Jan. 4 2012 12:12 PM

19 people whose movements we'll be tracking in 2012

Alexander Salazar, Will Carless and Keith Milgaten
Facial composites by Daniel L. Pore
While other local media outlets like to slather prominent citizens with a layer of sticky-sweet prose and then throw a big party where everyone pats each other on the back, we're providing a different service. We've compiled a list of folks whose presence in 2012 should fill you with a sense of dread or, at least, guarded concern. Do keep an eye out for these mischievous characters. And if you're on the list, it's best to take it with a sense of humor.

Fred Maas: If you cross Maas, the former head of San Diego's Downtown redevelopment operation might go all Citizens United on your ass. That's what he's threatening to do to Carl DeMaio, telling voiceofsandiego.org that he and some unnamed pals have hired an investigator to look into the background of the City Council member and mayoral candidate, who promises to be a pain in the neck for the status-quo crowd. Maas says the result might be a documentary a la the shady Citizens United group's 2008 movie about Hillary Clinton.

Nick Popaditch


Nick Popaditch: The Tea Party's favorite Marine veteran— Popaditch, aka "Gunny Pop" and the "Cigar Marine"—is running for Congress as a Republican again, despite losing big time on election day 2010. With the help of his platoon of rowdy patriots, this time around Popaditch is running in District 53. He also recently recorded a Citizens United-style YouTube video attacking his nemesis Bob Filner, who is running for mayor. Let's just hope that this time Popaditch weeds out the extremists from his entourage, so we won't see another election-night mob scene.

Correction: In the print edition we incorrectly described District 53 as an open seat. Due to redistricting, the incumbent in that district is Rep. Susan Davis, a Democrat.

Brian Malarkey: First there was Searsucker in the Gaslamp. Then came Burlap in Carmel Valley, with its "Asian cowboy" (Google it) concept. Now Malarkey, the former Top Chef contestant, has restaurants Gingham (La Mesa), Herringbone (La Jolla) and Gabardine (Point Loma) on deck. What's next? Polyester, an upscale dive bar? A coffeehouse called Flannel? But, seriously, opening three restaurants in less than a year is either brilliant marketing (keep 'em talking) or making carpaccio out of the brand.

Your old drug dealer: Remember the time before you got your medical-marijuana card, when you had to wait around for hours for a shady dude to show up and, when he did, he'd offer you one kind of overpriced weed that he could tell you next to nothing about? Well, you'll want to track down his pager number, since your old drug dealer is now your new drug dealer again, thanks to the attack on dispensaries launched by City attorney Jan Goldsmith and U.S. attorney Laura Duffy.

Jon Block


Jon Block: New-agey, self-improvement stuff gives us the willies. So, it made us especially nervous when Block—a promoter who will cross the street in heavy traffic or swim a shark-filled moat to hand you a flier for whatever event he's got in the pipeline—jumped full-force into the world of self-empowerment entrepreneurialism. If he promotes his new monthly Here & Now Network motivational events as passionately and enthusiastically as he did his music and arts events, our chakras are in trouble.

Eric Christen: Christen is the spokesperson for the "Fair and Open Competition" measure on the local June ballot, which seeks to ban Project Labor Agreements (PLA)—union-friendly wage, benefit and working-condition contracts. Despite spearheading similar measures statewide—all with similar feel-good titles— he's yet to be vetted by local media. His past includes allegedly lying on ballot materials in a bid for Oregon state Assembly, publicly criticizing Abraham Lincoln for making education mandatory, being recalled by 70 percent of voters from a Colorado Springs school board—and modeling.

Greg Koch: The CEO and cofounder of Stone Brewing Co., Koch is the Charlie Sheen of the craft-beer world. Personifying the sheer brutishness of Stone taglines like "Fizzy yellow beer is for wussies," Koch is famous for his exaggerated O-mouthed "Greg Face" and has been spotted crowd-surfing through the pudgy hands of beer geeks at a homebrew conference, applying temporary tattoos of the Greg Face to various women's body parts at a beer fest and just generally making sure he's always the center of attention.

Will Carless: In terms of investigative journalism, Carless is either voiceofsandiego.org's big gun or loose cannon, depending on whether you appreciate his aggressive reporting style or question his methodology and his often sensational prose. The big question is whether he'll be able to fill the shoes of one of the country's greatest education reporters, Emily Alpert, whom voice laid off in December, as he takes over the San Diego Unified School District beat.

Michelle Guerin: Earlier this year, the Union-Tribune killed its smart, funny, pop-culture blog, "Street," and then bought a replacement: DiscoverSD, a vacuous lifestyle website known more for nightlife photography than substance. Since then, editor-in-chief Michelle Guerin has pummeled readers with no-duh prose like: "Downtown San Diego is home to many addictive temptations, from restaurants to wine bars and nightclubs." Now the U-T has put Guerin in charge of a "Style & Society" page, which will soon be added to the CDC's list of things to give your child after he accidentally ingests toilet-bowl cleaner.

