Normal Heights Stories

Kargoyle haunts Normal Heights

Then it's off to be auctioned at Scottsdale

The Kargoyle, a chop-topped 1967 Cadillac Miller-Meteor Funeral Coach of dubious practicality and somewhat mysterious origin, slunk and slithered its way into the Adams Avenue Vons lot in Normal Heights and parked next to me. ...

Great year for 7-Eleven beer-runners

Vigilant employees, cameras, locked coolers, barricades don't stop them

“Yesterday at 9:40 [p.m.] two Modelo 24 oz. cans fell out of his pants,” said Fredley. “I said, 'What the hell...what is this?' then he grabbed them and ran away…but his girlfriend is right behind ...

Downtown homeless people driven north by cops

Normal Heights residents vexed with influx

Normal Heights residents remain frustrated and angry over the recent influx of homeless people in their neighborhood — which city staff say was prompted by the downtown streets bleaching to ward off hepatitis A. The ...

Mr. Halfright

The wheelchair encyclopedia of Normal Heights

It’s not his real name, but the name he gave me wasn’t real, either. He’s navigated his dual wheelchairs, one for his luggage and one for himself, with impressive efficiency — and even agility, despite ...

Normal Heights' notions for I-15–adjacent property

"We can sell it with strings attached or without strings attached."

Concerned about what the city is planning to do with two vacant lots on the northwest corner of El Cajon Boulevard at 40th Street, adjacent to the I-15 off-ramp, local groups are asking the city ...

Normal Heights park starvation anniversary

Planning group member vows to sue city over ignored agreement with schools

One year after the neighborhood called out the city and Normal Heights Elementary School for breaking the promise that the school grounds would be open to the public after school hours, the chairman of the ...

Loiterers, crime at Adams rec center park

“Then where are we supposed to go?”

“Two months ago, while I was walking my two dogs by the Adams Recreation Center park,” Frank said. “A black homeless [looking] guy flicked his cigarette on the street. He [then] said, ‘What you lookin’ ...

Car theft the new "normal" in Normal Heights?

High-tech or low, residents endure the rash

In the past couple of weeks, there have been four autos stolen in Normal Heights, according to the Crimemapping.com website. An additional eight auto break-ins and thefts were also reported. “I woke up to find ...

Sycamore Den's bartender apologizes profusely

Cringe-worthiness turns to buzz-worthiness

The Stalk Market is Sycamore Den’s newest cocktail, and according to Sycamore bartender Jesse Ross, this liquor-based commodity’s success stems from a portfolio of ingredients — including acid phosphate, the same ingredient soda jerks used ...

Little Miss growlers on demand

"If we roll up and they're wasted, we can't give it to them."

Little Miss Brewing opened a satellite tasting room in Normal Heights in June. While the brewery makes beer in Miramar, its business model has always been to open tasting rooms in more populous urban neighborhoods. ...

Chaldean pizza, Chaldean ribs

What's inside counts

"It’s the only thing that’ll settle the kids down for the evening,” says Mr. F. He’s talking about this place’s big deal: “Pizza, $5.99.” And that’s for a 14-inch pepperoni pie. A big permanent sign ...

Unintended consequences on I-15?

The bikeway to Mission Valley brings a decibel debate to Normal Heights

“The noise level has increased throughout the day and night,” said Shannon Moran, “I used to be able to sleep with the windows down and now I either have [to use a] loud ambient noise ...

Eritreans march in Normal Heights for Day of Martyrs

Freedom fighter became dictator

The procession started slowly Tuesday night as people walked a block along the fence on School Street that defines the John Adams Elementary School park boundaries — we didn't pay heed at first, thinking it ...

What is someone's junk is now everyone's junk

Alley-pickers are pickier in North Park and Normal Heights

In the last day (June 6), Mike G. has seen a desk and three mattresses dumped in plain sight around his Normal Heights’ streets. “….and all sorts of cabinets, bookcases, etc. will appear on the ...

"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 ...

Neighbors take sides in Normal Heights dog dispute

How soon does owner need to respond?

“[Regarding] the neighbor who threw dog poop on another neighbor’s windshield for not cleaning up after their dog,” said Melissa Popovich, “I can understand why a person would get frustrated enough about it.” Popovich, 43, ...

Normal Heights seeks curfews to roust homeless

The very worst kind of NIMBYism?

The Adams Avenue Recreation Council voted Tuesday night to take action seeking curfews at two parks that will allow the police to roust the homeless who are camping there. "Who wants to bring their children ...

Sidewalk danger from South San Diego to Normal Heights

New metal base for signs part of the problem

“I’ve tripped over that metal piece so many times [that] I stopped counting,” said Sharon, as she walked back to her car that was parked on C Street under the Interstate 5 overpass. “I’ve only ...

