Tijuana: Mean Streets or Mexican Disneyland?

Thirty-Five Years Ago
If film directors like Altman and Fellini ever run out of suitable sites for their confetti-like pageantries, they might do well by turning towards Tijuana. The rolling hills, crippled streets, lopsided architecture, high-pressure street merchants, instant marriage and divorce vendors, promenading sex and permeating music from the bars and cantinas, all conspire to provide the tourists with a dizzying, round-the-clock ambience to remember. It’s as heated and hallucinatory as anything in Nashville and Roma, and it’s tucked safely across our border. No chance for homesickness on these mean streets.
“Mexican Disneyland,” Steve Esmedina, September 4, 1975

Thirty Years Ago
In these times when the moral implications of virus cloning are debated in earnest and the moon is referred to as real estate, when guys stay up all night in the lab figuring out how to make plastic bags even thinner and how to put turkey flavoring into pastrami, it may well be a critical time for the already endangered species of the movie musical, a certain kind of movie which doesn’t cry out for burgeoning technology.

Twenty-Five Years Ago
The concerts of civic organist Robert Plimpton on the Spreckels organ in Balboa Park have constituted the one stable element of serious music-making in a rather arid San Diego musical summer. The Sunday-afternoon concerts, with their mix of classics, light classics, and pops, and the Monday-evening recitals, more uniformly serious in programming, have offered local music lovers a generous sampling of the instrument’s capabilities and the range of the organ repertoire.
QUARTER NOTES: “ROBERT PLIMPTON,” Jonathan Saville, September 5, 1985

Twenty Years Ago
As the Padres’ season draws to its usual ignominious end, a bit of local history sinks with it. The color brown will no longer grace Padres’ raiments once futility springs anew next April, because the assemblage of new owners decided the team should return to the navy blue and orange of the minor-league Padres. This means the ghost of C. Arnholt Smith, who bought the Pacific Coast League Padres in 1955 and made them brown and gold in the late-’60s, will finally be exorcised.
CITY LIGHTS: “TOM TOSSES TEAM’S TACO TOGS,” Neal Matthews, September 6, 1990

Fifteen Years Ago
When she took office over two and a half years ago, Mayor Susan Golding put development of a new downtown sports arena high at the top of her civic wish list. “San Diego is going to build a state-of-the-art entertainment and sports center downtown,” proclaimed the mayor. “The City is serious about bringing major-league indoor sports and the top level of entertainment to our community.”

A year and a half — and at least half a million tax dollars — later, however, Golding’s drive to build the mother of all sports palaces has gone distinctly low profile.

“There’s no way we’re going to be opening a new arena by 1998, as we had hoped,” concedes Barry Lorge, the former San Diego Union-Tribune sports editor who now serves as the spokesman for the Arena Group 2000.
CITY LIGHTS: “ASHES TO ASHES, ARENA TO DUST?” Thomas K. Arnold, August 31, 1995

Ten Years Ago
“Little Debbie doesn’t like to give interviews,” said her father, Ellsworth McKee, board chairman and chief administrative officer of McKee Foods Corporation. When I reached Mr. McKee at his Chattanooga home, he was evasive about his daughter, whose image has appeared for 40 years on thousands of boxes of cookies and snack cakes.

“That little picture of her is how she looked when she was four and a half,” he said. “Over the years we’ve changed the hair some, but not so much that anyone would notice.”

Studying Little Debbie’s image, I saw a smiling auburn-haired girl in a white hat and checkered blue blouse. “Is Little Debbie married? Does she have children? A profession?”

“No. No. And no.”

Did she ever work?

Mr. McKee paused. He cleared his throat.

“She managed the plant for a while.”
TIP OF MY TONGUE: “LITTLE DEBBIE,” Max Nash, August 31, 2000

Five Years Ago
For a quarter of a century Grover went by the name D-Man and was the leader of the Bloccide Crip Gang in Southeast San Diego. With his book [The Gangbanger’s Dictionary] he hopes to educate the public. Grover instructs kids how to answer a simple question like “Where are you from?”

“Your answer could get you killed,” he writes. “The best way to answer this is to just stand there and look at his hands. Let God talk for you. To say anything else is a form of disrespect to the [gang]banger.”
“PEACE SEEKERS,” Barbarella, September 1, 2005

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