Downtown San Diego Stories

Comic-Con sideshows: the $6 million yacht, the preacher, the cigarette bummer

Why follow a fantasy?

Mark came to Comic-Con from Laguna aboard his friend’s 85-foot, $6 million yacht Motown, a sleek gray vessel tied up alongside the Embarcadero just south of the convention center. “I’ve been here every year for ...

Park Hill — a church on Fir Street planted from Portland

"The gathering on Sunday is the huddle and everything we do all week long is the game"

Membership: 125 Pastor: Evan Wickham Age: 36 Born: San Diego Formation: Western Seminary, Portland, OR Years Ordained: 15 San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach? Pastor Evan Wickham: God is ...

Comic-Con's black market

“I still sell foreign (bootleg) stuff, Japanese, Tagalog, and Italian spoken 1960s Spiderman cartoons."

Mister-X has been selling bootleg videos at the Comic-Con International for 22 years now. “I made about $2000 in [the last] five days (July 19-23),” he said, “I used to make that in one day ...

The historic Nanking becomes Vietnamese Food Shop

Asian Grab and Go

Something’s staring back at me through the chainlink fencing. Sunlight glints through the sockets of his eyes. Wow. King Kong? His giant skull. In bits. On the grass. “Buddy, I said bring the drill,” says ...

Comic-Con scanning scamming

“They never checked IDs before”

“We had people [trying to come inside Comic-Con] dressed as Elite security wearing black polo [shirts] that said Elite on the back,” said Paulina, “[but] we don’t hire Elite security and then there was one ...

Funko dolls cause crush on Market Street

Stuck on Saturday morning cartoons — Scooby Doo, Huckleberry Hound, Jetsons, Flintstones, Wacky Races

Ricky Franco and his two sons camped out on a downtown sidewalk for the last 31 hours – they had 18 more hours left. Franco, 40, and his two sons, were the first in line ...

$800K signs mounted at City College

Proposition N brightens up 16th Street and B and C

Many of the cosmetology students at City College were impressed with the new signage being installed on their Career Technology building. “OMG, $50,000 per sign?” Corinne said, ” I saw them installing it the day ...

It's 9:30 p.m., and the Gaslamp crackles with anticipation

"It seems like it's getting younger.”

It’s half past 9:00. The happy hour/dinner crowd is packing into their vehicles, creating precious new parking spaces for the new guard. Apart from a few locals blaring hip-hop from a boombox, the sidewalk of ...

On the water, planning taco brasserie on Champs Elysées

King and Queen of Pork set up on Embarcadero

"Elvis? He stole Roy Orbison’s thunder.” John’s serious. “Roy was the bigger talent. Just because Elvis had the looks, all the girls went for him. But Roy was the great one.” John is kinda qualified ...

Another David Ross (Waterman) story

Struck out twice in San Diego

David Ross is full of stories. Gaunt yet sprightly at 82, Ross, known to his many friends on the streets of downtown San Diego as “Water Man Dave” or “Water Man,” has spent more than ...

Between Indifference and Hope — C Street: the manifestation of our vitality and gloom

The oracles of doom go unheeded

It’s decision day in the city-council chambers, Two Broke Girls vs. Billions. Call it a classic smackdown between local architectural preservationists who want to save any Spanish Colonial Revival building (and think someone should pay) ...

Don't shoot the cook

Chilaquiles and cochinita in downtown San Diego

In the movie Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Johnny Depp plays a dangerous and dashing CIA agent with a penchant for puerco pibil. “It is a slow-roasted pork,” Depp’s character explains as he takes ...

Two more downtown high-rises — 800 Broadway and 6th & A

Exorbitant rents, ground-floor retail, and “affordable” units

The boom in downtown apartment construction continues at a furious pace. Two more projects recently submitted their applications to Civic San Diego for the extensive approval process. One new project will be just east of ...

"Let's have them do it in La Jolla next year...."

Rock 'n' Roll Marathon nay-sayers

“I didn’t miss church [because] I’m the choir director – so it’s essential that I get there,” said Nina Gilbert. Gilbert was one of the prepared ones for the detours and roadblocks brought about by ...

Manchester's Pacific Gateway featured in pitch selling visas to the rich

Chinese would get EB-5 green cards for the downtown San Diego project

It's been a decade-long slog for mega-millionaire developer and onetime Union-Tribune publisher Doug Manchester's controversial Navy Broadway complex at the foot of Broadway. Project foes vowed that it would never get built, citing its forbidding ...

Booze-smoking head scratcher

Why do Art Hookah, Mazzika Hookah, Blue Moon Hookah, Phantom Hookah, Med Cafe, 3 Kings Hookah, Blue Nile Hookah cause their neighbors fits?

Hookah lounges were on the agenda at the Eastern Area communities planning group meeting on April 11. Specifically, the lack of regulatory teeth the police have when it comes to the new version of old-world ...

