Stories for October 2006

Thursday, October 26

We're on Vacation, Here to Play. Don't Let Facts Get in Our Way.

Playing tourist in San Diego.

I had taken eight or nine guided tours of San Diego in two weeks when a friend asked if I was tired of sightseeing. I had to say no. Being out on buses and boats ...

“Look, I’m saving your little teeth this year, maybe saving you from freaking diabetes.”

Sitting at the child's classroom desk I use at home, allowing my eyes to find focus where raindrops bash themselves against the screen to dissolve dirt into rivulets and make archipelagos of gritty islands against ...

The Reader's Eye on Television

"It has to be fresh, you know," the receptionist tells me over the phone. "You can drop it off anytime after 1 o'clock." At 12:59 I'm standing at the counter. Let's get this over with. ...

Mightier Than the Sword

The more you know about an event, the more tainted it will get.

Pride of Baghdad

Pride of Baghdad WHAT THE PUBLISHER SAYS: From one of America's most acclaimed comics writers -- a startlingly original look at life on the streets of Baghdad during the Iraq War inspired by true events. ...

Back When

Thirty Years Ago Contreras's headquarters is the Centro Medico del Mar in Playas de Tijuana. After waiting an hour or so, I was ushered into a small office where Dr. Contreras greeted me. I learned ...

Hosp Grove in Carlsbad features easy hiking and a chance to spot migrating monarch butterflies.

For better or worse, eucalyptus trees from Australia have become a major component of San Diego's contemporary "urban forest." More than a century ago, in locales such as the UCSD campus, Rancho Santa Fe, Scripps ...

St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Cathedral

At the Mass's opening, Father Felix Shabi's voice sounded from behind the red curtain concealing the Sanctuary. "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..." The curtain hung ...

Three-Hour Tour

This wasn't just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it. -- Dorothy Parker It's not fair to say I was dragged here. The embarrassing truth is that I came ...

Cracked Streets, Crooked Pols

Financially, the City of San Diego is going down a rat hole. Make that a pothole. That's because years of infrastructure neglect -- both the shirking of maintenance duties and the shelving of critical construction ...

Special-effects Detail

Last year's Halloween festivities involved policemen of the wrong sort: instead of water guns and plastic badges, we got the real thing. My dear friend Bernice was summoned down to the station to pick up ...

An Issue of Public Safety

The San Diego Police Department is either resuscitating affirmative action or its promotion practices are meant to reward "team players." So thinks Sergeant Mark Sullivan, whose highest possible promotional rating of "exceptionally qualified" the department ...

Trick or Treat

The partisan infighting that has marked this year's school board race between nominal Democrat Katherine Nakamura and the GOP's Michael McSweeney was ratcheted up considerably last week when the AFL-CIO's San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council ...

In the Lobby

Big-name Washington lobbyists have been chipping in to Brian Bilbray's congressional campaign. Fellow-GOPer Susan Molinari, the former New York congresswoman, now a lobbyist and TV commentator, gave $500. Another donor was Jean Denton, who at ...

Pension Fund Correction

Two weeks ago it was incorrectly reported here that county retirement fund chief Brian White received gifts from financial-services firms doing business with the fund. The actual recipient of those gifts, according to a financial ...

Eating Dangerously

“But if it’s so bad for you, how come every single Mexican hasn’t died of a heart attack?”

Simone Angel in Belize

Ball Foot "So what is this ball foot you are talking about then? Is it some kind of game? We don't have any games where we're from." Was this man kidding? I looked over at ...

Dutch Saw It All

4th & B opened for business in 1995. Since then approximately 1900 shows have taken place, and almost two million people have walked through its doors. Through it all there was "Dutch," Doug Schultz, who ...

Russians

I had to interview a bartender in PB for an article that I was working on, and as I walked back to my car around 9:00 p.m., I overheard a group of people talking about ...

They've Come a Long Way since Lincoln

'Log homes aren't just built in the woods or in the country -- I've talked to people in Southeast San Diego who wanted to put one down in Logan Heights," says Pam Churness. "You either ...

