Archive | News

SD Weather Records of January 1911 and January 2011 Show Subtle Changes—In Data Keeping

Posted on 24 February 2011 by John Rippo

Though San Diego has always been known for its wonderful weather, measuring  and observing it has only a 160 year history here. The first recorded observations were taken on July 1, 1849 at the Mission San Diego. Later, the US Army placed instruments at the Presidio where they were tended by the Medical  Corps, whose duty it was to monitor weather for army operations. In 1860, San Diego’s weather watchers moved to the army barrack in what is downtown now and in 1911, when the century-old table at right was compiled, the weather office stood at 5th and F. Now, there are several around stations around the County and the media tends to settle on the findings from the weather measuring station at Lindbergh Field, from where the data for last month’s data is taken.

Two months’ data a hundred years apart is not going to give conclusive proof of global warming or anything else. What it does show is the slight variations we have come to expect during the season. We can also wonder at the utility of weather observation over a century and how that observation has been homogenized into modern data forms.
The photo of the San Diego’s  Weather Bureau Office above shows the kinds of primitive machinery used to aid observation and recording a century ago. The office then was the preserve of Ford Carpenter, “Local Forecaster” for the US Weather Bureau, who wrote a book titled The Climate and Weather of San Diego published in league with the SD Chamber of Commerce in 1913. Carpenter spent much time winding up barographs, oiling anemometer bearings and marking cedar sticks used as rain gauges. He also spent many waking hours logging changes that occurred daily. He noted that San Diego is full of microclimates caused by its terrain and that some official low temperatures didn’t correspond to the actual lows found in some valleys, canyons and areas that channel the wind. The same concern was and still is true for humidity and wind speed—all of which still tend to make residents view some weather readings as flawed.
Like many things a century ago, San Diego seemed to have a more organic relationship to weather than may be said to be common now. “June Gloom” was unknown in 1911; the term in vogue for the month’s overcast of low stratus cloud was “El Velo”—Spanish for “the veil.” Carpenter urged that the term replace the then-current “high fog” that dated to the early American period of local history and was the product of mildly literate ship captains. 356 days of sunshine were claimed then for San Diego in 1911; the current information from the US Weather Bureau claims 339 days of sun here; a loss of 17 days.
Almost gone from current weather commentary are any mention of cloud formations over San Diego. Yet in 1911, these were rightly considered of primary importance when it came to understanding weather and its changes. The four basic kinds; stratus, cumulus, nimbus and cirrus were divided into ten subtypes and their layered interplay over the region often foretold rain and serious weather change. Carpenter mentions that early aviator Glenn Curtiss took careful measure of cloud formations before flight from North Island, and he comments on a now forgotten form of summer rainstorm to the east then known as the “Sonora” storm. Evidently, the formation of the cumulo-nimbus over Cuyamaca was enough to give challenges to early airmen over Coronado a century ago, since disturbed air patterns had a long reach that could endanger the frail planes.
One of Carpenter’s best recommendations for predicting weather is based on cloud formation. The directionof thetopmost of any sandwiched layer of  cloud tends eventually to become the wind direction at sea level. If that top layer of cloud shows ragged wisps at its ends that tend from south to north, rain will soon follow. This becomes even more definite when the seagulls begin to fly layered, tight circular patterns in order to get ready for sligh pressure changes that weather will bring to their sense of balance and direction.
Nowhere in the US Weather Bureau’s site is any of this kind of thing mentioned now, and it is one small bit of perspective to keep in mind when long term weather is predicted, or when dire forecasts of dire change in weather is made. Weather is as much how it is observed than how its interpreted, even in San Diego.

See the accompanying charts for 1911 and 2011 in this site.

Comments (0)

Tags: , ,

Feminism Reaches the iPhone

Posted on 19 September 2010 by John Rippo

by R. Reitman

Locate your parked car? Identify songbirds? Check surf conditions? Yeah, there’s an app for that. With over 100,000 active applications currently available for the iPhone —and more added constantly—there’s no foreseeable end to the stream of creative software designed to interface with the popular mobile phone from Apple. The newest addition to the roster, launched in July, brings a fresh twist to mobile application technology: documenting street harassment.

The application is the brain-child of New York activist collective HollaBack. According to co-founder and director Emily May, “Street harassment is on a spectrum of violence against women.” She points out that between 80% and 100% of women internationally face some type of street harassment, yet it is largely unreported.

What is street harassment? It’s a term activists still struggle to define. Typically targeting women and the LBGT community, verbal street harassment can range from “Hey baby” to a violence-tinged sexual tirade. Street harassment also includes flashing, public masturbation, groping and sexual assault.
While most people—as well as criminal statutes—agree that a stranger’s unwanted groping on a subway is a clear violation of one’s physical privacy, many other forms of street harassment are harder to define. Where do men and women draw the line between flirtatious and frightening?

“It’s really up the individual, which can make it tricky for defining street harassment. Anything that’s sexist or sexually explicit, anything that involves touching, anything that doesn’t stop, is over the line,” explains Holly Kearl, a national expert on street harassment and author of Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women. She says that, “Most of it’s not illegal as long as it’s not a threat or touching or masturbation.”

But legal doesn’t mean welcome. “We felt victimized,” stated May in a recent telephone interview, “When we would say something to the guys it could just escalate the situation — and the police wouldn’t care.”
So May and a group of likeminded men and women turned to the Internet to vent their frustrations – and was born.

HollaBack offered a unique solution to street harassment—the ability for victims to share experiences, advice, and consolation online. For the most part, victims just tell their stories.

Immediately after its 2005 launch, the HollaBack website found a warm welcome with both the Internet community and the media. And it’s not just New Yorkers who wanted to stand up to street harassers. HollaBack now has independent outposts in five US cities as well as international groups in Australia, Mauritius, the UK and Toronto. While each group currently operates independently, the advent of iPhone app, interest from the press and several years of experience make this a fortuitous time for the HollaBack collective to try its hand at creating a more cohesive, connected, and official nonprofit.

And it’s clear that mobile technology is going to play a big role in HollaBack’s future.

The new iPhone application, which achieved its fundraising goal May 28 through, will allow individuals in New York to document street harassment as it happens. Victims can choose to make a report with or without a photograph and will choose a category for each incident: verbal, groping, flashing, assault or other. Users will also be able to provide additional details via email at a later time. Incidents will link up to an online mapping system.

