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Stories by Ernie Grimm

Christmas Is Magic for So Many Reasons

The Heart Wants What the Heart Wants

A LITTLE OLD-SCHOOL GLAMOUR “What does he do, this man you seek?…He covets…And how do we begin to covet, Clarice?…We begin by coveting what we see every day.” — Dr. Hannibal Lecter, The Silence of ...

Census

In the spirit of this census year, we offer this unofficial, informal, and unscientific census of daily life in San Diego. (No census workers were lynched or faked their own lynchings while gathering the following ...

Solar Man

Hey, man. Solar Man here. Well, my ­name’s Derek Ensminger, but my friends call me Solar Man. Look around my office and ­you’ll know why. ­There’s a solar-powered video camera over there, a solar charger ...

Gompers Takes a Bow

From predatory to preparatory in five years.

"I remember my first encounter with a student here. I was wearing a suit, and a student comes up to me at lunch with a crowbar in his hand. Tapping it against his leg, he ...

Annual Dysfunctional Family Thanksgiving Dinner

Many ways of giving thanks

To Be Thankful Requires Humility To be thankful for anything much at all requires humility, I believe. I have little enough of it; in fact, I have a dichotomy common to alcoholics, and that is ...

Hi There! You Shoplifting?

Marco Mitrowke, loss prevention manager for the local retail clothing chain Everything 5.99, was not what I expected. The job title “loss prevention manager” conjured images of a strapping, muscular young man wearing a T-shirt ...

13 Miles of Metal

Border Patrol agent Richard Gonzales pushes a button in the shiny white Chevy Tahoe he’s driving. In response, a gate rolls open to allow entry to the no-man’s-land between the secondary fence and the old ...

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, ...

Goodbye, Hello, Goodbye Again

On New Year’s Eve, Howard Jackson was in court with Ellen Falcone, his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child. For more than nine years, the last three in Oceanside, the two had shared custody of ...

My Gender Is Bunny

I’m sitting on a leather couch in the middle of a darkened black-walled, black-ceilinged room talking to a man who, at taxpayer expense, takes hormones to become more like a woman yet is in the ...

E-Trash Treasures

It’s not yet 9:00 a.m. on September 6, but the late-summer sun is already baking the blacktop of the Qualcomm Stadium parking lot. It’s hot and promises to get hotter. Sweat drips from the foreheads ...

SDPD -- Got An Attitude?

Let’s say a man bit your finger so viciously that the flesh was torn away and the bone exposed. Let’s say it happened in a public place in front of dozens of eyewitnesses who prevented ...

Road’s End

Organizers of the semiannual Rosarito Ensenada Fun Bicycle Ride recently announced that the September 27 event would be their last. As with Baja tourism in general, participation in the ride has been declining. In April, ...

An Olympic Moment

Jacob Blumenfeld delivered what was arguably the most courageous performance by a San Diegan at the recent Beijing Olympics. And he didn’t compete in swimming, track and field, or gymnastics but in the far more ...

Suicide Tourism

Tijuana is the first stop on the peaceful road to eternity

Tijuana has long attracted people seeking medicine and medical procedures unavailable or unaffordable in their home countries. They've been joined recently by people seeking the means to kill themselves. And some of them are coming ...

Worldwide Spanish Slang

Spanish slang connoisseur Roxana Fitch grew up in Tijuana, birthplace of some of the most distinctive slang words — or jergas — in the entire Spanish-speaking world. The proximity of Tijuana, and of Mexico's entire ...

Dogs Bite City

The City of San Diego’s foundering financial ship has struck another shoal in the form of a lawsuit filed in 2005 by officers of the San Diego Police Department’s canine unit. The dog cops maintained ...

The Big Guys in Mexico’s Skies

Every year, my mother-in-law stays with us for a month or two when the weather in her home state of Connecticut is at its coldest and wildest. During this last visit she decided to go ...

Keep on Truckin’

For decades, Tijuana’s eastern colonias have sprung from the chaparral faster than the municipal government can provide services to them. The resourceful residents in these neighborhoods have long brought electricity to their shanties by running ...

Dulzura Deception

The Spanish word dulzura means sweetness. And public artist Robin Brailsford found the sweet life when she moved to the hamlet of Dulzura, 30 miles east of San Diego along State Route 94. She lives ...

Innocents Saved from the Trash

Ten years ago, Elissa Davey received her vocation. She was a 50-year-old realtor, mother of two sons, and resident of San Marcos when the call came in the form of a story in the newspaper ...

Cabbages and Monarchs

The definition of "easy to get to" changes depending on what side of the border you're on. In the United States, if you had to drive on a rutted dirt road to get to someplace, ...

Hybrid Hell

Back in June, a team of San Diego State mechanical engineering students and their professor placed 6th out of 17 universities in the exclusive Challenge X vehicle design competition, cosponsored by General Motors and the ...

What Will Burn, What Will Not

Fires make David Hogan nervous. It's not because he's afraid his Pine Valley house will burn down. It's because after every fire in Southern California, politicians start clamoring for reduction of the "fuel" that covers ...

Door Closes on Hope

On September 28, the Salvation Army closed the doors to its Door of Hope Children's Learning Center day care in Kearny Mesa. The center had been in operation since 1983 and had cared for children ...

