Category Archives: san diego

New Music: Joel P West

I finally saw Joel P West live last week. After months of listening to his new album, his live show didn’t disappoint.

He played the final show in the Adapta Project vs Sezio art shows at Cream Coffeehouse in University Heights.

Kinsee first introduced me to his album Dust Jacket which can be downloaded by trading something with him. Most people send pictures, poems or songs, I sent a poem and he sent me a link to download the album. A few weeks later I saw the poem posted on the Dust Jacket Project blog. I downloaded the album and was immediately hooked, its catchy and fun, one of the best new albums I’ve heard in a long time. So I was a little afraid the live show wouldn’t live up to the greatness of the album, thankfully it did.

Just a guitar and a cello, the music was soft and quiet and beautiful in the corner of the cafe. The PA wasn’t up to task though and the music couldn’t be heard over the chatter of the crowd. After a few songs the show moved outside onto the sidewalk. A smaller, quieter crowd followed and we were treated to a few more songs. It’s not often you see a musician decide to move their show outside so the people that really want to hear the music can, but thats what we got that night.

There are some pictures and commentary from the whole night at Sezio.

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The Way I Measure a Bar

There are two types of bars I care to frequent. Both need to have friendly bartenders and a good vibe.

The first type is the beer bar, it should have good draft beer and at least a decent selection of bottles. A good example of this type of bar in San Diego is Hamilton’s Tavern.

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If a bar isn’t a beer bar, with an excellent selection, then I don’t really care about the beer at all, but they better have some decent whiskey. Most bars will have at least one or two good bourbons, so the way I measure these bars is very simple. Do they have ginger ale? I don’t always like to drink whiskey on the rocks, and no other mixer compares to real ginger ale (don’t try to give me seven-up and coke please).

Last night I finally made it to Starlite. I’d been wanting to check it out since they opened last year and I saw this picture on the cover of the Citybeat. (In fact, it was this fella that inspired me to start growing a moustache last year, which made it all the more funny when someone jokingly asked me last night if that was me in that picture).

So I knew Starlite was a good bar when I saw they had ginger beer (I’m really not sure what the difference is between ginger beer and ginger ale). They had a specialty drink, the Kentucky Colonel, which was bourbon, ginger beer, lemon and bitters. It was good, but the bourbon and ginger beer alone was good enough.

If I’m not drinking whiskey on the rocks I prefer the Whiskey Pres (short for Presbyterian apparently…). Whiskey with half ginger ale half club soda. In Santa Cruz where I was first introduced to the Whiskey Pres ($3 at the Rush Inn) they made them with Seven-Up, I never realized how wrong this was until I had one properly made.

I really wish more bars would have ginger ale for mixing drinks.

Full Moon tonight

Full moon rising 6/6 by <a href=

Full moon rising 6/6 by Jeremy Stanley. Creative Commons 2.0

Tonight’s full moon will be the biggest and brightest of the year. In fact there won’t be another full moon this bright for eight years.  Because the moon orbits the earth in an elliptic orbit, not circular, there are times it is much closer to the earth than others. Tonight’s moon will be approximately twenty-eight thousand miles closer to earth than normal. A moon this bright hasn’t been seen for fifteen years.

The moonrise will take place around sunset and will appear fourteen percent bigger and thirty percent brighter than most other full moons. As the moon rises in the sky it will appear smaller and smaller. However this is just an optical illusion, the moon stays the same size throughout the night. No one can fully explain why this occurs, but it is believed that it has to do with the way we perceive objects near the horizon.

Unfortunately for us here in San Diego, the weather forcast calls for partly cloudy skys becoming overcast throughout the night. Hopefully the clouds will stay at bay long enough for us to see this once in a decade bigger, brighter full moon. So head to a highpoint at dusk and watch the moonrise.

You can read more on NatGeo.

Camping in Julian

I went camping at William Heise County Park in Julian this past weekend. It being December and all, I was a little worried about the cold, but when I looked up the weather forecast I realized that December in the Cuyamacas is like July in the Sierra Nevada. I’d never been to William Heise Park, I guess the fact that it is so close to Julian and a county park rather than state park always kept me away. I was a little bummed we weren’t driving the extra hour out to Anza Borrego, but was looking forward to checking out the area around Julian.

Driving east on I-8 we decided to stop by the new(ish) Liars Club in Alpine. I always liked the Liars Club because they had a ton of good beer on tap, but I didn’t like the bar itself. It was pretty small and in Mission Beach. Well, the new location in Alpine isn’t much better, but the building itself is a lot better. There was plenty of seating and the same friendly bartender serving good beer and giving samples of stuff he thought I’d like.

