Dog Beach or Bust

The door of the cherry-red Volkswagen bus slides open, and an excited cluster of dogs, temporarily leashed for safety, bounds down to the waves at Del Mar’s Dog Beach. Tish Tralka brings pups here daily in her Doggie Beach Bus for "off-leash adventures." Riding along with Tralka, it’s clear she’s one of the lucky ones: She’s discovered a dream gig that coincidentally fills a much-needed niche in dog-friendly North County.

For $30, Tralka will pick up your pups, take them for an hour-long play session, then drop them off at home and rinse them off. Dogs are grouped together based on activity level, assuring your geriatric Lab won’t be run over by a hyper terrier. In addition to play dates, Tralka also offers dog surfing lessons, pet sitting and doggie birthday parties. More info: 760-452-2002 or ­ 

—Wendy Rasmussen

Seeing Green

If you’re Irish—or just Irish at heart—you won’t want to miss these St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival

March 13, 11 a.m. (parade start) With more than 160 entries and 100,000 attendees, last year’s parade was among the  largest single-day events in San Diego. The parade, staged at Sixth and Laurel and progressing through Balboa Park, is held in conjunction with a festival (starting at 10) featuring a beer garden, tradi­tional Irish entertainment, kids activities and a Celtic village. 619-298-7400,

ShamROCK 2010

City Files

March 17, 4 p.m.–midnight Chicagoans may dye their river green for St. Paddy’s Day, but San Diego rolls out green Astroturf carpets throughout the Gaslamp Quarter for this annual 21-and-up multiblock party. Sponsors Jameson Irish Whiskey, The Field Irish Pub and Miller Lite ensure there’s no shortage of spirits. Multiple stages feature a variety of music, from Irish to house. 619-233-5008,

St. Patrick’s Day 10K Run/Walk

March 13, 7:30 a.m. In the spirit of the holiday, there’s beer at this finish line—but first you’ll have to go the distance. Options are 2, 4 or 6.2 miles around Mission Bay Park. Registration fees benefit Rady Children’s Hospital and Health Centers. A special award is given for the best Irish-theme running outfit. ­619-846-6269 or 858-268-9111, ­

Create-Your-Own Pub Crawl

Get your corned beef and cabbage and pint o’ Guinness at downtown’s Dublin Square Irish Pub (554 Fourth Avenue, 619-239-5818,, Hooleys Irish Pub & Grill in East County (5500 Grossmont Center Drive, La Mesa, 619-713-6900, and 2955 Jamacha Road, El Cajon, 619-670-7468, or your favorite Irish pub.   —Compiled by Kari Luu


By the Book

San Diego police officers and county sheriff’s deputies, faced with unique and challenging predicaments in recent months, have received new instructions from bosses. Of concern lately is how to properly respond to the "open carry" movement, in which citizens wear unloaded, unconcealed firearms in public, usually to protest restrictive gun-control laws and to provoke or test officers. A December training bulletin from Lansdowne outlined state and case law, urged good judgment and offered tactical advice. The bulletin was four pages long.

In January, Sheriff Bill Gore issued a training bulletin aimed at preventing confrontations at gatherings such as the one last year between a deputy and the host of a fund-raiser for congressional candidate Francine Busby. The bulletin advises deputies on a range of scenarios. For instance, when a party host slams the door on you, don’t stick your foot in, because that would likely be considered an illegal entry. That bulletin was 13 pages long.

"That is hilarious," says a veteran deputy. "Here you’ve got a department that in four pages tells you how to contact people who have weapons displayed openly, and the sheriff’s department needs 13 pages to tell you how to deal with loud parties. It’s overkill. It’s silly. It confuses you more than anything else."   —Kelly Thornton

City Files

The Insider

No Tijuana for Anniston: Though a recent Star magazine cover story claimed Jennifer Aniston was planning to adopt a baby from the Tijuana orphanage Casa Hogar Sion, the actress’ rep refuted the story on the Gossip Cop Web site. The rumors were apparently ­fueled by Aniston’s prior support of a charity called Friends of El Faro, which provides funding for the orphanage.

City Files

Celebrity Twitter roundup: Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon mulled the idea of buying "a crib" in San Diego after playing a show at Brick by Brick in Bay Park; Alyssa Milano gushed about her stay at Sè Hotel in the Gaslamp; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco posted a TwitPic of himself in Fashion Valley.

TiVO alert: Camera-ready San Diegans always seem to find a place in the casts of top reality-TV shows. Local couple Meghan Rickey and Cheyne Whitney recently won CBS’ The Amazing Race, and now another two locals are featured on the new season of Project Runway: 38-year-old S.D. native Seth Aaron Henderson (who now lives in Vancouver, Washington) and Jesus Estrada, 21. Last season featured another S.D.-based designer, Gordana Gehlhausen (a.k.a. Goga). A pair of local gals were also cast as suitorettes for ABC’s new Bachelor, Jake Pavelka. Among the two dozen vying for the pilot’s heart were 25-year-old restaurant manager Christina and Carlsbad’s Valishia, 32, a homemaker.

