Columns

Restaurant Review: Ortega’s Cocina in Ocean Beach

January 18, 2017 by Judi Curry

Restaurant Review

Ortega’s Cocina
4888 Newport Ave.
San Diego, CA 92107
619-222-4205

Ever since Rancho’s closed, I have been craving Mexican food. That used to be my “go to” place and I have felt lost without them. I tried Nati’s, but it was too “gringoized” for me, and the service was not good.

I saw where people had written on Face Book that Ortega’s was a good substitute for Rancho’s, so with a new friend, Frank (not my editor-dude Frank) we embarked on an eating journey that I hoped would satisfy my craving.

Like Rancho’s, they have an extensive menu, with Appetizers

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A Little Bit of Aristotle’s Philosophy for the Ethically Challenged GOP

January 18, 2017 by Ernie McCray

EthicallyBy Ernie McCray

Aristotle was of the belief that “Achieving good character is a process of clearing away the obstacles that stand in the way of the full efficacy of the soul.”

He came up with such an ethical notion somewhere between 384-322 B.C.E. And here we are, as a nation, in the 21st Century, facing GOP powers-that-be in Washington D.C. who, instead of seeking ways to ethically tend to our society’s political and social needs, choose to do whatever they desire whenever they please.

“To hell with the rules,” is their operating policy.

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On the Topic of the GOP and Ethics

January 10, 2017 by Ernie McCray
Thumbnail image for On the Topic of the GOP and Ethics

By Ernie McCray

It makes perfect sense to me that the House Republicans tried to secretly curtail the powers of the Office of Congressional Ethics because, if you have no ethics, you damn sure don’t want some nosy person poking around documenting it.

And these GOP characters are as to ethical behavior as a sea turtle is to Death Valley. They’ve demonstrated for decades, which anyone can google, that they are not, by any means, on speaking terms with anything anywhere near synonymous with “ethics.” They are, in a word, ethic-less, if you will.

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Restaurant Review – Oceana Restaurant at Catamaran Hotel in Mission Beach

January 10, 2017 by Judi Curry

Oceana Restaurant
Catamaran Hotel
3999 Mission Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92109
858-488-1081

As so often happens to those of us living in San Diego, we have friends and relatives that come to visit and we go out to eat with them. Usually when that happens to me I make a suggestion as to where we might like to go, depending on their preference for food. But this time my friend Nel was staying at the Catamaran Hotel with her children and while they were at the beach, we were going to have lunch together.

She suggested the Oceana, because it is the restaurant in the hotel. It wasn’t until I began writing this review that I found it was listed as an “upscale eatery.” It talked about the beautiful view – it is – and the seafood is their specialty.

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The Hip School Where the Arts Rule

January 9, 2017 by Ernie McCray

Arts classroom scene with handful of young children and an adult

By Ernie McCray

I had moments not too long ago when I thought that I just might not be around in 2017 – based on the complete lack of energy I was enduring day after day, with my belly under siege by some bacteria that just didn’t want to leave.

But I’m still here on the scene, happy as a lark, slowly getting back to my routines. Wanting to write something regarding my making it to 2017, I checked a writing prompt website and chose number 17 of the choices, as a symbol for 2017, and it read: “In 400 words create your ideal place.”

That put me in a nice place because the prompt could have been something like “Write a 150 word profile on somebody named ‘Margaret Mallory’” or write about “something wrapped” which would have called on more creativity than I wanted to own. I just wanted to kick the new year off in a nice tone.

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My New Year’s Resolution for 2017: Abandon Hope

January 2, 2017 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

Abandon HopeThe era of hope is over. We are done with the messianic rhetoric about the arc of history bending toward justice and the false notion that, despite all signs pointing to the contrary, we were making real progress toward the grand goals of addressing the deep inequities in our society or moving toward a more sustainable future and becoming more just. We weren’t.

We bought hope and got polite neoliberalism with some padding on its sharp edges, and the delusion that we were better than we are.

Now the gloves are off and the wolves’ teeth are bared. There is no pretty bullshit to mask the fact that the future is grim and the worst are full of passionate intensity. Being responsible and respectable won’t save us; neither will looking to make a deal with the devil.