Homegrown

'We really work on making sure that the soil is active and healthy and living.'

World Series Special

Often, when national sporting events take place (Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, NBA Finals, World Series), the Box goes to the people for analysis and commentary. And if there was ever a time to have ...

Who Killed Ramonastock?

"This is party central," says 20-year-old Jim Portinga of Ramona. "Everyone you talk to says, 'Where's the party?' There is a big drug epidemic up here. I would say 70 to 80 percent of the ...

Crabs

John Monteagudo spent four years and $10,000 on ...at the street level, a documentary of San Diego's music scene between 1996 and 2000. The interviews and performances feature P.O.D., Sprung Monkey, the Dragons, Buck-O-Nine, Ghoulspoon, ...

Thanks, Bums

"We had the practice place for about a year," says drummer Josh Arend of Morning Riot, a four-man punk-rock band based in Encinitas. "We couldn't afford the single room for $500, so we split it ...

Appalled, I'm Sure

More local performers with content on their MySpace sites some might find objectionable: Bands with misogynistic names include "Dig a Ditch and Bury the Bitch" and "Snuff That White Bitch" (the latter band featuring photos ...

More Tuba

Steven Kendrick, tuba player, local comedian, and host of Winstons Friday-night Ocean Beach comedy shows, was stoked to hear that Banyan would be performing at the club on October 14. Kendrick had filmed the jazz/funk/rock/experimental ...

Pints for the Pirates

Jimmy Buffett, who appears at Coors Amphitheatre tonight, requires in his dressing room a case of Coronitas beer and four Balance Bars. He wants another half case of Corona at stage left, and the band ...

Where the Air and the Water Are Free

Hey, Matt! Why is it that most service stations around here don't offer free air and water? Isn't it California law that gasoline retailers must offer free air and water? Pissed I have to pay ...

It's the Opposite of a Caribbean Minute

Heymatt: This week our local paper had in its sports headline something about the Mets and a New York minute. What is a New York minute? Are there only 58 or 59 seconds in their ...

The Life Expectancy of Germs

Hey, Matt: I was paying bills and realized that because I had a bad cold, maybe I'd be giving my germs to people on the receiving end. Can my bad germs affect them after a ...

Thursday, October 19

Where the Mountain Meets the Sky

How long can Alpine stay rural?

A hamlet morphs into suburb.

If telepathy were an accessible human faculty, I bet it would work best in October.

I don't want October to end. This has been a fine one. Three-quarters of the way through my favorite month I have to look around me and say, this is good. I have a theory ...

The Reader's Eye on Television

"What do you want to be?" A classroom full of scruffy, grubby, teenaged boys and primped, upright girls. I'm drawing Transformers and comic-book characters on my desk. Optimus Prime and Wolverine. "If you don't know ...

Preliminaries

The director tries to lose the viewer in a maze of flashbacks-within-flashbacks.

Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood

Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood FROM THE BOOK JACKET: "My family has a grand tradition. After a woman gives birth, she goes mad. I thought that I would be the one to ...

One-In-A-Million

Once in a while the Box recommends a book for your consideration. It has to be a sports book and it has to be brilliant. At hand is such a book: The Blind Side: Evolution ...

Back When

Thirty Years Ago Lou Conde said he doesn't care about clean air or open beaches. Lou Conde doesn't want any more Free Clinics. Lou Conde wants to cut off jobs from the government. We don't ...

Hike up and over the east end of Santa Catalina Island, enjoying 270-degree ocean views.

On certain crystal-clear days (most common between late October and March), the looping hike over East Mountain on Santa Catalina Island affords an ever-changing panorama of the blue ocean, San Clemente Island to the south, ...

Mira Mesa Bible Baptist Church, Scripps Ranch

"Each one win one" and "Go ye therefore..." read the raised foam letters on the back wall of Mira Mesa Bible Baptist Church. Below these exhortations hung rows of framed, typewritten missives from Baptist missionaries, ...

Where Is Frankie?

My job often takes me to the Gaslamp, that hotbed of perpetual restaurant openings, and when I spot a newbie, I usually glance at the menu before strolling on. At Gourmet India, a small, simple-looking ...