Normal Heights reacts to homeless spillover

Benches may be gone at park next to Adams Elementary

“It’s shameful. I don’t feel safe walking in my own neighborhood or even using this park sometimes. You can’t go more than few blocks without seeing people sleeping on the streets.” This was from a ...

Big Thief's first Masterpiece

Brooklyn-based indie rockers set up at Soda Bar Friday night

Messy, free-ranging, raw-boned music that sometimes comes with an explicit-language warning. Big Thief makes music that hangs together on a thread of workman-like monotony, using chords in progressions that were hoary and predictable way back ...

Corn husk takes on banana leaf

Two tamales enter, both get eaten

One of my favorite parts about living in San Diego is that I can be cruising down a street on just about any day and spot a little cart selling tamales. I noticed Tamales el ...

Slim Cessna's hillbilly hootenanny

Gothic Americana act takes Soda Bar a little higher

How does one begin to describe Slim Cessna’s Auto Club? The band, forming 25 years ago in Denver, defies categorization, though many have tried. Some have labeled their sound — a wickedly enchanting mix of ...

Where there's no smoke, there's no chicken

“The wind usually blows towards the east in the Pancho Villa parking lot."

“We just lost their main flagship,” said Mr. Robinson, a resident who lives one block away from the Pancho Villa supermarket at 3245 El Cajon Boulevard. Robinson said he is “bummed out” by the pollos ...

Street repair must wait until wire undergrounding?

"They've scrapped the master list and are setting up a new schedule."

After a particularly hard crunch was suffered by his car's front end on the really bad pavement in front of his Normal Heights house, Kevin G. used the city's Get It Done app to ask ...

Classic Emerald Isle pub in the middle of Normal Heights

Sign up for some of the sloppiest karaoke in town

“God invented whiskey to keep the Irish from ruling the world,” as Ed McMahon once said, but that hasn’t stopped them from exerting a considerable influence over Normal Heights nightlife. A Guinness-branded butcher board along ...

Little Miss Brewing moving into Normal Heights and O.B.

They should call it Getting Bigger Miss Brewing

Since before Little Miss Brewing began churning out beers from its Miramar brewhouse in August, the plan was to open a satellite tasting room in a San Diego urban neighborhood. Now, as the business hits ...

Punk-rock revivalists Barb Wire Dolls

Soda Bar stages the Greek five-piece on Thursday night, December 22

They’re a good three decades late to the dance, but don’t paint them into the retro corner. This is a living, breathing band, fresh, and coming off the launch pad as if they could restart ...

Protomartyr: a post-punk take on the Bible's Job

There was something of a talk-show-host-addressing-an-audience-after-a-national-tragedy vibe

“Welcome to the new America, I guess,” mumbled frontman Joe Casey a few songs into Detroit band Protomartyr’s set the night after Election Day. And then, just off-mic: “What a bummer.” The band launched into ...

Food-trucked out on Adams Avenue

Unenthused locals take pass on Bay Area company's pop-up biz

Adams Avenue businesses are considering a pitch from a San Francisco Bay Area company that holds pop-up events with food trucks, music, and more to start an event at the Masonic meeting hall on the ...

Twenty-four-string stew

Only four guitars will do for the big rock that is Diarrhea Planet

If one were to travel back to when AOR guitar-rock ruled the charts, they would have a difficult time tracking down a band that featured four guitarists. Welcome to the 24-string world known as Diarrhea ...

Park-starved residents locked out of school playgrounds

"Responsibility for opening seems unclear and too often forgotten."

At least three of San Diego's joint-use playground parks have limited or eliminated public access to playgrounds in North Park, Normal Heights, and Kensington, and no one knows who is responsible. After three days of ...

Decidedly not-fancy lobster rolls

Like getting Baja fish tacos off a food truck in Maine

Shopping for beer makes me hungry. Actually, it makes me thirsty, the kind of thirst that precipitates going home to try a few of the beers that I just purchased. That in turn makes me ...

That ain't the Yawpers

Denver-based cowpunk trio keeps country gritty

When imagining a band composed of two acoustic guitar players and a drummer, most would envision some sort of mellow country or folk group. That ain’t the Yawpers. The Yawpers play acoustic guitars, but they ...

Peter Sprague's guitar knows no genre

Sprague will be joined by vocalists Leonard Patton, Nina Francis, and Gregory Page at Java Joe's on Sunday

Peter Sprague alone on the small stage is enough. But double down by putting the show in an arts venue where there is no bad seat, and add Leonard Patton, Nina Francis, and Gregory Page ...

What's going on at San Diego Global Vision Academies?

Founder abruptly departs, salaried teachers substituting elsewhere...

With the sudden departure of its founder Dena Harris — who took her four children with her — parents of students at the San Diego Global Vision Academies in Normal Heights say they are worried ...

