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Stories by Ernie Grimm

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 ...

Nearby Residents See Red Over Nightly Fireworks

Frustration with the noise from SeaWorld's fireworks has long simmered in the neighborhoods near the theme park. In May, the pot began to boil over when a local newspaper, the Peninsula Beacon, printed a letter ...

Ruff, Ruff, Ruff In Imperial Beach

Diana Cartman (a pseudonym) suffers from a recurring nightmare. The dream runs like this: Cartman watches television in her living room a few blocks from the ocean in Imperial Beach. It's getting late, and she ...

Free Speech and Fair Parking

La Mesa mayoral candidate Craig Maxwell is the kind of guy people used to describe as strapping. He's over six feet tall, trim through the middle, broad and muscular in the chest and shoulders. The ...

Here Comes the Bride

Golden moments and minor disasters at the altar.

Chunks of ice rode the whitecaps as the Nantucket ferry steamed out of the harbor in Woods Hole and into the Atlantic. The March wind had driven Isabel into the warmth of the cabin, while ...

Trolley Crimes Surge

The year 2005 saw a significant increase in arrests and incidents for the San Diego Trolley system. According to a report obtained from the Metropolitan Transit System, the agency that runs the trolley, serious crimes, ...

No Prosecution In P.B. Bar Fight

Play armchair district attorney a moment. Before you lies the case of 26-year-old William "Bill" Dolan. On February 12, 2005, Dolan goes out barhopping with some friends and acquaintances. The group numbers about eight. After ...

Pizza v. Tacos

Early this year, Papa John's closed 14 pizza stores in Tijuana. You'd think the people who run Mama Mia Pizza, the locally owned chain operating in the city, would be happy to see a competitor ...

High-Rise Hopes Just South Of Border

Imagine a high-rise condominium offering views of downtown San Diego, the bay, and the Pacific Ocean. Each condo features granite in the kitchen, tile in the bathrooms, and wood trim throughout. The 25-story building stands ...

Migrant Kids Behind Bars

'Let's not talk in here," says Juan Enrique Méndez Meza, an official of the Desarrollo Integral de la Familia, which is known in Mexico by its acronym DIF (it rhymes with "beef"). The agency is ...

Land Management Questioned

In 1997, after six years of planning, the City of San Diego adopted the Multiple Species Conservation Program. The program proposed that 52,012 acres of undeveloped City land be set aside and maintained in perpetuity ...

TJ River Bottom Slated for Recreation Site

The Tijuana River has always been a problem for its namesake city. With a watershed covering hundreds of square miles in California and Baja, the normally creek-sized river transmogrifies into an aquatic monster after heavy ...

Bored on Wheels

You've worked hard, you've succeeded in your profession, you've gotten rich. And now you want a car that says those things to the people you blow past on the freeway. A Cadillac or even a ...

Indian Claims Block Cedar Fire Redevelopment

With the passing of two years since the Cedar fire, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park has healed, and 98 percent of the park's trails have been reopened. Among the areas not reopened is Los Caballos equestrian ...

Julian Flap Over Wind-Test Structures

Strong winds of public disapproval toppled electricity-producing windmills in the Julian area before they were even built. At an August 11 meeting at Julian Town Hall, 100 area residents whipped up a hurricane of opposition ...

A Gritty Dilemma

Around 9:30 p.m., on Friday the 19th of August, 22-year-old David Silverman of Jacumba and two female friends were cruising south on Buckman Springs Road toward Campo when they found themselves stuck behind an 18-wheel ...

School vs. Ball Field Re-Ignites Skirmish

After a two-year cease-fire, shots are again flying in a battle between San Diego City Schools and some Golden Hill residents. The battleground is a section of the urban grid bounded by 32nd and 33rd ...

Eyesore Antenna Invades La Jolla

It was like a scene from War of the Worlds. On a late Sunday afternoon in spring, Donna New heard her husband calling from the deck of their hillside home in the West Muirlands area ...

Pagan Became My Nickname

My parents had taught me that, as a Catholic, I was a member of the One True Church. But the Catholic school I attended in first, second, and third grades stopped teaching that kind of ...

How Did They Get Up on the Roof?

Early one morning in May, Padre Gabriel Rodríguez walked out the front doors of downtown Tijuana's San Francisco de Asís Catholic Church. When he reached the sidewalk, he turned and looked up to admire the ...

Anything Is Possible

In 1980, the city of Escondido stood on the verge of a decade of explosive growth. Within ten years, the town of 30,000 would become a city of 120,000. And on a ten-acre ranch outside ...

Soundtrack

The music that tells us we’re alive.

I'd press play on my older brother's boom box, and listen to the Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA." The volume never passed two; I was terrified of discovery by my mother who had a ban on rock music.

Family Music

It's not that I listen to it very often -- I don't think I've listened to it once in the past 15 years. Even if I owned a copy I wouldn't be able to play ...

Trot Law

It's clear that Catarino Valdéz, chief of the Tijuana Police Department's newly formed mounted police, is a bigwig by the way he arrives at the stables: in an off-road pickup driven by a bodyguard, while ...

How the Big Thing Blew Up

English teachers at Bell Junior High School must have an easy time teaching irony to their composition students these days.Irony abounds at the Southeast San Diego school. For example, the campus and buildings, after six ...

