Mike Madriaga 9:30 a.m., Jan. 22
More Best of San Diego 2008 - plus Worst Local Concert Ever
WTF, CityBeat ignored all the best stuff!!!!
BEST COATS FOR CUBS
3862 5th Avenue, Hillcrest
Buffalo Exchange lives up to its name by inviting patrons to bring in fur apparel and accessories for exchange, as part of its “Coats For Cubs” program. “The furs are used as bedding to comfort orphaned and injured wildlife,” informs their website. The proffered “exchange” is tax deduction paperwork from the Humane Society, not to mention that smug Samaritan glow that comes with doing something cool for critters. That, and knowing you’re safe from PETA throwing red paint on you. www.buffaloexchange.com
Twonks & Plonkers
Four Eyes singer/guitarist Mark DeCerbo collaborates with comic-book and video-game artist Thomas Carroll on a multimedia page -- Twonks and Plonkers -- at www.drunkduck.com. "We take a topical idea, Tom does the artwork and animation, I do the music, and we collaborate on the lyrics," says DeCerbo. One of the first "illustrated songs" to be uploaded was the duo's "Neo-Conservative Blues" ("I'm redder than any red state/ Folks say it really shows/ Yeah, it's written all over my face/ I got a gun for a nose!").
Accompanying artwork depicts Carroll's gun-nose character. "I designed him while sitting on a plane," says Carroll, "watching in-flight news blurbs about the pace of the Iraq War, the escalating violence between Israel and Syria, Guantanamo, and the disclosure of secret CIA bases overseas. It all bubbled over into that drawing.... I determined to upload the character, to somehow use him to energize the political debate about war, the Bush administration, and the way our country is now perceived by other countries."
BEST BUZZWORTHY FASHIONS
630 10th Ave
Buzz Clothing is “a men’s lifestyle boutique and online retailer specializing in exclusive and up-and-coming national and international designers,” according to its virtual sales pitch. At this writing, online specials include tropical Boardies beach shorts ($70), wool Fila warmup jackets styled for the gym but priced for the VIP lounge ($225 to $250) and several styles of Frank Dandy men’s undershorts, including a pair with side panels decorated in pink paisley flowers ($29) which, if it’s not available in break-away style, really should be. www.buzzclothing.com
“Lindsay Goes to Rehab,” Anya Marina
"We heard young Lindsay Lohan went to rehab," says Anya Marina, "so in honor of her courageous decision, we recorded a song. Tristan Prettyman cowrote and Greg Laswell knocked on the door, poured a vodka, and added percussion and background vox." Entitled "Lindsay Goes to Rehab," the song is posted on MySpace and Stereogum.
"Check yourself before you wreck yourself...Drink the coke, but don't you snort the coke."
"I think she is compelling for a multitude of reasons," says Marina. "She is at once enviable and seemingly spoiled rotten, but at the same time you can't help but feel for her. She has been taken up into this glamorous lifestyle where every possible decadence is at her fingertips, and yet she's not supposed to make a misstep.... She's really just a kid [who has] great style and an even better rack."
The Enchantress Boutique
1400 Camino De La Reina (between Bus Access Rd & Park In The Valley Drwy)
The Enchantress Boutique is all about romance, so its erotic sleepwear is perfectly suited for two upstairs bedrooms of the old Victorian Burton House on Heritage Row. Available sizes from 30AAA to 52DDD make the Boutique a utilitarian – and affordable - source for real world women, as opposed to the limited selection of supermodel-sized, sugar-daddy priced inventory available at some…many…at most lingerie specialty shops. Owner operated, and patrons can visit the tea room on the bottom floor, which is also available for wedding parties, baby showers and photo shoots rated G through R. www.lingerie4brides.com
The Happy Hippie Eco Portal
The Happy Hippie Eco Portal was "created in 1996 by two web geeks who were simply concerned about the environment and the future of our planet," according to the intro page. "We wanted to create a place for web users to easily find Eco-friendly products and services."
Based in San Diego, the groovy guys say their aim is to "unite other nature lovin' folk" from all over the world. Message forum categories include Hemp Speak ("Your favorite hemp products, etc."), Environment Alert ("What's going on in your community?"), Barter Board ("Great way to exchange products and services in a cashless transaction"), Vegetarian Recipes, and Organic Gardening. (www.happyhippie.com)
BEST FASHION FLASHBACK
3847 5th Avenue
Flashbacks (Hillcrest) has a surfboard-shaped sign out front so psychedelic, it looks like a kaleidoscope threw up on it. So it shouldn’t surprise that their retread threads are a total 8-track flashback. Whether you’re building a Brady Bunch or boogieing nights away with Donna Summer all winter until you fall, they’ve probably got everything you need, no matter how funkadelic your parliament; Platforms, go-go boots, jumpsuits, Angel Flight jeans, and hip-huggers with bellbottoms wide enough for Arlo Guthrie to smuggle two or three keys into Los Angel-eeze with.
BEST TOY-MADE MUSIC
"The Optigan was a kind of home organ made by the Optigan Corporation, a subsidiary of Mattel, in the early '70s," says Pea Hicks of the obscure instrument around which his band Optiganally Yours revolves. "It was set up like most home organs of the period, [with] a small keyboard with buttons on the left for various chords, accompaniments, and rhythms. At the time, all organs produced their sounds electrically or electronically with tubes or transistors. The Optigan was different in that its sounds were read off of LP-sized celluloid discs, which contained the graphic waveforms of real instruments...similar to the soundtrack on a film reel.
"Playing back recorded instruments was a pretty unique concept for the early '70s," says Hicks. "Technically speaking, the Optigan was a primitive sampler. Sort of. I tend to think of it more like a poor man's Mellotron.... They sold mostly through stores like Sears and JCPenny and were relatively inexpensive, about $200 to $400." Working models now sell for $2000 and up. Several unreleased Optiganally Yours songs are playable at mp3it.com.
Frock You Vintage
4121 Park Blvd
Frock You Vintage declares on their website “We eat, drink and sleep old clothes,” but one assumes they wash ‘em before selling to you. Their cottage-like retail locale offers everything from red carpet staples like Yves Saint Laurent vests and jackets to more bohemian blouses, vintage shoes, oh-so-chic tees and billowy pajama-style lounge pants. If you like fighting for your frocks, selected wares are frequently auctioned on eBay. www.myspace.com/frockyouvintage, www.frockyouvintage.com
In the mid-'80s, Black Market Productions sponsored punk shows around town, before spinning off into a printed magazine and now Web version. The site is highlighted by a collection of local event flyers spanning 1979 through 1987. "Like most people from the early Punk scene," says site operator Carl Schneider, "saving flyers from all the shows you went to and wallpapering your room with them was just instinctual. It was something to be proud of and showed your dedication to the scene. Looking back, I don't think there was a more prouder moment than the nights I'd come home all f-cked up after a show and add another flyer to the wall."
A large photo archive includes shots of the Damned in 1982 at Godzilla's, the Misfits at the Lions Club in 1983, D.O.A. from a 1987 Palisade Gardens show, and pictures from dozens of other area concerts. Interviews pulled from the 13 published newsstand issues include chats with presidential mock-assassin Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine founder Forrest J. Ackerman, and rocker Marilyn Manson, who told the interviewer, "I believe there's too many f-ck'n people in the world and if you kill yourself then fine, that just makes more room for me." (www.blackmarketmagazine.com)
5701 La Jolla Blvd
Jep Boutique offers recent store arrivals for the ladies, like super-snug Serfontaine Rocksteady jeans and a L.A.M.B. winged blazer - in leopard print - with a formidably large golden buckle that interlocks across the navel like fortress gates protecting your valuable belly piercings. Other items said to be hot include Trovata crew shirts (a fave at Barneys NYC) and a variety of hoodies, including several with large round “rudder” zippers resembling door knockers which – on ladies anyways – possibly serve the same function (“knock knock, pardon me, may I enter your hoodie for a nip?”). www.jepboutique.com
"I was 14 when I first stepped into Straita Head Sound," blogs Michael Reed of the long-gone '80s club commemorated on his San Diego Rocks webpage. "This club was unique in that it had obtained its liquor license as a dinner theater and, therefore, was able to serve alcohol to the 21 and up crowd yet still allow those under 18 to get in. All they had to do was serve food to meet the legal requirements of dinner theater. This loophole in the law kept the club profitable and allowed many of my age to see their first live rock show.... Mickey Ratt played there often before moving to Los Angeles and becoming Ratt." Reed -- a former Rocky Horror Picture Show cast member at the Ken Cinema -- also heads the record label Deep Shag, which has released a compilation featuring local metallers Stress. Extant only from 1983 to 1987, the band (at times) featured onetime Aerosmith temp Jimmy Crespo. www.myspace.com/rocksandiego and www.deepshag.com
BEST SAKS OUTLET
1750 Camino de la Reina, Mission Valley
Off 5th is a discount outlet for the blue-chip Saks chain. Discounts average 25%, though more than a few fashion bloggers have waxed digital about finding stuff up to 75% off during periodic clearance sales that reportedly pack ’em in like the homely little sister who puts out for burritos instead of lobsters (which is what Off 5th is to big-sistah Saks, after all). All the bling slingers are here - Prada, Armani, gold-and-sequin pumps by BCBG – in a folksy shop that belies its mallrat locale, and also offers a tasteful selection of picture frames and fine china.
