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Balboa Park


January 2014 Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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Local organization earns attention from White House CleanTECH San Diego embarking on pilot project Downtown Dave Fidlin Downtown News

Expatriate’s chocolate destiny

Many diners take the opportunity to try a new restaurant, and others use the week as an excuse to feast at their favorite eateries. “We receive 40 to 50 percent more traffic during San Diego Restaurant Week,” said Joe O’Donnell, regional vice president of Ruth’s Chris Steak House. “We’re busy from the moment we open until the

A pilot project aimed at reducing energy consumption in San Diego’s Downtown area is expected to pick up steam this year. The endeavor has caught the attention of people throughout the country — including staff within the White House. In November, President Barack Obama’s Office of Science and Technology Policy singled out nonprofit advocacy group CleanTECH San Diego as one of a small handful of organizations across the country looking to use data to make forwardthinking decisions about environmentally sustainable clean technology. Last year, CleanTECH San Diego began the first step in a multi-stage process aimed at linking up portions of Downtown by creating identical operating systems that manage such resources as water, gas, electricity and waste. Holly Smithson, president and chief operating officer of CleanTECH San Diego, said the intent is to create a unified grid-like infrastructure network in the densely populated Downtown district. She likened the proposal to a university campus — such as the University of CaliforniaSan Diego — which has a series of separate buildings that operate under one system.

see Restaurant, page 14

see CleanTech, page 10


(clockwise) Cashew Chicken from Del Mar Rendezvous; A modern twist on classic cuisine at The Westgate Hotel; the rack of lamb at Bandar Restaurant; a masterfully crafted dessert from Intertwined Bistro; the interior of Fig Tree in Point Loma; an intricately decorated plate from Vigilucci’s Ristorante Coronado (Photos courtesy of their respective restaurant, all of which are participating in this year’s Restaurant Week)

Foodies receive added value during A museum for all

➤➤ DINING P. 14

From the sea to the Earth

➤➤ OPERA P. 17

RESTAURANT WEEK Kai Oliver-Kurtin Downtown News

San Diego Restaurant Week returns Jan. 19 – 24 for its 10th year with more than 180 participating restaurants offering three-course prix fixe dinner and lunch menus. Tickets are not required to participate, but reservations are strongly recommended due to the high volume of patrons expected.

Depending on the restaurant, dinner menus are priced at $25, $35 or $45 per person, and lunch costs $10, $15 or $20 each. An appetizer, entree and dessert is selected by each diner, and many restaurants offer special wine pairings for an additional fee. This biannual event drew over 140,000 people to local restaurants last September, and even more are expected to participate this month.

Balboa Park’s Cabrillo Bridge to remain closed through April Pedestrians will still be able to access a narrow pathway from the west end of the park to the Plaza de Panama throughout the bridge’s retrofit and rehabilitation; vehicular traffic will be prohibited. Margie M. Palmer Downtown News

The season is upon us

Index Opinion…………………6 Briefs……………………7 Fashion………………16 Business……………..19 Calendar…….….….….20 Music…………………..22

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Considering the Balboa Park 2015 Centennial Celebration is just around the corner, it makes sense the city wanted to ensure the Cabrillo Bridge, considered by many to be among the park’s crown jewels, should be in tip-top shape before the festivities kick off. The closure itself is less about aesthetics and more about preserving the structure itself. CalTrans Public Information Officer Ed Cartagena said the bridge is more than 100 years old and the $38 million retrofitting and rehabilitation is needed to bring the bridge up to current earthquake-safety standards.

“Most of the work that is going to take place will be unseen by pedestrians because it will be done internally,” he said. “The internal structure is a wooden skeleton that was later reinforced by concrete and structural steel. After 100 years, some of that has deteriorated and the job now is to reinforce the structure to bring it up to higher seismic standards.” This, he said, is the work that motorists will see taking place as they travel beneath the bridge along SR 163. On the topside of the bridge, repairs will include roadway repaving, sidewalk and concrete structures repairs and electrical upgrades.

see Cabrillo, page 16

Balboa Park’s Cabrillo Bridge closed for seismic retrofitting on Jan. 5. (Photo by Hutton Marshall)


San Diego Downtown News | January 2014

San Diego Downtown News | January 2014



San Diego Downtown News | January 2014


Interim Mayor Todd Gloria aboard one of the three newly implemented Balboa Park trams. (Photo by Hutton Marshall)

Shuttling toward a more pedestrian-friendly Balboa Park Hutton Marshall

Downtown News Assistant Editor

On Dec. 9, Interim Mayor Todd Gloria welcomed a fleet of three brand-new trams that have since begun shuttling passengers across Balboa Park free of charge. The trams come after former mayor Bob Filner’s removal of parking in the Plaza de Panama earlier this year, among several moves geared toward creating a more pedestrianfriendly Balboa Park. “One thing everyone can agree on is that Balboa Park is the crown jewel of our city, and making sure every San Diegan and every visitor can easily access the center of the park must be a priority,” Gloria said at the unveiling of the tram service. “Our new trams will make that possible.” The trams — large, 72-person vehicles coated with a brightgreen paint job — will operate daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., picking up at two stops every 10 to 12 minutes. They will loop from the Inspiration Point parking lots to the Plaza de Panama next to the Mingei International Museum, although another stop at the parking lots near the Air & Space Museum may be added. Following a similar but unsuccessful effort led by Qualcomm

Press and community members gather around as the new Balboa Park tram service is unveiled. (Photo by Hutton Marshall) CEO Irwin Jacobs and the City Council, Filner outlined a plan early this summer to pedestrianize Balboa Park, which included cutting the parking out of Plaza de Panama, closing the Cabrillo Bridge to automobiles on weekends and holidays, along with a few other measures. His intentions to partially close the Cabrillo Bridge to traffic were met with some community opposition, but Filner said the plan was subject to change. Filner also cited the Caltrans project that will close the Cabrillo Bridge to traffic for several months starting Jan. 5 for seismic retrofitting. It was at that time Filmer had the city purchase the trams hoping to have them in action by August. After Filner’s resignation, Gloria waved off the plan to close

Cabrillo Bridge to cars — at least until the Caltrans project begins in January — saying that would be a decision left to the next mayor. He also had to push back putting the trams into action due to lack of planning for an on-site fuel source the trams could use throughout the day, according to a spokesperson for Gloria. Now that the trams are in operation, the city will revamp the Alcazar Garden parking lots to offset the parking spaces removed from the Plaza de Panama, according to Parks and Recreation Public Information Officer Bill Harris. Improvements include restriping, improving the tree-root riddled asphalt and increasing accessibility for disabled park visitors. Harris said the pedestrianizing of Balboa Park is just another phase in its long, continuously evolving history, adapting to the changing needs to San Diegans and visitors. “The park is a dynamic place,” Harris said. “There have been subtle changes over its entire history … I grew up here and I remember driving from Park Boulevard all the way to The Old Globe — straight down in between the museums — it was drivable.” Ace Parking, the winner of a competitive bid between three other companies, will operate the trams. They were built by Nevada’s Specialty Vehicles Incorporated (SVI), which will receive an annual lease payment of $150,000 from the city until 2020, after which San Diego will assume ownership of the units. Operation of the trams is budgeted to cost $350,000 each year, which is what the city pays for the current park trolley system being phased out.v


San Diego Downtown News | January 2014

How sweet Mozart is


Move to San Diego blends success for Austrian chocolatier Alex Owens Downtown News

When Isabella Knack (née Dallmann) was growing up in the town of St. Gilgen, Austria, the idea of spending her life making chocolates and pastries didn’t seem so sweet. “I grew up in a pastry family in a touristy area,” said Knack, who goes by ‘Bella.’ “My parents believed business came first, then family. I felt at the time that I suffered because I grew up with nannies.” It was only after she moved to San Diego that she found it was her true passion. Now she runs Dallmann Fine Chocolates, a gourmet chocolate shop with two locations, including The Headquarters at Seaport District, a new Downtown retail destination that opened in November. It’s a path she never expected to take. “My brother was the one who was going take over the business,” Knack said, laughing. “I studied to go into the restaurant and hotel business.” While studying in Austria, she met a manager from the Westgate Hotel in Downtown San Diego who was also from Austria and liked to hire staff from his home country. “The whole college wanted to come to San Diego, but I was lucky,” she said. Knack, now 33, spent 18 months working at the front desk of the Westgate, but was getting bored. So she jumped at the opportunity to manage the hotel’s gourmet food store. One day, an experience happened that changed her life. A person from the Mainly Mozart festival called and asked about the Mozartkugel, an Austrian specialty named after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

It just happened to be a specialty of her family. Mozartkugel is described as “[a blend of] hazelnut nougat and pistachio marzipan in the center encoded with bittersweet Swiss couverture.” Couverture contains a higher percentage of cocoa butter than traditional chocolates. “I thought it was an amazing opportunity, so I quit my job, went back home and got a crash course in making chocolate,” she said. “Then I started selling them to Mainly Mozart.” Knack said the experience of actually working with chocolate was revelatory for her. “Once I could play with the chocolate, I loved it,” she said. “It connected me with my father.” But the dream of starting her own business is something she said could only have happened in America. “What I am doing is the American dream,” she said. “You get an idea and start a dream. It’s not that easy to do in Austria where people are bound by tradition.” It’s true. While her father still makes the same product his father made in Austria “because that’s what people want,” Knack said San Diegans are more open to experimentation. “People here want different flavors,” she said. “Like sea salt with caramel, or

(above) An array of delectable creations from Dallman Fine Chocolates; (below) Isabella Knack, the founder and owner of Dallman Fine Chocolates (Courtesy Dallman Fine Chocolates) chocolate and bacon, or coconut with curry.” Knack has been operating a business out of the Flower Hill Mall near Del Mar since 2008, but she is excited about selling wares at the new Headquarters location. “It’s much busier Downtown and people are excited that we are here,” she said. “We hope to explore more in chocolate because with more customers, there is more feedback.” Despite the new experimenta“knack” for experimenta tion, she hasn’t gotten away from her roots. collecKnack offers a collec favortion of her Dad’s favor ites while also working

on chocolates that can be paired with San Diego’s craft beers. Since the real Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s birthday is January 27, Knack promises to have plenty of samples of the Mozartkugel on hand that day. However, like a true visionary, she’s looking further to the future. To February. “I’m really focused on Valentine’s Day because I have a ton of product,” Knack said. Dallmann Fine Chocolates can be found inside The Headquarters at Seaport District, located at 789 W. Harbor Dr. For more information about Bella’s fine chocolates, visit or call 619-2380045. Alex Owens is a San Diego based freelance writer.v


San Diego Downtown News | January 2014


3737 Fifth Ave. Suite 201 San Diego, CA 92103 (619) 519-7775 Twitter: @sddowntownnews PUBLISHER David Mannis (619) 961-1951 EDITOR Morgan M. Hurley (619) 961–1960 ASSISTANT EDITOR Hutton Marshall (619) 961-1952


A New Year’s message from the Interim Mayor Dear Friends, As we begin 2014 with resolutions, renewal, and hope for great things in the months ahead, I am happy to report the City’s forecast looks bright. Late last year, I released the City’s FiveYear Financial Outlook. The financial forecast for fiscal years 2015 through 2019 includes critical information as the City Council and members of the public begin to formulate priorities for the FY 2015 budget, which will be considered in spring 2014. The “Outlook” projects a one-year baseline budget deficit of approximately $19 million for FY 15, followed by surpluses through FY 19. I fully expect we will be able to overcome the projected FY 2015 deficit without sacrificing needed services, thanks in part to higher than anticipated property tax revenues. With smart decision making, the City of San Diego will have a balanced budget for fiscal year 2015.

