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Thursday, January 31, 2013


#1 END OF STORY--West Coaster Magazine’s facebook (1-31-13) sent over the following item from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s beer reporter Steve Body, aka The Pour Fool.  The Pour Fool calls them like he sees ‘em and San Diego gets his vote as America’s top beer town—period. This veteran outtatown beer “beat” reporter actually researched and penned a highly credible list of America’s “real” top beer towns and why.  The Pour Fool makes this blog’s beer writer Holden DeMayo come off as a stay-at-home.

Here’s what that Fool said about San Diego:


“..Number One: San Diego, California

Steve Body, the Pour Fool
with the Seattle Post-
With superstars like AleSmith, Green Flash, Coronado, Port, Lost Abbey, Alpine, Stone, Societe, Ballast Point, Iron Fist, Mike Hess Brewing, the remarkable and venerable Karl Strauss Brewing, and the emerging Automatic BrewingCo., and Rip Current, it’s inarguable that SDCA has more sheer brilliance per square mile than any other American city. Hosting Stone, Port/Lost Abbey, Alpine, and AleSmith alone would have made the SD area Top Dawg but both the numbers and quality seal the deal.  According to the state of CA, the metro area surrounding SD currently has 39 pending brewery licenses. Obviously, quality breeds quality and the future for this SoCal vacation paradise is so bright they have to brew wearing shades. San Diego is simply the best brewing city in America…”

Read the rest of the best on The Pour Fool’s Top Ten List at the following link:

Beer note:  For a PDF preview of West Coaster Magazine’s February issue click:
Trivia question from yesterday:  What other building on 30th Street did Russell Forester design?
Answer: The Union Bank building at 30th & University.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Karl Strauss Brewery Birthday Party Location on Santa Fe Street.    Thanks, Google Maps.

GUEST BLOG--By Melody Daversa--Karl Strauss Brewing Company is celebrating 24 years of pioneering San Diego’s local beer scene with a birthday bash this Saturday.  When the company first opened its doors on February 2, 1989, no one knew if craft beer would take off.  Now, with Karl Strauss helping to lead the charge, San Diego has become internationally recognized as a hotbed for craft beer culture and innovation.  Karl Strauss is celebrating this milestone with its third annual Changing of the Barrels event and the debut of its 24th Anniversary Flanders- style ale.

Changing of the Barrels is an intimate event taking place inside the brewery.  Limited to 100 tickets, guests will be the first to try the 24th Anniversary Flanders-style ale that spent a year in oak barrels.  They will also have the exclusive opportunity to sample the 25th Anniversary Doppelbock before it goes into barrels for the next twelve months.  “We’re looking forward to sharing the Anniversary brew with folks who tried it last year before it went into barrels.  It’s also fun to get a sneak peak at the 25th Anniversary beer.  We think people are going to dig our take on a doppelbock,” says Paul Segura, Brewmaster, Karl Strauss Brewing Company. Admission into the event includes beer for the evening, food by Miho Gastrotruck, live music by Leanna May and the Matadors, and a souvenir tasting glass.

The 24th Anniversary Flanders-style ale is part of the company’s recently expanded barrel-aging program.  “We’ve been experimenting with sour beers for a while and we thought it would be fun to barrel age a bigger version of our Flan-diddly-anders” says Segura.  “The Flanders style is tart enough to make sour fans happy but still accessible enough for people who might not have tried a sour beer before.  It was a fun beer to make.”  The 24th Anniversary Flanders-style ale follows the Flemish tradition of carefully combining both barrel-aged and freshly fermented sour beers to create the ultimate blend.  The result is a complex sour ale with layers of tart cherry, pomegranate, currants and toasted oak. The beer finishes at 7.5% abv and nicely contrasts soft cheeses, grilled meats, and sweet glazes.

For more information on Karl Strauss’ barrel-aged Anniversary series and Changing of the Barrels event, visit  Share it. Cheers.

