Edit ModuleShow Tags

We’ll Always Have Paras

A personal salute to America’s finest newsstand


Published:

As a kid I loved watching The Name of the Game, the smart, hip NBC television drama set in the world of magazine publishing. My favorite character was Jeff Dillon (Tony Franciosa), a charismatic investigative reporter for People magazine. Part Sam Spade, part Errol Flynn and part Max Miller (I Cover the Waterfront), Dillon was both a tough guy and a ladies’ man who lived on the edge. But he always got the bad guys and somehow redeemed himself by the end of every show.

Watching the series, I developed a passion for journalism, especially mag­azines. At the ripe age of 12 I started reading everything from Sports Illustrated to Life to Boys’ Life to Rolling Stone to Playboy (when I could sneak a peek). When I moved here in 1984 to attend San Diego State, my love for the printed word was reignited after I joined the staff of the college magazine (Monty) and newspaper (Daily Aztec) and visited a little hole-in-the-wall on the corner of 30th and University called Paras News.

Our city’s seminal newsstand, which has stood on the same bustling North Park corner since 1949, Paras is filled with colorful characters, from wealthy yuppie types to literate homeless. First time I walked in, I thought to myself, “This is a place where Jeff Dillon would hang out.”

Paras boasts the best selection of periodicals anywhere. It’s where I first discovered Spy magazine, my favorite magazine of them all. Years ahead of its time, Spy, edited by Graydon Carter (now editor at Vanity Fair), combined the cynical satire of National Lampoon with the investigative prowess of The New York Times. It sometimes got a bit too snarky and mean, but it was always intelligent, creative and funny.

That newsstand was also my entry into a whole new world of obscure literary, academic and political journals, ’zines, comic books, sports weeklies, foreign publications, travel magazines, music publications and more. Paras has newspapers, too, from dozens of cities around the country and the world, and a variety of books.

Paras isn’t just about periodicals. It’s about people. It’s a friendly, Cheers-like place where everybody knows your name. And I guess you could say I’ve played the Norm character there for a long time. Not quite so chubby or fatalistic as Cheers’ Norm, perhaps, but definitely as loyal. I even squeezed a mention of Paras into a Rolling Stone piece I wrote 20-some years ago about what was hot at the time in San Diego.
Paras has the look and feel of a place that will be with us forever and outlast every trend. But it faces the very real possibility of extinction. The newsstand has very narrowly avoided going out of business several times in recent years as more people turn to the Web and fewer folks buy magazines and newspapers. It now sells food, lottery tickets, candy, cigarettes and other stuff just to stay afloat. Magazines and newspapers alone can no longer sustain the place. It’s a sad sign of the times.

Yet Paras is valiantly hanging on. The presidential election helped. People were coming in to buy anything with President Obama’s face on the cover. But in this age of bloggers and iPads, keeping the place open in the long run is going to take a concerted effort by all who cherish the printed page.

As Rick (Humphrey Bogart) might have said to Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) if Casablanca had been set instead in San Diego, “We’ll always have Paras.”

Hopefully.  

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

The Ultimate San Diego Summer Guide 2017

Take this season to the next level with our annual roundup of the top beach barbecues, pool parties, concerts, outdoor movies, and more

The Man Behind San Diego's $26 Billion Company

Will Illumina's new hotshot CEO be able to lead the San Diego genomics giant into the complex world of clinical care?

This UCSD Professor Is Using Science to Make Cheese Taste Better

Assistant professor Rachel Dutton is elevating cheese in the unlikeliest of places—a science lab
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Jason Mraz Is Growing Coffee on a Farm in Oceanside
    We spoke to the musician about all the whys — why food, why farming, why Oceanside, why coffee?
  2. San Diego's Best Restaurants 2017
    The top tacos, chicken wings, seafood, burgers, kid-friendly eateries, breweries, and more
  3. 10 Scenic Hikes Within an Hour of San Diego
    You’ve mastered all the trails in your area—now plan a Saturday to get outside for a hike and enjoy the views just a bit farther afield
  4. The Man Behind San Diego's $26 Billion Company
    Will Illumina's new hotshot CEO be able to lead the San Diego genomics giant into the complex world of clinical care?
  5. Celebrating Women: Shanna Missett Nelson
    Like a good dancer, the Jazzercise president has mastered her balance—of career, family, and life
  6. San Diego's Best Boutique Fitness 2017
    We've sweated through the top yoga, barre, Pilates, and boot camp classes, and are rounding up our favorites
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

9 Reasons You Need a Better Barber

Get the look and service you deserve at this East Village salon

Enter a Drawing You Could Actually Win

There are more than 1,700 prizes in the Dream House Raffle
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags