La Jolla confidential

Five old friends gathered on Girard Avenue on Saturday, Jan. 26, to mark the fourth anniversary of the passing of former Chula Vista homicide detective Tom Basinski.

In 2006, Basinski — who later served as an investigator for the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office — published “No Good Deed,” a true-crime book about cracking the murder case of David Stevens, whose charred remains were found — with two bullet holes in the head — in his incinerated car on Dec. 23, 1998 in La Jolla.

Former homicide detectives Tony Johnson and Bob Conrad, along with former “Newsweek” editor Tom Matthews, former County probation officer Bill Swank and former San Bernardino County deputy sheriff Jim Hendrix hung photos of Basinski, who died of cancer, on the outside of D.G. Wills Books’ window as they shared their favorite memories.

“He was a character,” said Conrad, who met Basinski on the Chula Vista force in 1970. “He liked to speak in front of groups, at retirements and such, and he would always say something funny — but sometimes offensive to some people. Eventually, he was banned from speaking at any retirements.”

La Jolla represented at Shakespeare competition

On Sunday, Feb. 3, La Jolla high-schoolers Olivia Wiese of The Bishop’s School and Nina Khosia of La Jolla Country Day School will be among the 16 finalists competing to represent San Diego in the English Speaking Union (ESU)’s 36th annual National Shakespeare Competition.

Each student will perform a Shakespearean monologue and recite a sonnet from a curated selection. Competitors will be judged on their understanding of the texts and on their ability to communicate that understanding to an audience.

In April, the winner will receive an all-expense paid trip to New York City to represent San Diego in the national competition at Lincoln Center, where the first place award is a full scholarship to attend the British American Drama Academy in England. (The runner-up gets a scholarship to the American Shakespeare Center’s summer Theater Camp in Staunton, Virginia.)

The San Diego finals, free and open to the public, will be held 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach. For more info, visit

A bridge too far out

The bridge at the New Children’s Museum in downtown San Diego has been decorated with a 48-foot-long mural by Tijuana-based artist PANCA. Titled “Smile,” the installation creates the impression of deconstructed faces using playful eyes and upside-down hearts for noses. It is one of several new artistic touches installed by the museum in time for the new year.

“I have always remembered the time I visited the museum as a child and got to paint the iconic truck,” Panca said. “It was the first time I got to paint something on a large scale. It’s so cool to be here now exhibiting at the Museum as a commissioned artist.”

Sunset salutations

A complimentary new monthly meditation group has launched at Windansea Beach. It’s conducted by Alisha Hawrylyszyn Frank, proprietor of Fiercely Optimistic wellness center.

With the roar of the ocean backdropping her inaugural gathering on Monday, Jan. 28, Frank guided 32 practitioners on an hour-long journey inward.

“It’s just to help the community understand the stillness of meditation,” said Frank, who also recently served as the La Jolla Village Merchants Association president. “I like to give to the community. This is a different platform than I’m used to, but it’s still giving in a way that I understand.”

Frank said she will conduct the class just to the north of The Shack on the final Monday of every month, 10 minutes before sunset, which fixes the next one at 5:33 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25.

$2 million in college scholarships available

Hundreds of scholarships, worth more than $2 million, are available for San Diego students pursuing higher education during the 2019-2020 school year from the San Diego Foundation. Applications are available online through Feb. 5.

“Investing in our students is one of the most important ways to build a strong local talent pipeline for our region,” said Danielle Valenciano, director of community scholarships for the San Diego Foundation. “Today’s students will be the leaders of tomorrow. By supporting them with scholarships, we are creating a more inclusive economy and workforce, and building a lifelong connection between San Diego students and the region.”

The awards — generally ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 — are granted to attendees of four-year universities, two-year colleges, graduate or trade/vocational schools. To apply, visit

Toy soldiers

The tally from last Christmas’ Wacky Wonky Wonderland — the third annual holiday toy drive benefiting San Diego Center for Children — was recently announced by organizers as $50,000 in cash donations and $5,000 worth of toys, games and gift cards. The Center delivered these to the 8,000 children and families it serves annually.

“San Diego Center for Children is beyond grateful for the outpouring of support from our community,” said Kristi Worley, the center’s director of philanthropy. “Due to the generosity of our community, youth and families in our care had a joyful holiday.”

More than 60 businesses and organizations served as donation stations, including La Jolla’s La Valencia Hotel.