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”Re-review” of Pure Thai and Vegetarian Cuisine

January 2, 2017 by Judi Curry

”Re-review” of
Pure Thai and Vegetarian Cuisine
3704 Voltaire
San Diego, CA 92107
619-542-9499
www.purethai.com

In my quest to revisit restaurants that I reviewed in the past, Hitomi, my student from Japan and I were out shopping and decided that we wanted to eat Thai food for dinner instead of coming home and cooking. Since we were at Stumps, it was just a natural to turn the corner and enjoy a meal at the “Pure Thai” restaurant.

In looking over my review of November 20, 2013 I rated it very high, and was curious to see if it would appeal in the same way now as it did then. Another former student of mine had eaten there about six months ago and said she had chunks of plastic in her food, and would never eat there again. I know from experience that accidents can happen in the kitchen, but I must admit I entered with a jaundiced eye.

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We Have to Stop Lamenting and Keep Hope Alive

December 30, 2016 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

The last two months of this year have been a living hell for many people, including me, considering our social and political sins but I’m definitely not going to classify 2016 as the worst year of my life – as a lot of people seem to be doing.

I mean by nature I tend to give very little value to my crummy times and tons of bonus points to the moments wherein my soul is filled with hope. Where there’s hope there’s got to be a good year. And I’m pretty much hoping for this and that all the time.

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Buyer Beware!

December 28, 2016 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for Buyer Beware!

How many times have you heard that? How many times have you said to yourself that you will not be caught up in any type of scam or fraud scheme because you are too smart for that?

I’ve said it a dozen times, and wouldn’t you know it – I got caught twice this week. Damn fool!

The first time was when I purchased a skin ointment to erase my wrinkles. (See my article on my New Years Resolution . A “free” trial and just pay shipping. That has been resolved, after I saw a $89.90 bill on my credit card.

But let me tell you about this other one.

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Censored 2016: Underreported Stories of the Year

December 27, 2016 by Frank Gormlie
Thumbnail image for Censored 2016: Underreported Stories of the Year

By Jim Miller

Project CensoredIn my final column of 2015, I wrote about the most underreported story of the year according to Project Censored’s annual list: “2016 will be the year when half of the world’s wealth will be controlled by the top 1%.” After reporting the dismaying details of that story, I ended with the following analysis:

So putting this all together, we are just about to end a year where we learned that global plutocracy is becoming more and more firmly entrenched and that the beneficiaries of that very system are not just responsible for an immoral level of economic inequality and human suffering but also for speeding us toward an apocalyptic end to the climate crisis.

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“A New Wrinkle in the Face of Things” – A New Years Resolution

December 27, 2016 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for “A New Wrinkle in the Face of Things” – A New Years Resolution

>Lets “face” it. My husband has been gone over seven years and for the past 6 of those years I have tried to find a new companion.

I lost 100 pounds; I grew my hair long – I’ve since cut it -; dyed my silver-gray hair brown – I’ve since gone back to being a blond; and put back some of the poundage I lost. And although I have met several men, none of them were “Mr. Right” – and many of them have been “Mr. Wrong”, as evidenced by the book I am writing entitled, “Liar, Liar.”

So I have tried everything that I know what to do to attract a man with no success. I even have been in a passive relationship, where I have pretended to know nothing so that HE could be the dominant one. That didn’t work either.

What must be the problem? I asked myself.

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Review : Kona Kai Resort & Spa – Vessel Restaurant

December 22, 2016 by Judi Curry

Restaurant Review

Kona Kai Resort & Spa – Vessel Restaurant
1551 Shelter Island Drive
San Diego, CA 92106
Reservations – 800-566-2524

Last month when I did a restaurant review with Deb, we agreed that we would try to do one more before the year was out. One day this week was that day and we decided to try the lunch at “Vessels” at the Kona Kai Resort. I am so glad that we did.

But, of course, it didn’t start out the way we hoped it would. I had made a reservation using “Open Table” for 12:15pm. The parking is somewhat difficult, and the lot is to the right of the hotel. One must take a ticket to remember to have validated before trying to retrieve your car.

