Columns

Many Thanks, Maya

May 29, 2014 by Ernie McCray
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by Ernie McCray

I miss you, Maya,
but you will forever reside
in the breezes of
the breaths of fresh air
you gifted us with
when you were here,
ever so lovely and dear,
so wise beyond any years,
captivating us with your smile
and your wit
and your humor, all the while,
teaching us the ways of “We,”
you, him, her, them, me –
all of humanity.

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San Diego City Works Press Calls for Submissions for Its Anthology – “Sunshine/Noir II” – Writings from San Diego and Tijuana

May 27, 2014 by Jim Miller

SDCWPBy Jim Miller

San Diego City Works Press is soon approaching its 10-year anniversary. SDCWP is run by a 100% non-profit collective and is the only small literary press in San Diego that focuses primarily on the publication of local writers with an emphasis on our region that moves beyond the postcard version of our reality.

In an era where commercial forces and hegemonic instrumentality are drowning out what remains of literary culture, we have persisted against the odds. We invite all interested parties to be a part of our beautifully useless endeavor.

To celebrate our anniversary, we are putting together a second edition of our first anthology, Sunshine/Noir II. All local writers are encouraged to submit work for consideration.

See the relevant details inside:

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What’s at Stake With Propositions B and C?

May 12, 2014 by Jim Miller

“Everyone who wants to preserve community control over the planning process should be afraid because your community will be next!” –Georgette Gomez, Associate Director of the Environmental Health Coalition

EHC SpeakerBy Jim Miller

As we head toward the June 3rd election, the same corporate interests who spent big money to fund a petition drive based on lies to force a vote on the Barrio Logan Community Plan are now funding an equally dishonest campaign to defeat it.

As the San Diego Reader recently noted, the No on B and C Campaign’s sleazy tactics include teaming former mayor and current corporate front man Jerry Sanders up with a “crooked ex-admiral” to repeat the same bald-faced lies about how the Barrio Logan Community Plan will kill jobs and drive the Navy out of San Diego.

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A Look at a “Dangerous Friendship”

May 6, 2014 by Ernie McCray

By Ernie McCray

unnamedA couple of years ago at a showing of “Sing Your Song,” a documentary that highlights Harry Belafonte’s role in pursuits for human and civil rights, I met Ben Kamin, a scholar who has written much about the social struggles of those times. I just finished reading, with delight, his latest book, “Dangerous Friendship.”

The book puts the spotlight on Stanley Levison, a little known figure in the civil rights movement, who fully dedicated his life to helping Martin Luther King.

Regarding this man, Clarence Jones, another prominent aide to Martin, says “I am extremely upset, and I get angry, 24/7, and have been for many years about the glaring omission of the name and history of Stanley Levison in the civil rights chronicle.”

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Remember the Folks Who Brought You the 8-Hour Day?

May 5, 2014 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

8hours1Last week, May Day came and went and, while there was a small march downtown, most people barely noticed. Indeed most Americans don’t know much about May Day and if they do, they associate it with the state sponsored holiday in the former Soviet Union.

The truth of the matter is, however, that May Day has deep American roots. It started in 1866 as part of the movement pushing for the 8-hour day.

As historian Jacob Remes reminds us:

The demand for an eight-hour day was about leisure, self-improvement and freedom, but it was also about power. When Eight Hour Leagues agitated for legislation requiring short hours, they were demanding what had never before happened: that the government regulate industry for the advantage of workers.

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Raise Up San Diego – Do the Right Thing About the Minimum Wage

April 28, 2014 by Jim Miller

raiseuplogoBy Jim Miller

These are still tough times for most working people in the United States. We are in the midst of a new Gilded Age of historic economic inequality. The rich are carving out a bigger slice of the pie at the expense of nearly everyone else in America. As I noted in my column last week, corporate profits are at their highest level in 85 years and employee compensation is at the lowest level it has been in 65 years.

And this is happening despite the fact that the average American worker is more educated and more productive than ever before. The result of all this is a declining middle class, economic instability, and the hijacking of our democracy by moneyed interests.

Here in San Diego, we have one of the highest costs of living in the United States, ….