Back on the road we were heading up Highway 79 past Lake Cuyamaca when I drove over a newly paved patch of road. I realized this is where there used to be a grate in the road. What I always assumed was a cow grate. Cows won’t walk over grates, so this was an easy way to keep them from moving too far. It made me wonder if those grates are now unnecessary because no one is raising cattle out there any more, it made me wonder if it’s becoming suburbanized. I was a little disenfranchised by this. But what happened later more than made up for it.

We got to the campground and met up with Kinsee’s friends. As we were sitting around the slowly dying fire before calling it a night, we some movement in the distance. As our eyes adjusted from looking away from the fire we could tell it was a group of deer. About five of them only 10 meters away in the meadow watching us. They moved around for a while but kept their eyes on us for quite some time. Even though we could hardly see them it was exciting, this was only the second time I’ve seen deer in San Diego and it made me hopeful that maybe the San Diego backcountry is still a little wild after all. There was no cloud cover the first night so the stars were quite the sight as well. Nothing like the dessert of Sierra’s, but a lot more than we can see in the city nightly.

The next morning we were awoken by a lot of loud birds and even some wild turkeys. My brother warned me that they were mean, but when trying to photograph them they just ran away from us.

We went a couple short hikes, one to a desert viewpoint above highway 79. It was a clear day and we could see all the way to the Pacific Ocean to the west and to the Salton Sea to the east. The view of the desert wasn’t as good as from some of the mountains off Sunrise Highway were the drop from mountains to desert happens, but it was a great view.

That night we were supposed to go to the Observer’s Inn, a home made/DIY of sorts observatory outside Julian. I was told it’s a two hour lecture/show by a retired engineer that loves astronomy and has five telescopes setup in his observatory. Sadly the weather turned bad and clouds rolled in obstructing the view, so we didn’t go. It sounded like a good time though.

The camping was good at William Heise, we had almost the whole campground to ourselves. There isn’t too much hiking from the campground, but it made for a relaxing weekend.

Holiday and Winter Beers

Jolly Pumpkin / Nøgne-Ø / Stone Special Holiday Ale

Jolly Pumpkin / Nøgne-Ø / Stone Special Holiday Ale

Most people reading this will probably know that I’m a big fan of good beer. I especially like darker beers which are usually a bit heavier and (sometimes but not always) have more alcohol, which tends to warm you up a bit, so beer companies brew and sell them in the colder winter months. I always look forward to these months when I can go to the liquor store and pick up some good dark seasonal beers. The fact that most of these beers are only available for a few months out of the year makes them that much more special.

Last night I picked up a bottle of the collaboration brew of Jolly Pumpkin, Nøgne-Ø and Stone Brewing Companies, the Special Holiday Ale. Although I’m not too familiar with the other two breweries, this is the first time I can remember stone making a special holiday ale, so I was excited to this. The label said that it was brewed with “Chestnuts, Juniper Berry, White Sage and Caraway Seed.” I wasn’t fooling myself into thinking that my palate is refined enough to notice all those spices, but I did feel like I could smell and taste the sage. The beer was nice and hoppy as I’ve come to expect from Stone. Good, not great, and while I did enjoy it, I probably won’t have it again because there are plenty more holiday brews I want to try.

I’m really hoping I’ll be able to find the Telegraph Brewing Co’s Winter Ale. I don’t think I’ve ever had any of their beers, but their Winter Ale is brewed with cinnamon and sweet ancho chilies among other things.

I’m also hoping to make it down to the PB Ale House to try their new St. Sideburn Holiday Ale, I met the brew master a few weeks ago and he’s a really great guy, and I tasted about a half dozen of their beers and they were all good.

One of my favorite winter beers has always been Butte Creek Brewing Company’s Winter Ale. I’ll admit, it was the label that drew it to me in the first place, but it’s a delicious beer in it’s own right that kept me drinking it. Many of their beers are organic, but I don’t think the Winter Ale was. I haven’t seen it in a few years, and their website is being redesigned, so hopefully this beer isn’t gone for good.

Another local brewery, Alesmith has been producing their Yulesmith Holiday Ale twice a year (once at Christmas and once at the Fourth of July). The winter version is an imperial red ale, which I’ve somehow never managed to try. I’ve had plenty other Alesmith beers and have liked everything I’ve tried, so I’m going to make it a point to try it this year.

