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!).

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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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