Category Archives: San Diego

All about and around San Diego CA

Caronas Sandwich Shop

A new series where I review one of my former jobs. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

In 1995 I took my second trip cross country, and upon arrival at my half-brother’s house in San Diego, broke up with my hippy, vegan, dreadlocked girlfriend, Caitlin. She and I had come to the point in our relationship where constant bickering over life’s inconsequential minutiae had become surprisingly less entertaining than expected.

Alone, immature, and crashing at my then thirty-something brother’s pad with his new wife proved inconvenient for both of us, namely him, so it was on me to get a jobby job and find a place of my own. This being  San Diego’s mid-90’s salad days, I was quickly able to find a job at a Mission Hills sub shop,  the most menial possible job possible within a bike ride of my temporary home base in Normal Heights.

My job was clear: I’d do all the sh*t work that no one else would be bothered to do. In food service this means lots of cleaning, from grease traps to ovens, and then for a treat,  the lowest end of food prep, i.e shredding lettuce, cooking bacon, and slicing tomatoes, i.e. anything that requires zero cooking skills.

The boss was Steve Carona.   His namesake eatery was a typical non-descript sandwich joint in that one spot that has turned over 10 times on an otherwise nice little restaurant row.  Steve had a standing order for at least a few dozen subs a day on to the base, which basically kept the place running while he squandered any meager profit either on one of his many ex-wives and mistresses or more likely, up his nose.

Steve was a massive pain in the ass, but was rarely there.  My day started with Howard Stern on the radio while sweeping the leaves from a nice, shady upstairs eating area.  Then it was time to prep for the lunch rush.   My least favorite job was in the afternoon: protecting the private, shared parking lot from non-authorized-parkers, something which basically involved me counting minutes while staring into space. Occasionally, I had to clean the grease trap, or cook 50lbs of bacon at a time, and inhaling bacon grease vapor is not something I would recommend to anyone.

Honestly, it wasn’t a bad job. It was one of those jobs that’s just exactly what you’d expect.   The paychecks cashed and the people were nice.  I made friends with the  lead cook and we’d sometimes hang out at her under-furnished North Park apartment and drink beer.  Eventually I saved up enough to get out of my brother’s house.  I think I quit because I found a better job somewhere else, and no one really cared one way or the other.  Carona’s closed a few years later.

15 years later,  I find myself picking up a pizza pie from my favorite local place, and who’s standing outside, greeting customers and answering the phone?   None other than Steve Carona.  I shake his hand and tell him that I worked for him a dozen years ago.  His interest piqued, but clearly having no idea who I was, he responds like he was running the place:  “Oh yeah?  Well, I’m over here now”.   That was pretty much about what I’d expected.

Harris Fire

Harris Fire, originally uploaded by Sassberto.

This is the Harris Fire, burning in the East County backcountry, as viewed from my house in Rolando.

Smoky Sunset

Smoky Sunset, originally uploaded by Sassberto.

Another wild sunset today. Fires are retreating but it’s not over yet.

Smoky Skies

Smoky Skies, originally uploaded by Sassberto.

5:30 PM, Tuesday October 23, 2007.

Smoke is from the Harris Fire, burning just east of Mt San Miguel, Chula Vista CA.

Firestorm 07′

If you’ve turned on a TV or opened a newspaper, you know by now that there are some serious fires burning in Southern California right now. San Diego County is host to the largest wildfire in state history by some accounts, the Witch Fire. As of now most of these fires are burning uncontrolled with zero containment. By some estimates 1000 or more homes have been lost in Poway, Ramona, Rancho Bernardo, Escondido, and Rancho Santa Fe, and rural east county areas like Potrero and Dulzura.

I went to work on Monday, knowing I might end up going home. As I descended into the Carmel / Sorrento Valley area, the wind was fierce and choked with smoke. I got to my building and immediately got sent back home. The wind is just blasting smoke down the valley from the fire to the east.
Down here in the city, aside from some seriously toxic air, things are fine. Skies are mostly clear, as the fires burn to the north and south. We’re couped up in the house with the AC running to keep the stink out, a little bored but none worse for the wear.

You can get more info here:
UT Map with evacuation areas and burn zones
Evacuation and burn maps
USDA Fire Activity Maps

San Diego Beaches

From south to north:

IB: funky, sketchy, sometimes polluted
Coronado: primo, bad parking, stingrays
Sunset Cliffs / Garbage: Nice, just watch for canyon trolls
OB: packed, funky, stoney, organic, smelly, dirty
MB: packed, hot chicks, midwestern tourists, zonies, tweakers, weirdos
PB: packed, drunk, bro-down, gangster white boys
Birdrock / Windansea: cool but watch out for the meatheads
La Jolla Cove / Shores / Torrey Pines: nice, family, quiet, tough parking
Solana Beach: small nice, cliffside, mostly family, tough parking
Del Mar: nice, big, bad parking
Cardiff / Encinitas : big, wide, better parking.. also has an inlet to the lagoon with no waves.
Carlsbad: big, wide, good parking, nice village
O’Side: never been to the beach there!

Decade of Aggression

This November marks my tenth year living in San Diego. Amazing how time flies, no?

Anyway, here’s a list of stuff that people in CA just don’t get when it comes to the East Coast.

– “The East Coast” is not Wisconsin, Michigan, or Chicago either.

– “The Hamptons” and “The Cape” are not hot new pop bands from OC.

– “Rich” means Westchester mansions and a free pass to an Ivy league school, not a tract home in Eastlake and a yellow H2!

– Clams, mussels, and steamers… many in SoCal have no idea what these things are.

– “The City” is not San Fransisco, although I will excuse you if you grew up in the BA.

– If you think it’s too cold back east, you are a pussy. If you are not willing to visit a place because it’s cold there, you are a putz.

– People in CA don’t know what a putz is.

– People in CA don’t know what a ‘Hero’ (sandwich) is.

– People in CA don’t know that back East, you don’t name your kid Chad or Trey.

– People in CA don’t know that some of us paid attention in school, and that some of us are actually interested in … anything.

But, I do love CA. It’s my adopted home. Nowhere else in the country has such diversity… mountains and desert to the east… ocean to the west… hillbillies and republicans to the east… lesbians and yoga-nazis to the west…. one love kiddies!