Maureen O'Connor
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Mourning began for the losses of 1992 even before the year itself, in October 1991, at a hotel bar in Mission Valley. There was much to lament, and the plastic tables filled quickly with those well-practiced in the art of the postmortem. The employees of the San Diego Tribune had retreated behind their drinks to absorb the news of its imminent demise. The paper had already been shorn of its historic name, the Evening Tribune — out of desperation mostly — and the rest of its tradition had been gradually whittled away by consultants from the East who tinkered with its “concept,” suggesting bigger comic strips or “friendlier” reporting or a different page size. By October, when the end became official, there really wasn’t much left but a roomful of dispirited reporters, copy editors, photographers, and clerks unashamedly desperate to keep whatever job they could on the “new, improved” Union-Tribune, opening for business in 1992, a loss disguised as a gain.

1992 losses

1992 losses

Rita Funk-Hoffman

When a newspaper dies, it is difficult to find someone to take custody of the body. Instead, it lies unclaimed, a ward of its most loyal former readers, who carry it around for a while in memory before unburdening themselves. Tribune editor Neil Morgan didn’t show up at the wake. Nor did publisher Helen Copley or her son David, both of whom had always remained aloof from the paper’s rowdy newsroom. In fact, Helen had proclaimed in a deposition that the Tribune was, politically, an independent paper, rather than Republican, as was her beloved Union, and she made it a point to stay away from editorial meetings.

Copley favored more regal, dignified, and predictable settings peopled by those closer to her own rank. If she drank, she did so privately, among friends. If she partied, it would be on Joan Kroc’s stately, well-protected yacht Impromptu or behind closed doors at the Point Loma mansion of Mayor Maureen O’Connor. Helen would appear later, at the February gala unveiling her new conglomeration, her friend and governor, Pete Wilson, at her side. Then it would be time for mock pride and pleasure, for smiling into the camera and toasting the new era, safely removed from the bloody entrails tucked away under the bottom line. On this night of demise, the closest thing to a bier was the hors d’oeuvre tray, in front of which a line of editorial employees quickly formed to pick through wings and other greasy chicken remains.

The cause of a newspaper’s death is often kept deliberately obscure. The familiar public theories circulated among the mourners, the most popular of which was that the Tribune was just another victim of a national trend to morning papers and “one-newspaper markets.” This explanation was popular among newspaper people, because it conveniently acquitted all except the ungrateful readers. And the evidence could be made to appear strong, if circumstantial. Evening papers were closing down around the country. The trend was so pervasive that PBS’s McNeil-Lehrer dispatched a crew from Washington to record editor Morgan’s solemn confirmation. Sadly, the folks in San Diego didn’t want to read a daily newspaper anymore, no matter that no expense was spared on glitz and features. It was time to pack in it as an editor. No future in such an old-fashioned business.

Now into their third or fourth drinks, some reporters took exception to their editor’s remarks, complaining that, despite the recession, Helen Copley and the papers were still making plenty of money, that she continued to jet around the world in a $35 million private plane, that her son lived in two lavishly decorated houses only miles apart, and that their union, the Newspaper Guild, had surrendered to most of the company’s demands during its most recent contract negotiations. After all, they proclaimed, didn’t Copley Press, Inc., gross $400 million a year? “Helen killed us,” said one.

Emboldened by liquor, others giddily jumped to Morgan’s defense, recalling that just weeks earlier he had openly spoken of turning the Pulitzer-winning Trib info something akin to a supermarket tabloid and putting it out in the morning to compete directly with its sister, the Union. Oh, yes, said one earnest reporter — a balding surfer approaching middle-age — there was no doubt the tabloid Trib would have demolished the staid old Union, Helen Copley’s pet among her stable of undistinguished dailies. And at least Morgan had tried. He had a heart, if few brains.

The besotted talk continued as TV camera crews jostled their way into the bar. Lights flashed on, and reporters hoisted their glasses in over-wrought toasts. They were suddenly famous. Optimism rose, and images of a glorious future wafted amidst the cigarette smoke. Most would get new jobs at the combined paper. The Los Angeles Times had vowed never to leave San Diego and was loudly boasting its local edition would now capture a big chunk of the Tribune’s old circulation. No doubt they needed a few more reporters.

There were other reasons to be hopeful. KPBS, the public television station linked closely to the Union and its editor Gerald Warren, was going to build a high-tech studio complex (David Copley, the project’s fundraising chairman, was planning a series of stylish society parties to raise money). The station promised to expand its local programming and would need lots of talent. PR gigs at General Dynamics, which had helped win the war against Iraq, were always opening up. Soon it would be election year, and during the Reagan era, the White House had always been especially kind to the president’s home state, showering it with defense contracts and easy S&L money. Things had somehow become uncomfortably different under George Bush, but the reporters felt sure Bush wouldn’t disappoint. He needed California’s electoral votes to keep his job.

A year later, another solemn bunch of reporters and editors gathered in the halls of a downtown office building. This time no booze deadened the pain. The Los Angeles Times, one of the nation’s biggest, most powerful newspapers, had abruptly pulled the plug on San Diego. Fourteen years before, Otis Chandler himself— jut-jawed, car-racing scion of California’s post-war elite and chairman of mighty Times-Mirror — had swooped into town in his private jet and strode down Broadway, trailed by TV cameras, to announce the advent of the new San Diego edition.

The Times, he said, had embarked on an imperial mission for its progressive brand of journalism. The San Diego edition, while never breaking into the black, was reported to be a model for what the Times was planning for the entire West Coast. Later, company brass dispatched San Diego editor Dale Fetherling to San Francisco, where he spent months poring over plans to open a Northern California edition that would teach the natives there how real journalism was done, L.A.-style.

Ultimately, though, as the noose of recession tightened and ad revenue fell, the scheme was discarded. Fetherling returned in time to preside over the Times’s corporate retreat from San Diego. When the end came, it was not proud. Times editor Shelby Coffey arrived in the newsroom unheralded. As he confirmed the worst to the staff, someone picked up the phone and began spreading the word. Soon the ubiquitous TV vans were pulling up in front of the building and commencing sidewalk interviews with the walking dead. Six or so would remain in San Diego. Many of the 200 others would be transferred to the San Fernando Valley, where they were to fight it out with the Daily News in what the Times once considered its own motherland. The stockholders would save $7 million a year.

Not everyone was unhappy. Helen Copley was said to have gloated when the news broke. Her own combined paper, still being sold for a cheap 25 cents at corner newsracks, or $10.24 a month by subscription, had managed to cling to all but about three percent of its premerger circulation, ranking it 23rd largest in the country. Two papers had died so that one might be assured a profit.

Despite the economic carnage around her that was throwing thousands out of work, the U-T almost casually endorsed George Bush for re-election, saying that the president had no control over the business cycle. As ’92 drew to a close, Copley’s son David threw her an extravagantly catered 70th birthday party, with guests that included Ann Landers and Dear Abby, the famous lovelorn advice column twins, both under contract to a big newspaper chain rumored to have an interest in eventually buying the U-T from Copley for a handsome sum.

But Copley’s ascendancy to her position as the city’s most powerful and influential person came with a cruel irony: her predominance in the local establishment was due largely to the colossal failure of her erstwhile male peers. One by one, the great San Diego power brokers who presided over the boom of the ’80s had toppled. Gordon Luce, once master of the city’s Great American Bank — and friend and confidant of none other than Ronald Reagan himself — quietly departed the premises only months before it became obvious that the institution was just another brain-dead thrift.

Luce’s retirement and the subsequent demise of Great American, which came in 1991, had, it turned out, been but a small preview of the calamity to follow in ’92. Among the city’s old-line establishment, Luce himself was considered somewhat of an outsider, a Horatio Alger who worked his way up through the ranks of Home Federal Savings, the city’s mainline S&L, before setting out on his own with Great American. The failure of his bank might be tolerated, even understood, as an event perhaps brought about by hubris of the newly rich.

On the other hand, Home Federal, later renamed Home-Fed Bank, was run by Kim Fletcher, beloved heir to the fortune and tradition of his father Charlie. From the depths of the Depression, the elder Fletcher had built Home Federal into the city’s best-known, arguably most powerful financial institution. Charlie in turn bequeathed his position to son Kim, who during the Reagan years embarked on a mad scramble to make loans in Florida, Texas, and Arizona — all places where boom was said to be mythically eternal. He was praised for his business acumen and avidly pursued by those seeking his money for their favorite charity or politicians.

When the boom faltered and it was announced that Kim would be stepping away from control of the bank his father had so lovingly created, there was only forboding silence. Few locals dared to openly speculate on what might have gone wrong. HomeFed spent most of the year on federal life-support, pretending that things would get better. Even as taxpayers propped up the dying thrift, it made donations to KPBS, the local public TV station, which reciprocated by airing announcements noting that the bank had generously underwritten some of the station’s programs.

