Letter to the Editor

It’s not like I’m there to make money

“Jazz followers are the snobs of the city”? That's a misguided subtitle to a great article. Let me start with a cliché: Webster’s defines “snob” as “one who tends to rebuff, avoid, or ignore those regarded as inferior; one who has an offensive air of superiority in matters of knowledge or taste”. The real cliché is the subtitle of this article. As a resident of this city for just seven years and someone who was not a big jazz fan before that, I say that the three people interviewed in this excellent Robert Bush piece are examples of just the opposite. My son took up the drums at an early age. In middle school he began playing with the jazz band and accompanying the jazz choir. When we moved here he entered his freshman year of high school and started taking lessons with Mike Holguin and Duncan Moore. A cynic would say that, well, these guys were paid to be welcoming and friendly. If so, then we got a huge return on the investment. They changed my son’s life. Then my son heard about a jazz jam that was being held at El Camino in Little Italy on Wednesday nights. We made the trek and he overcame his fears to speak to the band about sitting in with them. He was called up a short time later. The band members - Rob Thorsen, Irving Flores and Gilbert Castellanos - asked what song he wanted to play. I don’t remember what he called. It was probably awkward, dragging, rushing, simplistic - I don’t remember. What I do remember was the band and the audience congratulating him afterwards, telling him to keep it up, and helping to fulfill a young man’s dreams. El Camino. Seven Grand. Panama 66. Bourré. The Rook. 98 Bottles. The same kind of welcoming atmosphere exists at these and many other places around this city. I could tell many stories like this about so many more musicians and “jazz followers”. How they welcomed my son to San Diego and the jazz community. How they welcomed me, a rock and singer-songwriter fan and nonmusician, into that community. How the support for youngsters, the admiration for oldsters, and the welcoming of strangers makes a strong case for that community being just the opposite of “snobs”. So along comes an awesome article with an unfortunate clickbait subtitle (not Bush's fault, right?) that is disconnected with reality. Reality: Bonnie Wright says, “… I want to bring music to San Diego that we wouldn’t hear otherwise, so now I only present musicians from out of town or out of the country. My mission is to avoid mainstream music. I mean, I even like a lot of it, but that stuff is already known. I want to help make the lesser known familiar”. Not follow the trends. Not do what is popular. Not hoard it for herself. Make it known. Make it accessible. Snob? Hardly. Reality: Dan Atkinson says of the Jazz Camp at UCSD: ““People have told me that the program changed their life … that’s a good feeling.” I know what he speaks of firsthand. My son attended the Jazz Camp and was able to study with people like Charles McPherson, Holly Hofmann, Willie Jones III, Mark Dresser, and so many others. His first jazz camp came shortly after I lost my job. We couldn’t afford it. Dan Atkinson made it happen anyway. And Gilbert Castellanos? Trumpet master, bandleader, arranger, the face of San Diego jazz, teacher, example, and so many other words describe Gilbert. One thing that we are all lucky to call him is “friend”. And I don’t mean “Facebook friend.” My son will be embarrassed about this missive. Those eyerolls you are sensing? Him. He is now twenty-one and well into his career as a jazz drummer and doesn’t need Dad telling stories about him. But this is my story. If you welcome my kids, you welcome me. Thank you, San Diego Jazz, for welcoming me. And thank you for politely looking the other way when my foot-tapping drifts back to the one and the three. John Shaw, Rancho Bernardo
— March 3, 2016 3:13 p.m.

Hidden Pipeline, Secret Menace?

The Navy has installed a state of the art new Fuel Storage Facility and are preparing a new Fuel Pier to be installed after demolition of 1950s old pier, yet they intend to apply a BAND AID FIX and CHERRY PICK areas of the subject pipeline to repair. This vintage Fuel Pipeline is the glue that holds the entire Fuel Facility together. The Navy also proposes to relocate portions of the Vintage (60 yrs.) Fuel Pipeline along the Rosecrans traffic corridor in Point Loma, (the backbone of the Peninsula traffic flow) This does not make economic or operational sense; causing gridlock and catastrophic risks as well as possible structural failures to other Vintage Service Piping, substandard, deteriorating Roads, outdated traffic signals, signs designed decades ago for fewer vehicles, (cars, construction trucks, etc.) All against a background of constructing in earthquake country. Additionally, the following existing conditions on the Point Loma Peninsula only highlights that this is a bad idea! The construction will restrict flow & merging of already congested business traffic, University/School & Church access, heavy Military use to & from State Highways, residential/public access to Lindbergh International Airport & Downtown San Diego. Restrict Emergency egress from all points off the Peninsula to Trauma Hospitals, since we are surrounded by water on three sides and do not have a Hospital on the Peninsula. (Navy does not have Emergency Plan in place for proposed Fuel Pipeline construction) Because of the above the Navy, The Mayor and City Council must realize that the risk of catastrophes, emergencies, are likely to be more critical and massive from the Peninsula Community than neighboring Communities because: 1) Access to the San Diego International Airport, jammed into 660 acres. 2) The Navy's storage & Refueling Facility for entire West Coast. 3) Liberty Station, stores, churches, public & private schools, approximately 1 2,000 students in thirteen public/private schools, approximately 2,000 University Students/staff, Pt. Loma Nazarene) 4) Major Sewage Treatment plant utilized by 15 Neighboring Communities. 5) Pt. Loma serves as Business Base for over 1,700 Military jobs. (SubBase, SPAWAR, Hazardous sites. etc. 6) Pt. Loma Beach areas alone serve & bring in millions of tourists daily to Cabrillo Monument, Rosecrans Military Cemetery. Every day drivers on Rosecrans corridor experience massive a.m. & p.m. gridlock backups on the following intersections: Nimitz, Canon, Talbot, Sports Arena, Midway, Barnet, with overflows to Service Roads, Catalina & Chatsworth. Not to mention the recent development of Condo's on Scott Street and the proposed construction of Condo's in the 1100 block of Rosecrans. Think about the effect of a six month Pipeline Construction schedule on Rosecrans, the backbone of traffic. Total Gridlock. *Jim Gilhooly, Point Loma*
— October 23, 2014 5:27 p.m.

