Save A Seat At The Table

Adios, Naomi. I was saddened to read of the death of Naomi Wise in Ed Bedford’s blog tribute. I began reading Naomi’s restaurant reviews from the very beginning. After she wrote her first review of a Tijuana restaurant, Cien Años, a friend and I wrote to her correcting a few mistakes and offered to guide her around Tijuana. I ended up driving her and T.J. Beyers to Tijuana and showing her around.

We first ate at a modest restaurant that I had discovered called Aquí es Oaxaca. She loved the food but thought it was more appropriate for Ed to review. We then went to the more upscale La Diferencia, and she gave it the first review in San Diego.

She later invited me to go with them to Ensenada for more than a week. Since I was working in Mexico, I was only able to spend three or four days with them. I knew some of the good restaurants and got recommendations for others from local Mexican friends there. She was game to try even the downscale places. I took her to El Taco de Huitzilopochtli, rarely visited by American tourists, to eat authentic barbacoa and other dishes garnished with quelites grown in their own herb garden. The owner gave us a tour of the garden and barbecue pit. Her review of a Basque restaurant never appeared. Not long after her visit the owner was arrested by Interpol as a Basque terrorist, and his place was closed. I was her “botanist friend” in her Tijuana and Ensenada reviews.

It was always a pleasure to dine with Naomi. She was discriminating and knowledgeable. When I told her that I had eaten locos in a small fishing village in southern Chile, she knew all about it, as well as the wild game I had in Bariloche, Argentina, in the foothills of the Andes.

When 9/11 hit and then drug violence, tourism plummeted in Baja California. Many restaurants closed, and the Reader ended her review trips there. We ate together in coastal North County. I taught her some things about Mexican food that I had learned traveling all over Mexico, but I learned much more from her. I echo everything Ed Bedford said. She and I didn’t always have the same taste, but I always knew from her reviews what I was going to get.

Gerald Sodomka

Words Without Meaning

This year’s article on Christmas and Hanukkah holidays on page 22 was very poor (“Joy to the Screen,” Cover Story, December 22). In fact, it sounded like a bunch of gobbledygook, and I couldn’t even finish reading it. I prefer the one you had last year or so. You had an English professor and one of the writers of your staff talking about the holiday. In the future, that would be more appropriate so that we people — either laymen or those who’ve forgotten all of these things — can get a better understanding of what these holidays mean as well as the history of these holidays, which is much more important to the average person nowadays in the 21st Century.

Paul Lang
San Carlos

The Fight Was Fixed

It would be that paragon of virtuosity the San Diego Reader that would stage a modern version of the classic Christian vs. Jew disputation, in which the Christian not only triumphs but also provides much needed moral justification for the subsequent trashing of the Jews (“Joy to the Screen,” Cover Story, December 22). It is not hard to find a Jew-hating Jew, willing to publicly distance himself from his own disgusting roots and disavow any allegiance to them. To his credit, Scott Marks seems to ignore most of the obvious statements of Christian credo flashed in his face. Yet at the end he signs on — Christmas movies are his thing, too, with a capital H on his referring to Jesus and a capital C for child. His religion is film, his escape or his quest, encapsulated. Yet, what’s missing is a response to Matthew. The “good” values of Christianity do not belong exclusively there, nor did they even originate in that camp. Not only Jews, but other credos of the Earth, too, over the centuries, have taught compassion, kindness, selflessness, a reaching out to the downtrodden. It’s precisely this attitude of exclusive ownership that can be so irritating about some Christians. Matthew, Jews believe it is impossible for God to incarnate and thus impossible to kill God. Each of us is born with a spark of God; we are thus all children of God. Jesus came as a teacher and role model. My hope is for your children to learn respect for others’ truths. That is the challenge for humanity in the coming age.

Name Withheld by Request
via email

Matthew Lickona responds: I didn’t find a self-hating Jew; I found a movie-loving Jew. Actually, I didn’t find him at all — he’s my esteemed co-blogger at “The Big Screen.” If you visit, you can find his account of how this story came to be. I hesitate to speak for Mr. Marks, but I suspect that he loves Christmas movies not for the Christ in them but for the humanity in them. As for “the classic Christian vs. Jew disputation,” and respecting others’ truths, please visit the Reader website for my “Christian vs. Jew” cover stories of December 20, 2007, and December 23, 2009. I certainly am sorry if I implied that “the ‘good’ values of Christianity” belonged exclusively there. Thanks for reading!

