• Rock Around the Town alerts



1 – The Day the Monkees Turned Del Mar into Clarksville: Part 2


2 – I Was an Undercover Ticket Scalper – how I found out all about local scalpers


3 – Comic-Con 2008 Photo Funnies


4 – Why Britney Spears Hates San Diego


5 - Thirty Celebs Reveal “What I Like About San Diego”


6 – Cartoonist Confessions: Overheard In San Diego and Famous Former Neighbors


7 - Famous Cartoon Neighbors


8 - Boy Shakira Is All My Fault


9 - Life Between Deadlines: The Midnight Rambler


10 - That Old House: Reflections On A Childhood Home


11 - Top Five Ways To Tell If Your Local Bar Is Full Of Junkies, and more top 5 lists


12 – Open Mic Life


13 - Mojo Nixon Comix & Stories: Full length Famous Former Neighbors comic


14 - Drawing David Bowie: Time Lapse Video


15 - Drawing Marilyn Monroe: Time Lapse Video 









Today’s new Reader ish (9-11) has a music feature about the day the Monkees turned Del Mar into Clarksville for a promotional appearance, the day before their TV show debuted. Click below link if you haven’t seen it, and then come on back --- I’ll wait:






HOWEVER – tho this was the first time the Monkees performed in public, the very first time the band EVER performed music together was ALSO in San Diego – a year before the Clarksville promotion!


In mid-November 1965, the foursome shot scenes for the pilot episode “Royal Flush” at the Hotel Del Coronado, including the country club and bar sequences. Exterior scenes were filmed on the beach near the Hotel; this footage would also turn up in the series original title sequence, as well as throughout the episode “Here Come the Monkees.”


West Coast Iron Works guitarist Gary Carter was a sophomore at Coronado High School at the time, and he recalls the Friday afternoon he and two friends stumbled across the Monkees on the Hotel Del beachfront. “We noticed them in shorts and Hawaiian shirts, and a guy filming them with a handheld camera,” he says. “We had no idea who they were…During a break, we struck up a conversation with Davy Jones, and he asked us if we could take him to Tijuana! We explained that we were underage and not allowed to cross the border.”


c17 Jones invited the teens to dinner with the band that evening in the Hotel Del’s Crown room, along with crew members, potential network affiliates, and – in the case of Micky Dolenz – groupies. “That was when I recognized him as the grown up kid [Micky Braddock] from the Circus Boy TV show,” says Carter, “and he had six or seven of the most beautiful Hollywood starlets anyone has ever seen at his table with him.”


“As the evening progressed, they [the Monkees] started having fun with each other. I don’t remember which one it was, but someone picked up this big bowl of shrimp cocktail and tossed it…soon, it was a full-on food fight, and we had to leave the table to avoid getting food all over us. I was horrified [for the Hotel]…the carpet in that room alone was worth tens of thousands of dollars.”


The messy dinner finale notwithstanding, Carter accepted Jones’ invitation to return the following day, to watch a TV scene being filmed in the Hotel’s Circus Room (seen in the series pilot). This shoot marked the first time the Monkees ever played musical instruments all in one room together, as they plugged into the prop amps between setups and took a shot at a few old Chuck Berry and folk numbers.


“I got the hint from watching that their show was a satire of the Beatles, which I personally took offense at,” says Carter, who got bored after a couple of hours and departed the shooting.


“On the way out, I stuck my head into the Crown Room, and a bunch of people were still cleaning up the mess from the food fight. They were really pissed off.”


The Monkees were banned from the Hotel Del – collectively and individually – until September 2004, when Davy Jones returned with his band to perform at a private function. “Memories flooded the moment as we checked in and walked down the longest and widest corridors,” he wrote on his website davyjones.net.


“The concert for a couple hundred execs went down well,” says Jones, “and a couple of convention goers helped me sing ‘Daydream Believer’ and ‘I'm a Believer’ to rapturous applause. A good time was had by all. By Thursday, I made my way to the beach and shrunk my vitals. Extreme cold sea.”


Regarding the later Del Mar promotion, Davy Jones has fond memories of the day KHJ made a Monkee out of him. “I was a jockey, so of course Del Mar was a big part of that life,” he told the Reader in 2006. “When you see that ‘Last Train To Clarksville’ video, I mean in the [Monkees] TV show, that’s really Del Mar the train goes to…it was really grand fun, even though nobody had really heard of us yet.”



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The buzz of the Con – big surprise – is next year’s Watchmen movie, based on one of the three or four greatest graphic novels ever created. The trailer is amazing – it really captures the look of the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons comic. Even if you haven’t read this masterwork, the preview should amaze. If you ARE a Watchmen fan, check this out --- your pants are about to either get tight or moist, ‘pending gender -----

Watchmen comic VS film scene comparisons:




con74 Movie Nite Owlcon75 Toy Nite Owlcon77 Laughable Nite Owl

Here’s a pic of Watchmen’s Owl Ship on the Con floor, shot by Anders Wright:


And from the original comic -------- con78

Milhouse loves Watchmen (and V For Vendetta) too --------- con53

con20 (NOT Hugh Jackman - duh)

Now to the convention display floor --------

Proof that icky girls and all their cooties have infiltrated deep within the land of comic geeks – new Barbie dolls with her dressed as superheroes (yes, her Catwoman cosplay includes a whip!!)…


…and, you’ll think I made this up, but Barbie in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds!!!


I sh-t thee not!! Can Barbie Chainsaw Massacre be far in the future??? And checkout Barbie’s expression above – she’s had so much BoTox, she can’t even look scared….she just looks mildly bemused that a crow is about to peck out her effin’ eyeball!

Ol’ Lonesome Todd McFarlane’s toybox looks great on display at booth #2601, McFarlane Toys, where they’re showing off a bunch of prototypes of upcoming toys.


Sideshow Collectables has a pretty cool Predator figure on display –


Dunno why they posed their Darth Doll like Richard Simmons having a hissy fit –


Shocker Toys is debuting new action figures of the cartoon heavy metal band Dethklok, from Cartoon Network’s Metalocalypse. Available only at the Shocker booth (#3948), the edition is limited to 500 sets, priced at $80 each. The company’s fully painted vinyl action figures also include MC Chris, the band Gwar, and MTV’s The Maxx. Members of the Suicide Girls will also be appearing at the Shocker booth. con101

If yer really INTO playing with dolls ("not that there's anything WRONG with that..."), here's a cool slideshow of "action figures" all over the Con floor, from ActionFigureTimes - I love how the Question doll -- er, action figure -- looks like an old Warren Beatty Dick Tracy figure with the face sanded off. You'll see 'nother damn He-Man doll in this:

This fruit loop in the video below says he spent hours waiting to get his sweaty hands wrapped around the new He-Man King Grayskull doll, seen for the first time at Comic-Con '08 --- who ARE all those dudes moaning "Wow!!" and "Yes!!!" when he "accidentally" opens the package, and why do I get the feeling that Anita Bryant would hate every one of these guys? Swear to gawd, he strokes He-Man's sword, and he wishes his sword was bigger...out loud!! When he starts talking about the doll's "wrist action," the "bendy feet" and - I'm not lying - it's "pouch," I 'bout fell over laughing.....

con174 There’s even a He-Man floor display, Castle Grayskull I think. (I’ve never seen a He-Man cartoon, nor do I ever intend to) (“Not that there’s anything WRONG with that…”) I ask you - doesn't that entrance look like a guy wearing skull shortpants and opening his legs???????? And don't even get me started on those phallic-looking castle columns ----

Now checkout the Lego Batman -----


Izzit art, kitsch, or both? I dunno, but I wish I’d built it ----- how about this Lego stormtrooper??