There she is: Star Bar

Celebrating 43 years young

It’s hard to believe that any dive worth its weight in spilt Schlitz has survived the past few decades of redevelopment in the Gaslamp with any semblance of integrity left intact, yet there she is: ...

Gafcon's San Diego bayfront plan seems to please tuna fishermen

Plan to replace Seaport Village and Tuna Harbor would include parking garages, hotels, aquarium, daily fish market - but no pleasure craft in Tuna Harbor

After months of behind-the-scenes bickering and horse trading between San Diego's commercial fishing fleet and a developer tapped by the Port of San Diego to revamp a large portion of a large section of San ...

San Diego alarm users will pay less for permits, more for false alarms

Council passes new rules 6-3 - Ward, Zapf, and Alvarez against

On April 10, the city council voted to change an ordinance regarding alarm system fees and penalties. SDPD Lt. Kevin Mayer told the city council that three key things had driven the changes. First was ...

Werewolf has Homer Cakes

A local’s place in the Gaslamp

To me, a good breakfast is like a good blues CD: Talented artists work on an established formula, whether it be three chords or eggs, bacon, and potatoes. Done well, it’s simplicity with style. Brunch ...

A stroll down Broadway

Hotel San Diego, Horton Plaza, YMCA, and the Midway

A Lullaby of Broadway “I was sitting in my room,” declared one hotel resident, “when I heard a knock at the door. I opened the door and three or four men forced their way in. ...

How to drink tea in Tehran

Taste thrill downtown at Darband

“Well, look around you,” she says. “It’s real. Close your eyes and we could be in Tehran.”

Duncan Hunter hears from Affordable Care activists

Protesters allegedly blew their chance to keep meeting congressman

A group of demonstrators gathered outside the El Cajon offices of Representative Duncan Hunter for the sixth time in as many weeks on Tuesday (March 7) to protest a proposal to repeal and replace the ...

Thousands to Faulconer: sanctuary city now

Former L.A. mayor among protesters warning SD mayor of a "soft stance"

Thousands of San Diegans took to the streets downtown on Saturday (February 18), calling on mayor Kevin Faulconer to establish San Diego as a sanctuary city and specifically offer support for Senate Bill 54, a ...

Falstaff at San Diego Opera

Verdi's final opera is a comedy

Verdi’s only successful comedy, Falstaff, opens at San Diego Opera on Saturday, February 18, 7 p.m. There will be four performances running through February 26. Sir John Falstaff appears in three Shakespeare plays: Henry IV ...

Whiskey practice with the Ass Pocket Fellas

These guys played Cameron Crowe's Ridgemont (Clairemont) High

The Clairemont High rock scene honored in Cameron Crowe’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High lives on, more or less, in the eight-piece rollicking Irish-rock band Ass Pocket Whiskey Fellas. “We’re all from Clairemont,” says guitarist ...

AT&T workers vote for strike

Protest: "We're not looking for the whole pie, we just want a slice.

A crowd of red-shirted union picketers took to the streets downtown on Saturday morning (February 11), banging drums, chanting, and blowing on vuvuzelas outside an AT&T store at the corner of Third and Broadway. "We're ...

Fair wage muscle on city hall's steps

"Latinas earn 37 cents for every dollar that white men earn."

Current and former San Diego councilmembers gathered in front of city hall Friday morning (February 10) to offer support for an ordinance being introduced by Chris Ward (District 3) that would require recipients of city ...

Wussification of music

Squinty-eyed Clint Westwood rides into town this week

Clint Sobolik’s latest project takes on the nickname he picked up in his last band, the Whiskey Avengers. “I squint a lot and I’m a man of few words, so I guess I just gravitated ...

City holds garage sale next to homeless center

Make an offer (disclosure: asbestos present, accessibility limited)

Downtown's "World Trade Center" at 1250 Sixth Avenue started out as the San Diego Athletic Club in the late '20s and eventually became home to publisher Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; they vacated the building in 1993 ...

Go Biga downtown, mop the plate

“He keeps that batch of ‘live’ dough from one day to the next. It’s the life of the bread.”

I look at my chunk of bread. Just think, Napoleon ate this. Could have. Really. This bread. That’s how long it’s been going. Back in 1815, Battle of Waterloo and all that, this exact same ...

The last days of Anthony’s

Landmark fish grotto closes for good January 31

A couple of weeks before Anthony’s Fish Grotto closes its doors on Harbor Drive for the last time (January 31 is the scheduled date), I decided to stop in and have one final meal. Anthony’s ...

Downtown protest of Trump cabinet picks

Environmental activists against "gang of thugs"

As many as 100 climate activists gathered downtown on Monday evening (January 9), joining in a nationwide day of protest calling on senators across the country to vote against several of president-elect Donald Trump's cabinet ...

Mid-project tour of City College

Cafeteria leaks to be fixed and rooftop hangout established

“Part of the project is to remove all of the concrete here and redo it,” said City College project manager Tom Fine last week during a construction-zone tour of the campus. “And I don’t know ...

