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SAN DIEGO — On the Left Coast, ASR rides high into its 23rd year from Friday to Sunday. A veritable board meeting of the minds from surf and street, this is the action sports show where retailers battle it out playing dodgeball in between shopping new lines and checking out bands on the Fender Music Stage. Then there’s the daily swimwear fashion show, 50 of the world’s best skateboarders working the ramps, and Fluf lead singer “O” hosting a family feud-style game show complete with buzzers and more than $20,000 in prizes. Here’s a look at some of the show’s strongest trends, and plenty of cool things to see and do in San Diego.

This story first appeared in the September 9, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Eat/Drink

TEMPTATION ISLAND

Who said island kitsch was dead? Mister Tiki Mai Tai Lounge is the latest offering from owner David Cohn and local designer Jlorene Gage. With more than two-dozen custom tiki gods and masks by artist Bosko Hrnjak, the restaurant/lounge is a throwback to hip, retro-Polynesian cool with its enticing selection of Pacific Island cuisine. Dishes are plated with a unique twist, so expect your senses to be teased with Grass Skirt Shrimp Tempura ($10), dressed with a refreshing passion fruit/ginger glaze, or the Misoyaki Seared Salmon ($17), served Nigri style with a cilantro vinaigrette. Dare to drink, island-style? An 8-foot Easter Island head anchoring the main bar beckons you to sample a taste of the tropics from the drinks menu. Order a Mondo Martiki ($35) and watch as a server shakes it up table side and pours the stiff rum elixir into a giant glass. Share it with friends and you can keep the martiki glass as a souvenir. — Stacy Chun

Mister Tiki Mai Tai Lounge, 801 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, 619-233-1183. Open nightly, 5:30 p.m.-1 a.m., serving food until 11 p.m., Sun.-Thurs., and until 1 a.m., Fri. and Sat.

BUON APPETITO

Stark white plates scattered along the walls serve as decor with a twist. They bear signatures and notes from well-known patrons such as John Ashcroft and ESPN sports commentator Dick Vitale. The menu at Acqua Al 2 is a replica of its Florentine counterpart, which opened in 1978. Owner Martin Gonzales spent a year working in the kitchen in Italy to hone his skills with the delicious Italian entrées served here. He then brought the Tuscan cuisine and hospitality to San Diego. The warm atmosphere is complemented by dramatic brickwork, dark woodwork and overflowing wine displays. Be sure to bring friends along to try the house specialty, Assaggio di Primi, a chef’s choice sampler of five fresh pastas ($12 per person). Complement the meal with a wine selection from Italy and California. — Jennifer Belli

Acqua Al 2, 322 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, 619-230-0382. Open for lunch, Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., and Sat., 1-3 p.m., and dinner nightly, 5 p.m.-close.?

SEA FARE

Get your chopsticks ready. Sushi chef Maru serves some of the best ocean-harvested treats in town. The monthly menu at Taka is a combination of classic sushi and artfully prepared dishes. Known for its fresh sashimi, Taka also features an exciting selection of American foods served with Japanese style. Try the seafood linguine with fresh Manila clams, calamari, scallops and shrimp. The large, traditionally decorated sushi bar commands notice upon entering this eatery, where the wasabi is usually fresh ground, not made from powder, as it is in most sushi restaurants. Reservations are recommended. — J.B.

Taka, 555 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, 619-338-0555. Open Sun.-Thurs., 5:30-9:30 p.m., and Fri.-Sat., 5:30-10:30 p.m.

ONE OF THEIR OWN

The Local Eatery and Watering Hole is a laid-back beachfront bar that serves delicious home-cooked delights. Owner Mina Desiderio says, “I felt that the downtown area needed an everyday kind of place, somewhere where people felt like locals,” hence the name. The Baja Californian cuisine, including the signature Coconut Calamari Steaks ($8.95), was influenced by Mina’s youth in San Diego; she traveled to the peninsula often and enjoyed sampling the street tacos and lobster. Beer from microbreweries Karl Strauss, Ballast Point, Stone Brewery, Pizza Port Brewing, Anvil and Green Flash Brewers is served with a smile. Local photography adorns the walls next to various South Coast Surfboards. Don’t worry about donning your Rainbow sandals to this hangout: Casual dress is a way of life. The Coconut Calamari Steaks have a devoted fan base. The bar has a beachside feel and great drink specials available after the sun goes down. Watch a game on one of the multiple TVs, check out live music from local bands or dance to the beats produced by DJs every weekend. — J.B.