HomeFed finally died in ’92. But the Great California Recession was far from through. The Bank of America snapped up Security Pacific Bank and began closing branches. Soon, massive Security Pacific logos that had adorned local high-rises were shrouded with black plastic. Robinson’s and May Co., two big department store chains that in the ’80s could demand almost anything out of city hall — including massive subsidies for a downtown shopping mall — announced they would be merged into one. Without the easy money contributed by banks, department stores, and others, KPBS-TV spent itself into debt and began slashing staff. The station still planned to build its big new headquarters, but skeptics, including the U-T’s own associate editor Peter Kaye, doubted there would be much to do there.

And then there was General Dynamics. When it announced it would sell off the Convair division, which made cruise missiles here, Maureen O’Connor, the lame-duck mayor, replied she was calling a lawyer. The tactic had defeated the merger of San Diego Gas 8c Electric with Southern California Edison. Both were public utilities, wrapped in the red tape of regulators, who eventually sided with the arguments of the city’s lawyers and stopped the combination. But it didn’t work with the missiles of General Dynamics. They were quickly spun off to Hughes and soon headed for Arizona.

The city was so miserable that the Republican president visited infrequently. Unlike 1984, when Ronald Reagan made it a point to finish his campaign at a giant rally in the parking lot of Fashion Valley, George Bush came to see the All-Star game and was booed by the locals.

If there was a saving grace for Wilson, it was the election of his friend Susan Golding to replace Maureen O’Connor as mayor. The event was also a victory for the Union-Tribune, which, with the notable exception of Roger Hedgecock, has managed to hang on, if barely, to its record of successful may-oral endorsements. At her inaugural, paid for with $65,000 from corporate donors (SDG8cE and Sea World, among others), the new mayor promised to be friendly to business. But after the losses of’92, some wondered whether there would be much of anything left to befriend. Kim Fletcher, Gordon Luce, and Helen Copley did not attend.

- Matt Potter


One might expect an obituary writer to be unctuous and sentimental, a bit of a celebrity hound, prone to flowery prose. Burt Folkart, who writes obituaries for the Los Angeles Times, comes across as pure newsman, his cynicism tempered by a sensible heartiness for life. One can picture him on the deck of a sloop, hand in the rigging, wind gusting his perhaps thinning hair. One can picture him leading a workshop in stress management. A likeable, easy-going fellow. He just seems so...healthy.

“I wish I was a person who is capable of thinking death’s one of those things that happens to everybody else but me,” he said, via telephone, from somewhere in a busy-sounding Times newsroom. “Ever since I was a kid I’ve been conscious of my mortality. I have always contemplated death.”

He did not contemplate it professionally until 1979. Before that the Times didn’t run obituaries. It’s Gore Vidal’s doing. Mr. Vidal had come to California to run for the senate. The Times held a reception, “as they tend to do,” Folkart comments. Otis Chandler, then still at the paper’s helm, was there. Mr. Vidal congratulated Mr. Chandler on changes in the paper, which was just gaining international recognition. “Otis,” said Mr. Vidal, “your paper is one of the reasons I relocated to Southern California.”

“Why’s that?”

“By all appearances, no one dies here.”

Mr. Chandler asked Burt Folkart, who was a paid trouble-shooter at the time, to look into it. “I assumed someone would take over after I got it open,” Folkart told me. No one did.

He writes all the obituaries. On the morning we spoke, there were more than 40 column inches on Roy Acuff, country music legend, in that day’s edition. The previous week there had been around 50 inches on Dorothy Kiersten. Folkart makes the call on length, but placement is ultimately the editor’s decision. As the old joke says, you know you’ve really arrived when your obituary runs on page one.

Folkart keeps files only on very well-known people, reads biographies in his spare time, adds important details as they occur. “The research is not pressured. These things are done not at a leisurely pace, but at a studious one.” The only obituaries largely written ahead of time are “the creme de la creme, page-one” statesmen, celebrities, world figures.

But you never know when the Grim Reaper will come to call. Least I don’t. Does he? Folkart laughed, a hearty, manly laugh, but admitted to no Cassandra’s vision, no payoffs to the Fates. What he did reveal was, “People do not die in threes. What I have observed, unscientifically of course, and I hope you’ll stress that fact, is that people do tend to die in bunches, by profession. A poet will die, then one or two other poets will die soon after.”

I asked him to speculate why. He chuckled. “Life is mysterious, isn’t it?”

Folkart has come to like his work.

I wondered if maybe, since he writes about dead people, he gets fewer complaints about accuracy or criticism than other reporters. Quite the contrary. “People think criticism should be left behind when a person dies. The obituary is the last thing someone can do for someone who has died. They approach it as a tribute. I approach it as history.”

The toughest part of the job, though, isn’t the complaints. It isn’t x being faced with nothing but death, death, death every time he goes to work. “The most depressing part is dealing with people I can do nothing for. People who call about Aunt Bessie, who bore five children and did 8000 hours of work for the Salvation Army. Now if someone was well known and well respected in the community, that’s fine. We do news obituaries. We are a news organization.”

Not inclined to black humor, Folkart does not keep a file on himself. He chuckles at the question. “I’m not so arrogant as to think my death will be of much importance. Hopefully, I will have retired from writing long before I die. In the event that I keel over on my desk, I will probably garner more ink, but my fondest wish is to beat the L.A. Times out of a 50-year pension.”

- Mary Lang


Being a San Diego sports fan is a torturous death by a thousand cuts. Losing has become this town’s trademark — remember, the “America’s Finest City” moniker was adopted after we lost the ’72 Republican convention — and even when our teams win, extenuating circumstances are involved. Witness this year’s modest success by the Chargers, largely due to a weak schedule. Overall, the ’92 roster of home team futility is as gruesome as ever.

For the second year in a row, the Holiday Bowl pretensions of the Aztecs ended with quarterback David Lowery’s bitter tears of regret. After the crushing loss to Fresno (!) State on November 21, and the following week’s humiliating 63-17 laugher to Miami, the best Aztecs squad in years ends up nowhere, obliterating all the Marshall Faulk Heisman hype.

Early in the year Dennis Conner is eliminated in the defender rounds of the America’s Cup regatta — a big loss lamented only by his sponsors and his immediate family — and the Cup is then saved for San Diego by millionaire dilettante Bill Koch. At the awards ceremony in May, Koch proves himself unworthy of the honor by ordering the man most responsible for his win, skipper Buddy Melges, to stay seated when Koch and Melges are called to the dais to claim the cup. Only in San Diego could winning result in civic embarrassment.

But by far the most ignominious bunch of losers this year are the 15 speculators who have demolished the Padres.

Mcllvaine: was never enamored of Riddoch but was forced to keep him until late September,

Mcllvaine: was never enamored of Riddoch but was forced to keep him until late September,

The most talented team the Padres have fielded since 1984 finished in third place, one game over .500. It was clear as early as June that manager Greg Riddoch had lost the respect of most of his players. Many had secretly approached general manager Joe McIlvaine to complain about Riddoch’s baseball strategies. It was also clear that the ownership group, led by sitcom impresario Tom Werner, backed Riddoch. Mcllvaine, who was never enamored of Riddoch, was forced to keep him until late September, when any chance of a pennant run was long gone. The owners, a group of bottling company executives, ship builders, theater owners, and lawyers, are guilty of the capital offense of imposing their baseball judgment on Mcllvaine, a real baseball man. Too bad the San Diego municipal code has no statute relating to malfeasance in ownership of the Padres; with the Riddoch issue constituting special circumstances, these guys would swing.

All season long the owners bellyached about the prospect of losing at least $8 million this year. It was evident before the season even started that the Padres would be unable to afford closer Randy Myers for 1993, after giving up lead-off man Bip Roberts to get him. As the season progressed, it also became evident that the Padres couldn’t afford to keep Tony Fernandez, their nominal new lead-off man and All-Star shortstop, for whom Mcllvaine had swapped future Hall of Earner Roberto Alomar. Even before the season was over, the owners forced Mcllvaine to dump Craig Lefferts, this season’s best pitcher, for two minor leaguers because he was eligible for salary arbitration next year. (Given his 13 wins for the Padres, Lefferts could have asked for $3 million in 1993.) Economics overtook good baseball strategy within the Padres franchise. Joan Kroc, we take back every nasty thing we ever said about you.

Fernandez was traded for two no-names in October, about the same time the whole organization was gutted. Twenty-two Padres employees were purged, including four minor-league coaches, a minor-league manager, and five scouts. But when a reporter asked one of the owners about the implications of all these firings, Art Rivkin had the gall to reply, “We’re in it for the long haul. Our ambition is to build.”

