Most cops pack heat. On Thursday, Gary Hassen packed a water bottle and a pitch pipe tuned to E-flat.

Detective Hassen is the spokesman for the San Diego Police Department and a self-described crooner who sings the national anthem and other songs for special events around town. Journalists are used to hearing his speaking voice when reporting a crime story — not his singing voice belting out “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

What motivates someone to keep singing after starting in junior high? Why does the bagger at the grocery store, or the scientist, or the bus driver, go home to paint? Keep your stories of moonlighters I should know about coming — you can email me at

In other news:

• “In San Diego, the symphony has moved from the status of a financially feeble and artistically erratic organization to an economically stable and musically energized public resource,” according to the Union-Tribune on Sunday, which poured out a ton of love for the symphony just in time for its 100th anniversary season opening this Friday. The local symphony is smaller than most orchestras, comprising 80 musicians and playing for about 42 weeks a year. Other orchestras that have as many as 100 musicians and play year-round.

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The orchestra’s top tuba player says the symphony’s at a stage where “we can do anything” and compares it to the Padres: “a ‘small-market’ team still able to compete in the major leagues.”

• Speaking of the top players, they get along here, apparently an uncommon thing for major orchestras. Another U-T story explores the friendships in the principals’ seats, and finds optimism there for the symphony’s future.

Speaking of sports, this graphic lays out, sports-team-style, where they all sit: “in strategic positions where they can best see the conductor, interact with one another and lead their sections.”

In case you missed it: Offstage, you’ll find Nancy Fisch, the symphony’s librarian, whose frenzy behind the scenes means the musicians have correctly marked music on their stands when they play. We spent an afternoon in her life a couple of weeks ago.

More from Behind the Scene:

Mayor Jerry Sanders won’t say yet which public art projects will be severed from the budget. One southeastern San Diego resident worries the mayor’s suggestion could mean even longer to wait for the long-awaited public art in the long-awaited public park in her neighborhood.

• We spent a day last year with an actor as he transformed himself into the furry green Grinch. The Old Globe made an announcement Friday about the familiar face — he’s coming back. And hey, San Diego, he loves you.

• We crunched some numbers, this time for a “queer opera” that played last weekend and required five flashlights to illuminate body parts, among other quantities.


• Everyone from the New York Times to the U-T’s editorial board wants you to know that Comic-Con will be here for another five years.

• A new play at The Old Globe garnered reviews from the LA Times, and the U-T. Another work by the playwright was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize this year.

• The longtime artistic director of the La Jolla Playhouse is the subject of a film that screened last weekend at the local film festival. And the film doesn’t leave out the offstage passion of Des McAnuff — rock ‘n’ roll.

• OC-born marble sculptor Elizabeth Turk was in residence at Encinitas’s Lux Art Institute last year. She was just awarded one of the MacArthur Foundation’s “genius” grants.

• The North County Times’ arts and entertainment roundup of this week’s happenings wows me again with its breadth: a recycled art exhibition and fashion show in Escondido, the newly formed local Mormon choir and orchestra and Vanilla Ice.

• CityBeat profiles a peacemaker of sorts in the local rap scene. And the mag’s arts editor recommends this mannequin-themed photography exhibit.

• Just in case you think all symphony companies are as bubbly about the future as the musicians came across above, here’s some hefty drama at the Bay Area’s California Symphony, where the longtime conductor (and founder, and former timpanist) was just ousted.

It wouldn’t be symphony drama without some music witticism like “Disharmony still reverberates over ouster …”

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Please contact Kelly Bennett directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.orgor 619.325.0531 and follow her on Twitter: @kellyrbennett.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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