This is good news. That being said, as Interim Mayor and Council President, my primary focus in 2014 will be on our City’s infrastructure. The City currently has a backlog of deferred capital projects with a price tag of at least $898 million. These capital projects include sidewalks, streets, streetlights, fire stations, storm drains, parks, and libraries. This month, my council colleagues and I will be voting on a $120 million infrastructure bond that includes over $43 million earmarked for street resurfacing. The passage of this proposed bond at council would be a step in the right direction. However, to be America’s Finest City and remain economically competitive, we must continue to work together to develop solutions on how we will pay for the remaining infrastructure upgrades. Councilmember Mark Kersey, chair of the City Council’s Infrastructure Committee, has done an excellent job leading this charge.

Last year, he kicked off a series of community workshops to solicit input from residents on what kinds of improvements they would like to see in their neighborhoods. I look forward to continuing to work with and support Councilmember Kersey in this role. If you tweet, you can follow the City’s infrastructure conversation on Twitter – #RebuildSD. While we start 2014 with good news about the City’s financial outlook, I am up to the challenge of addressing our infrastructure needs, and welcome your input on what infrastructure improvements make sense for San Diego. Please email me at Finally, I invite you to join me at the State of the City Address on January 15 at 6 p.m. at the Balboa Theatre Downtown. Come and learn about the progress we’ve made so far and what we can accomplish together in this new year. I hope your 2014 is filled with great health and good fortune. As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve. Sincerely, Todd Gloria, Interim Mayorv

Supporting our homeless Veteran population By Alfonso Esquer Graduate Student, University of Southern California Our United States veterans are those men and women who have served in our nation’s Armed Forces, volunteering their service and sacrificing priceless moments they could have spent with their families to take upon themselves the responsibilities of guarding the country’s freedoms. For the last decade and beyond, the military has fought battles on multiple fronts, and upon returning from overseas posts, our military service members and veterans face their greatest battle in America; the battle against homelessness and disparity. This fight is being fought on U.S. soil, and lawmakers are capable of setting the conditions of this war by choosing to support veterans at risk of becoming homeless — or those already homeless — and acquire the appropriate resources needed to overcome homelessness. Service members and veterans nationwide are at a higher risk than average for becoming homeless than any other demographic, and our region is experiencing a significantly larger population in comparison to other areas around the country. According to the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVets), San Diego has the thirdhighest homeless population among major American cities, but it ranks 18th when it comes to being a key

source of federal funding to combat homelessness. Nearly 20 percent of the homeless population in San Diego County are veterans, in comparison to one in ten in similar cities. In 2010, an estimated 2,200 veterans were homeless in San Diego County, an increase of nearly 400 veterans just two years prior. This number dropped to 1,753 in 2012, but CalVets projects that these numbers will continue to increase, as will those for homelessness around the country. One of the main issues contributing to the high rate of veteran homelessness can be attributed to transitioning service members that do not having the job skills to transfer their experience in the military to civilian occupations, causing them difficulties finding employment. San Diego County unemployment rate recently (Nov. 2013) decreased from 7.1 percent to 6.8 percent according to the California State Employment Development Department, although the increasing number of returning veterans from overseas posts looking for employment and lacking the sufficient training to succeed in the job hunt significantly adds to the risk of homelessness, and will increase the unemployment rate. With the U.S. military entangled in a decade of conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, returning veterans are also left to deal with many other issues upon discharge from the service, such as untreated mental

health conditions that can have many negative effects, such as an inability to maintain employment or overall stability in their lives. Some of the more common illnesses experienced by veterans are Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI). According to research by CalVets PTSD was found in about 11 – 20 percent of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom). Many veterans also live with untreated mental health conditions and as a result turn to substance abuse to help cope with their inner turmoil. The Veterans Economic Opportunity Act (VEOA) of 2013 (H.R. 2481) was originally introduced to the House of Representatives on June 24, 2013, by Texas Rep. Bill Flores, as the Veterans G.I. Bill Enrollment Clarification Act of 2013. Subsequently, a revised, bipartisan bill that addresses many concerns of the country regarding veterans was re-introduced as H.R. 2481. The bill provides programs of economic opportunity assistance to veterans, their dependents and survivors; vocational rehabilitation and employment programs; educational assistance programs; veterans’ housing loans and veterans’ small business programs. It also extends the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ homeless veterans’ reintegration programs — job training, counseling and placement services to expedite the reintegration of homeless veterans

into the labor force — through fiscal year 2018. The reintegration program (H.R. 2150) was originally introduced in January of 2013 by Congressmember Paul Cook, receiving bipartisan support from 16 members of the House; eight republicans and eight democrats. Among those supporters was Rep. Duncan Hunter, of California’s 50th District in San Diego’s East County. H.R. 2150 was subsequently merged into H.R. 2481. VEOA would allow veterans that may already be homeless, or are at risk of becoming homeless due to mental health problems or substance abuse, to obtain the treatment needed to stabilize their lives and reintegrate into society. The necessity of VEOA is crucial for veterans. Many returning service members will need mental health treatment, job training, and transitional training from military to civilian occupational skills. Thousands of San Diego veterans could be profoundly affected by H.R. 2481 legislation. They are dependent upon these programs and the bill would make a major difference in the lives of the veterans, their families, and San Diego County as a whole. On Oct. 28, 2013, the House passed the bill to the Senate where it will soon be reviewed and voted on. As a community let’s come together and support H.R. 2481, The Veterans Economic Opportunity Act of 2013 by contacting U.S. Senators’ Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein to support this bill. You can track information on this bill at

REPORTERS & COLUMNISTS Charlene Baldridge Will Bowen Diana Cavagnaro Dave Fidlin Johnny McDonald Alex Owens Kai Oliver-Kurtin Margie M. Palmer Cynthia Robertson Frank Sabatini Jr. Kevin Smead DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING Mike Rosensteel (619) 961-1958 ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Sloan Gomez (619) 961-1954 Jerry Kulpa (619) 961-1964 Yana Shayne (619) 961-1963 ART DIRECTOR Rebecah Corbin (619) 961-1961 PRODUCTION Vincent Meehan (619) 961-1961 ACCOUNTING Priscilla Umel-Martinez (619) 961-1962

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DowntownBriefs NSAD STUDENTS TOP BALBOA PARK DESIGN AWARDS Sponsored by the San Diego Chapter of the American Institute for Architects, the Balboa Centennial Gateway Competition attracted 44 submissions from students and architects from respected firms to propose new, visionary designs for San Diego’s iconic Balboa Park. NewSchool of Architecture and Design received several of the competition’s top awards, including the People’s Choice Award. A jury panel of architects and designers chose competition winners, but the People’s Choice Award was chosen by a separate public vote, which chose NSAD alumni Jeff Taitano’s design, “Reflections.” The jury chose three entries to share the competition’s top price, the Honor Award. NSAD alum Craig Howard’s design was one of the three chosen. Representing De Bartolo + Rimanic Design Studio, Howard was a member of a two-man team recognized for its proposal to build a bridge across Florida Canyon. The award-winning renderings, as well as others produced by NSAD students, are on display at the San Diego Museum of Art as part of the display, “Looking Towards 2015,” through Jan. 7. CORONADO SMOKING BAN GOES INTO EFFECT Effective Jan. 1, a new “no smoking” ordinance in Coronado now bans smoking on most public property, as well as any property within 25 feet of an enclosed building. It also bans smoking on private property open to the general public for an event, recreational purposes, or if that property contains a service area such as an ATM, ticket line or parking stand, according to NBC San Diego. Prior to the ordinance, smoking was prohibited in public parks and beaches. The new ordinance prohibits smoking on all public streets, highways, alleys, sidewalks and parking lots. Outdoor dining areas mostly on private property and residential property won’t be affected, neither will the Coronado Golf Course. City Manager Blair King said the new signage for the ordinance cost “a couple thousand dollars” to install. A citation in the amount of up to $100 can be written for the first offense. BIKE RACK REQUEST FORM NOW AVAILABLE ON CITY WEBSITE City administration has updated its bicycle program page to allow bike rack requests to be submitted. Businesses can now submit a request to have a bike rack installed directly in front of their location if it meets the criteria listed on the website. Requestors can expect to be notified of the evaluation results within 60 days of their requests. Installation is expected to begin in January. Narrow sidewalks, residential addresses, bus stops, and locations with storm drains, parked vehicles and utility boxes are among the factors that will disqualify a location from receiving a bike rack. To request a bike rack in front of your business, email the following information to trafficops@ 1. Name of business 2. Contact name 3. Telephone number 4. Email address 5. Street address of proposed rack location 6. Number of racks being requested 7. Any additional info on the rack location details that may be useful for city staff evaluation

Contact Thomas Landre at with questions regarding the bike rack program.