Guy Lombardo: An eccentric artist and curator whose recent project has been organizing big group shows at the Fifty Seven Degrees wine warehouse in Mission Hills, Lombardo is a flamboyant Facebook rabble-rouser. He enters local art-related discussions and leaves strange and sometimes nonsensical remarks that confuse the shit out of everyone. Why should you care? He recently moved from San Diego to a compound in Palm Desert, and there's talk of him starting up a tri-city (L.A., Palm Springs, San Diego) art mafia. Look out!

Gabriella Hoffman


Gabriella Hoffman: If county Republican boss Tony Krvaric had been born with double-X chromosomes, he'd be UCSD senior Hoffman. Already, this socialist-bashing young conservative brought David Horowitz to campus, organized a national event to celebrate a Glenn Beck TV special and has begun blogging for, like, a hundred different local and national right-wing websites. This year, Hoffman will be released into the real world, where she will no doubt become the next Ann Coulter.

Ray Lutz: Be very careful if you see liberal activist Lutz skulking around in the tall grassroots of your populist movement. He's liable to pounce and grab the headlines, as he did in December when The San Diego Union-Tribune said Lutz was at the "heart" of the Occupy San Diego movement, which likely came as a surprise to many of the dedicated members. He told the U-T that he plans to step up his efforts under the umbrella of his nonprofit watchdog group, Citizens' Oversight Projects. So, keep a sharp eye on your cause.

Cory Stier: Stier might have the charming good looks of Neil Patrick Harris, but this young promoter is a cunning strategist of Napoleonic proportions. While playing in more bands than we can keep track of (including a stint with buzz-band Cults), he's worked with Casbah owner Tim Mays to book shows at Soda Bar, setting up a near-monopoly on the hottest shows and paving the way for an indiescene takeover. Rival promoters better gather their troops: Stier's coming over the hill with an army of buzz-bands at his side.

Musical-instrument thieves: Want The Scandals' amplifiers? How about singer Kevin Martin's Les Paul? Or Paper Forest's Fender Stratocasters? Keep your eye peeled, because all of those instruments are probably being fenced somewhere. Whether the thefts were unrelated or part of a spree, in 2011, several bands found themselves silenced after leaving their gear in their vehicles. If you're a musician, consider investing in a car alarm or tagging your guitars with GPS trackers. If you're browsing the pawn shops and spot a gray Dean Boca semi-acoustic covered in drawings, we know a New Jersey punk rocker who'd love to hear from you.

Keith Milgaten


Keith Milgaten: Jamuel Saxon frontman and prolific remixer Milgaten is the closest thing the SoCal indie-music scene has to Mozart. Recently, the 26-year-old quit drugs and embraced God, and while that's not a bad thing, we're always apprehensive of anyone recently back on the wagon. Can he still mix dance music? Will he get all preachy? The most important thing is keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn't relapse. Remember, genius musicians aren't safe until they're at least 28 years old.

Marc Randazza: Attorney Randazza has made a name for himself in intellectual-property-law circles by suing the pants off digital pirates and file-sharers who bootleg gay porn produced under the San Diego-based Corbin Fisher brand. Blogs like Queerty.com have criticized Randazza's tactics as dangerous, arguing that he threatens to out otherwise fragile, in-the-closet gay men. At the same time, Randazza's also been instrumental in defeating one of the world's worst copyright trolls, Righthaven, in Nevada. Which side of the digital-civil-liberties divide will Randazza land? Time, litigation and hot young studs will tell.

Katherine Sweetman: Artist and filmmaker Sweetman punked The San Diego Union-Tribune when the paper asked her, and other local artists, to blog for free on its website after the newspaper fired longtime art critic Robert Pincus. Saying yes, she gained access to the U-T site and posted a resignation and scathing criticism questioning the paper's motives. These days, Sweetman's writing about art for Reviewer Magazine, calling art fairs "dirty whores" and posting photos of artwork with messages like "Fuck off art cunts." We watch Sweetman because it's fun.

Seth Combs: You might want to think twice before sending your music to this cantankerous CityBeat critic: Combs is an asshole—and proud of it. Once, when a band was a bit too eager to get their CD reviewed, he went ahead and described their music as an "excruciating jack-off session." Ouch! But we'll let you in on a little secret: Combs is a total softie on the inside, and he'll get all blubbery if his favorite band decides to move out of town.

Alexander Salazar


Alexander Salazar: Salazar stormed the local art scene like a testosterone-pumped (yet slightly persnickety) bull charging at one of Robert Rauschenberg's Red Paintings. He's been scooping up square footage both Downtown and in La Jolla, hanging art-auction, gallery and art-dealer shingles while offering representation and art-brokerage services to everyone. While we dig his energy—and the killer shows he sometimes stages—holding weekly exhibitions is a bit much. And have you seen him mobbing around town with his growing entourage of staffers and interns? What's next for Salazar? A 24-hour reality show about the artsy microcosm he's built overnight? Someone's gotta introduce Salazar to Slow Mo—that dude knows a thing or two about the art of slowing your roll.

Written by Kelly Davis, Peter Holslin, Dave Maass, Kinsee Morlan and David Rolland. Facial composites by Daniel L. Poré. learn more about Poré's forensic sketches on Last Blog on Earth at sdcitybeat.com.


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