1. Behind the papal curtain

One of John Thavis' first assignments as a young reporter in Rome, Italy, was to interview a Colombian cardinal about the drug wars in his country. The ecclesiastical official wouldn't return his calls, so Thavis approached him after a speech he gave in Rome. 

"Actually, I never got close—his bodyguards threw me against the wall, and I never did get to talk to him," Thavis recalls in an email interview with CityBeat. "The lesson was, you don't ambush a cardinal."

Thavis might not tell that story when he gives an upcoming talk in San Diego, but given his 30 years covering the Vatican, you can bet that the stories he does tell will be rich and fascinating. The author will appear at the University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Theatre at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 26, to discuss his book The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church. Admission is $20 and includes a copy of the book. Visit warwicks.indiebound.com/event/john-thavis.

"I'll pull back the curtain on the backstage reality at the Vatican," Thavis says about his talk, "using real-life stories to tell how things work and how they fall apart, introduce the hidden movers and shakers and explain why Pope Francis has his work cut out for him when it comes to making reforms."

The book details many misconceptions about the Vatican, including the notion that everyone there marches in lockstep. In reality, Thavis says, it's an institution "where personalities count, where missteps are common, where cardinals disagree over policies and where the theater goes off-script at times. As a journalist, all this made the Vatican immensely more interesting to me, and I wanted to share that. The book humanizes the Vatican, while not excusing its mistakes"—including the handling of accusations of sexual abuse.

USD is a Catholic university. But Thavis says he won't tailor his presentation differently for a Catholic venue. "Actually, it won't make any difference," he says. "My book tried to be honest, sometimes brutally honest, about things at the Vatican, and I find Catholics are hungry for that."

2. Busk or bust

More than 100 street performers from around the world applied to perform at the upcoming Spring Busker Festival at Seaport Village (849 W. Harbor Drive, Downtown). The list has been whittled down, and this year's lineup includes aerialists Aerial Revolution, The Balloon Man, Murrugun the Mystic (who swallows swords and does other things no human being ever should) and Smilin' Jack the accordionist, among many entertaining acts. Performances will happen throughout Seaport Village from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 29 and 30. The festival includes a special Buskers After Dark affair geared toward the 18-and-older crowd: Enjoy a DJ, $1 beer specials (courtesy of CityBeat's Beer Club) and unfiltered, edgy entertainment. It's free, but bring cash to tip your favorite buskers. seaportvillage.com

3. Telling tales

You might assume that The Rattling Wall takes its name from a short story by someone like, say, Flannery O'Connor. Nope. Michele Meyering, founding editor of the Los Angeles-based literary journal, used her grandparents as inspiration—her grandmother's maiden name was Wall and her grandfather's (very cool) middle name was Rattle. For the fourth edition of the journal—an attractive, 272-page collection of short fiction, travel essays and poetry by established and up-and-coming writers—Meyering's taking some of her contributors on the road. At 7 p.m. Friday, March 28, at San Diego Writers, Ink (2730 Historic Decatur Road, Barracks 16, in Point Loma's Liberty Station), Ben Loory, Ruth Nolan, Leah Griesmann, Jeremy Radin, Ron Gutierrez and Amy Wallen will read their work. Admission is free. therattlingwall.com 

Does your event deserve to be in our top three? Email Kinsee Morlan.


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