BEST LOCAL RUSH-A-HOLIC
“Scanned images of all my Rush concert tickets” (28 stubs = around $1100 face value) is just one page on jordan finkelstein's local-centric Rush fansite, which also includes "pictures of me and other rush fans at Rush concerts," most set in the sports arena parking lot. (www.echoesofoldapplause.com)
BEST TRANSCONTINENTAL TROUSERS
626 8th Avenue
Steady Boutique (Little Italy) invites passersby with attention-grabbing orange bucket seats out front that just scream “hang out with me.” This is the place to go if you like your designer labels to read “organic cotton,” said to make for more environmentally friendly manufacture and disposal. Organic cotton jeans by Loomstate can cost upwards of $175, but there’s a variety of denims available from Japanese designers that’ll leave a few shekels in the pockets of your transcontinental trousers. www.steadyboutique.com
Wear it Again Sam
3823 5th Ave
Wear it Again Sam is the kind of timeless second-hander where you’d expect the ladies from the B52s and the cast of Anne Rice’s novels to shop, with frock-of-ages gear representative of the nineteenth century through the fifties. Attention to condition is almost archival, making them hard to sell to (only mint items will do) and pricey, but an excellent source of authentic and intact fashions of yesteryear. In addition to pre-worn dresses, pre-donned hats and pre-handled gloves, there’s usually a good selection of pre-disposed sunglasses that have gone in and out of style at least two or three dozen times since the date of their likely manufacture. www.wearitagainsamvintage.com
Arline Fisch Jewelry
Arline Fisch designs jewelry influenced and inspired by historical events. “Exalt the wearer" is her mantra, which she explains at length in her 1975 book Textile Techniques in Metal for Jewelers, wherein her singular metal-knitting style is the subject of a definitive tutorial. An SDSU professor since 1961, works of hers are on display at Rome’s Vatican Museum, Boston’s Museum Of Fine Arts, the Smithstonian Institute in Washington, D.C. and locally at the San Diego Historical Society. http://www.taboostudio.com/artist_pages/a_fisch_as.htm
BEST HAUS WEARS
Wearhaus is the co-operative effort of five locals; Krystina Grammatica (Grammatique), Sally Smith (Sally Bee designs), Carman Stalker (Stalker Designs), Vanessa Salazar (Alterwear, Vichi designs), and Julie Anstedt (Rambunctious Designs). According to their website, “The goal of Wearhaus is to develop a network of local San Diego designers who can learn, create and prosper together as a community.” Why not? Beats being a Crip or a Blood. www.wearhouse.org
“Journey to Atzlan” (Harbor Drive between First and Fifth Avenues)
Head toward the San Diego Convention Center to see this colorful mural by Einar and Jamex de la Torres. The dreamscape composition is studded with 250 molded and mirrored glass faces, adapted from the grinning and laughing masks of the pre-Columbian Veracruz period.
BEST SIGHTSEEING WITHOUT LEAVING THE AIRPORT
Port Of San Diego Public Art Program
At San Diego International Airport, Mary Lynn Dominguez’s artwork adorns the entrances to many of the airport’s restrooms. More than 36 other works of public art are placed throughout the airport terminal under the auspices of the Port of San Diego’s Public Art Program.
Museum of Making Music
5790 Armada Drive, Carlsbad (760) 438-5996
The Museum of Making Music features over 500 vintage instruments and interactive installations, chronicling the technology and artistry of music throughout history. Among the coolest 2008 exhibitions was “That Beatles Sound: Recording at Abbey Road.” The displays showcased the technology and equipment behind the Fab Four's era-altering music, with behind-the-scenes artifacts from daily life at Abbey Road. Included was everything from tape recorders, microphones and speakers to session documents from the 1960s.
5240 Convoy Street, Mira Mesa (858) 614-5817
This state-of the-art facility processes "biosolid waste" into useable materials. “Biosolids are the nutrient-rich, processed organic material produced by the wastewater treatment process,” according to the Center’s website. “The raw solids are thickened in five centrifuges before being pumped into one of three anaerobic digesters. There, the volume of organic matter is reduced in a process similar to human digestion. After digestion the organic solids are referred to as biosolids.” The visitor-friendly plant just east of La Jolla is so thoughtfully designed that the American Institute of Architects honored it with a grand Orchid Award for Fine Art.
The San Diego Concert Archive catalogs information about over 3,500 local concerts, from the 1940s through 2000. The month-by-month concert listings include performer names, where they played, and often who opened. There are also posters and flyers, as well as a colorful ticket collection. Rare vintage photos include a stunning panoramic view of a Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young concert at the outdoor Balboa Stadium on 12-21-69, with both the seats and the stage itself overflowing with tye-dyed and squinty-eyed flower-hitters.
“The idea to compile the concert dates came from Larry Harmon at the Genetic Disorder fanzine,” says site operator Jon Moore. “He was putting together a 365-day calendar for his ‘zine, and I was helping him with some heavy metal dates. His work gave me the idea to compile a list of concert dates from January 1 to December 31, listing concerts for every day of the year. From there, it just kept growing and growing…I stopped at December, 1999. I've got last century covered. I'll let someone else do the work for the next.”
BEST DESIGNATED DRIVERS
“If you’re going to a show, and know that you’ll be having a drink or two, we’ll be your sober ride home,” says Adam Lindstaedt, co-founder of Concert Cabs. “We offer free rides home to patrons attending concerts throughout San Diego County. For a fee, we’ll also pick you up before the show and drop you off at the front door of the venue.” The free rides are only to people’s homes. “We are not a drunk bus that will cart you around from club to club,” says Lindstaedt, though he adds “to receive a ride home, patrons do not need necessarily to be intoxicated.” Riders are required to sign a liability waiver, and they’re not allowed to smoke or drink alcohol in the vehicle.
BEST JAPANESE TEA PAVILLION
The Japanese Friendship Garden Society
2125 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92101
The Japanese Friendship Garden Society of San Diego has roots in the 1915 World Exposition. After the Exposition, strong community interest kept the Japanese Tea Pavilion open for thirty years within Balboa Park, San Diego's Culture Center. With the development of San Diego's Sister City relationship with Yokohama in 1950, forty years of gift exchanges followed, kindling feelings of shared ideals represented by the Japanese Garden. The tranquil Tea Pavilion, a Japanese oasis in the heart of Balboa Park, offers the finest selection of teas in San Diego, Japanese noodles, sushi, gifts, specialty items, and tea supplies - steps away from the Organ Pavilion and a short walk from the San Diego Zoo.
The Firehouse Museum
1572 Columbia Street, Little Italy downtown
Dedicated to all Firefighters, the Firehouse Museum houses a large collection of fire-fighting equipment and memorabilia, photographs and vintage equipment. Displays show what our fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers had to use when it came to fighting fires.
BEST FREE LOCAL TOURIST GUIDE
How do you find the best of San Diego? You ask a local. Not just any local, either. You ask Local Wally, a local guy who's spent the last 30 years researching the best San Diego beaches, the best San Diego restaurants, and the best San Diego things to do. Toss those other visitor guides in the trash, delete your Yelp bookmark, and put your trust in a guy who has no advertisers to please and no editor making everything politically correct. If it's good, it's here. If it's not, well, it's not.
