El Cajon Stories

Jack and Duke and Tiffany

About a month ago, I drove to El Cajon for an annual horseshoe tournament in memory of Jack and Duke, two deceased friends of the organizers. When Chris called to tell me about it, he ...

A Scream in the Dark

At approximately 3:15 a.m. on Wednesday, June 3, residents of Bella Vista apartments in El Cajon awoke to the incoherent screams of a man in the parking lot. Before residents went to check on the ...

El Cajon Scam

Matthew “Beau” La Madrid, no longer a registered investment adviser with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), nonetheless convinced 300 people that he had a surefire way of beating the stock market. He said he ...

Bang Bang

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people, and monkeys do too (if they have a gun). — Eddie Izzard I exited the freeway 20 or so miles east of San Diego. Noting the prevalence of ...

A Green Threat to Our Groves

Should it appear in California, there might be no stopping it: citrus greening, or huanglongbing. The fearsome citrus-killing bacterium, first seen in China in the early 1900s, has spread steadily across the continents. It recently ...

Cold Clues, Hot Shaves

About a month ago, I went to the opening of a music store in El Cajon called Guitar and Bass Land. A guy was talking about how he plays bass in a Dio tribute band. ...

The Most Evil Drug

“Oh how I would love for the world to know who you really were.” So begins a mother’s letter to a son fatally shot by police three weeks ago. The letter is at the center ...

Raw, Dirty Records

Since the late ’90s, Mike Kamoo’s Earthling Studios has been a vital cog in the San Diego music scene. The studio, headquartered in a corporate park in El Cajon, has a well-worn path to it ...

El Cajon: We're no more redneck than Chula Vista, Oceanside, or Escondido

Another look at East County's Box

The Hell’s Angel takes me aside. It’s 10:00, Saturday night. A bunch of them stand around outside their headquarters by a row of angle-parked Harleys, here where Palm meets El Cajon Boulevard. ”Look, we’ve had ...

Night Prowler

In the early hours of Monday, March 2, two houses on Alderson and Andover streets in El Cajon were broken into and purses and small amounts of money were taken. These robberies were the two ...

Foothills Falls Flat

The Foothills Adult Education Center on Melody Lane in El Cajon will not be offering summer classes this year. Fall classes may not be available either. An education facility under the control of the Grossmont ...

Crash Utilities Vehicle

Shortly before 7 a.m. on Friday, February 13, a green sedan traveling on South Second Street veered off the asphalt, hopped the curb, and crashed into a number of utilities’ service facilities. A witness reported ...

Nine Sinking Cities

This month and in early February, city managers and finance directors in cities across San Diego County are appearing before their respective city councils to report significant budget deficits. Of the county’s 18 municipalities, 14 ...

To tell you something beautiful like Asphalt

Author: Joshua Rhome Neighborhood: El Cajon Age: 30 Occupation: Student I sit here in the little room I rent in a house off Magnolia Avenue and think about El Cajon and my past and how ...

Sync Those Lips

“Those who look like the artists they are portraying will probably go far,” says producer Randy Wood. “A Michael Jackson impersonator — with all the dancers and everything — went to Mexico last year and ...

Total Kick

Inside Alliance Gym, near downtown Chula Vista, Eric Delfierro bustles from one end of the gym to the other, sweating almost as much as the 15 mixed-martial-arts fighters he is training. Of those 15 fighters, ...

El Cajon Seeks Half-Cent Tax

The City of El Cajon is broke, and according to a July press release, the community is losing nearly $6 million a year. “The City of El Cajon has a fiscal crisis, which is not ...

Kelsea's Law

At a weekly Reader meet-up, at North Park’s Claire de Lune coffeehouse, I was prepared to hear typical neighborhood concerns from residents; too much graffiti, not enough police, errantly positioned stop signs, the usual type ...

New Life Church

“I wish I’d known you were coming,” said Pastor Dan Slagle when I spoke with him after the service. If he had known, he could have warned me that part of the regular band was ...

Highwayman Running on Empty

Before Thomas Weller leaves his El Cajon house and “goes out to play,” he looks like a character from the movie Mystery Men: he puts on black shin-guards (like the kind worn by baseball catchers), ...

They Loved Him in Basra

Najem Al Ekabi sits beneath the forest of red, white, and black Iraqi flags. He’s intent on a video on his laptop. “Look, see?” he says. “The one on the left. That’s me. Winning the ...

On the Line

"They've been fighting fires all day. What da heck have we done?"

Jesus of Carmel Mountain Ranch

The view from my neighborhood.

A note is taped to our front door. It says something about a community-standards violation and cites section 2B from the HOA policies handbook: All residents are responsible for the upkeep and general maintenance of ...

The Sarcastic Killer

San Diego’s mean streets

A boy 3-1/2 months old was the youngest homicide victim in San Diego County during the first half of 2007. The oldest was a 75-year-old woman. Both were killed by family members, allegedly, the infant ...

Classic San Diego

In corners and beneath our noses.

Most-Filmed Wild West Main Street Don't look yet. Turn off Woodside onto Maine and behold a li'l old Wild West street that'll knock your spurs off. It huddles beneath a perfect movie-set backdrop of towering ...

Shadow Mountain Community Church, El Cajon

"Signs of Life," read the banners affixed to the light poles in the parking lot. In the church vestibule, piles of take-home magnets bore images and Scripture verses explaining the signs. Week three was Worn-Out ...

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 ...

Keep Your Skin On

Kayla Morales called to tell me about a party raising funds for her motorcycle-racing pursuits. She knew a lot about the sport and was informative. She talked about wanting to go to Nashville to race. ...

Field of Screens

Drive-in theaters arose from swamps.