Trying to justify the October 26 Fernandez trade, managing general partner Tom Werner told the Union-Tribune s Chris Jenkins, “Spending more money doesn’t mean you win... You’d have to have your head examined to invest in a baseball team.” So now that Werner has admitted he’s mentally unfit to be in the big leagues, it is no longer impolite to show that his inclinations against paying market rates for baseball players are demonstrably loony.

The team with the highest average salary this year ($1,643,406) was the Toronto Blue Jays. The World Series Champion Toronto Blue Jays. The second highest salaried team was the Oakland Athletics, perennial champions of the American League Western Division. The sixth highest paid team was the Atlanta Braves, who have won the National League pennant two years straight. The seventh highest paid team, the Cincinnati Reds, are annual contenders who swept the World Series from the Athletics in 1990. The Pittsburgh Pirates, Eastern Division champs for three years running, are number eight in salary. The Padres, for all the owners’ whining about money, had the 16th highest average salary, down there with the rest of the also-rans.

So another baseball season has been reduced to rubble, a fine team has been broken up, and the wealthy men in charge of the Padres are left to their main obsession: their wallets. No doubt their next blunder will entail systematically messing up the head of third baseman Gary Sheffield, one of the most exciting players to ever don Padres raiments, by refusing to pay him what he’s worth. (One rival manager suggested signing him to a $50 million contract — ten years at $5 million per. A bargain.) They will force him into arbitration like they did Benito Santiago, lose in arbitration like they did to Santiago, then wonder why Sheffield, like All-Star Santiago, is not happy in Mission Valley. Sheffield’s best years, like Robbie Alomar’s, will be played out elsewhere. Lucky him. ■

- Neal Matthews


I lost contact with “Elizabeth” on the day she got out of jail, July 22, 1992.1 had met her the previous fall, a 38-year-old prostitute who told me she was pregnant and addicted to crack. I wrote a half dozen articles about her. Then I learned she wasn’t pregnant after all; either she’d lied from the beginning or she’d lost the baby but hadn’t wanted to end our relationship and the $20 fees I paid her.

Elizabeth: if she's arrested again, she will go to state prison

Elizabeth: if she's arrested again, she will go to state prison

I felt so angry, so humiliated by her deception, that I probably never would have talked to her again. But then she called me with the news she’d been arrested on prostitution and drug charges. She begged me to put a small amount of money on her account at Las Colinas so she could buy toiletries. I wound up visiting her at the Santee facility and somehow we found things to talk about, then and in the months that followed.

I watched her become another person. She gained close to 70 pounds; stripped the filthy bandanna from her close-cropped skull and grew her hair into a thick, gleaming bob. Once made a trusty, she described how conscientiously she worked at various jail jobs: cleaning, preparing food, sewing. Every time I visited her, she gave me insights into the cloistered routines. We spent hours talking about what she would do when she was released.

She could not return to her old life — dangerous and degrading — in the street. She vowed this repeatedly; made subdued references to God giving her strength. Though she never seemed to develop any specific plans, I offered to pick her up on the morning of her release, to give her a lift to wherever she wanted to try to start anew.

I bought her a pack of Newports (she had anticipated smoking again with such pleasure), and was speeding east on highway 8 by 5:30 a.m. The sun still hadn’t risen when my car died, just west of the 40th Street exit. By the time I called a tow truck and got home again, Elizabeth had left a message saying she would call me later that day.

But she didn’t. I kept the Newports, unopened, on my desk, expecting to hear from her any day, any week. A few times I cruised her old haunts — down Broadway, south of 25th Street, past the Logan Heights welfare office — but never saw her. I began to wonder if she was dead.

A mutual acquaintance finally told me where she was, and I made another trip to Las Colinas three and a half weeks ago. When Elizabeth stepped into the cubicle and faced the glass window that separates inmates from visitors, she reeled at the sight of me, then grinned hugely, then covered her face. She grabbed the telephone receiver on her side of the pane, and her voice boomed through the instrument. “I didn’t know it was you!” she said, still grinning. “I feel embarrassed.”

“I’m a dope fiend. What can I say?” When I failed to show up that morning, she’d wound up calling a man who’d written to her in jail after reading about her in the paper. Though Elizabeth Elizabeth had never given him permission to visit her at Las Colinas, he had asked her to marry him, a proposition she thought ludicrous. But upon her release, she nonetheless went to his home and met a very short man of about 35 with a pronounced facial tic. “He was a total dweeb! I mean, he was a nice guy but....” she twisted in her chair, still made physically uneasy by the memory of the two days they spent together. He presented her with a key to his house; told her he’d give her whatever she needed. But after 48 hours, “I knew if I stayed there I would take him for everything he had, so I just got out.”

She had saved about $90 in jail, but had no home to return to; no possessions. She drifted down to Market Street and “just hung out” for three days, fighting temptation. “You walk around and you tell everyone you’re not going to get high. You tell yourself. And then I just got tired of it,” she muttered.

“I went berserk.” The improvement in her looks made it easy for her to return to prostitution, she told me. But she injected the drugs with such wild abandon that she soon developed gruesome abscesses on her hand and neck. She underwent surgery in the UCSD Medical Center and stayed there for ten days, then moved into a board and care facility, where for three weeks she convalesced and remained clean. The day before her 39th birthday, she took to the street again. “I was on a mad, berserk mission,” she said with a sheepish laugh.

On September 26, she was arrested in a drug house on Market Street. “Greedy,” she commented. “I had dope in my pocket and I was smoking someone else’s.” When ^ she met with a probation officer, her first contact with that department since her release from jail, “I was really turning up the charm, joking and laughing. The woman and I were laughing together. We seemed to be getting along great, and then she says, ‘Well, I think you’re going to have to go to prison. Maybe the [state prison] parole system can do something for you because you seem to be incapable of working with the probation department.’ ”

For reasons Elizabeth doesn’t understand, her judge ignored the probation officer’s recommendation of three years in state prison, and instead sentenced Elizabeth to one year in Las Colinas. She’ll wind up spending just over six months in jail; she should be out by early March.

She says if she’s arrested again, she will certainly go to state prison. Always in the past, she has talked about this prospect with what sounded like genuine horror. She once jumped all over me for mistakenly using the word “prison” instead of jail in referring to one of her past episodes behind bars. But this time, when I asked her what prison would be like, she said, “It would be better than here. People say it’s a big party. I don’t know....”

I asked if she had lost all hope of giving up drugs and staying out of the penal system. “Oh, no,” she said softly, and smiled. “I could never do that.” I can’t see into Elizabeth’s heart. I know she’s smart and perceptive and she can be kind and honorable and funny. So I wish her well, but I think any hope I had for her is gone. ■

- Jeannette De Wyze


My bones have stopped growing. It is this fact, unconsciously scanned from the radio then pulled forward with alarm, that has finally made me feel my youth slipping away. The finality of it. Those bones that won’t grow no more.

An older friend says, “C’mon, you’re turning 30, for godssakes. It’s not the end of the world. Now 40, thafs the end of the world.” At 30 you are old enough to sorrow over lost youth, but not old enough that 40- and 50-year-olds won’t laugh at you for it. The minutiae of my complaints, complaints that foreshadow the ones to come — aching knees, exhausted mornings after late nights — begin to be grounded in reality. My body betrays me. It is always grateful, now, for my bed.

Store clerks call me ma’am and no longer card me.
Illustration by Rick Geary

Store clerks call me ma’am and no longer card me. Illustration by Rick Geary

I am not the only one telling me I’m losing my youth. I have reached the age when store clerks call me ma’am and no longer card me. I can walk along the street without exciting comment. I can lie on a beach in a bikini, buttock flesh carefully tucked, thighs left loose because there’s nothing to be done about them, without being asked for more than a cigarette or the time. I am no longer a primary target. The anglings and coyness of cocktail parties are something to be observed, without the deer-in-the-head-lights alertness of one who must be careful. I have been taken out of the game.

It is the body that defines the tragedy of lost youth. Hard living and a distaste for exercise catch up, just as one is told they will when one is too young to care. Photos of younger me’s prompt no nostalgia for past times, only regret — all that firm, unlined flesh. Gone, gone, gone. I am folded, creased, and padded from stem to stern. Fine purple veins ride the surface of skin at the insides of my knees. Thirty years of crossed legs. A roll of fat on my back—my God, I never had fat on my back, I marvel — has hardened, crept ’round the sides above my hips, stolen my waist. In my darker moments I feel a mass of decay. The buttocks and breasts, flattened and heading earthward, eager for the grave. The irrevocable cellulite of my thighs.

Like water carves rock, the habits of years have formed my face. Two horizontal grooves are etched where sunglasses have stretched the skin down on my nose. Above them a vertical crease separates my eyebrows, marking concentration, anger, sadness. The half moons of skin under my eyes, roughly wiped clean of mascara and tears, have thinned and acquired a bluish-grey tinge. The tinge used to go away some days. My hard look, practiced in the mirror at 15 with a squint and a dangling cigarette, becomes permanent. The lips have thinned and creased, foreshadowing the tight purse a long-term smoker’s mouth becomes. This gives me a pecuniary look I find repulsive.