The Local Eatery & Watering Hole, 1065 Fourth Avenue, San Diego, 619-231-4447. Open Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-2 a.m., and Saturday, 4 p.m.-2 a.m.

Culture

CIRCLE OF MEMORY?

Five thousand years have come and gone since the Irish cairns — Neolithic burial structures — were assembled, yet Eleanor Coppola, wife of film director Francis Ford Coppola, has found them relevant. Through collaboration with five other contemporary artists (Richard Beggs, Robilee Frederick, Elizabeth MacDonald, Dr. Jean McMann and Alexander V. Nichols), Coppola created Circle of Memory, a multimedia/sensory installation inspired by the legends of rituals that might have taken place inside these ancient crypts.?

Now on view at the Museum of Photographic Arts, Circle of Memory underscores the universality of humanity’s need for a healing and meditative space by creating a place that commemorates the loss of friends and loved ones.?

Straw bales placed in circular formation create a more transportable version of the traditional boulder-constructed cairn, and invite visitors into the tower’s interior space with its sweet, comforting aroma. Inside, a steady stream of salt cascades gently from an opening in the roof and collects in an ever-enlarging conical mound on the floor amid the sound of children’s voices. Volunteers from local bereavement organizations, including the Jenna Druck Foundation, are available to help visitors with the myriad emotions the installation evokes.

Circle of Memory has received tremendous response from visitors. “People are coming who haven’t ever been to a museum before,” said Courtney Blackwell, communications director at the museum. “It’s a different kind of space: It serves a purpose.” — Elizabeth Bruckner?

Circle of Memory will be on view at the Museum of Photographic Arts through Nov. 7 with a special evening memorial at 7 p.m. on Sept. 11. MOPA, 1649 El Prado, San Diego, 619-238-7559.?Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for students; free for MOPA members and children 12 and under.

Relax

SPA-LICIOUS

Thanks to Katherine Stuart’s Spa Tiki, Southern Californians can experience the tropics year-round.

Located across from the convention center in the heart of downtown San Diego, this 8,000-square-foot day spa, with its azure-colored floors, thatched huts, ritualistic totems and seductive aromas, serves up a tantalizing, tropical landscape every day. From the more traditional body therapies ($90 and up) and facials ($85) to the extravagant $1,500 Vacation Packages, all offerings stem from ancient island traditions.

“It’s like going on vacation for a day,” Stuart said. She recommends Spa Tiki’s signature rituals ($195 and up), special treatments each with a different island theme. From these guests may choose between destinations such as Bali, Fiji, Thailand, and the most popular, Hawaii. Ritual participants are given their own private “villa,” where they indulge mind and body.?

And for those who think day spas are all feminine fluff, think again. Spa Tiki also caters to male vacationers, who can groove to Jimmy Buffet tunes by the palapa hut before having a Sailor’s Facial or Hang Ten pedicure ($50 each).?

To complete the vacation experience, get the Tan to Go, a sunless tanning service that may be added on to any Spa Tiki treatment. After all, one of the best things about going on vacation is returning home with bronzed skin. — E.B.

Spa Tiki, 200 Harbor Drive, Suite 200, San Diego, 619-501-4363. Open Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Mon., 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Tues. and Sat., 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and Weds.-Fri., 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

BODY GOOD

OK, admit it. You slouch too much, work too hard, don’t work out and gulp down mediocre mugs of black coffee. Well, not to worry. You can still give your body a break.?

At Bamboo Yoga and Bodywork Center, a short trip over the bridge in Coronado, massage therapist Cheri Paquin has assembled a team of wellness practitioners to help body and mind find balance. The center focuses on individual needs, bringing awareness and healing to the areas of the body that need it most. For Paquin, yoga is like a wheel with spokes. The wheel represents yoga methods and the spokes symbolize the path toward inner piece.?

“We are all headed toward the center, but we are all at different places on each spoke,” Paquin said. “To people farther out on the wheel, it seems as if this is just exercise, but as students progress they discover things about themselves and life along the way.”