STANDARD & POOR’S UPS SAN DIEGO’S CREDIT RATING Last month, rating service agency Standard & Poor’s raised San Diego’s issuer credit rating from AA- to AA, and its lease-revenuebonds rating from A+ to AA-. It confirmed San Diego’s financial outlook was “stable.” The upgrade will benefit the city by allowing it to issue bonds at a lower interest rate, which means it will save money by reducing the amount it will be required to pay to bond owners through interest payments. This comes at a particularly important time, since the City Council is expected to approve a $120 million bond in January to go toward addressing the city’s nearly $1 billion backlog of infrastructure projects. “We have a strong financial management team in place, the local economy is improving and we have a healthy general fund reserve,” Gloria said. “Our city has come a long way.” This marks the second time S&P has upgraded San Diego’s credit rating since 2008. In 2004, S&P suspended rating the city’s debt due to its fiscal problems. SAN DIEGO COUNTY’S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE FALLS TO 6.8 PERCENT IN NOVEMBER The State of California Employment Development Department released data that showed San Diego County’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.8 percent in November, which ties May for the lowest of 2013. The county’s unemployment rate shows San Diego is fairing well compared to the majority of California, which has an average rate of 8.3 percent, but still remains above the national average of 6.6 percent. While the news is positive overall, the data also showed wide swings in both directions among various industries. Trade, transportation and utilities gained 7,200 positions — primarily from seasonal retail hiring — and government added 2,200 jobs, mostly in education, according to KPBS. Professional and business services, on the other hand, lost 1,300 jobs. Leisure and hospitality was down 1,200 as well, mostly in food services positions. San Diego County’s unemployment rate hasn’t fallen below 6.8 percent since reaching 6.7 percent in October 2008. EARTHFAIR 2014 DATE ANNOUNCED The 24th annual EarthFair will take place on April 27, and is now open for exhibitor and volunteer registration. Billed as the world’s largest free annual environmental fair, EarthFair attracts approximately 60,000 visitors each year, and is centered around Earth Day on April 22. The organizers, San Diego EarthWorks, have already planned for the 25th annual EarthFair for April 19, 2015 coinciding with the year of Balboa Park’s Centennial. San Diego EarthWorks encourages anyone interested in volunteering or becoming a vendor to email or call 858-272-7370. JIMMY LOVE’S TO CLOSE DOWN, REOPEN AS NEW VENUE IN SPRING Gaslamp Quarter’s famous Jimmy Love’s will close its doors on January 13 to undergo extensive renovation before reopening in the spring as a new venue. Longtime owners Jimmy and Kathy DiMatteo

see Briefs, page 10

San Diego Center for Spiritual Living Rev. Dr. Constance Cook-Core 1430 Seventh Ave., Suite C, 92101 619-491-3087 | For the past 12 years, a small church has been quietly touching lives and making a difference in the Downtown community simply by practicing what they preach: Unconditional Love. Led by Rev. John Poleski, a former rock musician with strong ties in the music community, San Diego Center for Spiritual Living embraces a philosophy that honors all paths to God. Their teachings include affirmative prayer, meditation, healing, and visioning to help people lead a spiritual life, think positively and love deeply. Rev. John states, “Ours is a way of life and spiritual community in the Heart of Downtown. We love our Center and everyone in it.” If you are in search of a spiritual community where you are respected and accepted for who you are and want the inspiration and support to grow to your highest potential, visit San Diego Center for Spiritual Living at the corner of Seventh & Ash, on Sundays 10:30 a.m. & Wednesdays 7:00 p.m.

San Diego Downtown News | January 2014



San Diego Downtown News | January 2014


Remembering our missing history Will Bowen Downtown News

“Democracy and equality are ideals that I live for and, if need be, am ready to die for.” —Nelson Mandela There is a KPBS/Union Bank “Local Hero” living and working in Old Town who will educate you, inspire you and warm your heart. His name is Professor Chuck Ambers and he runs the African Museum: Casa del Rey Moro, located on Congress St. An educator all his life, Ambers began his career at Fremont Elementary in Old Town, then spent 30 years at Chula Vista schools and today, in addition to the museum, teaches at Mesa and Palomar colleges. “People told me, Chuck, you have collected so much stuff in your travels you have got to open a museum — so I did,” Ambers said. “My museum is here to fill the void and illuminate the missing pages,” he said. “My goal is to help educate the 4 – 6 million tourists that come through Old Town every year [that along] with the first Spanish and Europeans who came here to found our city, the Plymouth Rock of the West Coast, were people of African descent.” A self-described “change agent,” Ambers said he recently had his DNA tested and found out he is 51 percent African, 44 percent European and 4 percent Native American. Inspiration for his museum, which actually deals with 6,000 years of African world history, was

Dr. Charles Wright, who opened an African American museum in Amber’s hometown of Detroit in 1965. It’s the second largest such museum in the world. “San Diego is the eighth largest city in the United States and doesn’t have a city-funded museum for African Americans,” Ambers said. “My museum fills in the void. Students from all the different grades come through here to get the true picture of the cultural diversity and cultural history of our city and our country.” According to Ambers, many of the soldiers that came up from Mexico with Father Sierra to found the Missions and the Presidios were of African decent, and 26 out of the 44 people who left Mission San Gabriel to found the city of Los Angeles had African blood, as did Alta California governor and Old Town luminary Pio Pico. Ambers said he makes it a point to not limit the direction of his educational efforts. “I desire to educate all people,” he said. “If you just educate African Americans about their heritage, while it will help them shake off their inferiority complex, they will still run into the brick wall of racial prejudice if people of all races don’t know the true story.” Bonnie Rhodes is Ambers’ assistant curator and has worked with him for the past 29 years. “I was Professor Ambers’ teaching assistant in Chula Vista for 12 years,” Rhodes said. “When he retired and opened this museum, I followed him here.” Born and raised in the border

town of San Ysidro, Rhodes — a caucasian — said growing up she was acquainted with Hispanic and African American families, but knew nothing of their history in America. “I feel that my education shortchanged me,” she said. “I didn’t get the true picture. Professor Chuck has helped me have a better picture of America and the world.” Rhodes said she has been most inspired by Bessie Colman, a barnstormer and wing walker who was flying 12 years before Amelia Earhart. “Bessie Coleman was the first black woman to get a pilot’s license,” she said. “She had to go to France to do it.” According to Rhodes, people from all over the world come into the museum and 9 out of 10 of them acknowledge they learned something that they didn’t know. She said she’d like to see the museum continue to expand. “I would like to see our museum grow into a research center where we have space for students to come in to study and do research.” Monserrat Barbosa is a student in Ambers’ Black History I class at Mesa College. She stopped by the Old Town museum, like many other students often do, to pick up research materials for a class project she is working on. “I like the way the museum is divided up into different rooms, each with its own focus, such as Spanish African, Latin American African, and/or American African,” Barbosa said. “The museum

Professor Chuck Ambers in his Casa del Rey Moro Museum (Photo by Will Bowen) has helped me learn about different cultures and not just my own.” There is plenty to look at, learn about, or to purchase at the museum. Things like an elephant hair bracelet reminding one not to buy ivory, or a 1946 Brooker T. Washington 50-cent piece, or a 1998 silver dollar commemorating Crispus Attucks, an African American who was the first person killed by the British in the Revolutionary War. At the museum you also learn that the White House was built by black slave labor, and that Dory Miller, a black cook from the days when most people of color could only be a cook or a janitor in the military, pulled his captain to safety, then shot down four Japanese airplanes at Pearl Harbor. Then there’s the picture of Major Arnaldo Tamayo-Mendez, an African Cuban who was the first person of African ancestory to go into space on the Russian Soyuz 38 spacecraft in 1980.

“I think it is important that we here at the museum have one foot in the public schools and one foot in African studies,” Ambers said. “I think it is important to educate young people, who are more open to learning. You have to reach them before junior high. That is the way to change society.” Professor Chuck has an African grey parrot at the museum that is also very wise. When the Professor was asked if he thought Africa should unite, before he could answer, the parrot, who had been silent all afternoon, sibilantly squawked out, “Sure!” The African Museum Casa del Ray Moro is located at 2471 Congress St. in Old Town. For further info, visit or call 619-220-0022. Professor Ambers can be reached at Will Bowen writes about arts and culture. You can reach him at

San Diego Downtown News | January 2014

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San Diego Downtown News | January 2014




CLEANTECH “What we’re looking to do here is create a model of a smart city that can be replicated in cities across the globe,” Smithson said. “I don’t mean to sound so Pollyanna, but I really do believe the sky is the limit with this project.” The driving force behind the proposed changes, Smithson said, is a desire to reduce the city’s overall carbon footprint. In the long run, Smithson and others within CleanTECH San Diego argue new, sustainable technology will reduce operating costs by relying less on energy. CleanTECH San Diego, formed in 2007, has enlisted the services of OSIsoft, a San Leandro, Calif.-based data software company, to assist in building the cloud-based infrastructure. During the pilot phase, it is being integrated into a group of high-profile buildings, including Petco Park, the Port of San Diego, San Diego International Airport and Hard Rock Hotel. “This isn’t about just producing products,” Smithson said. “This is more about increasing the energy IQ of this city. We want people to see how there can be cost savings from new technology.” The pilot project officially kicked off in May 2013 as OSIsoft engineers began designing the infrastructure. In the new year, Smithson said efforts are now being made to start integrating the software into the different buildings. “It’s been a moving process,” said Dave Roberts, a director with OSIsoft. “We’ve been working on getting the system installed and have been working through some IT and net-


Thomas Kalil, Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, introducing CleanTECH San Diego and other recognized projects at the White House event titled, “Data to Knowledge to Action: Building new Partnerships” on Nov. 12, 2013. (Photo by Sandy Schaeffer Photography/NSF)

work issues. It definitely has been an interesting process.” With infrastructure up and running, Smithson and Roberts said data will now be collected. Later this year, a full report is expected on the amount of energy saved by combining some of the city systems within the participating buildings. While she acknowledges the project has a long way to go, Smithson said the launch was made possible through partnerships with a number of entities, including the City of San Diego and San Diego Gas and Electric. “We like to call this a collaboratory,” Smithson said, pointing out joint visions and a spirit of experimentation have been key since the pilot was first announced. “Public and private partnerships are absolutely key for this kind of thing.” While Smithson and others within CleanTECH San Diego have big dreams, leaders acknowledge there could be challenges ahead if the Downtown skyline was integrated into

one operating system. “The reality is this means a loss of some control,” Smithson said. “This is about asking people to change their behaviors, and that means we need to educate the larger community about why change is needed and important.” Other companies and organizations recognized by the White House in November for innovating clean technology included Google Earth, Amazon and a smattering of federal agencies: NASA, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dave Fidlin has been a professional journalist for more than a dozen years. Throughout his career, he has contributed to a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites across the nation. He has a special affinity for San Diego and its people. Contact him at dave.fidlin@ v

will continue to oversee the evolving venue, promising to continue the successful legacy in the Old City Hall building its occupied since 1995. As the American-cuisine restaurant and bar closes, the DiMatteos look back upon the high-profile figures — including President and Mrs. H. W. Bush and Bill Gates — and the 20-year-long legacy it leaves behind. We would like to say thank you to all who have been such incredible patrons of ours over the past two decades. “We feel extremely fortunate to have had such a fantastic 20 year run as Jimmy Love’s but it is now time to change, to enhance, to bring an exciting new culinary, bar and club scene to this great corner,” Jimmy DiMatteo said in a press release.