The Center's mission is to enhance and sustain the health and well-being of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) and HIV communities by providing activities, programs and services. They serve over 12,000 people each year, with over 400 volunteers and 50 staff.
BEST NEKKID CAMPING
The Camping Bares
“We try to avoid confrontations with the authorities or the public,” say the Camping Bares on their website. “We prefer federal (Bureau of Land Management or Forest Service) land where nudity is legal and not regulated. We may also camp in California state parks, if we can get a site away from the general public. The California State Park rangers have a policy of not taking action on nudity unless they have received a complaint from a member of the public. They do not cite unless a request to cover-up is not promptly complied with. We have had only one Camping Bare cited on a Camping Bare outing, and that was over 20 years ago. We have also had pleasant camp outs in San Diego county parks, confining nudity to hikes away from the campground and in areas not visible from other campsites. Most of the local rangers are well aware of us. They welcome our presence in their areas since we obey regulations, are careful with ground fires wherever allowed, protect the environment, and leave our campsite at least as clean as we found it if not picking up the trash left behind by clothed campers.”
BEST HYPNOTIC SUGGESTIONS
Brian Michael Hook, Hypnotist - Hook Hypnotic Enterprises
Brian Michael Hook has been performing hypnosis since 1987. He currently tours nationwide, and has appeared on TV shows like “Blind Date,” where he hypnotized a participant into eating fire, in hopes of impressing his date. Hook frequently accepts challenges from the public and allows media to document his techniques and results, as well as performing at special events and parties.
94th Aero Squadron Restaurant
8885 Balboa Ave, San Diego
It would be difficult to find another restaurant with as much warmth and charm as the 94th Aero Squadron. Located inside a replica of a WW I French farmhouse, the restaurant sits right on Montgomery Field Airport and is packed full of military memorabilia, farm implements, and aviation relics. The interior is cozy and romantic, with huge stone fireplaces, masses of hanging green plants, dark wood paneling, beamed ceilings, and old airplane wings hanging over the dining area. There are even headphones at some tables for you to listen to the control tower.
BEST PARTIES FOR SMARTY PANTS
San Diego Mensa High IQ Society
Mensa members must score at or above the 98th percentile on standard IQ tests. “There are a few popular misconceptions about Mensans,” according to the local chapter’s website. “We are not universally rich or powerful, although a few of us are wealthy or highly placed (or both). Neither are we primarily ‘losers’ - most Mensans are able to function well in the real world…one reason people join Mensa is the social opportunities. If you move to a new area, Mensa allows you to easily meet a number of people who are potential friends…[and] Mensans will laugh at your jokes without the need for you to explain them.” Area Mensa activities are detailed on the website’s Local Event Calendar. Non-members can often attend if accompanied by a “Mensan.”
“I bring exploding foam, snow machines, confetti cannons, pinatas, and remote-control space ships,” says Mono Mono’s one-man bandmember Jeffrey Beringer of his “interactive, inflatable stage show.” Interactive? “The lights and other special effects are operated by radio control, and I give control boxes to the audience,” he says. “In my show, you touch and are touched. I dress in drag and sit on your lap, and you will suck and touch my fake boobies and scream. You will blow my clothes off with my leaf blower and I will run naked through the venue.”
Okay. Inflatable? “I put on an inflatable Sumo costume and blow up like a huge, obese marshmallow man, and [audiences] squeeze, hug, grind, hump, and bounce me,” he says. “I have an arsenal of inflatable monkeys, sex dolls, and blow-up toys…Sometimes [audiences] jump on my toys and destroy them. I place balloons into the crowd, they hold them on their lap, and we jump on each other, exploding the balloons.” Musically, he says “I have help from my iPod and my computer…The vocals are live, and the music and sound effects have been electronically programmed. I use Reason and Ableton Live loop-sequencer programs.” According to Beringer, “Over 20 of my inflatable monkeys have been kidnapped at shows…Now they appear in photos all over MySpace.”
BEST MUSICAL CABARET
Tragic Tantrum Cabaret
"Our band blends the f-ck-it-and-just-play mentality of punk with the theatrics of cabaret," says Tragic Tantrum cabaret-singer/guitarist Zephyrus Rex. The performance-art duo composes songs around a melodica and a toy xylophone. "There's a lot of unexplored territory there. With punk music, you can perform and entertain and deliver a message whether or not you have a wealth of musical know-how. In a way, it's sort of an underground music for the people, though not necessarily music for the masses."
"I think there's also an element of circus to our act," says singer/lyricist zOe. "There's something about painting your face that allows your true self to come out. With both Zeph and myself having a background in theater, it was a very natural thing to fall into. If our show were a dessert, I think it would be Red Hots mixed with chocolate, strawberries, and licorice. Hot, sweet, tart, and manufactured."
BEST ROCK ‘N’ ROLL CIRCUS
“Our shows include a band, vaudeville, black light puppets, aerialists, flame handlers, jugglers, magic, sideshow performers, and just about anything else you can think of,” says Glenn Allen, music director for the Technomania Circus. While putting together a house band with local performers, Allen says musicians were also taught circus skills. “Our drummer just learned how to drum and play saxophone at the same time, which is kind of like musical juggling. If nothing else, we can put band members in clown makeup”
He acknowledges that some performances involve considerable danger. “The fire marshal checks out acts that use fire, and I carry a million dollars of insurance, just in case something happens to an aerialist or something. So far, we’ve never had an accident.” The Circus performs once monthly in their own venue at 25th and Commercial
BEST BAND REHEARSAL ROOM RENTALS
440 Vernon Way, El Cajon (619) 447-4977
When band practice ends with the neighbors threatening arson and you need a nice safe place for your growing equipment inventory, it’s time to cough up some cash and rent a spot to jam. Since every group, from beginners through pros, sometimes needs a mike, guitar cables, power strips, a drum head, a PA or some other such thing, the ideal rehearsal spot not only offers a room and a plug but also some basic equipment rentals. Superior Sound in El Cajon has a virtual smorgasbord of additional goodies. Soundproofed room rentals start at around $125.00 a week or about $400.00 monthly. A full line of rental equipment is available, plus there are snack and soda machines as well as a dining room with a fridge and microwave. In addition, they also offer a fully equipped recording studio with 24 track analog and 24 track ADAT tape machines. Bands who’ve found a home at Superior include One Sick Puppy, Kill Me Kate, Pure Milk and Nu Image, among many others.
BEST PLACE TO CUT YOUR OWN CD
Founded nearly thirty years ago, this state of the art studio boasts clients such as blink-182 and The Brian Setzer Orchestra. The 6,000 square foot facility has room for a full orchestra in Studio A, which comes with two large iso-booths and a Midi-Forte equipped Yamaha C-7 Grand piano. Studio B is mainly for vocal dubs though it’s suitable for small bands to record or to do instrumental overdubs and ADR/Looping. Any source can be copied to CD and Studio West can create a dupe master which has everything a manufacturer will need to reproduce your music to disc. The gourmet coffee in the musician’s lounge is free.
BEST ARIAL TOURS (& best chance to join the mile high club!)
Golden State Flying Club
Gillespie Field 1640 N. Johnson El Cajon (619) 449-0611 or (619) 286-7434
Housed at tiny Gillespie Field just outside Santee, Golden State offers single-engine plane excursions which buzz San Diego’s scenic deserts, mountains and coastline, sometimes skimming within 500 feet of the beachfront. Up to three passengers at a time can fly and whoever’s in the co-pilot seat gets to steer and dip the plane. The pilot supervises, of course, and all are certified flight instructors as that’s one of the other things Golden State does.
And, I can personally attest that if you and a significant other want to join the “mile high club” in the back of the plane, at least two instructors will gladly keep their eyes facing front, in return for a nominal tip (though be warned that your headset intercoms will still transmit whatever you say – or moan - to the pilot, as well as, quite possibly, to ground control….) $165.00 for the full one-hour tour.
