Archive for the ‘Then and Now’ Category

Really, quite a Comeuppance or two!

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Dave Fleminger, the Comeuppance; Casbah, Sept. 3, 2011 (Sean McMullen)The Che’Underground’s very own David Fleminger has been granted a flattering profile in the San Diego Troubadour: “The Perpetual Flowering of DAVID FLEMINGER.” It’s a well-deserved tribute, that captures a significant side of Dave’s multifaceted career.  David’s protean musical talent is given richly deserved attention, from with a comprehensive retrospective of his history in both San Diego and the Bay area.  Says David, “I think a lot of the music that really moves me makes some sort of a statement. …it’s more than just an advertisement for a place and a lifestyle.”

Also published by the Troubadour, this last year, is a very fine review for The Comeuppance – David’s project with his wife,  Heather Vorwerck.  The group is already familiar to those, lucky enough to attend the 2010 festivities for the Che reunion shows at San Diego’s Casbah Nightclub.

Check it out!

Che Underground turns five!

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

birthday balloonsFive years ago today, I posted the first entry to Che Underground: The Blog. I’d been talking to some old friends about a place where we could share sounds and images from our musical youth in San Diego, and this turned out to be the handiest solution.

Soon Rockin’ Dog Dave Ellison created our striking design, and contributors including Ray Brandes, Kristen Tobiason, Paul Kaufman, David Fleminger and so many others enriched the site beyond anything I could have hoped. 

And my, how we grew! Hundreds of stories … Tens of thousands of comments and visitors. This little corner of the Web let so many revisit so much and introduced a whole new audience to the things we created back at the dawn of the ’80s.

The earth has made five solar revolutions since then, and most of us are still here on it. Looking back, I think we’ve moved in good directions, and I’m proud of any part this place played in bringing us back together.


Back to the Gaslamp!

Monday, March 15th, 2010

A quick one, while he’s away: I’m blogging from the Hilton in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, where I’ve arrived for a very short conference. In all my years of business travel, this is my first event in San Diego … And I do believe this is my first time in this part of SD since moving away in February 1987!

Thanks to Kristen Tobiason’s documentary efforts via her “Then and Now” series, we’ve virtually revisited sites of past glories before this neighborhood was cleaned up and relabeled the Gaslamp: the Zebra Club/Saigon Palace, Greenwich Village West, Studio 517, Funland

My time is short and packed with grown-up business, but I’m hoping for a few minutes to stroll the old ‘hood. What do you think I’d see, if I could walk away from me?

Then and now: The Che Cafe

Monday, September 14th, 2009

(High time! Che Underground documentarian Kristen Tobiason revisits the spot that gave the blog its name.)

Detail: Che logo, September 2009 (photo by Kristen Tobiason)The first time I landed on the surface of the Che Café was at an early-evening soundcheck for the Wallflowers (not the Jakob Dylan pansy MTV sensation, but the raw & funky, OG Wallflowers), who were opening that night for Noise 292.

Detail: Sergio and David Rives, Che Cafe, 1983 (collection Carol Coleman)Arriving and styling in Paul Howland’s parents’ green station wagon, we unloaded a couple pieces of equipment, and then proceeded to hang out in the woodsy picnic areas surrounding the venue, creating a smoky haze amidst talk of music and the humor of Tom and Paul’s use of ordinary soap as an alternative to dime-store hair gel.


Then and now: San Diego!

Friday, May 8th, 2009

(Kristen Tobiason rolls out the red carpet for Che Games for May.)

Old San Diego mapWith the reunion happening at the end of this month, many of you will be trekking back to your original stomping grounds after many years of estrangement. Much like the sweetheart you were squeezing 25 years ago, time has changed the landscape.

I vividly remember the car ride to the grand opening of the Wild Animal Park in 1972. The drive north to Escondido was unfettered with the suburban sprawl that congests it today. There were cows grazing, clusters of eucalyptus trees, a checkered water tower. For years we looked to the north as Los Angeles spread like a virus, choking the groves of Orange County with highways and strip malls. “Thank god for Camp Pendleton,” we’d say.

The government-owned coastal stretch from Oceanside to San Clemente seemed like a fortress, like a desert between Sodom and Paradise. But with the real-estate Gold Rush of the ’90s, we were no longer an oasis. San Diego’s population skyrocketed to over 3 million. Those cows are long gone, and in their place, a Target, a Starbucks and many Olive Garden-type feeding troughs.

