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Like many personal blogs of its era, this blog is moribund, a casualty of what we might call "the Facebook effect." However, as of late 2015, two things are clear: (1) The Indie Web is a thing, and (2) the re-decentralization of the web is a thing. So who knows? 2016 2017 (!) could be the year this blog rises from its own ashes. Stay tuned!

Monday, 22 October 2007
I last blogged about fires in my hometown of San Diego four years ago. Seems half the area is aflame once again tonight. I’ve got cousins who are under evacuation orders; everyone’s safe and sound.

Digression: As far back as I can remember, there’s been this dude (yep, a proper dude like you only get down south) named Larry Himmel on San Diego’s CBS affiliate, channel 8. He’s always been the guy who does feel-good pieces about the city, its people, its institutions, et cetera. If you’re the news director and you need ninety seconds on the diner out in Crest where some of the regulars have been regulars since the fifties, Larry’s your man. You need a heartwarming broadcast-closer about kids picking pumpkins up at Bates Nut Farm, you put Larry on it. Larry’s stuff has never been “news” or even “important,” but he’s very, very good at what he does: His reports have always been well-written, down-to-earth, and not the sort of saccharine drivel this material would become in the hands of some hack with an agenda. With a Larry Himmel report, you know you’re going to get an honest slice of life, a breath of fresh air, and he delivers every time.

Reminiscence: Back in the eighties, during the height of Ronald Reagan’s America, Larry wrote, starred in, and produced a hilarious local variety show called San Diego at Large. As Larry admits, the show, which aired five nights a week at 7:30pm back then, could never be shown on broadcast television today. SD@L was edgy (especially for San Diego!); much of its content was grossly politically incorrect by today’s standards; and, though I don’t remember it, Google Books reveals the show also included the sort of ugly stereotyping of Asians that has persisted in America decades after similar caricatures of other races became socially unacceptable. (C.f. the Abercrombie t-shirts from five years ago). But for the most part, Larry’s show was pure, balls-out, pedal-floored lunacy, night after night after night. At least half of it must have sailed right over my pre-teen head. (Larry’s character Biff in the “North Mission Beach” sketches — must have been a stoner, right?) When SD@L went off the air in 1988, I remember the local press making a big deal about it: With nobody looking, the show had become the only locally produced-and-aired nightly variety show left in the country, literally the last of its kind. And then it was gone. As happens with things.

Today: The house Larry Himmel lived in for twenty-five years burned to the ground. He reported live from the scene while the house was still aflame, already an obvious, complete loss.

posted to /news at 10:22pm :: 2 responses



anna saccheri had this to say (10/22/2007 23:08:40):
what do you MEAN his post SD@L news stories weren't totally cheesy?! they were way overboard schmaltzy. after SD@L, i don't think i could ever take that guy seriously. he was just too wacky. i think he tried to be a serious reporter, but it just didn't work. he's a comedian and he should embrace that. very sad news about his house, tho.
katya had this to say (10/23/2007 15:16:08):
When I sent that e-mail about Larry Himmel last night you were the one that I thought might find it most interesting, especially if you hadn't already seen the video of him broadcasting (it was on CNN.com today, too). I remember in junior high when someone told me that Precious from the San Diego at Large soap, "Tierrasanta" went to Lewis, and my friend pointed her out in the lunch arbor (she later was on my softball team so not as big a celeb any more to me). I liked San Diego at Large (7:30 every weeknight! after boring PM Magazine) although I suspect I would hate it now (I have a feeling Swami Sweatsox doesn't hold up). I remember as a kid I was bored by the 5 minute broadcast of the old movie "King of the Texas Rangers" every episode. Andy Smith dressed as Skippy one year for Halloween in elementary school, looked disturbingly just like Skippy, and couldn't lose the nickname Skippy until high school. The infamous Rick Rockwell of "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?" of course played Skippy. Oh yeah - and my first time ever in Mission Beach (after seeing it on San Diego at Large for so long) was with you on one of our dates back in high school. Remember Kathe Stanton, Pope's Own Salad Dressing, and the "Some Guys Have All the Luck" Biff and Skippy video? Don't forget this classic Biff and Skippy line (which I'm sure would fit seemlessly into "Casablanca" or "Citizen Kane"), "It's just the mailman, man, bringing us our mail, man."

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