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Stories by Geoff Bouvier

Deadly Mosquitoes Breed in Our Urban Drool

A war fought one puddle at a time

A few days after an autumn picnic near Los Peñasquitos Lagoon, a local grade-schooler comes down with the flu. Fever, chills, headache, and he can’t bring himself to get out of bed. His mother worries, ...

It's Getting Ugly Downtown

Downtown condos - kinda like roller coasters.

One Who’s Out and Wants In A man walks into the lobby of a downtown sales office on Sixth Avenue and G Street on a Sunday morning, wheeling his young son in a stroller in ...

$120 Is Music to Our Ears

The San Diego Symphony rebounds and swings.

It’s Friday morning, and a woman in casual clothes, with a viola case on her back, bicycles down Harbor Drive. She’s headed toward Embarcadero Park, behind the Convention Center, for a summer pops rehearsal of ...

Illegal Ways to Avoid the Border Wait

How did the pollero cross the border?

They’re still building roads out on Otay Mesa, about three miles north of the international border. The hot tar takes longer to set in the incredible heat. The smell hangs thick over the brown hillsides ...

They Think They’re in Love

A brief survey of today’s teen romance.

According to a survey of 4600 teenagers (aged 12–17) conducted recently by Mediamark Research Inc., 89 percent of teens say they have been in dating relationships, 57 percent regularly date, and 33 percent have a ...

What's Wrong with Balboa Park?

Money is the matter.

If the Pacific Ocean is San Diego’s swimming pool, Balboa Park is our backyard. When we want to get out of the house, Balboa Park is where we go, 11 million times per year. And ...

Way Too Many People Live Out Here

When development meets wild backcountry.

A lawsuit was filed in March of this year by five environmental groups — including the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club — stating that overarching land-management plans prepared by the U.S. Forest ...

You Wanna Pull?

rm Wrestling Nation here in San Diego.

On a Saturday spring morning, in a small fenced-in backyard in San Marcos, 40 or so rather dangerous-looking men (and a few women and children) have gathered to celebrate arm wrestler Harold “the Rattlesnake” Ryden’s ...

No One’s Ever Told Me That I Look Like a Fish

Hobby becomes obsession

“First of all,” says Dave Huie, “it should really be called the exotic fish hobby, not the tropical fish hobby.” Beneath his glasses, Huie’s face is scrunched into a look of bemusement. “Although, even that ...

Chivalry Is Not Dead

Neither are knot tying, handwriting, and blacksmithing

Seemingly everything has been called a “lost art.” Spelling, conversation, keeping a secret, note taking, listening, and even (why not?) hollering. One string of online text even refers to the lost art of blogging.What constitutes ...

To Live and Die in Oceanside

Pained smile.

The Back Gate The area around the Oceanside pier and boardwalk glistens, picture perfect: palm trees, silver sand, blue water, and crowds of people. It’s easy to see how this town got its name. But ...

I'm as Big as a Vons

The Taj Mahal of food banks.

Near the lifeguard station in Ocean Beach, nine homeless people have gathered. One lies in the grass of Saratoga Park, legs crossed and hat tilted over his eyes. One stands nearby, smoking a cigarette. Two ...

I Would Rather Be In Here Than Standing in the Fast Lane on the Freeway with Cars Coming at 80 Miles an Hour

They watch over us

In Kearny Mesa, on a road called Opportunity, people in the Transportation Management Center watch over us. The operations room looks like a set from a film on NASA space travel. Designed like a theater, ...

The Second Lives of San Diegans

The worlds we’d make if we were gods.

As you read this, 40,000 people in the world are "in-world." This doesn't mean that these people have left our world, the real world. It means that their real bodies are sitting in front of ...

We've Grown Up in Paradise

San Diego born and bred.

I don't envy the native San Diegan. Being born and raised in paradise must be difficult. How do you avoid becoming hopelessly spoiled? How do you gain a sense of the great, big, messy, cold, ...

Do You Feel Safe at School?

Jaded after Columbine.

On April 16, 2007, on the campus of Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia, a sullen, troubled, twisted young man killed 32 people, injured 25 more, and then took his own life in the deadliest ...

She Got Me to Think Out Loud

Though I never met Judith Moore, she was one of the most significant people who's ever entered my life. She believed in and nurtured my writing abilities even before I really did. She liked my ...

Plenty of Booze

Vocal minority takes on the absent horde in P.B.

Pacific Beach. 2:00 p.m. A typical, sunny summer Saturday. The smell of spilled beer mingles with sea mist and wet wood. I'm bar-hopping, and not one establishment I enter at midday is empty. Many are ...

How to Paint a Portrait

Elusiveness captured.

The first time I chat with painter David Darrow on the telephone, I ask him how I might pose. I tell him that I like the highly individual stagings of Annie Leibovitz's photographs. Darrow tells ...

Faster Is Better

Slow is so passé.

What do certain animals, computers, drivers, drummers, surfers, skaters, railways, and runners have in common? They all have a need. The need for speed. We measure speed in hertz, flops, knots, machs, mph, rpm, and ...

When You Play Chess, You Can't Hide Who You Are

Some call it combat, some a sport.

"I played Nakamura. He was 18 years old at the time, at the 2005 U.S. Championship. His name is Hikaru Nakamura. And he's the top U.S. player right now." This is the top chess player ...

Touchy Business

Hand-body connections

Techno music thumps and throbs and spills from the room. The "Earth Room." It's early, about 9:30 a.m. An instructor leads 30 men and women, ranging in age from 18 to maybe 60, in movement ...

Is the Sun In Your Eyes or Are You Just Avoiding Me?

Common decency in question.

Here's my theory: I've noticed this weird "no look" policy that San Diego girls and young women — and even some San Diego boys and young men — seem to have. You pass them on ...