Who, What, When, Where details:
Date: February 2, 2012
Time: 6 pm-9 pm
Where: Karl Strauss Brewing Company, 5985 Santa Fe Street, San Diego, CA 92109
Ticket Price: $50 per person, tickets online only
What's included: beer for the night, MIHO Gastrotruck food ticket, live music by Leanna May & the Matadors, and a commemorative 24th Anniversary tasting glass. This is also the only chance to try the 25th Anniversary Dopplebock before it goes into barrels for 12 months.

7.5% ABV
25 SRM
15 IBU

The bottle:
When we cut our teeth in the beer biz back in ’89, the thought of wild or spontaneously fermented ales left more than a sour taste in people’s mouths. Twenty-four years later, the mouth-puckering tartness of sour ales is craft beer’s newest obsession – an obsession we’ve been perfecting over the past few years. So, as a tribute to the times, we’ve brewed a Flanders-style Sour Red Ale to commemorate our 24th Anniversary. Keeping with Flemish tradition, our 24th Anniversary Ale is an expertly blended combination of oak barrel-aged and freshly fermented sour red ales. The resulting brew is both tart and complex, boasting layers of cherries, pomegranate, currants and toasted oak. Now show us your sour face! @Karl_Strauss #sourface

About Karl Strauss Brewing Company
Karl Strauss Brewing Company has pioneered the local beer scene since 1989 with innovative beer releases and award-winning favorites like Red Trolley Ale and Tower 10 IPA.  The company took home 23 medals in 2012 and is currently ranked #44 on the list of the country’s top craft breweries with sole distribution in California.  2013 is on pace to be another exciting year of double-digit sales growth, with the brewery opening to the public this spring and a new brewery restaurant slated for summer.  For more information visit or call the brewery at (858) 273-2739.  Share it. Cheers.;

Answer to trivia question posted on yesterday's blog.  The other locally well known architect that designed at project at 30th and Upas Sts. is the late Russell Forester, who had a remarkable career as one of San Diego's leading mid-century commercial and residential architects.  Early in his career Forester designed the first Jack-in-the-Box restaurants.

Trivia question:  What other building on 30th Street did Russell Forester design?   Answer in tomorrow's blog.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Rendering of the new North Parker multi-use project 30th & Upas Streets in Historic North Park
Image by Voit Real Estate Services
UPDATE: March 2014 issue of North Park News has an up-to-the-minute article on the project.  UPDATE May 16, 2014 see attached real estate flyer with pictures of the completed project:

Jonathan Segal, FAIA
Image by Will Gullette

THE NEW NORTH PARKER—Historic North Park, San Diego’s first suburban “city” is better known in architectural circles for its huge inventory of 1915-era Craftsman Bungalows.  But as the community has morphed into an arts/restaurant/retail and craft beer mecca, is it any wonder that the area is now attracting at least one of the city’s leading architectural lights in Jonathan Segal?

Segal is here.  He’s waded through much of the permitting process and is about to start building a commercial/residential lofts project at Upas and 30th Streets.

Called the North Parker, the new multi-use project will house four commercial units and about 25+ lofts on the floors above.  It replaces worn out buildings that once housed an ice house and Whitney’s appliance store up until the 1950s.  Until Jan. 1, 2013, the architectural eyesore over the years has been a mishmash of mostly forgettable businesses.

Demolition occurred in April with completion set for the late fall or early 2014. 

Segal Background.
The following excerpt is from the November, 2012 issue of San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles.  Titled, “The Art of Development,” by Mark Hiss.

The Charmer, a recent Middletown project in San Diego by Jonathan Segal
Image by Matthew Segal
“...When Jonathan Segal arrived in San Diego in the 1980s, fresh out of college in Idaho, he had $350 and a ’68 Rambler.

Today, he is a successful architect/builder who has spearheaded the architect as developer movement.  Specializing in housing and mixed-use projects like the Q in Little Italy (where Bencotto restaurant is housed) and the in-progress Canada Dry in mid-town, Segal, lays claim to having constructed more individual buildings in downtown than any other person in San Diego history.

