We hope you’ve been enjoying holiday traditions with your family and friends. My clan’s annual rituals include the Annual Enforced Saving of the Bows, the Ceremonial Unwanted Display of Medical Problems (“Have you ever seen a knee like that? Well? Have you?”) and the Post-Dinner Sigh-Off.

A few VOSD journalists are holding down the fort this week, and we’ll continue to post the Morning Report and stories each day.

First up: Oakland-based artist who goes by the name R. Black is known for designing posters for the Occupy moment. But Black, who’s lived in San Diego on occasion, isn’t only interested in the artwork of protest. Now, he’s designing San Diego’s opera posters.

In an interview, we talked to Black about his change in focus and asked him whether he thinks there’s a “pretty wide gulf” between the two types of art. (He doesn’t.)

Black also talks about how he came up with images to represent the operas “Aida” (“so much of my career has been drawing really thin, pin-up chicks. I like voluptuous women as well, and I like being able to capture them and make them sexy”), “Samson and Delilah” (“I love posters with couples on them, in love”) and “Murder in the Cathedral.”

On the Road, VOSD-Style

Over the past year, Voice of San Diego invested in events and it paid off. Our Kelly Bennett offers a run-down of what we’ve been up to. Among other things, we’ve held well-attended Meeting of the Minds events, One Voice at a Time events with prominent local political types, and the second-annual Politifest.

Look for more events next year, including a Jan. 3 chat with one of the nation’s top thinkers on politics and economics. Get details here.

Finances and Parents’ Options Stronger at San Diego Unified

U-T reporter Maureen Magee interviewed John Lee Evans, who’s returning as the San Diego school board’s president. He seems quite optimistic for the New Year and student achievement.

• The Brookings Institute recently studied school districts to see which ones offered parents the most choice: from magnet schools and charter schools, to parents’ ability to choose other traditional schools outside their neighborhood. KPBS reports that San Diego’s largest district scored quite well.

Pondering Guns and Gun Violence

In the U-T, columnist Matthew Hall asks readers if they’d want a gun store near their child’s school. It’s a bit of a moot question: That’s already the case for at least one local public school. As Hall writes: “Murray Manor Elementary School welcomes 650 students each day, many of whom have skipped past Wilde Built Tactical and its ‘Team Glock’ banner for about a year since the gun shop opened in a mini mall off Lake Murray Boulevard.” (The school is in La Mesa.)

• To learn about the history of rifles, check my newly published interview with the author of a 2008 book called “American Rifle: A Biography.”

The author, Alexander Rose, talks about the evolution of the rifle, early controversies over its use and the sexiness of its appearance. “Soldiers have always liked beautiful weapons,” he said. “Look at any display of medieval arms, Japanese swords, or Enlightenment dueling pistols. The rifle is no different, for the most part.”

Quick News Hits

• KPBS profiles the former editor of Wired magazine and a Tijuana programmer as they make a big bet in San Diego that unmanned aerial drones will move well beyond their current military use and be part of our every day life in helpful ways.

• The LA Times has published a database listing thousands of cases, including many from San Diego County, involving men who were expelled from the Boy Scouts over more than 60 years due to allegations of sexual abuse. The AP reported earlier that community leaders and law enforcement had “quietly shielded” scoutmasters and others accused of molesting children.

• The governor pardoned dozens of people last week including several from San Diego, the U-T reports. 

• Atlanta is having a big argument over whether to build a new football stadium. A columnist there tries to explain the deal the city’s getting and why the team wants it.

Here Comes Trouble

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

“Unconditional Surrender,” the garish statue depicting the famous kiss between a sailor and nurse on V-J Day, is pretty close to returning to the waterfront. As KPBS notes, this time it will be there “for good.”

Or for bad. As the station notes, “some people will be thrilled to hear this, while others will undoubtedly cringe. The statue has divided tastes in the city since its arrival.”

It sure has. One critic called it a “monumental geegaw” that “drains the magic” from the original photograph. The port rejected a good-gawd-no-way recommendation from its art advisory board, sparking resignations and bad blood.

Courtesy of more than $1 million raised by the USS Midway Museum, the new bronze version of the 25-foot-high statue will get nighttime lighting and a permanent base. And a lot of us will get a permanent headache.  

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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