Golden Dreams

John Brooks: Bill Clinton redux

Zero-dollar congressional candidate

Thursday night. Latin jazz jam. Border X. He’s doing flights of fancy on his alto sax. Variations on “La Malanga.” “That’s the guy running for president,” says my friend. “Another sax-playing president!” Oh yes. Bill ...

Rooster’s Railroad at the Sportsman’s Pub

“Thousand dollars. It’s a Ferrari”

“Gotta be nice now,” says Rooster. “This guy’s about to donate $5 to the cause. Me.” He’s kidding, of course. Can’t gamble on games in bars like this. We’re in the Sportsman’s Pub, Lemon Grove, ...

Pop-Up Magazine’s touring show

“Nothing would be recorded. To see it, you had to be there.”

The California Sunday Magazine is included with “select Sunday copies” of the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. A one-year, six-issue subscription costs $39.95. The October 2019 issue featured a total of seven ...

The Geppetto of Taylor Guitars

You want romance? Buy three Taylors and play until one of them sings to you.

I once asked my wife if she thought I should attend art school. “How about business school?” she replied. A fellow I know, call him Tony, recently pared his collection of 40 guitars down to ...

Richard Mahler’s greatest performance

“Do it by doing it. It’s gotta be fun, or what’s the point?”

This happens at the Adams Avenue Street Fair. I’m walking past a storefront with its door and windows wide open. And twanging from inside, the sounds of a guy torturously plucking out the notes of ...

Bill Tall: icon of back-to-earthism

Edible plants for a changing world

It’s a Friday night at Nate’s Garden Grill. The Drought Tolerant Bluegrass Band is singing their down home version of “The House of the Rising Sun.” Bill Tall comes across from the City Farmers Nursery ...

The Russian Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake: something for everyone

A shot through the heart, and true love triumphs!

For the dark young man in flowing white drag: a heightened sense of reality, folk tales and folk dances transmogrified into sinuous spectacle by the touring company. Each movement considered and choreographed and beyond the ...

Psychologist Pat Deasy Spinetta saves Mount Laguna from wildfires

“I had won a contest for our slogan: ‘Clean up or burn up.’”

“What was that?” says my friend Mary. She’s looking up. A golden bird with huge wings cruises over us. It finally settles in a Jeffrey Pine tree down in the gully. “Chicken Hawk? Red Tail?” ...

Captain Pete Bethune: transforming an ex-Navy WW2 tugboat

He also created Earthracer, a speed boat that ran on used domestic vegetable oils

Getting aboard is an act of recklessness in itself. The bouncy gangplank is not attached to anything. You edge your way over like a tightrope walker. Men and women crisscross with paint brushes, drills, mysterious ...

El Norte: before and after

“Everything that happens in the film really happened to somebody.”

El Norte: Before Film director and self-identified Mexican-American Gregory Nava grew up in North Park during the ‘50s, but he had family in Mexico, and crossed the border “three to four times a week.” And ...

A 1949 Hudson Brougham named Christine

“She would be gone by now if we hadn’t towed her out.”

It’s the night before La Vuelta, on Logan Avenue. Jesse Amaro is up a ladder finishing a mural, a kind of permanent poster for the Barrio Logan festival built around low rider culture. Amaro has ...

Constantin Bakala’s journey to St Luke’s

“That, my brothers and sisters, is the work of the Body of Christ in the world.”

I spot two shining rivulets coursing down my friend Mary’s cheeks. Tears? She’s listening intently to the lanky Episcopalian pastor, Colin Mathewson. “Today,” the reverend says, “we welcome Constantin among us.” There’s a silence. I ...

Phuoc Nguyen and Ford Winslow: cyber-security missionaries

The global cybersecurity market will be worth $156 billion by the end of this year

Phuoc Nguyen, a guy I was standing next to on Fifth Avenue watching the street’s Comic-Con crowds last month, might turn out to be a caped hero himself. He’s a cyber crime-fighter. “You could say ...

The Robledo family: world travelers

“This is their education”

“I worked out that in Europe we would need $300 a day for 126 days,” says Gabi Robledo. She was 16 at the time, the planner of the family. “That meant we had to save ...

Is San Diego like Chinatown?

“I think a writer can window-dress a novel with headlines”

Jonathan Lethem, whose Motherless Brooklyn has got to be one of the only detective novels to snag a National Book Critics Circle Award, liked Fallbrook author T. Jefferson Parker’s The Last Good Guy enough to ...

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