His firm has been awarded a half-dozen national architecture awards, and his multi-family development, The Charmer**, was named 2012’s project of the year by Residential Architect magazine.  The American Institute of Architects California Council has honored Segal, 50, as 2012’s distinguished architect…”

For more on Jonathan Segal click:
**How Architecture Builds Communities:

Trivia:  When Jonathan Segal completes his North Parker project he will be the second nationally known architect to have a project at that intersection.  Who is the first?

Answer will be posted in tomorrow’s blog (Jan. 30, 2012 posting).

PLEASE NOTE: This blog has received many anonymous comments on the project both pro and con, but Pillar to Post will not publish anonymous comments.  I put my name on all my posts.  If you wish to comment, please include your name with your thoughts.

Photo credit: Projects courtesy of Photographer Matthew Segal; portrait courtesy San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles magazine.  Will Gullette photographer.

Google Maps.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Bud Fischer at the Lafayette Hotel, a historic property he helped to preserve.  North Park News photos by Tom Shess
Editor's note:  Media Monday will return next week.

LED NORTH PARK RENAISSANCE--On January 24, Arnold “Bud” Fischer, 80, one of the important figures in helping North Park emerge from being a blighted neighborhood into one of the hippest neighborhoods in America, succumbed to lung disease.

Bud Fischer was also one of the first developers to invest in historic neighborhoods like North Park and the Gaslamp Quarter, when both areas had seen better days.
Bud Fischer inside the historic Olympic sized pool
at the Lafayette hotel during a 1990s renovation

He was a keen businessman, who had a knack for seeing the big picture.  His real estate deals in the Gaslamp and North Park paved the way for others to jump on board.  He started the fiscal parade toward better days.

In North Park, the community is a success because of two significant projects that he undertook.  Both were historic properties.

Lafayette Hotel.
In the mid-90s, one of Bud’s partnerships purchased the bankrupt Lafayette hotel for $2.125 million in 1995 and invested $2.5 million more in renovations to the historic property.  By February 1999, the refurbished hotel celebrated a grand reopening. 

Today, the hotel (back to being called the Lafayette) is a hotspot for lodging, dining, live jazz venues just like it was after its original grand opening on July 1, 1946.

 North Park Theatre.
Bud Fischer succeeded in his goal to rehabilitate the 1928 North Park Vaudeville Theatre into a commercial success.  In the early 2000’s, he faced more reasons not to support the project than positives.  But, Mr. Fischer saw the big picture.  He knew that if the historic theatre was going to be able to support itself it had to include viable tenants and provide places to park for those coming to theatre events.

By the time Bud Fischer affixed his name to the rebirth of the theatre he had built a solid reputation with City Hall that he walked the walk.  City Hall and others dealing with Bud Fischer, like downtown businessman Dana Blasi, praised him for his honesty and loyalty.  Bud got things done.

But, when things got iffy with regards to getting City and community support for his vision for the reborn theatre, he put his cards and reputation on the line.  He knew if the theatre and the entire North Park business sector were going to thrive it had to have a ton of parking.  A headline in the June 2002 issue of North Park News was very telling: “No Garage; No Live Theater.”

North Park News reporter Terrance Burke penned, “Before the curtain rises on a refurbished North Park Theatre, so must a parking garage.  The show won’t go on without one, in the view of Bud Fischer of Trilogy Real Estate, whose theatre redevelopment proposal was approved was approved by the San Diego City Council in April (2002). ‘If they (the City) will build a garage, you will have a live theatre.  No garage; no live theater.’”

In October, 2005, the theatre and the garage opened for business.  It is no coincidence that the retail and residential rebirth of North Park went into high gear after that.

Today, there is a plaque on the wall of the theatre’s 29th Street entrance near the box office, which thanks Bud and Esther Fischer for their vision.  If you turn around from that plaque you will see a very large parking garage.

That parking garage is one of the huge selling factors that retailers took into consideration before investing in North Park locations.
All those cool businesses that now occupy North Park were made possible because a new generation of business types jumped on the bandwagon.  They got the big picture that Bud Fischer drew for them.  Bottom line: North Park is the hippest neighborhood in America because of the skill and vision of one of San Diego’s keenest businessmen.
This week, as we sit enjoying a dinner at West Coast Tavern, located in the North Park Theatre, let’s lift a craft beer and toast: “To Mr. Bud Fischer and to the City of San Diego and North Park’s community leadership for listening to the man.”

