Sunday, May 19, 2013

You Can Go Home Again, Kind Of, Sort Of...

Lately, I've had the very interesting experience of spending some time in my hometown, after more than 25 years away.

When it comes to hometowns, I'm luckier than most. I was born and raised in San Diego, California. It's the sort of place where people come to vacation. Growing up, it seemed pretty normal to me. It took me years to realize that the rest of the United States wasn't like California.

The city has changed quite a lot in recent years. It's a lot more interesting, overall—more liberal, more cultural, more cosmopolitan. When I was a kid, San Diego seemed to be in a massive civic denial that it was on the border of another country--basically the attitude was, "Let's pretend we're Iowa, except with better weather by an ocean!" I have the sense that, overall, there's more acceptance and embrace of this being in part a Mexican city, inextricably bound to Tijuana across the border and to Mexico as a whole.  It's possible this is me being a utopian optimist, but I hope I'm right.

I've been exploring the neighborhood where I lived when I was in high school, where my parents still live. It's...interesting. As you head south, it's a pretty spread out, designed more for cars than for people, with a broad street paralleling the freeway called Morena Blvd.

A lot of nuts and bolts sort of businesses, building supply stores, paint, tile, woodwork.  I took a walk, and took a few photos.. This was the first place that caught my eye, in a "really, WTF is this?" kind of way:

"Not in association with Local 325"

These are the kinds of businesses you find along the way: 

But there are some interesting things going on in some of these formerly industrial spaces...

Not sure what was going on here, but it looked interesting

This was totally cool

There were a number of "hard-core," "Old-school" gyms, including a Russian kettle-ball academy:

And, I guess it wouldn't be America if there weren't one of these:

One of the most interesting things that's happened in San Diego is that the city has become a center of craft brewing in the United States. Like, one of the top three cities in the country. Throw a baseball, hit a microbrewery, including some larger scale operations like Stone Brewing, Ballast Point, Coronado Brewing Company and Green Flash that have become nationally known and that have won a bunch of awards. There happen to be two brewery/tasting rooms in this neighborhood, just a short walk from each other: Ballast Point's Home Brewing Center, and Coronado Brewing's Company's brewery and tasting room.

Oh, man. If you like good beer at all, this is pretty much heaven. San Diego brewers do a lot of interesting, off-beat and downright delicious beers. One consequence of this is that you have to work pretty hard to go to a San Diego restaurant or venue that does not have delicious, fresh, local beer available.
Also in the neighborhood -- awesome bar specializing in Ballast Point brews

Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, is a veritable craft beer Mecca:

Also, you can get Filippi's by the slice. Baseball, Filippi's, great craft beer...Heaven! 

It's amazing how many people here take beer very seriously. At the baseball game, I had a couple discussions about Sculpin IPA (available on draft!). People are into this. 

And what's interesting is that as the craft beer scene has grown and developed, the whole localvore/food scene has as well. I mean, there's an honest-to-gawd gastropub on Morena Blvd: 


Which really makes a lot of sense to me. You see people making all this wonderful craft beer, and it's not very much of a step to start appreciating food more as well, maybe even to get local with with it. Maybe think more about the quality of what you're eating, and where it comes from, how it's produced. What that all means. Maybe you start questioning whether it's such a good idea to eat mass-produced meat dosed with antibiotics and chemicals, pesticide-ladened vegetables, processed food full of sugar and GMOs. And how that has the potential to lead to all kinds of really interesting movements with political ramifications. 

In other words, good beer will save the world!

Lisa -- Sunday...


  1. You San Diego temptress you! You have me hopping a manner of speaking. I'd just adopted a new way of living for the summer on Mykonos; one designed to encourage sober writing, and then came your post.

    During the season here there are only two ways to survive: stay lightly pickled all the time...facing offerings of ouzo, tsipuro, wine, and beer from morning until morning...or stick to a no booze regime. And after thirty years I decided to try curtain #NO. Then came your post. Hmmm, what do you think, Lisa, do they do non-alcoholic beers, too?

  2. Jeff, I haven't seen non-alcoholic beers but there must be some. Though all the ones I've ever had taste like old sweat socks. Someone must make a good one, somewhere. Right?

    1. I feel like Diogenes wandering around with a keg tapper looking for an honest brew. The closest I've found over here worth the experience of opening the bottle is something called Buckler. But I ain't writing home about it, certainly not to San Diego:).