From the Shower to La Scala

Thirty Years Ago
This year’s KGB Homegrown album may not be rotting on the vine, but from all indications it seems to be turning a little brown around the edges. Only 175 songs were entered in this year’s competition for a spot on the record, compared with an average of well over 200, and the peak year of 1976, when 354 songs were submitted.
CITY LIGHTS: “HOMEGROAN,” Mark Orwoll, November 1, 1979

Twenty-Five Years Ago
In the summer of 1981 Marc Berman staged 60 concerts in town, including one by the Rolling Stones, and by the end of that year he claims to have been making more than $150,000 per annum. Not bad. But not for long. The next year, 1982, he claims he made no money at all — due in large part to his efforts in promoting an unsuccessful NFL all-star football game during the player strike — and in 1983 he took another bracing dive, plunging more than $150,000 in debt. In July of that year he was also arrested for possessing cocaine on a small side street near Diego’s in Pacific Beach.
CITY LIGHTS: “A MARC BERMAN PROMOTION,” Abe Opincar, November 1, 1984

Twenty Years Ago
When the invitation to audition for a local production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury arrived in the mail last winter, my first reaction was to drop it into the trash. I hadn’t sung anywhere in public for nearly 15 years, and I had imagined myself safely retired from a lifelong ambition to star at La Scala. It was a fantasy I had been nourishing since the age of 16, when I was taken to the opera for the first time to hear a performance of Wagner’s Tannhäuser at the old Met in New York.
“FROM THE SHOWER TO LA SCALA,” William Murray, November 2, 1989

Fifteen Years Ago
Was the San Diego Zoo’s Joan Embery viciously attacked by her own cheetah on the set of the Suzanne Somers Show? Or was the nationally publicized incident a product of the overly fertile imagination of the show’s public relations staff? “Respected Animal Trainer Joan Embery Attacked by Cheetah,” howled a recent news release from the show, which also reported that Embery received “two long, deep gashes” to her face.
CITY LIGHTS: “CHEETAH FALSELY CHARGED?” Thomas K. Arnold, October 27, 1994

Ten Years Ago
Padres owner John Moores is delivering on his million-dollar fundraising promise to Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley by getting San Diego’s business types to open up their checkbooks. Moores and Padres co-owner Larry Lucchino — said to be a one-time teammate of Bradley when both were undergrads at Princeton — have been putting the heat on everybody from their own employees to Qualcomm execs to consultants working on the proposed taxpayer-financed downtown baseball stadium. Padres employees among the ranks of $1000 Bradley donors include Moores; PR staffer Mary Michell; Moores’s daughter Jennifer McCleod; Robert J. McCleod, who is married to Jennifer; Lucchino’s secretary, Fay Scheer; and Dr. Charles Steinberg.
— CITY LIGHTS: “PADRES GOLD,” Matt Potter, October 28, 1999

Five Years Ago
I asked [Russell] Banks if his new novel, set in part in Liberia, was like Walter Abish’s How German Is It? Mr. Abish, when he wrote How German Is It?, had never been to Germany. Mr. Banks has been to West Africa but not Liberia.

He said, “I was trying to get in there a year ago this past summer, in July. I was in Sierra Leone, which is not that different, really right next door, and in its history bears the same relationship to England that Liberia bears to the United States. That was when the bodies started piling up in Monrovia. The roads were blocked and no flights were going in. I got stopped in Sierra Leone.
READING: “THE DARLING,” Judith Moore, October 28, 2004

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