BEST CLUELESS KARAOKE
U.S./Mexico Border, Tijuana Footbridge
Pedestrians taking the Tijuana footbridge just across the border must walk a gauntlet of pushy entrepreneurs who hope to get that first or last tourist dollar out of your wallet. On weekend nights on the south side of the footbridge, wanna-be singers croak through concert size speakers in the outdoor plaza Karaoke stage. Drunken sailors, under-21 partyers and curious passerby’s take turns grabbing the mike and singing along to lyrics which scroll jumpily on a low-tech video screen. A half dozen thick books list available songs, categorized alphabetically by performer or title or by the song’s style such as “Current Love,” “Lost Love,” “Heavy Metal” and “Rap And Hip-Hop.” Nearby sidewalk cantinas have dollar drinks and by midnight the crowd is thinned down to diehard drunks doing the two songs that DJs say are most requested - The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
BEST GAY BAR FOR HETEROSEXUALS
1403 University Ave. Hillcrest (619) 295-0881
“If this wasn’t Hillcrest, you’d never think this is a gay bar,” says one bartender (name withheld by request) at The Alibi. “A lot of business people who work nearby come here for lunch or when they get off because it’s the one place in the neighborhood where they can drink and not be automatically pegged for their sexual preference.” The casual lounge decor is classic naugahyde and wormwood and on weekends the crowd is evenly mixed between men and women with a few “either/or” wild cards thrown into the mix. “We have every kind of customer. Just because a guy comes in with a sleeveless shirt [and] a muscular build, he might really be a straight construction worker and not gay. Nobody is hitting on each other so nobody really knows. That’s why it’s the Alibi. It might be true, it might not be, or it may be just an excuse to peek out of the closet and see how the other half lives.” Best of all, for serious alcoholics, the Alibi usually opens by 8 a.m.!!!
BEST PLACE TO SCORE PRIMO SHEET
5604 Balboa Ave. 858-279-6152
8190 Mira Mesa Blvd. 858-578-2411
After 30 years in business, Music Central boasts one of the largest selections of sheet music ever seen in San Diego. Most is written for piano, vocal and guitar and they carry a wide range of classical transcription, though this is mostly just for piano. Anything in print can be ordered, using often-updated catalogs with selections listed by book title, artist, song title, arrangement or even, with classical music, by arranger. Specialty stock is categorized by genre such as children’s songbooks, Christmas, Scottish and Irish and other specialty interests. Heavily stocked publishers include Hal Leonard (single sheets, tablature), Warner Bros. (mixed folios, personalities), Alfred (classical piano) and Bastien (teaching aids). Discounts are available for school music directors and teachers. The shop also sells and rents instruments and staff teachers hold classes for children and adults.
BEST STAGE PRESENCE
Nobody’s going to accuse them of being musically adventurous like Pink Floyd or relevant like Springsteen. But this all-original group with a nearly 15 year local history, fronted by identical twins Fritz and Hans Jensen, does have a different hat they wear for each song. They go through a colorful costume collection as they play, most handmade by the bandmembers and themed to match their songs, as well as offering a “sound-and-video syched hi-tech multimedia presentation” (homemade videos shown on a TV which the singer controls with a remote).
BEST CAMPY CAMPGROUND
Campland On The Bay
2211 Pacific Beach Drive PB (858) 581-4200
Nearly hidden off a road behind Mission Bay High School, Campland is best known for its annual Live On The Bay concerts. The two day hippie/Deadhead festival increased local awareness of the campground and many attendees also discovered its marina landing, accessible to non-campers any time. Rental water toys include paddle boats and aquacycles ($15.00 per hour), motored fishing boats ($25.00 hourly) and Waverunners ($80.00 hourly). Camping spaces with full RV hookups run $33.00 to $46.25 Labor Day to Memorial day and from $45.00 to $66.00 during Summer (be warned that rates increase if occupancy is near full).
BEST FREE SKYLINE VIEW
Balboa Park, behind the Fleet Space Theater
Good views aren’t cheap. Whether you want to soak in the San Diego skyline over dinner, a nightcap, a makeout session or from your hotel room, you have to grease a few palms before anyone will let you enjoy the view. Balboa Park is home to low key stretch of grass and trees perched right on the edge of the city, affording a panoramic view of the skyline from the Coronado Bridge practically to Old Town. Located directly behind the Fleet Space Center, it’s highly recommended for daytime picnics but to be seriously avoided after dark.
BEST DUCK FEEDING
I-8, Lake Murray Blvd./70th Street exit
Though wild, the multitude of ducks at this lake just east of Quaalcom Stadium are well cared for. One fellow comes every day with a duffel bag of chicken feed and he can tell you most of the ducks’ individual names, including several one-time pets dropped off by owners who’d become horrified when their cuddly baby peeper turned into a hungry, crap-squirting quacker. The turkey-looking Muscovey ducks, with swollen red growths on their face resembling Alien’s facehuggers, are bold and friendly and will eat cracked corn out of your hand. Never feed bread to ducks, as this swells in their stomachs and can kill them.
BEST STREET PERFORMANCES
Balboa Park, downtown, Central concourse walkway
Big Brother Is Everywhere and so of course even street performers have to be licensed by the city. On any summer day, along the walkways of Balboa Park, throngs of diverse show-biz startups compete every few yards for your attention and your tips, every one of them carrying signed permission to do so from the city. This makes for a nearly professional caliber of jugglers, palm readers, body artists, magicians and troubadors who’ve worked out their own social hierarchy and staked their respective turfs on what sometimes seems to be every single available patch of park visible to the public.
BEST VINTAGE LOCAL RADIO SHOWS ON CASSETTE
P.O. Box 4408, San Diego, CA 92164 http://www.californiaaircheck.com
Phone 619-460-6104, Fax 619-460-5685
Since 1980, Lemon Grove-based California Aircheck has offered 60 – 90 minute audio tapes (average $11.00 apiece) featuring vintage local radio broadcasts (Djs only, no music) that may be purchased individually or by yearly subscription. New tapes are produced monthly and many selections are now available on compact disc. Tapes include sixties “Boss Jock” Steve Jay spinning platters on the long-gone KGB-AM’s “Boss 30” program, 1969 selections featuring Happy Hare on local KCBQ-AM (KGB’s chief rival in the late sixties) as well as segments spotlighting classic rock DJs like Les Turpin and Bill Wade. "We have hundreds and hundreds of hours of current and classic radio segments" in the vault, says owner George Junak, who counts among his former employers local “modern rock” station 91-X.
SEXIEST SINGER (FEMALE)
“I don’t really play,” says San Diego native Rachael Gordon. “I sing, and I’ve always wanted to do that but only started doing shows about seven years ago with the Sleazybeats.” Regarding her slinky onstage wardrobe and sex symbol image, she says “I'm flattered, as long as people recognize that I have talent as well. Image is really important to me, and a sexy look just attracts attention to the music. As long as it's understood that ‘image’ is not where it all ends.” The downside of being a woman rocker? “It wasn't great being called a Nancy Sinatra wannabe in a San Diego Union review but I think the worst was when I was forced to sing the Mary Tyler Moore show theme at a coffeehouse.”
BEST WEDDING BAND
The Fabulous Pelicans
Booking information: 760-729-1546 email: [email protected]
The Fabulous Pelicans' playlist includes hundreds of songs, encompassing emotions from “Bad Case Of Loving You” (Robert Palmer) to “What’s Love Got To Do With It” (Tina Turner), as well as requisite wedding staples like “Beer Barrel Polka” (Frankie Yankovich), “Wonderful Tonight” (Eric Clapton) and “Unchained Melody” (Righteous Brothers). Vocalist Caroline Martin has sung on the soundtracks movies like “Steven King's Sleepwalkers.” Guitarist Greg Douglass played with the Steve Miller Band, co-writing the hit single “Jungle Love.” Drummer Paul Wheatbread toured for five years with Gary Puckett and the Union Gap while second guitarist Bob Garrett writes jingles for Ford and Toyota. Keyboardist Ethan Brown has performed with Chuck Berry and bassist Joe Hastings recorded with Hank Williams Jr. and Ricky Skaggs.
BEST EASTERN INDIAN BUFFET
Ashoka The Great
9474 Black Mountain Rd. Miramar (858) 695-9749
Don’t assume that all Indian food is heartburn-heavy with scary spices! The buffet selection at this Miramar restaurant is different each day, but there’s always a range of selections from those mildly spiced (curry potatoes with cauliflower) to sulphuric (spicy lentils). The samosas are soft and full of distinct flavors, like the always fresh peas and ginger-soaked potato pieces. Cost is $6.95 but their buffet is only offered for lunches, until around 3pm. An Indian grocery store next door offers carry-out selections of dishes which may or may not be on the buffet table next door.