When I heard about it a few weeks ago, I was really excited to try Alpine Beer Company‘s Ichabod Ale. It’s brewed with pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg, but since it’s from Alpine Beer Co. I’m sure it’s not too sweet, but a good quality beer. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to make it out to the brewery and it seems nearly impossible to find their beers in town. I’m still hoping to be able to find it before it’s all gone.

Sierra Nevada is a brewery that needs no introduction. At the liquor store yesterday I saw both of my favorites from them. Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale is a good strong barleywine. I like barleywine’s and this one is a little on the lower end of the alcohol content, which makes it a bit more enjoyable most of the time. The other Sierra Nevada brew I really like is their Celebration Ale. The last time I had it was a couple years ago and if I remember right it was brewed with cranberries and it was really good and not too sweet.

Alaskan Brewing Company makes two great dark beers in the winter time. Their Winter Ale is brewed with spruce tips which stand out. It’s a good, not too strong, not too dark beer. The Smoked Porter on the other hand is dark. Dark and smokey. It’s made with smoked malts and unpasteurized. The first taste is so smokey and so delicious, but doesn’t come on too strong at all.

As for my favorite beer (not just winter beer, although it happens to be one), it’s back to Stone Brewing Company. Their Imperial Russian Stout is top notch. It’s dark, heavy and full, bitter and too strong for some people, but I love it. Stone releases it every year around February for March, and you can usually find it for a month or two before it’s all gone. I was looking through the beers I’ve been storing for the last few years and found a 2006 and two 2007 bottles of this. I’m excited to do a little taste-test comparison between the two years. Sadly I didn’t manage to save any of the ’08 this year.

This Friday marks the 75th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition. In celebration is the 12th annual Strong Ale Festival at Pizza Port Carlsbad Friday and Saturday. Tasters of 75 beers will be available, it’s sure to be a good time. More info is on their website.

Billy Midnight

Billy Midnight has been one of my favorite bands for a number of years. My sister introduced me to their music around the time I turned 21. Newly 21 and excited to go to bars I usually ended up at all their shows around town. My favorite concerts have been Billy Midnight shows, from hour long sets at the Casbah or the Belly Up Tavern to, all night, 5 hour sets at dive’s like Kelly’s Pub or the Ould Sod, where the song lengths get longer as the night goes on. My friend Mark and I used to always look forward to the 20+ minute “Sasquatch” jams at 1AM during their divier shows.

They stopped playing nearly as much a few years ago, but it looks like they’ve been playing more and more recently. I was really excited to see that they’re playing tonight at the Casbah — although we probably won’t get a 20 minute version of Sasquatch.

They go from rockin’ alt-country to slow and sweet and back again at least a handful of times throughout the night.

They recently won the San Diego Music Award for Best Alt-Country. And in addition to being outstanding musicians they’re really wonderful people.

Billy Shaddox (the lead singer and guitar player) was interviewed in the Union Tribune today.

They’re by far one of the most fun bands in San Diego, you really should go check them out.

SDBloggers Meetup

Last night I went to the SDBloggers Meetup at Modus Supper Club in Banker’s Hill. I never know what to expect when going to these things, the first one I went to was a Twitter meetup a few weeks ago. Both times I’ve gone with friends so I’ve had someone to talk with as we mingle and meet people. The point behind these meetups is to get people with common interests (blogging and twitter for instance) together to meet and talk.

Last night I talked with a few people, Daniel from a local startup called Pelotonics that makes group collaboration software (which I haven’t had much time to look at). But he was a nice guy.

But as I was leaving a guy came up to us and introduced himself. The easiest way to start a conversation with someone was to just walk up to them, introduce yourself and ask, “So, what do you blog about?” This guy, Dennis, said that he started out with a food blog, which he turned into a restaurant. That sounded pretty cool to me, then he said the restaurant was Sea Rocket Bistro. I recognized the restaurant, it’s on 30th St in North Park near where I used to live, but as a vegetarian I never gave it a second look because it is a seafood restaurant.

We started chatting with him about that, and he told us what vegetarian dishes they do have, there weren’t too many, but they all sounded great. Then he mentioned that their focus is on local sustainable foods. I thought that was really interesting, especially with seafood, it seems like it would be so easy to do here in San Diego.

I took a look at their website today and loved it. I wish every restaurant had this much information as readily available. They have a list of their food sources and even an interactive google map of where specific items come from. And they still blog, I looked at some of the recent posts, and it’s not just filler to draw attention to the restaurant — there is interesting content about local food issues, like this post about Prop 2 and egg farming.

While I can’t comment on how good the food is, and I probably won’t ever become a regular because of their focus on seafood, I do want to check it out sometime.