This end-of-the-world exercise isnt easy for me because, if it really were doomsday, Id probably be covering it up to the last minute, trying to track down whos responsible, whos profiting from it and then live tweeting the dissolution of reality. But, for the purposes of this Best of San Diego issue, lets pretend that Im absolutely convinced the world is ending, but no one else believes me. Lets also assume that my girlfriend, ever the skeptic, is humoring me.
About two weeks out from Judgment Day, wed start cruising adoption events hosted around town by Second Chance Dog Rescue, looking for a third little dog to join our pack. Hed probably be a small terrier or a Chihuahua, but its really up to the little mutts Ive got now to choose the pup theyre going to tolerate. Second Chance isnt a shelter; its a foster network that spends a lot of effort rehabilitating the pets they rescue from high-kill shelters. When we adopted Buster earlier this year, Second Chance thoroughly vetted us and made sure we got the support we needed, including the lancing of a cyst that grew on Busters back in the first few weeks. The adoption process begins with a two-week trial period, so, if the world doesnt end and our pack isnt getting along, theyll take the little guy back, no questions asked.
A week before the Earth blinks out of existence, Id max out my credit card at Vespa Motorsports (3955 Pacific Hwy.). Ive trusted my current 50cc Kymco noisemaker to the folks at Vespa Motorsports since back when they were down the street from CityBeat in North Park. Theyre always knowledgeable, frequently hilarious and never a rip-off. Id probably take home a Stella 150 or a Kymco Like 200i rather than a Vespa, but first Id take every two-wheeler in their new showroom for a spin.
Now, I really did think the world was ending when I heard that architect Graham Downes was going to foolishly tear down the classic Mandarin House restaurant in Bankers Hill (2604 Fifth Ave.) and replace it with an ultra-unimpressive apartment block. Its my birthday restaurant, the one I look forward to every year because it reminds me of home and the family-style Chinese restaurant central to all my best childhood memories in Mesa, Ariz. Its got all the things I look for: A huge menu that weighs heavy in your hands, tropical rum cocktails that come in fruit-shaped ceramic mugs (you know, with the lids you can stick a straw through) and, most importantly, a lazy Susan for big gatherings. I always tell my birthday guests that their gift to me is to order too much and let me take home the leftovers. So, the night before Armageddon, Id order so much that the doggy bags would carry me through to the grand finale.
On the last morning on earth, wed get up super-early and head to Harbor Island to take a dolphin and whale tour on a Navy SEAL-class rigid inflatable boat with Adventure RIB Rides (1380 Harbor Island Drive). Two reasons: First, all summer Ive been obsessed with Whale Wars, that Animal Planet reality show about the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which often uses RIBs to deploy propeller-fouling ropes and chuck stink bombs at Japanese whaling vessels. Second, to pay homage to Douglas Adams, who imagined in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy that, when the world is about to explode, the dolphins will perform an elaborate trick to communicate the message So long, and thanks for all the fish before leaving the planet. Id pick Adventure because its known for getting amazingly close to cetaceans, including a recent, rare encounter with a mother orca and her calf, who playfully followed the RIB for half an hour.
At some point along the way, when the lady isnt looking, Id sneak into Holy Smoke in Hillcrest (1080 University Ave.) to pick up a pack of fancy cigarettes, probably some Nat Shermans, and a pack of my old brand, Camel Red Lights. Ive been smoke-free for almost three years, but if its Armageddon, then screw it—Im going to indulge in a little nicotine-induced rapture. I pass Holy Smoke nearly every weekend on the way to Trader Joes, always gazing cravingly inside at the wide selection. I hear the staff is super-friendly, too, but Ive never risked relapse by stepping inside.
Ill also spend a lot of time playing with Survive:SD , an incredible emergency-situation app for iPhones that won second prize in the recent AT&T San Diego App Challenge. It includes features such as Morse-code signaling and police-radio streams, and, if necessary, you can also set it to automatically and periodically broadcast your coordinates via text and email. Its way more functional than the official emergency app that the county government created.
Finally, and youre going to have to indulge my fantasy here, Id load the girlfriend and three pups onto my scooter and zip up to UCSD to explore the 18 public-art installations in the Stuart Collection. During the last couple of years, Ive watched my girlfriend, Megan OConnor, edit an epic video series profiling each one. Ive only personally laid eyes on a handful of the works, but I love Niki de Saint Phalles iconic Sun God, Terry Allens talking Trees and Do Ho Suhs house-perched-on-a-building Fallen Star. Im only now beginning to understand Robert Irwins Two Running Violet V Forms (aka, the giraffe catcher). Wed scoot and hit every single one, ending the day, and the world, with a Chinese-food picnic in front of Tim Hawkinsons Bear.
See, I cant imagine any better way to meet my maker than with a fiery redhead, a pack of terriers and a 180-ton bear made of boulders having my back.