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Stories by Moss Gropen

Some people make livings. Others piece them together.

Hustlers, jugglers, bottom-feeders.

From bubble-making to the skid-row standbys, the buck must be turned.

Non-locals only at the county fair

Why not have local musicians?

If you want to sniff an Encinitas-grown rose or pet a Ramona-bred goat, come on down to the San Diego County Fair. But if you yearn to grab an earful from the county’s best musicians, ...

Scripps Ranch to Walmart: Put it in Mira Mesa

This would substantially alter the character of Scripps Ranch,” fumes Jenny Marshall, whose 15-member Save Our Scripps (“SOS”) Ranch group is determined to stop a big-box project from crashing the gates of the “Ranch.” In ...

Ramona winemakers don't stand on ceremony

Magic in a bottle.

Ramona winemakers are a humble lot. They don’t care that Temecula gets all the limos because they have the wine.

Are the volunteers getting hosed?

Firefighting is no less than an American tradition in Julian.

County government is poised to take over the Julian Cuyamaca Fire Protection District. Whether that’s good or bad is an open question, even to those residents who are emotionally involved.

You can't pet a solar panel

Wrong project, wrong place

Some Ramona residents don’t like at all the plan to install 42 acres of solar panels on a neighboring property…mostly for aesthetic reasons, despite assurances, promises, and revised plans from the contractor.

Apartments unwelcome

La Mesa’s plot for vacant lots

"People in apartments aren’t stable; they don’t become part of the community,” grouses G.W., who lives in La Mesa near Mt. Helix. She fears that her tony neighborhood will take a turn for the worse ...

In an appy mood

Smart-phone therapy

“Give it a try. It can change your life,” exults Kimberly Knox, who’s convinced that Mood Watch, her new app for Apple devices, will make a palpable difference in the lives of those who fork ...

What am I doing here?

Meet Buddy, an East Coast transplant, cultural chameleon, and private Peace Corpsman who knows the joy of being alive.

Made in San Diego

Yard to table.

Strange fruit and the unique people who grow them.

Catfish, Tulsa, Nazis, Jefferson — Civility

Beneath the high-domed ceiling of the Joan Kroc Peace and Justice Theatre, an opulent facility at the University of San Diego, a crowd of perhaps 80 convened on Monday, April 9, for what the hosts ...

Grappling with Success

“You play basketball, you play football — it doesn’t work when you say you ‘play wrestling.’” So sayeth Wayne. Who’s Wayne? That would be Wayne Branstetter, the winningest coach in the history of California prep ...

My House Has Wheels

Home is where the car is.

“I’ve never been homeless before.” At least Osiris Murillo still has her car — where she and her three-year-old daughter will sleep tonight, behind the gates of a designated “safe lot” in an unsafe neighborhood. ...

I Eat My Lawn

“For my 50th birthday, I bought myself a gutter,” quips Janet Lancaster of Clairemont. She’s talking about a rain gutter, that is — the one that Lancaster and her husband Kelly installed on their roof ...

Where do they go when the races are over?

And where do they go — not after the gates spring open — but after the race is run, after all their races are run? After the society matrons’ $1000 hats are back in the ...

The Case of the Wandering Charles Fries and Ivan Messenger Oils

Even if it’s at the expense of the public, the City of San Diego wants to ensure that certain employees of America’s finest city have an appreciation for fine arts — or so it seems, ...

Water’s Monopoly Game — Public? Private?

"You want to privatize my water? This isn’t Bolivia, Pal. We’re not going to let you thieve from us so you can get a seat on the board of directors of the winning firm. Take ...

The Privilege of Parking Perks at Lindbergh Field

Airport parking at San Diego International is expensive — unless you’ve snagged a free pass, that is. For most of us, it’s $4 an hour, $21 maximum for 24 hours; long-term parking (three days to ...

For iPadniks, New Newsreader

‘I woke up one morning and thought, I hate looking at news on my iPad — it’s boring. I called my friend Matt Ausonio with an idea. He was gracious enough to jump in — ...