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Trying to Climb Back to the Mountain Top

December 21, 2016 by Ernie McCray
Thumbnail image for Trying to Climb Back to the Mountain Top

by Ernie McCray

On the Sunday before the election I felt so good, sitting on a rock at Mt. Palomar in the sun. The day before I had gone on an invigorating hike as woodpeckers stored acorns and wasps and gnats and flies flitted about with critters unseen on the run.

I was on the top of the world, my usual self, full of humor, and get up and go.

Election night came along and after the results were in I had evolved into somebody I didn’t recognize. It seemed as though I had been shot with a taser gun that had been designed to take down a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

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Restaurant Review : Pomodoro in Point Loma

December 19, 2016 by Judi Curry

Restaurant Review

Pomodoro
2833 Avenida De Portugal
San Diego, CA 92106
619-523-1301

Strange how fate works. I have been asked five times in the last six weeks if I had ever eaten at Pomodoro. Several times I had planned on doing so but just had never been able to find the right time or right person to go with me. Then earlier this week I saw on Face Book that my daughter had lunch there and really enjoyed it. Then I knew I had to try it.

I belong to a support group where all of us have lost a loved one and it just so happened that we were going to meet on Saturday and it was my turn to select the restaurant. No question as to where we were going to go!

And let me start out by saying that I am glad we went.

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Progressive Stocking Stuffers for the Impending Trump Era

December 19, 2016 by Jim Miller

A Handful of the Most Important and Interesting Books of 2016

By Jim Miller

If you just can’t bring yourself to give up on the sordid consumer frenzy and go all in for a Buy Nothing Christmas, then perhaps getting your loved ones a few good books to help them navigate the dark near-future is the next best thing.

Here is my annual list of a handful of some of the most instructive stand-out books of 2016:

1. Back in the Spring, I wrote the following about Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal Or What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?:

Thomas Frank has written the most important political book of 2016,

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It’s Time to Let Our Light Shine

December 14, 2016 by Ernie McCray

2324860157_7d39208c02By Ernie McCray

As I more and more awaken from the shock to my body and soul as a result of Donald Trump being my president, I keep thinking back to my Sunday School days in the 40’s singing a song our teacher, Mr. Chandler, taught us:

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine…

Mr. Chandler, a beautiful man, with a voice like Paul Robeson’s, would tell us:

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A Little Humor for the Holidays – A Mock Restaurant Review

December 14, 2016 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for A Little Humor for the Holidays – A Mock Restaurant Review

Over the past few years, I have done a number of restaurant reviews that have met with, to say the least, mixed reactions. Some of those restaurants that I thought left a lot to be desired are someone else’s favorite, and, thanks to the First Amendment, people have told me how wrong I have been in no uncertain terms.

In talking to my friend Mary this morning, she offered to go with me to any restaurant and “help” me review it. I pointed out to her that she was “too nice” to do a restaurant review. She finds good in everyone; in everything; to the point that I sometimes wonder how she can be such a good friend. … So Mary and I did a “mock” review – over the phone – that I would like to share with you –

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San Diego Labor Opposes Dakota Access Pipeline

December 12, 2016 by Jim Miller

nodapl02 DAPLBy Jim Miller

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and the heroic struggle against it have ignited a big battle inside of American labor. Earlier this fall an excellent article in Common Dreams outlined the split over DAPL at the national level with key trades unions and AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka backing the pipeline and criticizing the protests while other large national unions were issuing statements supporting the Standing Rock resistance.

Here in California and elsewhere, Trumka’s letter in support of the pipeline received strong condemnation.

For instance, a response to it that I penned as chair of the California Federation of Teachers Climate Justice Task Force challenges the AFL-CIO leader in the strongest possible terms:

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Is It Starting Already? Bah Humbug!

December 9, 2016 by Judi Curry

ob-post-office

By Judi Curry

One of my least favorite places to go to at this time of the year is the United States Post Office. And, more specifically, the Ocean Beach Post Office. Those of you living in the area probably know what I mean without any explanation. Because I am getting orders for my cookbook for holiday gifts, I seem to be spending a great deal of time at the OB Post Office. And…I seem to be spending a great deal of time STANDING IN LINE at this same post office.

