Flat Earth: San Diego blues

San Diego hasn't been the same since its harbour traffic veered north to Los Angeles and its naval base was cut back at the end of the Cold War. So, to cheer itself up, the southernmost of southern California's cities has decided to look for an official song.

The problem is, nobody has ever been inspired to sing, say, how "I Lost My Heart in San Diego". Sure, the city has Sea World, and a world-beating zoo, but in the popular imagination it is about as songworthy as Barnsley on a rainy Friday night.

The city says it wants something "upbeat and positive". That was the sentiment that, back in the 1960s, inspired Detroit to commission a song from Sammy Davis Jr called "Hello, Detroit". It sank without trace.

So what can San Diego do? What rhymes with San Diego?

The trouble, according to Mike Downey, a maliciously humorous columnist for the Los Angeles Times, is that San Diego has no identifiable image apart from the pandas in its zoo.

"It's not even a city that never sleeps," he wrote. "I have been to San Diego. It sleeps."

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