SAN DIEGO’S CULINARY CRAFTERS ROCK TO FIGHT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE At 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 27, the musically talented members of San Diego’s dining industry will travel up to Solana Beach to host the annual “Battle of the Chef Bands” at Belly Up Tavern. Hosted by DiningOutSD’s Josh Kopelman and MC’d by Sam the Cooking Guy, the event will serve as a fundraiser for Center for Community Solutions, a nonprofit organization fighting sexual assault and domestic violence. The event will also promote the 10th Annual Chef Showdown in September. Chef bands include Urban Solace Restaurant, Jaynes Gastropub, barleymash, Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro, Hodad’s Ocean Beach, Richard Walker’s Pancake House, BO-beau kitchen + bar and Gang Kitchen. The judges come from restaurants, breweries and food publications in San Diego. For more information about the event or to purchase tickets, visit LOCAL HEALTH OFFICIALS URGE SAN DIEGANS TO GET FLU VACCINATION As of Dec. 28, 357 flu cases have been reported this flu season, which is 50 percent more than the number of cases reported this time last season, reported KPBS. Additionally, more than 80 percent of those cases were identified to be the H1N1 strain, or “swine flu,” which caused a worldwide pandemic in 2009. While there have been no deaths in San Diego County, 10 people over the age of 65 have been hospitalized and taken to intensive care. County health officials urge that everyone get vaccinated if they haven’t already, especially young adults, who are most susceptible to H1N1. Last year, 5,300 influenza cases were reported in San Diego County, as well as 65 fatalities, although H3N2 was the strain circulating then, which health officials say causes more severe infection than H1N1. SAN DIEGO CONVENTION CENTER BOOKS $1.4 BILLION WORTH OF EVENTS FOR 2014 Expecting to draw approximately 858,000 attendees, the most since 2008, San Diego Convention Center has booked 111 events thus far for 2014, which is expected to generate an economic impact of $1.4 billion dollars and $20.6 million in tax revenue. The 111 events include 70 conventions, the largest being Comic-Con International in July, which recently renewed their contract to stay in San Diego through 2016. The first major event will be the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Convention set to begin on Jan. 15. v

San Diego Downtown News | January 2014



Little Italy Little Italy San Diego has gone to the dogs! This urban neighborhood is chalk full of dog-lovers who have made the area a bona fide pup paradise, with help from the Little Italy Association. Little Italy boasts numerous dog-friendly hotels, restaurants and cafes, as well as doggie-bag stations installed on nearly every block for its dozens of Retriever, Great Dane and Maltese neighbors. Specialty stores, boutiques and grooming salons are also sprinkled in this historic hideaway. Porta Vista Hotel, Harborview Inn, Pacific Inn Hotel & Suites are just a few of the accommodations that love your furry friend as much as you do! Your pup will love daily walks along Little Italy’s perfectly groomed streets, treats from the neighborhood’s cafes and play time in its dog-friendly park. Plus, with thousands neighborhood residents, that means there’s hundreds of local friends Rover can make – that’s a lot of wagging tails! For a business, hotel and restaurant directory of Little Italy’s most petfriendly hot spots, please visit

Be a part of our Little Italy special section next issue!


San Diego Downtown News | January 2014

BUSINESS SPOTLIGHTS: Anthony Napoli Real Estate Group SD HOMES | CA LIC#01311452 619-750-3558 In 1999 Anthony Napoli moved to Little Italy. Shortly after, he started the Anthony Napoli Real Estate Group, becoming the first realtor to be based out of this wonderful “Hip and Historic” neighborhood. Since that start almost 15 years ago, he now helps clients buy and sell properties, both residential and commercial all over downtown and San Diego County. Known for his “New York” attitude, Anthony brings to the table an incredible amount of product knowledge, behind the scenes area details and a tough, yet productive, negotiating skill that saves and make his clients thousands of additional dollars.  Even though we are in a wired world where everything can be found on the internet, skills like these can’t be downloaded. To work with Anthony for listing or buying a property you can set up an appointment by calling him at 619-750-3558.

BoConcept San Diego 1550 Front St. (Corner of Front and Cedar) San Diego, CA 92101 619-398-0745 | Urban Danish design since 1952 BoConcept is a leading global retailer of home furnishings that specializes in customized and beautifully designed contemporary furniture and accessories. Since the creation of the company in Denmark in 1952, they offer an ocean of possibilities and inspiration for your home and in the latest looks. BoConcept’s creations are made for people who love design, energy, the urban lifestyle and high-quality design furniture at affordable prices. Enjoy functional, customized designs that reflect your individuality and style. BoConcept also offers in-home design consultations with trained design consultants to help you find the perfect solution for all your interior decorating challenges. They can expertly design the perfect pieces to fit your style, home and budget. For more information visit or call your local store to book your design consultation today.

Scott Maurer Re/Max Hometown Realtors 619-223-5556 Don’t Wait! Now is the time to buy. Don’t wait! Interest rates are going up, projected to be 5.5 percentr by years’ end. The Fed is scaling back bond purchases and the Dodd Frank bank restrictions are going into place now, rates will reflect this. The inventory of homes is shrinking, thus less homes will be available putting further pressure on prices. Prices are expected to rise this year to 5 to 7 percent. This is less than last year’s 20 percent. The prices are stabilizing as interest rates climb. This will cause sales to slow and all cash buyers/ investors are beginning to pull back from the market. This is good for buyers, as they won’t be competing with all cash investors.

San Diego Downtown News | January 2014 13

Be a part of our Little Italy special section next issue! YANA SHAYNE (619) 961-1963 |



San Diego Downtown News | January 2014


Restaurant Review

2150 Harbor Island Dr. (Harbor Island) • 619-291-9110 Dinner prices: Appetizers, soups and salads, $5 to $12; entrees, $24 to $38


verything feels new at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse, the iconic bayside restaurant where conservative fare and an aging nautical design were held largely in check since it opened in 1971. Now, with a $3.5 million redo under its belt and a savvy chef helming the kitchen, the working lighthouse on top signals that the generational divide has been erased. The remodeled structure greets with a casual-elegant atmosphere that begins in the ground-level foyer incorporating a glass-enclosed room stocked with beer kegs. Enlarged maps depicting the evolution of San Diego Bay from 1857 (long before Harbor Island was built by sand) to present fill the polished stairwell leading to an expanded bar lounge and sprawling dining room. Amid lighter colors, the space is defined by tall beamed ceilings, contemporary West Elm-ish chandelier lighting and arched picture windows that have been lowered to knee level.

Iced shellfish platter (Photo by Frank Sabatini Jr.)

A roomy deck along the restaurant’s south side was also added, though without infringing on the coveted views of Downtown’s skyline and the Coronado Bridge. The landmark lighthouse, technically known by the Coast Guard as Beacon #9, remains quaintly intact. Seafood takes center stage. “We wanted lots of it on the new menu,” said Andy Baumann, whose late grandfather, Tom Ham, founded the restaurant after establishing Bali Hai Restaurant across the bay on Shelter Island. That too, still remains in the family and recently underwent a pricey remodel. Executive Chef Lance Repp was brought onboard from La Jolla’s La Valencia Hotel. He also held chef positions out a few country clubs around the nation and assisted the U.S. Culinary Olympic Team in Germany several years ago, which netted gold medals. Gone are the weekend prime rib specials and the blue cheese swordfish that clung stubbornly onto the menu before Tom Ham’s reopened in May. Although dish dishbouillaes like paella and seafood bouilla baisse, which appeared here for a short time in the early 70s, have been resurrected. The latter on this particular evening featured a chockfull of halibut, swordfish, scallops, clams and Maine lobster (tail and claw meat), all cloaked poetically in a delicate saffron broth. But our initial delve into the sea began with an iced platter containing velvety P.E.I. oysters, baby clams and jumbo shrimp. My companion, a fear-

ful newbie to raw oysters, was immediately sold while dabbing them with the accompanying shallot-vinegar mignonette sauce and fresh horseradish. Modern-day starters like pistachio-crusted pork belly, Padron peppers and grilled octopus with sauce vierge (herby olive oil with lemon) now appear. We chose tenderloin tips dressed exquisitely in red wine, blue cheese and bacon, and served alongside a fresh arugula salad. Grilled asparagus strewn with Jamon and pecorino followed, prompting us to plow through their tender green tips with wild abandon. For the poached pear spinach salad harboring candied pecans and Point Reyes blue cheese, the chef mingles bacon with unique honey-wine vinegar sourced from Utah, resulting in a superior sweet-smoky dressing that wowed our palates upon first bite. Another salad revealed some of the juiciest figs I’ve encountered this season, paired with burrata cheese and pistachio dust. Seafood continued calling, so we skipped over duck leg confit, dry-aged New York steak and a Jidori half chicken cooked under brick, a dish that helped Repp land the position here when he made it for the Baumann family. While I savored the bouillabaisse, my companion fed from a quartet of Maine scallops, each yielding nearly five bites apiece. Cooked to pearly perfection, they were adorned brilliantly with chestnut and chanterelle mushroom ragout that added a soft, earthy flavor you don’t normally associate with scallops. From a list of ala carte sides, the Fontina-spiked polenta be-

came the winner with its creamy texture and subtle tanginess. We had higher hopes for grilled baby artichokes with grabiche sauce, a French mayo-like condiment that combines hard-boiled egg yolks with mustard, herbs and pickles. But neither the sauce nor artichokes made much of a statement. Repp sources fresh lobster and scallops from Maine while working mostly with local fishermen for other species that appear on the menu such as bass, blue prawns, swordfish and others. Nothing is ever frozen. The wine list reveals a huge breadth of whites that no seafood house should be without, spanning from Rieslings and Viogniers to Sauvignon Blancs, Carneros and sturdy Chardonnays. Reds are in abundance as well, with plenty of Napa cabernets leading the way. For dessert, we reveled in an inventive cranberry upside down cake accented with candied sage and hazelnut brittle. The “New York style” cheesecake was also refreshingly unique in that it’s made with goat cheese and citrus. Indeed, both the restaurant and bill of fare have entered into the land of today. Frank Sabatini Jr. is the author of “Secret San Diego” (ECW Press), and began writing about food two decades ago as a staffer for the former San Diego Tribune. He has since covered the culinary scene extensively for NBC, Pacific San Diego Magazine, San Diego Downtown News, San Diego Uptown News, Gay San Diego, and Living in Style Magazine. You can reach him at

A cosmopolitan from Vigilucci’s Ristorante Coronado (Courtesy Vigilucci’s)

A mozzarella plate from the Westgate Hotel (Courtesy Westgate Hotel)


RESTAURANT moment we close all week,” he said. To handle the increased headcount, O’Donnell said the restaurants are “all hands on deck” during restaurant week. “Just like big holidays — Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, New Year’s Eve — many team members work additional shifts or days during restaurant week to accommodate for the extra guests,” he said. O’Donnell said the week can be overwhelming, so his restaurants put a lot of preparation and planning into place beforehand. In the past, they’ve had to turn away diners who didn’t secure reservations ahead of time since the restaurants often reached capacity. “The week is great for our team members because they get to work extra shifts and earn extra money,” O’Donnell said. “They’re exhausted by the end of the week, but they’re able to pay off all their Christmas bills.” Participating restaurants often view Restaurant Week as an opportunity to reach new customers, hoping to provide positive experiences that result in subsequent visits. After opting out of San Diego Restaurant Week the first two years, Ruth’s Chris Steak House reconsidered after seeing their guest counts decline each year when it occured. For the last eight years they’ve selected Restaurant Week offerings based on their core menu items so that guests get a sense of what’s served year-round. “Even though we’re offering food at a discounted rate, the extra volume makes up for it,” O’Donnell said. “It’s a great value for the guests and the community.” As co-chair of San Diego Restaurant Week, O’Donnell is responsible for selecting the dates for the event. He examines local convention calendars and hotels to make sure business won’t be impeded, and also works with the California Restaurant Association to arrange donations for charities within the community. For more information and to view a complete list of participating restaurants, visit Kai Oliver-Kurtin is a local freelance reporter who also works fulltime doing social media marketing for the U.S. Navy. She enjoys covering events, restaurant news, culture and entertainment. Contact her at kai.


