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The Insider

Celebrities � Politics � Media

San Diego has slipped to fifth place in Men’s Fitness magazine’s annual ranking of the nation’s fittest cities, and you can blame traffic and the air we all breathe. “America’s Finest City was America’s Fittest City for three years running (and walking and blading and swimming and sailing),” the magazine’s editors write. “But San Diego slipped to the show slot last year and now lands out of the money due to a painful commute through increasingly bad air.”

The Men’s Fitness 2003 survey also finds that San Diego has the highest EPA watershed rating of any California city—apparently the brown stuff that comes out of our faucets isn’t as bad as it smells—and that while nearly half of San Diegans walk for exercise (a national record), fewer San Diego residents play basketball than do residents of any other city in the survey, which included the country’s 50 biggest municipalities.

Actor Kevin Spacey quietly popped into town one recent weekend on a press tour in support of his new movie, The Life of David Gale. Spacey spent Sunday night at the hot new W Hotel downtown, registered under his own name. In the film, he plays a man opposed to capital punishment who ends up on death row after killing a fellow activist.

Former San Diegan Eddie Vedder, lead singer and songwriter for Pearl Jam, has some unusual backstage requests, according to the investigative Web site The Smoking Gun (www.thesmokinggun.com). For dressing-room snacks, Vedder and his bandmates, now based in Seattle, require a litany of fresh fruits and vegetables to make their own smoothies, with the caveat “Please make sure all fruits and vegetables are ripe (otherwise don’t waste the effort).” They also require one carton each of Marlboro reds and Camel Lights and “a selection of candy bars, Mars, Snickers, etc., M&Ms in a bowl.” As for booze, the band’s backstage “rider” insists, “Never put any alcohol in the artists’ dressing room please!! All alcohol to be given to production manager.”

For two nights, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in the Golden Triangle was overrun by ... bare-naked ladies? That’s Barenaked Ladies, the rock band, who were in town for a gig. An alert publicist was kind enough to jot down what they ate—and drank. Seared ahi tuna, rib-eye steak and filet mignon were favorites, interspersed with swigs of Estancia Merlot and Byron Pinot Noir.

Poor Ted Leitner. Not only was the local broadcast legend abruptly separated from radio station KFMB, where he commanded the morning show, and its TV affiliate KFMB Channel 8, but those nifty Ted Leitner bobble-head dolls the radio station was pitching have been yanked from its on-line store.

The Recording Industry Association of America, fighting a quixotic quest to stop music file-swapping over the Internet, dumped huge wads of cash into the campaign coffers of various candidates on the state and national levels. California lawmakers received nearly a half-million dollars in the five months leading up to the November 2002 elections. Locally, state senators Dede Alpert and Denise Moreno got $2,000 apiece, while Bill Morrow and Assembly members Juan Vargas, Christine Kehoe and Mark Wyland each got $1,000. All contributions to local candidates came the week before the vote.

This Month in San Diego History: 1908

A Fleeting Moment

No one seems to know how or when San Diego was first nicknamed “Navy Town,” but a significant step in that direction came on April 14, 1908, when the U.S. Navy’s Great White Fleet made San Diego its first U.S. stop on its worldwide tour. The fleet had been dispatched to circumnavigate the globe by President Theodore Roosevelt as a grand show of America’s might. And San Diegans turned out in droves to welcome the 16 battleships, seven destroyers and four auxiliary ships as they anchored off Coronado—San Diego Bay being too shallow for battleships.

Their arrival made San Diego “the most favored city of the decade,” according to the San Diego Union. “Home again!” the local paper crowed. “Sixteen monsters of war dashed out of the South Pacific and cast anchor off Hotel del Coronado ... and the gigantic fleet was home again. Sixteen thousand officers and bluejackets manned the sides and thrilled at sight of the home shore.”

The fleet was in town for four days. Bands played from the balcony of the U.S. Grant Hotel, a parade marched through downtown, a gala Admirals Ball was held at the Hotel del, and the ships were lit up at night, their searchlights combing the city.

Side note: Business leader William Kettner headed the program to welcome the fleet. He was so ticked by the fact that the ships couldn’t anchor in San Diego Bay that, after his election to Congress in 1912, one of his first achievements was securing a federal appropriation to dredge the harbor so that deep-draft ships could enter it.
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