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Thirty Years Ago The men at Spanky's stand around sipping drinks, talking about their Porsches, and sizing up the "prospects." At times there's a pretty intense meat-market atmosphere, understandable in a place where most men expect at the very least a phone number in return for a dance. I've seen ladies literally backed into a corner by men who refused to believe that any woman wouldn't want to (a) divulge her address, (b) dance, or (c) go home with him (not to mention [d] all of the above). Currently, the line at Spanky's is "Will you go to breakfast with me?" and the social scene is just about that subtle. Ironically, even if a woman wants to make a move, she's not permitted to. The sexist barriers are so strong that a Spankyite man would rather go home alone than with a woman who was tactless enough to invite herself along. -- "FRIDAY NIGHT AT THE MEAT MARKET," Beth Lyons, July 24, 1975

Twenty-Five Years Ago One could find worse symbols for the Loma Portal area than the Midway Drive-In. Opened in 1947, San Diego's first outdoor movie theater commanded the position at the intersection of Midway Drive and Sports Arena Boulevard in the days when the latter was named Frontier Street and Navy barracks still stood on the site now occupied by FedMart. Khaki yellow and ringed by palm trees, the drive-in's tired façade matched the neighborhood -- mostly lower-income, military inhabitants. Now the Midway is about to be torn down, but even its demise says a lot about what's happening today to Loma Portal. -- CITY LIGHTS: "LOTS OF CENTERS AND SQUARES," Jeannette De Wyze, July 24, 1980

Twenty Years Ago A mere five or six years ago, it was le sport hot. Racquetball had come out of nowhere, like Halley's comet, flashing onto the scene and supplanting tennis as the sport of the moment. Everyone was playing it. Doctors played in between quadruple-bypass operations, lawyers slipped out of court for an hour of play between hearings. Business executives, both men and women, arrived at work in the morning carrying gym bags with what looked like dwarf tennis racquets poking out the sides. They returned from lunch hour with the flushed look of strenuous exercise or hurried away from their desks at five o'clock to make a five-thirty court time. -- "THE RISE AND FALL OF RACQUETBALL," Glen Wallace , July 25, 1985

Fifteen Years Ago For all Wilson's talk about managing growth, relocating the airport to accommodate San Diego's expansion was never a priority for him, though most political leaders believed that the early 1970s provided the best opportunity to move the airport. But Wilson, who initially was an advocate for building a new airport on Otay Mesa, became strangely passive and pessimistic on the subject once he realized the scope of the task. -- "PETE WILSON WAS HERE," Matt Potter and Neal Matthews, July 26, 1990

Ten Years Ago A whole vocabulary -- in one sense, an entire language -- has come from such music and the pioneering black radio stations (like WERD in Atlanta, WYLD in New Orleans, WLOU in Louisville, WDIA in Memphis, known throughout the South as the "Mother Station of the Negroes," etc.) that in the late '40s and '50s pushed and played it, and consequently we've been left a lovely great catalog of finger-poppin' R&B words like hincty, zoo-zoos, whuppin', juicehead, poontang, hamfat, gleeby, mogatin', motorvatin', lickin', stick, jelly roll, scrunch, poppa-stoppa, dicty, spo-dee-o-dee, good booty, shag on down, and, among others, the word "meeking'" (cuckolding would be my guess) as used in the Cadillacs' 1956 hit song "Speedo." -- "THE GRAMMAR OF ROCK AND ROLL," Alexander Theroux, July 20, 1995

Five Years Ago In at least two of the movies made by the Coen brothers, Playboy magazine is used to indicate a cancer on the soul of an otherwise average man. In Raising Arizona, a man whose wife is sterile kidnaps a baby.... Years later, the Coens made Fargo, in which a man attempts to stage his wife's kidnapping in order to collect a fat ransom from his wealthy, stingy father-in-law. Both men are borderline decent guys -- one just wants a family, the other just wants to keep his family financially afloat -- but too weak to resist temptation. Playboy is a fine choice to symbolize their failing; as regarded by popular culture, lusting after airbrushed pinups is not something to be proud of but still within the borders of "boys will be boys." -- "but what is more obscene?" Matthew Lickona, July 20, 2000

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