4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

RIP 2015 in San Diego: Bill Kolender, Jack Murphy, Karl Strauss, Pete Wilson, Shamu

Talking to the ghosts of San Diego about the year that was

Sheriff (and former chief of police)

Bill Kolender, 1935–2015


Walter Mencken:
Sheriff! Welcome. What’s 2015 about to you?

Sheriff Bill Kolender: It’s all about building trust and renewing the department’s bond with the community it protects through increased transparency and accountability.

WM: Really? Wow, that’s wonderf —

BK: Nah, I’m jerking your chain. Maybe in my day, but in my day, we weren’t getting surplus urban assault vehicles from the Department of Defense. Now it’s all about the money. And let me tell you what, nothing gets John Q. Private Enterprize jumpier than disturbances of the peace. And that’s where we come in. Let me ask you a question: what kind of officer is a police officer?

WM: A peace officer?

BK: Exactly. Justice is somebody else’s job. We’re here to keep the peace.

WM: But sometimes, the things you do create disturbances.

BK: Sure they do, bright boy. That’s where you folks in the press prove useful. Remember when I got spanked for dismissing all those traffic tickets for friends and family back in ’86? We told the papers we wouldn’t do that anymore, and people felt better, and things quieted down. Did we stop doing it? Nobody cared. Now people are yelling about how we shot some people we shouldn’t have or got jiggy with a taser or some such nonsense. The chief tells the papers we’re going to start wearing body cameras and things quiet down. It’s not like we let people see the footage; that’s not the point. The point is people feel better, more peaceful. And that’s good for business. Of course I went to work for the U-T after my stint as chief, and of course they backed me for sheriff in ’94: a strong working relationship with the press is crucial for law enforcement.

From an Amazon.com customer review of the resurgent title, now sitting at #1 on the site's Parenting/Child Safety book category: "Too often, children's books sugarcoat harsh realities by what is known as transference. Instead of telling little ones about people who will lure them into vans with promises of candy, kidnap them, and sell them as sex slaves, we make up a story about an old lady who lives in the woods in a house made out of gingerbread and other sweets, but who turns out to be a witch who wants to eat Hansel and Gretel. Happily, this Little Golden Book wisely dispenses with the sugar and keeps it real. Kids are clearly never too young to be tased, and so they're never too young to learn about the dangers of psychotic police officers with tasers. "

WM: Gosh, I would think the press ought to keep a sharp eye and a safe distance from —

BK: Oh, stop it. Nobody wants to hear it. Go write another article about the Chargers.

WM: Fine. Anything grab you from last year?

BK: That picture book cover reminded me of when I was a kid. You know, from when that deputy double-tased that skateboard punk up in Fallbrook. And I guess the Halloween bit was okay. Just watch yourself, and don’t get folks too riled up.

Sportswriter Jack Murphy, 1923–1980


Walter Mencken:
Jack Murphy. A fellow member of the press. It’s an honor to meet you.

Jack Murphy: It’s all about the money.

WM: I’ve heard that before somewhere.

JM: I mean, it’s always been about the money, but it used to be about other stuff, too. Before Qualcomm paid $18 million to bump me aside, the stadium that housed both the Chargers and the Padres was named after me. Me, a sportswriter, because of what I did to bring the Chargers to San Diego from Los Angeles, and my further efforts to build them a lasting home here. They honored my achievement. Now all they honor is dollars.

WM: But as you say, money has always been a part of sports.

JM: Sure. But it wasn’t the most important part. My brother Bob was the voice of the New York Mets for decades, and right up until he retired in 2003, he met people who never forgave the Dodgers and Giants for leaving New York in ’57. They had been diehard fans, and they had contempt for the owners’ decision to forego the love and chase the money. Now, when the Chargers threaten to leave town unless the city builds them a new stadium, people get mad at the city! I think of it like a marriage. Maybe financial security and stability are really down there at the foundation of things, but up above, there’s love and companionship — and that’s the part worth caring about and cheering for. This thing with the stadium, it’s as if the wife is saying, “Buy me a new house or I’m out of here!” and all their friends are getting mad at the husband.

WM: Well, that’s depressing.

JM: Not as depressing as the Chargers’ play this season or the persistent mediocrity of the Padres. Maybe money is the only part of San Diego sports worth paying attention to.

Master brewer Karl Strauss, 1912–2006


Walter Mencken:
Herr Strauss, great to see you!

Karl Strauss: It’s all about the Deutsche marks.

WM: Oh, no — not you, too? You’re a beer man! You help bring joy to a suffering world!

