Reinterpreted: a backwards glance into the life of Rider South

Tonight I believe I experienced true humility. I expected a good story; the truth about a man who had an unusual life experience. What I discovered was a great understanding of the intricacies of living life.

Rider South, now 79, is the son of the famed Marshal South who was best known for his the chronicles of his primitive desert living experiment with his family that lasted 17 years starting in 1930. Now living in The Middle of Nowhere, New Mexico, Rider agreed to do a 10-day tour with Diana Lindsey, arranged by Sunbelt Publications, talking about his story on the mountain, which included a return visit to Ghost Mountain. The last stop of the tour was San Diego History Center.

Diana Lindsey, probably the foremost expert on the history of the Anza-Borrego, set the stage by telling the story of Marshal South and his life as a poet, novelist, journalist, potter, homesteader, founder of a local militia, and admirer of women. The stories were above and beyond the history that I knew and had read. Diana painted the picture of a man who sought attention for his passions but quit as soon as his work reached popular demand for fear of it becoming a “job.” He was creative, independent, stubborn, and self-serving.

As Rider took the mic, it was easy to see that he had not inherited most of his father’s traits. He seemed apprehensive even though this was this final time he had to speak. His descriptions of his life and experiences felt distanced from any emotion of his life in the desert. When asked to describe his his return to Ghost Mountain, he described the difficulty of the trail at 79 compared with his youth as well the change of landscape. When asked about whether he felt jealous of other kids upon seeing them in books with houses and appliances, he merely responded… they were just books and other people’s lives. He spoke of returning to civilization and graduating from Point Loma High School as if it were just another day. Rider married the love of his life, Lucile, late in life (she was 68) although he followed her everywhere her path would lead. Last year, she passed away at 100 and 1/2. She was an inspiration in her own right.

After the talk, I had the privilege to meet Rider. We spoke of his miniature poodle, Suzy, who watches him fall asleep every night. He shared how he likes the dry weather of New Mexico and how his town has one of every store he needs, just enough. I learned his brother and sister now live in the rainy northwest and how his grandchildren are spread far and wide. He gushed over our store associate who gave him a postcard after he had inquired the price. He had never heard of a postcard that cost $1.60… He remembers when they cost a penny, and that included the stamp! This simple gesture of kindness he will forever remember.

Self-conscious of his age and the consequences of aging, he expressed his travel frustrations when his friend told him he was too old to drive the trip from New Mexico to San Diego.

“I’m so old!” He exclaimed to me as he picked up a painting his father had painted of him as a child on the mountain. But youth has not escaped him. It was reflected in his eyes when he received the postcard. It could be seen as he spoke about the things that mattered most to him, right now. And, you know what… It wasn’t his father, nor any of the years he spent on that mountain. That was the past. They could stay there. It was his dog, his wife and his simple life in a place that had just enough. Just enough.

Image of Rider South from East County Magazine


Eyes wide open to the cost of food

Last week was the official week of the Cal Fresh Challenge where individuals are encourage to eat for a week on a budget of $4.90 per day or $34.30 for the week. I wanted our family to partake but I had a major fundraiser dinner that week which would have blown the entire budget, plus some, in one sitting. So rather than blow it off entirely, I sat down and looked into the numbers and analyzed our family’s eating habits. I also watched as a few of my friends participated. Here are the things that I learned:

Planning ahead is key. When you are on a limited budget, making your money go far can be best accomplished with planning. This means looking at what meals need to be prepared for the week, what deals are available where, and awareness in general of the cost of what you are eating. Often those who live of food stamps don’t have the time to spend to research and plan, depending on their situation.

Shopping shouldn’t necessarily be done in one location. All supermarkets are not created equally. Some have better connections to obtain product X for a lower rate, or perhaps they over stocked. Paying attention to weekly circulars and shopping and multiple markets can shave off several dollars. And you don’t necessarily have to drive all over town. A store two blocks from where I normally shop was selling melon for a dollar cheaper and potatoes for a 1/6th of the price.

Eating on less money, sadly means eating less. This is a different sort of dieting. Portioning meals and planning usually means no room for snacking. Both Omar Passons and Lorena Gonzalez found themselves starving throughout the week. Protein is hard to come by except through eggs and beans. As a vegetarian,  I don’t tend to purchase meat anyway (note, my husband and child are happily meat eaters).