Losing youth, one can’t wear certain colors, certain hairstyles, certain jewelry without looking desperate or cheap. Behaviors too, considered charming in teens and 20s, must be cast off. Petulance and whining no longer amuse lovers with a reminder of a spoilt, pretty child but become the ugly evidence of a weak will. Weakness, in fact, is no longer playable. Excessive toughness is equally appalling. The consequences of impulsiveness become more enduring. It had not occurred to me that the difficulty of moderation in all things would resolve itself through sheer exhaustion. Stability becomes a necessity.

One might expect aging to bring more precise and careful thinking, a mellower and more compassionate heart, stoicism in disappointment, wisdom.

These things, too, are less the consequence of personal insight than they are a giving in to the inevitable. I no longer have the energy for any other course of action.

The consolation for lost youth lies in becoming more of what I love. I used to long for certain gestures of my mother’s. Her sure, unhurried movements in the kitchen. The loose curve of her fingers on a steering wheel, making little corrections, without extravagance. I was scraping the contents from a saucepan the other day. Watching the twists of my wrist, the angle of spoon to pan I unconsciously maintained, I felt a kind of smugness. It was my mother’s hand I was using, smooth with the grace of long practice.

- Mary Lang


It was almost a year ago exactly that I was sharing an apartment in North Park with a cherubic-looking yet ferret-like little man I didn’t know very well.

Around the first of October, after being room-ur months and lending him money almost daily, he took my rent money and my half of the security deposit — 750 of my favorite dollars all told — and disappeared.

Could I have been living with someone who could murder a child?
Illustration by Rick Morris

Could I have been living with someone who could murder a child? Illustration by Rick Morris

He chose to take a powder on the day after the body of nine-year-old Amanda Gaeke was found in a canyon some 50 yards from our address. He had also left behind blood-soaked towels, Levis, and T-shirts, which were later determined to be his own blood (from, my guess is, a bar fight), but meantime he had become a suspect in the girl’s killing.

This event seemed to detonate a chain reaction of loss that has not yet played itself out. Beginning with the loss of the 750 bucks, much loss of sleep and sanity -— Could I have been living with someone who could murder a child? How would I know? What signs should I have looked for?'— The demolition derby of loss continued.

The woman I’d been trying to maintain a relationship with was repelled by my association or proximity to such ugliness, and she distanced herself even further from me emotionally. It was as if I had some odor oil my clothes or an unsightly rash. We saw each other only a few more times. The relationship had become a deathwatch, which expired sometime after I immersed myself in the world of the homeless in order to write about them. I was now thoroughly surrounded, in her mind, with a dark aura of contagion.

It was the second major relationship to crash and burn since my divorce seven years ago.

Meanwhile, I began to fear my neighbors. Word had apparently gotten out: Channel 39 wanted to come by, shoot the apartment, and talk to me. They described the former roommate as “The prime suspect.” I could see myself on the evening news with my collar up around my face muttering, “No comment,” or, “He was such a quiet guy — kept to himself and his Nazi paraphernalia pretty much.” I could see burning crosses on my lawn, bricks through my window. I left that day. The spot never appeared on the news, but a law-enforcement officer friend of mine suggested I accept the loan of a Ruger SP101.

After almost shooting the neighbor’s cat one night, I decided to move out.

In the new apartment in a better part of town, I breathed easier until one night, returning from a date, I discovered the window had been forced and I had been robbed. Missing: my telephone and answering machine, my microcassette recorder with an interview of Michael Reagan inside, $200 in cash, and a $60 bottle of cognac. A quick smash and grab. Not difficult to recover from except the recorders. It was exactly as if someone had burst in and pissed on everything in sight; a little territorial spray here, a little there. I found it difficult sleeping at my home after that. Loss of sleep: something hard to wrest from me, but it hurts more certainly than the theft of a shin bone.

Luckily the Reagan tape had been transcribed, though almost incomprehensibly. I slept, mostly, elsewhere.

Though the police had ruled out my former roommate as a suspect in the Gaeke case (inasmuch as anyone is ruled out), it still seemed I labored in the shadow of an evil act, which had, I told myself, nothing to do with me.

I began to write fictional versions of the girl’s death to try and make sense out of something idiotically foul and chaotic. I took it personally, and through the first months of this past year, I distracted myself from the loss of love with something much worse. This had the net effect of delaying any dealing I might have done with grief until I began to see another woman and began to care for her.

Dragging in forklifts full of psychological Samsonite, I moved into yet another apartment — this time with her— and gleefully, if unconsciously, set about the business of undermining my own happiness — and hers.

It is now four months later and I have, of necessity, moved out of that apartment and I am writing this in North Park, in the same apartment I was in last year at this time. The duplex is managed by friends; the place became available just as I needed to move. A spooky irony I’m trying not to think too much about.

The murderer has not been caught, nor is there much promise after one year, that he (she?) will be. Still, the neighbor children place bougainvillea branches, dandelions, notes (“Amanda!”), or sticks of incense on the hurricane fence above where the girl’s body was found — reminders to themselves.

The catalogue of loss in the past 12 months (not counting furniture, books, and manuscripts that remain misplaced or gone forever as the result of three moves) I see as fallout, in some possibly unknowable way, from a black epicenter of violence radiating outward and darkening everything in its'path. This is no doubt a fanciful, illogical perception of causality, but it has a very real hold on me. While I need to own the ways in which I’ve failed in the past year, try to learn from the bad choices, the lack of attention, and self-control — I blame something else as well. Call it a meanness in this world.

- John Brizzolara


There was my father, slumped, stoned, late-late movie blue-flickering on his face. He growls. I’d roused him coming in the front door after a night of ' horny teenage prowling. I try to sneak into my room but he growls again.

Classmates were amused to see my father do shitty sitcoms. 
Illustration by Dale Shimato

Classmates were amused to see my father do shitty sitcoms. Illustration by Dale Shimato

“What’s that, Dad? Want something?”

The growls resolve into a low, moaning curse. “What you got there?” Candy. Chocolate Babies. “Nigger Babies! You son of a bitch!”

I said Chocolate Babies. “Chocolate Babies, Nigger Babies. ’S’all the same. I’ll give you Nigger Babies, you racist sonofabitch!” Dad’s liquored-up jeremiad was more peculiar than usual that night. Most of the time there was a way for me to follow the line of reasoning. This night, none. Perhaps he was preparing for another apocalyptic battle with Mom, a knock-down drag-out, complete with cursing, threats, out-of-control 100 mph highspeeds on the Coast Highway, with us kids as hostages screaming in the back seat. After all, the holidays were fast approaching.

Dad grabs my box of Chocolate Babies candy. I notice that his hand is bleeding, lacerated from a shattered wineglass.

I can only say, dumbly, “Your hand.”

His bloody fists pound the hardwood tabletop. “Sonofabitch!” “Don’ look at me like that.

Classmates were amused and a little awed to see my father do shitty sitcoms and dreary dramas, but the spectacle repelled me. You could see the masochism in the lines of his face, the out-of-touch and painful exertions for acceptance.

C’mere.” I move closer and he collapses on me, crying, pawing my head. His blood, his breath. Bracing myself from the stench of his off-brand vodka, I summon, with a chill, “You pathetic drunk. You might as well be dead.”

There wasn’t anything in the world that I loathed more than my father’s alcoholic self-pity, that debasing kind of self-absorption common to low-level lifers in showbiz. My friends and I got the phone call one muggy August evening.

I imagined that I had willed his death. Not from a curse spoken in anger but from pitying my father as useless, a drain, a nonentity. A sudden feeling of omnipotence shamed me. I catch myself thinking that I’ve taken on my father’s disease, diabetes, as a form of penance. As as child I helped him inject his daily dosages of insulin; now I was stabbing myself with needles four times daily to stay alive.

From time to time I’ll roam through the cable and see my father overacting on a television rerun, perhaps a color-blanched ’70s TV movie on late-night syndication. I look for a moment in numbed stupefaction. Then I change the channel. ■

- Christian Shapiro


Hey, big dog, how’s it going? Heh, heh,” a gush of forced joviality comes through the telephone line. I squirm in my big, blue swivel chair. “All right,” I say | with equal falsity.

In the late ’60s, early ’70s, we hitchhiked — maybe a quarter million miles.
Illustration by Rich Geary

In the late ’60s, early ’70s, we hitchhiked — maybe a quarter million miles. Illustration by Rich Geary

He lives across town, but I haven’t talked to him in several months. I don’t call over there anymore. This call is like all his calls — He tells me about his job; I listen. I like that he likes what he’s doing, but I have zero interest in the product he makes. It’s just another widget to me.