Normal Heights' Chutes Park would've been fun

But, developer left with funds and someone else's wife

In January of 1907, the Venice Construction Company optioned from D.C. Collier's Ralston Realty 50 acres of land in a canyon on the northeast end of Adams Avenue overlooking Ward Road in Normal Heights. Water ...

City's Get It Done app not getting it done

"Your site says it was closed but nothing was done."

Get it done? Hell, the city apparently can't even count the number of reports coming into the Get It Done app and its companion online complaint system launched barely three months ago. Dozens of reports ...

Why "Normal Heights"?

Safely assumed answer is over 100 years old

"Why is this neighborhood named 'Normal Heights'?" is a question asked frequently by residents and non-residents of this neighborhood. Here is the answer: In 1905, when Col. D.C. Collier and the University Heights Syndicate bought ...

What is “San Diego-style” barbecue?

Mark’s Bark does it in Normal Heights

So much is (justly) made of barbecue styles. It’s the ultimate sign of a culinary asshat to say, “You can’t get good XYZ-style barbecue outside of XYZ place.” But there’s a nugget of truth in ...

One hot Headache

Aussie pub-rockers Royal Headache get Soda Bar bouncing

Before Royal Headache started their set, I spotted their bassist, Joe, taking a stab at the NFL Blitz ’99 arcade game nestled in the club’s main room. Perhaps he was using it to learn the ...

Concert artist brings energy and hair

Artist Jimmy Ovadia creates a new gig

Most jobs associated with concerts have been around for years — musician, roadie, sound tech, merch guy. Jimmy Ovadia created a new job description, and he says it’s been his primary means of support for ...

SDPD wife helped crack case of North Park attacker

"We do care, cops do care. I live in the neighborhood."

Though she was instrumental in cracking the 2014 case of the serial attacker in North Park and Normal Heights, Carrie Spillane didn't feel right about accepting the $10,000 reward. So she asked the city to ...

Enter the Fro zone with AJ Froman

O.B. band hopes the Zappa rock documentary provokes interest in odd prog

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Freak Out!, the first of some 60 Frank Zappa albums. Last weekend a new documentary called Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words was released to ...

Royal Headache and festivals for fuel

Aussie indie act storms our shores on the way to Pitchfork

Though they come from “the land down unda,” Australia’s Royal Headache has been growing a loyal following in the states. That’s not bad for a quartet two LPs into the game. The group is about ...

Overripe cherries, before the squirrels got to them

2011 Rivera Rupicolo at Proprietor’s Reserve

Since the state is shaped like a mitten, Michiganders often hold up their left hand so that they can point to where they’re from. Italians are generally too proud to point to a thigh-high boot, ...

Nothing like a headbanger

After a mugging in Oakland, Nothing's Nicky Palermo releases his best record yet

Domenic “Nicky” Palermo began recording songs as Nothing about five years ago in Philadelphia. He was depressed and in the midst of a nervous breakdown. Nothing’s initial demo couldn’t be deemed a “bedroom project,” as ...

El Cajon Blvd. facelift exposes intricate brickwork

O'Connor's Church Goods building façade hid c. 1908 beauty

A work crew recently tearing the stucco face off the old O'Connor's Church Goods building on El Cajon Boulevard uncovered an intricate red brick face that one planning group member said "may be the prettiest ...

New Ward Canyon dog park not mutt-tough?

Complaints about bark ground cover causing splinters

Normal Heights and Kensington dog owners took their concerns over the new Ward Canyon–adjacent dog park to the Adams Avenue Recreation Council last week (May 25). The rec council took up the matter in response ...

Normal Heights is not Memphis

Burnside begs to be described as “unpretentious”

A little while back, I caught wind that hipster sandwich shop Burnside had rebooted itself with a barbecue theme. As self-appointed local barbecue doyen, a position I realize is somewhat oxymoronic, I knew I had ...

That's Colonel Wilkes to you

Southern-gothic singer/songwriter J.D. Wilkes hits the Hideout on Monday

J.D. Wilkes is a backwoods renaissance man. The singer/banjoist/harmonica player may have invented punk bluegrass when he fronted the Legendary Shack Shakers and later, a tamer version of that same ethic with his wife in ...

Scum, Rise!

Post-punks Protomartyr pack Soda Bar

Detroit quartet Protomartyr delivered a blistering set of post-punk goodness to Soda Bar. The band performed selections from all three of their albums, which the packed house lapped up like enthusiastic Rottweilers. Vocalist Joe Casey’s ...

Massive plans for bike lanes where? When?

Association of governments has some answers but not all

The first time I heard about the San Diego Association of Governments’ plans to significantly change the street alongside my house was at a planning-group meeting — for a different community. I was stunned for ...

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