KS: It’s true, I am a beer man. I was even born in a brewery! And if we were having this conversation even one year ago, I would have agreed wholeheartedly. Bier ist gut! I was so tickled by the mark I left on the industry. First, I worked at Pabst for 44 years, where I helped to create the official beer of the American hipster, Pabst Blue Ribbon. Not bad for a Jewish immigrant who began by feeding bottles into a soaker! And then after that, I gave my cousin Chris Cramer my Old World name and my Old World recipes, which he used to launch the craft-beer industry in San Diego. I was so proud to be part of the creation of a beer that you didn’t have to drink ironically, and so thrilled at the growth and experimentation within this fledgling movement. Even you took note, yes? You did a story on Stone’s Old Sludgebucket.

WM: Yes, but that was just an exaggeration.

KS: Nonsense. A billion dollars for Ballast Point: that’s an exaggeration. Craft beer will soon be just corporate beer with cooler labels, you watch. I guess the innovation and freedom that come with a smaller scale will have to happen elsewhere.

Shamu, ????–1971


Walter Mencken:
Wow. The first Shamu. You’re like the Alan Scott of Shamus. Sorry for the nerd reference: he was the first Green Lantern.

Shamu: It’s all about the —

WM: Don’t say “money.” Please.

S: Of course not. I’m a whale. It’s all about the mackerel. And also the salmon.

WM: Thank you.

S: Of course, for the sad bastards at SeaWorld, it’s absolutely all about the money. And now that they’re losing it hand over fin, they’re phasing us out. I’m just glad I’m not going to be around for what comes next.

Statue of Pete Wilson, 2007-????


Walter Mencken:
I can’t help but notice that you’re hanging your head just a titch.

Statue of Pete Wilson: Sure I am. And I’m smiling sheepishly and slouching my shoulders and sticking my hands in my pockets — forever. You can practically hear me saying, “Shucks, son, do you really need me to tell you that — ”

WM: Don’t.

PW: “…it’s all about the money?”

WM: So, the hangdog look is because you’re ashamed?

PW: No, it’s because I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed for you. You’re a grownup. You know how this works. Hell, you’re a part of it. You write your silly little made-up stories...

WM: Um, I prefer “almost factual.” There’s always some element of truth to —

PW: …made-up stories about awful people doing awful things and injustice and greed and general folly, and maybe a few people read them and smile. Maybe one chuckles softly to himself. But here’s the fact: people don’t change things when they’re chuckling. People only chuckle when they’re past caring. Comedy is the language of the defeated. See you in the funny papers.

WM: Happy New Year to you, too.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Tom Morey – the Boogie Board's early years

"I don't think it's just a fad"
Next Article

San Diego Reader’s Best Of issue 2021

Joshua trees in Mission Beach, Ace Hardware in Hillcrest, the regulars at Liberty Tobacco, the unnecessity of Balboa Park, “We live on the edge of paradise”

Sheriff (and former chief of police)

Bill Kolender, 1935–2015


Walter Mencken:
Sheriff! Welcome. What’s 2015 about to you?

Sheriff Bill Kolender: It’s all about building trust and renewing the department’s bond with the community it protects through increased transparency and accountability.

WM: Really? Wow, that’s wonderf —

BK: Nah, I’m jerking your chain. Maybe in my day, but in my day, we weren’t getting surplus urban assault vehicles from the Department of Defense. Now it’s all about the money. And let me tell you what, nothing gets John Q. Private Enterprize jumpier than disturbances of the peace. And that’s where we come in. Let me ask you a question: what kind of officer is a police officer?

WM: A peace officer?

BK: Exactly. Justice is somebody else’s job. We’re here to keep the peace.

WM: But sometimes, the things you do create disturbances.

BK: Sure they do, bright boy. That’s where you folks in the press prove useful. Remember when I got spanked for dismissing all those traffic tickets for friends and family back in ’86? We told the papers we wouldn’t do that anymore, and people felt better, and things quieted down. Did we stop doing it? Nobody cared. Now people are yelling about how we shot some people we shouldn’t have or got jiggy with a taser or some such nonsense. The chief tells the papers we’re going to start wearing body cameras and things quiet down. It’s not like we let people see the footage; that’s not the point. The point is people feel better, more peaceful. And that’s good for business. Of course I went to work for the U-T after my stint as chief, and of course they backed me for sheriff in ’94: a strong working relationship with the press is crucial for law enforcement.

From an Amazon.com customer review of the resurgent title, now sitting at #1 on the site's Parenting/Child Safety book category: "Too often, children's books sugarcoat harsh realities by what is known as transference. Instead of telling little ones about people who will lure them into vans with promises of candy, kidnap them, and sell them as sex slaves, we make up a story about an old lady who lives in the woods in a house made out of gingerbread and other sweets, but who turns out to be a witch who wants to eat Hansel and Gretel. Happily, this Little Golden Book wisely dispenses with the sugar and keeps it real. Kids are clearly never too young to be tased, and so they're never too young to learn about the dangers of psychotic police officers with tasers. "

WM: Gosh, I would think the press ought to keep a sharp eye and a safe distance from —

BK: Oh, stop it. Nobody wants to hear it. Go write another article about the Chargers.

