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Excerpts from Reader issues past.

San Diego characters: common but colorful

Tree man of San Diego, the last vaquero, C.A. Smith’s repairman, when you win the lottery, largest rancher in San Diego

The Last Vaquero I’d tell Mollie where I was gonna camp, and she’d pack the ol’ mule and drag him around till I got to that camp, and she’d have it all set up. The ...

Richard Meltzer essays

From Santa Claus to housepets to Arnold, OJ, and the brain

The Tubes of My Life 1966, home from college. Nothing better to do than sit around with mom and dad and watch some wretched WW2 thingie with Jack Warden held captive in the South Pacific. ...

Large mammals in captivity

Early look at Wild Animal Park, troubled elephants come to the zoo, China’s panda hunter and pandas end up in San Diego, the morality of SeaWorld’s dolphins

The Tale of an Elephant The worst of Jouett’s problems were yet to come. Media representatives wanted to be present when Cindy arrived in mid-December. The elephant trainer and keepers wanted no one there. They ...

Landmarks you thought you knew

Harbor Drive and Coronado bridges, folly of the Trolley, behind the lens at Palomar Observatory, thinking behind Mission Bay, Carlsbad flower fields, who gets into Ft. Rosecrans, how fares the Coaster

Magical Dwarf’s Sad Orbit Maybe it’s premature to call someone an astronomer while they’re still in graduate school, but it would probably be okay in Ben Oppenheimer’s case because he and another graduate student had ...

Risky activities

Rock climbing at San Jacinto, scuba at La Jolla Cove, soaring above Highway 79, and skateboarding at Civic Center parking garage

Climbing Some millions of years from now, the San Jacintos will look the way the White Mountains in Vermont do now: soft and rounded. The Sierras of Yosemite are granitelike quartz diorite, like the San ...

Celebrities who spent time in San Diego: thinkers and artists

Carl Rogers debunked, Marcuse at UCSD, the early Whoopi Goldberg

Bursting With the Relentless Energy of All Human Life Do you remember the spastic woman, all crumpled into herself, her limbs twisted, her voice a raucous bray between inarticulate lips? How — of all things ...

San Diego neighborhoods: Borrego

Desert misfits, off-road destruction, Marshal South’s hermit family, bad hike through Borrego Badlands, famous authors see the desert in literary lenses

Hell with the Fire Gone Out There is a small library in town, but not a single stoplight. Parking is free. There is no hospital in Borrego, which, I’m told, militates against larger development. A ...

San Diego overview: personal and up close

Seven Wonders of our town, the soul of San Diego, native vs. tourist, L.A. comparisons, San Diego noir

Soul of a City I left Kensington and found an apartment in the College Heights section. I thought that living near the university might be like living in the small New England college town where ...

Neighborhoods: Imperial Valley

Farmworkers in Calexico, evil in Brawley, gangs in El Centro, the Holtville High football team, the Calipatria prison

The Imperial Valley Paradox Cesar Enriquez is the director of Casa de Amistad, a community center in Brawley that works with farm workers. “I really was a believer in what our hero, Emiliano Zapata, said: ...

Commodities of the plant kingdom

The San Diego business of kelp, houseplants, oranges, roses, grass sod, and macadamia nuts

Diary of an Orange Grove About 45 percent of the water in Fallbrook flows into groves, nurseries, and fields. In Rainbow 95 percent of the water is agricultural; in Valley Center, 85 percent. But when ...

SD Neighborhoods: Coastal

Ocean Beach condo rush, enchanted Mission Beach childhood, when Pt. Loma was Portuguese, inside Mt. Soledad, the fight over NTC, PB drinking

Party’s Over "At first it was sporadic," she said. "It was, like, for two years, the same group of people, and it bothered us, but it was every once in a while. Then, this past ...

SD Neighborhoods: North County Inland

Scripps Ranch, Poway’s scraping of vernal pools, and a commute to Hemet

Moon for the Misbegotten Pearce snapped away while Arenas’s city uniform was draped around his ankles. Then it got ugly. Arenas and two other public employees allegedly grabbed Pearce, pushed him around, stole the camera, ...

San Diego restaurant reviews from the early '70s

Chiki Jai, Grant Grill, the Prophet

The Reader dines out at the Shanghai in La Jolla The appetizers are good but not unusual, and the egg roll pastry (but not the filling) is the best I’ve ever eaten. The shellfish dishes, ...

Famous San Diego characters

Joseph Wambaugh, Deepak Chopra, James Hubbell, Susan Golding, Alan Bursin, Tim Le Haye, Kate Sessions

Deepak’s Six Pack No doubt about it: Deepak Chopra has the New Age set enthralled. This is Wayne Dyerland. Past-Lives Therapyland. Verging on the spiritual turf of Linda Evans and Ramptha, her 5th-century revived adviser ...

Celebrities who spent some time here: public figures and frauds

Dr. Bronner of the soap, Walter Keane didn’t paint the big-eyed children, Kemp and the fugitive, Jesse Ventura was not a SEAL

Best Wishes Always He had 1000 letters printed: “I have a collection of autographs and photographs and would like the honor of adding yours to my collection. Please use the enclosed card for your signature. ...

Central San Diego history

Mission Valley dairies, 125 freeway rips open Lemon Grove, racial mix in Webster, true boundaries of Kensington, mansions in Allied Gardens

Kensington Ends at Monroe The town’s demographics are altering. As older lifelong residents die, houses change hands — sometimes to younger kin; other times to younger strangers. Kensington homes, which according to a recent Multiple ...

Best of Reading interviews 2003-04

Geoffrey Wolff, Thomas Lux, Russell Banks, chefs’ favorite books, and more

Abe Opincar (Fried Butter) Ruth Reichl, editor in chief of Gourmet magazine, invited me to talk with her about Fried Butter. I went to the Conde Nast building at 4 Times Square. I was ushered ...

Best of Reading interviews 2001-2002

Mark Halperin, V.S. Naipaul, Janet Malcolm, Alice McDermott, and more

JD McClatchy "And I think now in the last 10 or 20 years, there’s been a quite remarkable resurgence and readings and performances of high and low quality, from hip-hop or slams and whatnot, to ...

Unemployed and houseless

Alpha Plasma Center, sleeping in Balboa Park, camping in Mission Valley’s riverbed, how homeless spend Thanksgiving

What Do I Have to Be Thankful For? Reed: "I have no plans for Thanksgiving. Just be with good friends, like my family here and with Sister Winnie and St. Vincent's and the Salvation Army." ...

San Diego’s early modern Indians

Edward Davis, Manzanita and Ensenada tribes, Kumeyaay basket and lace-making

Women’s Work She said when she told Castaneda and Silva about the basket, they were excited and wanted to know if it was a fancy tamul basket. They were disappointed to find out it was ...

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