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Stories by Bill Manson

Refuge for Canaries in the Mine

Where do you find a refuge from the 20th Century? Down a dusty drive in the highland backwoods of Potrero, about 45 miles east of San Diego. It sits huddled beneath clusters of century-old olive ...

Half the Town Would Run toward the Pier

The SS Catalina is about to move again. This time she's being hauled south from Ensenada to Puerto Vallarta, to be turned into a party gambling ship. And J.C. Wilkinson wants to know why she ...

We Don't Even Need Their Water District

Come September, Tecate's border crossing, the hilly country 43 miles east of San Diego, will get a $10 to $12 million expansion. San Diego entrepreneur Tom Hom hopes this signals the birth of the border ...

They're Not Even Looking at the Dust

It's a perfect morning for spying. The water glints metallic blue in the sun. Marietta, the harbor cruise boat, slicks by, crammed with Zonies on its upper deck. You can hear the female guide's voice ...

Need Cash Before You Die?

"Let's say you figure the guy is going to live two years," says Ted Martin. "Here's the way a breakdown would work: You take his $100,000 [life insurance] policy. You're going to pay the guy, ...

Passports, Body Bags

I was selling rum in Venezuela in the '60s," says John Norton, "when I met some girls from the Swedish Embassy. One finally became vice consul in L.A. She suggested me for the job of ...

No Net

Last time I saw Sara Gagliardi, she was bent double. Sweat poured off her brow. She was in pain. She limped to the back of the health food store where she was working and sat ...

What's Wrong With Frank? The Arc of a Singular Life from Vietnam to Imperial Beach

It’s just a phone call. But it changes your life. Re-jigs the whole thing. Other vague long-term plans you had suddenly evaporate. We’re in Cornwall Gardens, London, June 1983. One of those Kensington Victorian bedsit ...

Pier Group

“You can just about live without ever visiting a supermarket from what you can catch on this pier.”

Coyote. Tarantula. Silence. Sea.

The four corners of San Diego County.

“San Diego? This isn’t a county, it’s a country!” This how it starts. Dave, sounding off after a couple of beers. Dave’s latest rave is San Diego County. You might call him a county nationalist. ...

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