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Stories by Bill Manson

I have loved Tijuana

Everybody knows that Pasaje Rodriguez is shaping up to be the coolest passage in TJ. But who knew of the jewel right in its heart? Pasajes (passages) are the arcades that run from Revolución through ...

Did Chris Kyle deck Jesse Ventura?

Jesse Ventura sues the wife of deceased SEAL sniper Chris Kyle over allegations made in a book.

Bay dreams

Good and ghastly ideas for our waterfront

What could we do with our waterfront, if we really put our thinking caps on?

An Old Truth Made New Again

How many people assassinated Mexican presidential hopeful Luis Donaldo Colosio Murrieta in 1994?

Original Artists Work to Restore Chicano Park Murals

Armando Nuñez is touching up a skeleton. “That first day,” he says, “I brought a half-gallon can of green bathroom paint. Everybody brought whatever they had. That’s how it was. We didn’t plan. We just ...

Afghanistan, Love, Regret

Khaled Waleh, owner of Zia’s Afghan Café in North Park, gives the reporter his dad’s phone number in Parwan province.

UPS Can't Find Me. FedEx Can't Find Me. Visitors Always Get Lost.

San Diegans outside the bubble.

What’s it like to live in what passes for “the wilds" of San Diego County? Bill Manson finds out.

Sometimes, Wildlife Comes to You

Is Mother Nature nibbling around the edges of San Diego, ready to take her back?

Midsummer. Japatul Valley, south of Alpine. Too hot to sleep indoors. Warren Storm-thunder snoozes in his hammock. He has slung it under trees down by a creek bottom near his isolated valley home. Then, around ...

San Diegans Talk of Revolution

‘When I heard that Qaddafi was killed,” says Abdul, who’s from Lebanon and doesn’t want his real name used, “I had to laugh because not too long ago he was calling his people cowards, rats. ...

One Night, El Cajon Felt Like Baghdad

Chaldean Social Club Raid Is a Touchy Subject

"Look. Look! They took our money! Ten thousand dollars, from some. They came in with their shotguns raised. ‘Down on the ground!’ They cuffed me, hands behind my back, threw me on my face on ...

The True Heart of Rebecca Zahau

The woman on the other end of the phone is in tears. “I was just praying to God when you called,” she says. “That He’ll help us with what happened to our daughter. We are ...

The Hanging Question of Coronado

Rarely has Coronado been so abuzz. In the early morning of July 13, a young naked woman hanged herself (or did she?) at the Spreckels mansion on Ocean Boulevard. Two days before, a six-year-old boy ...

Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History

Suffering Suffragettes! Ashley Gardner stands inside the three-by-three-foot Women’s Hall of Fame mini-Greek temple and says three words to me as if they were Holy Scripture: “A hundred years.” She pauses. “Since 1911. That’s how ...

Pedaling Diego: San Diego's Growing Bicycle Mania

Uh-oh. Beer Man looks up. He’s six-foot-five and garbed in his blue Superman tunic with a red cape, yellow briefs, a full mane of red hair and a beard. His expression says it all: Is ...

SOHO vs. Developers: What’s Worth Saving in San Diego?

The graffiti wraps the California Theatre in a ten-foot-tall necklace of yellow and black and silver, squished-together letters shaped like half-inflated airbags. The odd thing is whoever did it also surrounded it with a new ...

Showdown in The Parks

We’re on the border — between South Park and North Park. I’m sipping coffee outside Rebecca’s, looking across Juniper Street, fantasizing. What if Juniper were the dividing line between, say, East Berlin and West Berlin? ...

Home Owner Association Horror Stories

We put out the call, “Tell us your HOA horror stories,” and you came back in your millions. Okay, your dozens. Okay, nearly a dozen. The issue was courage. How could people report on the ...

Global Warming Is Crap!

“Global warming?” says Steve Wampler. “Crap!” This is unexpected because Steve trained as an environmental engineer at UC Davis. But he’s serious. “There are 100,000 scientists out there who are saying it’s total crap too, ...

Soon There Won't Be a Barrio Logan

Barrio Logan?” says Dave. “I tell you, soon there won’t be a Barrio Logan. It’ll be swallowed up by downtown.” Dave and Tennessee and I stand in the dark on National Avenue, by 16th Street, ...

Pedicab Wars

No level peddling field for pedicabs.

Roll 'em! Straight-to-camera, Guy Harinton yells, “Why can’t I kill one of them little fuckers?!” He’s frothing. Here, at the Embarcadero’s Coronado ferry landing, a foreign-student pedicab driver has just ridden off with a load ...

Ok, this is Tuesday, but where is everybody?

Mission Bay Park is all too, too tidy.

Let’s say you’re a redhead. Duck, that is. Or a scaup. Or a falcon looking for rabbits. Or a coot, ruddy duck, bufflehead, or — more likely over Mission Bay these days — a seagull ...

You're standing right next to me but you're not there

Txt me! So I don't have to talk to you face2face.

“I couldn’t believe it,” says the veteran San Diego lifeguard. “A kid shouted, ‘Hey, look!’ And I saw two of them with their parents, and I suddenly realized, oh my God. On a day like ...

Our Favorite Drinks and Where We Drink Them

You don’t know how to make a Tora!Tora!Tora!?

There are times, sometimes in the midst of otherwise polite conversation, when it comes out that I make my living writing for the Reader. The follow-up to this revelation is almost never “Oh, that’s right, ...

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 ...

There Is No San Diego River

Does our 52-mile-long ribbon of life still have life in it?