Okay, time for some costumes:


In the future, this is what safe sex will look like…..

con14 One of these people has never been kissed, the other has been kissed 250 times….today…….

con15Now sing along, “I think I’m turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so…”

con17 SOMEbody paid a lotta $ for a good waxing yesterday --- (thanks to whoever sent me this pic, I lost yer email)


“Mommy, someday I’m gonna KILL you for this…” ---


“I have no idea where I am, and it smells r-e-a-l-l-y bad.”

carnbooth Boo!

con43 Crap, He-Man again…

Now for today’s Reality-Check-Slash-Bummer ------ Tura Satana of Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill, then and now ---------



You remember the Futurama with Good Bender and Evil Bender? Well, here’s good and bad Bender costumes. Yes, that’s duct tape on the bad one ---- the good one isn’t actually a costume, but the pics look cool side-by-side ---

con45 con44

In the “Been there, done that, lost a buncha money” department, local comic publisher IDW is releasing new comic book bios on the two Presidential candidates (ask me some day how much $$$ Revolutionary Comics lost on Great Morons in History #1: Dan Quayle, not to mention our Ross Perot, Boris Yeltsin, JFK, and RFK comic books….)


WTF was a Karaoke booth doing at Comic-Con?! And why didn’t anybody shoot webfluid or toss a pumpkin bomb into the mouths of Heidi and Spencer here? Jeez, there’s never a murderous super-villain around when you NEED one -----


Sorry, I ferget who took these pics of me --- I was, uh, distracted.


"Are you guys SURE I dropped my Barbie doll back here??"


"Is that a logo, Beavis, or are you just happy to see me?"

Imagine bringing THIS into the San Diego airport, and watching the faces of baggage inspectors as they open the shipping crate!!!!


con97 This old toy from the vintage TV show UFO totally freaks me out. Looks just like a sick device I once saw at the F Street Bookstore….

Now for some more costumes, beginning with the Marvel Fashion Show -------


Are Stan's Angels trying to seduce Supes over to Marvel?


Corsette and a fanny pack?!


Where did they find those socks - is there a Punky Brewster booth?


What Hooters girls do on their day off ---


My penis just receded like a frightened turtle head.....


Now my penis is just confused.


comic-con-07 060

Okay, Mr. Happy is happy again….


At least those things are safe from vampires...


"Slavemaster wanted for chain operation..."


Showin' some skin -----


Skinnin' for show ------

con168 con169 con179

Aww, you're ALL Super, girls!

con178 con180

Nearly nekkid, yet it took them hours to dress -------


The Fetish Astronaut, John Glen-Or-Glenda -------


Transforming on a budget, and Orion after he ATE Darkseid....


The League Of Extremely Well-Fed Gentlemen!

con165 "I've got a cobra in my pants..."


Bruce Banner's earlier failed experiment.



con176 Someday, I want one of those Hulk movies to explain how, when Banner Hulks-out, his pants always stay intact…

Here’s an overhead shot of the display floor:


And a view from the floor (found on blog.wired.com) ---


con231 On Saturday, Tori Amos appeared on a panel about her graphic novel Comic Book Tattoo, with artists drawing interpretations of her songs and published by Image Comics. Amos also did an autograph signing at 2:00 PM, though only for 200 selected fans who purchased the comic at the Image booth.

con232 For some reason, Tori showed up dressed as a leather burrito -------------


Talking about the creative freedom of working in comics, Tori told the crowd "I wanted to make sure the corporate side didn’t f-ck it up, so I got to play S&M artist with corporate."

Artist Rantz Hoseley was the main guy herding nearly 100 artists for Tori’s Comic Book Tattoo. He talked about when he first held the rock ‘n’ roll comicbook, straight off the printing press. “When I got this book, I'm like, this will change everything, it's revolutionary!”

Somewhere in Heaven, Todd Loren – founder of Revolutionary Comics’ Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics, which predated the Tori comic by, oh, about 20 years – is cracking up….

Tori – a big fan and friend of Neil Gaiman – told the audience that working on her comic inspired her upcoming recording plans, too. "It's marvelous, I've never done anything like this. It gave me the courage to stand up and leave Sony. It showed me freedom."

Freedom to dress like a leather burrito --------------


Okay, time for more costumes ------------------------

con261 This gal is more dangerous than she seems, if you look closely……

con272 Bat-In-laws

con273 Norse Nerd

con274 Booster Pizza Delivery

con275 Cheap Plastic Man

con276 Joke Woman

con277 Free circumcisions


It Came From The Hotel Bedsheets


Marvel Model Team-Up, or Jello Wrestling Team Of Our Dreams

con280 “What costume?”

con281 Trio of Titanic TaTas


Sorry, gals, he’s only Lego

con283 Sunny Daye meets Dork Knight


My parents are SOOOOO embarrassing!

con312 “Maggots, heh heh!”


The Access Hollywood promo showed Britney Spears flashing flesh, as a hyperactive voiceover announced “Britney is willing to do anything to top Janet, even if it takes getting nasty in the Onyx Hotel! Coming up – sex in San Diego!”

It was late February 2004, between Mousekateer and motherhood, just before the trainwreck that is Britney Spears first slipped a couple wheels offtrack ----------

The TV show was announcing the kick-off of Spears’ theatrical production “The Onyx Hotel Tour,” which was set to open at the Sports Arena March 2. “A swarm of invading paparazzi and other showbiz swarm promises to descend on the city, anxious to check out this debut performance of the 21 year old’s reportedly R-rated sensual extravaganza. The stage set, according to tour director Kevin Tancharoen, is a hotel powered by a mysterious stone which, when guests shine a light on it, makes their fantasies come to life…and the darkest of secrets are revealed.”

See, you think I made that up, but that’s actually what Nancy O’Dell said, and with an admirably straight face, I might add.

Access Hollywood intimated that nipples might be revealed too, at least among the backup dancers. “Don’t be surprised if some [dancers] bare more than their souls,” intoned Miss O’Dell. “The performers have been rehearsing since July 2003, and hundreds of costumes were specially created and fitted for the show.”

State of the art special effects were said to include pyrotechnics that drove the cost-per-show up by tens of thousands of dollars, due to cost and complication of permit-gathering in this post-Great-White-world.


Just before the March ’04 debut at the Sports Arena, sandiegotickets.com was selling front row seats for $1,300. Nobody knew yet how disastrous the tour would be, and how all the bad luck would start in San Diego -----

“You’d think it was Super Bowl, almost all the cars are taken and I hear most of the hotels are already booked,” informed a clerk at Alamo Car Rental, interviewed at the time for Blurt. “People from Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition, Extra, some guy from [the] Howard Stern [show], we’re getting slammed with VIP reservations.”

