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Melancholy vs. midday meal

“Smile — You’re in San Diego.”

My version of Old Mr. Flood’s oyster house
My version of Old Mr. Flood’s oyster house

November seems odd/ You’re my firing squad/ November

— Tom Waits, “November

My wife might say that anyone who goes listening to Tom Waits’ “November” in November — when the darkness starts closing in even before the workday is done — deserves whatever sadness they get, and she would be right. But there it is, and here I am.

Comfort ye, my people

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet…then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”

— Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

“Get out of here; you’re useless in your condition,” says my friend at the office. “Go down to Marina Park South and get yourself a chorizo burger at Burgers, Bait & Beer, right by the pier. Get a hard cider while you’re at it.” It’s not quite getting to sea, but it’s getting near the sea, and it will have to do.

Place

Burgers, Bait and Beer

200 Marina Park Way, San Diego

The sky is clear and it’s 75 degrees, but November has followed me here. Sad patches of the sward are scorched brown. Green bits play host to the homeless, people for whom the Golden Dream of California just didn’t come true. “Scream at a bum: $5 for 10 minutes,” reads one fellow’s sign. “Vets 50% off,” because however bad he’s got it, he knows it could be worse. It certainly was for ex-Marine Ian David Long and his victims up in Thousand Oaks.

Hardly anybody else is here, even though this stretch of prime waterfront property is cheek by jowl with the city center — this thanks to the great grey embankment of the convention center, shielding downtown from the horror of a waterfront view. More than one tree has the blasted look of drought death, and if it’s 75 degrees now, what’s it going to be like next July? New York says that what used to be rainy season in California is going to be fire season from here on out, and it’s easy to believe it. Forbes says California is simply unsustainable, and it’s hard to argue. How could we have tried to make a stable state out of a sunsick dream in the desert?

But we do keep trying. Here’s a Jeep loaded with Bird scooters, driven by a young man trying to make good with what he’s got. And there’s a dad with his daughter on the pier, fishing for “bass, corvina, halibut — anything, really.” Four friends get a lunchtime workout on the basketball court. And set against all this future sorrow is the present joy of the burger: the yielding warmth of the grill-softened onions, the melty goo of the queso, and the gentle bite of the chorizo. Above me, Mexican God looks down amusedly, shrugs, and says, “What can you do?”

As I head back to the office, a rainbow-stripe sign on the side of Grab & Go Subs reminds me to “Smile — You’re in San Diego.”

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My version of Old Mr. Flood’s oyster house
My version of Old Mr. Flood’s oyster house

November seems odd/ You’re my firing squad/ November

— Tom Waits, “November

My wife might say that anyone who goes listening to Tom Waits’ “November” in November — when the darkness starts closing in even before the workday is done — deserves whatever sadness they get, and she would be right. But there it is, and here I am.

Comfort ye, my people

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet…then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”

— Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

“Get out of here; you’re useless in your condition,” says my friend at the office. “Go down to Marina Park South and get yourself a chorizo burger at Burgers, Bait & Beer, right by the pier. Get a hard cider while you’re at it.” It’s not quite getting to sea, but it’s getting near the sea, and it will have to do.

Place

Burgers, Bait and Beer

200 Marina Park Way, San Diego

The sky is clear and it’s 75 degrees, but November has followed me here. Sad patches of the sward are scorched brown. Green bits play host to the homeless, people for whom the Golden Dream of California just didn’t come true. “Scream at a bum: $5 for 10 minutes,” reads one fellow’s sign. “Vets 50% off,” because however bad he’s got it, he knows it could be worse. It certainly was for ex-Marine Ian David Long and his victims up in Thousand Oaks.

Hardly anybody else is here, even though this stretch of prime waterfront property is cheek by jowl with the city center — this thanks to the great grey embankment of the convention center, shielding downtown from the horror of a waterfront view. More than one tree has the blasted look of drought death, and if it’s 75 degrees now, what’s it going to be like next July? New York says that what used to be rainy season in California is going to be fire season from here on out, and it’s easy to believe it. Forbes says California is simply unsustainable, and it’s hard to argue. How could we have tried to make a stable state out of a sunsick dream in the desert?

But we do keep trying. Here’s a Jeep loaded with Bird scooters, driven by a young man trying to make good with what he’s got. And there’s a dad with his daughter on the pier, fishing for “bass, corvina, halibut — anything, really.” Four friends get a lunchtime workout on the basketball court. And set against all this future sorrow is the present joy of the burger: the yielding warmth of the grill-softened onions, the melty goo of the queso, and the gentle bite of the chorizo. Above me, Mexican God looks down amusedly, shrugs, and says, “What can you do?”

As I head back to the office, a rainbow-stripe sign on the side of Grab & Go Subs reminds me to “Smile — You’re in San Diego.”

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