It’s been many months — in fact, now that I think about it, it’s been years — since he asked about my life. I’m surprised, but no longer amazed, that this caller is my oldest friend. I’ve known him 27 years.

When we were kids, he and I hitchhiked together. Later, we worked in the oil fields. I’ve known him so long it’s often felt like a marriage. We’ve gone through women, drugs, colleges, poverty, affluence, hippie times, insane times, triumphant times. He was my brother, my best friend. When we were apart, I carried him in my heart.

In the late ’60s, early ’70s, we hitchhiked — maybe a quarter million miles by the time we finished seven, eight years later. Always broke. We’d hitch into Phoenix, St. Louis, Denver, be bored with each other. Find ourselves on the sidewalk outside a health food store, he munching some goddamn healthful peanut butter sandwich and a banana, me with a coffee-to-go cup in my right hand. One would say, “When we meet again, we’ll know it’s time to leave town.” We would separate. Without fail, three, four, five days later, one of us would be in a bookstore, a bar, a deli, look up and say, “Hey, partner, how’s it going?”

Once, we were hitching south out of Alaska, less than two bucks between us, caught the season’s first snowstorm a mile outside Big Delta. We had no winter gear, not even a raincoat. We walked into the Buffalo Cafe, ordered coffee, perched at the counter, hunkered down, awaited developments. It got to be 10 p.m. and the joint was closing. Glanced outside into arctic dark, cold, blowing snow. Inside warm, the essential concept. Also empty, except for the two of us and one very large, very fat waitress languidly putting away the last of the silverware. I reached in my jeans pocket, retrieved the last quarter. “Okay, pard, call it, heads or tails.”

I lost. Moved down the counter, began to chat up the waitress. Twenty minutes later we followed enormous hostess to her tiny room on the second floor. One joint, half a bottle of whiskey later, I engaged in the first of many obscene sexual acts. Grunted and sweated for many, many hours. My partner blissfully asleep in his toasty sleeping bag at the foot of Buffalo Cafe’s love bed.

God, the women! We hit that shining moment in human history, 1965 to 1980: pre-AIDS, venereal diseases taken care of by prescription, on-demand birth control pills. Jesus, what a party. Everybody between 15 and 55 seemed sexually available. It was a rutting season that lasted 15 years.

We’d be hitching, not caring whether we were going east or west, north or south. The idea was traveling, not getting there. We’d quit the road at four in the afternoon, look around. Down the street, a lovely woman would be having coffee. She might have on granny glasses, a long print dress, a pilgrim hairdo. We beamed.

Later, at an appropriate time, one of us would take her aside and discretely inquire, ever so gently, ever so politely, with lots of shucks and gollies, “Ummm, who do you like?” The unchosen would turn to the chosen, “See you in the morning, partner.”

We always carried Frisbees to pass the time while we waited for a ride. Central Nevada, New Mexico, Canada, California, thumb a car, turn, throw the friz. We got awfully good. We specialized in catching the disc behind our backs while galloping at a dead run. You can do many wonderful things with a Fris-bee: skipping, arcing, overhands, underhands, flicks, long distances. Once, cruising Kamloops, British Columbia — he walking the east side of the street, me on the west — we tossed our Frisbee over cars, caught it behind our backs, twirling, sailed it back and forth.

A Mounty sat in his tricked-out Ford coupe, watching as we made our way down the sidewalk. The cop was thinking, “Christ, there has to be a law against this.” But he couldn’t think of one, so he seethed. Finally, inspiration. The Mounty pulled up, hit his red light, barked out the window, “You drop that Frisbee one time and I’ll arrest you for littering.” We walked on, throwing the friz back and forth, skipping off the street, doing behind-the-back catches, a long loping arc, never a miss.

We worked in Alaska’s oil fields at 60 below zero. God, he was a worker. That was his strategy: be the best or second best on the crew, don’t worry about layoffs.

Working in Prudhoe Bay was a hell of a gig. We were laborers, Local 942 hands dispatched from the union hall. Pay was $1500 to $2000 a week, plus the contractor provided free room and board. And that was 15 years ago, bucko, when you could own the world on two grand a week.

I ran into that world in 1972, passing through Fairbanks, drinking a beer at the Howling Dog Saloon with three friends. One said, “They’re going to build that pipeline. We ought to head over to the union hall and see what’s going on.” I signed up on Monday, went to work Wednesday. I picked up my first check, placed a call to the lower 48 — he was going to graduate school in Washington. “Hey, pard, come on up, it’s raining money.” Like I said, he was a hell of a worker. But he was lousy at getting jobs. I must have gotten him a dozen jobs over the years. Those $2000-a-week jobs were hard to find. You had to sweet-talk the union, sweet-talk construction company secretaries, badger a foreman, get to the phone, “You ready to go to work?”

Twelve, thirteen years of that. What kept us going was the tasty fact that you only had work three, four, five months a year in order to get monied up. We were still free men. He bought a house, got married, went to school, worked on his Frisbee game, slept late. I traveled.

Now, listening to him on the phone, seems like it couldn’t have been us. You hang in there with somebody over time, and then you begin to realize there’s a hole there. It’s not just a phase, it’s a hole, and it’s getting bigger. Taken me years to admit to that.

A long time ago, this strange person who’s talking to me on the phone used to call around, find me down in Silver City, New Mexico; up in Fairbanks; out in Philadelphia; back in Arden, Nevada. He’d say, “I’m a little short.”

“How much you need?”

“Three hundred.”

I’d wire him 500. Six months later I’d look for him in Seattle or San Francisco or Chicago. I’d say, “I’m a little short.”

“How much do you need?”

“Four hundred.”

This went on for 25 years. Twenty-five years. We talked about it only once, just long enough to realize neither of us had any idea, and hadn’t for at least a decade, how much money one owed the other.

Now, this guy on the phone could be some cold-calling wretch hustling magazine subscriptions. Jesus, how did we get to this ugly, boring place? Maybe it’s middle age. I’m 48, the caller is 50. At this age you begin to see trail’s end. The thought living always in the back of your mind: “How many more years can I roll about the planet and do what I want? Ten? Fifteen?” Seeing the end can make you selfish.

My friend and I, like most people, have put ourselves in a position where we can’t wake up one morning, walk into our employer’s office, and say, “Fuck it. I quit this horse-shit job. Send the last check care of American Express, Barbados, you jack-off son-of-a-bitch.” When you have to hold a job, you eat shit, and that takes something out of you. You’ve come a big step closer to being tamed. And when you’re tamed you don’t give the shirt off your back, you don’t loan the last 100 bucks, you don’t drive 500 miles to sit around a campfire and get drunk with friends.

Maybe that’s how it had to be for us to be friends. The friendship only worked when we were feral. Now that we’re middle-aged and getting safer every day — well, what the fuck is fun about that? I’ve spent the last five years learning how to be nice, learning how to keep my mouth shut, learning how to do things on somebody else’s schedule, learning how to wear uncomfortable, ugly-looking clothes so I can fool some stranger or co-worker into believing I’m a sanitized, professional, white-collar asshole.

This stranger and I were right when we said a generation ago, “Don’t trust anybody over 30.” After 30, people sell out, get tired, get lazy, get self-indulgent and cunning.

Am I any different?

Yeah, but not as much as I used to be.

The last time I was dead-ass broke was three months after L fell off the back of a truck in Barrow, Alaska. I landed on my forehead. It was a Class A brain concussion, the kind you get in airplane wrecks. I was Medivaced to Fairbanks, then down to California. No medical insurance, no workmen’s comp, not even unemployment.

Brain concussions are not covered by Social Security, Medicare, even welfare, since there is no objective way of proving one has a brain concussion. You lie in bed 18 hours out of 24, but hell, you could be malingering. There is no treatment, no prescription, no operation except time and luck. Took a year before I could walk up and down one block with confidence. Took three years before I’d get through an entire morning without taking a hard look at suicide. It was bad.

That friend, the one I’m now talking to on the cordless phone, well, he was making it — driving a new red sports car, had just sold his house, many bucks in the bank, a fat professional job that was getting fatter and fatter. That doesn’t mean he owes me anything; God knows what secret dues he’s paying or what road he walks when he’s alone, but that last time, four months into the concussion, L called.

“I’m a little short.”

“How much?”

“Thirteen hundred dollars. Can’t afford rent. Need to find someplace warm, maybe around Tucson. Live in the van, try to wait it out.”

A neutral voice responds, “Let me think about it.”

Days later I called back, “What’s happening?”

He came through with 700, told me not to tell his wife.

I haven’t paid him back yet.

But now I know what our debt is.

