. In mid-August. Since I don’t buy nor do I decorate a Christmas tree — not that there’s anything wrong with Christmas trees, mind you — I don’t know why the Romulan Warbird Christmas tree ornament (RWCTO) commercials frighten me. I don’t have particularly strong feelings about Jesus’ birthday. (Well, let me amend that. I do find Jesus’ birthday inconvenient because the people who like to celebrate it by buying each other gifts tend to swarm in vast numbers all over stores and malls from the beginning of November, making things difficult for those of us who’d simply like to buy some nice underwear and socks for our own personal use. I try to make sure I have plenty of underwear and socks by the end of October. (Halloween is a Socks and Underwear Festival at our house.)
AS SEEN ON TV: “XMAS IN AUGUST,” Abe Opincar, September 7, 1995

Ten Years Ago
It’s punk rock Thursday. “I’m hating life,” sniffed Brian, 28, a North Park local and regular at the Turquoise room at the Aztec Bowl. “Punk is adolescent, abusive, aberrant behavior.”

Nevertheless, there are a hundred others who have taken to Anarchy at the Alley, a mixture of bowling and punk rock, held Thursdays at Aztec Bowl in North Park. The lights are dimmed over lanes as a DJ spins classic punk records (noticeably missing: “Take the Skinheads Bowling” by Camper Van Beethoven and “Bowling with Bedrock Barnie” by the Dickies).
BLURT: “PUNK ROCK THURSDAYS,” Ken Leighton, September 7, 2000

Five Years Ago
“At the end of last year, I was praying for a friend of mine, and I asked, ‘Lord, what would you have me do for this person, if anything?’ He said, ‘Give them your car.’

“I had been thinking about giving a little money or encouragement. So I said, ‘My car?’ And He said, ‘Yes, like before.’

“I’d never heard anything like that before from Him. So just in case I had misheard Him, I told Him I’d check back in a week. In case He didn’t see the whole picture, that I really needed that money to get a different car and to get my daughter braces, I gave him another week to reevaluate.”
DRIVEN: “MARY JACKSON’S FAITH,” Ken Kuhlken, September 8, 2005

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Thirty-Five Years Ago
Unlikely as it seems, San Diego has an expanding core of rock bands doing original material, and taking their cue from the San Francisco bands of seven years ago, these outlaw units have taken to producing their own concerts. Superficially, our town San Diego seems too provincial to have spawned any kind of creative music scene, with the FM stations becoming more formatted along AM lines. But the results of the Horsefeathers/Harlequin concert last Saturday in the Balboa Park Club indicate that there is an audience here ready for musical hues beyond the monochromatic regimentation of bump songs and Elton John’s latest assembly line masterpieces.
“OUTLAW BANDS,” Ted Navin Burke, September 11, 1975

Thirty Years Ago
I’d been smoking on and off since junior high — 10, 15 years. Some friends of mine and I had a three-way bet going for one hundred dollars. If any of us caught the other one smoking, we’d split the money. That didn’t keep us from smoking. We just kept paying each other off. — Patty Hart, Bartendress, Ocean Beach
OFF THE CUFF: “HOW DID YOU QUIT SMOKING?” Lin Jakary, September 11, 1980

Twenty-Five Years Ago
The taller man at the microphone has just been introduced as José Sinatra, and he waves in the direction of his accompanist, whom he introduces to the bemused onlookers as the Troy Dante Quintet. Sinatra himself is a psychedelic blue-plate special, his outfit a cheap feast of clashing colors and vomitive patterns. After a few words of greeting, Sinatra and Dante launch into a rather spindly version of Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra.
“YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL,” John D’Agostino, September 12, 1985

Twenty Years Ago
I have never strayed far from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I have read it at least twice a year since 1965 and as a graduate student had the herculean task of plowing through a majority of the criticism of the play. I thought I had a pretty firm grasp of the Bard’s tragedy of dilatory revenge. But when I opened the text recently to prepare for the Old Globe Theatre’s production, in a flash I understood one of its basic givens for the first time — that Hamlet’s father has been dead for almost two months.
“THROUGH NATURE TO ETERNITY,” Jeff Smith, September 13, 1990

Fifteen Years Ago
Hallmark’s Star Trek–inspired Romulan Warbird Christmas tree ornament is the most recent human-behavior update my television has beamed my way. In mid-August. Since I don’t buy nor do I decorate a Christmas tree — not that there’s anything wrong with Christmas trees, mind you — I don’t know why the Romulan Warbird Christmas tree ornament (RWCTO) commercials frighten me. I don’t have particularly strong feelings about Jesus’ birthday. (Well, let me amend that. I do find Jesus’ birthday inconvenient because the people who like to celebrate it by buying each other gifts tend to swarm in vast numbers all over stores and malls from the beginning of November, making things difficult for those of us who’d simply like to buy some nice underwear and socks for our own personal use. I try to make sure I have plenty of underwear and socks by the end of October. (Halloween is a Socks and Underwear Festival at our house.)
AS SEEN ON TV: “XMAS IN AUGUST,” Abe Opincar, September 7, 1995

Ten Years Ago
It’s punk rock Thursday. “I’m hating life,” sniffed Brian, 28, a North Park local and regular at the Turquoise room at the Aztec Bowl. “Punk is adolescent, abusive, aberrant behavior.”

Nevertheless, there are a hundred others who have taken to Anarchy at the Alley, a mixture of bowling and punk rock, held Thursdays at Aztec Bowl in North Park. The lights are dimmed over lanes as a DJ spins classic punk records (noticeably missing: “Take the Skinheads Bowling” by Camper Van Beethoven and “Bowling with Bedrock Barnie” by the Dickies).
BLURT: “PUNK ROCK THURSDAYS,” Ken Leighton, September 7, 2000

Five Years Ago
“At the end of last year, I was praying for a friend of mine, and I asked, ‘Lord, what would you have me do for this person, if anything?’ He said, ‘Give them your car.’

“I had been thinking about giving a little money or encouragement. So I said, ‘My car?’ And He said, ‘Yes, like before.’

“I’d never heard anything like that before from Him. So just in case I had misheard Him, I told Him I’d check back in a week. In case He didn’t see the whole picture, that I really needed that money to get a different car and to get my daughter braces, I gave him another week to reevaluate.”
DRIVEN: “MARY JACKSON’S FAITH,” Ken Kuhlken, September 8, 2005

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Comments
3

One of the salient humbling experiences I have in my life is coming across a sample of something I wrote several decades earlier; callow voice, strained cadence, absurdly broad generalizations, a nervous pretentiousness shivering behind the cardboard bravado. I remember the concert, the bands, and I remember when I thought these things mattered. It can be said, I think, that my writing has tightened up, my pretensions are reined in,and that my tastes have broadened considerably. It is instructive, though, to take be reminded how parochial I was, and remain capable of being.

Sept. 10, 2010

You're SUPPOSED to be humbled, Mr. Burke, that's the reason writers drink so much booze, because we are forced to reread something we wrote so long ago. Booze keeps writers from making it to the culinary drawer and sawing off fingers ;)

Speaking of long ago, anyone with information on Abe Opincar? I am friends with an old friend of his and she is asking for a current email address. Last she knew, he was headed back to Israel. Any info would be appreciated.

Sept. 10, 2010

Calm down, friend. It's gonna be alright...

Sept. 11, 2010

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