The first drive-in theater I snuck into in San Diego was also the first one built here, the Midway, on the northwest corner of Mission Bay Drive and Sports Arena Boulevard. It was December 1979, ...

The Pizza Pioneer of El Cajon

“Even the ground meat’s kosher, for Jewish and Muslim customers.”

Foothills Christian Church, El Cajon

"This is what I like worship to be like," said one teenaged boy to another before the service began. "A guitar solo in every song." He was right. The opening 25 minutes might have been ...

East Valley Christian Fellowship

"I am so excited," said Pastor Jack Forness as he opened the Maundy Thursday service at East Valley Christian Fellowship. "We get to start to minister on this Easter weekend and be excited about what ...

Matinee

I went to a party on 21st and B Street one afternoon. I asked a few guys if this area was considered downtown, and the guys living there weren't sure. It was a good location ...

Curious Traveler

“They threw me in the kitchen as a dishwasher. Pretty soon, I was doing chef’s work.”

Back When

Thirty Years Ago If you witnessed this year's ordeal, you will remember -- you will not easily forget -- Danny Thomas's stricken expression, his beloved nose drooping an inch lower, when he retook the podium ...

St. Gregory of Nyssa Greek Orthodox Church

"I believe the [Greek Orthodox Church] is the true church, but I'm not going to rub it in anyone's face," said Nazo Zakkak, an altar boy at St. Gregory of Nyssa Greek Orthodox Church. Zakkak ...

Night at the Races

Hearts pound at Cajon Speedway.

THE #13 STREET STOCK CAR rounded the corner and violently smashed sideways into the wall, and the crowd let out a cheer. The ensuing spinout and flip-over left the car a smoking, flaming tin can, ...

It's a Crime: Verbatim Police Reports

ARMED ROBBERY Location: 9310 Kearny Mesa Road Time/Date: 12:30 p.m. on 1/30/05 Investigation: I was dispatched to the Best Western Motel on an armed robbery that had just occurred. The radio message said the suspects ...

We're Not Coming To Get Her

Tina Chamberlin of La Mesa was happy when her 82-year-old mother Rena Marseli decided to give up driving this past summer. Besides being 82 years old, Mrs. Marseli "had a vision problem," Chamberlin explains. "My ...

New growth is quickly overtaking the fire-blackened landscape in Crestwood preserve, just east of El Cajon.

Last October, the rocky, brush-covered slopes of the Crestwood Ecological Reserve, east of El Cajon, were swept by the same flames that devastated the communities of Crest and Harbison Canyon. Now, some five months later, ...

Best of 2003: Best East County Scuba Training

The Dive Shack 787 Arnele Avenue, El Cajon 619-447-7400 Rod and Tami Tuttle sell everything you need -- wet suits, regulators, buoyancy control devices, tanks and dive computers -- but it's the "instructional classes that ...

Best of 2003: Best Rainy-Day Outing For Kids In East County

Parkway Plaza Johnson Avenue and Fletcher Parkway, El Cajon A ride on the hand-carved 1926 Herschell carousel in the southwest corner of Parkway Plaza costs $1.75. The carousel spins around to the tune of "Sidewalks ...

Best of 2003: Best Place To Get Dead Drunk

Hiram's Guns and Spirits 660 South Magnolia, El Cajon 619-442-5353 Remember the Rugburns' "Suburbia"? "I'm dancing naked on my street...I think I'll go to Hiram's Guns and Liquor just for fun...And pick me up some ...

Best of 2003: Best Ear Plugs For Your Next Concert

Dietsch's Hearing Aid Center, North Park 3952 30th Street 619-297-4145 (Also El Cajon, Pacific Beach, and Mobile Service) Savvy rock stars order hollow plugs with special filters to protect their ears. They're not going deaf...why ...

Best of 2003: Best Bar Dartboards

Babe's Billiards 'n' Brew 1246 East Main, El Cajon 619-588-0426 Babe's has six dartboards and a shop -- B&D Darts, right in the bar, stocked with all the darts paraphernalia you need. Steel-tipped or soft-tipped, ...

Best of 2003: Best Tiara Source

Hair Team International 319 Parkway Plaza, El Cajon 619-579-2266 Priced from $8.99 to $79.99, this tiara selection includes more than 50 tiaras in silver and gold, rhinestones and pearls. There are small tiaras held in ...

Best of 2003: Best Not-So-Coy Koi

Koi-Koi Living Jewels 1975 Jamacha Road, El Cajon 619-441-9275 Owner Donita Blalock can answer all your koi questions. These fish live longer in Japan (about 75 years) than in the United States (20 to 30 ...

Best of 2003: Best East County Thai Food

Orchid Thai and Vegetarian Cuisine 762 North Johnson Avenue #106, El Cajon 619-447-2819 Montry Sengsouriya opened this restaurant as a fancy place, with tablecloths, napkins, and flowers. But that scared the locals off, so now ...

Best of 2003: Best Alzheimer's Facility

Parkside Special Care Center 444 West Lexington Avenue, El Cajon 619-442-7744 Accepting only senile dementia patients, the residents at this 52-bed facility are allowed free range, which includes a fenced patio area with trees and ...

El Cajon Mojo Master Lectures Spielberg

It was no accident, said San Diego clairvoyant Dr. James Capers, that movie mogul and occult aficionado Steven Spielberg attended his lecture in February, when Capers demonstrated his "spiritual gifts" at the Los Angeles Conscious ...

Smokey Bandits

From July of 2000 to April 2001, a new kind of crime wave hit San Diego County. Boiled down to penal-code labeling -- 211 for armed robbery, 459 for burglary -- the crimes weren't anything ...

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