Thursday, April 03, 2008

Junk Thief Visits The City of Unnatural History

I am back from four days in San Diego, a place I've not visited in at least three years and have suffered not a second because of my absence.
My stay was at the incredibly odd Manchester Grand Hyatt at a productive conference but a conference all the same.
The waterfront and and convention center areas embody what I tried so hard to keep an open mind about but just could not help coming back to my long standing assessment: everything in San Diego is either bland, freshly dusted and sterile or smarmy, spooky and spiky.
Downtown has the feeling of having cropped up around 2003 with no sense of place or history.
The "historic" Gaslight District is pleasant, and I enjoyed sidewalk dining as folks from Omaha and Mobile milled by as the sun set. But it too feels much too quaint and pre-meditated. It has the first Urban Outfitters I've ever entered and was immediately greeted by clerks who asked if they could be of any help.
Despite having the nifty red trolley system to take you there, "Old Town" feels a lot like Branson on the Pacific. Even history feels manufactured here.
As in the past, Balboa Park proved to be a nice respite from Topeka on the Pacific, Blandiago or California Lite as many people call it.
I also enjoyed Balboa Park's desert gardens which I don't recall touring before. For the record, it was eight or nine degrees warmer in San Francisco while I was down south. But it's not just the weather that makes me glad to be back home. A little grit in the right place always makes me like California a bit more.

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15 Comments:

At 6:03 PM, Blogger rich bachelor said...

Way to confirm what I'd already suspected. Never been there. Flew into San Jose last spring, though: seemed worse.

 
At 6:10 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Rich - Yes, San Jose is worse and doesn't even have beaches. Not only is there no "there" there, there is also no "no" there.

 
At 5:10 AM, Blogger Dave said...

The only really good thing about San Diego is that it's just a short train ride away from Tijuana.

 
At 7:34 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Dave - Having traveled much of Mexico, I can't speak very highly of Tijuana. So, even San Diego's door to Latin America is a pretty shabby one.

 
At 6:39 AM, Blogger Bryce Digdug said...

The Paramahansa Yogananda meditation center in San Diego is nice. Sounds like a nice desert garden, Gregg. I like the one at the Huntington too.

 
At 9:14 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Bryce - The great thing about the Huntington is that you can run down the street and visit the John Birch Society.

 
At 6:34 PM, Blogger WAT said...

For such a blah boring city, you sure took lots of cool shots!

;)

Yeah, San Diego is kind of oddly uncool, but it has its charm. That San Diego Zoo is gorgeous! Ever been? I mean, it is beautiful there! Definitely lacking the prettiness of San Francisco, or the luxury trendiness of L.A. though.

 
At 9:53 PM, Blogger J. David Zacko-Smith said...

Hmmm...I rather like San Diego! I mean, it's not my favorite city in the world (that title belongs to Paris or Barcelona), but I've always enjoyed visiting there.

 
At 10:21 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

WAT - You make a good point. I've always said that San Francisco is the most pretentiously unpretentious city in the U.S. (thinks it's not into gloss and status but is) and LA is the most unpretentiously pretentious city in the nation (is all about status and image and makes no apologies about it).

San Diego, on the whole, is very pleasant. I can enjoy pleasant for about 48 hours but then get bored.

JDZS - I should clarify that I don't dislike San Diego, but it's not a very inspiring place. Restful, in its way, but not very inspiring.

 
At 11:06 AM, Blogger Mike said...

I liked visiting San Diego, but it reminded me of Florida in that it's not a place to go to stimulate the mind.

It may be interesting in about 100 years.

 
At 11:13 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Mike - It is sort of like Florida but without the humidity which makes it much more appealing. I may go back in 2110 when it's interesting.

 
At 7:29 AM, Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

I'm glad I lived in san diego in the 1950s before it's fall from grace (that is assuming.....) I've been back a few times since my family moved away; the last was late 1990s; the weather is incredible if you go in february and live in the north (which I did) and I really enjoyed the zoo!

 
At 8:05 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Mouse - I am always conflicted about zoos, especially when they are as great as this one, and I passed on seeing it this time. Perhaps that was because I'd heard Jane Goodall speak the day before.

 
At 11:23 PM, Anonymous The Angry Young Man said...

I wish I'd known you were in San Diego. So was I. We could have met up and had the sex. Alas.

 
At 11:36 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Angry - Sex in San Diego, what a concept. Of course sex in San Francisco is a notion not even an idea. I think the last time I had sex in San Francisco was 1897...or was it 1884? Too long ago to even wrap my mind around. The prospects here are too grim to muster up the energy for such futility.

 

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