Thirty-Five Years Ago
Dear Matthew Alice:
Why don’t cats have to have licenses?
Paul Bloom, Point Loma
Cats in San Diego are clasified “wild animals,” just like opposums and werewolves. Not only does this allow cats to roam free, as is their nature, but it saves the city from having to hire cat catchers (even if there were cat catchers, they’d probably have a tough job).
In Saddle Brook, New Jersey, all cats are required to wear bells, to protect birds from sneak attacks. In sections of New York state, anyone over 21 possessing legal firearms can shoot cats that are out to get birds of any species that are protected by law.
— STRAIGHT FROM THE HIP, Matthew Alice, June 17, 1976
Thirty Years Ago
Thirteen-year-old Jane, the girl who hates school, wanted to speak. “My mother doesn’t care if I smoke pot,” she said. “She used to smoke pot with me, but now she just does lines [of cocaine]. But she blows her lid if she hears I’ve been doing acid.
— “JUNIOR HIGHS,” Ted Woerner, June 18, 1981
Twenty-Five Years Ago
Here’s how AutoMates works: Single female sees single male driving a Buick Riviera along Interstate 8, his handsome profile highlighted by an open sunroof. Maybe he is a real estate broker. She stares, then smiles when she looks back at him. The next move is hers. She coyly accelerates, wagging her vanity license plate in his face. He recognizes the AutoMates decal in the back window of her Mercury Cougar. Auto ardor can be followed up by copying down a member’s license plate and calling the club for personal details.
— CITY LIGHTS: “PULL OVER, I LOVE YOU,” Brae Canlen, June 19, 1986
Twenty Years Ago
Seen through the distortion lens of depression, San Diego is not a pretty town. The poor man’s Los Angeles; San Francisco with a lobotomy; America’s finest retirement village; none of these clichés do justice to the awful chipboard-and-stucco creepiness of the place....
I am on the cliffs at Torrey Pines or on Mt. Soledad. Nearby, I’ve left a will and a farewell note. (It’s this last business, by the way, that has forestalled suicide. I can’t manage a farewell note. Even a George Sanders valedictory — “I’m simply bored” — expresses more sense of purpose than I can summon up.)
— “CHIPBOARD-AND-STUCCO CREEPINESS AS SEEN THROUGH PROZAC-COLORED GLASSES,” Margot Sheehan, June 20, 1991
Fifteen Years Ago
The Amish. They don’t live here or anywhere in California, but they’ve been seen around the South Bay in increasing numbers since 1990, mainly in the northern end of Chula Vista, San Ysidro, and Imperial Beach. “I see them sometimes around the Tijuana estuary,” says Mike, an I.B. beachcomber. “The women always walk behind the men. But I wave to them, and they wave back.” Mike thought they were Quakers.
— “ARE YOU PILGRIMS?” Bob Owens, June 20, 1996
Ten Years Ago
Crushed epazote smells a little like gasoline, pungent and vaguely sulfurous. (“An animal smell” is a friend’s best description.) The aroma is difficult to describe because it’s said to resemble only that of an even lesser-known herb. Peumus boldus Molina, or Boldo, found in the Andean highlands in Chile. What the two plants have in common is ascaridol, a high-smelling chemical reviled by intestinal parasites.
— TIP OF MY TONGUE: “EPAZOTE,” Max Nash, June 14, 2001
Five Years Ago
There were blue thongs piled on a table, a mix of what thongs used to be — flip-flops — and what they are today — bikini bottoms. Trying to get a picture of both types of thong, I moved them together. As I snapped the photo, I noticed smoke. I had thrown a bikini onto a candle and it caught fire. I put it out and looked around. Only one woman noticed. I folded the thong so the black spot I burned in it wouldn’t show. The woman smiled at my clumsiness. I said, “Well, instead of bra burning, it was thong burning.”
— CRASHER: “THONG ON FIRE,” Josh Board, June 15, 2006