This won’t, however, provide a real-time map of street harassment in New York City. To prevent abuse of the technology, HollaBack will vet entries before they are posted, resulting in an unspecified delay before submissions are published. (Among other things, HollaBack does not allow posts from heterosexual men harassed by women or posts that could be interpreted as racist.)
Of course, there’s no reason to think that iPhone owners in New York suffer a disproportionate percentage of street harassment. What, then, for the rest of us? May refers to the current application as a “beta” version— HollaBack is getting the technology working in New York before opening up to those outside the city as well as smart phones other than the iPhone. Initially, though, incidents outside of New York City can be documented via the iPhone application but won’t be published on the online map.

There is also hope for the victims of street harassment with less-than-smart cellular phones. HollaBack is combining efforts with activists in Egypt who are raising funds for a “Harassmap” which will allow women to report incidents via SMS text messages. Once this system is fully functioning, HollaBack plans to integrate the international Harassmap with New York’s own HollaBack mapping system – a collaborative effort with an ambitious target launch of December, 2010.

All of which begs the question – can an iPhone application, or even SMS posts to an international Harassmap, really combat street harassment?

The answer isn’t an easy one to address. Street harassment is, to all appearances, a series of unrelated incidents perpetrated by (mostly) men who have no connection to one another, no coordination of activities and little or no planning. Often these men don’t consider their actions to be demeaning, harassing or intimidating; they may even consider it a form of flattery. (What woman wouldn’t want a stranger to compliment her breasts when she’s on a morning jog?) So, would fear of public castigation and online notoriety deter potential street harassers?
Even measuring the efficacy of a program to combat street harassment is challenging. In Boston, an ad campaign on subway trains targeting sexual harassment resulted in a significant jump in the number of harassment incidents reported. However, because most street harassment is still widely unreported, it’s difficult to measure whether the ad campaign was an effective deterrent against harassers or simply encouraged more individuals to make reports.
“The solution is always going to have to be multi-layered,” according to Kearl. She believes the best way to deal with street harassment is a program that involves education campaigns, public awareness campaigns, laws and the empowerment of women and girls to stand up to street harassment. Kearl also praises the new iPhone app: “It’s very useful for raising awareness and for the self empowerment of women. I think that documentation through the iPhone app of HollaBack is really the next step so that we can approach lawmakers and say that this is a big issue.”
HollaBack certainly hopes so. According to their website and, this application will “track street harassment through data points to quantify and communicate its impact to legislators.” The end result of collecting all of this data is to see “significant improvements in policy and a reduction in crimes against girls, women and LGBTQ individuals.” The data collected through the system will be reviewed and analyzed by researchers from the Barnard Center for Research on Women to better understand the nature of street harassment.

With all of this data and scientific analysis, should we look for stronger laws in the coming years? Not necessarily. May spoke glowingly about the benefits of public policy and legislative reform, but then cautioned that, “Developing laws around it aren’t going to be nearly as effective as educating people and creating a cultural shift. That’s because women don’t want to report it — and I don’t see that changing at any time in the near future.”
While HollaBack is quick to point out the benefits of empowering and educating people, they studiously avoid discussing privacy implications on their website. In fact, the only place they address the issue directly is via an FAQ section. They posit: “But aren’t you worried that your site will fuel the latent vindictiveness within women and LGBTQ-identified folks across the country, leading to a massive witch-hunt and rampant Soviet-style denounciations of countless innocents?” HollaBack’s answer? “No.” They then provide links to two articles that deal with government surveillance of citizens.

This is a cavalier response to an issue that merits at least a thoughtful, open discussion. While, as a general rule, in most situations it’s not illegal to take photographs of adults in public spaces and publish them on the Internet, there are concerns about what the future of our society will be if vigilante justice via cell phones becomes a widespread tool.
In the late 1700s, the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham invented a model prison known as a “panopticon” – a prison in which the inmates would never know whether or not unseen guards were observing them. As mobile technology becomes more prevalent and our daily lives increasingly are spent in cyberspace, do we run the risk of inadvertently creating our own citizen-run panopticon? While it might be an effective mechanism for holding street harassers accountable, will we be one step closer to a world in which any activity in a public space will be considered fair game for posting in perpetuity on the Intenet? While these issues may be more a function of the increasingly mobile and connected world we live in than HollaBack’s new iPhone app, it might behoove HollaBack to address these concerns with sensitivity and attention. After all, many of the individuals who are clamoring for privacy on the Internet are the same individuals who turn to the HollaBack site to share anonymous stories – sexual and gender minorities and the victims of sexual abuse, assault and stalking.

Reading through the stories submitted to is disturbing. Women report being attacked on the way home from school at night, being the object of masturbatory fantasy on subway trains and the subject of sexual speculation when they walk down the street. One who spends enough time on the website might begin to wonder if a course or two in self defense and quite possibly weaponry might be needed for a woman to venture out safely in New York, especially on the subways. The incidents date back years, hundreds of pieces of evidence woven together to show that women are routinely treated as sexual objects when moving in a public space. Kearl describes street harassment as a mechanism for disrespecting women: “I think that it says that women don’t deserve as much respect as men, and it’s almost a way of gender policing. You’re attacked if you meet the societal beauty standards and you’re attacked if you don’t.”

If nothing else, the stories posted to serve as evidence that America’s struggle for gender equality is in no way finished. Which, for readers who enjoy partaking in the democratic process, might merit a phone call or letter to one’s representatives in Congress. That is, if you can find the right number.

And yes, there’s an app for that, too.

Comments (3)