Most farmers markets/stands don’t take food stamps. I contacted my local market and Suzie’s Farm (who we have a CSA with) and discovered that they currently don’t take food stamps, but they are working towards it. I didn’t hear what was the hold up for making this happen, but I am glad to here that it is on their radar. With a small box costing $18 for 2 weeks worth of veggies, it is possible to create a rounded out diet for very little. Of course you are at mercy of the seasons.

Eating on a food stamp budget is more “difficult” as an individual than as a family or a couple. Well, sort of. It is easier in the sense that the budget is larger so items can be purchased to share. Since purchasing in bulk is cheaper per serving, you can get more for your money. Of course, it is hard and heartbreaking to tell a child, “this is all you get.”

Variety can be hard to come by. Planning and preparing larger meals means you will be eating the same meal for several days.  Luckily, my child wants the same thing everyday (chocolate pancakes for breakfast, peanut butter and jam for lunch, and rice or pasta for dinner) but we as adults would probably go nuts.

There are great resources for recipes out there. Casual Kitchen is one of my favorite places to go for cheap recipes. In fact he thrives on showcasing “laughably cheap” healthy recipes to prove that you can eat well on a budget. We just made this lentils recipe last week that cost us about $3 and served my husband and I for about 3 meals EACH. Also, I live off of this No Cook, Refrigerator Oatmeal. I just priced it out to around $1.00 ($1.58 with the chia seeds). If you purchase the generic Greek yogurt and generic oats, add milk and a little jam and whatever fruit is in season, you have a healthy breakfast that goes a long way.

I really want to make this challenge happen for my family, but I would rather attempt it for a month or longer, like this Princeton Alum’s family. I feel that a week doesn’t account for some staples that last you for a month’s worth of meals like flour and rice. My biggest problem are work events/business lunches that are required of my in my job. But I am happy that I spent a little time to become more aware of what my family and I are eating, if only to reduce our grocery bill and become a bit more empathic of people, who find food stamps are their reality.

Top 5 things I learned at San Diego Music Thing

I spent a fair bit of time at San Diego Music Thing this past weekend. Sadly due to work and the blackout, I was unable to attend panels on Friday, but managed to hit up quite a few venues after my 3 hour volunteer shift at the Lafayette’s Mississippi Ballroom. Saturday, I made sure to catch some of the panels before another shift in the depths of the hotel. Exhausted, I didn’t make it to additional shows that evening but I had my fill.

5. Sometimes everyone is to blame. When planning events something goes wrong, small or big, noticeable or not, something always goes wrong. Well, on Friday night in the Mississippi Ballroom, a lot went wrong. Viejas overbooked and backed out of doing sound two days prior to the event. Another reputable company (Audio Design, I think) took on the job. The PA/mixer system brought was not adequate for bands, OK for the panels, but not good at all for headliner type bands. I’m not sure if it was what was ordered or it was brought based on perceived sound needs. Anyhow, it sucked.

The first band, 321 Stereo sounded awful. There was static coming through the speakers and the lead singer was blowing out the high-end, not to mention she was singing off-key. We solved some of the issues with the second band, Bart Davenport. But with the third act, The Frail, one of the monitors and one of the mics blew out. Oh, and they could get their Mac to hook up so they were operating as a live band (which they say they never practice that way and rely on the steady beat) The Frail’s managers were watching from afar via webcast and were apparently not happy. Fun, fun.

Did I mention the sound guy looked stoned? All the while, we were trying to figure out how to make Nico Vega‘s lead singer’s in-ear monitor work, which we never did. I skipped out on most of their set, having had my fill of excitement. But I heard the show was awesome with a crowd of about 75-100 people.

4. Copyright, register w/ BMI & ASCAP, register w/ SoundExchange, & distribute w/ aggregator = money This was the basic formula to make even the slightest bit of money using the digital medium shared in the panel: “The future of music distribution…is it the cloud?” Although very dry, I found this to be a very informative panel which is what the panelists set out to achieve. They laid out the details of the cloud simply so attendees could follow. Well done.

3. Facilitators are necessary to keep a panel on track. Well, this is mostly true. Some panelists are good about staying on target, but others will stray for a story about some famous band that did something great or to promote their own business.

