San Diego by Foot

Since I was 15 years old, I have wanted to see California. A couple of decades later, I am flying back east after my first vacation to the Golden State.

My husband and I spent about three days in the San Diego area. For the most part, it’s fantastic. Of course, there are reminders of the drought. And the city’s homeless residents are quite visible which is understandable because of the city’s very mild weather year round.

Things we wish we had more time for:

Torrey Pines State Park

1- Torrey State Park. Beautiful hiking and beaches. A FREE beach – you know what I’m talking about Jersey. It’s about an hour bus ride from Broadway in downtown San Diego (take the 150 bus and transfer at Gilman Drive and Eucalyptus Grove Lane  and transfer to Bus 101. Get off at North Torrey Pines & Science Park Road bus). The trail we walked was an easy to moderate walk; the views were spectacular and the trail led us to the Pacific Ocean.

2- La Jolla. If you like to walk, I mean REALLY like to walk, it was a beautiful walk south along the shoreline to La Jolla. We passed through an unofficial nude beach and focused on the parasailing above. At low tide, we were able to climb over large rocks to cross over to a beach in La Jolla. We stopped at the first restaurant we saw, Caroline’s Cafe. The cafe is a causal place with outside seating overlooking the ocean.

And then we continued to hike into downtown -another hour or so- and saw sea lions that came up onto one of the beaches. The retail area extends for blocks with restaurants, art galleries and boutiques.

3- Balboa Park. We walked through the park to have dinner in the Hillcrest neighborhood. It was a nice walk, but I know we missed out on a lot in the park. Hillcrest is a lively neighborhood with a significant LGBT presence.

4. Little Italy. This neighborhood seems as different as it is far from Manhattan’s own. We spent our last night at the Urban Boutique Hotel on Columbia Street. The room was small, but clean so it was just fine. We had an amazing, fresh dinner on the front lawn of Queenstown. It’s a quaint house and the hostess described the menu as American food with New Zealand influences. Inside, the decor was off-beat but tasteful-even with the lambs on the ceiling of a side room and a American flag made of lace trimmings.

Inside Queenstown Restaurant

The neighborhood has a lot of newer construction and it is filled with niche and swanky bars and restaurants. It also reflects the craft beer craze in San Diego. There is also a small art scene; we picked up two prints from Mee Shim’s gallery – much better than a souvenir.

5. Sports. We took a ferry from the Broadway dock to the Coronado peninsula. It’s a nice trip across the bay and Coronado is similar to La Jolla – beautiful and clean, choices of restaurants as you get more inland but it’s expensive to live in.

Kayaker on San Diego Bay

We kayaked on the bay. Once I was secure that our little boat was not like to capsize in the wake of larger vehicles, I loved it.

6. Gas Lamp. Although it definitely is a tourist area, it doesn’t feel like too much of a trap. And, according to a local, San Diegans will go out there, too. It’s particularly lively on game nights because the Padres’ stadium sits at the edge of the district. A lot of restaurants and bars, a few galleries and souvenir shops. Broken Yolk on 6th Avenue was packed for Saturday breakfast.

Tijuana, Mexico. Walking back to La Frontera

7. Baja California. We took the Blue Line Trolley from downtown to the San Ysidro district. From there, it was a short walk to La Frontera. It was novel an international border on foot, but the parts of Tijuana that are accessible were not necessarily worth the two hour line to reach the United States customs when we were ready to return to San Diego. The area of Tijuana that we saw is set up to guide travelers into an area of tourist shops and restaurants. The immediate commercial district around it was mostly composed of basic retailers and lots of dentists.

We did not plan our morning in Mexico well, but it was interesting to be on line at the border. If we had more time in the region, it is likely worth a more in depth exploration further into Baja California.


Iraq: The Sum of War & Peace

Text by K. Cecchini

It’s been 12 years since the US invasion. “For Iraqis,” Vivian Salama reported last month for the Associated Press, “the various conflicts feel like one long war…”. And, for Americans? Iraq looks like the sum of ISIS, Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction that the United Nations never found.

Profile of Vivian Salama in Rutgers Magazine (Winter 2015) by Angela Delli Santi

But, Salama believes she is “privileged” with a different point-of-view; “Iraq is such an incredible place, rich with history and culture,” the Baghdad correspondent told our Rutgers alum magazine, “The people are among the kindest and most misunderstood in the world because of a handful of extremists who have cast a negative light on the society”. 

I reached out to Salama for her unique insight on Iraq and its people. For one, she paints a charming picture of the capital’s old quarters; Mutannabbi and Rasheed Streets are “lined with gorgeous old Ottoman-era buildings that truly give visitors a window into another time”.  In the “relatively” safe district, men discuss politics and culture in long-established coffee shops, parents bring children to play on the banks of the Tigris River, and, on Fridays, vendors sell books and freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice at the fair. “It’s truly wonderful.”

However, Iraq’s “one long war” is still ever-present in the “true concrete jungle” that is Baghdad.  To shield its  structures from combat, the streets are lined with expansive concrete walls. Residents “always have to be vigilant”; they factor the ongoing conflicts into every decision and action. Most recently, of course, ISIS’s actions have ricocheted throughout society and citizens are often “horrified at how vulnerable their country was to this threat,” Salama affirms, “and yet not surprised after a decade of war”.