Ending Poverty One Cup at a Time; Coffee Funds Loans to Women

Posted on 14 September 2010 by John Rippo

A growing effort between Elan Organic Coffees CEO Karen Cebreros and Foundation for Women founder Deborah Lindholm is shaping a brighter future for impoverished women by harnessing coffees as an engine to move needy women from poverty to economic stability and independence.
Inspired by Nobel Peace Prize winner and economist Muhammad Yunus, whose Grameen Bank in Bangladesh has built a financial empire based on small loans to poor people in the belief that even the most economically disadvantaged can be reliable borrowers and capable entrepreneurs, Lindholm’s Foundation for Women extends “microloans” from $50 to $1,000 to help impoverished women locally and globally start their own businesses and become self-sustaining.
Lindholm founded her non-profit in 1997 after a visit to southern India where she witnessed first hand the power of microloans. One woman’s life had been changed by a four-dollar loan; in Lindholm’s words, “I met a woman who borrowed four dollars. She had never seen $4 in her life. She bought a comb, a pair of scissors and a mirror and she put her husband in business as a barber and became the cashier. Now she has a home and her children are in school. All because of $4.”
Deeply moved, Lindholm committed herself to helping impoverished women around the world leave poverty behind by providing them access to credit and an opportunity to start generating income.
Though each loan to enterprising third world women may amount to small sums, it takes a great deal of money to be in the money-lending business. Fortunately for the Foundation for Women, Lindholm met Elan CEO Karen Cebreros at a World Trade Center gathering in 2008. Joining forces was perhaps a foregone conclusion; in addition to single-handedly shaping the global certified organic and sustainability movements in coffee, Cebreros at Elan has ever been a champion of women in all aspects of the coffee trades. Since its founding in 1989, Elan has sought to identify and build relationships with growers, millers and exporters of superior coffees throughout Central America, India, Indonesia and Africa—many of whom are women.
The statistics are compelling. Coffee is the second largest-selling commodity—after oil—in the world. Half of the world’s population of 3.5 billion people sustain themselves on less than $2 a day. Seventy percent of this population are women and children. Coffees sourced by Elan from womens’ co-op farms in Costa Rica, India, Ethiopia and Rwanda—all of it certified organic and suitably named the Microloan Blend—are sold by the Foundation for Women, with proceeds funding microloans to women in San Diego as well as Liberia.
Microloans require no collateral but must be paid back with a small interest rate. Ironically, the women most often denied traditional lines of credit through banks in third-world countries, have a 98% repayment rate of their microloans. From Ethiopia’s only female coffee miller and exporter to a San Diegan refugee mother of two who recently started her own cleaning business, the extension of small sums has enabled the recipients to establish a credit history, maintain families and create money-earning businesses that in turn enrich recipients’ families, neighborhoods, communities and nations.
Since its inception, the Foundation for Women has touched one million lives around the world with its microloan programs in San Diego, Tami Nadu, India; and Liberia, Niger, and Zambia, Africa. Their collaborative projects often involve working closely with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local communities, and heads of state to provide much needed credit, support groups, business education, children’s schools, medical care, and training to the poorest of the poor. In 2006, Lindholm established connection with Liberia’s first female President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. There, the Foundation for Women is a registered NGO and is operating 27 microloan programs in seven counties with over 1000 women borrowers with a 98% repayment rate.
Unlike charity, which may create dependence, microloans are provided to create independence. The providers of microloans feel that initial small line credit should be a human right and that empowering women is not only compassionate, but socially responsible—and good business.
Today, Microloan Blend women’s coffee has been sold primarily at Foundation for Women fundraisers, events, farmer’s markets, and website. It is often the featured (and most consumed) coffee of choice at Women’s events such as the International Women’s Breakfast and the Microfinance Summit held at the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice. The powerful grassroots efforts behind the coffee and the cause took it all the way to the United Nations (UN) meeting in New York City on July 2. Current efforts are to expand and sell Microloan Blend retail to increase proceeds for more microloans and bring greater awareness and support to women’s issues globally. A variety of coffees, including an espresso and decaf are available.

Comments (1)

Cycling Against the Odds

Posted on 08 June 2010 by John Rippo

by Ioana Patringenaru, UCSD News Service

James Stout is part of an elite racing team that promotes Type 1 diabetes education and is made up of riders that all suffer from that condition.
James Stout, a UC San Diego graduate student in history, is only 22. But he already has ridden his bike on four continents and in about half a dozen countries. All the while, he has been battling Type 1 diabetes, a chronic disease that is more severe than Type 2 diabetes and disproportionately strikes children and the young.
Last year, Stout joined Team Type 1, a top cycling squad whose members all have the disease. The team has won the grueling cross-country relay Race Across America twice—in record-breaking time. Team members now hope to take part in the Tour de France by 2012. They not only race, but also take part in public outreach events, including visits to schools and conferences.
Type 1 diabetes is a particularly challenging condition for top athletes, because exercise can cause their blood sugar levels to drop dramatically. Asked why he keeps biking, Stout cites inspiration from his teammates.
“I used to use diabetes as an excuse for doing badly,” he said. “Now, it’s a motivation for doing well.”
Being part of a team where everyone struggles with the condition helps, he added. Teammates watch out for each other. If one says their blood sugar level is dropping, they’re quick to offer that person sports drinks and snacks, and invite them to rest in the team’s car.
Stout joined the team last year after a chance meeting at the Tour of California. He was helping out during the race, when he noticed Type 1’s tent. Because his diabetes was considered a pre-existing condition, getting medical coverage—and care— here in the United States was a struggle. Team Type 1 members immediately took him in, offering advice about managing his diabetes while competing.
He now knows that to keep his blood sugar under control during a race, he needs to take in about 400 calories an hour. So he makes sure he has plenty of sports drinks and snacks when he sets out. And he can always count on his teammates for additional help, he said.
In addition to joining Team Type 1, Stout also is a member of UCSD Cycling, a collegiate team that includes undergraduate and graduate students. “It’s a good way to meet people and make friends,” he said.
Stout went to a cycling trade show and came back with sponsorship for the team’s gear, including clothing, wheels and saddles, said Tammy Wildgoose, the team’s president and a senior majoring in neuroscience. He now acts as the team’s coordinator of sponsorships.
Stout also has done a great job taking new riders under his wing and talking to them about training and good nutrition, Wildgoose said.
“He’s supercool because he really cares about getting new people into the sport,” she said.
UCSD Cycling competes in the Western Collegiate Cycling Conference against other University of California campuses, including UC Berkeley, as well as Stanford and California State University campuses. UCSD’s team ranks sixth in the conference.
Stout is one of about 25 riders on the team who take part in races. He figures he trains about 20 to 30 hours a week. He also works as a teaching assistant, which takes up another 20 hours. “There’s not much time for messing around,” he laughs.
Cycling appears to always have been a part of Stout’s life. He first rode a bike as a little boy in his native England, more precisely in the small village of Murcot, in the country’s Midlands. He started riding on the road around age 16 or 17. But at age 18, he was diagnosed with diabetes. His condition, called MODY diabetes, is more complex than typical Type 1 diabetes. His body produces insulin on and off, which means his blood sugar levels, and his condition, vary widely. He jokingly calls the disease “Type 1 ½ diabetes.”
Treatment includes diet, exercise and fast-acting insulin. He was recently fitted with a continuous blood sugar monitor that rests on the skin and eliminates the need to draw blood. Exercise, including riding, can be tricky, Stout said. It can lower blood sugar levels. But stress related to competing can also make sugar levels spike, the UCSD student said.
“You’re never really in control of it,” he said. “You manage it. It’s a beast.”
Asked what he loves about cycling, Stout, who studied modern history and politics at Oxford as an undergraduate, cites the sport’s intellectual nature.  It’s not about brute force, but about strategy, he said. “It’s like chess at 50 miles per hour,” he said. Cycling also has other appeals. “I like going fast,” Stout admitted.
Stout has taken his bike all over the world. After high school, he lived in Kenya, where he helped build a house on a sanctuary for the endangered Rothschild giraffe. He didn’t have electricity and water was heated by the sun. Adventures in that country including water-skiing while hippos and crocodiles looked on.  “It was fantastic,” Stout said.
In summer 2006, he lived in Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, where he taught children English, math and physical education. He also took part in races, with his students cheering him on. He came in third in the country’s championships. “So many kids were excited for me to get there,” he recalls.
While at Oxford, Stout also raced all over Europe, including in the United Kingdom, Belgium and France. One of his favorite spots is the Catalonia region of Spain. That area also has become the focus of his academic work.
He is investigating how members of the working class were expressing their Catalan identity through street art, food and, of course, cycling during Spain’s civil war and the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. Spain is home to one of cycling’s best-known races, the Tour of Spain, also known as “la Vuelta.”  The race has become an arena for political struggles between Castilians, Catalans and Basques. One of the first terrorist acts perpetrated by the Basque separatist movement ETA took place during la Vuelta. Today, the competition avoids Basque country, Stout said.
Stout started biking on the road around age 17.
He wrote his first academic paper at UCSD on la Vuelta for a first-year graduate seminar taught by Robert Edelman, himself an expert in the history of sports and author of “Spartak Moscow: A History of the People’s Team in the Workers’ State.”
Stout is smart and lively and knows how to tell a good story, Edelman said, but he needs to hone his writing skills. “He can be a great teacher, no question about that,” the professor said. “He knows where the bodies are buried in terms of sources in Spain. He can do innovative research.”
Stout was admitted to Stanford and the London School of Economics. But he chose to come to UCSD. He said he was looking for an area different from England and was attracted by the university’s top-notch history department, the structure of UCSD’s doctoral program, which allows for research, and by funding. He also is committed to teaching at a publically funded university. But there was more to it than that.
“It’s a great place to ride your bike,” Stouts said of San Diego. “And I like the beach.”

