Back When

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 ...

North Inland rural flavor

Valley Center elegy, Fallbrook’s airplanes, drilling and foreign plants on Mt. Palomar, end of Pauma Valley dairies

Drilling in on a Little Piece of Oregon “See those gouges, where the ponds are?” He points to what look like two giant tank-tracks through the middle of the valley. “Those are what happened here ...

Best of Reading interviews 1999-2000

Susan Cheever, Annie Dillard, Anita Brookner, David Sedaris, and more

Wallace Stevens I remember why I bought The Collected Poems. Stevens’s “Anecdote of a Jar,” from his first collection, Harmonium, published in 1923, was in an anthology I owned. I read and reread “Anecdote of ...

SD institutions: large business

PSA, Sheraton, Jack in the Box, Hotel Del, Oakwood, Frost Lumber Co., and cinemas of yore

Reservations But for all its civilizedness — this thing of history — I guess what was missing was a real sense of tradition, of classic history. You know, like when you see these names — ...

Medical Life: Doctors

Man vs MD Every patient, as well as every dog, has his day, and mine came. It occurred in the local hospital ward during my recovery from a rather serious illness. In this environment our ...

Poor, no job

The unemployment line, crashing at friend’s, San Diego SRO hotels, and the Adacia Imperial Mobile Park

I tell them my name is Ernie Klein, I'm 42 years old, and I'm unemployed Finally, after tapping her forehead with a pencil and then looking through a pile of papers on her desk, she ...

Large animals in the wild

Beaked and gray whales, dilemma of local mountain lions, wild horses in Coyote Creek, coyotes thrive in San Diego canyons

Mystery of the Beaked Whales By the time they arrived the tide had gone out and the animal lay dead on the sand. “There was a guy from the Navy already there. He was asking ...

San Diego architecture as covered by Susan Vaughn in the '90s

Bungalows in National City, Rancho Santa Fe mansions. San Diego’s best Craftsman and Victorians, the ugliness of Pardee homes

When the Bungalows Came to Town I drive down East Plaza Boulevard and at first pass a series of contemporary commercial buildings — a red Monterey-style Boll Weevil restaurant (“Home of the Steerburger!”); a glass, ...

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!

Close