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My Mellow Birthday

April 28, 2014 by Ernie McCray

Maria, Lyric and MeBy Ernie McCray

I like my birthdays mellow and this year’s was just that, a little time with my querida and some of my family at her house and before they arrived I stretched out in my easy chair and listened to Lila Downs sing corridos in ways only she can. Oh, that voice of hers was born in some special place.

Lila warmed my insides and made me want to dance, so I got my 76 year old body up and put some Maceo on. The Maceo James Brown used to call out to when he yelled to the beat, “Macio! Hit me! Take me to the bridge!” when he wanted to take the jam to a different groove, making everybody want to move.

And Maceo had me getting down like I was the hippest coolest stepper in town. My mood, at this point, was easy and sweet, and that directed how I moved my feet, as I enjoyed my special day.

In between, my little Soul Train routine, my mind wandered here and there, about places I’ve been, things I’ve seen, countries I’d like to see. Cuba occupied most of those thoughts and that historic island isn’t that faraway. …

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A Difficult Decision: Saying Goodbye to My Dog Buddy after a Wonderful Ten Years

April 28, 2014 by Judi Curry

Buddy in the pool in better times

By Judi Curry

As a mother, an Office Manager, and a School Principal I have been called on to make some difficult decisions. But no decision has been more difficult that the one I had to make just the other morning. The heartache and grief supersedes anything I have ever had to do.

I have had the most wonderful companion for over 10 years. He was born on my birthday many years after I came into this world. He was always so happy to see me; he always had a smile on his face; he never questioned decisions I made; never argued with me, and made me feel better after having a difficult day. That is why this decision is so hard to make. Of course I am talking about my Golden Retriever.

I’ll never forget the first day we met him at the Golden Retriever rescue in Temecula.

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An Update on Pumbaa the Shar Pei’s Recovery: Still Not Out of the Woods

April 15, 2014 by Judi Curry

Pumbaa getting rehab in the pool

Editor’s Note: Last month Judi Curry wrote about Pumbaa the Shar Pei, who is receiving canine rehab with Judi’s dog Buddy.

By Judi Curry

Daisy took Pumbaa to the ortho-vet in Sorrento Valley. He wants to run some more tests on the doggie, but it is nice to know that he has started eating again, and is again being exercised in the pool.

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Rogue Rooster Joke Is Cruel for All in South Ocean Beach

April 10, 2014 by Judi Curry
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Editor: The Widder Curry asks: “Is OB South going to the birds?” Her original article began well enough but within a few days in her neighborhood, the atmosphere smelled like rotten eggs, with neighbor pitted against neighbor. Help us figure out what is going on in the usual placid southern reaches of Ocean Beach.

by Judi Curry

When I wrote this story a few days ago, I wrote it with “tongue in cheek.” After all, waking up to the calls of a horny rooster is not usual in Pt. Loma. (Hell … it’s been a long time since I have woken up to a “horny” anything!) But what has happened to this story is amazing and very sad. Here is the original story: …

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March Madness Bringing out “The Thinker” in Me

April 1, 2014 by Ernie McCray
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by Ernie McCray

My highlight of the 2014 March Madness Tournament was the Arizona Wildcat win over the San Diego State Aztecs in the Sweet 16. What a great game.

It was, however, a bittersweet win for me because, although I used to play for the U of A and the school is in Tucson, the town in which I made my debut as a homosapien, the Aztecs are my team too as San Diego is the town I came to when I decided that my “running around looking for shade trees” days were through. So my rejoicing after the game was somewhat tame. But I did do a little jig. For about an hour.

But no matter who ended up as the victor it would have been a win-win situation for me in that I absolutely love both teams and SDSU had an opportunity to reach the field of eight teams for the first time. That would have been wonderful for them. But It’s going to happen someday at some time. I like that their coach feels the same way and tells his guys so. Such stated beliefs would be music to an athlete’s ear. It’s how hopes are inspired, especially when the notion is realistic as it is with the boys from Montezuma Mesa.

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Cookie Store Review: “The CraVory” in the Midway

April 1, 2014 by Judi Curry
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“The CraVory”
3960 W. Point Loma Blvd
San Diego, CA 92110
800-591-2571
info@thecravory.com

When cupcake stores began to open up in San Diego, I visited a few of them to see what the offerings were for the day. Some of them were very pretty; some of them were very tasty; some of them unique. But they all had the same thing in common – they were, in my estimation – very expensive.