And, on a personal note: one more testament to Bud Fischer’s loyalty and honesty was the fact he was married to Esther for 60 years. You’ll be missed, and just as important: thank you, thank you!

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Plein air mural by San Diego icon Charles Reiffel.  Titled "Point Loma." It was commissioned by the federal WPA circa 1937.  It is now located in San Diego's Casa de Balboa.
EN PLEIN AIR—North Park residents living in historic bungalows understand that the painting style that was prevalent at the time their 100 year old craftsman homes were being built was called plein air or the plein air movement.  

Jean Stern
Jean Stern, executive director of The Irvine Museum and a renowned authority on Californian Impressionism, presented an art talk titled “The California Impressionist Style” on Sunday, January 27 at Art Expressions Gallery, 2645 Financial Ct  San Diego, CA 92117.

Mr. Stern’s illustrated lecture examined the principal painters of art in California between 1890 and 1925. The $20 admission fee is a donation to ArtsBusXpress, a nonprofit that underwrites bus transportation to field trips for local students.

Plein Air Defined.
Here’s a definition from PBS’ “Painting the American Landscape.”

Plein Air (French for "open air") painting became popular in the early nineteenth century in both Europe and America when paint manufacturers made a wide range of pre-mixed oil pigments available for the first time, and the easily transportable box easel, or pochade (quick sketch) box, was developed. Artists could finally take their work into the field with ease—the artist could, as Monet wrote, "...paint the air in which are situated the bridge, the home, the boat."

These artists paint natural light, using color to define form. Plein Air artists generally paint "ala prima," laying down a scene with quick broad, colorful brush strokes, foregoing the typical 'building up' of paint. Depending on the light and weather, Plein Air paintings are generally done in one session. Artists often add final touches to their work once back in the studio.

Plein Air painters are drawn to places with a certain quality of light. From Alaska to Cape Cod, we will see the light and landscapes that draw today's artists and those who came before them.

Top of the Tank is an occasional series on life in historic North Park, one of the nation's most diverse and architecturally significant neighborhoods with special emphasis on the Arts & Crafts Era (1890-1920).

Saturday, January 26, 2013



RAINY NIGHT TOUR DE FUN—It's raining in San Diego.  Crowds will be down, plus a pal or favorite relative just rolled into town unannounced and wants you to take her on a tour of North Park’s best craft beer centric places.  Before you let her  or him guess at the best step up to the plate and go with the following.  And, remember the dry umbrellas probably were left behind weeks ago.

This isn’t meant to be a "best of" the planet bar hop.  All are winners here.  It is what it is, a guide to newbies coming into North Park, who take craft beer suggestions politely. 

There are popular Bud Light bars aplenty in North Park, but if they’re not big on craft beer then they don’t make this list.  Like I said for a quick craft beer tour you won’t go wrong with the following:

Craft Beer Baedeker (w/food too)
Toronado, 4026 30th Street.
Why: 56 rotating, quality, drafts and a cask or two on the beer engines

The Linkery, 3794 30th Street
Why: Big craft beer selection and an award winning menu that’s unlike any in West.

El Take It Easy, 3926 30th Street
Why: This is a space for everyone to enjoy handcrafted food & drinks from both sides of the border.

Tiger!Tiger! Tavern, 3025 El Cajon Blvd.
Why: Already listed on America’s 100 Best Beer Bars. 

Ritual Tavern, 4095 30th Street
Why:  Quaint tavern—old style—they know food and craft beer.  Nice place to start a date night.

Live Wire Bar, 2103 El Cajon Blvd.
Why:  Because it’s here.  One of the classic saloons of all time in San Diego.  If you want scenery go to the Waterfront Bar, downtown.   

Honorable Mention:
Sea Rocket Bistro, 3383 30th Street
Why:  Neighborhood.  Food and Craft Beer share the spotlight.

