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Stories by Various Authors

San Diego characters: counterculture and crime

Skateboarder Gator up for murder, Karen Wilkening’s arrest and jail time, Metabolife’s brush with law, Michael Page and music underground

Sandals, Bell-Bottoms, a Medallion The canyon was just a dream for a little boy. We had trails, paths, and forts. There was a lot of bamboo growing in the canyon, which isn’t indigenous to this ...

The desert beyond Borrego

Impossibility of Salton Sea, Slab City as paradise, scavenging bomb waste in Carrizo, Miller’s Garage at Ocotillo Wells, Easter on the Colorado River

Prehistoric Gas Station an Eyesore? It's the newer Old Highway 80, built in 1932, that Miller's fronts. A visit to the site reveals two things: the buildings are in better shape than they appear to ...

San Diego institutions — human stories

OMBAC from the beginning, post office complaints, prison inmates, Scripps scientists at sea, Lawrence Welk geezers, Mercy Hospital nuns, SD Yacht Club, Santee creationists, Vietnam vets

For Big Kids Only The foot of Redondo Court was a focal point for a couple of reasons. It was the end of a line when streetcars ran through Mission Beach, creating a natural stopping ...

San Diego characters in politics and media

National City’s Herman Baca, radio’s Bill Balance, publisher Clint McKinnon, Otto Bos, Wolfman Jack, and Gloria Penner of KPBS

For more famous San Diegans, click here. For even more famous San Diego characters, click here. For more and more famous San Diego characters, click here. Some People in This Town Don't Like Herman Baca ...

A stroll down Broadway

Hotel San Diego, Horton Plaza, YMCA, and the Midway

A Lullaby of Broadway “I was sitting in my room,” declared one hotel resident, “when I heard a knock at the door. I opened the door and three or four men forced their way in. ...

Famous San Diego characters

Duke Cunningham, Mike Aguirre, Roger Hedgecock, Ron Mix, Eric Show, and Michael Reagan

For more famous San Diegans, click here. For even more famous San Diego characters, click here. For famous San Diego characters in politics and media, click here. The Deadly Circle The fear of ejecting over ...

San Diego modern Indians

Alcoholism, native artifacts, water rights, the coming of the casinos

Survivors "We tried to have a respectful pow-wow," agrees John Rouillard, head of American Indian Studies at San Diego State. "There's a definite trend, starting probably with the Alcatraz takeover in 1969, of young Indians ...

San Diego public servants

The cops’ DNA man, school and city bus drivers, Point Loma lighthouse keeper, substitute teacher, cops, firefighters, back-country sheriffs

Light Housekeeping Our man Downen evidently has been slowly phased out of his lighthouse-keeping duties by automation. A fog sensor device is now used to trigger the fog horns automatically when visibility is less than ...

San Diegans busy with Japanese gardens, ferns, bamboo, irises, bonsai, and tomatoes

A plant retrospective

A Sword for Its Army and a Lily for Its Heart Dorothy had a floral display at Art Alive to worry about; one of the iris-show clerks backed out because her horse was due to ...

You rock, San Diego

Where it’s at: daytime discotheques, peace and quiet, etc

Make no mistake about it, San Diego is home to its share of top talents in pop, rock, jazz, and blues. The Reader’s music crew cast its net to find out why these music makers ...

Celebrity authors in San Diego

Meltzer unmasks Cameron Crowe, Hunter Thompson plays self at SDSU, Susan Sontag not that nice, zoo not that nice to David Sedaris, Luis Urrea deals with fame, John Steinbeck IV's final days in SD

For more celebrities, click here. For thinker-artist celebrities, click here. For public figure and fraud celebrities, click here. For sports celebrities, click here. John Steinbeck Was My Father One of us, a doctor's son, mentioned ...

History of San Diego: 20th Century

William Walker revolution in Baja, Little Lander colony in San Ysidro, creation of the Salton Sea, and the Luman gunfight in Campo

Creation of the Salton Sea Rockwood tried to construct a jetty between the half-mile-long island in the river — soon to be called “Disaster Island” — and the Mexican cut. In theory, log pilings, sand, ...

Far East County

Julian is settled, Dogpatch lore, gunfight on Banner Grade, Dulzura dogs kill, beginnings of Jamul Indian casino, end of Mesa Verde dairy, Blossom Valley anxiety

When Men and Mountains Meet Julian was at least a four-day trip from San Diego, even for the fastest of team drivers. The trip from Old Town to Foster (above Lakeside, now covered by San ...