My handyman – Warren – asked me the other day if I had been to “The CraVory” yet, and when I look puzzled he told me it was a store that sells only cookies. Granted, a variety of cookies, but just cookies. He told me he had tried some, and thought they were good, but, …

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Zen and the Art of Baseball

March 31, 2014 by Jim Miller

IMG_4475By Jim Miller

It’s spring and opening week is here and that makes me very happy. Baseball helps me live. It’s perhaps the best American manifestation of the kind of daily ritual that enables us to achieve a small portion of the balance and harmony we need to provide ballast against the chaos of the world.

Whether it’s playing the game or simply contemplating it, baseball provides one with precisely the kind of focused yet purposeless activity that can take you out to the ballgame and into the heart of the moment.

It’s the stillness at the heart of the game that I love, the empty space out of which motion and grace emerge–the pregnant nothing that gives birth to the artful something. And baseball, like art, is gorgeously useless and inefficiently slow.

Perhaps that slowness is why baseball has given ground to the more brutal, time-driven, managerially efficient game of football. We go from the Taylorized, competitive realm of the corporate world to a gladiatorial weekend on the gridiron that celebrates many of the same values.

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Notes from the Class War: Killing “The Year of the Populist” in the Crib?

March 24, 2014 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

democratic-party-where-are-youRecently, in “Neoliberalism and Its Discontents: What’s Left Beyond More Impoverished Choices?”, I continued my analysis of the national debate that followed the publication of Adolph Reed’s sharp criticism of what qualifies as the “left” in the contemporary American political landscape.

After that column was posted, Reed wrote yet another piece in American Prospect, this time responding to Harold Meyerson’s dismissal of his call for a left less tethered to a Democratic Party increasingly colonized by Wall Street and other corporate interests.

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What Will Happen to Pumbaa, the Shar Pei?

March 24, 2014 by Judi Curry

pumbaa - TrishBy Judi Curry

Sometimes one hears a story that is so sad that you don’t even want to know the details because you know that you are helpless to do anything about it. Sometimes you hear a story that might have a happy ending if only the right set of circumstances happen in the right amount of time. Such is the sad tale of Pumbaa.

Just a little background information: I have a 13 year old Golden Retriever – 91 in adult years – older than me! He has been having severe hip problems in the last year or so and he is having acupuncture once a week and swim therapy twice a week.

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Tucson: My Hometown as a Basketball Town

March 20, 2014 by Ernie McCray

Arizona ScenesBy Ernie McCray

I just finished a nice read, Tucson a Basketball Town. It was written by Arizona hoop legends, Bob Elliott and Eric Money.

They, in a nice informative way, remind Arizona basketball fans that before Lute Olson came along and took the program to somewhat unbelievable heights that there was an era, in the 70’s, their era, that Tucson became a basketball town.

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Restaurant Review: “Espresso Cucina” in Ocean Beach

March 14, 2014 by Judi Curry
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“Espresso Cucina”
1776 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
Ocean Beach, CA 92107
619-224-2227

This restaurant was closed far too long and was missed by many patrons of the area. I am happy to report it has reopened Wednesdays through Mondays.

The restaurant has been cleaned up nicely, and although much the same as the old “Espresso” there are subtle differences in the new surroundings. For one, it looks much cleaner than the old restaurant; it has a little more ambiance than it used to.

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What’s Left: Surrender or Resurgence?

March 3, 2014 by Jim Miller

education01By Jim Miller

Just when you thought the Obama administration’s education policy couldn’t get any worse, it did.

Last week Obama nominated founder and CEO of New Schools, Ted Mitchell, to the second highest post at the Department of Education.

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Restaurant Review: Old Townhouse Restaurant in Ocean Beach

February 27, 2014 by Judi Curry
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Old Townhouse Restaurant
4941 Newport Avenue
Ocean Beach, CA 92107
619-222-1880

It has been years since I had a meal at the “Old Townhouse.” I am not sure why we stopped going there, but I am sure it had nothing to do with the food. I think more restaurants opened in the area and we started going to some of them.

The place, on Sunday, was packed, and there was a line waiting to get in when we left. .

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Is the Drought Over in Ocean Beach?