City Files

Toast to that: The Padres’ boldface name, Adrian Gonzalez, was spotted at the opening party for Toast Enoteca & Cucina, recently launched in the East Village by Acqua al 2 chef/owner Martín Gonzalez. The ballplayer mingled with the chef’s friends and family—many of whom flew in all the way from Sinaloa, Mexico—at the Italian-theme wine bar. Padres groupies, note: Given its ballpark-adjacent location at 10th and J, the eatery is poised to become even more of a post-game player hangout than Acqua.

"GTL: Gym, tan, laundry": Notoriously eight-pack-ab’d Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, from MTV’s bizarrely popular Jersey Shore, hosted parties in the Gaslamp and Pacific Beach not long ago (possibly commanding appearance fees of up to $7,500, his going rate according to E! Online). While in the 619, the striped-shirt-clad Situation downed sake shots and "Viva Las Vegas" rolls at downtown’s RA Sushi and repeatedly boasted that his fans are always surprised to learn how "real" he is. Emceeing the Guido & Guidette Ball at Stingaree nightclub, Sorrentino drank vodka–Red Bulls and danced in the go-go cages before making his exit—with a bevy of female admirers—via Hummer limo after last call. A few days later, he presided over another Jersey Shore bash at sister club Bar West in P.B.

Also spotted: Twilight’s Kellan Lutz, sipping vodka cocktails in the VIP area at Stingaree and hanging out in the deejay booth with pal DJ Alchemist ... The former Mr. Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, partying at the W Hotel San Diego on New Year’s Eve.        —Rachel Zenn Sachs

Guitar Hero

City Files

He might be the most prolific San Diegan you’ve never heard of—or do you know of someone else who arranges music for American Idol contestants and winners; plays and records with the likes of Justin Timberlake, T.I., Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, George Clinton and more; hosts a music and comedy show in Canada; plays monster rock festivals in Europe and Asia; organizes a Smithsonian music festival; and developed Rockstar Solos, an iPhone app? The guy many consider a guitar god was also recently enshrined in the Smithsonian as part of an exhibit on Native Americans’ contribution to popular music.

The balance between commercial and artistic success is what Stevie Salas says keeps him sane—although the husband and father acknowledges, unsurprisingly, "The only balance I don’t have right now is I’m working too much. I’m not home, and I’m flying about 150,000 miles a year. I know everybody at the San Diego airport. I didn’t ever want to be that much of a local at the Admirals Club," quips Salas (incidentally, one of San Diego Magazine’s People to Watch in 1989).

After playing Carlsbad beaches with his band, The Kids, in his El Camino High School days, he moved to Hollywood in 1985, only to find himself sweeping floors at a recording studio. Late one night, George Clinton needed some guitar chords for a recording. Salas delivered, one gig led to another, and soon he was playing, touring and palling around with the biggest names in music.

Now, in his American Idol role, he sets up San Diego musicians with gigs in Idol bands. "A lot of my dreams came true, and it gives me a chance to sort of help other people’s dreams come true," he says.

But don’t bother asking Salas for any Idol gossip. "Other than playing on the show every once in a blue moon or popping on the set once a year just to see what the talent’s looking like, I don’t even watch the show," he says. "If I have enough free time, I’m going to Costa Rica and surfing or something—I’m not staying at home and watching American Idol."     —Adam Elder

Our Carnegie Hall

One of the biggest fans of the San Diego Sports Arena’s $2.7 million remodel is former NBA star and local resident Bill Walton. He’s been hanging out in the new 6,500-square-foot lounge during recent concerts by Lady Gaga, Kiss and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Among the upgrades at the new, members-only Club 3500 (named for the arena’s address and carrying $2,500 annual membership dues): a $30,000 sound system; 14 flat-screen televisions; a 46-foot-long bar; a deejay booth; and eco-friendly restrooms with water-free urinals, high-tech hand dryers and live concert music or sports chatter piped in so visitors don’t miss a beat. Elsewhere in the arena, there are 60 new flat-screens in the concourse with specially designed software to run them, plus fresh paint, lighting and signage and 2,200 added up-front seats.

"It’s a pretty special, iconic building," says arena GM Ernie Hahn. "Most buildings as old as ours have been torn down. We’re celebrating the fact we’ve been around this long and making the improvements. No other facility in San Diego has hosted Led Zeppelin seven times, Elvis three times, Hendrix and Joplin twice each. Neil Diamond has played here 19 times."

Hahn says he intends to open the club for private parties and weddings—even as a nightclub when the arena has no other events planned. He’s most proud of what he calls the building’s signature—several walls showcasing more than 100 photographs from 43 years of concerts and sporting events at the arena—from its first concert by James Brown in 1967 to more-recent shows by Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift.

And then there are the images of sports icons like Bill Walton, who was happy to see himself featured in two photos on the history walls. But he wasn’t a big fan of the shot where it appears Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is about to dunk on him. Walton contributed another image in which he gets the better of Abdul-Jabbar.   —Kelly Thornton

Designing Mind

City Files

Two of the town’s more mind-trippingly inventive establishments to emerge recently—Pearl Hotel and Vin de Syrah wine parlor—are redefining San Diego’s urban aesthetic. Behind both projects, as well as numerous other landscape-altering escapades, is custom designer extraordinaire Michael Soriano.