The Nothing That Is Not There And The Nothing That Is

The beauty of the Carrizo Badlands.

The narrow opening of the mud cave was nothing but a slot in the rock, barely wide enough for my shoulders. If you didn't know it was there, you'd never know it was there. We're ...

The Best Players in the World: Filipinos and Pool

A mind game with sticks and balls.

When he broke, it was hammerlike. It almost hurt my ears: a terrific crack! The colorful balls caromed and danced and spun everywhere.Nothing went in, though, lucky for me. So I lined up my first ...

Shopping List

Grazing at the grocery.

Make a list. It's time to go grocery shopping. Where are we buying? How much do we spend? What do we spend it on? What are we cooking? Are we health-conscious? Diet-conscious? What are our ...

Where the Mail Goes When it Doesn't Get to You

The Green Monster, Barney, and Spibs move it along.

"It was an envelope from the bank, with four checks in it, and I was on my way to the bank." Maria Sandstrom gets four personal checks every week from four sets of parents for ...

It's Not a Race Thing... It's Style

Don't freak.

You've got to be taughtTo hate and fear,You've got to be taughtFrom year to year,It's got to be drummedIn your dear little earYou've got to be carefully taught.You've got to be taught to be afraidOf ...

Heartbreak? That's Fishing. Frustration? That's Fishing. The Good Life? That's Fishing.

A play in multiple acts. Cast, in order of appearance: Chorus, infrequent fisher and loather of boat travel Bill Poole, 85, local fishing legend, past part-owner of Poole-Chaffee Boatyard Buck Everingham, 51, heir and part-owner ...

Guatemalan Dreams of American Green

The long road to the U.S.A.

Every day at 7:00 a.m., Mateo (names in this article have been changed to protect the immigrants) wakes up next to Maria, his longtime girlfriend. Most mornings, he hops out of bed, throws on his ...

Bares Rule! Black’s Beach exposed

Of all the sand in San Diego, one strand wins mythic status. Most of the place is inside a state park, it runs along a length of two miles walled by 300-foot bluffs, and it ...

Machines for Living

Economics and ego build the skyline

A tall building takes a sizeable square of land and transforms it into multiple cubes of habitable space — story after story rising — converting once-empty sky into a series of interior chambers and environments. ...

How tall is tall?

According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a high-rise building is any structure over 35 meters (about 115 feet) in height that is divided into regular intervals with occupiable levels. To be ...

Women Think That Men Are Hairy Women

Who cares if the hunter leaves home hungry?

I was about to participate in a seminar where women spend two days learning about men. I mentioned my upcoming appointment to a few friends and acquaintances and asked them what they thought. Woman One: ...

The World Is a Cactus

The dramatic evolution of evolution.

“A cactus will take a bullet just like a person, because of the thickness of their skins and all the water in them.”


Conversation about the ineffable with local jazz greats.

"Well, you know, I, okay, let me see," Charles McPherson sounded more spirited than stumped. I'd just asked a saxophone legend — Charles McPherson! — what originally attracted him to the saxophone. That was like ...

San Diego Models Tell All

To please the skilled beholders of fashion.

I was walking down the street one day, Prospect, in La Jolla, in the merry month of May, when I was taken by surprise: a woman calling after me, "Sir. Excuse me. Sir. Sir!" But ...

High Flyers

Through the air with the greatest of ease.

I've got this friend back in New York City, Suzi Winson, who flies regularly on the trapeze, and she's counseled me for years that I should take it up. "There's nothing like the trapeze," Winson ...

Pardon the French

Fiercely independent yet seductively romantic.

At last, the fashion of French-bashing fades, and now kisses, fries, poodles, horns, bread, dressing, curls, maids, braids, ticklers, manicures, twists, and toast might drop the mock-corrective mark of "freedom." Even our most patriotic consciences ...

Texas Hold 'Em

Holdin’ ’em and foldin’ ’em the San Diego way

The popularity contest is over. Texas hold 'em has won. We're all in. Some approximations state that over 20 percent of Americans play hold 'em poker on a regular basis. Thirteen networks currently offer poker ...

Where Cartoons Aren't for Kids

The rise of Japanese Anime.

In Roman times, the word "animare" meant "to give breath to." In the Biblical record, the first act of animation was performed by God, who created Adam by breathing life into a lump of clay. ...


Local rodents prosper in our construction boom.

Call them what you will — roach-boys, rat-men, rat-catchers, terminators, pest technicians — the fact is that pest inspectors are professional killers.

A Transitional Object Was Needed

I never made it to my first day of school. Or rather, I made it there, but I didn't stay. That is, the first day I ever went to school, I was there for all ...

Tools of the Trade

The implements for bringing home the bacon.

Have your friends and neighbors looked weighed down, put upon, or bent low to the ground lately? Perhaps they are! After all, many of the people we see around us tote a good deal of ...


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.

An Album with a Singer

What one album would I take with me to a desert island? Immediately, it occurs to me that perhaps I shouldn't take any music with me at all. I'd have my untainted memory of other ...

Our Panther

Carnivores at home.

Our fair city does have one black jaguar resident, downtown, in Cat Canyon, near Sun Bear Forest, across from the Hunte Amphitheater, in the San Diego Zoo. He was born October 1992 at Wildlife World Zoo, in Litchfield, Arizona. He weighs as much as I do, about 165 pounds. His name is Orson.

ABCs of SD

Our town by the letter.

AIRPORT Drive the 5 from downtown and — boom! — just overhead, an aircraft with a bloated belly screams. Wheels down, tilting for landing, 50 yards between plane and road. Or how about having to ...


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."

A New Definition of Shine

My mom has always understood: a mother's duty merely begins when she has children. Linda Bouvier took me to heart from the start — to museums when I was two, to symphonies at three -- ...

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