So when you come back to San Diego, you may notice some big changes:


Liberty Station, formerly NTC Base SD

Monday, April 20th, 2009

(A curious bit of ephemera: An author named Matt Rhodes stopped by the blog; added this evocatively written item and one other piece; then moved along, never to participate again. I appreciate it both as a historical touchpoint and a found object. If anyone is in touch with Mr. Rhodes, please thank him for the donation and invite him back.)

San Diego easily forgets. A perfect example is the City’s botched attempt to convert the old Naval Training Base (on Rosecrans) into yet another strip mall for tourists and transplants alike.

In 1993, the NTC was closed down by the Navy and sold to city developers for millions of dollars. The 361-acre development is in a good location: on the waterfront just west of the airport and only a couple miles from downtown San Diego. The project has been noted for its renovation of dozens of historical buildings that will be adapted for stores, offices, schools, and other purposes.

The base was gutted by developer/contractor Corky McMillan.


Then and now: Graveyard Park

Monday, January 26th, 2009

(Roving correspondent Kristen Tobiason revisits the scenes of our past glories. Today, we find out where the bodies are buried — or not.)

Detail: Pioneer Park, headstones, January 2009 (photograph by Kristen Tobiason)“You moved the headstones, but you didn’t move the bodies!” In the Stephen Spielberg film “Poltergeist,” a suburban family is attacked by malevolent spirits provoked by a relocated graveyard.

Detail: Pioneer Park, back gate, January 2009 (photograph by Kristen Tobiason)Calvary Cemetery, a k a “Pioneer Park,” (1501 Washington Place in Mission Hills) shares a similar history (tho’ the only spirits I’ve heard of there are those of the bottled variety). Historically, the area served as a Catholic graveyard “between 1875 and 1919, with burials continuing up until 1960.” In 1970 the cemetery was converted into a public park, and “the grave markers (but not the people) were removed. A group of some of the gravestones were clustered together and a central memorial was placed in the southeast corner of the park. The exact number of people buried there isn’t known, but research alludes to possibly 4,000 burials which have occured there.”


Then and now: New Year’s resolutions

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

(Roving correspondent Kristen Tobiason revisits the scenes of our past glories. Today, we take a cup of — non-alcoholic — kindness yet for auld lang syne.)

Making a list and checking it twice. … It’s that time again. Time to make the list we never keep — Empty promises to our inner selves: To get on the wagon; quit smoking; lose 10 pounds; leave the ball and chain; or finally quit the job at the factory and become a rock star, for real this time!

Having already quit smoking, I am finding that my resolutions this year are not groundbreaking attempts at reform but just some small quality-life tweakings. It’s pretty tame.

Here’s what my current list looks like:
1. Return to 5x/week yoga.
2. Get the turntable fixed.
3. Write more and maybe even get out the drawing pencils.
4. Remember to send out b’day cards and thank-you notes.
5. Quit freaking out about getting older.
6. Meditate regularly.

I can imagine what my resolutions would have been when I was younger! (Yipes.)
Maybe something like this:


Then and now: the Chicken Pie Shop

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

(Sweet bird of youth! Roving correspondent/photographer Kristen Tobiason revisits the scenes of our past glories. Today, the Chicken Pie Shop still serves the salt of the earth.)

Detail: Chicken Pie Shop clock, October 2008 (photo by Kristen Tobiason)The Chicken Pie Shop, known for its geriatric-variety comfort food, large portions and low prices. I recall scraping the bottom of my handbag for a couple of bucks in change and receiving an all-inclusive, starch-based feast: a chicken pie smothered in gravy; whipped potatoes; a “vegetable”; a roll with butter; and then, if you really felt like stuffing yourself, dessert (which was some kind of pie).


Then and now: Off the Record

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

(Roving correspondent/photographer Kristen Tobiason revisits the scenes of our youth. Today, Off the Record’s original location is roadkill.)

Detail: Former Off the Record site, September 2008 (photo by Kristen Tobiason)It takes my breath away that the candy store of my youth has been diminished to something as unsavory as a used-tire store. Off the Record has had a history, migrating from its origin on 6130 El Cajon Blvd. to the heart of the Hillcrest shopping district, where a much larger store thrived in the ’90s and early 21st century with San Diego’s indie rock scene and the DJ phemenon. The in-store concerts were memorable and yielded huge turnouts for bands such as The Misfits, Husker Du, Mudhoney and Nirvana. (Check out Nirvana at OTR in October 1991.)

After the original owner Phil Galloway sold the store, it downsized its stock considerably and in 2005 moved to a small storefront on University Avenue in North Park. The end of an era: Music stores can’t compete nowadays with the instant accessibility of MP3s and shareware. Record stores are reserved for the discriminating vinyl collectors who will never sell out completely to technology, no matter how clever those gizmos are!

Records will always be cooler.