Stories for September 2001

Thursday, September 27

How to Make Big Money in Bio-Warfare

As the cloud of war descends over the world, San Diego may soon find itself at the center of the maelstrom. Three thousand miles distant from New York and Washington, D.C., 8000 miles removed from ...

Flush Power

The journey begins when the toilet flushes. Whatever is in the bowl heads through a series of pipes and treatments that separate the solids from the water. While the travels of one's wastewater is seldom ...

Moo Twilight

Sonny Cauzza's straw cowboy hat sits high on his head, shading his suntanned face. His copper-gray mustache matches the hair on his temples. Tall, powerfully built, and decked in tan cowboy boots, jeans, and a ...

Terror party

The Sunday People, a London tabloid, is out with what it says is a true account of the local strip-club revels of Khalid al-Midhar, Nawaf Alhamzi, and Hani Hanjour, the three terrorist hijackers with San ...

Hike Towsley and Wiley canyons in the spacious new Santa Clarita Woodlands park, north of the San Fernando Valley.

The Santa Clarita Woodlands Park, north of the arid San Fernando Valley and just west of Santa Clarita's dry hills and valleys, encompasses a surprising assortment of strange geologic features and several surprisingly lush canyons. ...

Why do clock and watch dials use a quadruple "I" as the Roman numeral for 4?

This is for Matthew Alice: Why do clock and watch dials always use a quadruple "I" as the Roman numeral for 4, but everywhere else the Roman numeral for 4 is "IV"? -- Befuddled Bob, ...

Where did they come up with the amount $271 for traffic tickets?

Oh, Ma-a-a-att: There is a $271 fine for driving in the carpool lane on my local freeway. I believe that figure is posted as the fine for varied other infractions of traffic law. Um -- ...

Who invented fuzzy dice?

Mattster: Who invented fuzzy dice? -- Fonzie, El Cajon Criminetly, Fonzie! I don't know! Maybe the same guy who sold wax lips and joy buzzers and sea monkeys on the back page of Popular Mechanics. ...

Thursday, September 20

Friends Forever

Steve Esmedina had the biggest head I had ever seen on a human being. He also had the biggest heart — one that became more corroded over time, leaking pain and despair. The droll demeanor, ...

I Feel a Jam Coming On

Every time I invited Steve Esmedina to hang out at my place in the Clairemont–Pacific Beach area in the early ’70s when I first met him, he’d stare at me through curiously squinted eyes, smirking. ...

Blubbo's World

Reader writers and other friends remember Steve Esmedina

Steve Esmedina wrote his first story for the Reader in July 1973; his last story appeared in September 1994. He wrote about popular music and film, mostly in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Esmedina ...

Get Out and Get Drunk

That was Steve Esmedina almost six years ago. I suppose you could make a case for almost any random quote from almost anyone being prophetic after the fact of his or her death, but I ...

Stumble, Stumble, Thump, Crash

“I remember exactly when I met Steve. It was at the annual Reader Christmas party in 1976, at the old location of the Athens Market restaurant. That was when they announced that I was the ...

Better on the Music Page

Two earlier endings.… The drawback to asking Steve Esmedina to write a movie review in my stead, ostensibly to give me a break, was that it would then fall to me to edit it. A ...

The Shadow Knows

In late January 1954, Dick Tracy found an infant abandoned in a tree. For more than a week the comic-strip detective searched for the mother. Suddenly, “as if dropped out of nowhere,” a Mrs. Catchem ...

Student Steve

During the early ’70s, the war in Vietnam created upheaval at universities across the country. ucsd, where I taught, was no exception. Dissenters organized rallies in Revelle Plaza, committees of students met with deans to ...

Cut to the Heart

Perhaps the best tribute I can pay to Steve Esmedina, my departed compadre and fellow music critic, is that his legacy truly lives on. Today, 25 years after first having read his work in the ...

Slow Death

With this Melville-like utterance a 20-year friendship was formed between Stephen No Middle Name Esmedina and me; it was a friendship that would endure until his death on June 24, in this Year of Our ...

Drunk on 163

Blubbo, oh Blubbo, where do I begin? You’re dead, gone, laid out rotting in a casket somewhere in the ground; and if that’s just your body, your corpse, your shell, God, I hope so, because, ...

Trails at Sunset Cliffs Park

Visit Sunset Cliffs Park on Point Loma for tidepooling and brilliant sunsets.

Blubbo vs the Kaypro

I’d see Steve most often when the Reader was in its original home, a splintery firetrap at the corner of State and Market Streets. After the Reader moved out, the Marine Corps used the raggedy ...