What’s on track for the Centennial out at SDCNN: At the outset, a Museum CEO told us he thought the Centennial should be similar to a World’s Fair. Will you be seeking international attention?

Exploring Balboa Park Johnny McDonald A chat about the Centennial Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part Q & A. Look for Part II in the January 31 edition of San Diego Downtown News. For some time, San Diego has looked forward to celebrating the 100-year anniversary — officially called the “Centennial” — of one of our region’s defining events, the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. The 1915 Exposition — which celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal and the new commerce it would bring — drew four million people to what was then a town of just 39,000. It put San Diego and its port on the map for the maritime industry, political and business leaders, and generations of tourists. The Exposition was also catalyst for the economic growth of our region and spurred the development of Balboa Park, which today stands as one of the great urban parks in the world. Two years ago the City Council decided the Centennial could best succeed if it was organized by a nonprofit organization. As a result, the City delegated the job to Balboa Park Celebration, Inc. (BPCI), led by an all-volunteer board of directors. Then to further support the effort, the City and the Tourism Marketing District allocated seed money to the nonprofit. BPCI is inviting the community to use the yearlong event to showcase San Diego’s innovation, cultural diversity and unique quality of life, and recently announced it was bringing on board Utopia Entertainment to work with local organizations to produce the attractions, festivals and forums that will draw millions to San Diego in 2015. We recently asked Gerry Braun, BPCI’s communications director, for an update on the Centennial planning.

BPCI: Absolutely. One of our goals the City set for us is to attract local, national and international visitors. And our potential to put “heads in beds” is the reason the Tourism Marketing District agreed to fund marketing development and outreach this year. Our plan is to target audiences around the world based on their interest in the programs we present. So if, for instance, we hold an international surf-guitar contest, or a craft beer competition, we’ll be marketing those weekends to surf-guitar and craft beer enthusiasts around the world. SDCNN: Normally, finding Park parking space in the summer months is very difficult during peak hours. Can the current lots be expanded? Will the parking space needed for employees, volunteers and docents create an added problem for visitors seek-

Park tram system will increase use of the underutilized Inspiration Point lot and efforts will be made to direct employees to parking spaces farther from the park core. A new rapid bus line will serve the park by 2015 and shuttle service is a possibility. SDCNN: Will museum attendance prices be standardized? Admission charges differ now. BPCI: Visitors can now buy an annual pass that provides access to the 17 Balboa Park museums and education centers. It’s an amazing value. For information on the Balboa Park Explorer, go to “Star” of Padres to hang no more We were preparing an additional item to our column about longtime Padres broadcaster Jerry Coleman receiving a lifetime achievement award Feb. 23 at the San Diego Hall of Champions Salute to the Sports Stars at the Town and Country Hotel. Then news came late Sunday that after a brief illness, he had passed away. He was 89.

Jerry Coleman in his Corsair in Korea in the early 1950s (Courtesy San Diego Padres)

Johnny McDonald/SDCNN: What will be Utopia’s overall role?

Jerry Coleman playing for the New York Yankees in 1949, the season he was the Associated Press’ rookie of the year. (Courtesy San Diego Padres)

Gerr y Braun/BPCI: One reason we’re so excited to have Utopia Entertainment on board is they have the talent and experience to produce anything, from a recurring theme-park show — which they do on three continents — to a weekend community festival. Think of them as the master event producer, working with local event companies to develop, organize and execute the various programs within the Centennial Celebration calendar. Check them

ing parking space? Should the working personnel be bused in? BPCI: Thanks, Johnny, but the goals given to us by the City are ambitious enough. The parking problems of Balboa Park, which have been developing for decades and will require millions of dollars to fix, will have to be solved by others. But we can learn from experience, and so we’ll do what we can to improve access and circulation. The new Balboa

A likable man who made friends with so many. It was always easy to reach Jerry. We called upon him to be a member of a baseball panel I arranged several years ago for a Press Club audience. He joined Randy Jones and others to talk about the sport he loved. However, he expressed his deep concern about enhancement drugs and spiraling salaries

see BalboaPark, page 18

San Diego Downtown News | January 2014



San Diego Downtown News | January 2014


Fashion Files Diana Cavagnaro

Cars and bikers along Balboa Park’s Cabrillo Bridge the week before closure for seismic retrofitting, which will continue until April 30 (Photo by Hutton Marshall)


CABRILLO Although vehicular traffic to the Plaza de Panama from the west side of the park will be restricted throughout construction, Balboa Park Communications Director Debbie Petruzzelli said they want the public to know the park is still very much open for business. “We’re working hard to get the message out that the park is still accessible on the east side,” Petruzzelli said. “There will also be a small, narrow pathway along the bridge that will still be there for pedestrians and bicyclists. That path will be about the size of a sidewalk, so cyclists will be asked to walk their bikes across because it won’t be very wide.” Petruzzelli said the park will continue to provide additional information to the public as it becomes available. “As construction progresses we’ll be posting specifics on our website about which side of the bridge will be open as well as some of the alternative bike routes that are available to those who prefer to ride their bikes into the park as opposed to walking them across,” she said. The museums and theatres that lie in the heart of the Plaza de Panama, which has been newly dubbed Balboa Park West End, have said they plan to continue to deliver events and cultural experiences throughout the Cabrillo Bridge retrofit. Balboa Park West End comprises Mingei International


Museum, The San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego Museum of Man, The Old Globe and Timken Museum of Art. Those interested in visiting West End attractions will be able to take advantage of alternate parking and transportation options that will be available throughout construction, including free parking in the lots along the east side of Balboa Park near Park Blvd. and a new, free tram system. These vehicles will depart from Tram Central, next to the large parking lots near Inspiration Point and will operate daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The trams are expected to depart every 10 to 12 minutes and will drop passengers off at a station in the Plaza de Panama. Although the bulk of disruptions will take place along the surface of the bridge, CalTrans said there will be occasional closures of SR 163 during non-peak hours. “The main thing we want motorists to know is that the majority of this work will happen at night during lower traffic times,” Cartagena said. “Any closures to one or both lanes of SR 163 will be available well in advance.” Construction is expected to complete by Apr. 30. Margie M. Palmer is an award winning columnist and part-time editorial dominatrix who has has been published extensively in both online and print media outlets. This former Jersey Girl has been a San Diego resident since June 2000, and despite getting way too excited when it comes to reporting on local news, she does not fist-pump.v

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Designer Vault Designer Vault presented a trunk show at PreFAB located in the newly opened The Headquarters at Seaport District. PreFAB is a creative space for pop-ups, trunk shows, meetings or gallery shows. Designer Vault was a collection of vintage and pre-owned handbags, clothing, and accessories. The holidays are a great time for shopping, especially for those who love Chanel. This was the largest collection of Chanel that I have seen and I was in seventh heaven. The founder of Designer Vault is Christina Samoylov, a graduate of New York’s Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM). Celebrity stylist Daniel Musto and Dean Hall were on hand to help style everyone in these designer duds. In addition to Chanel, one could find many other designers such as Balenciaga and Hermes plus an array of handbags to please every fashionista. A portion of the proceeds went to Promises2Kids, a nonprofit started in 1981 to fight child abuse and help the needs of foster children. If you missed this uber-chic event, check out Christina Samoylov’s online boutique at: Gaslamp went to the dogs The Gaslamp Quarter was the scene for the sixth annual Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade & Expo on Dec. 8, starting at the Hilton Gaslamp Quarter Hotel. This event was presented by Downtown Ace Hardware and included fun exhibitor booths with dog products, specialty foods for fido, pet photography, pet supplies, and a wide range of canine products. Dogs of all sizes were decked out in holiday costumes along with many other critters such as cats and guinea pigs. They all congregated in the park having a good time and enjoying the vendors. The contestants walked to Fifth

Designer Vault founder Christina Samoylov and celebrity stylist Daniel Musto (Photo by Diana Cavagnaro)

Avenue where the parade began with Leo, the Grand Marshall, leading the charge. Winners: Best Costume Made Out of Duct Tape presented by Downtown Ace Hardware: Tom Turner and Minnie Mouse; Ugliest Christmas Sweater: Dan Johnson and Coconut the French Bulldog; Cutest Critter: Anna Morales and Annie the mini-Yorkie; Best Pet Costume: Joseph Jaslow and Byron the “Dog Year Blimp”; Best Pet Costume (non-canine): Erica Nasby and Sneaky Jan Savage and Sir Ruffles von Vicious, the “Poop the Guinea Pig; Best Patrol,” winners of the Best Costumed Duo Pet Holiday Costume: (Photo by Diana Cavagnaro) Mary Caraway and get the honor of leading off next Bailey, “Yorkie the Snowman.” year’s parade as the 2014 Grand My personal favorite at the Marshal. Save the date for the parade was Jan Savage and Sir seventh annual parade on Dec.14, Ruffles von Vicious, the “Poop 2014. For more information visit Patrol.” They were the winner of Best Costumed Duo and I thought it was the most creative Upcoming Events outfit. Winner of Best Costumed Jan. 26 — Winter Bridal BaGroup: Gaetano Marino and Famzaar with fashion shows presented ily, with Mx. Halle as “The Elf by Gretchen Productions at the Family.” San Diego Convention Center. This year’s Best in Show was Three shows presented throughthe Elf Family: Justin Peverly out the day. For more info call and Kitty the Great Dane, as the 760-334-5500. “Reindeer on Strike.” They also Feb. 14 — Go Red For Women luncheon and fashion show, featuring the designs of Zandra Rhodes at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. For more info call 858-410-3834. Feb. 24 – March 9 — San Diego History Center presents DIRECTIONS: the exhibit Fashion Redux! 2014, Enter digits which will feature four top designfrom 1 to 9 ers from San Diego Mesa College. The finalist created contemporary into the blank garments inspired by 1930s. For spaces. Every more info call 619-232-6203.