San Diego River? “There is no San Diego River,” says Pete Cuthbert. “What you’re dangling your toes in is the Colorado River, the Sacramento River, the Feather River — but not the San Diego River.” ...

Plague of the Urban Tumbleweeds

any culprits, including you.

• Captain Charles Moore, UCSD alum, steps overboard. He disappears into the inky Pacific. It’s 2007, nighttime, 500 miles west of San Diego. He swims, about three, four feet beneath the surface, through the spooky ...

If I Did That Over There, They'd Cut My Hands Off

Muslims from Iran, Iraq, Turkey, the Philippines, Pakistan, Somalia, Guyana, and Eritrea

How tough is it being Muslim in San Diego?

Perfect Drought

A view of the future from Descanso.

"It's catastrophic!" Duncan McFetridge flings his arms out. "Look, can't you see the change?" Several years ago, when I last came here to the Cleveland National Forest outside of Descanso, McFetridge's cabin nestled in a ...

Is Everybody Too Tired?

Where babies come from

Our future began on Wednesday, February 5, 2003, when a UCLA doctor announced that for the first time since the late 1850s, Hispanic births accounted for more than half the births in California.The UCLA Center ...

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 ...

We Have To Tell the Story Because We Survived

Lost boys found.

The Ethiopian Army caught up with the boys at the Gilo River. "Most of us couldn't swim," says Isaac. "It was really very deep and swollen because of rains. The currents were very, very fast. ...

Sandy Literacy

Katherine Jackson takes the toothbrush out of her mouth. "In an old house in Paris all covered in vines lived 12 little girls in two straight lines..." This is Jackson's way of telling me what ...

Big in China

Noah Gabriel plays Paul McCartney's "Blackbird" at the Sunday market in San Diego's old Chinatown (at Third and J). A year and a half ago, he was a singing star in China...well, around Shanghai, anyway. ...

Don’t let Linda Vista fool you

Has Linda Vista lost its heart? The Yum Yum Donut Shop in the Vien-Dong supermarket center has become the place where old-time Linda Vistans turn up to chew the fat. "This shopping mall that used ...

San Ysidro, America’s last gasp

Okay, okay, I know. San Ysidro. It's not a place, it's the blur just before you get to Mexico. It's humanity sluicing up and down through the World's Busiest Border. The tidal gate between the ...

Don't Wait to Ask

Oh yeah. This sepia one is Dad, the 19-year-old skinny kid in the lieutenant’s uniform, with the canvas strips wrapped around his legs, huddling on the Turkish cliff in a trench, waiting for orders. Not ...

Forty-Four Dollars and Some Schools

Silvia Labastida is nervous. Two thousand of Tijuana's poorest children surround her, cheering the mayor of Tijuana. For three months she has helped organize this day. She holds on to a young girl in a ...

Militarizing the Border

Brian Bilbray has no doubts: It's time to send in the troops. All along the border. "We need to send a very clear message, almost in the tone of John Kennedy, when he said, 'We ...

Battle of the Bodegas

The brown-robed monk leads the way down into the crypt. "In 1791 the Mission of Santo Tomás de Aquino was founded by Dominican friars, south of Ensenada. Along with the mission, they brought grape vines...." ...

The Mouse that Roared

Is the Clinton administration developing a conscience on border pollution? When Energy Secretary Bill Richardson comes to San Diego May 11 to host the energy conference of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, he will be ...

Battle of the Tongues

Lorena González doesn't want to use the "B" word. " 'Bilingual' has too much history attached to it," she says. "And besides, from what I've heard, you're very anti-second-language out on the West Coast. Especially ...

We'd Like to Know More About Our Policemen

The man who decided to drug-test all the cops in Tijuana is satisfied. Marco Antonio González Arenas says the front-page color photos of police officers lining up at a table loaded with their urine samples ...

Bonita's First Blood

When the kids get off the trolley at San Ysidro these spring evenings, you sense the bravado. With so much news about murders, cartels, allegations of government corruption, it's impossible to think about Tijuana the ...

The Land Invaders

Don Manuel lives where the border fence ends, in the mountains east of Tijuana. He's heard about the murder of the police chief, about the execution of the lawyer who represented the man allegedly behind ...

Legalize It!

As you'd expect of an architect, Héctor Osuna Jaime explains what he means by drawing on his paper napkin. Two football teams. "This is them. The narco-traffickers. They know everybody on their side is on ...

Doors to Open, Doors to Close

How much does the world care that 80 people have been murdered in Tijuana in the last two months? Not much, except when one is Tijuana's police chief, says Victor Clark Alfaro, director of Tijuana's ...

Danger at Quick-Death Canyon

The Lariat is on the verge of sliding. You can feel it. Celso Rodríguez grinds to a halt. He gingerly eases the Ford truck back down the hill. At the bottom he gets out and ...

Lessons From Cali

'My patient is Tijuana," says Dr. José Rubio Soto. "My hospital is city hall. These are the X-rays." He's peering at a computer screen filled with blobs. It's a map of the city. Tijuana looks ...

Zero Tolerance in the Morning

Where does democracy thrive in Tijuana? Some say right here, in the Minaret Room of the Club Campestre. Of course, this is not really Tijuana. The Tijuana you know throbs and honks and grinds a ...

Fox Populi

'Fox Fox Fox Fox FOX FOX FOX FOX!" You know who they're yelling about: he's the granite-jawed guy standing above everybody else in the hall. Vicente Fox Quesada. Over six feet tall -- and, some ...

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