Wednesday, January 25, 2006

San Diego Getaway

I went to college in San Diego (SDSU class of '85), so it's always a treat to spend a weekend there. I only live about an hour and a half away which is the perfect distance for a quick getaway, but it seems like I never visit often enough. This is the view from the gateway to the Gaslamp Quarter, looking north, right in front of the Convention Center. The second shot was actually taken only a few steps earlier. Oncoming trains always scare the holy bejesus out of me.

I can remember very specifically the last time I was in this section of San Diego. It was for Street Scene 2001, which happened to be the weekend before 9/11. I remember very vividly that the 9th was a Sunday not because I recall that 9/11 was a Tuesday, but because it was my brother's birthday and a group of us had Sunday brunch in Pacific Beach. We went to Street Scene Saturday night, and I had a bizarre kind of premonition. In those days, they closed down blocks and blocks of the downtown area and placed stages on various streets where different styles of bands would play. It's very chaotic with thousands of people going in every direction and debris flying everywhere. At one point I stood amidst the pandemonium and had a very cold and frightened feeling, like this is what the end of the world would look like. Little did I know what was in store for NYC three short days later.

Of the bands playing Street Scene that night, I saw Berlin and 311. Berlin played on a stage that was surrounded by urban dwellings, not unlike this building. I was very close to the front of the stage, and I alternated between watching the band and watching the residents observing the band from their homes. One unit had a cat who seemed very interested in Berlin's show. I think the cat was riding on the metro.

Back to the trip this weekend. I lunched at this newish Italian place, Acqua Al 2. I guess Acqua Al 1 is in Firenze (Florence). The reason I shot this picture is because the embossing technique on this sign inside the restaurant is one you rarely see, but oddly enough, it is one in which I have been trained. It's called "repujado," and it is an old Mexican craft that has damn near been lost through the ages. I studied it from an amazing Mexican art teacher in an old abandoned church in East L.A. where I was the sole English-only-speaking student. Most Americans think of embossing as repousse, which is French for the same. Repujado differs not so much in technique as it does in style. You can scroll through an amazing repujado gallery here.

I stayed here at the Marriott Gaslamp. It was the old Clarion hotel and has been completely renovated in just the last couple years. It's an amazing transformation. It's totally stylish and modern now. Check out the junior suite. There was some terrible (for them) mix-up, and we got the junior suite for whatever the normal room rate was. This is Altitude Skybar on the top of the Marriott with a view of Petco Baseball Park, the Convention Center, Coronado Island, the bay, etc. It was totally happening. I also dined downstairs at Soleil where, after dinner and desert, they bring to your table a cone of cotton candy, I shit you not. Loved the lucite ceiling fans. Loved all the glass in the lobby. The whole weekend was a feast for the eyes.


At Thursday, January 26, 2006 8:09:00 AM, Blogger GetFlix said...

I have never been to San Diego, although I hear it is a really nice city with perfect weather. You pictures really confirm this.

It's amazing we live in a country with so many climate zones.

At Thursday, January 26, 2006 1:00:00 PM, Blogger brent said...

Everything looks so clean, shiny and bright - the opposite of here.

And cotton candy? Now that's just too much.

At Thursday, January 26, 2006 8:59:00 PM, Blogger PixieGaf said...

I've been to Oceanside, San Diego a few times and I must say it is beautiful out there. Especially the Ocean, it was glowing! Thanks to bioluminescence the ocean was a beautiful shade of neon blue all night long. That was truly a sight I will never forget

At Thursday, January 26, 2006 10:05:00 PM, Blogger LA said...

Getflix - My mind has always tried to grasp how it could be raining in one town and perfectly dry in the next. I'm always trying to imagine the demarcation point. Silly, I know.

I'm sorry to burst the myth about San Diego's perfect weather, but I must. Believe me, no one was more disappointed than me to make this discovery because the "perfect weather" was part of the draw in going to college there. But alas, the weather in SD is EXACTLY the same as it is in LA with the same extremes, "extreme" being a relative word, of course. Summer in So Cal doesn't really get started until August. Our warmest months are August and September, and often, half of October is pretty beastly.

Brent - There isn't much old in California with the exception of the California Missions. San Diego has totaly re-invented itself in the last ten years, so it's especially new-looking. The cotton candy was hysterical.

Pix - Indeed, the ocean is gorgeous along Oceanside. One of my oldest friends lives there.


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