Blubbo Adrfit

In the Reader’s scuffling days, Steve Esmedina was the staff’s Doc Holliday — erudite, enigmatic, and bedeviled by self-consumptive tendencies that seemed rooted in debilitating, unspoken discomfiture. For as long as I knew him, he ...

Blubbo's Secret Tongue

In front of my open garage, Monique Esmedina and I sit on the cold pavement. The fountains in her eyes seem to have shut down again, and moments of bitter silence are repeatedly punctured by ...

A Critic Looks at a Critic

It must have been hundreds of years ago, that time of simplicity and innocence. It was before the electronic revolution had shackled us all in front of our screens. In those days, the Reader’s writers ...

Thursday, September 13

Home School

On an early Tuesday afternoon in the middle of March, the sun burst out and burned off a cold, gray sky. Standing in the shade of a tree in Tecolote Park, I watched two dozen ...

SDSU's Tie That Binds

San Diego State University had an image problem, and its president, Stephen Weber, would do almost anything to fix it. It wasn't a new problem, of course. The former teachers' college on the east end ...

No Class Reunion

Having seen her bid for a U.S. Senate seat -- and subsequent political career -- immolated by the Chargers ticket-guarantee scandal, among other foibles, Susan Golding quietly retired from politics late last year. But the ...

Hike the Cougar Crest Trail, rising on the slope north of Big Bear Lake.

The Big Bear Lake region offers some fine outdoor experiences for those willing to stretch their legs a bit. Some of the better hiking routes can be found on the sloping mountain rim that rises ...

Regarding the national debt, who does the government owe money to?

Hey matt: Regarding the national debt, just who does the federal government owe this money to? I never loaned them any money, and I can't think of anyone I know who did either. --Sean Marie, ...

In the song, "Money for Nothing," are the lyrics "chicks" or "checks" for free?

Heymatt: In that song "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits, are the lyrics "money for nothing, and your CHICKS for free," or is it "...and your CHECKS for free"? -- Randolph Boggs, email-land As laughable ...

What is so special about the ferns on Palomar Mountain?

Dear Matt: After 30 years as a San Diego resident, I finally visited the telescope on Palomar Mountain (man, that thing is HUGE). Anyway, as you enter the observatory grounds, there are all these signs ...

Why do airlines encourage you to stay overnight on Saturday?

Dear Matt: Why do airlines encourage, even require that no matter where you go, you stay overnight on Saturday? What do they care? It's almost like they don't want any planes in the air on ...

Were cigarettes at one time good for your health?

Dear Mister Alice: Were cigarettes at one time actually good for your health? In a lot of old movies they do a lot of smoking and they seem to be in perfect health. Nowadays I ...

Thursday, September 6

Crash, Crash, Crash

Like two dancers executing half a pirouette, the two 3000-pound late-model Sportsman-class stock cars spun out side by side, squealing their tires, as their rear ends slid toward the crash wall and their front ends ...

Risky Wasteland

If you're in the mood to live some of San Diego's history and decide to traverse the old Butterfield Stage Route, you might find yourself in a danger that the pioneers who took that route ...

Compassion Recipe

On Wednesday, August 15, I went to the St. Vincent de Paul Village as a volunteer to serve dinner to its residents. Serving dinner at "St. Vinny's" has become something of a tradition in San ...

Explore the new Boden Canyon Ecological Reserve, outside Ramona.

Comely Boden Canyon, rich with live-oak woodland and nestled between baked hillsides redolent with the sweet fragrance of sage, has become a part of San Diego County's newest parcel of protected open space. The Boden ...

Is hypnotism forever?

Dear Matthew Alice: Is hypnotism forever? Could I hypnotize my neighbor to mow my lawn every Saturday? Would it be more logical to make my suggestion in the manner of "Mow my yard. You'll think ...

Is it harmful to inhale helium, and where does helium come from?

Matt: Where does helium come from? -- Harry Roberson, Oak Park Dear Matt: Is it harmful to inhale helium? The party balloon kit I got from Costco says it's dangerous, but I've been doing it ...

Why do they call it "capital punishment" when referring to the death penalty?

Dear Judge Matthew: Why do they call it "capital punishment" when referring to the death penalty? And also, what is the way to be executed that causes the least suffering -- hanging, firing squad, guillotine, ...

Sunday, September 2

Forgotten Valor

Where have all the soldiers gone? Gone to graveyards every one. -- Pete Seeger, 1961 James Francis Walter Ford's death was certain, but his life remained a mystery. After he was accidentally struck and killed ...

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