BEST FREE MEATLESS MEAL
Hare Krishna Temple
1030 Grand Avenue Pacific Beach (619) 483-2252
Make no mistake - Hare Krishnas throw these free party-like vegetarian feasts at their PB temple because they want you on their home turf. Guys in bare feet and sarongs with knotted ponytails on their otherwise bald skulls don’t look nearly so avoidable when they’re all around you, giving you free sh-t. And it really is a breathtaking temple, with handpainted and sculpted walls and pillars and some of the most inspired religious paintings ever created hanging on its walls. The biggest ten-plus course feast and best dinner theater (chanting, singing) happens each Sunday at 7:30 pm. You don’t have to chant - or join - to eat the excellent chow.
BEST PET SHOP TO GIVE SOMEONE THE BIRD
4420 Rainier Ave. (619) 280-5134
Birds are delicate creatures, often temperature sensitive and requiring more care and attention than other pets. So it follows that, if a bird is to be bred and sold as a retail commodity, the retailer must be attentive and caring and not just throw some popular birds in a corner cage next to the rabbits and salamanders. The staff at Feathered Friends are highly informed about all aspects of birdkeeping such as food, health upkeep, training, breeding and even which paints are too toxic to use on bird cages, insuring that the shop fully lives up to the implication of its name.
2770 5th Ave. Hillcrest (619) 295-7900
The Dreamgirls Review, headquartered at The Brass Rail for years, used to be queens of the fishnet-and-stubble circuit. Today’s reigning stars are the humorous boy/girls of Lips. Thursdays feature celebrity impersonators mimicking the likes of Cher, Liza, Sade, Michael Jackson and Axl Rose (!?). For what are probably sociological reasons too strange to dwell on, most are performed as jaded parodies, unlike Dreamgirls’ sleek tributes of yore. A $15.00 minimum and $3.00 cover is applicable to dinner and drinks.
BEST HIPPIE THROWBACK BAND
These longtime locals have a groovy song list which must be more comprehensive than a complete collection of Nuggets Lps. As dependable as an infinitely stocked jukebox, they can be counted on to back up visiting 60’s icons like Badfinger’s Joey Molland as well as headlining with their own set list of eclectic and sometime excruciating radio staples like “Seasons In The Sun,” “The Night Chicago Died” and Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow.”
BEST BAIL BONDSMAN
El Cajon Bail Bonds
118 Rea Ave. El Cajon (619) 442-9998
When you’re anxious to get a loved one out of the slammer, don’t just dial the first bail bondsman you see advertised on a bus stop bench near the jail. Crime happens at all hours so you need a 24 hour service. Several on-call bondsmen insure that someone can get to the right jail with the correct reams of paperwork in the shortest time. El Cajon Bail Bonds does it all including state and federal bonds and they accept credit cards. Rates for misdemeanors start as low as 8% of the set bail amount (compared to 10% elsewhere).
BEST CORNBALL COSTUME SALES
Fun ‘N Folly
13223-1 Black Mountain Rd. PMB201
(858) 780-0302 www.funfolly.com
For over thirty years, Fun ‘N Folly has sold not just Santa Claus and cowboy costumes but also wigs and beards, makeup kits, hats, mascot suits, props (stethoscopes, swords, guns, angel wings), fake fangs, dismembered body parts and of course the ever popular Groucho nose-and-glasses. They’re presently searching for a new local storefront but meanwhile their selection can be browsed by visiting their website or by calling their order line for information. All their wares are new and unused and unavailable for rentals
BEST MURDER AND A MEAL
The Mystery Café, Imperial House Restaurant
505 Kalmia St. San Diego (619) 544-1600
Since 1990, comic murder mysteries and delicious four course meals have been served up every weekend by the suspects themselves at this popular restaurant. More interactive than anything one can do alone at a computer terminal, patrons get to participate in the dastardly doings and ask questions as the evening progresses before being invited to guess whodunit. Held every Friday and Saturday night, about fifty dollars will cover dinner and the show but tips and drinks are extra. Vegetarian and special diets are happily accommodated.
BEST BOY-AND-GIRL WATCHING
Guava Beach Bar and Grill
3714 Mission Blvd. Mission Beach (858) 488-6688
This Mission Beach meat market is as cozy as an Aspen ski lodge with a roaring fireplace on winter nights and a munchie menu of left coast specialties like jalapeno nachos, seafood dishes and a mouthwatering artichoke dip. Beautiful and buff beach types provide a fairly evenly matched female-to-male ratio to insure that lots of scoring goes on each weekend, and not just among those playing with the box of games kept near the tables at the back of the club or staring into the psychedelic fishtanks.
BEST VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT
3351 Adams Ave. Normal Heights (619) 282-4116
The eastern Indian influence is low key in this plainly decorated Normal Heights eatery where meat is murder and tofu is the ingredient of choice in many dinners and entrees. Photos hang on the wall showing a spiritual swami who demonstrates the power of his will by lifting a trailer load of weights. A different curried dish is offered every couple of days along with Mexican-inspired garden burritos, a rotating soup selection and a Saturday all-you-can-eat brunch. Entree and dinner prices range from $5.00 to $12.00.
BEST DINER TO KISS MAH GRITS
2900 El Cajon Blvd. (619) 282-8423
It was a sad day for greasy spoon lovers when Topsy’s diner near Hillcrest closed in 2002 and its campy 60’s Vegas-style marquee fell to the wrecking ball. Luckily, just up the street, Rudford’s remains open 24 hours a day with its own retro chrome and vinyl decor and testy truckstop waitresses. The all American menu of artery-clogging and fat filled diner food includes grilled tuna and cheese ($4.45), specialty burgers (from $4.95), chicken fried steaks with country gravy ($6.25 lunch/$7.25 dinner) and assorted pies, pudding and ice cream.
BEST GLASS BLOWING
20307 Beech Lane Escondido (760) 745-7020
Watching an artist like Garry Cohen create intricate vases and bottles can be awe inspiring. First, he places his steel blowpipe into an open furnace and gathers a glob of molten glass onto its tip before pulling it out to blow air into the glass while it cools. Shaping is achieved with gravity, pressing on a steel warver table and with a variety of tweezers and lip sheers. No two pieces are exactly the same and Cohen also does special orders and commissions.
BEST PLACE TO POP OFF A FEW CAPS
American Marksmen (formerly Magnolia Indoor Range)
8516-201 Magnolia Ave. Santee (619) 596-4099
The facade of this state of the art shooting range looks like a typical strip mall storefront. Once inside however, after showing ID, a BFSC certificate and signing their term agreement, shooters can rent space in a computerized target gallery with individual stations for $10.00 per hour. The facility also has a full line of firearm supplies and on-site training in gun handling and safety as well as renting everything from eye protection and headphones to human shaped target sheets and heavy duty weaponry.
BEST DEAD COW CLOTHES
San Diego Leather Jacket Factory
Corner of 4th Avenue and National City Boulevard (800) 232-6626
Ladies leather chaps ($145.00), goatskin bomber jackets ($99.95), black cowhide pants ($125.00) and toddlers’ motorcycle jackets ($49.95) are just some of the clothes made from former cow parts found in this huge discount warehouse. They offer a solid ten year guarantee for stitching and zippers on American-made jackets but imported cowskin only carries a 90 day warranty against defects. Quality is top drawer and prices are near wholesale, even on smaller items like fanny packs, purses, belts and vests.
BEST COUNTERCULTURE SHOP
High Road Psychedelic Shop
1465 Garnet Ave. PB (858) 273-7501
Many seventies survivors find it strangely comforting that High Times magazine, Zig-Zag rolling papers and all manner of bongs and glass pipes are still openly available at “head shops,” while the activities often associated with these things are more illegal than ever. The High Road, with a second location on El Cajon Boulevard, now caters to an almost mainstreamed clientele of nostalgic heads, nouveau young hippies and party animals. Even the drug-free and psychedelically impaired can find decent, reasonably priced jewelry, incense, T-shirts, books and of course back issues of Relix Magazine and Grateful Dead Comix.
BEST DEADHEAD DIVE
1921 Bacon St. Ocean Beach (619) 222-6822
Possibly hoping to be perceived as more upscale than just another OB dive full of hemp loving sandal-wearers, Winstons abandoned its weekly Grateful Dead nights and instead tried booking reggae, funk and even hardcore acts. Now realizing that the Deadicated Disciples of Jerry are a more dependable and thirsty crowd than rastafarians and rappers, they’ve allowed Mondays to slide back into the hands of tie-dye circuit jam groups.