Community Coffee

The Ocean Beach Starbucks on Newport Avenue, just west of Bacon Street, opened on September 11. Not September 11, 2007, but the September 11, in 2001. Doubtless, many in Ocean Beach don't consider that fact ...

Port of Abandoned Boats

No fewer than 50 framed diplomas and certificates hang on the wall in the office of José Ríos Hernández, the capitán del puerto, or harbormaster, of the port of Ensenada. A cherrywood desk the size ...

Down on the Fish Farm

There's been a lot of talk, and legislation, surrounding saltwater fish farming lately. A bill working its way through Congress would create a permit process for farming fish from 3 to 250 miles off the ...

She Hated Adverbs

Judith Moore remembered

My long conversation with Judith Moore about writing began in 1980. We first met at a monthly campus ministry shindig for the faculty of Central Washington University, in Ellensburg, Washington. Judith was escaping the small-town ...

Small Deeds, Big Payoff

The Tijuana neighborhood of Adolfo Ruiz Cortines sits north of the river about five miles east of the San Ysidro crossing. The east-west thoroughfare Avenida Defensores de Baja California bisects the lower-middle-class neighborhood. Campaign signs ...

Kicking Up Dust

On a weekday, the west end of Barona Mesa Road in San Diego Country Estates is as bucolic a spot to live as any in San Diego County. An eclectic array of $600,000 homes on ...

River of Tears

The University of California San Diego promulgates a list of nine "Principles of Community" to its faculty, staff, and students. The second principle states, "We affirm each individual's right to dignity and strive to maintain ...

Revolution Fades Away

Your mental picture of Tijuana's Avenida Revolución probably looks like this: hordes of American tourists wearing shorts, T-shirts, and fanny packs tromp up and down the sloping street. Some wait in line to don sombreros, ...

Now We Live Nowhere

Abel and Zulma Muñoz stand at the north end of Playas de Tijuana, where the international border fence meets the Pacific Ocean. The area was once an international park, the pet project of First Lady ...

The Hard Way to Cross the Border

Short southbound and long northbound waits are not always the norm at la frontera internacional. During the weekday evening rush hour, the southbound wait at San Ysidro is often more than an hour. This nightly ...

Internet Savvy South of the Border

A year ago, Tijuana's daily papers, Frontera and El Mexicano, reported that Internet cafés were proliferating throughout Northern Baja in response to growing demand for Internet access. The stories predicted that the number of Internet ...

Uniform Agreement

The Colegio de Bachilleres high school sits about five miles east of downtown Tijuana on the Vía Rápida, the highway that straddles the Tijuana River channel. The campus looks like public high schools in San ...

I Did It, Arrest Me

May 17, 2006, San Diego Police homicide detective Robert Donaldson was thumbing through cold-case files looking for something that might warrant reopening an investigation: a bit of physical evidence, blood maybe, that modern forensics could ...

Rape Was Just the Beginning

Let's say you're a single mom in your mid-30s. You've recently taken your 2-year-old son and 12-year-old dog and moved away from your husband. The divorce is ugly, and your job search is tough. You'd ...

Only Adults Commit Crimes

Luz María Félix Figueroa, president of the Tijuana branch of Baja California's juvenile detention agency, shakes her head. She's been asked whether she agrees with the American trend of trying as adults minors who commit ...

Code Dogs Hound the Plank

Ask a nonresident of Imperial Beach to name a restaurant or bar in San Diego County's southernmost beach town. If he can name anything at all, it likely will be Ye Olde Plank Inn. The ...

The F in F Street is Fashion

Fashion model and F Street bookstore heiress Aleksandra Vasic, a high school freshman from San Diego County, set off a bit of media frenzy in England during September's London Fashion Week. At 14 years old, ...

Why Don't We Claim That Cash?

Given the financial straits the City of San Diego has been in of late, you'd think officials would make it a priority to collect every dime that the City's owed. But a look at the ...

From Rural Retreat To Suburbia

On September 19, the unincorporated community of Campo threw a once-in-a-century party. It featured a parade, cavalry reenactors, former buffalo soldiers stationed in Campo pre-World War II, and home-baked goodies. But it wasn't the attractions ...

Asylum From Homophobia

During the past year, about 30 transgender Tijuanenses, many of them prostitutes, left Tijuana and crossed illegally into the United States. Bypassing San Diego, they settled in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Now some of ...

The Right of Way Is the Wrong Place

Every election season, my father sinks a wire-framed campaign sign into the strip of grass between his sidewalk and the street. Every election season, an unseen enemy steals it. Dad replaces the sign. The enemy ...

The Price of a Public Education

Free education to all children stands among the most hallowed provisions in Mexico's federal constitution. But according to a state human rights official, it may be one of the most threatened. Francisco Javier Sánchez Corona's ...

Exodus of the Rich

It takes American eyes a minute to see the signs of wealth in Tijuana's Zona Diamante (Diamond Zone), high-end neighborhoods that cling to the hills south of downtown, above the country club and racetrack. Nowhere ...

Where Beachfront Living Is a Bargain

Northern Baja's "Gold Coast," from Rosarito to Ensenada, is enjoying a real estate boom as American buyers search for oceanfront homes at prices they haven't seen in Southern California in more than ten years. Though ...

Can't Blame Sin City

Paul Del Vacchio remembers the first time he gambled. "I was 12 years old," he says. "It was a $2 bet to show on a horse at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania. I remember this weird ...