Stories for June 2000

Thursday, June 29

Dialin' and Cryin'

My name is Jim West — at least that’s what you’ll hear when you pick up the phone in the middle of dinner as I launch into my pitch for the hundredth time today. I ...

Rabbit of the Scorpions

San Francisco acupuncturist refers to any procedure requiring many needles as “The Full Frida Kahlo.” He assumes his patients are familiar with Kahlo’s self-portrait, Diego on My Mind, in which wiry tendrils radiate from her ...

When you are driving through the desert, how can there be a reflection of something in a mirage?

Matthew: When you're driving through the desert and it's hot, you sometimes see what looks like a big pool of water in the road ahead of you. I know this is a mirage and that ...

Could there be foxes in the canyon near the College Area or City Heights?

Dear Matt A: When I lived near a canyon in the College Area, there was often a very coarse howl, almost a growl coming from the canyon, often followed by a shrill whistle. Furthermore, it ...

Hike or backpack to four summits over two miles high on the crest of the San Bernardino Mountains.

Tucked amid the tall, straight trunks of lodgepole pines at nearly two miles high in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, the wind-sheltered and mostly bug-free Trail Fork Camp is a peakbagger's delight. Just above the trail ...

Thursday, June 22

Houseless

Target, Sports Arena area Richard — Age 38, approximately Q How long have you been homeless? A I’ve been homeless here in San Diego for about two and a half years. That’s how long I’ve ...

Speed Kills

The birthday card Sonia Wilson gave her son last summer contained an unusually prophetic message. One of the passages read, "Time passes, and your innocent little boy starts to test his limits. He lets go ...

Mental Advocacy

In 1969, Assemblyman Frank Lanterman, a Republican from La Cañada, introduced a bill known as the Lanterman Mental Retardation Services Act. Finally passed in 1977, the Lanterman Act drives most of the services for the ...

Big Boys, Big Toys

The deal to build a downtown ballpark may have hit some snags, but that isn't getting in the way of Padres executives. Seen lingering at the door to downtown's posh Rainwater's steakhouse during last Friday's ...

Get Used To It

We got the Lakers winning the NBA championship in six, De La Hoya swallowing another loss, or Tiger Woods. Which is to say, we could have Spam and cold macaroni for dinner, or duck prosciutto ...

How long will a ball of gum stay in your stomach?

Matthew Alice: My four-year-old has just mastered the art of chewing gum. He can eat a whole pack in ten minutes. I don't think swallowing five pieces of Bubble Yum will hurt him, but it ...

What is the deal with castrati singers?

Hey, Matt, Whazzup: What is the deal with castrati singers? I first thought this only happened back in the baroque period, but recently I was listening to an actual recording of one in a history ...

Tour the La Jolla coastline by bike.

The pleasantly tepid, breezy days of late June and early July (on the coast, at least) are perfect for the following eight-mile bicycle ride from downtown La Jolla to Bird Rock and back. The looping ...

Thursday, June 15

Daddy

To commemorate Father's Day, this issue contains a collection of reflections from Reader writers about their fathers: The Last Tag Sale — Jeanne Schinto An Air of Exoticism — Duncan Shepherd Kinder Than I Would ...

The Last Tag Sale

I notice he has thrown away some color slides — family pictures. The bag breaks and they spill out. I don’t say anything, just pick them up off the driveway and put them in a ...

An Air of Exoticism

My father was older than other kids’ fathers. The disappearing and already disappeared hair on the top of his head offered testimony to that. The mustache that linked him to an earlier generation of Hollywood ...

Kinder Than I Would Think Possible

When I got in trouble, my father’s impulse was to hug me. He did punish me for the little things, but when I did something corrupt, committed a youthful transgression that had the potential to ...

What He Is, Is Dead

Dead, dead, dead is what I think now when I think, “Father.” My father’s dead. My father’s underground. More than a decade, my father’s moldered. His big belly’s deflated. His big belly’s dust and rubble. ...

Positioned on a Pedestal

My father died in the autumn of 1989 of congestive heart failure. His name was Lester and he was 79 and, as he recedes into the past, he gradually ceases to be a single human ...

Put Something on Those Feet

Moe: Not with the bare feet! Susie: Dad, I’m just going in the back yard. Moe: I wouldn’t go out there with the bare feet, Susie. You don’t know what’s on the ground. Those birds ...