You Can Have My Dead Trees

Just north of Santa Ysabel in San Diego's backcountry, Mesa Grande Road intersects State Route 79. Less than a mile to the west on Mesa Grande is a sight not seen in the county for ...

A Barrel You Could Drive a Car Through

Last August, a crew of nine Southern California surfers -- seven from San Diego County, two from Orange County -- traveled to Indonesia for a two-week cruise to the surf breaks of the Mentawai Islands, ...

Mom

The woman we never forget.

"Careful, Ma; don't spill your soup," I warned. "First time you spill, that's it — you're going to the home.” Mom's reply was immediate. "I know. I've picked out what I want to take with me."

Life Is Full of Consolations

"Make sure you write about her peacefulness," my wife told me as I sat down to my computer. And if there were a one-word description of my mother, peaceful might be it. Irene Pilon, along ...

They Kill People Everywhere

The governor of Baja California, Eugenio Elorduy, has a warning for his constituents: be very careful when visiting the crime-ridden metropolises of the border region...of the United States. During a recent press conference in Mexicali, ...

10,000 Buzzing Bees

This is the story of Irwin the Bookman who, with the help of Lenny the Elf and Don the Kid, gives away hundreds of thousands of books a year to schools, teachers, homeschoolers, prisons, homeless ...

The Objective Is to Dominate

On the north side of the Tijuana River, across from the Zona Rio, stands a shopping center with a department store, a dozen or so nondescript shops, and "World Famoso" Señor Frog's nightclub. Between the ...

Out and About

Between 2000 and 2003, the Metropolitan Transit Development Board closed down Dial-A-Ride programs around the county. As budget crunches hit, the transit board had to choose between cutting fixed bus-route service or the Dial-A-Ride programs ...

A Lot of People Get Electrocuted

Fifteen or 20 miles east of downtown Tijuana, on the toll road to Tecate, neighborhoods of roughly paved streets and concrete houses give way to dirt roads running amid shacks made of pallets, plywood, and ...

Unkind Cut

Tonya Jamois, a housewife from San Marcos, leads an international grassroots movement battling the medical establishment. Dressed in tennies and a raspberry-colored velour track suit, she sits in a purple armchair in the corner of ...

Santa's Helpers

Gift-givers tell all.

We used to decorate the outside of our house, but not anymore. We put a bow in front of our gate and we put lights up, that's about it. I always wanted the moving reindeer, but no.

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 ...

Nonstop to Wild Goats

Captain Ramón Orta Vidrio, one of three owners of Aeroservicios de California, had left instructions for me to meet him in downtown Ensenada. Five minutes after we arrive at 7:00, Orta shows up in his ...

They Tried to Cut The Roof with an Ax

Colombia was the world's foremost vehicle-armoring country until about ten years ago when Mexico rose to prominence in the field. That's how Luis Cano Salazar, owner of a Mexico City-based armoring outfit called Total Shield, ...

Mayor's Favor Miffs TJ Playwright

Tijuana mayor Jesús González Reyes faces the prospect of finding a new job come December 1 when mayor-elect Jorge Hank takes office. González also faces the possibility, albeit remote, of going to jail. The twofold ...

It Would Turn You To Toast

Greedy bureaucrats may face indictment

Pete Scully, a battalion chief for the California Department of Forestry's fire protection agency, stands next to his camper-shelled pickup truck at a Highway 94 turnoff east of where Campo Creek turns south into Mexico, ...

Blood on the Water

Are great white sharks snacking in our waters?

On the computer monitor in front of him is a photo of two smiling men standing on the deck of a boat. At their feet, facing the camera: the great white shark the diver found in the tuna cage.

No Right to Plant Cactus

One house stands out on the 3200 block of Galloway Drive in University City. While most of the houses are Cape Cod or ranch style and feature traditional lawn and shrub front yards, 42-year-old Anthony ...

Ultimate Warrior

Marines admire Evan Wright’s candor

In the spring of 2003, the United States Marines led the invasion of Iraq. At the point of the spear was the First Reconnaissance Battalion out of Camp Pendleton. The platoons of "First Recon" rotated ...

I Can't Make a Living Doing Only This

A mile or two south of the border, two blocks east of Avenida Revolución on Avenida Negrete, stands the main Tijuana post office. It's a windowless concrete building unremarkable except for the flight of blue ...

Pay It and Go on With Your Life

San Diego County used-car dealers, particularly in Oceanside, were already hurting, thanks to the deployment of local military personnel to Iraq, when more bad news arrived in the form of lawsuits. The suits, filed by ...

America Broke My Heart, Tijuana Blew My Mind

America breaks Luis Urrea’s heart

Author Luis Urrea embodies contradiction. Though Mexican, he is blond-haired and blue-eyed. Though born in Tijuana and raised in San Diego, he lives in the cold and humidity of Chicago. Though he's written four books ...

Tijuana's Abandoned Car Problem

Though the municipal government unveils a new mass-transit proposal every few years, the fact remains: Tijuana is a city of cars. But it isn't a city of new cars. Only the wealthiest of tijuanenses drive ...

Bullets for the Bully

"You and your family are as good as dead."

Eight of the 13 shots Palm fired traveled through Harper's body. Palm hid the gun in a nearby canyon, then returned home. Two hours and 40 minutes later, sheriff's deputies arrested Palm at his house. 

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