Hidden stories of San Diego institutions

Del Mar doping, Horton haunts Mt. Hope, Chinatown vice, Mission Valley anguish, the absurd SDA&E, rape of Cortez Hill, airport favors to politicians, reefer all over Cleveland Nat’l Forest

Just Say Nay As a "matter of confidentiality," the board will not release test-positive trainers' names, though if information is obtained from other sources, they will confirm it. Harvey Furgatch, a former boardmember, thinks the ...

A life of crime

Teamsters new leader killed, brutal murder of prostitute, Amanda Geike case, Olaf Wieghorst forgeries, Mission Beach crime

My Life of Crime I married my third wife in ’78. She was pregnant. We went to the swap meet in Spring Valley, and I was doin’ dealings for some turquoise rings, and I looked ...

San Diego overview — just the facts

Offbeat tourist spots, what we lost to development, earthquake danger, how painters see us, the true story on San Diego traffic

Offbeat Tourist Spots You don’t have to go to Northern California in order to see redwoods. A substantial stand of trees estimated to be about seventy years old and ranging up to eighty feet tall ...

The year in music, 2005

Deadheads, Slightly Stoopid, Osmonds

We Used to Play Acoustic Delta Blues on the Corner of Prospect "We used to play acoustic delta blues on the corner of Prospect and Herschel. We would put on really nice suits and shine ...

Love, marriage, and divorce

What divorce lawyers do, why San Diegans marry, our first year of marriage, my drunk husband-to-be, instinct to mother, divorce regret, San Diego couples surveyed on arguments

Two Divided by Two Learning some of the courtroom shortcuts made things easier for me — places north of Date Street where you can park all day for free, the back entrance to the county ...

Arts in San Diego

Sometimes it’s hidden ... look no further

If You’re Making Art and Getting Paid for It... “People used to say, ‘Oh, I love your music; I put it on when I go to sleep.’ At first, I was insulted: ‘Thanks a lot. ...

It's been 15 years since Danielle van Dam was murdered

Van Dams as parents, Friday night at Dad's, life in Sabre Springs, what jail inmates think of Westerfield, the polygraph, Westerfield kids ask to change nameo

Are the van Dams Fit Parents? In their neighborhood, with the type of activity they had in their house, who knows what other types of things were going on in that house? It all stems ...

Near East County

Early Tunnel Hill thoughts, losers in Lakeside, Flinn Springs feed store, La Mesa when it was sweet, Klaubers settle Encanto, East Co. luxury, Dictionary Hill bully

Loser’s Guide to Lakeside Most of Lindo Lake is nice, with grass and ducks, but on the north side of the lake is a small ditch where future generations of white trash like to hangout, ...

San Diego immigrants

Somalians, Cambodians, Palestinians, Samoans, Mexicans, Afghans, Okies, and Indians from India

Home Before Dark “Part of the procedure before praying is washing their feet in the sinks. That was another problem. This was going on in the restrooms, creating water on the floor. It was not ...

San Diego college students

Law students, SDSU frat boys, UCSD’s Marxists, USD students on sex and religion, the UCSD watermelon drop, will SDSU students go to war?

I Don’t Need This Aggregation Reggae (the music played by impoverished Jamaican blacks, often revolutionary in nature) blasts from the back yard of a nearby fraternity party. Young men holler, wiggle their behinds, and wave ...

SD institutions: small business

Lakeside Hotel, Fidel’s, Black Frog, Big Kitchen, Wahrenbrock’s Chino’s, Antique Row, Rancho la Puerta

Don’t Bust That Bottle on My Account “The last real trouble he had was when bikers — predominately members of the Mongols, a particularly tough East County outfit — would frequent the hotel and often ...

Gentler sports

In love with a Laser, the birth of racquetball, San Diego pickup basketball history, cricket at UCSD, Frisbee, and disc golf

SD’s Tennis Curse San Diego has played its own role. Great weather, ample facilities, and the region’s heavily middle-class economy depolarize tennis, blunting country club snobbery, and turning tennis instead into just another California outdoor ...