Bamboo Yoga offers a variety of yoga and wellness methods, including Iyengar, vinyasa, yogalates and Pilates, as well as massage therapy and acupuncture. One of the most popular classes is Iyengar Yoga, taught by Cathy Evans, who will help relax mind and body while stretching, strengthening, and sculpting every muscle — even those you never knew you had. For the more inexperienced, chronically ill or those just looking for a little R&R, Arjun’s Restorative Yoga class is an excellent choice.?

And the offerings don’t stop here. Bamboo Yoga offers a Community Yoga Program. “There are lots of great projects in Coronado, and we try to educate the community about [their efforts],” Paquin said. Each Sunday, the proceeds from a specially designated class are collected and donated to a Coronado charity.?Past recipients include the Wheelchair and Mountaineering Program, PAWS and the City of Hope. Bamboo Yoga is also home to monthly concerts by local singer-songwriters.” — E.B.

With all that is going on, just about everyone can guide body and community toward center and balance. Bamboo Yoga and Bodywork Center, 1127 Loma Avenue, Coronado, 619-435-9119. Classes start at $15. Private lessons available. Massage is $40 and up, acupuncture is $65.

Shop

MINTY FRESH

Mint owner Erik Kramer introduces smaller lines alongside major labels for the discerning shoe connoisseur at his two-year-old boutique. The current bestseller is from the Macbeth line, based Carlsbad, Calif. Their casual sneaker, Elliot, is not made of any animal-based products. Argyle, metallic and tweed styles dominate the arched walls of this shoe enclave, where footwear is displayed on aluminum pegs fixed to the tube-like interior. When local DJs and customers stop by, they come equipped with mixed CDs and music from their own collections. This music-sharing allows Mint manager Justin Davis to play cool new sounds among the stylish sneakers and kitten heels. The store stocks a plethora of men’s and women’s lines, including Puma, Diesel, Irregular Choice, Converse and Fornarina. The handbags and accessories are also worth a look. What’s next? A new store will open in November in the hip Gaslamp Quarter and offer funky European brands along with the usual selection. — J.B.?

Mint, 525 University Avenue, San Diego, 619-291-6468. Open daily from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun., 10 a.m.-8 p.m. New Mint boutique will be at 629 Fifth Avenue, San Diego.

TOO GOOD TO EAT

Indulge your inner sweet tooth. The deliciously scented, handmade body products from Splash Bath & Body, with names like Spice Cake and Citrus Explosion, are a guilt-free way to pamper yourself.

Splash offers feel-good products with cheeky names (and low prices) that will bring a smile to your face. Try soaking with the popular Banana Shake Bath Bomb ($2.95), which blends real banana chips and vanilla and coconut oils to soothe moisture-thirsty skin.?

Still feeling dry? Get a quick fix with Hand Job ($10.95), its honey tangerine-scented hand cream. Its vitamin-enriched emollients will keep your hands feeling soft and smelling sweet all day long. — S.C.

Splash Bath & Body, 226 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, 619-236-9003. Open 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Mon.-Weds., until 9 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., and noon-7 p.m., Sun.

HAUTE ART

If it’s unique clothing you want, head to Splash Wearable Art to get a dose of Balinese chic at a reasonable price. In this textile haven of jewel-toned dresses and bohemian-influenced outfits, owner Nelou Haydari uses cotton ikat, batik and rayon blends from the islands of Indonesia to create her flowing, wearable “pieces of art,” which range from $20 to $400. Using natural fabrics that are hand-dyed by Indonesian artisans with organic ingredients like tree bark, Haydari’s eye-catching designs are a one-of-a-kind find. Although focusing on women’s fashion, the store also offers a limited men’s wear line of casual clothing. — S.C.

Splash Wearable Art, 376 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, 619-233-5251.Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun.-Thurs., and until midnight on Fri. and Sat.

Take A Number…
here are some stats on ASR.

Years Since ASR’s Debut: 23
Attendance: 18,000
Countries Represented: 60
Registered Retailers from California: 6,000-plus
Exhibiting Brands: 700
San Diego Convention Center Square Footage: 2.5 million
Square Footage of Smallest Booth, Several: 50
Square Footage of Largest Booth, Hurley: 3,500
Registered Team Riders: 977
Registered Models: 229
Bands Performing: 20
Pros Invited to Compete in the Es Game of S.K.A.T.E., Sept. 11: 120
Grand Prize: $10,000
U.S. Waveriding Revenue: $3.6 billion
U.S. Skateboarding Revenue: $5.7 billion

Compiled by Stacy Chun

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