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In a nondescript building in a quiet industrial park in Sorrento Valley, I walk past a stack of cardboard boxes with some of the county’s most recognizable business names scrawled across in black Sharpie.
In the back room, Steve Burge explains his connection to the companies. He owns two companies that operate out of the facility, both which offer various printing services. Burge works with all sorts of local businesses — from the big-time defense contractors SAIC and Northrop Grumman, whose names adorned the boxes in the hallway — to the East County drug treatment facility Freedom Ranch. Burge dons a sample hat he created for the company.
I’m here with Burge at the office of Hot Squeegee because of my final question with the last subject of the People Project, Aimee Harlib. I was looking for the next subject and I asked her where she met her husband, Dustin.
She racked her brain for a short moment and then told me the story. It had been at the Encinitas house of Steve Burge.
Harlib and her future husband started a band with Burge shortly after that encounter named, ironically, The Unfaithfuls. And I photographed Burge on Tuesday, making him this week’s featured person for the San Diego People Project.
Name: Steve Burge
Occupation: Screen Printer
Part of town: Carlsbad
How did you arrive in San Diego? Are you a native?
No I was born in the LA area. We moved to Colorado for like 3 years — my family — and then we moved here. So I’ve been here since like 3rd grade.
Why did you move to San Diego originally?
I think we just missed the beach. We were in Colorado for two years. I don’t go to the beach a lot, but it’s just nice having it close.
How did you wind up starting a company called Hot Squeegee?
You know, well that’s a tough one. I guess I just had a T-shirt press and just started printing shirts — pretty much operating with no name for a while, but then some of my customers wanted a name to refer to me, so, we use squeegees and I like the word hot, so Hot Squeegee is what it ended up being. And it’s very hot back there (gestures toward the printing room). We’re not printing today but in the way back, in the summertime, cause we’ve got a hot dryer, it gets super hot, like 90 degrees. So plenty of people come and work and they can’t even handle it.
Tell me a little bit about the band you had with Aimee.
The Unfaithfuls was just a band that Dustin (Aimee’s husband) and I started. Aimee joined, then we tried to find a drummer. Then we basically finally found a drummer and we played together for three or four years, maybe, I think — I’m bad with time. It was basically short punk rock songs with a female singer and a lot of simple, riff-driven stuff.
When was that?
That was, probably 10 years ago maybe.
So it was a pretty good time for short, quick, punk rock?
Yeah, it was. If it wasn’t for drummer issues, we probably would have kept on going. It ended up just kind of falling apart at the end because our drummer was flaky. And I think that’s the case with a lot of bands — drummers seem to be flaky, I don’t know. They seem to be. Do you think they are?
Some of them are.
Yeah, I don’t want to put all drummers in there. There are guys I’ve jammed with who are really not flaky.
I had one guy who when I was working on a cover band thing — one guy was great. If he couldn’t make it, he’d call way early. When he was here he was 15 minutes early for practice.
Back to the Unfaithfuls though, yeah, it was good. It was a good little run.
You seem like you really like making names of companies and bands.
Yeah I do. (laughs)
Is it hard for you?
No, It’s pretty easy. You know I always try to put my ten cents in on trying to name somebody’s band if I can. I’m kind of creative on that aspect. Silk-screening stuff is kind of an art. I’m not an artist, you know what I mean? I can do computer stuff, but I’m not an artist — I wouldn’t call myself an artist. Maybe a, shit what the hell would you call it, not even a graphic artist but a production artist. I can take someone’s Illustrator file or Photoshop file and make it ready to print.
Did you name the Unfaithfuls?
Well, let’s — we all named it, we all named it. That’s where it will stay.
Before the Unfaithfuls, one of the things I wanted to call it but Aimee and Dustin didn’t like it — I wanted to call it Speed Turtle and they didn’t like that because they thought it was too like kiddish or something.
— SAM HODGSON