- Patrick Daugherty


Few things strike more terror into the aging male than the ancient and humiliating specter of androgenetic alopecia: hormone-activated hair loss, gradual follicle deprivation, or, to put it brutally, baldness. The frantic searching for (and then counting of) hairs in the bathtub and the basin; the minute, chimpanzee-like scalp examination at every chance encounter with a mirror (those treacherous whores); and the nights spent awake desperately trying to calculate, in the most precise way scientifically possible, the concrete amount of diminished sexual charisma caused by the aforementioned loss. Will I ever mate with one of my own species ever again? the balding man thinks in terror. Will I ever have children? Will people ever again look me in the eye in department stores?

Any drug company that develops a way to reverse this most fundamental of male losses will make billions.
Illustration by Rick Geary

Any drug company that develops a way to reverse this most fundamental of male losses will make billions. Illustration by Rick Geary

America is such a body-image culture that these kinds of tortured ruminations are almost inevitable. Hair is the male equivalent to a woman’s skin or her breasts. Huge technologies are coming into being to service the man who is suffering from what the body culture obviously thinks is a personal catastrophe akin to the murder of one’s children or the sudden and unexpected appearance — right here at the sophisticated end of the millenium — of a fatal cancer of the testicle. Consider, for example, the dreadful infomercials concocted by the hair-replacement company Ultimate Hair Dynamics, which you can see almost every week on television.

Here is Ralph sitting before a studio audience of blond, frosty-haired models in small red skirts. Ralph looks like a kitten in a lion cage, one of those kittens that might actually like to get eaten. Alas, he is bald. Yes, a ponderous, supernaturally white egg surmounts his being, neatly shaved, one suspects, by Ultimate Hair Dynamics to look, well, as bald as possible for the occasion. Now the host, who sports a magnificent comb of faultless hair, brings Ralph over to the gals, who look him over dubiously.

“Ralph’s a great guy,” he coos to them, nodding slyly and looking with devilish cunning into the camera. “Really he is. A great guy. You’d like to date him, wouldn’t you, Sarah?”

He pokes his microphone at a simpering nymph who doesn’t look at all convinced. Why no, she shakes her head. It’s a tragic moment. Ralph looks crestfallen. The egg suddenly looks very silly indeed. She knows...he’s bald.

“What, Sarah, you don’t date, er, bald guys?”

“Aw, no,” she titters, shaking breasts and head together.

This is the truth. Everyone sighs. The host sighs. Ralph sighs. This is it: gals just don’t go for guys like Ralph...guys with eggs instead of heads. It is a cosmic truth, a law of Nature. Why did monks shave their heads? To keep them away! And so there is nothing for Ralph to do if he is not to rush off at once and castrate himself or throw himself into the nearest river but to invest in an Ultimate Hair Dynamics hairpiece.

An hour later, Ralph has hair. What a transformation! Sarah, that fickle hussy, is all over him. Suddenly two “hair experts” in poplin suits are there telling us what it’s all about: “’s competitive world...that’s right, Darino, and we don’t make any of our hairpieces in the Philippines. Not even one.”

Hair-loss research is without doubt one of the most market-driven phenomena of the contemporary world. Any drug company that develops a way to reverse this most fundamental of male losses will make billions within weeks. Consequently, the hair-loss industry has mushroomed in recent years, sprouting potential miracle cures that — for the first time in history — promise to make snake-oil scientific.

Ever since Minoxidil (Rogaine) came onto the market in 1988, the once-laughable hair lotion idea has taken a deadly serious turn — $143 million sales globally in 1991 was the green light. Three drugs are now lined up to be The Cure.

Proscar, produced by Merck, contains an agent called Fines-teride, which prevents formation of the androgen that is thought to be implicated in the demise of scalp follicles. This side effect came to light during clinical trials of Proscar, a drug used to treat prostate gland enlargement. Pro-cyte of Kirkland, Washington, has high hopes for Tricomin, a copper-containing peptide that works by incorporating protein into the hair shaft. Dr. Gordon Dunkin of Procyte claims "an 83 percent success rate for achieving regrowth of real, measurable hairs and increased active? hair growth of some 40 percent.” The third hope is aromatase, a naturally occurring enzyme which, according to Dr. Marty Sawaya, an assistant professor of dermatology at the State University of New York, enhances hair growth by encouraging follicular activity in the scalp. Balding men, it seems, appear to lack this particular enzyme.

But topical solutions are not the only cures for hair loss now in the pipeline. A Canadian company, Current Technology of Vancouver, has developed a kind of electrical hood that delivers minute stimuli to the scalp and which the University of British Columbia in Vancouver recently reported to have achieved a 66 percent increase in hair counts. And then, if the thought of spending the rest of your life under a kind of electricity-spitting hair dryer becomes inexpressibly depressing, you can take yourself to a transplant clinic.

Gone are the days of Barbie-doll plugs visible at 50 yards. Now you can have “micro-grafts” of one to three hairs placed within an incision about 1.25 millimeters wide. These can be arranged at random to give a natural, “feathered” look rather than a severe straight line. This will set you back about $6000 upwards. Alternatively, you can have a “flap” operation — a procedure that takes an entire flap of hair-bearing skin from the back of your head and rotates it around to a balding portion.

The barren skin is first removed by a process known as “scalp reduction.” If you have hardly any hair to begin with, you can have your hair-bearing bits, or bit, expanded from beneath by means of the insertion of an inflatable balloon implanted just beneath the scalp.

All of this may indeed sound like mere refinement of scalp-oriented medieval tortures perfected centuries ago. Why not stay with the infamous “spiker,” that diabolical helmet fitted with internal spikes that, when closed, sent cold points of iron through the victim’s cranium at 50 different points? Why not simply update the “peeler,” the casket fitted over the head, into which boiling oil could be poured through a spout and which produced a pain so exquisite that prisoners would rather be hanged, drawn, and quartered than submit to its torment?

One day very shortly there will no longer be any bald men. They will be as extinct as the dodo. When a bald man appears on the street, people will run screaming in all directions. You see, in America there cannot be baldness. There cannot be a bald president. There cannot be bald models advertising hormonal after-shaves. There cannot be bald ones in charge anywhere, except the future — in Star Trek, for example.

But Captain Jean-Luc Picard will not be as he is represented. He will not be a sort of glorified Ralph. In the radiant future, the captains of starships will have heads of hair like Axl Rose. And only their shoes will be made in the Philippines. ■

- Lawrence Osborne


During the 1970s, if you attended the writers’ workshop at the University of Iowa, on a Sunday in early September you’d go to Vance Bourjaily’s farm for an afternoon party. Vance owned a 100-year-old schoolhouse, acres of pastureland and hilly woods.

From Iowa Sara migrated to San Francisco. Not an easy place. 
Illustration by Rick Morris

From Iowa Sara migrated to San Francisco. Not an easy place. Illustration by Rick Morris

I met Sara Vogan at one of his parties. My wife and I had houseguests that weekend, a couple from Ames. The man was reasonable and pleasant while sober. Drinking, he became a world-class lout, the kind who faces off, an inch from your nose, and sprays you with spit while enumerating your character flaws. That day he chased Sara Vogan around. A good sport and a veteran drinker, she laughed at his antics. Even when he gawked at her breasts and declared them almost as grand as his wife’s, she gave him a polite chuckle. But when he reached out and fondled one, she slugged him in the jaw.

Sara was tough.

A tall, attractive blonde about 30 years old, she’d come to Iowa from Missoula, Montana, where she’d worked in graphic design and met a writer named Bill Kitridge, who became her lover and mentor. After a year or so, he convinced her that she ought to be at the workshop in Iowa where all the hot-shot would-be writers go.

Iowa had some talented fiction students that year. John Falsey, who produces TV shows such as Northern Exposure; Sandra Cisneros; Jayne Anne Phillips; W.P. Kinsella, the author of Shoeless Joe, which was made into Field of Dreams. Yet Sara received the most honors, the best fellowships. Jack Leggett ran the workshop on a caste system. The few stars got a livable income and their tuition paid for teaching one creative writing course each semester. The rest of us received anywhere from less to zero.

The humblest of stars, Sara was also an ardent democrat who chose not to patronize or snub anybody. She and her roommate Becky used to throw music parties, open to the world. Invitations spread around the county. Next to some Ph.D. music student with his cello would stand a 90-year-old banjo-picking farmer.

The summer I left Iowa, between Sara’s two years there, she and Bill Kitridge had their climactic brawl. A story I heard featured Sara pounding on his car with a tire iron. I suspect she’d been drinking. Liquor could do that, launch her on the slide into darkness. I watched it happen a few years later at UCSD.

From Iowa she migrated to San Francisco. Not an easy place. Soon, though, her first novel, In Shelly's Leg, earned a decent advance, then critical praise and a movie option. Diane Keaton wanted to produce and star in it. Every phone call or letter, Sara would update me on the movie deal, how Keaton had renewed the option, fallen from grace with a studio, or consulted her about the screenplay.

