Stories for May 1999

Thursday, May 27

Why Do They Need Free Food?

Our city officials' runaway gravy train.

Back in February, while gas prices were soaring and radio talk-show host Roger Hedgecock was railing against big oil, a group of San Diego city councilmembers and their aides traveled to Long Beach for a ...

Walk on the wild side of Cowles Mountain, up the northwest ridge to the summit.

There are at least as many ways to climb Cowles Mountain, the highest elevation within San Diego's city limit, as there are digits on your hand. Perhaps the least popular but no less fun approach ...

The Planet Hollywood Front

Darth Vader is waving a light saber and a charred Styrofoam ball on a chain in front of Planet Hollywood at Fourth and Broadway. The dark lord, black robes flowing in the wind, is shaking ...

Drop a Peso

Last week, amid great fanfare, President Ernesto Zedillo opened Telmex's San Diego telephone operations base. This, he said, was the beginning of a new era in cross-border cooperation. So how come I'm standing by this ...

Kehoe's Latest Stand

Has the tide turned against the plan to build a baseball stadium downtown? Although approved by voters last November in a so-called "advisory" election, cracks have begun to appear, most of them due to blatant ...

The Derek, Frieda, and Abbe Chronicles, Part 2

Bro and sis for certain.

When I read Derek’s letter questioning whether I might be his half sister, I didn’t know whether he’d turn out to be a bloody stranger or a blood relative. Neither did he. There was only ...

Why is there a sign saying "Leaving San Diego County" off Pomerado Road?

Hey, MatMan: Sometimes after getting off work in Kearny Mesa, I'll jump off I-15 at Pomerado on my way home to the great big city of Poway. Shortly after leaving the freeway, just before USIU, ...

Thursday, May 20

The Derek, Frieda, and Abbe Chronicles, Part 1

Former city councilwoman Abbe Wolfsheimer plunges into a long-lost-brother mystery.

Suppose you were an only child for the first 57 years of your life. Then suppose you received a letter intimating you had a half brother. How would you feel — other than astonished, curious, ...

Take a short hike to secluded Big Spring in Tubb Canyon, overlooking Borrego Valley.

Big Spring, tucked in a tributary of Tubb Canyon on the west side of Borrego Valley, is one of the more reliable water producers in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. As such, it is an ...

A Teacher's Odyssey

Oceanside is about as far as you can go in North County without enlisting. Fact is, many people in Oceanside have enlisted, if only indirectly, via their parents. Biology teacher Dawn Murray says that few ...

Drug of Choice

What's cooking? If you're in San Diego, more than likely it's meth. By the "Nazi" method. Dry, odor-free, small-scale, impossible to catch. And if you're selling, you'll still have more customers than anywhere else in ...

Gold Dust

Disclosure of the pending divorce between Peter Jensen and Princess Ubol Ratana, the eldest daughter of Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej, is causing tongues to wag and students of local business fiascos to dust off their ...

Why do some smaller birds chase larger birds?

Dear Matthew Alice: Lately I've noticed some small birds in my neighborhood flying around and chasing bigger birds, hawks maybe. Why are they doing this? I don't think I've ever seen this before. -- Mary ...

Is Camp Pendleton government land or leased from a family?

Dear All-Knowing, All-Seeing One: I heard from a fairly reliable source, my cousin, a retired USMC Master Sergeant, that Camp Pendleton is not government land but actually leased from a family who has owned the ...

Does the "key to the city" open anything?

Mattster: When the mayor awards somebody the key to the city, does it open anything? -- Another Mattster, the Net I'm sure you've also noticed that those official city keys are usually big plastic skeleton ...

What is the name of the candy bar sold years ago that was made from braided caramel dipped in chocolate?

Dear Mattman: Help! We have been wracking our brains trying to figure out this question. What is the candy bar that was sold years ago that was made from braided caramel dipped in chocolate? Help! ...

Thursday, May 13

I'm Done With the States

Brothers below the border.

The restaurant was a rambling wood affair with families crammed together and happily intent over their plates until that rumba line of black men – a half dozen of them – began to snake between ...

Newsburgers Hot Off the Grill

In Khartoum it's the Acropole. In Vientiane it's the Constellation. In London it's Biddy Mulligan's. In Tijuana the place to find "the buzz" is Big Boy -- El Big. El Big, on Agua Caliente Boulevard, ...

Where Politicians Park for Free

It was raining. I had my two small children with me and no stroller. I desperately wanted to find a parking spot near the pedestrian bridge at Lindbergh Field's Terminal 2. And there was a ...

B Stands for Buster

Buster's Beach House, a new restaurant in Seaport Village, started its first week of business on a downer: a B rating from the county health department was displayed discreetly in the front window, partially hidden ...

Take a Sunday tour of the Audubon Society's Silverwood Wildlife Sanctuary near Lakeside.

Silverwood. The name comes from the glittering effect of sunlight upon the dark-green leaves of the coast live oak. Scores of these trees, some of them two-century-old giants scarred by fire, shade the canyon floor ...

Down and Out in Marioland

Homeless among the hillocks.

When the rain makes its move on San Diego in January, the streets seem more lonely than in other cities; it is a broken promise. On the south Embarcadero on a Monday afternoon, in the ...

Who is Huey, Dewey and Louie's father?

Mr. Alice: Who is Huey, Dewey, and Louie's father? If Donald Duck is their uncle, then Donald Duck must have a brother. I've never seen him. My dad has a brother and he is my ...

Do kids still take apples to their teachers?

Matt: Many, many years ago, when I was a kid, I remember taking an apple to school and giving it to my favorite teacher. Do kids do this anymore? Where did the tradition come from? ...

Thursday, May 6

No Clock in the Forest

An early weekday morning in Coronado. A pair of schoolboys about 11 years old are slowly skateboarding down the sidewalk making that clattery train track noise — clack, clack, clack, clack as they cross each ...

Cut and Print

The San Diego Union-Tribune has launched what its top brass is calling a "major initiative" to boost circulation at the paper, which serves America's sixth-largest city but barely makes the top-20 list nationally in terms ...

Lady Sings the Blue

For 38 years you knew where to look for Henrich Boll, Celine, Jack Kerouac, Jane and Paul Bowles, William Burroughs, and Gertrude Stein. Sometimes Jim Thompson and Stendahl would be there, or you could catch ...

Foul Ball

Word around San Diego's city hall has it that the city council will almost certainly pick the so-called ballpark site for a new central library. Why? According to sources both in and out of local ...

Get springtime vistas of mountain green and desert brown on Mount Laguna's Desert View Trail.

It's barely a month after more than a foot of late-season snow fell on the 6000-foot-high Laguna Mountains. The forest atop these rarefied heights is responding in a sluggish way to the melted snow and ...

Why don't they grow Atlantic lobster in the Pacific?

Matthew Alice: Considering the popularity and premium prices paid for Atlantic (Maine) lobster, one wonders why they can't be grown commercially on the Pacific Coast. I would guess that about every two years someone must ...

What is the sand for on the Trolley?

Dear Matthew Alice: Can you tell me what the sand under the seats on the San Diego Trolley is for? -- Tracy, the Net Yes, I can. * * * Sorry, Tracy. Just an annoying ...

Why don't cats react to their reflections?

To: Matmail: Our cat, Harley, always reacts to the presence of another cat. Why doesn't he react to his own reflection in a mirror? Your clarification of this question may save my marriage. -- dt ...

What came first, the tortilla chip or the potato chip?

Dear Matthew Alice: What came first, the tortilla chip or the potato chip? -- kiyotei, Kiyotei's Den I think we have to go with the tortilla chip, based more on logic than direct evidence. Corn ...