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.


  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28