Architecture as covered by Peter Jensen

San Diego’s towers, bridges, courtyards, ranch houses, libraries, alleys and Jack in the Box’s architect

Read about San Diego architecture by Susan Vaughn. Tower Envy San Diego’s least successful tower aesthetically is Sea World’s 320-foot Skytower. Unlike the 984-foot Eiffel or many other towers throughout the world, where you ascend ...

Stories from the South Bay

Chicanos in National City, Imperial Beach pride, cowboys off Hollister Road, Sweetwater Valley love, Coronado prepares for crisis, the racial make-up of Otay

National City Confidential DeForest pointed out that 90% of NC businessmen, who are primarily Anglo, live outside the city and “therefore don’t elect city officials and don’t contribute to officials’ campaigns.'’ He asserted that he ...

Moments in time from the Gaslamp

Horton Plaza before it was a mall, Hollywood Theater, ABC Club, Horton Grand Hotel

South of Broadway: The Pigeons in Horton Plaza He used to own the Off-Broadway Theater next door, the last burlesque house on the West Coast, “I paid $5 a week rent, and I took in ...

The Reader's longest stories

Abbe Wolfsheimer finds a brother, the Chinese of northern Baja, bamboozled by a poor person, San Diego audiophiles, county bird survey, San Diego's top ten high schools, San Diego River homeless camps

The Derek, Frieda, and Abbe Chronicles At the corner of Magnolia, the only area on Renette Avenue where apartment buildings now stood, I spoke with the managers of each of the four apartment complexes, all ...

San Diego in the late 1800s

Kate Sessions, Ah Quin, love letters, first schools, horse rustlers, trash in Mission Hills, San Diego’s boy mayor

This is a Test Sketch briefly the condition of the country at the close of the Revolutionary War until the inauguration of Washington. 2. What officers constitute the cabinet of the President? Sketch the history ...

SD Neighborhoods: Downtown

Inside the Golden West, Symphony Towers, Luther Tower, public library, where to park, why it’s First Avenue and not First Street

On Top of the City Higgs is seventy-four, has been practicing law since 1934, and was president of the San Diego County Bar Association in 1940. His voice is raspy but his sentences are clear ...

Exceptional writing — editor’s choice

Why plays must be read, what’s in a face, a real Chinese-American, he-man cuisine, the O.J. trial, inside crossword puzzles, inside a lunchbox

How to Read a Mug Adolf Hitler's strained smile was frightful, it gave away too much, even embarrassed him, and he always brought a hand up like a claw to cover it. No one has ...

San Diego immigrants

Japanese, British, Iranians, Mixtec, Hmong, Chinese, Koreans, Africans, Iraquis, Egyptians, Filipinos

Prodigals They speak better English, with better intonations and slang. They listen to American music and Japanese groups like Lunatic Lion or Ayumi Nakamura, whose album covers and song titles burst with English, who slip ...

Gringos in Tijuana

Tijuana orphanage, books about TJ, torture, the dump, Zona Norte, the bus from Mexico City, origin of margarita, shoe stores, dentists, La Mesa prison

Tijuana Mi Amor Marcos lived for months at the Hotel San Francisco, on Calle Primera, across from La Funeraria San Martin. His room was littered with Argentine novels and Communist literature from Latin America. The ...

Small and wild animal friends

Tarantulas, pelicans on Coronado Islands, least terns, lizards, weasels, squirrels, worms, rats, and the Quino butterfly in Marron Valley

A 180-million-year-old Friend It was sheer proximity that charmed me. His claws were as thin as embroidery floss unraveled, and he had a wisp of grass on his head, which gave him an agreeably foolish ...

San Diego characters: common but colorful

Tree man of San Diego, the last vaquero, C.A. Smith’s repairman, when you win the lottery, largest rancher in San Diego

The Last Vaquero I’d tell Mollie where I was gonna camp, and she’d pack the ol’ mule and drag him around till I got to that camp, and she’d have it all set up. The ...

Large mammals in captivity

Early look at Wild Animal Park, troubled elephants come to the zoo, China’s panda hunter and pandas end up in San Diego, the morality of SeaWorld’s dolphins

The Tale of an Elephant The worst of Jouett’s problems were yet to come. Media representatives wanted to be present when Cindy arrived in mid-December. The elephant trainer and keepers wanted no one there. They ...

