The old racquetball courts are alive with the sound of .44 magnums. Four-wheel drive vehicles belly up to the curb. Down the carpeted corridor from the gun shop is aerobic dance. Greetings! You're in San Diego's first health-spa- cum -shooting-gallery.
Carving a shooting range out of a health club is no cinch. For one thing, you've got to retool the air conditioning to suck out all that gun smoke. Then there's the matter of acoustics, and installing a six-foot TV screen and hunting library in the executive lounge.
But San Diego Indoor Range and Court Sports opened for business late last month in the old Courtsports building on India Street near Sassafras. For Jack Pearson, the former San Diego police lieutenant who runs it, it's a dream come true.
The gunsmith-in-residence, Pat Padfield, is an ex-POW, former fighter pilot and 12-time Idaho skeet-shooting champion. He wears olive-colored anaconda cowboy boots, and a magnifying glass clipped to his head for scrutinizing triggers.
There's a complete gun store in the making--$6,500 12-gauge Browning Dianas and small gray guns for shooting rattlers. "Shotguns, hunting rifles, handguns, ammunition, leather goods," beams Pearson. "Everything related to the shooter."
Across the lobby, serving "infrared sandwiches," are 10 shooting lanes with electric tracks toting targets out to the appropriate range. Silhouettes, bull's-eyes, bowling pins, falling plates, you name your target. All weapons, including shotguns, are fair game, except those with armor-piercing or incendiary bullets.
Down the hall, there are aerobics classes six days a week, Nautilus training, free-standing weights, sauna, Jacuzzi, steam. A wet bar is being installed in the executive lounge, where there will be limited secretarial and laundry services.
Rambo is out, avers Pearson, a powerful, rosy-faced man with a natty yellow handkerchief springing from his breast pocket.
"We don't encourage people with . . . penchants ," he says. "The profile of our executive member is a highly successful sports person who is either a businessman, a doctor or a lawyer. I have three plastic surgeons that are executive members!"
Doing the O.B. Shuffle
It was a wild night at the Texas Teahouse.
Among those bobbing to the surface at the tiny Ocean Beach dive late last week was a well-known former-mayor-turned-radio-talk-show- host. Decked out in a baseball cap donated by a new biker friend, he tossed back a few Coronas and shook a heavy shoe on the tiny dance floor.
Up on stage was the graveyard-shift fry cook from the Stardust Hotel in Mission Valley--Texas-born and -bred bluesman Tom (Cat) Courtney. Courtney belted out "Mustang Sally." The ex-mayor danced with a cast of thousands. The crowd spilled into Voltaire Street.
In came a cadre from the Ocean Beach Geriatric Surf Club and Precision Marching Surfboard Drill Team--wearing zinc oxide beach chairs pinned to their posteriors and bearing balloons. The balloons became airborne. A long red one attached itself to the ex-mayor's chapeau.
In the midst of it all, a scuffle broke out. Word has it there was blood. The combatants were shown politely to the door. "Who was it?" one reveler queried another. "It wasn't Mayor Hedgecock, was it?"
Nope. Hedgecock was just another observer.
Attack of the Mods
Down near the foot of Washington Street, where the Gelato Vero Caffe doles out caffeine and Italian ice cream deep into the night, the safety pins and studded jewelry of the counter-women manning the scoops twinkle in the polished mirrors and cappuccino machines.
But upstairs on the heated deck hang the Mods--a mid-'80s echo in San Diego of Carnaby Street in the mid-'60s. Shrouded in dark turtlenecks, miniskirts and '60s hairdos, they sip black currant tea, smoke up a storm and roost on warm spring nights.
Talk turns sooner or later to Vespas and Lambrettas, and the fleet of scooters they fly in on and leave parked outside. There's discussion of special European windscreens and other accessories, scooter clubs and scooter hangouts.
The attractions to this corner of Washington and India include the presence of espresso, late hours, street access for the Vespas, and an atmosphere conducive to, or at least tolerant of, berets.
And there's the unsupervised upstairs deck. Sometimes someone under age will pop open a beer. Breakage begins, maybe a policeman passes through, and a few Mods head home to catch some Z's before high school the next day.
The studded women downstairs--awash in David Bowie music and jaded by a few years in college--are only slightly amused.
"The mod squad. They are a pain in the butt beyond belief," groaned Debra Sherman, a City College English major manning the rainbow-colored gelato tubs one recent afternoon. "They give us a lot of hassles. They're really big into being demanding. . . . But they are something to look at."