I want to talk about the weather.
And before you write this off as the ultimate sign that I truly couldn’t come up with anything to say this week, let me stop you. That assumption right there is actually what I want to talk about.
Talking about the weather is basically shorthand for the most banal of chitchat. It’s what you bring up when forced to interact with another human with whom you really don’t want to share any personal details. Or when you don’t have time to discuss something more “meaningful.” That’s the thinking, anyway.
This week in the New York Times, one brave soul had the courage to put forth a groundbreaking thought: Talking about the weather is kind of boring. He decided he wasn’t going to do it anymore.
I simply wanted to eliminate the dull droning on about facts and figures — whether it’s snowing or raining, how cold it is, what we do for work, how long it takes to get to work, where we went to school — all those things that we think we have to talk about with someone new but that tell us little about who the person really is.
A lot of people rolled their eyes at that concept — rightly so — by pointing out that the alternative is usually oversharing with someone you might not know well, and intimacy, after all, must be earned. But I think the opposite is true as well: That there’s something kind of lovely about having at least one thing that we all experience together, something that’s not a tragedy like a natural disaster or an assassination, but a regular experience that hums in the background as we all go about our different, separate lives. Even pop culture behemoths like the Super Bowl or “Star Wars” don’t reach every single person the way the weather does.
In San Diego, people tend to complain when it rains, which instantly creates a dumb backlash of other people complaining about people who complain when it rains.
The same thing happened as the East Coast this week got hit by a massive snowstorm. “I’m so sick of snow tweets,” said 147,000 original humans on Twitter.
Not me. I will slowly scroll through your Instagrams of steaming bowls of ramen, of your kids’ snow angels, of your car antenna poking out through a snow drift.
And whether you are a stranger in line at the supermarket or my grandmother, I will gladly pontificate about whether it’s a little colder than it was last week. ‘Cause hey, we’re all in this together.
What VOSD Learned This Week
Here we are in 2016 and our biggest story of the week was about Bob Filner telling Lisa Halverstadt, “I never sexually harassed anybody.” Time is a flat circle.
There were other notable moments from Filner’s first big interview since leaving the mayor’s office. For one, it looks like he might have come closer to a stadium deal with the Chargers than any other city executive.
As we know, though, no one has yet come close enough to actually please the Chargers. Still, patent attorney David Lizerbram cautioned this week that the news of an LA Chargers trademark filing doesn’t necessarily mean the team is gone.
Ry Rivard reported on the trouble Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute has had with its effort to breed white seabass. The state’s now auditing the program that has spawned lots of deformed fish, and killed hundreds of thousands more.
Two years ago, Mario Koran wrote about how Mike McQuary was able to stroll onto the San Diego Unified school board without any opposition. The lack of a race meant someone who was helping make big decisions about San Diego kids’ education was never really introduced to the public.
Now, three school board members are up for re-election, and, Koran wrote on Thursday, none was facing any serious opposition. Koran examines why no one seems to want the job and why union endorsements go so far in these races. Just a couple days after that piece ran, though, we learned school board member Marne Foster, who’s been the subject of lots of controversy over the past year, will indeed get a challenger.
One decision school board members made lately was to renew a charter school called Old Town Academy. Just last year, the school had dissolved into chaos that involved cops and restraining orders. Koran reports on how the school was able to move on, and what it needs to do to stay stable.
Of all the places in San Diego that should be used to density and the walkable, transit-friendly vibe the city’s trying to achieve, North Park is at the top of the heap. But even there, residents are wary of some moves to increase density that the city’s pushing as part of a community plan update.
In East Village, another neighborhood that’s been transformed into a more walkable urban landscape over the last couple decades, the city has agreed to end a deal it struck in an attempt to keep the arts alive in the hood.
What I’m Reading
• The game I’ve been waiting for: Millennial Think Piece Bingo. (McSweenys)
• There’ve been a lot of longreads about R. Kelly written over the last couple years, but this is the only one that held my attention to the very end. (GQ)
• A valid question: Why hasn’t Steph Curry had to endure one shred of the media criticism that gets heaped on LeBron James? (Sporting News)
• Dave Holmes – yes, the former MTV VJ – is one of my favorite pop culture writers. But this week he live-tweeted his own experience with an IRS phone scam (spoiler: he scammed the scammers), and it was predictably awesome. The tweets are all collected here. (Esquire)
• Establishment Republicans are locked in a battle over which candidate would be a bigger threat to the party, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz. (New York Times)
• The monumental importance of building a Fuck-Off Fund. (The Billfold)
• A great modern-day mystery: Dozens of those lost phone tracker apps have led people to this couple’s suburban Atlanta home for some reason, though the phones are never there. (Fusion)
Line of the Week
“Just about the only major candidate for president or vice president whose spouse was not considered a ‘secret weapon’ was Dick Cheney’s wife, Lynne. Obviously Dick Cheney’s secret weapon is a shotgun.” – From a delightful Mother Jones piece poking fun at the cliché of calling a candidate’s spouse a “secret weapon.”