Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"America's Finest City"

It was both a long and rewarding weekend, it all started Friday with the . . .

C.I.F. "AAA" Boys Basketball
Championship Game

My alma mater, St. Francis H.S. made it to the title contest for the first time in the school's 68 year history thanks to a surprising playoff run. The Golden Knights' opponents were the equally surprising Oak Park H.S. Eagles.

The game was played at Azusa Pacific University's very accommodating gymnasium before a late arriving crowd due to an accident that blocked the 210 Freeway for hours.

It was a good, see-saw battle until the home stretch when Oak Park took care of the ball and sunk their free throws to pull away to a 60-53 victory.

It was fun to see and talk with fellow S.F.H.S. Class of 1965 alums Terry Terrazone, Greg Boyer and Pete Glynn at APU.

On Sunday, I headed four hours down the 405 Freeway towards San Diego to deliver my EuroBall talk to the Seniors at the University of San Diego.

Mike Contreras

During this drive, I was fielding constant reports from Laurie about our son Mike who was running in the Los Angeles Marathon. It was his first marathon ever and, on this hot March day, his goal was to break the four minute mark for his 26.2 mile journey.


Once in San Diego, it was time to enjoy some of "America's Finest City."

First Stop

Although I had been to San Diego many times over the years and had thoroughly enjoyed each and every visit, I had never been to the Little Italy section of town.

How very Sicilian

Just like our two years living and coaching in Catania, finding a free parking spot in Little Italy took me about 20 minutes. I was not going to pay $12 to the local "parking nazis."

The Little Italy area is about four blocks long and chock full of tantalizing aromas, ristorantes, watering holes and fun.

 A SICILIAN Ristorante!!!

I had to check it out with the hope of finding a good plate of spaghetti al nero.

No such luck, so I kept searching as their menu looked quite Italian, not Sicilian.

Italian Heritage Oscar Winners 

Banners like this one hung throughout the district honoring various Oscar Award winners with Italian roots.

Sophia in her prime . . . breathtaking!!!

Filippi's Pizza Grotto
1747 India Street, San Diego

A good, hearty plate of spaghetti with Italian sausage can be found here, I recommend it highly.

After my early dinner, I headed over to scenic Balboa Park which was erected for the 1915 Pamama-California Exposition.

Today the park includes a world famous zoo, museums, theaters and all sorts of open space in which to recreate or laze.

What is a Spanish Flag doing here?

 That explains it

One small part of the park houses a set of international houses that are only open on Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The Spanish House was indeed interesting though small. All of these little houses, cottages actually, just want to give visitors a taste of their various homelands.

It was about 3:40 p.m., so I needed to hustle to see as many exhibits as possible

Hey, I know that flag

Yep, Gaul!

I need to get a collection of these!

Time was running out, the Italian, Swedish and Swiss Houses were closing, so I'll have to come back to see them some other Sunday when I have more time.

The Organ Pavilion

They hold an organ concert here every Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Not only did I miss this today, I have never seen this quaint sight other than like this, a peaceful place to sit and enjoy the weather.

That would change on Monday.

El Cid Campeador

Part of Balboa Park's Architecture

I do NOT know?

On Monday morning, before meeting with the USD Seniors, I had a few hours to kill so I headed back to a very deserted Balboa Park.

Balboa Park's
Museum of Man

Beer and Torture

Interesting exhibits to say the least.

Suddenly, I heard the organ playing in the nearby Pavilion. I just had to check it out.

It's alive, ALIVE!!!

Just Showing Off

This unusual playing of the Park's organ was completely off-the-cuff. Just a few pieces to show off the magnificence of the organ to some special visitors from the greater world of music I was told.

And some more fun

Finally it was time to get to work . . .

It was Pro Day

When I arrived, some of the Torero Seniors were going through a series of drills for NFL scouts from the Chargers, Chiefs and Raiders in hopes of getting drafted or at least getting a chance to sign on as a Free Agent some day soon.

My contact at USD was Juan Lozano, their Director of Football Operations.

It turns out that Juan grew up in Camarillo, attended Santa Clara H.S. for two years before moving to San Diego and was a friend of Scott Fujita's growing up. Scott, who is our Godson, was a Rio Mesa H.S. and University of California-Berkely student who just finished an 11 year NFL career as a linebacker with the Chiefs, Cowboys, Saints and Browns.

Small world indeed.

Coach San Anno and RB Kenn James

We were also joined by kicker/punter Ernie Collins for the EuroBall talk. I was a bit disappointed by the turnout but their enthusiasm more than made up for it.

Sam was really interesting to meet. He played LB at Santa Monica H.S., USC and seven years in the NFL with the Rams, Vikings, Buccaneers and Chargers and is about to start his sixth season coaching at USD.

Sam was really fired up about EuroBall as was USD's Head Coach Dale Lindsey who has ties to Europe as his wife is from Budapest.

If a team in Europe is looking for a good coach in the next few years, you should really contact these two men.

USD's American Football Stadium

San Diego is truly a fine city!!!

Reading Is FUNdamental

Genetically modified foods, the Papal predictions of St. Malachy, Druids, a Black Madonna, the Guild and Sigma Force . . .

Why not keep perusing?

Military K-9 dogs, Somalia, Dubai, neuro-robotics, organ trafficking, the science of immortality . . .

I hate the Guild!

America needs Sigma Force!!!

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