Comments (0)

Scant Notes on the Death of an INS Detainee

Posted on 08 June 2010 by John Rippo

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”
— Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail

Marcos da Silva came to the United States on a student visa in 2001. He had a desire to learn English and continue his exploration of music; a passion of his. Marcos connected with like-minded people in San Diego and formed a band that made the rounds and usual precarious living common to musicians everywhere. He had no criminal record and as far as can be determined, lived a peaceful life with numerous friends.

On Saturday, March 27,  Marcos da Silva’s band left San Diego for Lake Havasu, where they planned to play as part of a music benefit for a hospice. After crossing the Arizona border  just outside of Yuma along I-8, Marcos discovered that his student visa had expired. He was now an illegal alien in the United States; he had exactly 15 days left to live.

Marcos was quickly arrested at the first checkpoint east of Yuma by the Border Patrol, who immediately zeroed in on the foreign man. Pulling him aside from the others, they grilled him on his university studies, his student loans and other activities related to education prior to his arrest. His American companions were separated and asked similar questions about him. As is usual in any arrest, suspicious items are taken away from the prisoner; among the items on da Silva was a bottle of pills needed to treat a heart ailment; these were an experimental medication prescribed by UCSD Medical Center. Though he and his friends told the arresting agents that those pills were critical to Marcos’ health, and that da Silva wore a pacemaker to regulate his heartbeat and that his heart worked at perhaps 20 percent of normal capacity unaided by medication, the agents responded that they weren’t doctors and knew nothing about—and were not required to care for—medical conditions. One salient comment stuck with the driver, a man named Ken Deaumont, who recalled an agent pointing at da Silva and saying, “People like him bankrupt the system.” Their pleas fell on deaf ears; the bottle of pills was separated from the prisoner. There was nothing any of da Silva’s friends could do to change that, either.
Marcos da Silvas’ separation from his bottle of pills when he was handcuffed and arrested led directly to his medical deterioration and subsequent death.

Marcos was taken into custody and held for 48 hours. On March 30,  he was to meet with a federal judge in a deportation hearing. He was transferred to several detention centers during this time and on March 31, he arrived at the federal Elroy Detention Center in Arizona.

By this time, Marcos’ health was deteriorating. His lack of medicine and the stress of arrest and confinement, inability to eat a prison diet contraindicated by his medical condition, to say nothing of the shackles, terror and fear of other inmates led to a collapse.

On Thursday, April 1, doctors at Elroy  realized Marcos  was in danger and they had him transferred to nearby Casa Grande Hospital. He spent three days there in intensive care. During this time, Marcos’ friends contacted the honorary consul of Brazil, Brad Brendan, in Phoenix, for assistance. The honorary consul tried negotiating various means to free da Silva without success.

On April 5, friends and associates organized a search to finally locate where he was being held. One of them located Marcos at the hospital; he and the rest rushed to visit , only to be told they did not have authorization to visit da Silva.
Once da Silva was stabilized, he was returned to Elroy Detention Center where he received notice to continue the case in the Federal Court in San Diego. Released on his own recognizance, he was given a return bus ticket. Ill, bewildered and with no way to get to the bus station, the Brazilian honorary consul arranged to drive him to catch his bus back to San Diego.

On April 8, Marcos rode the bus from Casa Grande to El Centro.  He carried with him a court summons and a few remaining pills for his heart ailment.

It isn’t known whether he misread his bus ticket or if there was some other error; what is known is that he spent the night in the bus station and walked to the nearest ATM to withdraw enough funds to purchase the remainder of his ticket early the next morning.   Marcos arrived in San Diego the following day, and spent the night at a friend’s home.
By April 10, Marcos’ condition deteriorated further; this was presumed to be from the stress of the arrest and imprisonment, the desert heat and the break from his medication. He was taken to UCSD Hospital and placed in the intensive care unit.

On April 11, Marcos began having multiple heart attacks and was placed in an induced coma.

On April 12, Marcos died of heart failure. Doctors at UCSD attributed his death directly to his loss of medication, complicated by high stress. An autopsy is pending. There was a memorial on April 25.

By April 22, news of Marcos da Silva’s death made headlines in Brazil. Media in that country have kept the dead man alive in commentary for over a week and highlights of immigration crackdowns in the US have focused much attention on this country in terms of one of their citizens who died at the hands of uncaring Yankees, attempting—and failing to save money on his incarceration.