Wave Energy Hits the Rocks in San Onofre

Chon Hung Kim wants to be a wave farmer, but the State of California has other ideas. “They don’t want to help guys like me.” Kim, a mechanical engineer who logged a 20-year stint at ...

Checkpoint Moolah

Police drunk-driving checkpoints are big business. Just ask the City of Escondido, which has been racking up profits courtesy of federal grants and an aggressive vehicle-impound regime instituted by the Escondido Police Department with the ...

College Housing Will Ruin the Gorge

There’s a wild place in the heart of San Diego that only a few people know about — visited by even fewer — and if San Diego State has its way, it may share the ...

Trust Us, Our Judgment Is Fair

"It’s like the Star Chamber,” quips Craig Candelore. “It’s all done in secret. And they don’t even have the authority to do it in the first place.” That’s what this local family law attorney and ...

Influence Paddling

It's not clear whether Mayor Jerry Sanders has ever paddled a kayak, but apparently, a local kayak tour company knows what it takes to float ­Jerry’s boat — and keep it afloat — courtesy of ...

Media Hawk, April

Zero Tolerance, Few Details Apparently, some of the kids at Thurgood Marshall Middle School held a “Bring Your Guns to School Day” on Thursday, March 18, but the administrators were less than impressed with the ...

Sly Smart-Meter Swap-Out

Chris Faust thinks San Diego Gas & Electric’s approach to installing the new, much-ballyhooed smart meters isn’t “smart.” In fact, he alleges, it’s dishonest — part of the utility’s campaign to raise rates whenever possible ...

Media Hawk, March

Given the amount of ink — virtual and otherwise — flying around San Diego media-land these days, one might think that World War III had broken out at UCSD. The online NBC San Diego headline ...

Freeway Close

“It’s not for most people; I wouldn’t recommend it.” I asked Johnny and a selection of other freeway-side dwellers around San Diego County: With all the choices available in “America’s Finest City” (and outskirts), why ...

Media Hawk, February

The Other Bureaucrats The bureaucrats at the San Diego Unified School District make too much money. At least that’s the word on San Diego Rostra, where on January 23, a blogger who calls himself “rego” ...

Sweat Like a Rockstar

‘When the people in power are completely senseless with regards to human values and their ideal is a sweatshop, you are screwed.” That’s a man who identifies himself as Brian Meidell, talking about Rockstar San ...

No I.D., No Comment

Voice Growing Fainter? Numbers have taken a free-fall to 20,000–25,000 The beginnings were auspicious enough — and Voice of San Diego garnered copious praise from various media-watchers who anointed it as a model for the ...

Blowing in the Wind

Conductor Robert Zelickman hopped on the podium and performed an impromptu jig — or was it the twist? With that, he fiddled with the microphone and announced the night’s first selection, “Suite of Seven Dances” ...

The Pall on the Mall

Window-shopping at Helzberg Diamonds in Westfield’s North County Shopping Mall, Grace, the manager of nearby John’s Fifth Avenue Luggage, says, “I’d think twice before plunking down $10,000 on a ring in this economy.” She enjoys ...

All Aboard for the Fairgrounds

"This story isn’t about me!” Richard Eckfield, who’s been on a three-year crusade to get a train stop built at the Del Mar Racetrack, is adamant. “It’s a much larger issue.” But Eckfield’s relentless dedication, ...

San Diego Treasure Hunters. We're Not As Nerdy As You Think.

Can you say "finders keepers"?

It’s Monday, 5:00 a.m. at Mission Beach. Russ Gish and his son Lance have already been here an hour, sweeping the sand with a contraption that looks like a skinny, upright vacuum cleaner with a ...

I Never Inhale

For some of us, stogies still rule.

Double-bladed, surgical steel guillotine cutter in hand, a fellow in a Hawaiian shirt slices off a little less than a quarter of an inch, and the cap falls to the floor. It’s a clean, decisive ...

San Diego’s Secret Missile-Testing Sites

In 1955, Civil Defense was all the rage

A military-industrial mystery in Sycamore Canyon.

Dialin' and Cryin'

My name is Jim West — at least that’s what you’ll hear when you pick up the phone in the middle of dinner as I launch into my pitch for the hundredth time today. I ...

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