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Diana Cavagnaro is a nationally recognized hat designer and milliner, and has been in the fashion business for 30 years. The last 20 of those years she’s operated her business from Downtown San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter, while moonlighting in the Fashion department at San Diego Mesa College. She can be reached at


Opera in the opera house San Diego’s thriving company to open its 49th season

A scene from “A Masked Ball,” which opens on March 8 (Photo by Dan Rest/ Lyric Opera of Chicago) who is portrayed by the great American buffo bass-baritone John Del Carlo, who sings regularly with the Metropolitan Time flies for opera lovers, Opera and made his SDO debut who can believe it’s been almost in 1978. Others in the company 50 years since the establishing of San Diego Opera (SDO). The well- are American baritone Malcolm MacKenzie and San Diego-raised run, highly successful company opens its four-opera 49th season at soprano Stephanie Weiss. Karen Kamensek conducts and Stephen the Civic Theatre January 25 with Lawless directs. Ruggero Leoncavallo’s great oneGiuseppe Verdi’s less familiar act tragedy, “Pagliacci.” and wondrous “A Masked Ball” A great choice for first-time plays March 8, 11, 14 and 18. It opera goers, it’s the one in which stars riveting Polish tenor Piotr the titular clown, Canio, sings an Beczala, also a Metropolitan aria about donning his costume Opera regular, in his first return (“Vesti la giubba”), laughing since debuting here in La bohème. on the outside while crying on He sings the role of Swedish King the inside because his young Gustav III, beloved of Amelia wife Nedda is cheating on him. Anckarström (Bulgarian soprano He stabs her to death during a Krassimira Stoyanova, referred to performance of the commedia in which they both appear, horrifying as “the Stradivarius of sopranos”), who is the faithful wife of Count villagers and flushing out Silvio, Anckarström (Greek baritone the baritone she loves. Pagliacci Aris Argiris). In her SDO debut, dispatches him as well, and the extraordinary American mezzocurtain falls on one of the Italian soprano Stephanie Blythe portrays verismo period’s best-known and Mme. Arvidson and Korean-Amermost parodied operas. Say what ican soprano Kathleen Kim debuts you will: it is luscious. in the trouser role of Oscar. MasDirected by Andrew Sinclair, simo Zanetti conducts and Lesley the “Pagliacci” company includes Koenig directs. American tenor Frank Poretta as April 5, 8, 11 and 13 marks the Silvio, Romanian soprano Adina return of the popular SDO producNitescu as Nedda, American tion of Jules Massenet’s “Don baritones David Adam Moore Quixote,” once again a vehicle as Silvio, and Stephen Powell as Tonio. Franco-Canadian Yves Abel for the amazing acting and vocal talents of renowned Italian bass conducts the San Diego Symphony. The opera is sung in Italian Ferruccio Furlanetto. Argentinean bass-baritone Eduardo Chama with English supertitles. Addireturns to charm audiences as tional performances: 7 p.m. Jan. Sancho Panza, and German mez28 and Jan. 31 and 2 p.m. Sunday, zo-soprano Anke Vondung makes Feb. 2. her role debut as Dulcinea for the Also featuring an international first time. Karen Keltner concompany, Gaetano Donizetti’s ducts, Keturah Stickann directs, comical “The Elixir of Love” and Kristina Cobarrubia is the follows Feb. 15, 18, 21 and 23. choreographer. It’s a far cry from Moldovan soprano Tatiana Lisnic and ever so much deeper than the portrays Adina, a wealthy young familiar Broadway musical. woman beloved of Nemorino, This season’s not-to-be-missed Italian tenor Giuseppe Filianoti, who takes the event is a single performance of magic elixir Giuseppe Verdi’s “Requiem” at touted 7 p.m., March 20. At press time, fewer than 200 seats remained, by Dr. Belso hurry on this one if you wish core, to partake in what’s bound to be a fine performance by Stoyanova, Beczala, Furlanetto and Blythe. Conducted by Zanetti, the “Re“Re quiem” features the San Diego Opera Chorus, the San Diego Master Chorale and San Diego Symphony. The really good news, according to General/Artistic Director Director Ian Campbell, is as follows: “We’ve got some great operas this year and some extraordinary singers. Opera in the cinema may be grand, but when you come to the Civic Theatre you get to Frank Porretta as “Silvo” in “Pagliacci” (Photo by Ken Howard)

Charlene Baldridge Downtown News

Ferruccio Furlanetto in Jules Massenet’s “Don Quixote” (Photo by Cory Weaver) watch the singer you want to watch, not the shot determined by a director. Aurally and visually, opera in the opera house is a totally different experience.” For further information regarding the singers, conductors and productions, to hear excerpts, and to purchase single or season tickets, go to or phone 619-533-7000. Single tickets range from $45 to $200. Some sections are sold out, so hurry. Charlene Baldridge moved to San Diego from the Chicago area in 1962. She’s been writing about the arts since 1979, and has had her features, critiques, surveys and interviews included in various publications ever since. Her book “San Diego, Jewel of the California Coast” (Northland Publishing) is currently available in bookstores. She can be reached at

San Diego Downtown News | January 2014



San Diego Downtown News | January 2014


The man behind the screen

Jerry Coleman received the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. (Courtesy

How Ralph DeLauro created Central Library’s Film Forum and Cinema Under the Stars

San Diego Padres)

Cynthia Robertson Downtown News


BALBOAPARK Another time was in the office of Hall of Champions founder Bob Breitbard prior to one of the many luncheons he attended. Having been a former baseball writer we had several mutual friends. Breitbard liked to listen to our banter. Jerry had an outstanding career playing second base for the New York Yankees when they won four World’s Series and he was MVP in one of them. But his baseball career was interrupted twice, each time to serve as a Marine bomber pilot in World War II and Korea. He reached the rank of Lieu-

tenant colonel and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Coleman never talked much about his wartime experiences except to say that his proudest award was receiving his gold wings. Jerry will also be remembered at the San Diego Air and Space Museum. A reconstructed Corsair, similar to the one he flew, bears his name on the side. After an award winning, 38year sports-writing career with the San Diego Union and authoring three books, Johnny McDonald now considers writing a hobby. He enjoys covering aspects of the port district, convention center, Balboa Park, zoo, and stories with a historical bent. You can reach him at

When the lights dim and the first scene of a film begins at the Central Library’s Film Forum, Ralph DeLauro feels most alive. DeLauro, beloved by film buffs all around San Diego, has presented films at libraries and Mission Hills’ outdoor film series “Cinema Under the Stars” for decades. It’s not a way of life for him; it is his life. DeLauro’s first gig as film programmer sprouted in the early ‘80s in San Diego’s old Greenwich Village West, an artist colony in today’s Gaslamp District. He lived in a building there that still stands today, now named the Historic Lincoln Hotel. While there were musicians, writers, painters, stained-glass artists and other creative types, no one was involved with film. Since that was DeLauro’s passion, he decided to start showing films on the rooftop of the building. “Some of the guys helped me build a screen out of plywood and painted it white. Someone else gave me an old 16mm projector and I borrowed the films from the library,” he said. After about a year of screening films on the rooftop, DeLauro walked into the old Central Library Downtown and asked if he could start film screenings at the Library. “Fortunately, [San Diego

Ralph DeLauro at a screening of the comedy-drama “Hello, I Must Be Going” at the Dowtown Central Library’s Film Forum (Photo by Cynthia Robertson)

Librarian] Lois Hyman, bless her heart, said ‘Yes’ and that jump-started the Central Library screenings,” DeLauro said. Film enthusiasts from as far away as Los Angeles have come to film screenings presented by DeLauro. Sometimes they walk out of a film, for whatever reason. “The fact that they do keep coming back even after walking out of a movie one time shows how strong for them the attraction is for film,” said DeLauro, who also teaches film classes through OASIS, an educational, social organization geared toward the elderly. DeLauro has many favorite films, but the one film that he says truly opened his eyes was “2001: A Space Odyssey.” “It’s a film that touched me on a spiritual, intellectual, emotional and technical level,” he said. Watching the changes in technique and technicality over the past decades, DeLauro appreciates the fact that more creative, talented people now have the ability to act in as well as produce movies. The downside of this, however, is that film has become “disposable entertainment,” DeLauro said. “Like pop music — here today, gone in two weeks. “ Just within the last few years, DeLauro has also been screening films at other branch libraries as an independent contractor. As for “Cinema Under the Stars,” DeLauro had been screening films

see FilmForum, page 19


Business Bits


FILMFORUM at a bookstore called the Better World Galleria in Mission Hills. The owners of the Better World introduced him to Doug Yeagley, owner of Tops Salon, who wanted to create something in the patio behind his salon. They transformed the area into an outdoor movie theater, opening it in May of 1991. DeLauro’s wife Carol enthusiastically helped transform her husband’s hobby into a true career. “When I first met Ralph on September 1st, 1982, he didn’t own anything. Not even a sleeping bag!” She said, laughing. “He spent his money going to the movies.” “I want to give thanks to Carol, my wife, for her aid and assistance, for backing all my projects and putting up with the madness and craziness of the film exhibition world,” DeLauro responded with a smile. On a recent Monday evening at the new Central Library, DeLauro aired the comedy-drama “Hello, I Must Be Going,” starring Blythe Danner and Melanie Lynskey. DeLauro arrived couple of hours before the screening to set up the lights and sound. “I’m still working to get the kinks out of the system,” DeLauro said. At 6:15 p.m., he opened the door to the people waiting just outside. Between 45 and 60 people chose a seat in the new, grand auditorium. DeLauro said that the same amount of people showed up at the old downtown library. “In reality, the films that I screen appeal to a smaller niche,” DeLauro said. “These are not just entertainmentvalue movies for the popular masses. These films have a stimulating point of departure, often leaving the view with more questions than answers.” DeLauro dimmed the lights in the Central Library auditorium and let the magic of the film begin. For upcoming film screening information at the library, go to facebook. com/FreeLibraryMovies. To get a calendar update for “Cinema Under the Stars,” go to Cynthia Robertson is an awardwinning writer and photographer. She specializes in features about people and places that inspire readers to accomplish their personal best in life. v

San Diego Downtown News | January 2014

San Diego has its first Master Mezcalier

Master Mezcalier Jen Queen (Courtesy Saltbox Restaurant)