Genuine Brew Pubs:
For a real on the premises brew pub you’ll have to leave North Park and head to:
Blind Lady Ale House, 3416 Adams Avenue
Hillcrest Brewing Co., 1458 University Avenue

Friday, January 25, 2013


EXPLOSION OF CHOICES—Our part of town is in the midst of a huge expansion of NEW foodie/coffee/liquid establishments. The thought of putting together a bucket list of places I haven’t been seems odd.  But, as a life long editor my professional credo has been what I don’t know is news. 

I know, I know for many of you professional hipsters I’m a day late and a dollar short, but who cares?  All this news and notes chatter is good news for North Park.  So many new places to go.  See you there—By @HoldenDeMayo.

Coffee Houses
Dark Horse Coffee Roasters, 3260 Adams Ave., 7 am til 4 pm.  In the heart of Abnormal Heights.

Subterreanean Coffee, 3764 30th.  Calls itself a coffee boutique, but on Yelp it says it has tea and sandwiches.  Dying to try “Dirty Chai” on their menu.  Another Yelper says of this intimate café house: “simplicity really is the ultimate sophistication.”  OK, book me a seat.

Swoon, 3139 University Ave.   28th St. neighbor Lynn Susholtz of Art Produce just announced she will share her gallery space with soon to be Swoon Dessert Bar, a venture with chef Ian Smith and others.  She’s doing a good job of marketing because I’ve read this item on every foodie blog.  Opens Feb. 9.

Eclipse Chocolat (see rumors below).

San Diego Soup Shoppe, 2850 El Cajon, Blvd. at Utah.  Used to be Bit O’ Sweden restaurant back in the day.  Day dining only. They boast dine in or carry out Tues thru Sat. 11 am to 6 pm and Sun. 11 am 4 pm.  I am also ready for one of their Panini sandwiches.  I will compare with Café Madeleine’s (Juniper & 30th) panini’s and report back.

Heat Bar and Kitchen, 3797 Park Blvd., on the North Park side of Diversity Heights.  Noted chef Chris Walsh opened this place in December at what used to be the Urban Grind.  Folks seem to like the innovative menu and the sophisticated décor.  Let’s see how the parking challenge for that part of the hood is like.

Late Scratch off this List.

Old-Fashioned Diner
Lil B’s Restaurant/Urban Eatery, 2611 El Cajon Blvd., a mid-century décor diner, with excellent portions of comfort food.  Perfect for those chilly days in San Diego. Just dined there and had the pot roast. Used to be Johnny’s. I’m going back.  Décor is 50s and fun.  From the folks that owned Brian’s American Eatery on Washington & Cleveland. 

Side dishes:
Entrepreneur alert! Coco’s at El Cajon and Oregon is shut down.  Is a great terrific pub location with plenty of off-street parking.

Rumor city: Somebody squelch this rumor:  Heard from decent realty source that the landlords of the now empty/former Glenns Market location at Utah and University will not entertain the ground floor (big) site for a restaurant.  Hope this isn’t true because that corner is crying for a bright, busy, brew-pub or all-night diner.

Rumor #2: Eclipse Chocolat is rumored to be heading to a new South Park location.  Yep.  Website says Feb. 2 opening at 2145 Fern Street.  That’s a block south of the Station Tavern, a great burger and beer place (wonderful restaurant design by Lloyd Russell).  So Eclipse can be the dessert stop for that thriving area around 30th

Thursday, January 24, 2013


For a 2015 update on this article see end of blog below and/or go to
Pillar to Post posting of June 21, 2015.
Images of Sloppy Joe's Bar, Havana Cuba courtesy of

RECALLING SLOPPY JOE’S SALOON—During my career as an erstwhile travel writer, I’ve always managed to wander in historic saloons that crossed my path.  Places like Harry’s Bar in Paris and Venice; Perry’s in San Francisco; Raffles Hotel lobby bar in Singapore; P.J. Clarke’s in NYC and Harry Caray’s in Chicago to only name a few.  My bucket list isn’t important because the bar has to find me.