Coffin Nails

I was born on a Sunday evening in May 1953, so I probably first tasted cigarette smoke, first inhaled it, the following Wednesday. If my dad smoked as he drove my mom and me home ...

A Self-Made Man

There were six pairs of Sunday school shoes lined up on the kitchen floor every Saturday night, three little patent-leather pairs with rounded toes and a single strap across the top of the foot, and ...

By No Means Mr. Mom

Wolf’s Breath Chili. That’s what I’m making for you, Deeda my pigeon sweeta.” The words whistled out from beneath the chip in my father’s front tooth. He danced around the kitchen and executed a combination ...

Bopodondo from Macondo

As my father lay dying, on June 29, 1990, I held his ice-cold hands. We didn’t say much, at first. Didn’t know where to start. Then I asked if the legend was true. His family ...

Real Parents

At breakfast my father asked me what I thought we should do if, in Grandma and Grandpa’s safety deposit box, we found the document identifying his real parents. The year was 1967, and he and ...

Sugar Jones

For a whole year — beginning in 1959 — I stole from my father and I never got caught. I was 14 years old, a freshman at Saint Augustine’s High School on Nutmeg Street in ...

Why the Tie, Why the Canoe

There is nothing better for a man but that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God. — Ecclesiastes 2:24 My father’s ...

My Father Never Stopped Moving

During my adolescence, my father had a hard time keeping a job. His problems began when I was 11. We lived in Pine Valley out in East County. My father sold surgical supplies for a ...

Time on the Court

I have never thanked my father for one of the nicest and most difficult things he ever did for me, because until I thought of it just now, I didn’t realize he had done it, ...

The Man Who Loved to Dress Women

“Never put a rat on your back.” I was five years old, hurtling through the subway station in New York, on the way to the garment district with my father when he gave me my ...

The Collector

He is old, now, my father. If he were a Toyota Corolla he would have well over 200,000 miles on him and you’d be wondering just how soon the old heap was going to seize ...

Friends Called Him Bill Daugherty

I don’t believe he liked me, but I can’t tell you that for sure. I can say I don’t think about him. Mom, I think of every day. I talk to her in my head, ...

Wild and Crazy S.O.B

Perhaps it’s a question of semantics, who knows, but I feel incredibly relieved to be done with “family,” “home” — these are things you grow up to leave and be done with, at least as ...

The Guy Who got the Lazy Boy off the La-Z-Boy

He likes rhubarb, polish sausage with sauerkraut, and mincemeat pie. He looks like Paul Newman and walks with a John Wayne swagger. (My sisters and I thought he was just cool, but later in life ...

His Lightness, My Weight

Until he lost consciousness eight hours before his death, my father was lucid. He did have night terrors, usually around 4:00 a.m., when, animated by morphine dreams, he’d rise cackling from his bed, hairy arms ...

You Don’t Have to Like Him

This Father’s Day I won’t send my father a card. I won’t see him, I won’t call him. I probably won’t think much about him. I’m being paid to think about him now. It’s not ...

Blue Milk Tickets

My father went to work 6205 days in a row, give or take a few, from 1945 until 1962. Until I was 16 and my cousin, Jackie, 18 or 19. We were both old enough ...

He Hung On For Dear Life, And So Did I

On December 31, 1997, my wife was five months pregnant with our first child. We’d gone to bed early, I’d dreamed a bad dream, and then in the earliest hours of the new year I ...

Pleasure Principle

I’m grateful to my father, Bill Grimm, for many things, the first and most fundamental of which is my life. As the 16th of 17 children, I’m thankful to my dad — and my mom ...

Don't Wait to Ask

Oh yeah. This sepia one is Dad, the 19-year-old skinny kid in the lieutenant’s uniform, with the canvas strips wrapped around his legs, huddling on the Turkish cliff in a trench, waiting for orders. Not ...

Lost

Sometimes, when I hear or think I’m hearing the voices of the dead, they thrum in my head like hundreds of bees I once heard in a blossoming almond tree. Other times they are the ...

Make Sure You’re Funny

Artifacts of a life surround me. Here is a penmanship certificate from 1933 and a diploma from St. Mel’s High School dated 1937. Here also: an honorable discharge from the U.S. Army dated January 1946, ...