The majority of Spears’ setlist were songs from her new album In the Zone, a title that would get her sued in San Diego, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

spear2 Over the course of eight costume changes, Spears modeled everything from a black catsuit to an Egyptian goddess costume and – eventually – nothing but her bikini underwear. Many dancers were dressed so shear as to appear nude, performing explicit routines that seemed more suited for the nearby Les Girls than the Sports Arena. Especially given the number of young school-age fans in the audience.

A few review snippets after the San Diego Show: “The stage looked for all the world like a Roman orgy, with so many bodies writhing in undulating mounds that they may well have been having actual sex.” (pitchfork.com)

“The simulated masturbation [during] Touch of my Hand was a virtual primer in self gratification…countless mothers could be seen steering their young charges hurriedly toward the exits while [Spears’] fondled her jewels.” (The Onion Online – the jewels were sparkly gemstones attached to her flesh-colored tights and strategically covering her naughty bits)

“It’s official: Britney Spears is a porn star. Or at least she soon will be, if this opening concert is any indication.” (MTV Day in Rock)

spear4 After San Diego, it was all downhill, for the tour in general and for Miss Spears in particular.

Just over two weeks later, in Moline Illinois, Spears fell on stage and injured her knee, bringing the show to a halt. This caused shows in Detroit and Chicago to be rescheduled, as well as a show in Cleveland that never ended up happening on the new date either.

spear5 In Denver, Spears’ mic went out, and YouTube videos show her lip-syncing, quite poorly (search “Britney Everytime Denver”). The same thing happened in April in Toronto.

spear11 Then, while shooting a video for “Outrageous” in NYC, Spears took another tumble, injuring her knee so badly this time that the entire remaining tour was scrapped. Included among the canceled dates was Coors Amphitheatre on August 13th, for which ticket scalpers were asking $1,000 and up for the first five rows.

A couple more wheels spun off the track when she went right from that debacle to marrying Kevin Federline. Of such nightmares are the most gawdawful reality shows made, y’aaallll.

Britney Spears would not appear on a stage again until her “surprise” show at the San Diego House of Blues in 2007. The big surprise for some, tho, was that she’d resurface here, of all places, given that she was sued in San Diego and had to make at least two local appearances in court.

In June 2004, Spears was being sued by a San Diego firm for $10 Million, in a trademark infringement action connected to her “In The Zone” CD and concert tour. Local Sportswear company Lite Breeze uses the brand name “In The Zone” for a line of clothing and sports team uniforms, as well for promoting live music and sports events.

Lite Breeze alleged that Spears’ unauthorized use of its trademark was causing confusion in the marketplace harming its trademark.

“We have spent over 12 years building name recognition and brand loyalty with [our] trademark,” said Rodd Garner, President of Lite Breeze at the time. “In The Zone is as wholesome and All-American as hotdogs and apple pie. We are associated with sporting and musical events throughout the country.”

“By releasing her CD entitled In The Zone and its promotional tour, now entitled The Oynx Hotel Tour, Ms. Spears has taken Lite Breeze’s brand and equated it with what Rolling Stone Magazine has stated ‘offers strip-club, 1-900 sex, accommodating and hollow.’”

Lite Breeze attorney Kathleen Walker gave Spears’ camp until June 14th to file a response to the allegations. Meanwhile, Lite Breeze sought an injunction to be placed against the tour’s and CD’s profits, for possible attachment by Lite Breeze.

“Either the public will believe that Lite Breeze has licensed Ms. Spears’ use of the trademark,” said Walker, “or the public will believe the opposite – that Ms. Spears owns the rights to In The Zone and that Lite Breeze has received a license from Ms. Spears. Either option is unacceptable…her use of the mark does not represent the values, morals and ethics of In The Zone and Lite Breeze.”

It’s Lite Breeze, Britbitch!


Ms. Spears and three other defendants (involved in ticket, CD and merchandise sales) stood to lose all profits earned for the In The Zone CD and tour as well as paying damages to Lite Breeze. Those damages can be tripled if the Court rules an infringement to be intentional.

One of the defendants, Signatures Network, had publicly stated that the first leg of Ms. Spears Onyx Hotel concert tour earned more the $30 million. Whoops! Britney’s new babies are gonna need new shoes, and momma needs underwear and a wig……….


Around the same time, local band Monsters From Mars earned some national and blogger press, for their cover of Spears’ “Toxic,” from their seven-inch vinyl Surfing Through A Creepy Castle record.

“It gets requested every gig, and not everyone realizes it’s a Britney song,” says operator (and bassist) Scott Jones. “We joke that she’s probably getting two cent royalty checks and saying ‘what the hell.’ Someday, we’d love to be her backing band and play it, which by the looks of her career could become a reality.”

The song’s spacey sound comes courtesy of a Theremin, an electronic musical device first popularized in the 1951 sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still. “It sure is a head turner,” says Jones. “Ours is homemade, like a lot of our DIY equipment. We try not to over-use it by just making flying saucer noise with it. We run it through a delay pedal, to give a thick psychedelic sound for certain parts, and we actually play melodies with it in songs like the Britney cover.” An actual Theremin built by inventor Léon Theremin is on display at the Museum Of Making Music in Carlsbad.

spear14 Local singer/songwriter Scott Wilson wrote a song partially inspired by the Trials and Tribulations of Britney Spears, “She Won’t Stop,” his ode to fame for fame’s sake.

"She's been at it since the age of sixteen

By now you'd think that she'd have a clue

Now that she's standing on top of the world...

Everybody's wet dream/Save it for the big scene

It's headed for the big screen…Doesn't make a difference to me.”

In January, “She Won’t Stop” hit number one on the Big 50 list at aicmusic.com.

“Independent Artists Company is a website that features indie musicians, and has a number of radio stations on the site,” says Wilson. “You can sell your downloads with no upfront cost, and you get a hundred percent of the profits, unlike on Snocap, which takes 39 cents out of every sale.” The Big 50 is a list of songs on the IAC site with the highest traffic.

Says Wilson, “I personally think that there's a spiritual dimension to all of this. Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, and even Paris Hilton were studying Kabbalah shortly before all this stuff went down for all of them, and I think it's a dangerous cocktail to be messing around with the power of God when you're involved in the kinds of antics that those three are up to.”

Local songstress Amber Ojeda told the Reader "I have only compassion for Britney. I can't imagine the amount of pressure, scrutiny, and self-doubt she's dealing with. It's amazing how, within a few months, your whole life can spin out of control. I would love to see her turn it around."

Nautical Disaster drummer/singer Grimis Apparatus said “Keep up with that commando [no underwear] style, it’s really working for you, girl.”


Soooooooo ---- ten fender benders, one divorce, two interventions, four more lawsuits, and countless Taco Bell burritos later, word surfaced last year that Her Nibs would be gracing downtown’s House of Blues, performing under the pseudonym “The M&Ms” with tickets priced at $35. The press seemed to arrive by the busload, at least if you counts the Paps as Press.