Here’s the latest one that found me.  I was checking for a recipe for pot roast when my search stumbled upon a recipe for a Sloppy Joe sandwich.  On the next Google search line was a link to Sloppy Joe’s legendary bar in the old town section of Havana, Cuba.

Of course, I had to check the bar…thanks to the Internet.

To get you in the mood for Havana, check out the following link of a 1930s travelogue:

What I hope you just viewed was filmed by a cruise line aimed at the American tourists (probably made just before the Wall Street crash of Oct. 1929). The film is remarkable in that it isn’t staccato viewing.  It shows folks walking around at normal pace as if it were filmed yesterday.   The scene inside the unnamed restaurant is actually Sloppy Joe’s place.

Ernest Hemingway visited the set of "Our Man in Havana,"
a 1959 film starring Alec Guinness (center) with Noel Coward.
Sloppy Joe’s was popular with tourists, especially the film stars of the 1930s.  Ernest Hemingway was there during the filming of the flick “Our Man in Havana.”   Scenes from that movie were filmed in Sloppy Joe’s.

WGN’s Julian Crews in Chicago says the famous watering hole is said to be the first to offer ground beef on a bun, beginning in the 1920's.  “If nothing else, the hearty offering helped rum-soaked patrons absorb buckets of Cuban Mojito's.  Many believe the cooks served up a spicy, seasoned version of ground beef that's long been a favorite Cuban dish , known as Picadillo,” says Crews.     

Basically, the sandwich was named for Sloppy Joe’s place.  Errol Flynn and Mr. Hemingway invented drinks at the bar on the corner of Zulueta and Animas Sts.

Actor Alec Guinness on set of "Our Man in Havana,"
filmed at Sloppy Joe's in 1958.  The movie is a black
spy comedy based on a Graham Greene novel.
From a limited edition of “Sloppy Joe’s Bar Cocktails Manual,” we found a history of the white tablecloth restaurant (with famous bar attached).  Sloppy Joe’s opened in Havana just as Prohibition banned bars in the U.S.  With the help of Valentin Garcia, Jose Abeal (other histories call him Jose Garcia) bought a small grocery store and turned it into what would become Sloppy Joe’s.  What’s a legendary bar without a legend?  Story is an American tourist came up with the name by asking the waiter “…this place is certainly sloppy, look at the filthy water running from under the counter.”  From then on, the name Sloppy Joe stuck.  And, one hopes fixed the leak.

During the 20s, Havana was Sloppy Joe’s.  Tourists headed straight from cruise ships to Joe’s, then right back.  Joe himself had been turned into a legendary figure by the journalists who made his place their second home.  Among the world's greats who dropped by for a sip were the Duke of Windsor, Jean-Paul Sartre, Errol Flynn, Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, and Greta Garbo. 

Sloppy Joe’s adopted Ernest Hemingway after he adopted Cuba, where the expatriate novelist lived for more than two decades.

The Sloppy Joe’s served in American school cafeterias and diners came from imitation Sloppy Joe’s that popped up in the U.S. after the original Havana one opened.   When Prohibition ended in 1933, a fellow by the name of Joe Russell opened a bar in Key West, Florida, called the Blind Pig, located in a rundown building that he leased for three dollars a week, selling 15-cent whiskeys and ten-cent shots of gin. After the addition of a dance floor, the name was changed to the Silver Slipper.  It was Hemingway with his connection to both Havana and Key West who suggested that Russell change the name of his bar, one of Papa’s favorite stateside watering holes, to Sloppy Joe's, borrowing on the fame of the Cuban original.

My contacts in Havana are long gone—executed for non-payment of a bar tab-- (nevermind that’s just not true). Sloppy Joe’s demise is reported one of two ways:
It was shut down in 1959 after the success of the Cuban revolution.  And, version two that a fire destroyed it in 1960 and it was never rebuilt.  Have you noticed absolutist regimes have precious little sense of humor or saloon history?

