Stories for February 1999

Thursday, February 25

Drug-Runners' Hideaway

José Castrillón Henao was said to have cut a dashing figure on the streets of downtown San Diego. Partial to expensive Armani suits and accompanied by a flashy girlfriend, the Colombian native — who said ...

Anza-Borrego's Smoke Tree Canyon twists its way into the barren flanks of the Santa Rosa Mountains.

Stark and barren, yet glorious in their nakedness, Anza-Borrego's skeletal mountain ranges conceal more than they reveal to casual passersby. If you want to know them better, you must leave the security of the automotive ...

The Defense Of the Woods

Silverio De La Mora Ceballos is hard to spot among the ten-foot-high reeds of this pristine section of the Tijuana River. "Pristine" isn't a word you think of when you talk about the Tijuana River, ...

Calling All Bids

It's one of those urban legends everybody has heard: the police auction. Porsches can be had for $500, 48-inch TVs go for under $100, and mountain bikes sell for $20. To test the legend, I ...

Crook's Legacy

Now the story can be told. More than ten years ago, Ed Legace, boys' swim and water-polo coach at Grossmont Union School High School District's El Capitan High School, abruptly quit his job for what ...

Wednesday, February 24

Where do some of the expressions in our language come from?

Matmail: What and where is a corner of the earth? Why are there always four? Why not eight, as in a cube? Or more? Can you elaborate on the source and reasoning of this anomaly? ...

Why do cats leap to their feet and go tearing around the house?

Dear Matt: Why does my usually docile cat suddenly leap to her feet and go tearing around the house? Is she hallucinating? It's weird. -- Marko, El Cajon In kitty's mind, she's probably being chased ...

Thursday, February 18

I Wasn't There to Hold the Candle, So I Don't Know

Why did Bopensiero come West?

Frank Bompensiero jumped off a freight train in San Diego in the early 1920s. He was 16 or 17 or perhaps even 18 years old. He was five feet, six inches tall. He had hazel ...

Learn about the San Diego Sierra Club's outings program, with some 1000 offerings every year.

Hike Cowles Mountain by late afternoon sunlight, and return by moonlight or flashlight. Trek past Smugglers Cave into the Valley of the Moon. Bike around Mission Bay. Watch birds at San Elijo Lagoon. Circumnavigate Middle ...

The 30-Year War

August, 1997. It is a sunny Saturday on Coronado's Orange Avenue. Bay Books is having a ball. Half a dozen ex-Navy SEALs sit at tables inside, each autographing the book he has written about his ...

Welcome to The Dollhouse

Matt McMullen says he was just an artist looking for an appreciative audience two years ago when he posted some snapshots of his female sculptures on the Internet. The online exposure generated a lot more ...

Hey, Big Spenders

The San Diego City Council is getting ready to fire up its heavy-spending machine again. On March 15, the council is quietly planning to sell another $327.5 million worth of sewer bonds, on top of ...

Wednesday, February 17

Why doesn't our stomach digest itself?

Matt: In my ponderings, accompanied by snacks, I've often wondered why our stomachs can digest everything from cake to goat meat, but it doesn't digest itself. How come? -- Eating and Wondering, San Marcos Matmail: ...

Is Paul from The Wonder Years really Marilyn Manson?

Greetings: Could it be true that the sweet geek Paul from The Wonder Years is now the ever-disturbing Marilyn Manson? We heard this nasty rumor. Could your li'l elves investigate this for us? -- Paul's ...

Thursday, February 11

Shot in the Dark

How a killer met his fate.

Some evening soon, drive out to Pacific Beach. Be there about 8:15. The sun will have been down several hours. Across the sky every last orange and violet streak will be gone. Take a jacket. ...

Hike into the Pine Creek Wilderness east of Alpine for a look at Secret Canyon.

The ambitiously constructed Secret Canyon Trail, circuitously nosing its way down the canyon walls of Pine Valley Creek for 14 miles, traverses nearly the entire length of the Pine Creek Wilderness in Cleveland National Forest. ...

Science in a Fog

Get this: Johnny Cloud is into fog. Joel Blanket is into fog. Jerry Estberg (read "East Mountain") is into fog. Fog Cloud, Fog Blanket, Fog Mountain... Is this destiny or what? The three scientists are ...

The Truth About Mexican Media

The press conference is crowded into the front room of the old blue wooden house at 11th and G. That's where Rosario Ibarra de Piedra sits, at the end of an oblong table. Hers is ...

Peaceful Corruption

California senator Steve Peace, who says he's thinking of running for mayor of San Diego, has just introduced a bill to allow what many think is a questionable way for cities to run up more ...

Thursday, February 4

Out of the Woods: How to Build a Career with Your Own Two Hands

On the coffee table in front of the fireplace the maid set out Earl Grey tea and thick slices of Christmas cake. A German shepherd dozed on the Oriental rug near the crackling, popping fire. ...

Is it legal not to mention the "fine print?"

To: Matmail@aol.com Subject: gyms I recently terminated my membership at the [name omitted] gym and was outraged that they are charging me for two months of fees beyond my cancellation date. They say they are ...

Killers in the Neighborhood

Tijuana has joined a list of cities it doesn't want to join: it has been ranked one of the most dangerous business-travel destinations in the world. Houston-based Air Security International, which caters to private-jet-flying executives, ...

Banana Man

You're a banana. For months you and your siblings have grown up in a clump, hanging from a tree in Ecuador. Life is good, basking in the tropical sun and rain showers. But one day, ...

Political Tale of e-mail

E-mail may have arrived at the San Diego City Council, but that hasn't improved the clarity of the messages some councilmembers are sending with it. Example number one: the fuss over bumper stickers on city-owned ...

Wednesday, February 3

Mine Wash of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Tranquil Mine Canyon and its several tributaries slash deep into the Pinyon Mountains of central Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Day after day, year after year, the parched ravines and boulder-splintered hillsides lie open to the ...