Videos of the short four-song lip-synch were appearing on YouTube even before Ms. Spears could change from her stage underwear to her street skivvies.

A few HOB patrons were seen raving about Spears, albeit more about how hot she looked than how she sounded, but most everyone else looked pissed. Especially the poor pinheads who paid $100 and up for the 14 minute Solid Gold dancer routine.

TV shows really picked apart her San Diego performance, with many shows openly mocking her set, including the aforementioned Access Hollywood, where lovely two-faced Nancy O’Dell could be seen gasping in mock astonishment “Is this the end of the line for Britney Spears?”

And to think we saw the beginning of the long tumble downward right here at the Sports Arena. Perhaps the ill-fated Onyx Hotel and its “mysterious stones” came with a curse………….

spear6DarkHorsespear7DarkHorse (Dark Horse Comics)



For around 10 years, almost every time I interviewed a celebrity coming to town, I asked them about San Diego. I wanted to elicit their memories of the city, find out about any local connections, query their opinions about San Diegans, and find out what places they like to visit while in town.

A few quotes ended up in various articles through the years, but the majority of celeb comments about San Diego have never been seen outside my interview transcripts. While archiving a bunch of old files to disc recently, I compiled some of the most pithy, pointed, and/or jes’ plain bewildering quotes concerning our fine city…

cb2 TIM BURTON, of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones said "San Diego's cool, there was a lot of Ska happening there for awhile. When we first started doing gigs on the west coast, people looked at our clothes and horns and thought we were totally from outer space. But in San Diego, they seemed to get it right away. We never felt like we had to break down any barriers or that we had something to prove. What else? Oh yeah, best fish tacos I ever had! Gave me the worst runs I ever had, but it was worth it."

cb3 MARKY RAMONE of the Ramones told me “You know what place I really liked that was close was Iguanas, the one in Mexico. I tell you, kids were jumping off the rafters, about 20 feet down on the crowd. A guy lands on your head…and they kept doing it.”

cb5 NOEL REDDING of the Jimi Hendrix Experience noticed “I see all these Irish pubs, but how can you have a genuine Irish pub in a place like San Diego? You can’t even get real Irish liquor…and all the people who crowd in there for St. Patrick’s Day, none of them even know who St. Patrick was or what he did. I live in County Cork [Ireland], and I’m playing in real pubs all the time. Nobody there wants to try and copy American bars.”

cb7 GENE SIMMONS said to Paul Stanley, during a record signing at Tower Records, “Hey, what do you think of when you think of Tower Records? Like in L.A., a place the size of a stadium. Huge, glittery, bigger than life…I was thinking, ‘San Diego, Tower, big city, big store.’ Nope.”

cb8 LESLIE WEST ranted after a Mountain gig at Banx, “This place is a f-ing sh-thole. A g-damn-d outhouse full of yuppies. The guy who booked this gig, he was the biggest a-hole, and then some guy here was an even bigger a-hole. As soon as I walked in and saw the waiters in their little vests and ties, I knew thing was gonna suck. How the hell did I end up here, anyway? People actually pay money to come here? No wonder so many people think rock and roll is f-ing dead. They have to come to a place like this to see it.”

cb9 RANDY CALIFORNIA of Spirit told me backstage at La Paloma “There’s one radio station that actually plays our stuff, Magic something. We played a private party for them at, um, the Bacchanal. I see the same ten guys or so every time we play down there, the same guys for, like, twenty years. I’ve watched them grow older, and now they bring their wives and kinds to the show sometimes too…I think we get paid a little less than the local cover bands when we do clubs. That’s one of the reasons we can’t go down there too often. It’s got the worst [pay] rates I can think of. [Doors tribute band] Wild Child gets more than us to play San Diego.”

cb10 PHIL GARRIS, the Grateful Dead album cover artist, said “I like the beach community there. It’s very much like the ‘60s still…In L.A., it’s like there’s a wavelength that fuzzes up the mind or distracts you…I go to San Diego to get back in touch with what I’m supposed to be doing sometimes.”

cb11 T LAVITZ of the Dixie Dregs told me “I lived in southern California for 15 years. I go down a few times a year. I just visited Legoland with my six year-old daughter…she had a blast. She was, like, whoa, it’s bright and clear and new and shiny. Isn’t that an REM song? And I have friends in La Jolla, so we went down there and spent the night. The Dregs in the old days would play Montezuma Hall and we’d play the Bacchanal, and then Sound FX. I’ve played the Belly Up, like, five times. I like that there’s an awareness about music. People are open minded and receptive there.”

cb13 RICK DANKO of the Band noted “Not exactly a blues town, huh? What do they say? ‘Nice place to visit…’ I’d rather be somewhere where there’s still some woods to walk around in.”

cb20 DICKIE BETTS of the Allman Brothers insisted “I don’t understand why you’d want to live somewhere that’s bound to fall into the ocean any day now. Same with living in Tornado Alley, or in one of those flood plains where your house floats away every couple of years. You actually live there? Okay, I’ve been to the zoo. We all took a double-decker bus all over the place, and I got birdsh-t on my hat. At least there’s never been an earthquake when I was there. Just birdsh-t.”

c1 DAVE MATTHEWS remembered the time Jason Mraz drove a pickup truck from San Diego to Seattle, just to open for Matthews’ band. “That was the first day we met, his album had just come out or was about to,” says Matthews. “I caught his set from the sidelines…he was really good, and I ended up inviting him on tour the next year. I don’t think he ever got paid that day, he did it for free. That’s how he got the gig.”

I mentioned Mraz had recently had sold a baseball jersey on eBay that he was wearing that day, along with a Poloroid of their meeting which was published in Rolling Stone, for $800. “D-mn,” said Matthews. “He ended up making more than I did!”

c5 OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN recalled the time she was scheduled to appear at the Mission Bay Roller Coaster (July 13, 1998) to perform a few songs live on Star 100.7 radio. “They wanted me there at 8 a.m. but my daughter was here and I was taking her to the airport, and I didn’t end up being able to get there until late, so they did their morning show at night.” This was in the midst of the 20th anniversary re-release of Grease and, of the three songs to be performed, “You’re the One That I Want” was among them. “I decided I’d do a duet with one of the DJs [Little Tommy Sablan] and, wow, was that scary! He kept trying to shake his shoulders and swallow the mike, and he was really scaring me there for a minute. I thought he was going to, I don’t know, either fall over or lick my face or something!”

c8 Singer/songwriter JACK WILLIAMS once wrote a song about a San Diego venue, though it’s only been performed once. In 2002, after playing the vegetarian nook Big Kitchen on Grape Street (known for SRO Sunday breakfasts and ex-employee Whoopie Goldberg), Williams said “I liked the place so much that I ending up writing a song about it. I went down there the next day and told the woman who runs the place, Judy, and she brought everything in the room to a halt. They were packed for breakfast but she made everybody quit eating and sit and said ‘listen’ and I sat up on the counter with my guitar and played ‘I’m Goin’ Down To The Big Kitchen.’” Asked about lyrics, he said “Hold on while I check my guitar case” - a moment later, he was back on the phone, singing:

“Ah’m a-goin’ down to the B-i-i-i-i-i-g Kitchen, the B-i-i-i-i-i-g Kitchen, the B-i-i-i-i-i-g Kitchen, ah’m a-gonna play for Judy, the Beauty, on Duty, she’s a-workin’ down at the B-i-i-i-i-i-g Kitchen…” He laughed and stopped.