It doesn’t seem to matter what time of the day I go to mail my packages. On Monday I went at 4:00pm. I stood in line for 12 minutes waiting to see a postal employee. Why did I stand in line for so long? Because, dear reader, there were 16 people in line and only two windows open. And it seemed that everyone had a number of packages to be sent, or an extraordinary amount of money orders to be purchased.

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Will the Trump Presidency be an Extinction Level Event for Labor? We Better Hope Not

December 5, 2016 by Jim Miller

Unions vs Trump Presidency

By Jim Miller

Last week in the bluntly titled “Trump Presidency Could Kill Labor Unions,” distinguished journalist Harold Meyerson ponders the possibility that the 2016 Presidential election was “an extinction-level event for American labor.”

Noting the sad fact that a high percentage of union households (about 43 percent nationally) went for Trump, Meyerson wastes no time in outlining what the costs will be for working class folks in America:

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From Mission to Microchip: An Interview with California Labor Historian Fred Glass. Part 3

November 28, 2016 by Jim Miller

California LaborBy Jim Miller

It seems like a million years ago now, but back in my Labor Day column, I gave a shout out to Fred Glass’s seminal new labor history of California, From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. As Glass notes in his introduction, his history of working people in the Golden State is much broader than a narrow chronicle of unions:

California labor history doesn’t begin and end with union membership. Forming and maintaining unions is one part of a broader story, …

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Are Higher Water Bills in Ocean Beach and Point Loma Due to Loss of Water in Pipe Repairs?

November 15, 2016 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for Are Higher Water Bills in Ocean Beach and Point Loma Due to Loss of Water in Pipe Repairs?

Is It All Just a Coincidence?

By Judi Curry

You can’t live in Ocean Beach/Pt Loma and not notice the continual work being done on the water pipes throughout the entire neighborhood. You can’t live in Ocean Beach/Pt. Loma and expect not to find detours where just yesterday you were able to drive right through.

You can’t live in Ocean Beach/Pt. Loma without noticing sand bags in front of drainage ditches on many of the residential streets of the area. And you can’t live in Ocean Beach/Pt Loma without noticing the huge amount of water cascading down the streets.

So is it a coincidence that many of us received water bills this week that were higher than any previous month? Is it any coincidence that those of us that have taken measures to reduce our water usage are appalled at the amount of our water bills for the months of September-November?

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Some Good Things Procrastinating Progressives Can Do Down Ballot

November 7, 2016 by Jim Miller

procrastinating -meter

By Jim Miller

Greetings procrastinating progressive poll voters! After you are done voting against Donald Trump and attending to all the high profile races that have received plenty of attention elsewhere, there are a myriad of other issues to decide. Here is my list of good things progressives can do down ballot:

*Vote to Fund Education and Elect Actual Educators to School and College Boards: Of course, the central statewide ballot measure to vote for is Proposition 55, which extends Proposition 30’s taxes on the wealthiest Californians while leaving the sales tax behind.

If you value public education, this is an obvious vote. For more on Prop. 55 see my column here.

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Restaurant Review: Surf Check

November 4, 2016 by Judi Curry

ob-surf-check-jc-1

“Restaurant” Review:

Surf Check (An Apparition)
Corner of Sunset Cliffs and Pt. Loma Avenue
Ocean Beach

Let’s follow this unlikely scenario. You are driving down Sunset Cliffs, heading South from Newport Avenue, and you pass a Thai restaurant, a couple of Italian restaurants, an Indian restaurant, a defunct Mexican restaurant, a donut shop, a coffee shop and a market. And as you continue your drive all of the places to eat, or have a cup of coffee, vanish.

You are quickly approaching one of the most scenic areas of San Diego, when, out of the blue, on a piece of cement no bigger than 40 feet wide, you are met with a blue and white trailer sporting a yellow surf-board on the top, and, in a wide array of colors, a “menu” featuring coffee, acai, smoothies and hot dogs.

The “Surf Check” is owned by someone that has been in San Diego – more importantly Sunset Cliffs – for years. His name is Richard Aguirre; he is the president of “Save Sunset Cliffs” and a dedicated, concerned person – concerned about so many things.