The novel, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and the film option money bought Sara a couple of years in San Francisco. Then, faced with the choice between living out of a shopping cart and accepting a professorship in Milwaukee, she woefully chose the latter.

The week before she moved to Wisconsin, she and I taught together at the La Jolla Writers’ Conference. We each had a dorm room at UCSD. The first night we drank scotch and she told me how terrified she’d been about leaving San Francisco. It made her feel as though preparing to die.

A few evenings later I burned out early, stumbled to my room, and fell unconscious until I got jolted by an awful wailing outside my window.

“Sonofabitch!” somebody cried, “I’ll mumble mumbley goddamn it! Lousy mumble bastard!”

I rolled out of bed and parted the curtains, expecting to find my wife — who else knew me that well? But I spied Sara staggering around the corner of the building. I threw on my jeans, ran outside and after her. She’d disappeared. When I pounded on her door, nobody responded. Finally, resolving that she’d been a nightmare, I staggered back to bed.

In the morning when I questioned her, she shrugged and rubbed her eyes and confessed that the last she remembered was sipping bourbon at the reception while she gabbed with an old fellow who’d written about 60 adventure novels in five years.

Milwaukee, she claimed in letters, nearly killed her. The place, the winters, the sense of isolation. After two years, she gave up and returned to San Francisco, bringing with her a writer named John. Together, they scratched a living out of part-time teaching jobs, Sara’s at San Francisco State University. By now she was deeply into her second novel, Loss of Flight, and polishing her story collection. Though I saw her during light and hopeful spells, a little of her boldness seemed to have fled. Sometimes her bright greenish eyes would narrow and darken, her voice constrict, and her white skin go shadowy gray, as though something had knocked the wind out of her.

My friend J.B. and I share a birthday. J.B.’s a poet. In 1985, his wife Martha had bought us each tickets to the San Francisco Blues Festival. A couple of days before we left, she’d sent him packing. He’d moved his things to a railroad line shack in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

That week was the finale of a lousy summer. My wife and I had split in June. My kids were in San Diego. Upon my return to Chico, I’d met a woman, quickly fallen for her. The night before J.B. and I left for the festival, she’d notified me that I had too many damned afflictions for her to suffer, on top of her own. We were through.

J.B. and I longed to hear some good blues.

We drove to the city on a Saturday morning, to Sara’s place in the Sunset district. Sara had agreed to be ready and waiting, so we could make the festival before James Cotton’s first set. We stood a long while at the door. Finally she came staggering to open up and managed a courageous smile. But her eyes were red, there was a two-inch scab above her eyebrow, she wore a threadbare sweatsuit, and the bottom half of her face was bright green. Even her teeth.

In her living room, a chair lay upended beside a pile of broken glass and blobs of catsup, souvenirs of a few days past when she’d chased her man out. Last night, she said, he’d returned for some clothes. They’d screamed and thrown books at each other. After he fled, she drank all the liquor^ This morning, too spooked to travel the few blocks to the liquor store and with no clear or brown spirits left, she’d finished the creme de menthe.

We didn’t make the blues festival that day, and by evening, when the green had faded from Sara’s lips, we lured her to a Mexican cafe. Back at her place, we swilled beer and got punch-drunk from sharing our troubles.

Sunday morning we accompanied Sara to a breakfast meeting with her man, at Hamburger Mary’s. They were going to decide when and how he could remove his things from her house. In public and with us along, she said, it’d be less likely that she’d bash him with another chair or he’d sling the mustard jar at her. We ordered champagne and brainstormed about ways Sara could make the $700 rent on her own. There was no going back to Milwaukee. She intended to live or die in the city.

We griped about money and lamented that even an inept plumber or a custodian who dozed on the job could live on their wages, while too many writers had to borrow, beg, or move to the outback and forage.

I visited the men’s room. Above the urinal somebody had scribbled, “Life’s a bitch and then you die, but there’s no use being a wimp about it.” I was going to relay the message to Sara and J.B., but as I returned, they both stood and made for the restrooms.

J.B. was faster. Upon his return he asked, “You see that graffiti? Life’s a bitch and then you die, but there’s no use being a wimp about it.”

I nodded. “We oughta give it words and music and sing it at the festival.”

J.B. chuckled, then Sara was back, smirking like her tough self. “In the ladies’ room,” she announced, “somebody wrote, ‘Life’s a bitch and then you die, but there’s no use being a wimp about it.’ ”

“Men’s room too.”

We three sat grinning at each other while Sara’s man John walked in. A cultured, friendly guy whom you wouldn’t imagine throwing catsup. Looking slightly abashed, he shook our hands, gave Sara a polite hug, and excused himself to go to the restroom.

“Anybody want to bet he comes back and tells us about that graffiti?” Sara asked.

I snickered. J.B. covered his mouth. Somehow, Sara made the rent, paid a counselor for help with her funks and terrors. She also finished Loss of Flight and her story collection, Scenes from the Homefront. Whenever she called or wrote, it was with good news, or when she was grieving for somebody else, like a friend who’d come to her and unloaded his despair the morning a test showed HIV positive, or to plan for one of us to visit the other’s city and catch a Padres-Giants game. About her own demons Sara didn’t talk much, except when you caught her in the act. Most always she appeared hopeful. Tomorrow a generous advance would set her free.

Novelists don’t need the lottery. Any day our agent might call with big news. Meanwhile, we’ll play games with our egos, exaggerating the praise some editor gave us, lying a little when we tell friends about our miserly income, making promises out of maybes. One writer I know erected a shrine to herself in the corner of her living room. Surrounding two votive candles lie fan letters, excellent reviews, youthful photos of her cut from newspapers and magazines. Whenever she’s down, she’ll go to her shrine and worship.

People have told me that the key to achieving success as a writer is to survive.

I read about a study that observed the lives and work of dozens of artists between the ages of 35 and 45 and discovered that every one during those years either gave up, found a new direction for their art, or died.

Sara died, I believe, of depression and fear.

Because I’d loaned my copy of Scenes from the Homefront to somebody I can’t locate, last week I checked it out from the San Diego State University library. After five years, I was the first borrower.

Death I can accept. But I’m stunned to witness my friend ignored. Forgotten. Damn it all! Writers are supposed to be immortal.

- Ken Kuhlken


Something isn’t adding up here*, my first child is only two weeks old and I’m already a month behind in sleep.

"When the babies cry at night, I'll get up and take care of them."
Illustration by Rick Geary

"When the babies cry at night, I'll get up and take care of them." Illustration by Rick Geary

Before Leslie and I were married, 1 made the mistake of letting my father tell her his famous child-rearing anecdote. “You’re with the kids the whole day while I’m at work,” he claims to have said to my mother. “Therefore, when they cry at night, l’ll get up and take care of them.” This supposedly went on tor tive children. So my dad’s been a liberated guy ever since the 1950s. Big deal. I’m liberated. I just need my sleep.

The thing is, Rebecca arrived almost four weeks early. I'm not sure what I was planning to do the month before her birth - maybe stockpile sleep like canned goods before an earthquake — but [ I'm not prepared for this. I'm curled in a fragile eggshell of sleep that is shattered by the baby's cry.

“I’ll get her,” says my wife Leslie.

“No, you got her last time,” I say, heroically, heaving myself out of bed.

The problem is, Rebecca’s sleep patterns are bohemian. She sleeps for three- to four-hour stretches during the day, then at night she ^ awakes every hour and a half. It’s ^ got me thinking — this is why you shouldn't wait until your mid-30s to have kids. A guy in his mid-20s could handle the sleep loss much better. Come to think of it, 1 was sleep-deprived ten years ago as well, but for different and much less admirable reasons.

My experienced dad friends laugh at me. “You get used to it,” says Eric. “You learn to catch your sleep in bites.” This is bad news. When it comes to sleep, 1 like to gorge myself. “1 never got used to it,” says Randy. “I’d get in at four a.m. and have to be up by seven, finally had to give up drumming and get a real job.”

I had a college biology professor named Dr. Spanish whose specialty was sleep research. He had several cats with electrodes attached to their brains; he kept them awake for long stretches at a time and monitored their reactions. (Although if you are looking for aberrant behavior, you have to assume normality to begin with, and I say cats are the wrong place to start.)

Dr. Spanish said people need only two or three hours of sleep each night, and he claimed to practice what he preached. Since he also looked exactly like Marty F eldman, I was never convinced. Perhaps 1 should ask Dr. Spanish to spend a week with my daughter.

I’m drifting back and forth, exactly like an oak leaf falling in a gentle autumn wind. What am I doing? I suddenly think. I’m not supposed to fall like this. I weigh 185 pounds! With the thought I become a stone, screaming down a black hole, shattering somewhere down in the bowels of the universe. I jerk awake. The baby is crying. “I’ll get her,” says Leslie. My heart is racing. “Nrll grtr,” I say. “No, you try and go back to sleep,” she replies. I try to be a good husband. On selected occasions, I obey my wife.