Downtown’s Saltbox restaurant can now boast that it has San Diego’s first Master Mezcalier on its staff. Principal bartender Jen Queen has been awarded the title of Master Mezcalier, a title so exclusive that only 13 others around the world possess it. Similar to the wine expert title of Master Sommelier, Queen’s new title signifies that she is an expert in mezcal; a Mexican distilled spirit similar to tequila that has traditionally been produced in Oaxaca. The difference between the two is that mescal must be produced from 100 percent agave plants, whereas Tequila needs only 51 percent. This gives mescal its unique, rich flavor and reputation as a premiere Mexican liquor. Queen’s title required three years of study, several trips to Mexico and seven days of testing in Oaxaca. She then completed a final exam that tested her knowledge of


closed for the two-month project, patrons can continue to enjoy LOUNGEsix, the rooftop lounge on the fourth floor of Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar, which will feature a full menu, along with signature cocktails and brews

subjects like the characteristics of agaves, histor y of mezcal production, and even ser vice standards. Her near-perfect score finalized the certification process, granting her the title of Master Mezcalier. The new mescal expert has already put her skills to good use on Saltbox’s new menu, crafting cocktails that highlight agave spirits. To celebrate Queen’s certification, Saltbox will host a Dia de la Mezcales dinner party. The event will take place on Thursday, Jan. 23 at 7 p.m. and will feature a selection of mezcals paired with worldly dishes. For more information, call 619-515-3003, or visit Kim Kawada named SANDAG Chief Deputy Executive Director San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) TransNet and Legislative Affairs Program Director Kim Kawada has been chosen as the new chief deputy executive director for the regional planning agency. She succeeds Renée Wasmund, who will retire after a decade-long career at SANDAG. The planning agency consists of 330 employees and a $1.15 billion budget. A 19-year SANDAG employee, Kawada ser ved as the key advisor for the past ten budgets, as well as overseeing many of the agency’s key projects. As the chief deputy executive director, she will over see SANDAG’s day-to-day operations. “Kim has hit the ground running because of her proven skills as a seasoned executive, her institutional knowledge, and her exceptional work ethic,” SANDAG Executive Director Gar y Gallegos said in a press release. “The transition has been seamless.” Jsix announces temporar y closure for renovations Downtown’s Jsix, which describes its style as a modern take on coastal Californian cuisine, announced last month its doors have been shut until mid-Februar y to undergo its first major renovation after operating for nearly a decade. “We are keeping the best components of the old Jsix, and turning the volume up to 11 with the things we have always wanted,” Jsix Executive Chef Christian Graves said in a press release. While the restaurant will be

Kevin Crawford named President and CEO of local United Way branch

Kevin Crawford (Courtesy United Way of San Diego County)

Longtime Carlsbad fire chief and current interim city manager Kevin Crawford has been named the new president and CEO of United Way of San Diego County by its board of directors. The local chapter of the 93-year-old nonprofit is part of a network of nearly 1,800 community-based United Ways around the world. Crawford has been on United Way’s board of directors for five years, most recently acting as its Education Vision Council chair. He also ser ves on the board of several other nonprofits, including LEAD San Diego, 211 San Diego, the Burn Institute, the Regional Communications System, and Hospice North County. Crawford replaces retiring United Way President and CEO Doug Sawyer. “This is an incredibly dynamic time in United Way’s histor y,” Crawford said in a press release. “My work as a board member and Vision Council chair for the past five years has prepared me to lead the organization down the path that Doug Sawyer started, leveraging community relationships to benefit the entire county in the years to come.”v





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San Diego Downtown News | January 2014


CalendarofEvents FRIDAY – JAN 10 Yoga for Boomers & Beyond: Every Friday, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. at Yoga One, 1150 Seventh St., Downtown. $10 donation. Call 619294-7461. Gaslamp Walkabout: DSDP’s Clean & Safe program on their weekly walkabout. Meet at SW corner of Sixth Ave. and L St. (SW Corner) at 10 a.m. Sound Kitchen Sing-a-long: This month’s Scholarshare’s Toddler Time invites toddlers inside their kitchen-inspired sound studio. Sing and dance along to music and decorate an instrument to take home. Recommended for ages four and under. 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. The New Children’s Museum, 200 West Island Ave. – FREE Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: Based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature film, this smash hit Broadway musical will run through Jan. 12. 7:30 p.m. Tickets from $27 – $200. More information at Kettner Nights: Second Fridays in Little Italy North (Kettner

between India and Laurel streets) in the art and design district. 6 – 8 p.m. — FREE Ryan Stout: Performs at Mad House Comedy Club tonight and tomorrow night. $15. 7:30 p.m. Mad House Comedy Club, 502 Horton Plaza.

SATURDAY – JAN 11 Little Italy Mercato: Every Saturday, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., over 100 booths, Date & India Streets – FREE Country Music — The Spirit of America in IMAX: Traces American history and the parallel evolution of country music using rare historical footage. 6 p.m. RH Fleet Science Center, 1875 El Prado, Balboa Park. More info visit rhfleet. org or call 619-232-1233. The Fourth Annual Beat Farmers Hootenanny: Featuring The Farmers with Rolle Love. $1 will be donated to local legend Candye Kane’s medical bills in her fight against cancer. 9 p.m. Belly Up Tavern, 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach. Tickets $20. Visit

SUNDAY – JAN 12 Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: Closing night of the smash hit Broadway musical based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature film. 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets from $27 – $200. More information at Concert Series: Every Sunday, Blue Frog Band, 2 – 5 p.m., Coronado Ferry Landing, 1201 First St. at B Ave. – FREE Sleeping Beauty — Ballet in Cinema: Presented by Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet. 2 p.m. Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15, 701 5th Ave. Tickets $20. Runs through Jan. 14. Visit for additional show times and locations. TUESDAY – JAN 14 Coronado Certified Farmers’ Market: Every Tuesday, 2:30 – 6 p.m., First and B streets at Ferry Landing – FREE Painting and Vino: Local professional artists instruct attendees on painting a stunning sunset portrait — “Torrey Pines Sunset.” All supplies included, registration is

required. 21+up, $45. 6 – 9 p.m. 98 Bottles, 2400 Kettner Blvd., Suite #110. Visit

WEDNESDAY – JAN 15 State of the City Address: 6 – 7:30 p.m., Interim Mayor Todd Gloria will speak to the City on the progress its made and what’s in store for its future, Balboa Theatre, 868 Fourth Ave. – FREE THURSDAY – JAN 16 Vonda Shepard: Acclaimed Ally McBeal songstress Vonda Shepard will play a seated show. 8 p.m. Belly Up Tavern, 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach. Tickets $20. Visit FRIDAY – JAN 17 Marina Walkabout: Join DSDP’s Clean & Safe program at 10 a.m. For meet-up location, visit or sign up for their newsletter. Ryan Stout: Performs at Mad House Comedy Club tonight and tomorrow night. $15. 7:30 p.m.

Mad House Comedy Club, 502 Horton Plaza. Toddler Programming: “Healthy Food Choices” featuring Child Development Associates Nutritionist: Learn creative ways to make healthy food fun! Recommended for ages four and under. 10:30 a.m. The New Children’s Museum, 200 West Island Ave. – FREE

SATURDAY – JAN 18 Little Italy Mercato: Every Saturday, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., over 100 booths, Date & India streets – FREE Le Corsaire — Ballet in Cinema: Presented by Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet. 2 p.m. Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15, 701 5th Ave. Tickets $20. Visit readingcinemasus. com for additional show times and locations. SUNDAY – JAN 19 Concert Series: Every Sunday, Coronado Big Band, 2 – 5 p.m., Coronado Ferry Landing, 1201 First St. at B Ave. – FREE MONDAY – JAN 20 Coral Reef Adventure in IMAX: Filmed by Del Mar residents Howard and Michele Hall, this 2003 underwater IMAX film plays through Jan. 31. 12 p.m. RH Fleet Science Center, 1875 El Prado, Balboa Park. More info visit rhfleet. org or call 619-232-1233. TUESDAY – JAN 21 Mysteries of the Unseen World in IMAX: Using high-speed and time-lapse photography, electron microscopy and nanotechnology, this film provides an incredible look at the unseen world around us. 1 and 3 p.m. RH Fleet Science Center, 1875 El Prado, Balboa Park. More info visit or call 619-232-1233. Coronado Certified Farmers’ Market: Every Tuesday, 2:30 – 6 p.m., First and B streets at Ferry Landing – FREE Le Corsaire — Ballet in Cinema: Presented by Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet. 7 p.m. Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15, 701 5th Ave. Tickets $20. Visit for additional show times and locations. WEDNESDAY – JAN 22 Downtown Planning Council: The Downtown Community Planning Council (formerly CCAC) meets at 5:15 p.m. Civic San Diego boardroom, 401 B St., Suite 400. For more info THURSDAY – JAN 23 Painting and Vino: Local professional artists instruct attendees on painting a masterpiece – “Wine N Love.” All supplies included, registration is required. 21+up, $35. 6 – 9 p.m. Jakes on Sixth, 3755 Sixth Ave., Hillcrest. Visit Local author reading: If you have been touched by cancer in any form, you will want to hear Jody Sims read from “Soul Provider: Conversations with my Cat.” While enduring stage-three breast cancer, the Bankers Hill resident enrolled in the Art Academy in North Park, which resulted in 20 acrylic paintings and a process of emotional recovery, all showcased in the book.