2011 image of the building that once housed Sloppy Joe's.
Anyway, there is word that the Cubans are almost finished rehabbing the old Sloppy Joe’s building into a new Sloppy Joe with a hotel upstairs.  It should be open soon.  Or maybe not.

Anyone traveling there that has images of the new Sloppy Joe’s in Havana get in touch with me at San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles magazine and I’ll update this post.

Images: Courtesy of

For more here is another excellent site:

BUCKET LIST UPDATE: Thanks to a Gate One Travel junket in late April, 2015, my wife, Phyllis and son, Michael went to Cuba for an amazing 9 days.  During the trip, while Phyllis explored the shops, Mike and I went to Sloppy Joe's via a 1950s Ford convertible with a Russian engine. Alas, it rained so we arrived with the top down.  But as dear old dad used to say it doesn't rain inside a good pub.  We had sandwiches and drinks inside Sloppy Joe's.
Lucky man to be able to be there with a son.

Outside Sloppy Joe's in Havana, April 2015
Inside Sloppy Joe's Bar, April 2015
Photography: Michael Shess, publisher craft beer magazine

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


WOW MOMENT--Alicia Olatuja is her name.  She’s the 30-year-old soloist, who along with the Brooklyn (NY) Tabernacle Choir, sang the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and by doing so brought the first “wow” musical moment to the President’s Inauguration ceremony and a tear to Mr. Obama's eye.  

The New York Daily News reported the St. Louis born singer is a 2005 graduate of the music school at the University of Missouri.  She has performed at Joe’s Pub in New York to Carnegie Hall.  She also plays in an Afro-jazz band called The Olatuja Project with her husband Michael.  But not one gig has brought her the thundering national acclaim than that five-minute performance she and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir performed at our nation’s Capitol.

Alicia Olatuja and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir rocked the house.   Has there been a better sung rendition of Julia Ward Howe’s 1861 masterpiece?  If so, it will most likely be performed some time in the future.  Until then we have the BTC and Alicia Olatuja.

For the best quality rendition of Alicia’s solo go to C-span’s total inauguration coverage.  The Battle Hymn begins at the 20 minute mark.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Today, Richard Blanco became the fifth poet to read at the inauguration of a United States president.  Earlier this week, this blog posted a brief bio of Poet Blanco, including a snippet of one of his earlier poems

Blanco, the first Latino, openly gay and youngest poet to receive the honor, wrote "One Today," for the occasion.

ONE TODAY By Richard Blanco

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning's mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
Richard Blanco
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the "I have a dream" we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won't explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches 2
as mothers watch children slide into the day.

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father's cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day's gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling, or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open for each other all day, saying: hello

shalom, buon giorno


namaste or buenos días

in the language my mother taught me—in every language

spoken into one wind carrying our lives

without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound 3
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn't give what you wanted.

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together.

For a video version of the Inauguration poem link to the following:

Monday, January 21, 2013


THE BIG POWER LIST—Thirty-one years ago, I pitched San Diego Magazine, a freelance idea that became a powerbroker list called “82 to Watch in 1982.”  Later editors at SDMag changed the name of the annual list to “50 to Watch.”  Such lists are staples of city magazine features and as ex-editor in chief of San Francisco Magazine, SD Home/Garden Lifestyles, PSA Magazine and, Exec. Editor of San Diego Magazine, I have a lot of experience.  The other day I saw an opportunity to come up with another new list.  This time—just for fun.

Voice of San Diego newsblog recently surmised there are 20 or so power brokers in San Diego, who have a tremendous influence on how this city is run.  VOSD brought up the subject but didn’t give us a list.
No one asked us, but after going through a Rolodex’s worth of contacts here is Pillar to Post’s “Big List of San Diego Powerbrokers” (including lieutenants if appropriate):

--Bob Filner, Mayor, Point: Vince Hall
--Todd Gloria, President/City Council
--Susan Davis, Congresswoman, Old Guard, Democrat
--Scott Peters, Congressman, New Guard, Democrat
--Duncan Hunter, Congressman, Old Guard Republican, 2nd generation
--Christine Kehoe, State Senator
--Toni Atkins, Assemblywoman
--Bonnie Dumanis, District Attorney