February 26, 2014 by Judi Curry
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By Judi Curry

So, is the drought over in OB? If you have driven down Sunset Cliffs Boulevard in the past three months you would sure think so. I stopped driving down this street months ago when there was construction going on and I had to take detours.

Guess what? There is still construction going on and the street is like a floating river.

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The “Alvarez Effect” and the Future of San Diego

February 17, 2014 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

Alvarez14DNobody thought this was going to be easy.

Back in July, at the height of the Filner debacle, I predicted a dire outcome, noting that “in a recall or special election in an off year, the electorate is guaranteed to be more conservative and definitely not favorable” for a progressive replacing Bob Filner because, “Faulconer would have a huge fundraising advantage garnering support from all the usual suspects downtown and benefit from an energized base geared up to hand it to the liberals, unions, minorities, and other foul ‘special interest groups’ that they’ll blame for bringing us the evil that was Bob Filner. With the Democrats dispirited, humiliated and divided, it might not even be much of a fight.”

As it turned out, David Alvarez stepped up and offered progressives hope, and the labor movement surprised everyone by actually being able to raise more money than the Faulconer forces. Sadly, on Tuesday, many of us were crying in our beer instead.

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Restaurant Review : “Antique Thai Cuisine” in Point Loma

February 14, 2014 by Judi Curry
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“Antique Thai Cuisine”
3373 Rosecrans St.
San Diego, CA 92110
619-222-0689

I have frequently had lunch at the “Antique Thai Cuisine” restaurant in the Midway section of San Diego. Their lunch specials start at $5.99 and it is easy to have a satisfying lunch for under $8.00.

This evening I had to take one of my students back to the airport so that she could begin her journey back home to Sao Paulo, and my other student – Felizia – and a friend – Warren – wanted to see her off. Since it was dinner time when we began to return home and Felizia saying she really liked Thai food – and since we were on Rosecrans anyway – my car just automatically drove into the Antique Thai parking lot.

The dinner menu is pretty much the same as the lunch menu, but different prices –and a few items that are only available at dinner.

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Olive Garden … or a Quick Satirical Synopsis of a Blind Date

February 11, 2014 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Olive Garden … or a Quick Satirical Synopsis of a Blind Date

Every now and then my name crops up on one or more of the dating sites that I used to belong to and I receive correspondence asking if we can chat, go out for coffee, or… Here is a quick tale from last night:

Brian and I had been corresponding for several weeks; talked a few times on the phone and he asked me to join him for dinner at the “Olive Garden”. Since my student was going out for dinner, I agreed to meet him and asked him what he would be wearing. He told me he would have on a western shirt and Levi’s. We agreed to meet at 6:00pm.

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In the Battle for the Soul of San Diego David Alvarez Stands for All of Us

February 10, 2014 by Jim Miller

1658660_769012429793127_570456494_oBy Jim Miller

San Diego is on the national stage again.

As the final week of the dead heat mayoral showdown unfolded, Politico reported on “the battle for San Diego,” the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters pondered whether the race would be a harbinger of things to come in California politics, and the New York Times covered “a battle of ideology in a city unaccustomed to that sort of election,” astutely noting, as I did here at the San Diego Free Press during the primary, that this contest is “a test of whether yet another big-city Democrat can be elected by riding a wave of populism, much as Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York did last fall.”

And that test is happening because last November David Alvarez defied the pundits and political insiders and beat the prohibitive favorite, Nathan Fletcher, in the race to face Kevin Faulconer in the run-off to be San Diego’s next mayor. This was a seminal moment for San Diego—perhaps the biggest political upset in the history of the city.

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The Women Volunteers of the San Salvador

February 10, 2014 by Judi Curry

Eager volunteers work long hours recreating Cabrillo’s galleon at Spanish Landing

judy2

Editor: We covered the building of the San Salvador by San Diego volunteers back in May of 2012 and posted a photo essay of the wonderful reconstruction of the Spanish galleon. Here, Judi Curry continues our coverage with a special focus on the women volunteers, the Women of the San Salvador.

By Judi Curry

The Maritime Museum of San Diego is building a $5 million replica of San Salvador, the galleon Cabrillo guided here in 1542 when he became the first European to explore what is today known as San Diego Bay. The museum has dedicated a construction site for the ship which was donated by the San Diego Port District on public land at Spanish Landing, 2 miles from where its main collection of historic vessels are docked on North Harbor Drive.