BEST SIDEWALK BREAKFAST
Por Favor Restaurant
8302 La Mesa Blvd. (619) 698-5950
Not many local restaurants possess a twenty-five year pedigree like this rustic Mexican eatery in downtown La Mesa. Breakfast ($4.00-$10.00) begins at 9am on weekends and can be enjoyed outdoors on a patio facing La Mesa Blvd. and corralled by wrought iron fences to keep the sidewalk strollers far from hijacking your heuvos. Green table parasols keep the morning sun at bay and the red metal chairs are comfortable enough and placed with lots of room to stretch out, read the paper and let the day have its first whack at you.
BEST PET CEMETERY
San Diego Pet Memorial Park
8995 Crestmar Point (858) 271-4242 sandiegopetmemorial.com
Not just a pet cemetery but also a wildlife sanctuary where critters indigenous to San Diego run around the kitty crypts and doggie tombs. A one-time maintenance fee gets you a basic burial plot and you can decide later whether to add a headstone. Services are performed with admirably straight faces and customers who opt for cremation can have the remains placed in an urn and delivered to wherever people deliver powdered pets. Their online FAQ contains this caveat: “Caskets are not used for horses because it is neither possible nor efficient.”
BEST ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY TAXI SERVICE
The Original Bike Cab Company
Environmentally aware tourists and locals can now catch a cab without being responsible for one bit of air pollution, unless your driver happens to eat a bean burrito for lunch. The Original Bike Cab Company has around thirty pedal powered rides moving up to several hundred people an hour, from the marina to the Embarcadero and all over downtown and the Gaslamp. One way rates start at $10.00 per person, $15.00 round-trip and they also rent bikes and offer bicycle and bikecab tours of the city.
BEST CHIMNEY SWEEP
4021 Swift Ave. (619) 280-4700
“When we sweep your chimney,” says Michael Mullen, vice president of Chimneys-R-Us, “your white carpet stays white, there’s no mess and we’re not smudged like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.” Workers inspect, clean, rebuild and repair all chimneys, fireplaces and wood burning appliances. “Safety inspections should be done every year, every other year if it’s not used often. Soot is flammable and corrosive and it’s cheap insurance to do preventative maintenance.” Basic service on a two story chimney starts at around $119.00 and $109.00 for a one story chimney. The cleaning takes from a half hour to forty-five minutes. “Some of the guys do dress up and have a top hat in the truck. We usually don’t wear them unless the customer asks and a lot of customers do. But it gets kind of hot when you’re on a roof in Ramona at noon, and the last thing you want to be doing is dancing around with a top hat.”
BEST SAILING LESSONS
San Diego Sailing Academy
1500 Quivira Way Pacific Beach (619) 223-6253
The San Diego Sailing Academy offers professional sailing instruction for boat owners and those interested in running charter operations and in other sailing careers. Graduates receive American Sailing Association certificate necessary to sail professionally. Instructors are all licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard and no more than two students at a time are included in each certification class. Three day excursions start at $1,000.00. A five day combination package, Basic Coastal Cruising/Bareboat Chartering Certification, costs $1,500.00 and includes training in piloting and sailing by using a chart, reading a hand-bearing compass, jibing, steering in waves, anchoring and how to dock using either a motor or under sail power. Seven day excursions can run over $2,000.00 and the company also books corporate sailing regattas for up to twelve participants and post-certification refresher courses.
Helgren’s Sportfishing Trips
315 Harbor Drive South Oceanside (760) 722-2133
Whale watch cruises run from December through March. Most are 3/4 day runs, 1/2 day runs and twilight trips though Helgren’s also books multi-day custom charters. The boats go five miles out of the harbor, heading south toward the pier, and the whales to watch for are forty foot long, thirty ton Gray Whales who pass near the shore on their annual migration south. “There’s usually at least one spotted,” says a sales clerk, “and sometimes three or four or a mother with her babies.” The captain narrates and each trip lasts about two hours. Cost varies according to season and demand and can run as little as $8.00 per person with groups of 25 or more passengers. Helgren’s also has a fish and tackle store which handles everything from fishing licenses to gear and boat rentals.
MOST APPETIZING LOCAL BAND NAMES
If you have the Price Of Dope, then surely you can achieve Canobliss. Follow up with a nibble of Soulcracker, eaten over The Good China, ‘natch, and if there are any leftovers you can always pack them up in a Sack Lunch for tomorrow. The all time most munchie-inspiring band name would have to be Flavor Snacks, however, since people AND dogs love to eat ‘em up.
BEST NEW AGE MUSIC WHILE YOU GET YOUR HAIR DONE
3545 4th Ave. San Diego (619) 294-3055
Getting a haircut can be a traumatic experience, as can having a perm or getting your hair colored. So many horrible things could go wrong, scary accidents that could result in mothers covering their children’s eyes when they pass you on the street. It helps to have some soothing and relaxing music in the background, to take your mind off how disfigured you might be when the scissors stop and the chemicals are washed out. At Indigo in Hillcrest, the calming begins as soon as you walk into its spacious entry room. Marble and classic Greek statuary mingles with pop art and diner decor. Speakers throughout the salon’s rooms play music usually programmed by the employees - Enya, Carlos Nakai, Cowboy Junkies and lots of tunes loaded up on either lilting pan flutes or synthesizers with phasers set on “snooze.” At various times, there are also folks on hand who offer pedicures, manicures and even massage therapy, providing full service pampering at fair prices, from $20.00 for a basic cut, $50.00 for coloring and perms and nails from $10.00 on up.
It all seemed harmless enough in the '70s. KGB was giving out free dinners at Roberto’s, a popular chain of taco stands. Soon, however, dozens of other burrito vendors painted their buildings gaudy colors and took on variations of the bankable ‘Berto’s name. One prolific competitor in the Battle Of The ‘Bertos has been Alberto’s, with locations from Chula Vista to La Mesa, Mira Mesa and Poway. That chain, however, is not connected to National City’s Albertu’s or Albertaco’s at Montezuma and El Cajon Boulevard. Neither should Hamberto’s in La Mesa be confused with Humberto’s on 43rd Street. There are several Hilberto’s, in El Cajon, Santee and southern San Diego. Up and comers Adalberto’s have several shops, but they face an aggressive array of rivals like Filiberto’s on Ulric, Eiberto’s on South Meadowbrook, Ramberto’s and Jilberto’s in Spring Valley, Aiberto’s in Lemon Grove, Aliberto’s on La Mesa Boulevard and Royberto’s on Waring Road.
All the ‘Berto’s have basically the same greasy menu, with burritos running around $1.20 and fancy fish tacos setting you back around two bucks. The very best bean ‘n’ lard heart bombs may well be at Norberto’s in El Cajon, where the salsa is guaranteed to provide hours of bathroom reading time.
BEST ITTY BITTY TEENY WEENY BIKINIS
Pilar's Beach Wear
3745 Mission Boulevard, Mission Beach 858-488-3056
The bright blue awning in front of Pilar’s looks pale compared to the explosion of color seen inside the shop’s front door. Long lines in front of the dressing rooms are common, as are boyfriends and other spectators who watch the parade of pulchritude trying on the hundreds of styles from makers like Body Glove ($28.00 to $35.00, pieces sold separately) as well as pedigree designer duds by Gideon Oberson and Gottex ($80.00 to $200.00, sold in two-piece sets only). The shop allows customers to mix and match tops and bottoms from different size and style selections, in order to fit every type of body from petite to full figured and everything in between, including bikinis for pregnant women! Also sold are accessories like wraps and cover-ups ($20.00 to $100.00), visors (from $5.00) and beach bags ($18.00 to $60.00). Open Monday through Saturday 10am to 6:30pm and Sundays from 10 to 6.
BEST PHOTO FIXER-UPPERS
8806 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa 619-466-6708
Owned by second generation husband and wife team of David and Sherry Gillespie, Village Studio repairs and restores antique photographs. The shop first opened in 1947, and has kept up with technology through the years. Digital retouching of damaged or discolored photos makes it possible to have like-new photographic prints made with all of the original photo's tears, cracks and fading digitally corrected, without wear and tear to the fragile originals.