--Gary Gallegos, SANDAG
--John Lee Evans, SD Unified School, Point: Scott Barnett
--Ann Moore, Port Commissioner

--Malin Burnham, real estate, philanthropist,
--Ron Fowler, beverage industry, San Diego Padres
--Robert Payne, hotels,
--Bill Evans, hotels, 2nd generation
--Jack Goodall, restaurants
--Tom Sudberry, real estate
--Michael McKinnon, Sr., media

--Laura Duffy, US Attorney, Law enforcement
--Robert Caplan, Real Property Law
--Jerry Sanders because he’s Jerry Sanders
--Keith Jones, parking facilities, 2nd generation
--Carol Wallace, SD Convention Center, Points: Phil Blair and Nikki Clay.
--Michael Niggli, Chair, SD Regional Chamber of Commerce (Sempra); Point: Vince                         Mudd, businessman
--Jesse Knight, Sempra: Point: Mitch Mitchell

--Irwin Jacobs, Qualcomm, Philanthropist
--Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm, 2nd Generation Clout. Point: Nathan Fletcher
--Linden Blue, General Dynamics

--Nick Ferraro, Labor, SD Convention Center
--Lorena Gonzalez, Labor

Douglas Manchester, media—Point: John Lynch

--Carl DaMaio, Between jobs.
--Steve Cushman, former Port Commissioner

LAT's David Zucchino
As world eyes focused on the horror in Mali, it reminds of how dangerous being a war reporter can be.  Not often mentioned (until a University of North Carolina journalism forum** attended by Pulitzer Prize winning foreign correspondents Chris Hedges and David Zucchino) is how war zone reporting often becomes a personal addiction.  Both Hedges and Zucchino nodded in agreement that they were hooked.  As we post this word is French journalist Yves Debay was killed on the job in Syria.

Last week a fascinating example of war coverage was published on page one of the LA Times.  It’s a story by LAT’s David Zucchino about an Afghan warlord who is paid handsomely to keep the Taliban at bay.  Zucchino’s report from Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan is riveting.  Titled “America’s chief ally”  [LA Times, Jan. 13, 2012], the posting is at the following link:,0,2256973.story

Images for Zucchino’s story were taken by LAT’s Carolyn Cole.  Cole discusses her career on a YouTube post:
LAT's Carolyn Cole
She won a Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for her coverage 2004, for her coverage of the siege of Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.

Zucchino won a Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for a series titled "Being Black in South Africa" and is a four-time Pulitzer finalist, most recently for his reporting from Iraq in 2003. His books include The Myth of the Welfare Queen (1997) and Thunder Run: The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad (2004).

Jan Percival
Jan Percival, a former president of the SD Press Club, landed tickets to the Inauguration of President Barack Obama.  She’s been in DC since Friday taking in the classy media museum aptly called Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, near the Capital steps.  Jan, one of San Diego’s hardest working PR types, is sharing images of her adventure as we speak here and on facebook.

Our town’s prolific corresponded Jamie Reno has posted on his blog a very moving piece regarding his special relationship with the ‘Nam era US. Marines, who were the last to leave Saigon. His world exclusive can be linked at:

Dean Calbreath, who distinguished himself as a first rate newsman in San Diego is now on staff of the 127-year-old San Diego Daily Transcript.  Dean was with the Union-Tribune from 1997 to 2012.  Recent Calbreath story was on the delays at City Hall regarding finalizing an ambulance contract.

Mayor Bob Filner headlines the SD Press Club’s first of the year Newsmakers 2013 breakfast, 7:30 am Jan. 31, at the downtown campus of the New School of Architecture and Design, 1249 F Street, reports event chair Roger Showley (UT San Diego).
Moderated by Gene Cubbison of NBC7, the tab is $10 for SD Press Club members and students and $15 for others.  RSVP a must: or 619-231-4340.

The San Diego Business Journal has named Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, as its 2012 most admired CEO.  The craft beer guru was picked by the newspaper for its annual feature from among 106 finalists.