Shadow Mountain church sets up in Hillcrest

[continued] I guess that’s a big reason why my wife and I decided to start a church here in North Park. Because we think a lot of the issues at the heart of Christianity are systemic, and it’s going to take movements of new thinking to start truly making a difference. Simply criticizing the us-versus-them messaging and theology of churches like Shadow Mountain isn’t enough. And, quite frankly, won’t help in the long run. But getting a Gospel message out there that is centered around the love and grace of Jesus for all people? That recognizes everyone’s place as sons and daughters of the Creator? That does away with the insider/outsider language? A church that collectively drops the rocks of judgment, which in turn frees up our hands to reach out and grab someone else’s in a gesture of peace and unity? That, I think, is what Christianity can start humbly offering the world again. Sojourn Grace Collective is San Diego’s Progressive Christian Church. Ironically, we started holding services at Garfield Elementary School in North Park at about the same time that Shadow Mountain moved in to Hillcrest. Beyond responding to the call we felt to create a faith community that celebrates all, we adamantly believe that this world is more ready for a message of hope and love and peace and grace than ever before. So, if you live in the area and are bothered by the new Shadow Mountain campus, please know that there is at least one other church in the neighborhood that doesn’t see you as darkness that needs light. There is a church, a Christian church, advocating for a new understanding of the call of Jesus. That is what Sojourn Grace Collective is all about, and we are thrilled to be a movement of love here in San Diego. Colby Martin, North Park
— June 19, 2014 11:54 a.m.

Shadow Mountain church sets up in Hillcrest

Last week news broke that Shadow Mountain Community Church had taken over an almost-shut down church building in Hillcrest. The conservative Evangelical Mega Church from El Cajon saw an opportunity to acquire a building and expand their mission to “teach the truth of God’s Word,” as stated on their website. The new satellite campus was launched with a video that included one woman declaring how excited she was “to actually get a chance to grow and flourish in what would be a dark, dark neighborhood.” To be fair, we don’t know precisely what she meant. My initial assumption is that she is borrowing a metaphor used by Jesus to describe the church’s mission to be “lights of the world.” And the darkness she mentions? Presumably (and I don’t consider this a stretch, here) that is in reference to what many conservative Christians often call “the gay lifestyle.” Again, we may not know exactly what she meant, but I don’t think it’s a huge leap to go: A) Conservative Christian Church opens campus in Hillcrest; B) Church-goer uses typical metaphor to label a place as dark; C) Hillcrest is known for its strong LGBT presence; therefore D) The darkness of the neighborhood is linked to the gay community and the church sees itself as having an opportunity to be a light in a sinful place. As a fellow Christian pastor I am, in some ways of course, grateful for the years of service that Dr. David Jeremiah and Shadow Mountain Community Church have invested to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even if he and I differ significantly on what that Gospel message actually is. And I can identify with the woman in the video who genuinely is enthused about the possibility of bringing the Light of Christ to other people. I was that woman for a number of years, confident that I knew what “light” and “dark” looked like, and certain that my mission was to seek out darkness and be a source of light. Confident. Certain. Two words that, incidentally, also describe the men who were caught throwing rocks in John 8 (you likely know the story by its other, less helpful or accurate name, “The Woman Caught in Adultery”). They were confident the woman was darkness and certain in their role to be light, i.e. execute judgment. And yet, Jesus forced them to reconcile with the fact that perhaps they didn’t know as much as they thought they knew. Their confidence turned to diffidence and their certainty to shame as they dropped their rocks and walked away, questioning their capacity to be arbiters in the whole game of light and dark. Both the men holding rocks and the woman in the video are products of belief systems they were raised and/or trained in. So rather than just attacking “them” by picking up our own rocks, what if we changed the conversation from the tired old us-versus-them language and theology, and instead leaned in to the words of Harvey Milk to reach out to all of humanity and “give them hope”?
— June 19, 2014 11:52 a.m.

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