Divine Intervention

That's the thing with magic. You've got to know it's still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you. -- Charles de Lint 'Two amazingly synchronistic things happened to me this morning, ...

Fat Cats Bully Commoners

San Diego's jockstrap plutocrats, with support and succor from city councilmember Scott Peters, are muscling in on land that belongs to the public, say critics. It's happening in two places: on the beach in front ...

The Heart Meets the Law

Jose Esteban held a rolled-up poster under one arm and his two-year-old daughter with the other as he walked toward Washington Avenue from the west side of the Escondido City Hall. Inside, that Wednesday evening, ...

News From Home

Last Friday's Union-Tribune featured a front-page story from the Wall Street Journal about the growing number of "learning-disabled workers" who have complained to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under the Americans with Disabilities Act ...

Dam Leaks

Anyone living downriver from the Lake Hodges Dam, just north of Rancho Bernardo, might wish to take note. The City of San Diego is spending "not-to-exceed" $159,026 on a consultant who is supposed to find ...

Pay for Play

State senator Christine Kehoe -- who carried Senate Bill 1627 this year to loosen local limitations on cell-phone-tower expansions, which was recently signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger -- has continued to rake in ...

Scary Contact Lenses

My 82-year-old dad is like a character from a 1950s horror movie. All year long, he's a retired suburban gentleman who goes to church on Sunday, keeps his lawn mowed short, and waves to the ...

Simone Angel in Belize

Hallelujah, it's hammer time What a wonderful, unusual experience I had last night. Our Belizean babysitter is a preacher's daughter, and together with her parents she has been following some kind of Bible study for ...

Roller Derby Queen

I heard about a party for a company called CH1 Productions. As I drove to the Clairemont location, I assumed it would be in a studio, but it was a house with a RockStar Energy ...

Red Riding Hood Lied

'The Alaskan gray wolves here eat beef, chicken, goat, horses [when donated], deer, and some fish, on occasion, that is donated by the Navy," says Melinda Booth, development manager of the California Wolf Center. "Deer ...

Indier Than Thou

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Todd Dulawan has an issue with the way bands are booked for the third annual San Diego Indie Music Fest scheduled for March 3, 2007. "Most of the slots reserved are for bands that ...

Average-Looking Scumbags

At 7:30 p.m. on October 3, local rapper Brendan B was on his way home from a Newport Avenue bar in Ocean Beach. "I was cutting through an alley, and two guys came out of ...

Oh, Diddy

"They picked us over Channel 9-3-3 and Z-90 because they thought we were the station with the most high school appeal," says Blazin' 98.9's Cesar "DJ Seize" Gonzalez. P Diddy's appearance at Chula Vista High ...

There's a Crock, Then There's KROQ

A couple of weeks ago, before he played the Killers' unreleased single "Sam's Town," 91X morning DJ Chris Cantore asserted that it was a "leak"; the song's airing was unauthorized by the record company. "That ...

Boosting Baja's Image

'I'm overjoyed whenever I see references to Mexican wine in the literature.'

Scatter!

Bands often leave their hometown for greener pastures, but Tristeza left town because of their lack of green. "It's sad when a practice room costs the same as an apartment," says Tristeza drummer James Lehner. ...

Remasterful

"Every time I open my mail, someone has sent me the most important recording in their home," says audio-restoration specialist Eric Van der Wyk of his King Tet Productions. "People send me cassettes, reel-to-reels, and ...

The Mysterious Ad Council

TO: Matt Alice: President Clinton and President Bush the Uno, in the TV commercial asking for donations for tsunami relief, I'm sure volunteered their time. But do they receive residuals when the commercial plays? And ...

The Six-Million-Dollar Bra

Heymatt: It seems like I just did something that really pissed off my girlfriend. While I try to figure out what it was, I think I need a gift for her. What's the most expensive ...

Rib Tickler

“If you leave here with an empty stomach, it’s your own fault.”

Thursday, October 12

Dig A Little Deeper

In pursuit of William Thompson’s killer.

