Who am I well I wish I knew sometimes okay I will tell you (not everything I don’t want to incriminate myself).
A Native New Yorker from Brooklyn I grew up with parents that were part of the Great Depression (why do they cal it Great? Did you ever wonder that…) so we didn’t waste in my house. My mother was bookkeeper and a great Southern cook that taught me to bake and cook and try every countries food. She was fearless and told me that I could do anything I wanted to she said “if it takes 2 hands and a brain you can do it” she was right. My father was from Martinique and spoke fluent French he was a Banquet Manager in a luxury hotel in NYC from him I learned the hospitality industry, how to be a great manager and how to do business aggressively. He said that you can send someone to college and get an MBA in management and they still don’t understand how to effectively manage. You have to be able to understand everyone’s job and learn how to do them so that you know if what you as a manager are asking your staff to do can be done and what it takes them to do it. So to that end instead of sleeping on a Friday night like other 12 year olds I was learning to throw tablecloths in one toss at midnight. I loved every minute of it and fell in love with every part of the industry.
Having 2 rug rats (a boy and a girl) I worked for 5 years to claw my way up the ladder on Wall Street in Mutual Funds from being a temp to running a department in Prudential Securities.Wall Street is hard to stay in but I had little folks to feed and step up to any challenge.
I moved my kidlings to Seattle and opened my first of 2 restaurants but had to leave them the money just wasn’t enough and I needed a stable income so I went to work for Microsoft for 4 years. Leaving Seattle (yup I am a traveler and I bore easy) when my little ones were not little anymore I came to San Diego to visit friends before moving to Costa Rica (at least that was the plan) and never left (thank 9/11 for that truthfully, I couldn’t get a passport, ran out of money and fell in love with the city and yeah eventually someone in it too!).
The mortgage industry became my next career and being a numbers person I stayed in my beloved industry until it collapsed and I was out of a job. Doing admin work I was living in North Park in SD and ran for a position in a community organization and became the Chairman of the Redevelopment Committee and started working for the neighborhood to eliminate blighted buildings. Meeting the Mayor (who loves me but thinks I am absolutely crazy for doing this and is supportive), City Council and others in the political arena I learned so much about planning, budgeting and how crazy politics is and have earned a great respect for those who don’t surrender to treachery or become a sound bite and trust me I met quite a few that have done both.
I always wanted to go back into hospitality and wanted to have an upscale Jazz club for the community but didn’t find the right building for the job. Looking downtown I found several buildings that would be okay until I saw the CA Theatre and felt bad for the fate of the building. Thus (dramatic word isn’t it?) began my obsession with saving the California Theatre from dying a blighted death or worse yet becoming another condo or hotel (a fate worse than death for a theatre).
Over the last 3 years I have spent more time researching this buildings history than I care to admit. Utilizing the library to the point that they know my name, I have read everything they had on; green building, energy generation, city regulations, restaurants, whiskey, cigars, cooking, marketing, software, and the list goes on (support your local library!). I have attended every SDG&E and the Center for Sustainable Energy classes on sustainability I could, went to food and energy trade shows to stay up on what was new in every industry and picked every unsuspecting brain I could find and learned at the feet of engineers and vendors alike. All of this education was free!
Developing the project I understood what I didn’t know and what I still needed to learn so while unemployed (a story in itself let’s get drunk I will tell it to you one day) EDD told me I had to go to school (great for a learning junkie) and they would pay for it. I chose to go to San Diego State University and being a type A personality bent on being the best I can be (yeah I know you are surprised!) and coming in at the top of my class (not ego just a fact) with an A+ average I obtained my Professional Certification in Green Building Construction.
Let me clear up something right now I am not one of those “Green wash” people (doing the minimum to get certified but not committed to the actual cause) nor one of those chasing a grant or tax credits, on the contrary, I am a fanatic about creating our own energy and saving resources including water and organic resources. I believe in the US one day being oil independent and as pollution free as Green building can make it. I have spent more time researching this aspect of the building than almost anything else.
Being a theatre district brat I love live theatre and know that the arts is the one thing (hopefully) that will always need a human touch and perspective. Teachers and students of all performance arts need a place to practice their crafts and a place to call home, the California Theatre will be one of the few Green State of the Art Technologically advanced theatres on the West Coast. I designed it to be a Platinum LEED building.
Let me tell you something else, I have done all of this with no money! The project drained it out of me earlier in the game but I didn’t give up I have a top notch team from all over the world, a full set of professional architecture renderings, have had the concept and construction plans approved by every government and community organization entity that the law allows. They have not charged me to do anything they truly believe in my passion and that I will do this project no matter what, they are right!
I do everything I can’t pay someone else for myself, if I don’t know how to do it back to the library and I learn what I need to know. This kind of project is not for the faint of heart and I am not faint of heart quite the opposite actually I have gotten into more trouble by speaking my mind than I care to tell you about and will get into much more before this is over, I guarantee you!
I believe that the Arts and Entertainment world needs to stop crying in it’s proverbial milk and stand up for itself. I am willing to take the hits of doubt, ridicule and skeptical comments from those that believe that someone like me should never have gotten this far on nothing more than a great concept and a willing spirit. Surprise, bravery trumps negativity!
What they don’t know is that Americans are made of tougher stuff and in the days gone by we made our own way and our own fortunes. We used to make things and sell them to other people it was called trading. Small businesses were actually small and families could earn their living on their own merit and talents. I believe we will be that way again, I believe we will create, dream, dance, build, sing and eat our way back into the days that Americans believe in themselves again and stop blaming the government that they elected for their fate, when they themselves won’t hold them accountable. We can make our own jobs and buy houses again, send our kids to college or better yet teach them to run their own businesses.
That is who I am, this is the journey I chose, and this will be my lot in life, my passion, and San Diego’s gift from me.
Until we speak again my little cherubs of the night, I remain as always your,