On Paras News
It’s said, “No news is good news.” Not true. It’s been bad news for the avid magazine and newspaper customers of North Park’s Paras News as they come to grips with the iconic newsstand’s closure after 70 years. Crestfallen regulars had been voicing their farewells all December to owners Ken and Ann Gabarra, proprietors of the newsstand at 3911 30th St. for the last 12 years. The absence tears a hole in the literary landscape, now leaving newsstands in Hillcrest and University Town Center to try to fill the void.
It was just June 14 of 2019 that Uptown News featured the store in a comprehensive article by Katherine Hon that highlighted Paras as a business that’s “still standing strong.” Once, a rack of New York Times beckoned bibliophiles and tabloid readers alike into a reading rainbow of titles: Hispanic Network, Beatlefan, Black Beauty & Hair, Ghosttowns, Fighters Only, Old Schoolhouse for Homeschoolers, Jazziz, Bee Culture, Railway Modeller, Inked and Jewish Review of Books. Paras didn’t leave out the gamers either since there was crossword, sudoku and word finder. It was probably the only place where readers of Ballers, Bride and Black Belt rubbed shoulders. Five years ago, Paras had carried as many as 4,000 titles, but that had decreased to about 2,500 offerings.
Besides the usual extras of tobacco, lottery tickets, gum, candy and snacks, Ann Gabarra had greatly expanded the non-literary inventory of Paras to include Seattle’s Finest Coffee, team baseball hats, groceries, candles, key chains and even jewelry that featured both Christian cross as well as Jewish Hamsa bracelets. Of course, nearly everyone wondered why the closure, but some were too polite to ask. Ken Gabarra pointed out the obvious — that “the internet” has taken over the reading habits of people who once relied on paper weeklies, periodicals and tabloids. He also cited minor medical concerns as reason enough to finally take a rest.
As the secretary of the North Park Historical Society, writer Katherine Hon enlightened local history buffs that the large building that housed Paras News was built in 1928 as the United Realty Company and was home to 11 businesses such as the Owl Drug Company, Joseph Jessop & Sons Jewelers and others. The Paras space itself had been the Basham Beauty and Melody Beauty Shops, finally solidifying its identity in 1950 as Baker’s Cigar and Newsstand.
Paras News will always stand in the memory as a unique place that was inclusive and multi-partisan, where the house recognized fans of Rolling Stone and CrossSticher as equals. Hopefully loyal customers will have purchased final paper treasures that will last longer than the favorite newsstand where they were purchased.
On local news
In 1993, the first edition of North Park News, which my family founded, boasted on its debut masthead “A community press is the future of journalism.” That belief is true today. Independent, locally based media is this country’s way out of the partisan divide engulfing our nation.
New owners and staff of Uptown News have impressed me with each issue. I believe your editorial staff acknowledges there are two sides to every issue. That standard is difficult to maintain in small communities. Our democracy is asking a lot of you to support and foster balanced journalism. Be honest. Be fair. I look forward to reading each new issue of the new Uptown.
On bike lanes
Thank you for the informative article in the latest Uptown News. I wanted to share my experience and opinion, as a long-time bicyclist in San Diego. I’ve lived in the city for the better part of 42 years and since 2002, been a bike, walk and public transport resident. I don’t own a car.
The city has grown noticeably in the last five years (I was living in Italy) and biking around, even for pleasure has become more hazardous and less appealing. It’s not just the potential of an accident, it’s the pollution.
So while I welcome the attention to cyclists and cycling, building bike lanes along highly trafficked (auto and pedestrian) corridors makes no sense. I take side streets whenever possible. For exercise, I leave at 7 a.m. Sunday mornings for a ride to the beach (from Hillcrest). In 2012, “no one” was up and about. There were no fumes to ingest nor gargantuan metal boxes to negotiate. It was heaven.
I’m spoiled in that I’ve already lived the best of the region on a bike. The sense of freedom and autonomy, of doing your body good and the planet no harm as a matter of habit is a gift and privilege. But my lifestyle isn’t translatable. I’m not a champion of causes. Most people cannot or do not want to sacrifice comfort and convenience for the general good.
San Diego, California and the United States generally are several decades behind progressive European nations and Europe as a whole in terms of creating sustainably mobile societies.
Still, I applaud whatever efforts are in the works. They make us feel like we’re doing something positive.
I’ll leave you with one tiny example of why I lament. In 1991, I was visiting a German friend in Germany. We were stopped at railroad crossing for a train, not an extensive freight train, just a train, and she turned off the motor. I can’t tell you how often I see people sitting in their cars with the motor running, checking their phones. Or leaving the motor running while they run into a store. Or…motors running…