In September 2003, Brian Burritt rode the elevator down to the basement of the San Diego Police Department where the "murder books," the binders of the department's cold cases, many decades old, are kept in ...

I will not sweat it if a black cat intersects my projected path.

The origins of the Friday the 13th superstition are, as any reader of The Da Vinci Code now can tell you, the events of 13 October in the year 1307. On that day, "French authorities ...

The Reader's Eye on Television

Blackout. Then I'm awake. Blackout. Aware. I'm fading in and out, piecing together a weekend gone without me. My girlfriend screaming at me and shoving me. We were in San Diego then. Peanuts and Beer, ...

Back in Action

The training is gone into in some depth and at even greater length.

Yo-Yos Rising

'I remember going to the drugstore on Ingraham Street in Crown Point. They used to have yo-yos displayed in boxes. You'd go up to the shelf and pick up a yo-yo. They let you try ...

Wizard 6: A Combat Psychiatrist in Vietnam

Wizard 6: A Combat Psychiatrist in Vietnam (Texas A & M University Military History Series, 104) FROM THE JACKET: In 1969, six psychiatrists were assigned to combat divisions in Vietnam. Captain Douglas Bey, "Wizard 6," ...

Back When

Thirty Years Ago Billboard advertising used to describe Greenwood as the "biggest Bible mausoleum in the world." When Merle Hamilton became a general manager a year ago, he was skeptical. "I knew that Franco had ...

The Rock Church

Polished pop filled the vast, low, pale-gray box that housed The Rock Church. On stage behind the band stood mock highway signs, highlighting the book of Numbers as a road trip: a caution triangle warning ...

Explore the Truckhaven Rocks -- tilted sandstone slabs on the flank of Anza-Borrego's Santa Rosa Mountains.

The shorter fall and winter days of low-angle sunshine, clear blue skies, and pleasantly mild temperatures are perfect for exploring any of Anza-Borrego Desert's lowest, hottest, and driest regions. The Truckhaven Rocks, out past Borrego ...

Theme Parks

When I was four, my parents decided to take me to "the happiest place on earth," Disneyland. At the time, I had been pretending I was a princess, like Sleeping Beauty or Snow White. For ...

Hedge Fund Flames Out

Few things are more repugnant than wannabe alpha males. They're like high school boys snapping locker-room towels at each other. In the financial world, hedge funds are the youthful towel snappers -- barking and boasting ...

The Price of a Public Education

Free education to all children stands among the most hallowed provisions in Mexico's federal constitution. But according to a state human rights official, it may be one of the most threatened. Francisco Javier Sánchez Corona's ...

Taking Dinner

Employees of the county's troubled retirement system have been wined and dined by some of the very same people who have contracts to manage the system's investments, according to personal financial disclosure forms on file ...

Debt Owing

Staffers at the county's pension system aren't the only ones consorting with those in the investment business. Back on May 28, 2004, records show, county treasurer Dan McAllister, then chairman of the retirement board, collected ...

Cash in Hand

Campaign season is in full swing, and the mail is heavy with fund-raising invites. Democratic state insurance commissioner John Garamendi, in a close race with GOP state senator Tom McClintock, dropped into town last Tuesday ...

Sisters of No Mercy

If you don't understand how a woman could both love her sister dearly and want to wring her neck at the same time, then you were probably an only child. -- Linda Sunshine We had ...

Leather Services

A mischievous elf has been marking up my leather. First, it was our chair in the family room, a red armchair now graffitied with blue ballpoint pen. Then, a few weeks later, he was back, ...

Simone Angel in Belize

Funny Aliens My husband Andy and I had only recently arrived from the UK to Belize, Central America, and were trying to figure out how to make friends here. Inviting one or two local cowboys ...

Music Heals

'With clinical improvisation, patients make spontaneous music, and then we do some therapeutic processing," says Colombian-born Alfonso de la Espriella, who has a degree in music therapy from the Berklee College of Music. "Sometimes treatment ...

Seas the Day

For a party at the Coronado Yacht Club, I would be picked up by a dinghy and taken to a yacht. Tourists crowded Coronado that weekend, and I had trouble finding the place. When I ...