“It’s a sing-a-long, sort of a funky southern styled thing, I just improvised about the food they serve, kind of reading it off the menu and into the song. If I were to play it again, well, someone might have to get a hold of the menu again for me to pull it off.”

c7 TERRI NUNN of Berlin enjoys San Diego’s cow-free cuisine. “I’ve been a vegetarian since 1979,” she said, “and one of the hardest things about touring is getting fresh fruit and things like that on the road. In San Diego, there’s so many vegetarian restaurants. It’s about the only place in the world besides India where I can go into a place and order absolutely anything on the menu!”

c9 LIZ PHAIR likes a good parking spot. “Back in ’98 I think, my dad was gonna be able to catch me either [playing] in San Diego or L.A….when he asked me which city was best, I said San Diego, not ‘cuz I wanted us to go to the zoo or Sea World or anything but because I knew at least his car would be safe in the parking lot.”

c10 MIKE NESS OF SOCIAL DISTORTION said he doesn’t have to go to the beach or a strip club to see lots of skin in our city. “People down there always show me their ink [tattoos]. See, the band and San Diego have the same initials, right, and guys have these cinderblock ‘SD’ tats…I don’t know if they’re big fans of the group, or just showing a lot of civic pride, you know what I mean?”

c6 LITTLE RICHARD thought San Diego was “Too darned pretty! You heard me! Everywhere you look out there, everything’s just too dang pretty! I’m usually the prettiest thing! I swear that city wants to compete with me or upstage me or something [laughter]! So I gots to show her I AM the prettiest, don’t I? Well? Don’t I?”

c11 ERIC BLOOM of BLUE ÖYSTER CULT recalled a show nearly 25 years ago, when the band tried to sneak into San Diego under a “top-secret” pseudonym. “We were coming straight off of [playing] stadiums and we agreed to this little club date, the Bacchanal [December 9, 1984], but all the publicity listed the band as ‘Soft White Underbelly’ [BOC’s original pre-LP name]. The idea was that only real hardcore fans would even be aware of our history with that name, and even then they’d probably think it was some other band, not Blue Oyster Cult. One of your local radio stations blew it the day before the show, I forget which one, whichever one wasn’t promoting the show [KGB with Fahn & Silva produced] but there were tons of people showing up and a lot of angry cops, I remember that much. Kind of a failed experiment. Tell San Diego we’re sorry we tried to fool them.”

c4 ART GARFUNKEL credited San Diegan Stephen Bishop as one of his favorite songwriters. “A woman singer friend of mine gave me one of his demo tapes and I picked two of his songs to record [“Looking For The Right One,” “The Same Old Tears on a New Background”]. My first reaction was, ‘Here's a real good songwriter who's real commercial...a great combination.' I thought, 'I'm going to be watching this guy go through an interesting transition to success. Maybe I can even play a part in this.’” Garfunkel ended up lending Bishop the money to start a song publishing company.

c12 BRET MICHAELS, about to perform at ‘Canes, was happy to hear the venue is a short walk from the beach. “Man, San Diego girls drive me crazy. All those hot ladies in their thongs…dude, I may just walk up and down the boardwalk before the show and round up a few honeys to come to wiggle around onstage. It’s not illegal there to have drunk girls onstage [wearing] thongs, is it? I’ll check their IDs first.”

c14 BILLY IDOL, after performing at Viejas, observed of the audience “You guys really don’t dress for the occasion, do you…this is the only place in the world where people come in off the street in sandals and $100 sunglasses and start a mosh pit.”

c16 KERRY KING, guitarist for Huntington Beach headbangers Slayer, said “Last time we were down there, it was sick, guys were coming up to us with ‘Slayer’ carved onto their arm by a friend with a busted beer bottle…someone followed us to a hotel and he ended up wrecking the place. Or maybe that was me. I play sober but I get sh--faced drunk after the show’s over.”

c17 DAVY JONES shared fond memories of San Diego going all the way back to when Don Kirshner first made a Monkee out of him. “I was a jockey, so of course Del Mar was a big part of that life…when you see that ‘Last Train To Clarksville’ video, I mean in the [Monkees] TV show, that’s really Del Mar the train goes to, not Clarksville. On the day before the first show came on [September 11 1966], they had this big publicity train ride from L.A. down to Del Mar with 400 kids, they won a radio contest, and when they got there we [the Monkees] met them and rode the train back to LA with them. They called Del Mar ‘Clarksville' for the day, because that was the first single, see…it was really grand fun, even though nobody had really heard of us yet.”

c18 JOAN OSBORNE frequently plays the Belly Up (“They invite me every year, I love that club”), but it was her Street Scene performance in September, 2002, that she wanted to talk about. “I was doing a song ‘Mean Woman Blues’ and there were a bunch of tough looking biker chicks up front, flexing their muscles and showing their tattoos…they came right up onstage during the medley and it was like an impromptu fashion show, it probably looked like we planned it but they were just there and being great.”

c19 TIM ARMSTRONG, guitarist for RANCID, described the first time the Oakland-based punk band played San Diego. “I think we might have hit TJ first, but then we went back down and played this dinky little skate park the YMCA was running [5-1-94]. It was wild because it was all twelve year old kids and cotton candy and all these parental units in Bermuda shorts…and then the very next night, we’re playing a Déjà vu strip club in Ventura, with naked women hanging off the amps and lap dances between sets! We’d play anywhere they let us, man. We kinda still do.”

c20 REGGIE SCANLAN, bassist with the Radiators for over a quarter century, can still recall the first time the New Orleans boogie band played San Diego. “That was a wild west city then [circa late ‘70s], I remember wall to wall tattoo parlors and porn shops. We played a hotel ballroom right downtown and everyone was dressed nice, had lots of money…I was wondering where they came from or parked because everything else downtown was like Times Square, or maybe Bangkok.”

c23 B.B. KING, asked about other blues singers he likes, mentioned Candye Kane. “She has that big, brassy voice, [it] has a lot of authority and sass, the kind of thing that men like because it’s seductive and women like because it’s powerful. You put her with a player like, oh, say Walter Trout, you might have a real big thing going, hit records and everything.”

c3 JIMMY BUFFETT: “I remember fishing off a pier in San Diego in the late 70s and having this really vivid hallucination of pirates coming into the harbor and I could see myself jumping into the ocean and swimming out to meet them…I always wanted to be a pirate. When everybody else was studying generals and American war heroes, Jean Lafitte was my hero.”

c24 STEVE POLTZ’s self-written news column at www.poltz.com often makes cryptic pronouncements like “Ramona is the next Seattle” (and once “Seattle is the next Ramona”). Poltz says he was once recognized by a female nurse preparing him for a testicular ultrasound exam. “She told me to lay down and spread my legs apart and she proceed to put this warm lotion all over my testes…she started running the ultrasound thingymajig all over my privates and I felt helpless…she said ‘My son is a big fan of your music. He's eight years old and we saw you play at Jingle Ball’…she then proceeded to tell me her son’s favorite song was ‘Monkeys Coming Out Of Yer Ass.’ Then she asked if I would sign something for him. I have never been so embarrassed in my life.”

c2 TONY BENNETT told NPR’s Terry Gross in 1998 “I used to play around when I did ‘I Left My Heart In San Francisco’ and substitute the name of the city I was [performing] in, which I thought would get a great reaction from the locals. But just the opposite happened. For some reason if you sing ‘I Left My Heart In San Diego,’ people walk away feeling robbed.” (www.npr.org)

c26 SHANIA TWAIN: “San Diego? Is that near Sacramento?”