After graduating from UCSD, the marine biology–turned–visual arts major began working in Los Angeles as an on-set dresser for major brands including Pepsi, Nike and Apple. To the benefit of design-loving San Diegans, in 1992 he moved back to his hometown and later established Onairos Design (Soriano spelled backward), catering to residential and commercial clients such as Onyx Room, Cendio and Blue Lotus.

In creating his unique concept designs, Soriano says the guest experience serves as the driving force for his inspiration. "What I do is a lot more than just making things look pretty," he says. "[I create] experiences that are very fluid, where you don’t really have to think about the experience; it just happens."

Next on his plate: Soriano is in talks to team with Cohn Restaurant Group and celebrated chef Deborah Scott to design a new dining venture.         —Aminata Dia


What Goes Down

Though crime has spiked during every recession since the late 1950s, San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne—and many of the nation’s law enforcers—have not seen the predicted increase in crime dur­ing this one. In fact, the latest stats from the San Diego Police Department show a 36-year low for homicides and a 17 percent across-the-board drop in all crime for 2009—the largest year-to-year decline in more than 60 years. The trend is reflected nationwide in recent FBI statistics, though with less-dramatic decreases.

Criminologists, sociologists and police officials speculate it’s because the older population is less likely to commit crimes. Or perhaps extended unemployment ben­efits have kept people from sinking into desperation. Or maybe since there are more people at home, burglars have less opportunity.    —Kelly Thornton

Catching Up with ... Nick Cannon

City Files

San Diego native Nick Cannon—actor, emcee, rapper, deejay, producer, author, TV and record-label mogul and dutiful husband to Mariah Carey—shares one of his secrets of productivity right off the bat: Don’t sleep.

"Every 24 hours, I try to get four hours," says Cannon, the Swiss army knife entertainer for Generation Y. His voice on the phone is unmistakably weary—a marked contrast to the affable, high-energy emcee who keeps judges David Hasselhoff, Sharon Osborne and the token British cynic in check on America’s Got Talent—not to mention a bevy of improv comedians on his former MTV show, Nick Cannon’s Wild ’N’ Out. He’s just come from a meeting. In Cannon’s world, it could be for his recently launched talent agency, NCredible En­tertainment, or the rebranded TeenNick channel, of which he’s the new chairman ("the youngest TV chairman in history," he proudly insists). It could be for his record company, Can I Ball, or any number of movie roles, animated voices and other projects he’s a part of. Oh, and it’s his first week hosting a daily morning radio show in New York, where Jay-Z dropped by this morning.

The Hardest Working Man in Show Business? With respect to the late James Brown, the mantle has now surely passed to Cannon. (Sorry, Seacrest.)

His penchant for hard work was distilled at an early age, when the 12-year-old Southeastern San Diegan would take the bus to Hollywood comedy clubs for two-minute performances (lots of impersonations, he says, including Bill Cosby and Robert DeNiro). Later, a sketch-comedy show on Nickelodeon, All That, won him an entire generation of fans. The eponymous Nick Cannon Show followed. On the big screen, he’s been a marching-band prodigy in Drumline; a geek trying to woo the hottie in Love Don’t Cost a Thing; and an old-school roller-skating villain in Roll Bounce.

"It’s like a meal," Cannon says of his array of interests. "You gotta have different courses."

Now 29, he hangs with Jay-Z, goes home to Mariah each night and feuds with Eminem. By all accounts he’s a grownup, yet as chairman of TeenNick he’s also rooted to his teen-entertainment beginnings. His appeal crosses generations. With multimedia moguls like Quincy Jones, Sammy Davis Jr. and Cosby as his role models, you can bet Cannon will be around awhile. Let’s hope he stays well-rested.   —Adam Elder

An Eye for Beauty

City Files

Jason Hill is no stranger to detail. As a neuroscientist working in local biotech, his daily lab work required the use of tiny tools for intricate tasks. When Hill decided to switch careers a few years ago, he brought his scientific background and appreciation for detail to a new profession in "eyelash artistry."

To him, applying eyelash extensions is an art. "I’m creating a frame and mat around your eye to really enhance what that beautiful picture is," says Hill, proprietor of Tranquility Lashes ­( When he first meets a client, he closely studies facial features—brow line and eye shape, color, spacing, slope and setting—so he can customize lashes to best suit unique features and emphasize natural beauty.

Then, in the cozy, spa-like setting of his Golden Hill office, he applies each lash (he uses what he calls "the gold standard" in extensions) individually, careful not to damage the natural lashes. Sometimes he’ll play with color, weaving in tinted lashes to subtly bring out eye shades.

"I want your eyes to smile," says Hill, who offers a variety of options, from "Tease" ex­tensions for the curious to the more dramatic "Couture" service, ranging $45-$385. Cared for properly, a new set of eyelash extensions can last nearly three months (with some touchup every two to three weeks). With devotées like Hollywood actress Natasha Henstridge singing Hill’s praises, it’s only a matter of time before the world knows about our city’s best-kept beauty secret.   —Julia Beeson Polloreno

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