Karaoke Conquistadors

"We want to conquer every San Diego karaoke bar with our costumes and choreography," says Danie Caw of the Leo-TARDS. In spandex, corsets, sequins, and fur, the karaoke quartet incorporates into their act dancing, air ...

Onward, Christian Rockers

Destroy the Runner, a Carlsbad metal-core band, just returned from a six-week tour that followed the release of Saints, their first CD on Solid State. The Seattle indie label distributed by EMI is known for ...

Lunchmeat Sells

It's spelled "grimmie" but pronounced "grimy," and when it comes out of TV-show host E-Low, it sounds like, "That shit is GRIIIII-ME!" E-Low is the driving force behind The Grimmie Wreck Show, 30-minute episodes of ...

Wrong Turn on the Freeway

In 1984, Tony Suraci was a 17-year-old Fallbrook High senior who sang in local bands and acted in school plays. He remembers the day he became part of a "sobriety cult." "I had the lead ...

Rap Knockers

"We hung out with different crowds at Crawford High and hardly ever spoke, so I don't know why all of a sudden he's badmouthing me," says rapper Professor K of the "diss track" by DJ ...

One Night in Son Tay

'Five people had this letter from the chief of staff, General Ryan of the Air Force," says William Guenon. "It said, 'To Whom It May Concern: The person who hands you this letter will request ...

The Professor Gets an Education

'Premium wine grapes don't thrive where ice plants and salty sea foam happily commingle.'

Marrakech Expressive

Maybe I've got Moroccan stardust in my eyes, but I think I've found the ideal neighborhood restaurant. The food at Kous Kous is delicious, authentic, and healthful -- and a bit too exotic to readily ...

The Citizens Are Arresting

Heymatt: I seem to recall as a child always hearing about citizen's arrests. If someone did something wrong, you could "arrest" them. As an adult now, and more than happy to buy a pair of ...

Doo-doo of Death

Heymatt: Is it true that you crap your pants when you die? If so, why? And is there any way to avoid it? -- Lisa, the net How pathologically fastidious you are! You will still ...

The Real Deal

“Hi! Good morning. How are you? Take a seat, please.”

Monday, October 9

Shucking Oysters, Shelling Peas

Title: Shucking Oysters, Shelling Peas Address: http://blogs.salon.com/0005036/ Author: Alexia Risso From: Sorrento Valley Blogging since: December 2005 Post Date: October 26, 2006 Post Title: Rieccomi Shortly after I wrote the last post for this blog, ...

Thursday, October 5

He Loves the People No One Wants

Criminalized charity

It is New Year's Eve, 2005. A cold rain lashes skid row at the corner of 16th and G Streets. David Ross, aged 71, pulls to the stoplight and hears a voice from the darkness ...

“Obese families feeding each other dripping nachos...” “This is living, eh, Bob? You, me, and three honeys. How’s that soup treating you?”

The Café Noir on Ninth Avenue near Island Avenue is painted a flat charcoal so that it disappears after sunset, leaving only the small, red-neon rubric, "Café Noir," unblinking, a cyclopean Cheshire cat's bloodshot eye. ...

The Reader's Eye on Television

There are these milk crates I have. I found 'em in an alley and when I spotted 'em I slammed on my brakes and rushed from my truck to nab 'em before anyone else could. ...

All Football

As of noon today, San Diego Chargers HQ is in lockdown and a dusk-to-dawn curfew remains in effect for the coaching staff and all players. The latest news bulletin quotes an anonymous source as saying ...

Lighthouse Bible Church

Pastor John Kim was finishing up the hour of Sunday school that preceded the service: "Why do people turn to drugs and other things? They need something to help them deal with the realities of ...

Back When

Thirty Years Ago While in San Diego Metropolitan Correctional Center, though, Leary had already set forth on his new career. He listened every Sunday to KGB disc jockey Gabriel Wisdom's program of "neo-spiritual and scientific" ...

Liebre Mountain swells to a mile-high altitude north of Los Angeles.