Comments (0)

SD Inventor Makes Roasting Coffee at Home Practical

Posted on 08 June 2010 by John Rippo

Roasting coffee is a delicate process that isn’t well suited for most home kitchens. Coffees tend to smell grassy as they roast and give off a great amounts of heat and smoke that can make for an embarassing social disaster complete with screaming smoke alarms and anguished neighbors. Getting sloppy with the time and fire is a sure-fire way to start a fire in the kitchen, with dreadful consequences. Still, there is a lot to be said for fresh-roasted coffee and for those whose tastes have developed beyond the bean-in-the-bag pale, nothing else will do but to do it yourself.
San Diegan Joseph Behm spent nearly a decade designing and building a fairly foolproof home coffee roaster that’s hardly bigger than a microwave. His Behmor 1600 is a one-pound capacity, automatic roaster that uses a wire mesh drum that rotates past a heating element in a closed chamber. The machine is programmed to measure the time of roast for “hard” or “soft” beans in quarter-pound increments and a set of adjustable parameters attends every step of the roast before the machine starts operating. A miniature afterburner burns up the smoke and smell of the beans. The entire machine weighs less than twenty pounds and is a masterpiece of miniature engineering and manufacture in stainless steel.
ESPRESSO got to try a machine recently and spent several days roasting Nicaragua and Sumatran coffees with it. Once we got the hang of how it worked, we very charmed by the Behmor. We should reiterate from the beginning that according to Joe Behm’s manual, the 1600 is not a machine to be treated like a common toaster—one tends the Behmor at all times, if for no other reason than to listen for the first and second crack of the coffee beans which lets the operator know when the roast is reaching its time limits—whether or not they agree with the programmable time settings. The Behmor 1600 is not a machine to roast dark with either; this is because the longer the roast, the hotter it gets and in a tiny chamber, the hotter it gets the more “interesting” things can become. This isn’t to say that the machine is dangerous—one has to have a good sense of timing when cooking anything on the stove and get food off the burner at exactly the right time if it’s not to be ruined—and coffee roasting has to be stopped at exactly the right moment for a given roast profile—which was right around 10 seconds after second crack with the Nicaraguan beans. The Behmor is better at yielding full-city or Viennese roasts with greater finesse than Italian or Turkish ones.
After a visual inspection to make sure that there were no cracks, grit in the afterburner or chaff in the heating element, we loaded the beans into the drum and fitted the drum into the roaster. The U-shaped stainless chaff collector follows the drum in and is sealed against it, and the door is closed firmly. A flurry of programming then occurs; to define the coffee by the hardness of bean, set the roast time and power setting adjusts the roast profile. Push the button and the drum begins to turn and the element heats up rapidly to several hundred degrees. The process is slightly hypnotic as the beans rhythmically rise and fall in the drum, the machine hums and the scent of heat fills the room. Our Nicaraguan beans were unusually soft, meaning they had a great deal of retained moisture; sure enough, this gives the grassy smell so common in coffee roasting. While it didn’t seem bothersome to us, our smoke detector located a few feet away from the roaster, over the kitchen door, suddenly went off and we cancelled the roast to switch off the alarm. The “soft” Nicaraguan beans gave off a pungent aroma as they roasted in a small pan on our stove, too; much more so than the Sumatran “hard” beans we tested.
Back at it again, we cleaned the machine gently and thoroughly per the manual’s instructions, and then programed it for a “self-clean” effort to take care of anything we missed. We also covered the alarm, opened a nearby window and tried it again. This time, the roast went off flawlessly! The full pound of green Nicaraguan nets us .83 pounds of fresh full-city roast. The only bit of excitement this time came from the all too short period between first and second crack. The flurry of rice crispy-like popping noises told us it was all over and the machine’s roast time was shortened by ten seconds with one of the button controls on its front panel. Immediately, the roast stopped and a cool-down period began as a fan drew air through the machine, beans and afterburner. When the timer indicates it’s all over, we carefully open the door and test the chaff collector. It’s barely warm to the touch and we can lift it and the drum out with bare hands. The beans are free of chaff and the roast is extremely uniform in color. What chaff is present is mostly in the collector and this is carefully swept out with the small brush provided with the machine. The beans are jugged with the exception of a few used to make a french press pot so we can taste the fruit of our labors.
In our judgement, the Behmor 1600 is a winner. It does what what Joe Behm says it will do, consistently and repeatedly. It is an exacting machine—no power cords to be used with it; it requires exact free space on all sides of it; most definitely not a “set it and forget it” machine during the roast process; but it works well once you understand it. Its complexities are well-explained in the manual and the data is backed up clearly on the Behmor website. We think it’s just the thing for the confirmed coffee connoisseur or anyone who needs to sample roast a batch of beans. The Behmor 1600 retails for around $300 and is backed by a warranty. Check out for more information.

Comments (0)

R.I.P. Heidi Cruz of Cafe L’Opera: Victim of Pancreatic Cancer at 37

Posted on 08 June 2010 by John Rippo

On April 24, pancreatic cancer claimed the life of Heidi Cruz, owner of Café L’Opera located on fifth Avenue at Ash Street. She was 37.
Heidi was a native of the Philippines and had worked in real estate before changing her life and obtaining a job at the Café Bassam, then located in the Gaslamp District. She discovered that she loved the work and decided that she would open her own place someday. Eventually, after years of planning, that dream occurred in 2008 when she took over a space on Fifth Avenue and began her Café L’Opera.
Her life revolved around her café and success soon followed her. Often she could be found in her place late into the evening, checking details, brightening her shop, attending her books and making her place an ever better haven for her clientele of local residents, students from the nearby Paul Mitchell School and those who valued her shrewd, witty sense of humor, quick delivery and ringing laugh. Heidi was a woman for all seasons who would often have lunch with a favored friend, share stories of her life and her hopes and dreams for the future and introduce people to each other if she felt that they needed to meet. Though small and delicate, she had a backbone made of iron.
Though her life was far too short, in some ways Heidi was lucky. She achieved her dream of a flourishing business that she built with her own hands and made it into an exemplary form of San Diego’s café trade. Her many clients soon found that she was a true friend to them, and this won her the respect and admiration of those who knew her.
The last time I saw Heidi, she was in her café, attending to some business correspondence and incidentally remarking on how much thinner she’d become. Her face was radiant and she was calm. Besides charting her own life on her own terms, she bravely faced death without blinking, with her usual grace and even at the last moment, a knowing nod.
San Diego is the poorer for her loss. Her café continues under family ownership. Services were private.

Comments (0)

The Danger Beneath Your Feet: Faults & Quake Risk in San Diego

Posted on 08 June 2010 by John Rippo

On February 1, at 7.26 A.M., a magnitude  4.4 earthquake rattled parts of San Diego. It was felt in most, but not all areas of the city and fortunately, damage and injury was virtually non-existent. There was a reason why the quake escaped notice in some areas and the reasons for that irregular impact have meaning for everyone here. San Diego is as likely to have a significant shake anytime; postulating what a quake would do here that was as powerful as the 7.0 event that struck Haiti last month should give all of us something to think about.
San Diego sits on the equivalent of a vast shattered window made of the bedrock lying under the hardened sediments of what was once the bottom of the sea. The bedrock under our feet is fractured in an in-line pattern of lateral faults that parallel the great San Andreas Fault, which is far to our east. These lateral fault lines are connected with myriad crisscrossing faults that can radiate or disseminate the force of a quake along divergent—and little understood—paths. When a quake occurs along one of the faults parallel to the San Andreas, these crisscrossing faults account for why some areas of San Diego shake like a leaf and others feel nothing. But all of the fault lines here have been active in the past with significant force; in some cases with an estimated power of magnitude 6.5 or 7 on the Richter Scale. This magnitude rivals the strength of recent Haitian event.
San Diego is located on the east edge of what is sometimes called the Southern California Continental Borderland—a vast, geographic province extending some 250 kilometers west and south to the edge of the Continental margin. We are at a junction of two major earth plates; the  North American, east of the San Andreas Fault, and the Pacific, on which much of coastal California sits. The North American Plate is moving west and south; the Pacific Plate is moving north and west. The collision of the plates result in strike/slip earthquakes as the plates move roughly past east other.Millions of years from now, the split that is known as Baja California will be complete and the west edge of California from north of San Francisco to La Paz in California del Sur will be an island, ultimately bound for Alaska at the rate of about a half a millimeter per year.
Geologists here often complain that it is difficult to study fault lines in San Diego because many of them are effectively covered by vegetation, asphalt, condos and other buildings. Their work tends to receive little recognition locally since the interests of the developers, builders, real estate agents and politicians would be harmed if the value of the land were altered by commonly shared knowledge of active nearby faults. Moreover, scientists are often dependent on builders whose heavy bulldozers sometimes uncover the traces of fault lines they want to study and whose interests do not include waiting for geologists to do their job and harming their investments. Connecting the dots between the faults here is a long, tedious and speculative process that has taken decades and may take decades more to completely understand.
Starting from the west, San Diego’s most significant faults begin with the Coronado Bank Fault, some ten miles west of Point Loma. This runs roughly north and south and is roughly parallel to the San Andreas. The Spanish Bight Fault, Coronado Fault and Silver Strand Faults are also parallel and lie beneath Point Loma, Coronado’s North Island, the Strand and San Diego Bay, respectively. These faults are somewhat misleadingly named since most of them are now known to continue north directly under much of San Diego. Point Loma is riven with faults that are sometimes referred to as the Point Loma fault zone or the Spanish Bight fault zone.Included in the mix are the Mission Bay Fault, the Country Club Fault, the Mount Soledad Fault and perhaps the most significant of all, the Rose Canyon Fault, which travels beneath I-5 and is part of the Inglewood Fault that ruptured in 1933 and was one of the 20th century’s most significant quakes in the our region.
The Mission Bay Fault is known to run along the Morena district while the others are found in prominent outcroppings in La Jolla. The Rose Canyon Fault almost certainly links up to the Coronado Fault though it is believed to be intersected by the Old Town Fault which runs roughly east-west and fissures extensively throughout much of Mission Hills, Middletown and to the southeast. Faults parallel to the Rose Canyon are known to lie in the bottom of Florida Canyon, which bisects Balboa Park; at Texas Street where it drops into Mission Valley, at Euclid Street where it was mapped at 60th Street and onward to the La Nacion Fault which lies along a path from the border north to the SDSU-Mission Valley area. One of its prominent traces can be seen in Paradise Hills. Lying east of the La Nacion is the San Ysidro Fault which comes up from Mexico and is likely checked by the Mission Valley Fault, another east-west fault running from Mission Bay to somewhere near Cowles Mountain and ending presumably under the Laguna Mountains. Most everywhere in the city has a fault nearby, if not directly underfoot. All of San Diego is affected by their existence. The Coronado Bridge crosses four separate faults collectively known as the Silver Strand. In the North County, the Elsinore Fault cuts west of the Coast Range Mountains and San Jacinto Fault lies east of it, passing through the Salton Sea.
The two most dangerous faults are the Coronado Bank and the Rose Canyon. The Coronado Bank is thought to run north-south for more than two hundred miles south along the Baja coast; its entire fault zone—fragmental faults that can be triggered by a rupture along its length—runs for more than six hundred miles, and its assumed risk is for an earthquake of up to 7.5 on the Richter Scale—considerably more powerful than the one Haiti experienced and approaching the famous quake that destroyed San Francisco in 1906. Some scientists believe that a rupture along the Coronado Bank will likely diffuse its energy along the other faults under San Diego with appropriately interesting results. The gentle hills of the city anywhere from 20 to 200 feet high are evidence of the kind of vertical displacement that can happen suddenly here; east of  Park Boulevard in downtown to past 30th; the long rise east of Florida Canyon to the 805 cut in North Park, the hills north of 8 near SDSU and the sharp, irregular canyons cutting through Mission Hills were likely formed by sudden, upward, vertical jerking quakes. The presumed depth at which the epicenters of quakes triggered by the Coronado Bank Fault would occur are believed to be anywhere from five to twelve kilometers deep. Deeply occurring quakes characteristically spend energy differently than shallow ones; the difference is usually measured in time, severity of shock and sudden displacement of earth—and water.  A simple way to imagine the differences between deep quakes and surface ones is to consider the deep, rolling, thunderous kind of booming explosion produced by black powder filled fireworks as a signifier of the energy release of a quake at depth. Contrast this with the sharp, shattering, brissant concussion of a blast made by a modern high explosive. Though the Coronado Bank has its many dangers, depth may help shield San Diego from the worst kinds of sudden, shattering damage. The Rose Canyon Fault is another matter entirely.
Some scientists believe that the Rose Canyon channels its force at relatively shallow depths—or at the surface of—the ground. Significant sudden, vertical energy release accounts for the steep hills of La Jolla, Clairemont Mesa and the Morena and Linda Vista districts and is likely responsible for the slow sinking of Mission Bay and Pacific Beach. The Rose Canyon Fault is presumed to be capable of a magnitude 6.0 quake and is thought to be likely to generate the greatest sudden local ground acceleration when a quake occurs. Soledad Mountain’s upward thrust of some 60 meters in about 120,000 years is evidence of the power the Rose Canyon Fault can unleash. In terms of geologic time, that is a sudden burst of upward energy in the blink of an eye. The Rose Canyon Fault may unleash that kind of sudden, upward shocking force anywhere along its length, through the city and under the bay. Many other faults under San Diego are thought to be able to unleash similar force.
Though for nearly a century, San Diego has been promoted as a place “relatively” free of quakes, the evidence in the earth says otherwise. Assuming a serious shock along the Rose Canyon Fault of 6.0 magnitude at a shallow depth, San Diego would suffer greatly and its likely that a great loss of life would happen within seconds, especially if we were struck on a busy weekday when many offices and buildings were filled with people and the roads were full. We could expect to lose I-5 and the junction where 8 crosses it. Rail tracks would likely be out of commission. Lindbergh Field would suffer from damage to its runways from liquefaction of the filled earth the airport sits on. It is possible, though difficult to predict that the entire area surrounding San Diego Bay could suffer great damage from sudden water displacement caused by the rupture of any of the fault lines beneath the surface. This would make the Coronado Bridge a very unsafe place to be should a quake along the Rose Canyon and its “tributary” faults let go.
Water, power and sewerage systems would break and both Mission Bay and the Harbor would be fouled with tons of raw sewage from broken pipes for an indefinite time, causing a danger to public health. The communications towers on Mount Soledad would likely be damaged, making the transmission of news and other communications impossible. Landslides would bury many streets and roads and the network of streets would likely be broken everywhere. Broken pipes would cascade water into low lying areas, perhaps drowning those who couldn’t get out of basements or lower floors of damaged buildings. For those who flee, fallen power lines would create a maze of dangers enhanced by the flooded streets.
Low lying areas built on filled land or the San Diego River bottom could expect to be seriously damaged. In a strong quake, it could be likely for a surge effect to push water downriver or suck seawater inland; Mission Bay and the beaches could become a quagmire of liquefied fill.
The damage to the roads and streets, coupled with loss of power, would mean that cars won’t be able to move far or get gas from stations without power to work gas pumps. San Diegans will be instantly back in the 19th century when it comes to transportation, with bicycles and even skateboards at a sudden premium to move people and things. This will mean that emergency medical care, food and water distribution and all other kinds of aid will be slow in coming . The loss of I-5 from La Jolla to perhaps as far south as downtown would make crossing San Diego from north virtually impossible, to say nothing of the damage likely to parallel surface streets and Pacific Highway. West of the five, residents may find themselves cut off from passable surface streets for a long time after the quake.
Since the Rose Canyon almost certainly connects with the Silver Strand Fault, force moving along it would likely damage much of the center of San Diego. The older buildings of the gaslamp and the Coronado Bridge would likely suffer damage if not complete collapse. The Navy has long had a plan in place to blast a channel in the south bay along the Strand to create a second entrance to the harbor if necessary. While perhaps a useful short term fix, it may be likely that any southern opening of the Strand would begin an erosion of coastline that couldn’t be stopped; this may ultimately turn Coronado into an island—or series of islands, if the Spanish Bight Fault liquefies the fill land under the runway at North Island.
Point Loma, riven with parallel faults en echleon with the Coronado Bank Fault, might be subject to great landslides through many of its hills. A 19th century quake was once powerful enough to crack the walls at the Old Lighthouse and cause erosion on the unpopulated hills there. That same kind of power would likely tumble many homes off the slopes and cause both Shelter and Harbor Islands to liquefy and settle into the bay.
Further east, the La Nacion Fault is thought to be capable of producing vertical thrusts of up to 20 feet. Damage to I-805 and I-15 would be very likely south of Mission Valley.
A strong earthquake would not stop at the border and the effects among a million Mexicans in Tijuana—suddenly displaced, injured and without resources or ability to acquire them from their own government—can be imagined. Any American relief effort would have to include these people, if for no other reason than to stave off riots born of desperation and the problems of disease caused by lack of sanitation and medical care.
Besides the certainty of quakes, there is a danger of fire following a significant one. Perhaps the county would be at its unluckiest if a strong shock happened during a Santa Ana, and the wind blew impossible to control fires from the east to the sea.
Perhaps recognizing its own lack of preparedness for disaster following the fiascoes of the 2003 and 2007 wildfires and chronic lack of funds, the County and City of San Diego are tacitly warning residents to look after themselves when disaster strikes. This is couched in the language offered by the County’s Emergency Services website. Presently, the county urges everyone to pack three to five days of drinking water, canned foods, first aid materials and batteries to keep body and soul together until help arrives. This is likely provided that Brown Field, Tijuana’s Rodriguez Field, Montgomery, Miramar and Carlsbad airports are still intact. Except for North Island and Lindbergh which are bisected by faults and on filled earth and vulnerable in a strong quake, the other county airfields may be expected to function. While not officially recommended, getting to one of those airfields in the aftermath of a quake may make all the difference when it happens. In addition to that, tarps, shovels, radios, knives and other weapons, hand operated can openers, bleach, medicines and some thick boots and sox to match would be essential afterward. An old bit of quake lore reminds us to keep shoes beside the bed; if a quake hits at night, it may be wise to find something to wear rather than risk cutting your feet on fallen crockery or glass. In the age of ubiquitous electronics, some form of portable generator will be essential to keep cell phones and computers operable; solar, portable or run from autos, keeping juiced up will be a challenge that needs to be met. It’s also wise to scout a relatively safe place to reassemble family and friends in advance and have one’s circle clear on where to go. Parks, parking lots, malls; anywhere it’s open and relatively unencumbered will do.
Unlike Haiti, where indifferently constructed buildings collapsed and killed many of the 200,000 lost there, San Diego’s building codes have produced much safer structures—for the most part. Older areas of the city where brick buildings are common are at substantially higher risk for damage, as are houses on hillsides, in low areas, on fill land or near water.
Some useful information can be found at
Something more complete can be had at LAFD_EmergPrepGuide.pdf Other interesting sites for tracking quake progression are:

Comments (2)

’67’s Summer of Love Has an SD Connection

Posted on 13 May 2010 by John Rippo

If you can remember “Incense, Peppermints”, you’re way older than 30—the age that the Hippies used to say was the cut-off date for people you could trust. A 30-year old in 1967’s Summer of Love would be 72 now. No telling how trustworthy that would be, either.

The music from that time has made a comeback with the help of Gary Raycheck, a local producer working with Ben Vereen and others to showcase the music that defined the late-’60’s eAra. Bands like the Strawberry Alarm Clock produced the sounds associated with the era of free love and turning on, tuning in and dropping out. The bands on the CD are the musicians of a movement that coalesced in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district— and scared the hell out of the Squares who had bought the American Dream and secretly feared anyone who may have buyer’s remorse. Now, forty years later, the music on the CD sounds quaint and kind of old fashioned, much like what Yankee Doodle Dandy sounds like to a post-Cold War generation. Yet this is the music that moved millions to do a quintessentially American thing—head west, dump the wage-slavery of nine-to-fiving for the Man, and take a new shot at life by re-inventing themselves and their world.  They were the inheritors of the spirit that moved their ancestors to cross an ocean in search of America, and to settle the West and stake the Gold Rush. They inherited the words of Thoreau, Mark Twain and O. Henry to live life on their own terms for better or worse. They were an anomalous American generation that respected poetry. And they had the input of people like Timothy Leary who urged all and sundry to consider better living through chemistry.