see Calendar, page 22


Retrospective: A year before my eyes Charlene Baldridge Downtown News

Editor’s Note: During the 2013 season, SDCNN arts writer Charlene Baldridge witnessed 166 music/theatre presentations, including lectures, play readings, dance programs and seminars – and that doesn’t count things she returned to see again, concerts and lectures aboard ship in August and five operas in Santa Fe. Here is what she saw in 2013 and some things we will have the opportunity to see in 2014. Early in my life devoted to writing about theater and music I wrote a yearend piece that was divided into such sections as A) “I hated it – everyone else loved it”; B) “I loved it – everyone else hated it”; and C) “No one saw it, other than I.” That was long ago, when I still looked for conformity. If I thought something was awful and the other critics praised it, my opinion must be wrong, right? These days, I seldom read what others write. There are some whose opinions I respect; but reading their opinions does not change my own: I am Taurus and I am always right. That’s what nearly 20 years does — it makes you more certain of your opinions, right or wrong — perhaps that is because you have a larger pool of experiences with which to make comparisons. Or maybe it’s because with criticism there is no right or wrong, only subjective opinion. When I write about “Spring Awakening,” for instance, I’m not going to compare it to other productions, tediously recounting the virtues of each. Nor will I go on at length about the source material, or question its suitability for youth of a certain age. Or even adults of a certain mindset. I might, however, admit I’m partial to singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik, and I might even mention his theatrical failure (“Whisper House” with Kyle Jarrow) and my disappointment that critics and audiences seemed to miss the piece and its intent. Those who love “Spring Awakening” will have another go at the piece when Cygnet Theatre produces it in Old Town in March and April. Cygnet has received a $10,000 NEA grant in support of events surrounding the production. More power to them. The best of 2013: “Venus in Fur,” “In the Heights,” and “Federal Jazz Project,” at San Diego Repertory Theatre. Co-directed by Kim Rubinstein and Sam Woodhouse, “Venus in Fur” featured incendiary performances by Jeffrey Meek and Caroline Kinsolving. “Be a Good Little Widow,” “Other Desert Cities,” and “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” at The Old Globe. Directed by Darko Tresnjak and starring UCSD graduate Jefferson Mays, “A Gentleman’s Guide” moved on to Broadway where it was still playing at press time. “Gem of the Ocean,” “Assassins,” and “Travesties”/ “The Importance of Being Earnest” at Cygnet, which continues its tradition of work worth seeing. “Cuatro Corridos,” Experimental Theatre, UCSD — kind of fits into the “Nobody Saw It But I” category — this haunting

piece about cross-border human trafficking was co-produced and performed by Susan Narucki, one of the city’s finest singers. Ruff Yeager was stage director and Jorge Volpi wrote the libretto. Music was composed Hebert Vázquez, Arlene Sierra, Lei Liang, and Hilda Paredes. “The Trip to Bountiful” at New Village Arts, featured a powerful performance by Sylvia M’Lafi Thompson as the elderly woman who runs away in order to return the home where she raised her children. “Tribes” and “The Tallest Tree” at La Jolla Playhouse: Daniel Beatty, who performed in the latter, a one-man show about singer Paul Robson, also came out with a children’s book toward the end of the year. Titled “Knock, Knock,” it’s about Beatty’s father, absent for much of the playwright/performer’s childhood because he was incarcerated. “The Bluest Eye” and “Skinless” at Moxie Theatre, two wellproduced, haunting and imperfect plays. “Chicago” produced by San Diego Musical Theatre at Birch North Park Theatre, a fine production featuring Robert Townsend as the crooked lawyer. “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,” “Grey Gardens,” and “Shining City,” at ion theatre company: Rajiv Joseph’s “Bengal Tiger,” one of my favorite pieces of all time, starred the splendid Ron Choularton as the talkative, dead Tiger, who declares he’s an atheist, then goes on a search for God to find out why he’s still alive and why he has such a hungry nature. Evan Kendig and Jake Rosko portrayed the American G.I.s responsible for the Tiger’s demise. “Murder in the Cathedral,” Ildebrando Pizzetti’s 1953 opera, directed by Ian Campbell, at San Diego Opera: The great Italian bass-baritone Ferruccio Furlanetto portrayed Thomas Becket, the assassinated Archbishop of Canterbury in the piece based on T.S. Elliot’s verse play. The production offered an extraordinary opportunity to see this rarely performed work. “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Wit” and “The 39 Steps” at Lamb’s Player’s Theatre: Deborah Smyth was incandescent as the dying academic in “Wit.” Look for “39 Steps” at Horton Grand Theatre beginning January 15, and “Fiddler” at the Lyceum Theatre beginning January 10. David Wiener’s “Extraordinary Chambers” produced by Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company at 10th Avenue Theatre, featured the return of actor Greg Watanabe and a splendid scenic design by David F. Weiner, representing the ruins at Angkor Wat. “She-Rantulas from Outer Space – in 3D!” at Diversionary – a fabulously funny new play by Ruff Yeager and Phil Johnson. “Bearded” produced by Circle Circle dot dot at 10th Avenue Theatre, a world premiere play by Katherine Harroff based on interviews with department store Santas. San Diego concerns as we travel into 2014: The future of San Diego Musical Theatre at the Birch North Park Theatre, which recently changed ownership and management; the future of Diversionary Theatre as it searches for

new leadership; and the future of Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company as it seeks new leadership due to the departure of founding artistic director Seema Sueko, who moved to Pasadena Playhouse. Charlene Baldridge moved to San Diego from the Chicago area in 1962. She’s been writing about the arts since 1979, and has had her features, critiques, surveys and interviews included in various publications ever since. Her book “San Diego, Jewel of the California Coast” (Northland Publishing) is currently available in bookstores. She can be reached at

San Diego Downtown News | January 2014



San Diego Downtown News | January 2014


CALENDAR 5 p.m. Upstart Crow Bookstore & Coffee House, 835 W. Harbor Dr. in Seaport Village. For more info visit

FRIDAY – JAN 24 East Village Walkabout: Join DSDP’s Clean & Safe program at 10 a.m. For meet-up location, visit walkabouts/ or sign up for their newsletter. SATURDAY – JAN 25 Little Italy Mercato: Every Saturday, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m., over 100 booths, Date & India streets – FREE Tommy Emmanuel: The twotime Grammy-nominated guitarist takes the stage with very special guest Martin Taylor. 8 p.m. Balboa Theatre, 868 Fourth Ave., Gaslamp. Tickets $30 – $55. Visit Pagliacci: Opening night of the powerful opera depicting a gutwrenching tale full of love, comedy, and murder, presented by San Diego Opera. Runs through Feb. 2. 7 p.m. Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., Downtown. Tickets $45 – $280. Visit Bethany: The Old Globe presents Laura Marks’ powerful new drama directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch. 8 p.m. Sheryl and Harvey White Stage, The Old Globe Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park. Through Feb. 23, daily show times vary. Tickets start at $24. Visit or 619-231-1941. SUNDAY – JAN 26 Concert Series: Every Sunday, Velvet Café, 2 – 5 p.m., Coronado Ferry Landing, 1201 First St. at B


Ave. – FREE Battle of the Chef Bands: A righteous night of rock ‘n roll in support of Center for Community Solutions, featuring Sam the Cooking Guy and Josh Kopelman of Dining-Out-SD, as well as other top San Diego chefs. Complimentary appetizers provided by 15 of San Diego’s top restaurants. 6 p.m. Belly Up Tavern, 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach. Tickets $30 advance, $48 day of. Visit A Gala Night with David Garret: Renowned violinist and recording artist David Garrett combines classical elements with popular styles, such as rock and rhythm and blues. 7 p.m. Balboa Theatre, 868 Fourth Ave., Gaslamp. Advanced tickets $49.50. Visit or call 619-570-1100.

TUESDAY – JAN 28 Coronado Certified Farmers’ Market: Every Tuesday, 2:30 – 6 p.m., First and B streets at Ferry Landing – FREE WEDNESDAY – JAN 29 Meditation Workshop: Presented by The Meditation Initiative, free weekly hour-long meditation workshops to assist with mental and emotional health. 6:30 p.m. San Diego Central Library, 330 Park Blvd., Downtown – FREE THURSDAY – JAN 30 The Burning of Rome: San Diego locals play alongside The Long and Short of it and Marsupials on The Casbah’s second-to-last night of their month-long 25th anniversary celebration. Tickets $10. 8:30 p.m. The Casbah, 2501 Kettner Blvd. —Please send items for inclusion to Editor Morgan M. Hurley at

A Month-long, face-melting birthday party Kevin Smead Downtown News

Back in 2010, I caught the Silversun Pickups at Soma, touring to promote their then relatively new album “Swoon.” Not only did they play a great show, but lead singer and guitarist Brian Aubert stuck around after the show to talk with fans. After a few pictures and handshakes, Aubert asked the ten or so people gathered where the Casbah was and how to get there, seeing as how he’d heard so much about it. This, it would seem, is how most people — no matter who you are — come to the Casbah. The often talked about venue, which turns the big two-five this month, is known for being an early stop for acts that continue on to major success. It would only make sense, then, that the venue celebrates its 25th birthday by hosting a plethora of well-known and up-and-coming artists, making for one of the coolest birthday bashes ever. If you can only make it to a couple of shows, here are some to consider. Pinback, Death Fix, Octa#Grape Monday, Jan. 13 (Sold Out), and Tuesday, Jan. 14. — $25 Though there is a slew of local bands dropping by the Casbah this month, the one perhaps most recognizable to non-locals is Pinback. Trust me, you’ve heard “Fortress” at some point. Their deceptively simple guitar parts and sparse percussion give them a unique, listenable sound. Openers Deathfix and Octa#Grape are definitely solid acts, also. Deathfix drifts into

psychedelic territory without ever being cheesy and Octa#Grape is good ‘ole local lo-fi garage rock that I’ll never get sick of. Get your tickets now, though, since Monday is already sold out. Buck-O-Nine, Heavyweight Champions, Ottley Mercer, Secret Samurai Saturday, Jan. 18 — $12 I don’t know, and maybe it’s me, but I feel like growing up in San Diego without ska would have been weird. I guess it’s nostalgic at this point, but I still love it. So imagine how excited I am to find out that San Diego ska legends Buck-O-Nine are playing this month. Break out your pork-pies, checkered ties, and beat-up Vans, because this one will have you skanking for days. Definitely get there early for Secret Samurai, too. If Spaghetti Western-inspired surf rock doesn’t sound cool, then I don’t know what does. OFF!, Rats Eyes, Bumbklatt, Widows Wednesday, Jan. 29 — $20 Man, what a show. If you’re unfamiliar with OFF!, it’s not only fronted by Keith Morris (Black Flag, Circle Jerks), but features drums from Mario Rubacalba (Rocket From the Crypt, Widows, and many other wicked bands). OFF! is classic Southern California hardcore punk that could easily be the soundtrack to breaking your ankle skating in Ocean Beach. All three openers are great, too, with Rats Eyes being a favorite of mine. It’ll be a loud, wild night, so come ready to have a beer or two spilled

all over you. The Burning of Rome, The Long and Short of It, Marsupials Thursday, Jan. 30 — $10 I really dig The Burning of Rome. Its got great instrumentation, unusual songwriting, and kind of sounds like Mr. Bungle. Its stuff can be catchy, too, and sticks with you for a while. I can definitely see them being of those bands that end up being the subject of a “Man, I saw them at the Casbah before they were big!” conversation or two. That being said,“druid-core” group The Long and Short of It are pretty rad, as well, with their At the Drive-In-esque post-hardcore sound. For only $10, this one’s definitely worth checking out. Rocket From the Crypt, Styletones, The Downs Family Friday, Jan. 31 — Sold Out Yeah, yeah, I know. This one sold out in literally one minute. However, if you can get tickets in some way shape or form, please do so. If you had told me a few years ago I’d be writing a preview for an RFTC show, I’d have called you crazy. Well, here we are, and one of the best bands on the planet is playing at the Casbah again. I can’t reiterate enough, though: go to this if you can. Kevin Smead is a freelance writer who loves writing about local music. He also works as a thesis associate for Montezuma Publishing at SDSU. You can contact Kevin at

San Diego Downtown News | January 2014



San Diego Downtown News | January 2014

San Diego Downtown News - January 2014  
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