The cool, forested north slopes of Liebre Mountain rear up in stark contrast to the wide, brown Antelope Valley (westernmost Mojave Desert) at their feet. The San Andreas Fault, which lies along the mountain's north ...

Alien encounter

I met an alien last Wednesday. Don't get up on your political soapbox yet; it wasn't an alien who'd hopped any fences or walked across borders, but the kind that cruises around looking for country ...

San Diego, Thy Name Is Wall Street

There'll be no new day dawning if the city keeps walking on the dark side. Mayor Jerry Sanders pledges transparency, open government, public participation, and accountability, and then bows and scrapes before Wall Street, whose ...

New Suits For Nude Dancers

If nothing else, the Kearny Mesa strip joint called Cheetahs has had a colorful family history. For 12 years, according to police records, it was owned by Jack and Michael Galardi. Jack was a hardened ...

Case Closed

The tow-truck magnate reputed to be the business brains behind Metabolife International, the diet-drug outfit that made hundreds of millions of dollars before its financial collapse, has finally been sentenced. William Robert Bradley, who pled ...

Red-light Timing

High-dollar political consultant Tom Shepard, who is currently working on the campaign by San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders to privatize city services, has a lucrative side business as a county lobbyist. Among his most recent ...

The King's Things

'It's a Budweiser and badminton bash," Brandon said when he invited me to his son's birthday party at Balboa Park. I had plans that day but had to know what people called a "shuttlecock" after ...

Derma Drama

It's not denial. I'm just selective about the reality I accept. -- Bill Watterson I had noticed it before, but I wasn't worried. Not until David brought it to my attention one night as I ...

Iowa Ostrich Burgers

“It has about 3 grams of fat in it. A regular beef patty has 29.”

Air Mattresses

"Feels like another $35 for the chiropractor," said my husband Patrick, rubbing his back. He'd spent the weekend in L.A. on business, stayed at his sister's, and slept on an air mattress. "I'd have been ...

Simone in Belize

Jungle Love "So why did you move to Belize?" It's the question that everybody asks when they come to our jungle lodge. The strange thing is that we haven't got a straight answer to that. ...

Studio Project Goes Live

'My Next Dilemma started as a studio project, and three albums later we find we are starting to do shows," says San Diego--based guitar player and vocalist Todd Miramon. "The songs come from mostly experiences ...

SoundScam?

Last week's free Saosin show in the parking lot of Lou's Records in Encinitas did not sit well with a local who sells concert tickets for a living. "How do they get away with it?" ...

O.B. Sand Blast

This summer, Don Ho (not his real name) held a series of live-music events at the end of Brighton Avenue in Ocean Beach. Dubbed "Sounds on the Sand" and held under the auspices of Ho's ...

Restless Natives

Local performers have posted the following content on their MySpace sites: The Death Squad's page header reads, "I Will Slaughter Your Family," and graphics feature photos of Hitler and swastikas. At this writing, tracks such ...

Trumans Remains Undefeated

Back home in France after a West Coast tour, Trumans Water's Kevin Branstetter chuckles about a blurb anticipating the band's Casbah appearance last month. In an August 30 item, CityBeat's Scoop Stevens noted that "...the ...

Not-So-Serious Bigfellas

Charlie Recksieck of the Bigfellas says being known for their bawdy tune "I Wish That I Were Gay" has its plusses and minuses. "The good side is it gives people something to remember you by, ...

Air It Out

'San Diego is somewhat noted for contributing greatly to offensive theory," says author and historian Todd Tobias. "In the 1960s, [Chargers coach] Sid Gillman started throwing the ball more than anybody -- most folks were ...

Buyer First, Salesman Second

'I'm representing wineries that make only 200 cases for the world, [maybe] 50 for Southern California.'

Dog Spit as First Aid

I would assume that most people know that a dog's mouth isn't very clean, considering where its tongue is most of the time. Still, my friend argues that if you were to injure yourself and ...

Bad Bridge Housekeeping

Matthew: Why has the paint job on the San Diego-Coronado bridge been allowed to look like hell for so many years? For a while they were doing the retrofitting, so I understood that was the ...