In a past life, I was a professional tour guide in San Diego CA. Once, while speaking to a small group of tourists about the city’s historical Gaslamp Quarter downtown, we paused across the street from the original (Jim) Croce’s Restaurant. As I shared a few facts about the late singer, a petite lady stood nearby, eavesdropping. When I asked if I could help her, she, in a raspy, Kim Carnes-type voice, gleefully introduced herself as Ingrid Croce: the late singer’s wife!

Today, Croce’s two restaurants have closed their doors after 30 years of music and fine dining. San Diego, meanwhile, is “Almost Famous” in the music industry. The city is home to a lot of popular artists, including Iron Butterfly, Blink-182, Jewel, Stone Temple Pilots, Slightly Stoopid and many others.

For this month’s deep-cover spying excursion, I was ostensibly shopping for a pair of headphones for my son, who wanted them for practice on his electronic drums. I started my search in the northern part of San Diego County and finished it at the southern end, near the U.S.-Mexico border.

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