Nonetheless, there are many ways in which Americans can identify with Iraqis, particularly in their vision for life. Most Iraqis desire peace, freedom to move about and worship as they please, and, in the middle of an economic slump, they wish for “the right to earn a living and support their families”.

Photo of Vivian Salama in Rutgers Magazine (Winter 2015)  by Karim Kadim

Although Iraqis convey nuanced views on the United States, Salama feels they are “extremely warm to foreigners” and like to inquire about people’s lives in their home countries and their perspectives on Iraq.  Still, many Iraqis are “understandably angry with Americans and,” Salama stresses, “verbalize that in a peaceful way.”

So, by Salama’s calculations, what is the sum of lots of hope, 12 years of war and a history that extends back to the first civilizations? An “incredible” people.

365 Dawns

Tonight at Dawn just reached its 1st year anniversary and 200th article on Sunday (2.22: “Tonight at Noon“). To celebrate, we are presenting our largest (& favorite) milestones from the last 365 days. Thanks for taking the ride and stay with us as we evolve!

Tonight at Dawn: Favorite Posts by the Month


February: TaD’s 1st live coverage “The Man Behind the Curtain: Covering the VH1 Superbowl Blitz”


Balloons released at start of Rainbow Fest

March: Japanese rainbows  “Shinjuku, Block no. 2 (新宿二丁目)” 


April: Live wire  Lews Black Rants On: 7 Pieces of Advice

Dena Florczyk 6

May: Get educated The Nigerian School Project

Julie Taymor & Stephen Colbert In Conversation, MFF14
Julie Taymor & Stephen Colbert In Conversation, MFF14

May (Indecision!Montclair Film Festival Series

Orange is the New Black Promo Shot
Orange is the New Black Promo Shot

June: What’s threatening our democracy?  Justice Reform Series


July: International collaboration Economy Decoded: Kesariya Baalam, Padharo Mhare des!



August: Give me the RED Light…District



September: Eco-tacular Meeting the 1st female prime minister of Ireland at NYC’s Climate March


September: (Indecisions, again!): Meeting Senator Cory Booker



October: Music reviews from @kraltunes make our stats POP!  Pearl Jam (& my favorite @kraltunes piece)



November: The doctor is in! One of Dr. Nina’s “What you to need to know…”


 December: ART! Margeaux Walter Has Got Heart (or a FAMNIG HJÄRTA)


One Less Flush by Nitesh Nagrath and Lizzie Reid
One Less Flush by Nitesh Nagrath and Lizzie Reid

January: “One small step for (wo)man” Peeing in the Shower (& Other Eco-Friendly Moves I’m Not Ready For)

#jeffwecan Last Week Tonight's Media Campaign for Anti-Smoking

 February: Armchair activism via John Oliver: #Jeff We Can! #Jeff We Can! #Jeff We Can! 


What’s next for TaD? More of everything! More @kraltunes, travel, Dr. Nina, live event coverage and real, current social and environmental issues. The next interview piece will be a sobering but hopeful conversation with a TED Talks speaker.






President Obama Befriends India

Text by K. Cecchini/Feature Photo: AP Photo/Saurabh Das

Prime Minister Modi greets President Obama in New Delhi with the First Lady in the background. Image tweeted from @PMOIndia


If this welcoming hug between Prime Minister Modi and President Obama is indicative of diplomatic goals, then President Obama is ready to Think India.

These two move fast.

Up until last year, Modi would not have passed through customs in the United States because of the deadly anti-Muslim riots of 2002 during his governance over Gujarat state. He was never indicted for having any role in the event and so the US government is willing to forge stronger relations with the new PM. Modi has already visited Washington this past September and now Obama is wrapping up a 3-day visit in India.

Author Vinay Rai believe that it is in the self-interest of both nations that relations have been evolving for the better in recent years; it has been inevitable for India and America to develop a relationship because both societies value democracy and “…both are enterprising and flexible and adaptable to change…”

According to Julie McCarthy, India’s government expresses a similar sentiment; a foreign ministry spokesman said that his nation is working to ‘re-energize’ engagement between the democracies which has been developing more under the Obama administration. This 3-day date was highlighted with Obama being honored as the Chief Guest at the Republic Day festivities in the capital for the anniversary of its constitution’s implementation.

Besides the pomp and circumstance that symbolizes a burgeoning relationship (perhaps to the dismay of our greatest ally in the area and India’s greatest enemy, Pakistan), these are some of the topics shared between the two leaders:

1-Renewal of a 10-year defense agreement.

2-A climate agreement (albeit, largely weak according to the New York Times, it is a sign of India’s ownership of responsibility for climate issues)

3-Civil nuclear cooperation

During an appearance, President Obama remarked, “This new partnership will not happen overnight. It’s going to take time to build and some patience. But it’s clear from this visit that we have a new and perhaps unprecedented opportunity, and deepening our ties with India is going to remain a top foreign policy priority for my administration.”