Tuesday, August 14, 2018

San Diego

Before this trip to San Diego, I had only been to California (and a remote part at that) for a few hours. We swung by the Ghost Town of Amargosa and Death Valley back in January of this year while on a trip to Vegas, but didn't catch any of the State's large cities, palm tries, beaches, or other things found in Red Hot Chili Peppers' songs. An opportunity to visit a friend offered a glimpse of that. I enjoyed San Diego, but didn't come away with the same appreciation or longing that I found in Boston last year. Even though we were there during a heat wave (that was akin to most Midwestern summer days) and never experienced the city's renown weather, the food was great and the time was well spent. It was a good chance to explore someplace new and I appreciated the sounds of the airport, the vast amount of tags and stickers on street signs, and the sprawling skyline. The highlight of the trip, though, was probably when we stepped into Tijuana, Mexico. More on that later.

In the meantime, here's some photographs from San Diego that are completely absent of references from sophomoric Will Ferrell films or that jingle from South Park.

- Passing over the San Diego-Coronado Bridge on an Old Town Trolley (or, rather, a bus that's stylized to look like a trolley) Tour.

- Decaying payphone. 

Unlike a recent trip to Hawaii, there will be no "Payphones of San Diego" post.

- Customer making a party reservation at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.

"Oh, you're from Cincinnati? Ever been to EnterTRAINment Junction?"

Why, yes, we have.

At least the proprietor of the model railroad museum knew of our city for something else other than chili on spaghetti and pizza with sweet sauce (not that chili on spaghetti is ever wrong).

- Presumably, an original Shepard Fairy "Obey Giant" as seen while on a trolley (bus) tour.

- (L to R to BOTTOM) A Mr. Bungle stamp on an "Obey Giant," some street art, and restaurant wall art.

- "Don't Believe The Hype" by Os Gemeos.

- Condo Tower.

- Skyline and railyard.

- Water controls and vegetation remains outside of the San Diego Concourse/Golden Hall.

San Diego's original basketball team were the San Diego Rockets of the National Basketball Association who played in a then new arena just outside of Downtown. The expansion franchise whisked away Jack McMahon of the Cincinnati Royals to fill the role of coach. With poor attendance and results, the team relocated to Houston.

San Diego's older and classic Downtown arena, known as the Concourse/Golden Hall, then became home to the San Diego Conquistadors of the American Basketball Association. They were renamed "The Sails" at the last minute, but folded mid season just before the ABA merged with the NBA. San Diego received the relocated Buffalo Braves in 1978 who renamed themselves the San Diego Clippers. The name "Clippers" was chosen because of the city's reputation for sailing. Despite relocating to Los Angeles in 1984, the team kept the name.

The Cincinnati Royals of the NBA had relocated to Kansas City/Omaha in 1972 (where they changed their name to the "Kings" to avoid confusion with the baseball team). Cincinnati almost scored a relocated Miami ABA franchise (and even hosted the Kentucky Colonels a few times for exhibition games) in the early 70s, but ultimately never became home to an ABA team or another NBA team after The Royals hit the road. As far as I can tell, San Diego and Cincinnati never faced off in "roundball" until 1999 when the International Basketball League launched.

The IBL was a renegade league that tried to capitalize on the late 90s Michael Jordan/Space Jam hoops craze by placing teams in major markets with reasonable arenas and no NBA presence. The Cincinnati Stuff and the San Diego Stingrays were both charter members. The San Diego team boasted a celebrity signing in hip hop artist Master P (who was also active in World Championship Wrestling that same year (what a time to be alive as a ten year old)). Apparently, he played with the Stingrays when they visited Cincinnati. I can't find what the result was (or if P actually played in that game) because The Enquirer has the archived article behind a paywall (and I'm not spending the money to be disappointed in an answer I don't want).

Look, anyways, if you didn't get anything from this post, at least you got some random basketball history that I dug up while sitting in the airport.

You're welcome.

- Decorated trash can and cigarette disposal in the Little Italy neighborhood.

- Post Secret exhibit a the San Diego Museum of Man in Balboa Park.

The San Diego Museum of Man is excellent and the exhibit on Frank Warren's Post Secret Project brought me back to high school art class circa 2005. On one hand, the anonymous secrets mailed in on postcards can be a source of comfort and reliability, on the other, I'm not sure how I feel about this project that was incredibly popular over a decade ago. The postcards can be heartwarming or gut wrenching and while the exhibit is tastefully done, the entire project isn't without controversy. Nevertheless, the museum's exhibits on the history of pets is a little more lighthearted and uplifting.

Despite my skepticism and hesitation, the two-hour "hop on/off" bus tour around the city (known as the Old Town Trolley Tour) was actually a great way to see a lot in a little amount of time. San Diego also features a full fledged, modern light rail network also known as "The Trolley." We didn't ride it for very long, but the system was easy to navigate and cuts right through Downtown and several popular destinations. Vehicles are similar, if not slightly larger, than Cincinnati's Streetcar and the network far more robust.

- Sails of The Star of India docked on the waterfront.

- The Japanese inspired Cloak and Petal in the city's Little Italy neighborhood.

- View from Union St.

- Sunset Cliffs

- Spruce Street Suspension Bridge.

The Bankers Hill neighborhood features a suspension bridge exclusively for pedestrians over a 70 ft. canyon. It closes at 10 p.m. and reopens at 6 a.m., but is an incredibly unique urban feature.

- The Patio on Goldfinch.

So many restaurants and bars in San Diego seem to have beautifully designed spaces (as far as I, someone who's not a designer, is concerned). The Patio on Goldfinch with its vegetation, wooden walls, and vintage fans, was one of my favorites.

- Harper's Topiary Garden.

- Meshuggah Shack.

Messugah Shack was a coffee place we stopped by one morning. Nestled on the corner of a parking lot, it features outdoor seating in the lot's other corner. If you're going to have surface parking in a dense urban neighborhood, this is the way to do it.

- La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove was seemingly a vacation spot like every other from Michigan to Florida to Hawaii, except it has seals you can take selfies with. We preferred our time spent in Tijuana later in the day. More on that in another post.

Thanks Kevin, for the hospitality and thanks, Laura for the impetus to visit California for the first time.

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