Bruce Springsteen toured the world, becoming a pop cultural icon--but San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium turned down his offer to play there. Just months after the Tractor Pull and Mud Bog, stadium officials feared that the turf would suffer under festival seating.
Ellsworth Kelly, the respected minimalist sculptor, submitted a model for a two-part work for Embarcadero Park. Lop off half of it, city officials suggested, fearing transients would sleep there and kill the grass. Kelly initially agreed but ended up abandoning the project.
In San Ysidro, McDonald's erected a new set of golden arches two blocks from the site of the 1984 massacre, the worst single-episode mass slaying in the country's history. A television producer from Sherman Oaks turned up with plans for a four-hour massacre miniseries.
"See me as a friend," he encouraged wary residents, and he hired the mass murderer's widow as a consultant. He called Bill Kolender "the best police chief in America" and San Ysidro "not a sleazy little border town." He insisted his film would be tasteful.
Residents and survivors didn't buy it.
"Film it in Fresno," suggested Mayor Hedgecock. NBC backed out.
History tossed people up out of the crowd, then watched them spin and disappear.
There was Johnny Massingale, the illiterate, penniless drifter from Kentucky who walked trembling from County Jail on Jan. 4, set free after 10 months behind bars on charges of two throat-slash slayings that prosecutors eventually concluded he did not commit.
There was Scarlett Marie Rogenkamp, a 38-year-old U.S. Air Force employee from Oceanside, who was shot to death Nov. 25 and thrown from a hijacked Egypt Air jetliner in Malta, the only American killed in the hijacking.
Richard Batiste spent two days stuck in the ventilation system of the Sumitomo Bank, allegedly hung up in a break-in attempt.
And Stanley Bohensky, a 35-year-old radiation testing engineer from Paradise Hills, lurched into the limelight of the mayor's second trial by coming forward with his worries about jury tampering.
There were reasons to celebrate--and reasons to smirk.
UC San Diego became one of four National Science Foundation centers for the supercomputer, capable of handling a hundred million calculations a second. San Diego transformed a neglected jazz-age movie palace into the city's first Symphony Hall.
The City Council made its TV debut on Cox Cable and Southwestern--"like watching grass grow," said Councilman Bill Cleator. As an answer to the absence of public toilets downtown, a council committee briefly considered musical rest rooms.
City Councilman Uvaldo Martinez came under fire for whom he ate with and on whose tab. And the visitors bureau embarked on a billboard war for tourists with an aging steel town on the Monongahela River.
Through it all wove Roger Hedgecock, like a man on a board game tracing the route from Go to Finish. The first stop of the year was the witness stand in his first perjury and conspiracy trial. The last would be the studios of radio station KSDO.
In between, the first trial ended in a hung jury--hung by the qualms of a soft-spoken city sanitation worker, Leon Crowder, who arose before dawn the morning after to read the Old Testament and drink herbal tea before facing the storm he had created.
Then came new charges, word that the district attorney would try again, and failed attempts by well-placed movers and shakers to fashion a plea bargain. Oscar Goodman, the Las Vegas lawyer with a long list of Mafia clients, arrived to represent Hedgecock in his second trial.
Jury selection took much of August. Then the trial started, stretching into October. The prosecutor's hemorrhoids caused a short delay, but the case went quickly. On Sept. 24, Goodman rested his case without calling a single witness.
Hedgecock was convicted Oct. 9 on 13 felony conspiracy and perjury counts charging that he accepted illegal campaign contributions. Two days later, he announced that he would resign in a week. When the week ended, he changed his mind.
For in the interim, two jurors had come forward with allegations of jury tampering by the bailiff who had overseen their sequestered deliberations at the Hanalei Hotel in Mission Valley. Goodman had moved for a mistrial, and the state attorney general had agreed to investigate.
Hedgecock went back to work.
But the attorney general found no cause for charging the bailiff, and Goodman's efforts to remove Judge William L. Todd Jr. from the hearing on the mistrial motion failed. Todd refused to grant the mistrial, sentencing Hedgecock to one year in the custody of the county sheriff.
"We want Roger! We want Roger!" rang from the County Jail, said Sheriff John Duffy, figuring out how to handle Hedgecock if and when his appeals are exhausted. "The entire jail was kind of rocking with the chanting," Duffy said. "That's obviously a security problem."
Just one week later, the 39-year-old former mayor announced at a press conference that his weekly talk and call-in radio show would debut Jan. 20. He would also begin working with the St. Vincent De Paul Center on building a downtown shelter for the homeless.
"I have no future political ambitions," Hedgecock told reporters, signing off once and for all on a career in public life that he declared had become the city's "longest-running political soap opera."
Then he added, "But if people don't forget who I am, that's OK too."