San Diego’s priciest condo, a block west of Horton Plaza

It is likely a resident will never touch the front door

Beds: 3 Baths: 3 Current Owner: Raskin Family List Price: $4,750,000 The region’s priciest condo, a 26th-floor corner unit in the Meridian building at 700 Front Street, promises prospective buyers “exclusive living style in the ...

Stop ticketing the homeless, Mayor Faulconer

"We request that he do so as an emergency humanitarian action."

Advocates for San Diego's homeless population gathered downtown Tuesday morning (January 3) to rally and present mayor Kevin Faulconer's office with a petition calling on police to cease ticketing and arresting individuals living on the ...

Car freaks hit car show

“Jay Leno already has one.”

The darling of the 2017 San Diego International Auto Show that opened yesterday (December 29) was Ford’s new production vehicle, a bright red GT with gull-wing doors that pumps out 600 horsepower with a twin-turbo, ...

SD Neighborhoods: Downtown

Inside the Golden West, Symphony Towers, Luther Tower, public library, where to park, why it’s First Avenue and not First Street

On Top of the City Higgs is seventy-four, has been practicing law since 1934, and was president of the San Diego County Bar Association in 1940. His voice is raspy but his sentences are clear ...

Going bananas for waffles

The sweet dishes are the stars at Cafe 222

Saturday morning is one of my favorite times to walk around the Gaslamp. It’s not crowded, there’s parking, and the old buildings have grandeur in the a.m. sunlight. Except for the occasional jogging conventioneer, you ...

Anti-Trump spitting

Cypher at the Hostel welcomes rapping world travelers

The aggro spirit present in many rap lyrics bubbled up when an impromptu curbside verbal battle between two local crews got physical outside the Tower Bar in May of 2013. Don’t expect any inter-artist aggression ...

Fast-food wage rally snowballs

Marchers also rage for rent control and against Olango killing, Dakota pipeline

As many as 1000 activists pushing a broad range of causes gathered downtown Tuesday evening (November 29), the fourth anniversary of the "Fight for 15" movement backed by fast-food workers and labor unions to raise ...

Not all San Diego beer tasting rooms look alike

Six spots that go beyond reclaimed wood

They may range in size and scope, but most of the nearly 150 breweries and tasting rooms pouring across greater San Diego have at least one thing in common — their looks. Since the majority ...

And the winner is...

San Diego Music Awards back on at House of Blues

Kevin Hellman says he was convinced to come back and resurrect the San Diego Music Awards, which will be held March 21 at the House of Blues downtown. Hellman told the Reader two weeks ago ...

Captain Hook walks on water

Truuuump...Truuump will tear us apart

A marathon set of Joy Division and New Order classics by Manchester legend Peter Hook as the U.S. votes itself to hell is the only cure for the surrounding catastrophe. After a subtle start, “Ceremony” ...

Sophisticated stuff at the Dog Haus

Dawgs off the chain

"Go!” This is Carla. “You can make it!” Eight. Friday night. Tapped out. Cupboard’s bare. Broke, broke, pelado. Except, heh-heh, just saw an ad that says free hot dogs today and tonight only, at the ...

Pirate promotion

Orange County–based concert promoter John Reese doesn’t want to take on the "two behemoths"

A former bouncer who launched his own security company and then parlayed his concert access into a gig as the tour manager for Guns ’N Roses, penetrated San Diego’s closed-shop concert business. “I think its ...

Library lets in the noise

"Checked Out" experimental music fest plugs in at the downtown branch

“No, this is not the sort of thing that you’d expect to hear in the library.” Laurie Bailey is the arts, music, and recreation librarian at the Central Library in East Village. She’s talking about ...

Sally Ride: From budget line item to Broadway Pier

A chance to see the inner workings of the new research vessel

Named for Sally Ride, the first American woman in space as part of the space shuttle Challenger crew and member of UCSD’s faculty, Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s new research vessel, Sally Ride, will be open ...

Jethro Tull, written and performed by Ian Anderson

The band about a man is now a rock opera

Jethro Tull the band may be on hiatus, or may be kaput, but Ian Anderson is keeping the name going strong. Anderson is back with his Thick as a Brick 2/Homo Eroticus band, but this ...

Book booze

Bring your library card and a designated driver

The old downtown public library was notorious for hosting legions of homeless inebriates haunting the stacks. Now the city is looking for a vendor who can purvey the hard stuff to higher-dollar crowds. “From a ...

Alice in Chains...in Symphony Hall?

Veteran Seattle act lays some grunge on the Copley stage

Alice in Chains is one of the many bands to come out of the Seattle grunge scene of the early ’90s. Often overlooked by fans that flocked to Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam, I found ...

Taking a leap from real estate and tech to coffee

Second career coffee ventures

As the specialty coffee business has gained in popularity, it's become an appealing choice for non-service industry professionals pursuing a second career. A couple such cases have led to new roasting shops in the county. ...

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