******************************************** abcd15 Overheard In San Diego and Famous Former Neighbors are anomalies in the comic strip world – they’re based on real people, places, and events. Overheard made its debut in early 1996. Originally, I was only the writer – Scott Pentzer drew the first few Overheards, and then Paradise was aboard for around two years. When Paradise could no longer work on it, I was stuck with the unenviable task of either finding another artist or drawing the thing myself. I hadn’t drawn a comic strip since some crude gag strips I’d done in high school for the school paper and yearbook. oh1.psd oh2 When I realized that drawing it myself meant I no longer had to split the paycheck, I decided – at the age of 38 – to become a cartoonist. My crash course involved consuming and all but memorizing several highly recommended books on the art of comics, including/especially Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud and Comics & Sequential Art by Will Eisner. After studying those two industry bibles, and a series of How To Draw books by Tarzan artist Burne Hogarth, my first solo Overheard comic debuted in 1998.

No, I will not reproduce it here – believe me, you wouldn’t be impressed. I’m frankly still amazed the Reader didn’t fire me. The pressure of a weekly deadline, coupled with my weak art skills, kept me chained to the drawing board over the next few months. I recycled a lot of Paradise's backgrounds and setups, as I studied how to render art in a style similar to his. Once I finally got the hang of using a brush with a bit of flair, rather than the rapidograph technical pen that made my drawings look like woodcuts, the Overheard comics grew from barely competent to halfway decent to, I hope today, not at all terrible.

Mostly thanks to photo references.

Here’s a sort of “Art Essay,” showing artwork from both comic strips alongside the photos that formed the underlying basis of each piece. Back in the late ‘70s, when I used to draw caricatures in Balboa Park for $5 to $10, I could whip off a portrait in about five minutes. But none would look as photorealistic and detailed to the last nuance, as with any given Famous Neighbors entry. Thanks to working from photos (and Gawd Bless Photoshop), people no longer frown at my art and say “That doesn’t look anything like me” and refuse to pay me…that’s what usually happened in Balboa Park…

(NOTE: I recently got an email from a well-known comic artist, blasting me for giving away "secrets" of photo manipulation that more and more illustrators are using. He likened this blog entry to Penn and Teller's TV specials revealing the secrets behind magic tricks. I disagree. My point with this post is to make it clear that, thanks to the tools available today, anybody can create something from nothing. Someone with a song in their head can record and release a CD from home, a film fan can launch a Hollywood career with their PC and the url for YouTube, and a talent-challenged comic fan like me can luck into a gig as a working weekly cartoonist. Creativity is, to my mind, the key to happiness, the most vital ingredient of a well-lived life. Some of us create kids, some create other things far afield from my own interests, sher ----- but what could possibly be more satisfying than creating something that never existed until YOU thought of it, nourished it, and brought it to glorious life????? IE, anybody can learn to do what I do, and that's not a light to be hid under a bushel. Creativity is the light of the world, and it’s always worth sharing ---- ) fns1 fns2 fns4 fns5 fns8 fns3 abcd1 abcd10 abcd2 abcd3 abcd5 abcd6 abcd7 abcd9 abcd12 at1 at10 at18 at19 at2 at3 at4 at5 at6 at7 at8 at9 art1 art10 art2 art3 art4 art5 art6 art7art8 art9

at14 art11 art12 art13 art14 art15 art16 art17 art18

at12 art19 Jane4 (Air Conditioned Lounge back wall) HardRockSecret.psd *********************************


I've done a few Famous Former Neighbors comic strips about well-known cartoonists who've called San Diego home, including Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss), Harold Gray (Little Orphan Annie), and Jim Lee (Marvel artist and Image Comics co-founder).

There are more I plan to get to.


"LuAnn" creator Greg Evans and his wife Betty live in San Carlos. The comic was launched in 1987 and today is one of the most widely syndicated of U.S. strips. Last September, Evans debuted "Luann: Scenes From a Teen's Life," a musical that premiered at the California Center for the Arts.


Pete Hansen, creator of "Lolly," is from Denmark, but has been living in the U.S. since he was two. He was a Disney animator from 1938 to 1941, but he’s best known for his newspaper comics; “Flapdoodles” (1950-1953) and “Lolly” (1955-1983).


Gus Arriola spent several years living in La Jolla. His Hispanic-themed “Gordo” comic was hugely influential (and a personal fave of yours truly), but he got his start in animation. He spent a year at Screen Gems doing Krazy Kat cartoons, before joining MGM’s cartoon department to do story sketches for the Academy Award winning Tom and Jerry series. “Gordo” was launched in 1941.


"Matthew Alice" artist Rick Geary is actually pretty well-known outside our fine city. His work has graced many issues of National Lampoon, Heavy Metal and countless other newsstand mags, plus he's earned acclaim in the comic book field for distinctive, inventive graphic novels like his true-life "Treasury Of Victorian Murder." He also drew for a locally-produced horror comic book adapting classic stories by Larry Niven, Robert Bloch, and others, called "Deepest Dimension Terror Anthology." The comic - which I wrote and edited - was the brainchild of original Twilight Zone writer George Clayton Johnson.


Scott Shaw! (the exclamation point is part of his legal name) is a longtime local, familiar to anyone who's attended his annual wacky cover slideshows at San Diego Comic-Cons, dating back to its earliest humble incarnation at the El Cortez. He began doing “funny animal” comic books like “Wild Kingdom” for local publisher Pacific Comics, but went on to animated cartoons, winning an Emmy for his work on “Muppet Babies.” He’s also the guy behind around a hundred cartoon cereal commercials for Fruity Pebbles and Alpha-Bits.


“Rocketeer” creator and renowned pin-up artist Dave Stevens was based locally, at least until the Village Voice called his Rocketeer comic “The greatest comic book of all time.” The Rocketeer began in the pages of locally-produced comic books from Pacific Comics, based off Miramar Road. Though the movie based on his comic wasn’t a huge hit, he’s become one of the most sought-after “good girl” artists since Playboy’s legendary Vargas retired.