Mope? Nope

I’m writing in response to the review of the Morrissey show in Escondido by Marcus Perez (“Everyone’s a Critic,” December 22). I was there, too, and at one show in L.A. a couple of days later. Now, I have no problem with the review itself but with the title (and, again, in the review itself): “The Pope of Mope.” I (and many others) who were fans of Morrissey starting in the Smiths to his very early solo career accepted this “tag” (along with many others), but that was the ’80s early ’90s. As was printed, he is 52 now and has grown up physically and in his writing/singing to almost a Rat Pack-ish approach. And like the head of the Rat Pack, he has matured terrifically with age. So, personally, I feel a more appropriate nickname when referring to Mr. Morrissey is “the Frank Sinatra of Modern Pop Music” (and, damn, do we need some more of this “maturity” in the pop music of today!).

Ward Elliott
via email

Old Horror Story

I had my first child at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital 24 or 25 years ago (“The Unkindest Cut,” Cover Story, December 15). I was told at that time by my physician there that I could either have an emergency C-section or I could die, and that it really didn’t matter to him, he was getting paid either way. It’s almost 30 years later and I’ve still not forgotten that.

Marilyn Dean

Learn, Then Choose

I have a few comments to make about your article “The Unkindest Cut” (Cover Story, December 15). As I am expecting my second child, I was interested in reading what this article had to say in regards to the birthing experiences at Mary Birch. I had my first child at Mary Birch — I had the best care from the nurses and doctor there. My choices were respected and supported by the medical staff. I feel that if you choose to have your baby in a medical setting, such as a hospital like Mary Birch, you will be treated medically, not naturally. If you choose to have a natural birth in a medical setting it is in your best interest to hire a doula or birth coach to better support you. While it’s unfortunate that Ms. Cooper-Schultz had an unpleasant experience with the birth of her child by having a C-section, as written in the article, she was given a choice of giving birth naturally but chose not to. I feel women need to take responsibility for educating themselves on the process of birthing (induction, natural birth vs. C-section, etc.) before their time arrives so they are able to make informed choices when the time comes. I feel that doctors do make critical choices for each of their patients for the sake of the child. And if it means a not so ideal birth to avoid irreversible complications, then so be it. The most important outcome is a healthy child.

Name Withheld By Request
via email

A Few Room Nights In Prison

“The Convention Center Liars” by Don Bauder (“City Lights,” December 15) is a terrific exposé of the convention center CEO and board of directors’ corrupt practices. Quoting the story, “the center has been systematically overstating hotel room nights, and therefore overstating hotel tax receipts, attendee spending, and the center’s impact on the overall San Diego economy.”

The center’s management violates California Penal Code 424: “Knowingly keeps any false account” and “fraudulently alters, falsifies, conceals, destroys, or obliterates any account.” The law mandates prison sentences for the violators.

Melvin Shapiro

We Pay, But We Don’t Play

It is no surprise the convention center statistics are bogus (“The Convention Center Liars,” “City Lights,” December 15). The primary justification for the $750,000,000 expansion is to keep the Comic-Con in San Diego. If Comic-Con leaves San Diego, so what? The reality is that the Comic-Con of today is no longer about comics; it’s been hijacked by Hollywood. It’s about money. It should be renamed Movie and Video Game Con and justifiably belongs in or near Hollywood. The taxpayers of San Diego who ultimately will pay for the facility no longer can get tickets for Comic-Con, which are sold out far in advance of the event. As long as our duly elected officials are bought and paid for by developers and special interests, the people of San Diego will continue to be thrown under the bus. Let Comic-Con leave and let the Chargers leave. We don’t need another huge money suck hole in downtown in the form of a football stadium that will only be used a dozen times a year. The absurd and costly Chargers ticket guarantee and Petco Park have done enough financial damage to our fair city. We don’t need more. Let’s spend our money on things that benefit all of us instead of the 1 percent. Repair our infrastructure and, by the way, where’s our library?

Jerry Wadle
via email

Looking For Pearls

I’m calling about a piece you write from time to time regarding old-time San Diego. I have a question. Is there any chance Jeff Smith could look up something that would have to do with the pearling industry? There was a pearling industry done at the bottom of Baja California — La Paz. I’m curious because my great-great-grandfather had a little business. He had three little ships, and he would sell the pearls up in San Francisco and then sail back down. I wondered if there’s any account of that at all, and if you could look into that and maybe write something about that.

The second thing is, I’m interested to see if you guys could put back the section in the “Outdoor” section (Calendar Events) about the planets and the stars and things like the faces of the moon. You guys used to write about that and you stopped writing about that, and if you could put it back, that would be interesting.

Name Withheld
via voice mail

Many of the entries in the “Outdoor” section, including observations about the sky, were written by Jerry Schad, who died in September. — Editor

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Name withheld. For the pearling industry I'd head straight to San Diego's Maritime Museum at 1492 North Harbor Drive (1492 - wasn't that when Columbus...?). They have archives and a journal that, at the very least, could give you some useful leads. The place is also a treat in itself.

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