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Stories by Ken Kuhlken

"You Don't Do Anger"

Judith came out of nowhere. She called one evening and asked if I'd like to write something for the Reader. I'd read the Reader enough to feel flattered, since the writers I'd encountered in it ...

Mary Jackson's Faith

Mary Jackson founded a ministry in Barrio Logan. She helps women learn job skills. Mary drives a new Honda Element. “Do you want to hear how I got such a nice car?” she asks. I ...

A Summer on Desolation Row

"Like a Rolling Stone," the most famous song on Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited, portrays somebody who thought she was on top contending with her fall to the bottom. It's a fun song but not ...

Minimalist on a Motorcycle

Michael Emerson, the optician at Hart Optical, rides a big Suzuki. He tells me, “It’s a Cavalcade 1400 cc. Suzuki gave up on them in ’88 and built the last generation in ’89 from parts ...

Not Good for the Minds of Proper Girls

A hunt for the elusive fotonovela.

Reading Sandra Cisneros's recent novel Caramelo, set in Mexico City during the late 1950s, I wondered about the fotonovelas that are mentioned again and again over the course of the book: "The Awful Grandmother" locks ...

Paul and His Dueling Mufflers

Paul Koch spent six years as road manager for the San Diego Chicken. Now that he’s in real estate, you might see his Cadillac around town. “I drive a big car with a big name,” ...

Where Do Those Poor Kids Go?

Nobody at SDSU will deny the school is changing. My question is -- are the changes for better or worse? Dr. Sandra Cook, one of the university's policy makers, says, "When I came here ten ...

La Mesa

The doctor says, “You’re a few pounds overweight, your cholesterol’s a bit scary, and your blood pressure…” “Yeah, okay,” I grumble. “So what’s your prescription?” “You could change your diet.” “Not for the better, I ...

Tijuana Songbird

Ginny Silva became famous overnight.

When Ginny Silva began her singing career, Tijuana’s Avenida Revolución was infamous, a raunchy place of strip clubs, where hookers and drug pushers worked in the open and where we young fellows went if we ...

Public Art's Hurly-Burly

Consider people who rant on issues about which they believe themselves experts. Everybody holds an opinion on everything -- like a fellow on the radio contending that the National Endowment for the Arts should be ...

Where Sweet Peace and Love Abideth

La Mesa Boulevard: memory lane

The stretch of the Boulevard people call “the Village” runs from Spring Street up past Fourth. The Village hasn’t changed much since my boyhood, when I could overlook it from my bedroom window.

Sex Education

My kids are considering San Diego State, and I'm interested to see if this fall's Daily Aztec newspaper staff carries on last year's most notable last year's most notable traditions: careless prose and a dependence ...

Rats in the Ivory Tower: Affirmative Action, Low Pay, and Other Anxieties of Higher Education

At the risk of losing my job and alienating about half the people I know, I'm going to make a few observations about colleges and universities, San Diego State in particular. My mother and several ...

Farewell to Baseball's Good Old Days

Mourning the replacement preseason

Ted Leitner made a crack about feeling disgraced to involve himself with these nonmajor leaguers. His yawning insinuated: “Don’t bother to pay attention. These guys aren’t going to be here. Anyway, they’re scabs.”

No Fossils, No Fat Guys: Are These the New Padres?

Talking to a bunch of replacement players about an authentic vision of the Pads

I asked how they felt about the union. Pete jumped on that one. “Well, they’re calling us scabs. They’re trying to intimidate people into not playing. They’re trying to enhance their position. And we’re trying to enhance our position.”

Rough Sketch: Rattlesnakes, Outlaws, and Hardship Didn't Deter Painter Charles Fries

Charles Fries braved the Wild West for art's sake

I learned to write by watching my grandma at her easel. First she’d sketch, then stroke on the base colors, then dab until details began to appear. Around that time she’d step back, gaze, meditate, ...

The Giveaway: Some Spring Valley Hippies Hit the Jackpot

A bushy-haired kid was hitchhiking on Sweetwater Road. I picked him up at the crest of the hill, just past the light at Kenwood. He mumbled something, hung his head crookedly so he could watch ...

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