Wesley "Gene" Hazelton moved to Lake Murray around 1975, three blocks from the summit of Cowles Mountain, and was frequently seen walking along the Lake. From 1939 to 1942, he was a Disney animator and gag writer who worked on Pinocchio (1940), and Fantasia (1940), and he did early character design work for The Wind in the Willows and Peter Pan (1953).

He spent many years at MGM doing animated cartoon layouts and character designs for both Tex Avery and Hanna-Barbera. He animated the original I Love Lucy segment bumpers, and for years drew the Flintstones and Yogi Bear comic strips. He created Pebbles and Bamm Bamm for the Flintstones TV show (Bamm was based on his son).

Hazelton was a supporter of "Canine Companions" and a lifelong dog lover. He golfed all over San Diego, and he gave talks to local elementary schools where he drew and read for school kids. He was an early mentor to Scott Shaw!


boyshakira4 During the last season of America's Got Talent, the most controversial contestant was easily Boy Shakira, a heavyset man in a blonde wig and halter top, enthusiastically belly-dancing to both cheers and jeers.

Didja know that the Reader not only discovered Boy Shakira, but that he took his name from a Blurt that was his first-ever press writeup?


I found BS - then calling himself (somewhat clumsily) Luigi, The Live Impersonator Of Shakira - while browsing a list of local celebrity look-a-likes seeking gigs. I wrote the Blurt and a Reader editor wrote the headline "Boy Shakira." The one-time Luigi liked it so much that he changed his stage name accordingly.

So, if you're one of the thousands who posted anti-Boy Shakira comments all over the internet, blame us. We encouraged the guy (and it really is hard to take your eyes off him, whether in fascination or horror).

Below is a compilation of our two Blurts on him, one from last year, and a more recent writeup. For a little DVD-extra flair, included is some unpublished material.

boyshakira3 BOY SHAKIRA: "I don't do drag, I do impersonation," says Louis Padilla of his Shakira look-a-like act. "Drag is about looks, about being as much like a lady as possible, but an impersonation is a whole show; it involves duplicating someone's entire performance, [including] their attitude and moves."

Padilla admits that not having hips makes it a challenge to mimic Shakira.

"I practice barefoot in the sand near water, which actually goes along with Arabic mythology, and that's something Shakira herself is into."

boy3 Padilla, a 29-year-old who cashiers at the EastLake Wal-Mart, earns between $400 and $1000 for a ten-song, hour-long performance. He lip-synchs to recorded Shakira tracks, while he interprets her signature belly-dancing performance style. Barefoot.

He began impersonating the Colombian-born singer around eight years ago, and makes his own costumes. "It's when I put on my Middle-Eastern belts that I really take on her persona. I pay a lot of attention to copying the exact outfits she wears, and a lot of it has to be special ordered from different countries to be authentic."


When the real Shakira kicked off her first world tour at the Sports Arena in November 2002, Padilla was right up front, standing on a riser. "She made eye contact and was smiling at me. There was a connection. I could tell she was really surprised to see someone dancing just like her, especially a boy!"


Later changing his stage name to Boy Shakira (from a Blurt headline about him), Padilla became a contestant on the 2007 edition of America’s Got Talent. From his first appearance, he polarized the show’s three judges. Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan approved him as a contestant, while David Hasselhoff angrily argued on-air with Morgan. “Are you sitting on the same stage as me? Oh, my God! The world has gone mad!”

Hasselhoff actually seems to storm off stage. He's seen backstage making more disparaging comments about Padilla's act. "This is for a million dollars, and that [act] ain't worth ten cents."


Contacted by phone the day after his first AGT performance, Padilla said “He [Hasselhoff] didn’t like my original style and walked off the set....A lot of people on the internet are saying bad comments I’m not even reading, but two of the judges liked me! After ten years of struggle, I finally made it.”


Over the next week, clips of the heavyset man belly dancing in a halter top and blonde wig aired on Good Morning America, MTV2’s The Week In Rock, Fox News, Entertainment Tonight, and VH1’s Best Week Ever.

Padilla's performance was repeatedly aired on the TV Guide Channel, where bemused host John Fugelsang was seen quipping “I’m so glad Horatio Sans can still get some work.”


A YouTube video of Boy Shakira's AGT appearance has been played over 500,000 times.

Padilla’s mother – a Palomar Wal-Mart employee – also appeared with him on the TV show. “She’s really proud of me," he says. "I might have to get a manager soon, so many people are calling.”

At the time, he was tightlipped about future episodes, for which auditions were taped far in advance of broadcast. “We’re not even supposed to talk to reporters without permission from the producers,” he says. “They don’t want us giving anything away.”

Boy Shakira appeared on several more episodes and nearly made the final five, but was then voted off the program.

On the show's website, commentator AvisLee posted "I think Boy Shakira was pushed forward in a cynical attempt to generate another 'Sanjaya can't sing' type controversy. You know how you pay to get into a carnival, where the flying teacups are right at the gate, but the long lines are always way in the back, where the two headed chicken and the bearded lady are. Boy Shakira is the show's bearded lady. Literally."



boy13 It’s been going on for around six months now. Maybe longer. Nearly every single night, at around 2AM, someone skateboards slowly past my house, always to the tune of an external music player (IE no ‘phones). I live in a quiet, residential neighborhood, so at that hour the sound of a skateboard rattling along the sidewalk, and the attendant music, is pretty substantial.

The aggressive nature of this nightly act (his own ears can’t be inured to the racket) makes me assume the skater is a guy. I imagine that most of my neighbors are asleep at 2AM and don’t really hear the Midnight Rambler (as I’ve taken to calling him). I’m rarely pulling the sheets up around my ears at 2AM – more often than not, I’m still chained to my drawing board or desk, hoping to make some twelfth hour work deadline.

When the Rambler approaches, it sounds like a jet coming toward my house. I hear the volume increasing for a full thirty seconds before he passes my window (which is fairly close to the sidewalk, and usually open). This is when I can just about make out the music coming from his stereo, though I can’t always recognize the tune. It’s faint and I have to strain my ears.

He's usually rolling along to seventies classic rock. I often wonder whether it’s a tape or the radio, and why he doesn’t wear headphones (I know, it’s not safe to cycle or skate with ‘phones, but it is 2AM after all).

I find myself listening for the song each night, like a daily trivia challenge, congratulating myself when I can pin it down and getting frustrated when I can’t. Then the Rambler trails off for thirty seconds or so into the distance, going to and coming from gawd knows where.

It takes a few months before it occurs to me that I should get up and look out the window, or stand in the front doorway sometime as he passes. Maybe I can figure out just who this guy is, see what he looks like, discover what he’s up to and where he’s going at this ungawdly hour.

However, for some reason, I find myself reluctant to pull the mask off the Midnight Rambler.

Maybe I SHOULD throw open my front door some night. And then just STAND there. Maybe, if I look at him, and he looks at me, it’ll occur to him that he’s actually skating in and out of people’s lives here. Every times he rumbles down the sidewalk at 2AM, like a one-man locomotive, he’s punctuating the chapters of my evening, no less than if he were the tone of a book-on-tape telling me to turn over the cassette, or the blaring static of the TV when the last DVD shuts off.