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How Can We Help Our Children Rise Above The Times?

November 1, 2016 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

ChildrenI’m thinking that our present times are not serving our children well. I mean, as I look at what’s going on in our society it seems as though we are all caught up in an atmosphere of lunacy wherein we have pretty much thrown our hands in the air like we just don’t care and kissed our way of life goodbye.

The saddest part of all this to me is our children are watching our madness, as only they know how: closely.

And they’ve got be as confused as they can be as they observe so many “grownups” going along with the program of a real live frightening bogeyman-like human being who crash landed in our midst and evolved, like a curse in an episode of the Twilight Zone, into a candidate for the highest office in our land.

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Restaurant Review: Plant Power in Ocean Beach

October 20, 2016 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for Restaurant Review: Plant Power in Ocean Beach

Restaurant Review

Plant Power
2204 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
(Note: Menu has address at 22014 – )
San Diego, CA 92107
619-450-6845

I wasn’t going to do it. I knew that if I reviewed this restaurant there would be many comments – some favorable, but mostly unfavorable towards the review. However, I have been asked by so many people what I thought about it. I decided to “bite the bullet” and go.

My friend Barbara and I have talked about “Plant Power” for months. I should immediately point out that neither of us are vegans. We like our meats; we like our breads; we like so many things that are not offered at this restaurant. But we went in with an open mind and decided to order several items so that we could sample the menu.

To begin with I want to say that once you get into the parking lot (off of Voltaire) there was ample parking.

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Vote No on Measures A and B for a Sustainable Future for San Diego

October 10, 2016 by Jim Miller

San Diego County Photo Sustainable future

By Jim Miller / Jana Clark

Much of the reporting on the early campaign surrounding Measure A is falling victim to the proponents’ attempts to greenwash their deeply flawed measure.

They are doing this by representing a few astroturf “environmental” organizations in league with big money from corporate interests and a handful of unions doing the bidding of downtown insiders as a “split” in progressive circles.

This is unfortunate as the fact of the matter is that the opposition to Measure A by the Quality of Life Coalition represents a historically significant new alliance between progressive labor and nearly all of the local environmental organizations doing serious work around climate.

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Thinking of Old Badgers in the Autumn of Our Years

October 7, 2016 by Ernie McCray

Autumn via FlickrBy Ernie McCray

Looking at an autumn scene, with trees changing colors, overlooking a lake of cold water, signifying the last season of a year, I thought of how I’m in the autumn of my years.

And from that I couldn’t help but think about the Class of ’56 of Tucson High, people whom I hold dear, old “Badgers” celebrating a time when we were classmates 60 years ago.

Our hair, like the leaves in the picture of the trees, has thinned and its color has changed as has a host of other things.

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Restaurant Review : Breakfast Republic at Liberty Station

October 5, 2016 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for Restaurant Review : Breakfast Republic at Liberty Station

Restaurant Review

Breakfast Republic
2865 Sims Rd
(Liberty Station)
San Diego, CA 92106

Last Saturday, Irene and I decided to have a widow’s day of exploring and wanted to include breakfast at the Breakfast Republic. We arrived there about 11:30am, and there was a wait of at least 90 minutes. Needless to say we did not stay.

But yesterday, a gentleman that I had met when I broke my leg last year called and suggested that we go out for breakfast. I jumped at the chance and this time when we arrived we were seated immediately. It was not quite 10:00 am. I should say that all of the outside seating was taken and there was a 20 minute wait for a table, but there was inside seating.

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From Mission to Microchip: An Interview with California Labor Historian Fred Glass. Part 2

October 3, 2016 by Jim Miller

California Labor

Here’s Part 1

By Jim Miller

In my Labor Day column , I gave a shout out to Fred Glass’s seminal new labor history of California, From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. As Glass notes in his introduction, his history of working people in the Golden State is much broader than a narrow chronicle of unions:

To learn more about this story and what about it is most important, I am pleased to present the second installment of my three-part interview with Fred Glass, author, teacher, union member, and long-time Communications Director for the California Federation of Teachers.

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