Minor restoration runs $30.00 to $60.00 plus the cost of new prints (the first 8” X 10” print runs $25.00, and $18.00 for each subsequent print). Moderate repairs begin at $125.00 and very heavy restoration can cost from $185.00 to $225.00. "We know how to handle these irreplaceable images. Your treasured old photographs are completely safe because we scan the originals for restoration, returning the originals unharmed. Your cherished photographs never leave our studio." Your images can be scanned onto a CD disc – cost is $35.00 for the first image and $10.00 for each additional image.
WORST CONCERTS EVER – 25 GAWDAWFUL GIGS
UNWRITTEN LAW’s Scott Russo describes an onstage fight that took place March 23, 2005, at the House of Blues in Anaheim, that left Russo minus a tooth and guitarist Rob Brewer missing part of his pinky. "Long story short? [Rob Brewer] sucks. He hit me and then we fired him," Russo told MTV News.
Russo says the onstage argument was over Brewer's refusal to play "F.I.G.H.T." from Here's to the Mourning. "So I said on the microphone that Rob's mad at us. I went over to try and give him a hug, and he pushed me." Russo says he threw some water at Brewer, whereupon "he knocked one of my teeth out. So I walked offstage. Rob did too. But I walked back out, threw his guitar on, and we finished the set without him. Then I threw his guitar into the crowd and gave it to the kids."
Russo says he found Brewer backstage holding a vodka bottle. "He tries to hit me over the head with it.... The bottle connects with the top of the door jamb and smashes, cutting half of his right pinkie off. Needless to say, he couldn't play the next two or three shows because he had to have surgery to reattach his torn ligaments."
According to Russo, Brewer also shoved a fan who made his way backstage to meet the band in Anaheim. "He yelled at the kid, 'What the f-ck are you doing in my [dressing] room?' and he hit the fan across the room. We were just, like, 'What the f-ck is wrong with him?'" The band continued touring as a quartet.
IRON MAIDENS drummer Linda McDonald says “The owner of the Rainbow Bar in Juarez, Mexico, locked us, the promoter and the sound crew in the building. We were doing a swing thru Texas, and did the Juarez show the night before our El Paso gig. The show went great, the fans came out in droves, and every thing was fine. Until at about 2:00 a.m., when we heard a lot of yelling in Spanish.”
“The promoter came up to us and said ‘Get all your stuff and move it all outside as fast as you can.’ We did so and, on about our third trip out, with about four more trips worth of stuff to go, the double doors slammed shut on us. We tried to open them, and found they were chained and padlocked from the outside. All the sound guys, the band, and the crew were locked inside. The promoter had to scramble to find $1,500 [U.S.], on a Sunday morning, at 2:30 a.m., or the building owner would not let anyone out. We were all in there for about 45 minutes, until the promoter came up with the extra money, and we all beat a hasty retreat.”
The Maidens are frequently seen at ‘Canes, but through 2009 they’ll mainly be touring elsewhere. “We play about 200 shows a year,” says McDonald. “We’re lucky to have played all over the U.S. and Canada, Greece, Korea, Japan, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Puerto Rico, Spain, and Turkey. Oh, and Mexico, which totally rocked, other than Juarez.” McDonald and sister Maiden Sara Marsh also play in an all-female Ozzy tribute, The Little Dolls.
BRANDON WELCHEZ recalls hitting a Utah stage in skin-tight pants, faux-fur coats, and mascara. “This didn't sit well with the conservatism of half the crowd, who immediately started heckling us…One of them came up to the stage and was yelling things, so I spat in his face. After our last song, a group of fifteen to twenty armed Mormon jocks gathered…One of them had keys in his fist and punched our drummer’s snare drum. One of them punched our drummer in the head and I swung a cymbal stand at him… I remember one of them looked me straight in the face and said ‘We've killed people before and we'll do it again.’" Bar employees diffused the brawl.
As for why the group was “banned in Baltimore,” Welchez says “Our roadie at the time was completely knackered. He was trying to make his way to the bathroom, which was upstairs, decided he didn't want to finish the walk, pulled out his penis and urinated down the flight of stairs. It was hilarious to see a yellow waterfall coming down the stairs, but of course the security and staff didn't see the comedic beauty. We were ejected and told never to return and that we wouldn't work in Baltimore again. We found the tires to our van slashed once we got outside.”
CHRIS LEYVA of Blizzard recalls “One time at the Shamrock Shack, a guy got stabbed, but the cops didn’t catch the guy who did it. Then we were playing our next gig at Chasers, and cops showed up to arrest the guy with the knife [from Shamrock Shack], because he was there at Chasers! The cops noticed we were the same band from the Shack and said ‘not you again!’ Knife wielding maniacs must make up a big part of our fan base.”
A SCRIBE AMIDST THE LIONS singer/guitarist Kristofer Towne says the band was unloading before a recent gig at L.A.’s Viper Room when “Out of nowhere, a speeding car [was] careening into the parking lot at more than thirty miles in hour. The car hits the curb, almost runs over three or four people, nearly slams into the extra rental van for fans, and proceeds to crash into the rear of the band van!” Towne says he and another band member avoided being hit by “just inches.” When police arrived, the woman was arrested.
“During all of this,” according to Towne, “there was considerable stress, as the venue was expecting us to load up and play, while the police needed to get all the information and statements at pretty much the same time.” The band made their slot on time and, on packing up to leave, they were informed that the woman who crashed was actually on her way to the Viper Room. “She had a ticket and everything!”
CRIME IN AMERICA bassist Eric Marcrum doesn’t miss the old Scolari’s. “One time they paid us $24. The last time we played there, they didn’t pay us at all.”
“During our last gig there, between songs, I asked the bartender for some beers for the band, from the stage…she started yelling ’You’re not allowed to call out the bartender on the microphone,’ even though we do that all the time and we were telling people all night to tip her.” Marcrum says that, as the band was loading out, “[The bartender] was getting all in our face and saying ‘You don’t have that big of a draw’…our drummer Nate said ‘We’ll never play here again, you guys suck,’ and she yelled out ‘You guys are 86d, you’re never coming back.’”
Vv MORGUE recalls a July 5, 2007 event she promoted at Chasers, featuring Ghost Ship: “It was a full-on bar brawl, like you see on Most Shocking Videos. I saw one of the bartenders covering her ears and making fun of the [Ghost Ship] set. Then, she tells them to stop playing, because she thinks their equipment shut off an electrical breaker.” The band stopped for a moment, no electrical problem was found, and they began their final two songs. “I'm sitting in the back and I see the bartender getting on the phone and telling someone ‘Hey I know it's late’…five minutes later, five guys show up and one starts yelling [at the band] ‘Get the f-ck out, I'm a SHARP!’ [Skin Heads Against Racial Prejudice]…I don't know if he was really associated with them, or if he was just trying to scare us off.”
“This guy goes up to a fan watching the show and punches him in the head,” says Morgue. Another patron reportedly snapped a picture of the alleged SHARP, whereupon, according to Morgue, “My good friend Bethany was between the running SHARP and the camera guy, and the SHARP punched her in the face and threw her against a wall.” Bandmembers got involved in the ensuing scuffle, during which “Ghost Ship’s PA system got destroyed,” according to Morgue.
DUST N’ BONES singer Richard Gwaltney describes an ’08 House of Blues gig: “By the time we went on stage, everybody had been drinking all night. “There were about 500 drinking fans, going crazy…about halfway through the set, a fight broke out. A few people said there was a guy groping someone else’s girlfriend, but a good friend of mine claims the moshing just turned a little too serious. I asked the crowd to calm down, but they started right back up after we began playing again. At that point, about a third of the crowd was thrown out.”
“It was nearing the end of the set,” says Gwaltney, “like the second to last song, and we were supposed to stop, at which point the fighting erupted again. I don’t know why…everyone I was knew was thrown out by then.” He praises HOB security. “They were pretty immediate about throwing offenders out. I especially remember this small, blonde woman being the first bouncer in the mix. She just dove in and took control.”