Hike or bike along the rim of Upper Newport Bay, Orange County's best coastal estuary.

The marshland surrounding Orange County's Upper Newport Bay is but a small remnant of a wetland that once reached inland to the present city of Tustin. During the past 100,000 years or more the Santa ...

Thursday, June 8

Animal Magnate

The former director of the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe has quit his job as head of the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk amid reports he executed a secret settlement agreement with the ...

Heat

When I pull up to Fire Station 14 on the northeast corner of 32nd Street and Lincoln Avenue in North Park, there’s nothing to indicate that this is the city’s second-busiest station. It’s noon and ...

Trust Me, Cowboy, This Ain't It

Optimists and pessimists differ about the glass being half-full or half-empty. But a graven pessimist would ask, “What glass?” The same applies to the Old Globe’s world-premiere musical, The Full Monty, based on the popular ...

Poetic Injustices

You have to kiss a lot of toads before you find a handsome prince... Anyone can be passionate, but it takes real lovers to be silly... If a relationship is to evolve, it must go ...

Forty-Four Dollars and Some Schools

Silvia Labastida is nervous. Two thousand of Tijuana's poorest children surround her, cheering the mayor of Tijuana. For three months she has helped organize this day. She holds on to a young girl in a ...

Bersin's Principals

One of last year's big controversies at the San Diego Unified School District was the demotion of 13 principals and two vice principals, who promptly turned around and sued the district, claiming their civil rights ...

Are there any statistics indicating a relationship between crime and the weather?

Dear Matthew Alice: Lately I've gotten calls from around the country from people wanting to know if San Diego's good weather has something to do with our falling crime rate. I have to tell them ...

Why is there a sign at the Grand/Garnet split in PB that says "La Jolla," with an arrow pointing south?

Dear Matthew Alice: There's a sign east of the intersection of Grand and Garnet in Pacific Beach that shows with an arrow that La Jolla is to the left (onto Grand) with another arrow to ...

Has anyone ever attempted to make honey artificially, rather than messing around with dangerous, ill-tempered bees?

Matt: It is my understanding that bees make honey by evaporating the liquid component of nectar that they have collected. This sounds so simple. I have been wondering if anyone has ever attempted to duplicate ...

Scout out the diminutive Los Jilgueros Preserve in Fallbrook.

Flanked by avocado orchards and brand-new suburban housing, the 43-acre Los Jilgueros Preserve (jilgueros means finches) stands as a quiet oasis of tranquillity in booming Fallbrook. Endowed with two good-sized ponds and patches of freshwater ...

Thursday, June 1

More Funny Business

"If the Padres can get a stadium, why can't we? I've never thought for a minute that we couldn't get something done, honestly. I've always thought we would be able to get one." This statement ...

The Ministry of Rum

Bat Bite, Cool Carlos, Cuba Libre, and Sunny Sour. It’s summer: rum season. Time for Mojitos — dark rum, lime juice, sugar, mint leaves, and club soda — and Rum Drinks, the practical name my ...

A Trickster and a Mischief-Maker

Readers of these pages (I mean the music pages, not the pages in general) have read at one time or another the writings of Richard Meltzer. Longtime readers of rock-jazz/blues-pop or miscellaneous contemporary (or even ...

Balboa Go-Around

When a new cast of characters auditions next week for the Centre City Development Corp., it aims to revive San Diego's longest-running empty stage. The Balboa Theatre, a national historic landmark in downtown San Diego, ...

Galli's Survival

Last December Todd Galli made a list he entitled "Things I Want to Accomplish in My Life." Dissatisfied with how that sounded, he started again with "Things I Will Accomplish in My Life." At the ...

Bills and Boards

What's up with those huge new Union-Tribune billboards on Qualcomm Stadium facing the interchange of I-15 and I-8? They popped up mysteriously several weeks ago and have stadium neighbors buzzing. City Manager Michael Uberuaga didn't ...

Veer off I-5 north of LA for a short hike on the Oak Flat Trail.

The Oak Flat Trail, the only developed hiking trail along the Interstate 5 corridor through Angeles National Forest, offers ever-widening vistas of the fault-tortured canyon country north of Los Angeles. Drop by here sometime for ...