The Hippies were begat by the Beats, who were called “Beatniks” by Squares who couldn’t understand the times or keep their mouths shut. “Hipsters” were the folk who played the folk songs in the coffeehouses of the Haight, or L.A. or even here in the days before the the SDPD closed them down in  an hysterical bid to stop progress. “Hippies” were the young hipsters; the little brother and little sister wannabes whom the old guard grudged acceptance at first. But as time went on, the name stuck and those who rebelled against their low-numbered draft cards and Uncle Sam’s one-way excursion to Vietnam with the last stop at Arlington were the ones to radically change the social foundation of the society that raised them. The world hasn’t been the same since—thank God.
The times were ripe for changing, too. The Cold War fearmongering and anti-communist witch hunts had choked freedom too long; the great number of youth who went to college found in education a previously unknown intellectual freedom and the promise of opportunity and millions of them wanted to do more than shoehorn themselves into gray flannel suits and commute from Levittowns to windowless offices. Women had the Pill, which allowed them to choose when or if pregnancy would happen and the recent Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act opened up new avenues that hippies’ mothers never had. The rising tide of feminism altered the Old Boy’s network permanently and all the assumptions that went unquestioned before were reassessed by the young, the restless and very often, the stoned.
The echoes of that era are still with us and the cultural counterattack by the Squares of the rightwing have moved much of the tide back to where it once was when culture was more straitlaced and less free. The “post 9-11 world” shibboleth that gave license to the Man to re-impose a direction the ’60’s turned us from is back on track and if people think they are somehow more secure, they can’t help but notice they’re less free to be themselves. A new generation is learning that security trumps freedom and that their elders were just a bunch of crackpots who did too many drugs and mean nothing.

But the music in this CD is a time capsule of when millions caused a revolution just by not showing up to the fate society had in store for them and doing something different instead. It’s 108 minutes of Jesse Colin Young, Peter & Gordon, Buddy Miles, Earl Thomas and others, with a nod to Otis Redding. Come hear the music play and see what it inspired over 40 years ago. Check Adams Entertainment dot com.

Comments Off on ’67’s Summer of Love Has an SD Connection

Gelato Vero Turns 25; Signature Gelati Follows Signature Cafe

Posted on 31 January 2010 by John Rippo

Gelato VeroGelato Vero Caffé quietly marked its 25th anniversary recently as San Diego’s premier gelateria—and one of the County’s most singular coffeehouses. The tiny shop has long been the center of first-class gelato making and has created no end of legends, both for its staff and customers.

Founded in 1984 by Henry Rabinowitz, a former teacher who fell in love with gelato on a trip to Italy, Gelato Vero occupies the site of an earlier coffeehouse named Sidney’s that existed from 1978 to 1983. The corner shop at India, Andrews and Washington Streets has always been a place of offbeat wonder and fascination; before Sidney’s, the corner held a record store that specialized in jazz, before that it was a bead shop, a porn bookstore and was the first site of the San Diego Jazz Festival in 1974.

When Gelato Vero opened, few here knew what gelati are. Most thought it merely ice cream and Rabinowitz developed a short and pithy speech to inform the curious about the flavorful, rich in butterfat and relatively low- calorie concoctions that he specialized in making. Gelato not only relies on fresh and excellent ingredients—it requires a high degree of hands on labor and excellent sense of timing and is not made in huge production runs. Gelati is made by the batch and Gelato Vero’s sizes in equipment and area are  made for a single operator.  Rabinowitz changed the perception of Gelato soon enough, encouraging his patrons to expand their tastes and feeding them no end of samples. His clients paid back the favor by going out of their way to patronize his house, and soon enough, wholesale orders flowed in from the better restaurants that required signature gelati from the shop. The flavor offerings are never ending and Rabinowitz created hundreds of unique gelati for restarants and other clients that held their flavors exclusively; some for almost twenty five years.

The curiously small back room, just behind the café counter was and still is ground zero for gelato making. A second room the size of a small garage exists uphill from the café and houses a second mixer and  freezer. From this small space, perhaps hundreds of tons of gelati and sorbetto are made yearly for the coffeehouse’s customers and wholesale accounts.

Right from the beginning, Gelato Vero drew an incredible wealth of creatives of all kinds as its core clientele. This may have had something to do with Henry Rabinowitz’s personality that was warm, engaging and genuinely curious about people, and that the café staff was a mirror of the kind of people who came there. Gelato Vero has a long reputation for staffers who, while competent and capable, are not tolerant of insolence, meanness or conspicuous rudeness from the clientele. Though this hasn’t always been easy for those caught in the cultural crossfire, Gelato Vero has anchored its place as a culturally inclusive and engaging place where many different kinds of people feel welcome. For many of its regular clients, Gelato Vero is a second home.

Perhaps the house’s layout has something to do with that feeling. Gelato Vero comes in three parts; inside, outside tables on the street, and upstairs. The three sections are very different and the preferences of some for one of them is a defining characteristic of some who visit regularly. Inside is often where the new visitors, families and first dates sit. The café is cramped; there are only a handful of tables and these become cluttered quickly. Outside is where the local observers reside, readers of newspapers and books and those who want conversation with whomever is available. The upstairs was once the haven for smokers and nothing was finer than savoring a cigar on the upstairs deck on a sunny afternoon watching the street go by and seeing the sun shimmer off the bay. Unfortunately, complaints by some of the public ended that pleasure for smokers and now the upstairs is a place where solitary figures read, or more likely camp on their laptops. On chilly nights heaters edge off the chill for the serious types who catch up on their work. Otherwise, the wind breezing through the canvas awnings over the upper deck are a sensation all their own.

Henry Rabinowitz ran his business daily until April, 2006 when he suddenly died of heart failure while on the job. His son Aaron runs the business now and works to expand the wholesale gelato business and take the café side forward.  Aaron seems to be as adept as his dad was and is ever developing new and uncommon flavors for his picky restrateurs. In the last few years, several new gelaterias have opened and have gained a good following. All of the newcomers have Gelato Vero Caffé to thank for their initial ease of entry into the market. The comfortable, inviting and infinitely appealing little shop that Henry Rabinowitz created in the summer of 1984 has become a signature place that defines the flavor of San Diego not only in gelati, but in coffeehouses, too.
We look forward to the years to come at Gelato Vero Caffé.

Comments (0)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here