Landmarks you thought you knew

Harbor Drive and Coronado bridges, folly of the Trolley, behind the lens at Palomar Observatory, thinking behind Mission Bay, Carlsbad flower fields, who gets into Ft. Rosecrans, how fares the Coaster

Magical Dwarf’s Sad Orbit Maybe it’s premature to call someone an astronomer while they’re still in graduate school, but it would probably be okay in Ben Oppenheimer’s case because he and another graduate student had ...

Risky activities

Rock climbing at San Jacinto, scuba at La Jolla Cove, soaring above Highway 79, and skateboarding at Civic Center parking garage

Climbing Some millions of years from now, the San Jacintos will look the way the White Mountains in Vermont do now: soft and rounded. The Sierras of Yosemite are granitelike quartz diorite, like the San ...

Celebrities who spent time in San Diego: thinkers and artists

Carl Rogers debunked, Marcuse at UCSD, the early Whoopi Goldberg

For more celebrities, click here. For author celebrities, click here. For public figure and fraud celebrities, click here. For sports celebrities, click here. Bursting With the Relentless Energy of All Human Life Do you remember ...

San Diego neighborhoods: Borrego

Desert misfits, off-road destruction, Marshal South’s hermit family, bad hike through Borrego Badlands, famous authors see the desert in literary lenses

Hell with the Fire Gone Out There is a small library in town, but not a single stoplight. Parking is free. There is no hospital in Borrego, which, I’m told, militates against larger development. A ...

San Diego overview: personal and up close

Seven Wonders of our town, the soul of San Diego, native vs. tourist, L.A. comparisons, San Diego noir

Soul of a City I left Kensington and found an apartment in the College Heights section. I thought that living near the university might be like living in the small New England college town where ...

Neighborhoods: Imperial Valley

Farmworkers in Calexico, evil in Brawley, gangs in El Centro, the Holtville High football team, the Calipatria prison

The Imperial Valley Paradox Cesar Enriquez is the director of Casa de Amistad, a community center in Brawley that works with farm workers. “I really was a believer in what our hero, Emiliano Zapata, said: ...

Commodities of the plant kingdom

The San Diego business of kelp, houseplants, oranges, roses, grass sod, and macadamia nuts

Diary of an Orange Grove About 45 percent of the water in Fallbrook flows into groves, nurseries, and fields. In Rainbow 95 percent of the water is agricultural; in Valley Center, 85 percent. But when ...

SD Neighborhoods: Coastal

Ocean Beach condo rush, enchanted Mission Beach childhood, when Pt. Loma was Portuguese, inside Mt. Soledad, the fight over NTC, PB drinking

Party’s Over "At first it was sporadic," she said. "It was, like, for two years, the same group of people, and it bothered us, but it was every once in a while. Then, this past ...

SD Neighborhoods: North County Inland

Scripps Ranch, Poway’s scraping of vernal pools, and a commute to Hemet

Moon for the Misbegotten Pearce snapped away while Arenas’s city uniform was draped around his ankles. Then it got ugly. Arenas and two other public employees allegedly grabbed Pearce, pushed him around, stole the camera, ...

San Diego restaurant reviews from the early '70s

Chiki Jai, Grant Grill, the Prophet

The Reader dines out at the Shanghai in La Jolla The appetizers are good but not unusual, and the egg roll pastry (but not the filling) is the best I’ve ever eaten. The shellfish dishes, ...

Famous San Diego characters

Joseph Wambaugh, Deepak Chopra, James Hubbell, Susan Golding, Alan Bursin, Tim Le Haye, Kate Sessions

For more famous San Diegans, click here. For even more famous San Diegans, click here. Deepak’s Six Pack No doubt about it: Deepak Chopra has the New Age set enthralled. This is Wayne Dyerland. Past-Lives ...

Celebrities who spent some time here: public figures and frauds

Dr. Bronner of the soap, Walter Keane didn’t paint the big-eyed children, Kemp and the fugitive, Jesse Ventura was not a SEAL

For more celebrities, click here. For author celebrities, click here. For thinker and artist celebrities, click here. For sports celebrities, click here. Best Wishes Always He had 1000 letters printed: “I have a collection of ...

Central San Diego history

Mission Valley dairies, 125 freeway rips open Lemon Grove, racial mix in Webster, true boundaries of Kensington, mansions in Allied Gardens

Kensington Ends at Monroe The town’s demographics are altering. As older lifelong residents die, houses change hands — sometimes to younger kin; other times to younger strangers. Kensington homes, which according to a recent Multiple ...

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