I should try to talk to him. Maybe there’s a story there. Like, maybe he works the late night shift at Roberto’s, and he can’t afford a car, but he has a student loan to pay, and his drug addict sister kicked him out of the motel where they were staying and now he’s sleeping on the roof of the Christian Welcome Center…with his skateboard.

Everybody’s got a story, right?

boy10 Tonight, as the concrete thunder came closer and closer, I was seated at my drawing table, the door shut and the shades closed. When I heard the laconic approach of the wheels, I stood up, ready to finally throw open the front door and make first contact with the Midnight Rambler.

Then I sat down again.

Part of me wants to know more about him, but another part of me doesn’t.


You don’t go out and stop a train when it goes by and ask the engineer where he’s come from and where he’s going. You just get used to the routine, to the sound, you grow accustomed to the ground rumbling you out of complacency each and every night, on schedule, on into the darkness.

It becomes the aural backdrop to your life, the soundtrack of your day, wallpaper for the ears. It just IS - a force, a fixture, like the sound of the train whistle, the clickity clack on the tracks or, in this case, the sound of the music player and the clickity clack of wheels on concrete.

I strain my ears...yep, sounds like Blue Oyster Cult. “Don’t Fear The Reaper,” isn’t it? I think so. Although that riff sounded suspiciously like “Green Grass And High Tides Forever,” the Outlaws. I can’t really say for sure. He’s too far down the sidewalk. The sound - and the Rambler - has faded away, into darkness.

My cue to put another day to bed, and to get ready for the next twelfth hour deadline.



THAT OLD HOUSE: Reflections on a Childhood Home

Recently, I was online looking up property values, with an eye toward maybe buying instead of always renting. Then, since I don't know much about this stuff, I decided to look up some of the properties my folks used to own, places we lived while I grew up. Cuz I knew what my folks paid and when they paid it, it was a chance to see how much property values had increased, in how many years, etc.

It was kinda spooky to bring up info on the house on Durham Road where I lived from third grade through junior high. I recently wrote a story where I mentioned how this place still kinda haunts me - it's where a lot of the worst things in my life happened, the things that still keep me from being the person I feel I would have been - should have been – were it not for certain soulless people.

It turns out someone bought the house in 1990, but they only lived there about two years before moving out. They didn't put the house up for sale, they pretty much just disappeared and abandoned it. Nobody has lived there since: the grass grew into a forest, shingles fell off, paint peeled, and the place pretty much seems to have become the neighborhood haunted house!

Even though it's a suburban neighborhood, it's so obviously abandoned that homeless people regularly break in and squat in there. This conjures up the strangest images and emotions in me, winos taking a dump right there in the corner of my childhood bedroom.

The city came in this year and legally took over - even if the original owners show up now, they're outta luck. The city put in alarms to keep out intruders, pulled out the ruined carpets, mowed the lawn forest, and that's about it. They haven't even gotten around to putting it up for auction yet, and the most current pictures posted online still make it look about as haunted as my memories of the place. Man, I was weirding out.

Impulsively, I decided to put in a bid fer the place. I told friends straight up that, if I get the land, I plan to knock the house down right away. It would cost far too much to bring up to code now, and it'd cost half that to build a new duplex - and the duplex would rent to two families. As long as I could keep renters living there, and find a property manager to do the basic upkeep and collect the rent on the cheap, seemed like an almost surefire moneymaker.

I’ve never even invested in a washing machine, let alone property, so this was all pretty new to me. But I was on a roll and not about to slow down.

I called the city to ask about whether it would be possible to take the house down with a collapse explosion or a controlled burn (no way).

boy19 I was actually looking up guys who work with dynamite and not even thinking about any of the whys behind me being suddenly obsessed with, well, blowing up my old family home.

Luckily, my brain really does function some of the time, so I began to realize just how obsessive I was getting. I've always felt burned over the way my life turned so dark during those years - and here I was wanting to punish the house!

I've decided this is unhealthy to pursue. Eventually, I'd probably find myself on the property and, really, I like not thinking about that house and those years too often. It was actually a cozy pad and, well, the house doesn't deserve punishment. It's been busted up a bunch and abandoned, just like I once was, and maybe someone will still be able to come along and fix it up, give it a little propping-up and make it cool ‘nuff once again. Someone who cares about it, someone who sees what's really in there and wants to help bring it back into the light.

We could all use just such a someone…



5) People keep trying to sell you car stereos.

4) Customers complaining about no locks on the bathrooms.

3) Nobody ever touches the munchies.

2) Restroom vending machine dispenses clean needles.

1) There are junkies everywhere.


5) Land south of Broadway is declared an Indian reservation, with a concert venue booked by Viejas Entertainment.

4) Odors of urine and CK1 mix to become killer toxic clouds.

3) Spreckels is bought by CBGBs.

2) Booking actual blues bands.

1) They have to let Dan Ackroyd and Jim Belushi eat anything they want for free.


5) In San Diego, only cops and gym teachers blow whistles in your ear.

4) In TJ, old men can legally get 18 year-old girls drunk before being insulted and blown off by them.

3) San Diego cover bands play Pink Floyd OR Willie Nelson, not both.

2) Two words – Bacardi Bong.

1) San Diego restrooms don’t make you pay for toilet paper by the square (yet).


5) Bragging rights RE how far you had to walk from your parking space.

4) Valet attendants, cabbies, waiters, barkeeps, street musicians and homeless window washers provide opportunities to impress date with heavy tipping.

3) Downtown condo owners walk everywhere (they don’t have enough money left to drive after paying for monthly parking).

2) Free window box manure courtesy horse-drawn carriages.

1) Everyone you meet will agree with you about how much the Hard Rock Hotel sucks, without anyone ever actually going there.


“The life of an open mic host is not nearly as glamorous as it would seem,” blogs Isaac Cheong, host of Lestat’s Open Mic night. “My colleagues and I toil weekly in near anonymity, as the guy or gal who makes sure the people can hear you, keeps track of who's playing when, and gets to hear the litany of complaints about how they need to play that night even though they showed up two hours late for the signup because their girlfriend's cousin is in town, or how I should cut the EQ a few dB at 4KHz because it's too sibilant, or how someone needs to take twenty minutes to set up their laser light show for a ten minute set.”

bushy2 Cheong - who also plays guitar for She Blonde Swede - has also hosted open mic events at the Hot Java Café, Mikey’s Coffeehouse and elsewhere. “We [open mic hosts] do it because we get some stage time. But here's the thing, when we play, it's usually at the beginning when there's nobody around, or at the end when there's nobody around...Lord knows it's not for the money or throngs of open mic groupies.”


Elsewhere on this site, we just loaded a nearly complete collection of every Famous Former Neighbors comic strip to run in the Reader since the strip’s inception (on the mainpage, click “stories” and choose Famous Neighbors from the menu).

The first Famous Neighbors comic was on rockabilly rioter Mojo Nixon. Few realize that the original idea for the comic strip was to do a series of actual comic book style stories on celebs with local connections. That concept was abandoned for the more versatile (and challenging) comic strip format. Below is the original full-length Mojo Nixon comic story, co-written with the Mojo man himself.










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

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