In the panel with Michael Addicott from Pandora, they never even addressed the question posed in the title of the panel: “As online radio grows, what happens to the independent musician?” unless “keep trying” was the answer. It was sad to see guest panelists knowledge wasted due to missing parameters. There are a number of individuals who would be great facilitators in this town who would ask relevant questions to keep thing on track. People who come to mind include Rosey Bystrak of San Diego Dialed In, Seth Combs,  Chris Maroulakos of Owl and Bear, George Varga of the Union Tribune, Bart Mendoza, Lyn Pagsolingan, and the list goes on.

2. “Aim low, reach for the stars,” “Play in a phone booth, say your show was packed wall to wall!” “Your t-shirt doesn’t need to have your band name on it, search your lyrics for some gems.” Martin Atkins, author of Tour: Smart and Saturday’s featured presenter, shared his honest and straight-forward advice to musicians regarding the music business, while making you bust your gut laughing. Truthfully, I gained a lot of solid information from his session even though I was in and out of the room. I even walked away with both of his books as a gift to my husband.

1. You don’t have to be a musician or in the music business to enjoy this event. Several times during this weekend, I found myself asking “Why am I here?” This event had nothing to do with my career path, I’m not a musician nor involved in the music industry. Luckily, Mat Bates of Slacker was there, as I verbally expressed this thought, to remind me that I didn’t need a reason and if I did, it’s because I love and have an interest in music.

Thank you for setting my thoughts straight, Mat. So I will pass this mantra on… “Do what you want, do what you love and have fun.” ~ Me (and probably someone else famous said this at one point too).

Apertivo Reopens on El Cajon Boulevard

Ken Cassinelli and his wife, Janie Losli are back at it again. Apertivo, the Italian-tapas restaurant previously located on 30th near University where El Take It Easy now resides, pulled out the old menu and set up shop on El Cajon Boulevard near Texas, on the same block as Pomegranate and its newly opened sister restaurant, Petrushka.

Once you find parking (try the south side of El Cajon) and check out the new digs… with its large patio, decent-sized bar, arched windows, black-and-white checkered floors and maroon beamed ceiling… you will find very few changes were made. Greeted by several waitstaff from the previous location, the atmosphere will suddenly feel like home. Menu favorites such as the Osso Bucco D’Agnelli and crimini mushrooms still shine the list, while the current specials make good use of the new smoker, including a smoked salmon. Prices increased slightly, going from ridiculously cheap to reasonable; while the wine list seemed to be shorter than I remember, but perhaps that just takes some time.

Although the restaurant has been open for a week, Ken and Janie  had been reluctant to share the news with the world. Janie admitted that they weren’t quite ready, but thinks it is about time. It is time. 

One more to Eleven

If you need that extra push over the cliff… you know what to do? Go to Eleven. This awesome Spinal Tap reference comes in the form of San Diego’s newest bar from Scot Blair and Dennis Borlek, the guys who brought you beer bars, Hamilton’s Tavern and Small Bar with Louis Mello from Liars Club as their general manager.

Radio Room, the location where Eleven now stands, looked like an empty shell compared to the newly renovated drinking establishment. Now plastered with old punk and rock posters from San Francisco and San Diego clubs of the 70s and 80s, including under the resined bar top. The stage, like a mini version of the Fillmore in San Francisco, is draped in red velvet commanding your respect for its artists.  Like the Radio Room, and The Zombie Lounge before that, Eleven will have live bands with hopes of becoming what The Casbah was 15-20 years ago in its old location. Investment in  a new sound system shows the owners’ commitment to Eleven as a quality music venue.

Tonight will be their official opening night, although they have obviously been serving patrons for almost two weeks, with The Silent Comedy and The Donkeys filling the room with energy and mayhem.

With caliber, hopped-up taste buds of Blair, Borlek and Mello, you can surely expect top rate beers at Eleven. Sixteen taps encircle the bar’s centerpiece on what they call the tap tower.  Brewed locally by Gordon Biersch, “Eleven Lager” is an American Pale Lager, according to the bar’s extensive board,  brewed especially for this beer bar. At only $3.25 per pint, this beer is on my must-haves. Beer events and cask ale availability are additional things to look forward to from this San Diego

They still are squaring up a few things technology-wise, as their website currently only shows their logo and sadly, their bar cannot be found on Tap Hunter. So be patient or just drop on by for a few!

Note: Photo credit to Jeff Hammett of the San Diego Beer Blog. I was there for 2 nights and didn’t take any photos. Lame on me.