SUFFER THE HEAT singer Brandon Barclay recalls a Halloween ’06 gig at Mira Costa College’s Student Center. “In the midst of setting up our equipment, Travis [Du Bois, bassist] was being escorted outside by a campus police officer. Travis had and still has no idea why he was being arrested, so he asked the officer ‘why’ about twenty times and never got a response. A second cop comes in and starts yelling at the crowd gathered around the scene to disperse. They end up telling Travis that they want to check him for weapons…as soon as they cranked his arm up behind his back, he flinched due to discomfort, and was body slammed to the ground and taser-gunned several times. As they held him down, they restricted his arms from any movement and kept tasing him because he wouldn’t put his arms behind his back.”
Campus officials declined to comment on the incident, but did provide the preliminary police report which states that MCC campus police officer Benny Perez initially approached Du Bois because he “smelled marijuana smoke.” Perez says Du Bois “drew attention to himself” by walking away from the officer. Perez followed him into building, whereupon he “detected alcohol” on the bassist and decided to “conduct a weapon and/or alcohol search.”
Noting the campus’ “standard procedure” is to put handcuffs on suspects during such searches, Perez says Du Bois “refused to cooperate.” When a second officer arrived, Jim Beckman, a struggle began and Beckman “discharged a taser into his [Du Bois’] back.” Du Bois (27) was taken to a police car and charged with public drunkenness, resisting arrest and possessing alcohol on school grounds (“a bottle of Blue Vodka”).
“The bottle was a mini two-ouncer, and it was still sealed,” says Barclay. “It was for after the show. But because he also admitted having two beers before the show, during dinner, off campus, they say he was breaking the law. What about burning nine inches of taser marks onto an innocent guy’s flesh? He didn’t deserve to be punished the way he was.” The MCC campus has a “zero tolerance” alcohol policy.
WASTING JUNE keyboardist Jeff Domitrz remembers "At our worst gig we kept getting pushed back later and later into the night. When we finally went on at one in the morning, the owner of the bar kept walking back and fourth across the stage holding a sign that read, 'Want to play? Call Ray.' "
JOHN HERMSMEIER, local drummer, says “My worst gig has to be when my college band Sandova played for a youth event that turned out to be about seven sixth graders who sat in the half-court circle at the gym and were uninterested, to say the least. The event leaders had to actually go up to the 'crowd' and tell them to stop playing on their Game Boys and pay attention to us. Now I can laugh about it with my former bandmates, but at the time it left quite a sting...probably like how Elizabeth felt when Rosie dissed her on The View.”
GABE LANDER recalls a Dateless Losers gig with band partner Tim Curns: "When we were first starting out we played at an open mic where Tim and I both had to share one microphone. We had to sit so close, we both forgot all the words to our songs. By the end of the most awful set ever, Tim was covered in my spit and our sense of dignity was utterly flattened. Luckily there were only, like, three people in the audience. And they weren't paying attention."
CHRISCHRISCHRIS frontman Chris Decatur says "The worst gig, without a doubt, was when we were served [legal papers] during a show and had to shut down in the middle of it. We were in B.F.E., Texas, and a bunch of suits straight out of a Blues Brothers movie flashback came up onstage with papers. I thought they wanted autographs. Turns out they did. The audience thought it was all a part of the act, and I had to tell them what was going on. 'Folks, I apologize, but we're apparently being sued for plagiarism.' Someone from the hushed audience yelled, 'For what song?' And I laughed because we were in the middle of playing it -- 'I'm Alright' -- the Caddyshack theme song. I told them this, and someone yelled, 'F-ck Kenny Loggins!' My face went red, my hands went numb. Hardy kicked his drum set over, and Capri threw his bass at the ground. I just knew it would be the last show we'd ever do as a live band, and it was."
GUITARIST PETER SPRAGUE remembers “I get a call from pianist Rob Schneiderman, and he’s got a gig playing jazz in Spain for a month, starting in one week, and he invites me on the tour [but] someone steals my precious handmade guitar...next, I’m off to Western Union to receive some wired money from my folks to buy a new guitar."
“While at the Western Union, an armed gangster holds up the bank next door, and I’m gathering my money amidst some gunshots...then I fly to Spain and I land at the airport, and my friends are not there to pick me up. I’m young, and I didn’t gather all of their info, so I don’t know how to get ahold of them...I take a cab to the city central, and I’m literally wandering around the streets, not sure what to do."
“Then I hear the sounds of Charlie Parker playing ‘Just Friends’ from a nearby street café. I move a little closer, and discover my friends listening to Bird and having an afternoon coffee. Unbelievable...I was saved, I thought, but it turned out that the rest of my time in Spain was filled with lousy gigs, canceled gigs, [and] very little vegetarian food. I survived and gained some wisdom, but I also got really sick and spent a week in bed with food poisoning.”
COLLAGE MENAGE twins Hans and Fritz Jensen each have their own Worst Gig story:
Hans: "We went to Mexico, and the federales stopped us at the border to search us and harass us for cash. We didn't pay, so we went home with no show that night. Bogus."
Fritz: "At 'Canes, the amateur booker had his PA show up late, and when the show went late, he cut off our set by standing in front of the stage and waving his hands around, shouting, 'Cut the PA.' The drummer quit that night. He was a wiener anyway."
COLIN CLYNE says ““I played in my hometown in Scotland a few years ago, and got dragged into a heckling match with some drunk, middle-aged woman who demanded we play ABBA. I backed down and we played the closest thing we had to that - AC/DC.”
BIG TOE drummer Ben Taylor recalls “At a club in San Francisco called the Stone, I was in a band opening up for Nuclear Assault and the stage was about ten feet high. The drums were on a piece of carpet attached to a sheet of plywood. Around the middle of the third song, the plywood was moving and there was nothing under it but the big giant void that I eventually ended up in, along with my whole kit. The 3,000 screaming people thought it was part of our stage show. I left very bloody and with quite the headache.”
BIG PROVIDER singer/guitarist Jackson Price remembers “Last July, South Lake Tahoe, we showed up just to find out we weren't even on the schedule. The place was a gay bar converted to a venue that had absolutely no draw. We played over two hours of music to about four people. We ended up getting drunk and skinny dipping in the lake at four in the morning with some girl from the show.”
JENN GRINELS says “I broke my ankle playing a singing, dancing mermaid on the Disney Cruise Line. I was loading into a lift that was about to rise up through the stage. I jumped in - wearing heels, because Disney mermaids wear heels - broke my ankle, and everyone panicked. I think we were all having visions of the smoke clearing on stage and 500 children gasping at the sight of a floundering, writhing, screaming mermaid. But they pulled me out in time and the show went on without a hitch.”
NAUTICAL DISASTER’s Grimis Apparatus remembers “I DJ’d a private party for a bunch of cops. They were all hammered and talking about all the DUIs they got out of by being a cop.”
TRAGIC TANTRUM’s two leaders Zeph and ZöE recall a show at Rebecca’s Café: “We were running late and, when we got to play, the sound was terrible. The vocals were too loud and then too soft, and we couldn’t hear ourselves at all. ZöE forgot her lyrics, Zeph lost his place in the song, and we were too busy trying to figure out what the heck was going on with the sound. The energy was off and, although the audience was paying attention, it was more like they were staring at a bad car wreck you can’t help but look at. In the end, though, no bones were broken or lives lost, so it was a learning experience.”
"50 Greatest Local Concerts 1917 - 2005" - Detailed coverage of 50 historical local concerts, including Hendrix at the Sports Arena, Nirvana at Off the Record, the Beatles at Balboa Stadium, Elvis at the SD Arena, the Spirit reunion at the Rodeo, and many more. http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2008/oct/09/50-greatest-concerts-in-san-diego-history-1917---2/
"Pussycat Theaters - When 'Cathouses Ruled California" - For the first time ever, the detailed inside story of the Pussycat chain of adult theaters, run by legendary local grindhouse operator Vince Miranda. Includes dozens of interviews and hundreds of rare photos and graphics (for mature readers - duh!). http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/bands/2008/aug/07/pussycat-theater-history-when-cathouses-ruled-ca-n/
Like this blog? Here are some related links:
OVERHEARD IN SAN DIEGO - Several years' worth of this comic strip, which debuted in the Reader in 1996: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/overheard-san-diego/
FAMOUS FORMER NEIGHBORS - Over 100 comic strips online, with mini-bios of famous San Diegans: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/famous-former-neighbors/
SAN DIEGO READER MUSIC MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/sandiegoreadermusic
JAY ALLEN SANFORD MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/jayallensanford