WM: Fine. Anything grab you from last year?

BK: That picture book cover reminded me of when I was a kid. You know, from when that deputy double-tased that skateboard punk up in Fallbrook. And I guess the Halloween bit was okay. Just watch yourself, and don’t get folks too riled up.

Sportswriter Jack Murphy, 1923–1980


Walter Mencken:
Jack Murphy. A fellow member of the press. It’s an honor to meet you.

Jack Murphy: It’s all about the money.

WM: I’ve heard that before somewhere.

JM: I mean, it’s always been about the money, but it used to be about other stuff, too. Before Qualcomm paid $18 million to bump me aside, the stadium that housed both the Chargers and the Padres was named after me. Me, a sportswriter, because of what I did to bring the Chargers to San Diego from Los Angeles, and my further efforts to build them a lasting home here. They honored my achievement. Now all they honor is dollars.

WM: But as you say, money has always been a part of sports.

JM: Sure. But it wasn’t the most important part. My brother Bob was the voice of the New York Mets for decades, and right up until he retired in 2003, he met people who never forgave the Dodgers and Giants for leaving New York in ’57. They had been diehard fans, and they had contempt for the owners’ decision to forego the love and chase the money. Now, when the Chargers threaten to leave town unless the city builds them a new stadium, people get mad at the city! I think of it like a marriage. Maybe financial security and stability are really down there at the foundation of things, but up above, there’s love and companionship — and that’s the part worth caring about and cheering for. This thing with the stadium, it’s as if the wife is saying, “Buy me a new house or I’m out of here!” and all their friends are getting mad at the husband.

WM: Well, that’s depressing.

JM: Not as depressing as the Chargers’ play this season or the persistent mediocrity of the Padres. Maybe money is the only part of San Diego sports worth paying attention to.

Master brewer Karl Strauss, 1912–2006


Walter Mencken:
Herr Strauss, great to see you!

Karl Strauss: It’s all about the Deutsche marks.

WM: Oh, no — not you, too? You’re a beer man! You help bring joy to a suffering world!

KS: It’s true, I am a beer man. I was even born in a brewery! And if we were having this conversation even one year ago, I would have agreed wholeheartedly. Bier ist gut! I was so tickled by the mark I left on the industry. First, I worked at Pabst for 44 years, where I helped to create the official beer of the American hipster, Pabst Blue Ribbon. Not bad for a Jewish immigrant who began by feeding bottles into a soaker! And then after that, I gave my cousin Chris Cramer my Old World name and my Old World recipes, which he used to launch the craft-beer industry in San Diego. I was so proud to be part of the creation of a beer that you didn’t have to drink ironically, and so thrilled at the growth and experimentation within this fledgling movement. Even you took note, yes? You did a story on Stone’s Old Sludgebucket.

WM: Yes, but that was just an exaggeration.

KS: Nonsense. A billion dollars for Ballast Point: that’s an exaggeration. Craft beer will soon be just corporate beer with cooler labels, you watch. I guess the innovation and freedom that come with a smaller scale will have to happen elsewhere.

Shamu, ????–1971


Walter Mencken:
Wow. The first Shamu. You’re like the Alan Scott of Shamus. Sorry for the nerd reference: he was the first Green Lantern.

Shamu: It’s all about the —

WM: Don’t say “money.” Please.

S: Of course not. I’m a whale. It’s all about the mackerel. And also the salmon.

WM: Thank you.

S: Of course, for the sad bastards at SeaWorld, it’s absolutely all about the money. And now that they’re losing it hand over fin, they’re phasing us out. I’m just glad I’m not going to be around for what comes next.

Statue of Pete Wilson, 2007-????


Walter Mencken:
I can’t help but notice that you’re hanging your head just a titch.

Statue of Pete Wilson: Sure I am. And I’m smiling sheepishly and slouching my shoulders and sticking my hands in my pockets — forever. You can practically hear me saying, “Shucks, son, do you really need me to tell you that — ”

WM: Don’t.

PW: “…it’s all about the money?”

WM: So, the hangdog look is because you’re ashamed?

PW: No, it’s because I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed for you. You’re a grownup. You know how this works. Hell, you’re a part of it. You write your silly little made-up stories...

WM: Um, I prefer “almost factual.” There’s always some element of truth to —

PW: …made-up stories about awful people doing awful things and injustice and greed and general folly, and maybe a few people read them and smile. Maybe one chuckles softly to himself. But here’s the fact: people don’t change things when they’re chuckling. People only chuckle when they’re past caring. Comedy is the language of the defeated. See you in the funny papers.

WM: Happy New Year to you, too.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Women at the Elephant Bar, Carlos Murphy’s, the Belly Up Tavern helped my career as doctor

Schizophrenia, overeating, death – what lay ahead after UC San Diego med school
Next Article

T. E. Hulme: an influence on Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot and Robert Frost

Six poems from the first Modernist poet
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close