Thirty-five months have passed since the keel was first laid in March of 2011. This three-masted galleon, totaling 88 feet of beautiful wood will weigh 200,000 tons when completed. Plans call for the ship to open as a paid attraction in 2014, when it joins the museum’s other ships at the nearby embarcadero.

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Restaurant Review: The Habit Grill in the Mid-Way

February 6, 2014 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for Restaurant Review:  The Habit Grill in the Mid-Way

The Habit Grill
3455 Sports Arena Blvd., #104
San Diego, CA 92110

Just what the area needed – another hamburger restaurant. My favorite has been “Raglan Public House” ever since it opened, with “Hodad’s” and “In and Out Burger” second and third. Yes, I have tried the other “new” ones in Liberty Station; in Mission and Fashion Valley, but Raglan’s still comes out on top to my palate.

I picked up my granddaughter Molli at school today and rather than take her to my house for dinner until her mother picked her up, I decided a fresh, young palate would help me with my review. We went to “The Habit” because it is new to our area; it is in the Ralph’s/Target shopping center; and is across the road from PetCo – all places I needed to stop at after she was picked up.

From the side that we came into the parking lot from it appeared to be closed, but when I drove around to the front of the building it was open, albeit dark. The first thing I would suggest is better lighting along the side of the restaurant. There is an outside patio, replete with space heaters, but the lighting is still bad.

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Thoughts about the Super Bowl – 2014

February 3, 2014 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for Thoughts about the Super Bowl – 2014

Several years ago, as a new widow, I wrote an article about how lonesome it was to watch the Super Bowl without a companion to discuss it with. I have made it a point from that time on to always be with friends when the biggest game of the season plays. Today was no exception.

As the oldest of my group today, I was interested in the other comments about the commercials and the Half-Time shows. There was quite an age gap between us, and I was curious about their responses. As a group, there was total agreement that the game lacked excitement. Since I was the only one that wanted the Seahawks to win, I found that I had to temper my enthusiasm when the Seahawks scored the safety; when the return man from Seattle ran the ball the length of the football field; when Denver fumbled and the Seahawks recovered – how many times was that? – you get the picture.

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Mayoral Race Polling, Pensions, and Plutocracy

January 27, 2014 by Jim Miller

yo voteBy Jim Miller

Last week a new poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP) funded by the Democratic Party came out that showed the race to become San Diego’s next mayor a dead heat with Alvarez at 46% and Faulconer just behind with 45%.

In another poll, Latino Decisions and the Latino Victory Project appraised Latino voters on the race and got radically different results than both the earlier Survey USA/UT-SD poll, a Republican Party poll , and the more recent PPP effort showing that Alvarez leads 75%-10% among Latino voters.

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Restaurant Review: Embargo Grill

January 22, 2014 by Judi Curry
Thumbnail image for Restaurant Review: Embargo Grill

Embargo Grill
3960 W. Point Loma Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92110
619-786-7522

There are so many new restaurants opening up in San Diego that it is hard to decide which one to try out first. Since I was going to meet a young man to interview in Pt. Loma, the Embargo Grill seemed like a good place to try out.

The restaurant is located in the old “Longs” shopping center on the corner of West Point Loma and Midway Ave., where the Soup Plantation, the Halibut Shop, Denny’s, CVS, etc., are located. I hope that the location is not a bad omen, because the restaurant that used to be in the same location, “BGR” was one that I rated highly – at least the first time I was there. The Embargo Grill is in the same place, and unless I am mistaken, even the furnishings are the same.

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David Alvarez is the Living Embodiment of King’s Dream; Faulconer, Its Antithesis

January 20, 2014 by Jim Miller

mlk basic incomeBy Jim Miller

This year our ritual celebration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. comes in the midst of a contentious mayoral election. And while some might try to bracket this year’s remembrance off from the ugly fray, that would be a mistake. As I noted in an earlier column on this subject, remembering “a sanitized version of King as a vanilla saint who called on us to just move beyond our differences does a disservice to him and his legacy” because “[o]ur collective remembrance of MLK is most useful when it troubles us.”

And King would be deeply troubled to see where we are today nationally and locally. Yes, the man who said, “one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring” would be profoundly disturbed by the fact that we are living in an era of historic economic inequality.

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