Driving home tonight, I miss the Balboa Avenue exit off north i-5. It’s a terrible exit to miss; you have to go another three miles all the way up to stinking Gilman Drive before you can turn around. On the way back south, I find myself thinking, “Now, what was I doing in La Jolla?”

My wife asked me to pick up some cranberry juice on the way home. 1 know this because I wrote “cran juice” on the back of my hand where I can glance down at the steering wheel every few seconds and read it. I stop at Lucky as instructed. Heading toward the juice aisle, I pass some Ben and jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream and, a little farther on, some Cheetos. Four out of five doctors recommend Ben & jerry’s and Cheetos for their patients who are new dads. Both items find their way into my basket. When I get home Leslie asks, “Where’s the cranberry juice?”

Headaches. Lilliputians have been climbing onto my pillow at night and pummeling my eyes. Deepset to begin with, my eyes have retreated to somewhere near the back of my skull. The first couple of days after Rebecca was born, people at work offered congratulations, asked how the baby was. Now they steer clear of me. I find myself standing aimlessly in the middle of my small office. On even my best days, if I don’t write down the things I have to do, then cross them off after they’re taken care of, I’m doomed. Someone’s been sneaking into my office, adding to my list, erasing my cross-offs. I call people twice. “We just spoke,” they say. “Of course we did,” I reply. “Just checking.”

Obviously, it’s worth it. When the baby is sleepy and full and drowsing in my arms; when I change her diapers and see her birdlike limbs fattening, hear her tiny lungs gaining strength; when love flows in an almost palpable stream between man and woman and this new person we have created — it’s worth it a million times over.

Even now, at 3 a.m., when the baby starts in. “I’ll get her,” says Leslie. “No, I’ve got her,” I say.

“You rest.” But I lie here in the half-light spilling across the hall from the nursery, marveling for a few seconds more as my sweet Rebecca road-tests her rack-and-pinion lungs on the smooth surface of the night.

- Tim Ryland


Young but looking old, running out her last year, she undertook to descend the steel stairway outside her employer’s unfashionable office building, leading to a downtown sidewalk below. Her fellows, still at work inside, remarked her late-afternoon, end-of-shift departure, alone and unaided, and after reproaching the misplaced temerity of this near-cripple, commissioned as a belated escort a volunteer from among their number.

The volunteer set upon his mission with specific haste.
Illustration by Rick Morris

The volunteer set upon his mission with specific haste. Illustration by Rick Morris

The volunteer set upon his mission with specific haste, striking through smooth, barren hallways, throwing open a barred fire door to an exposed landing. From there, he sighted his charge one flight under, hand on rail, inching rigorously lower.

He leapt down in sure pursuit, soft shoes pattering, and soon presented himself beside her, and offered whatever aid she deigned to have. Hobbling on in bare feet, she smiled at him, absently, gave a husky, apologetic “thanks,” but denied any need. She resumed her labors, head pitched forward, red bangs falling straight.

“You sure?” he was obliged to ask.

She had dressed herself in jeans, white cotton top, suede vest. Her free hand gripped her khaki sandals; the lean, wasting forearm, pale and freckled, she held tensely horizontal, to bear the strap of a small, wrinkled purse. As they descended, he was twisted toward her, hands vaguely raised in precaution. He matched each step of hers, then waited, at length, for the next: the same bare foot straining ahead, a palsied quivering through inches of air, to land again on knobby steel; then the other foot, and with it the body, a dropping weight tethered to the handrail. Her breathing was brisk, mechanical, whistling steadily.

“Can I carry something?”

They turned at the final landing, began the last flight. Venturing a stair, she spoke distractedly. “Could you just ..rough voice breaking. He was more than happy to. He got hold of her purse strap and, with the other hand, her sandals. They were firmly lodged, so he dragged at them. She didn’t understand. He was tugging against baffling friction, was about to remove by force. She was watching, spectating, lips poised to speak but locked together, yielding only a scratchy, demurring groan. Some signal reached him. The arm — it was her arm she wanted taken. He released her. Shifting closer, he set out stiffly his own arm, and she laid hers over it, swaying into him.

She stood barefoot, a minute later, on the sidewalk. Her car sat before them at the curb, a glossy orange subcompact. He helped her to the driver’s-side door and supervised as she picked out her keys, bones shivering, and finally lobbed herself onto the seat.

“You’ll be all right?”

“Oh, no,” she said, bright and mundane, “I’m fine once I get in the car,” and she dispensed him a lilting, genteel “Thank you.” She drew her door shut, settled herself, and started the engine.

- Mani Mir


I’m looking at an ad in the New York Review of Books. It shows the profile of a man's face with a rose superimposed on his brow. The ad is for a book whose title is as dryly harrowing as only academic titles can be: Instincts, Archetypes, and Symbols: An Approach to the Physiology of Religious Experience. The blurb promises, “A most revealing neurological account of religious psychology...”

The world is awash with religion but is devoid of faith.
Illustration by Dale Shimato

The world is awash with religion but is devoid of faith. Illustration by Dale Shimato

I read on. “The numinous is interpreted in terms of instinctual processes related to an inner need for harmonizing intellect and the emotions....” And while I consider this matter-of-fact usage of the phrase “the numinous,” the radio, National Public Radio, tells me that tomorrow’s broadcast will feature a report on snake-handling fundamentalists in the Deep South.

In my mind I imagine the deferential, though vaguely ironic commentary on “trance states” and “anti-venoms.” I think about calling NPR’s listener-response line with some hotly worded harangue about how Mary Matalin and James Carville of the Bush and Clinton campaigns were, in my opinion, snake-handlers of sorts, and why didn’t middlebrow provincials like NPR leave reptile-caressing, tongue-speaking true-believers alone?

It is a call, of course, I do not make.

I am left to my own devices.

We live in a religious time.

As opposed to an age of faith. I do not make this distinction casually. I do not because I recently saw a rerun, the first half actually, of Shirley MacLaine’s TV docudrama of the “metaphysical” experiences that changed her life. In one transitional scene she stands, arms extended at her sides, facing the sea, and announces to seagulls and mollusks, to no one in particular, “I am God.” She repeats this several times with increasing conviction. As I watched this aging, blasphemous starlet, I realized that, all considerations of commandment and covenant aside, we, the collective “we,” or, particularly, we of the West, had passed a threshold, reached a certain historical nadir, or apogee.

“I am God,” says Shirley.

This particular momentum has been building for a century. There was a great quickening of the American spirit in the 1890s. There were many revivals. Twenty years later, American missionaries of various creeds were sent all over the globe. Southern California became a hothouse for dozens of strangely theatrical denominations. By the mid-1960s Jesus freaks were conducting mass baptisms in Malibu. A year ago I stood on a cold Paris street and watched several hundred immigrants and native-Frenchmen line up to attend a Sunday night prayer service at a Pentecostal church. A bright-eyed young woman clutching a Bible, waiting with the crowd, told me that the church’s minister was a young Senegalais who had attended seminary in the United States.

Pat Buchanan calls for a holy war at the Republican convention.

“Is this a religious war?” a reporter asks a Serbian soldier on CBS.

Gore Vidal’s recent novel is a naughty satire of the life of Christ.

The Los Angeles Times tells me Algeria will fall to Muslim fundamentalists within the next 18 months.

Last week the Vatican’s continued reluctance to ordain women as priests somehow attained the proportions of a news event.

“I am God,” says Shirley.

There is also, I should add, a writer for a well-known Southern Californian weekly who, sometime over the past few years, has found God, or, at least, discovered the necessity for finding God. I do not know the source of his personal metanoia — I haven’t followed his writing closely enough to know. I do know that he is a coarse advocate of a kind of spirituality that closely resembles “eating right and getting enough exercise,” that religion is, for him, a real must for being a well-rounded person.

I mention all this in passing because all the fanfare over the alleged secularism of modernity, of this century, seems entirely beside the point. The world is awash with religion but is devoid of faith. I say this because faith, as I understand it — meaning what it is I have read — is not a means to an end. Faith does not come as a mass movement, a fad. It does not compel you to organize a coup d’etat, to overrun the

presidential palace, to engage in hokey shenanigans at the beach. The religious impulse, however, does.

Faith does not make you happy. I think of Abraham dragging Isaac, pleading and screeching, to what seems a certain death. I think of Ruth walking away from all that she knew to go glean scrap wheat in a lonely, foreign field. In brief, I do not think faith is a simple thing.

I say this because I know people who have lost faith. Their stories are not sensational, lack the sense of moment described in tales of conversion, have no blinding light, no fire of righteousness, no elements of ecstasy or swoon. You don’t often hear these stories because they are inconvenient to the received narrative of religion. You don’t hear of them because, I think, they mostly deal with death.

I’m not talking about people who’ve “fallen,” turned their back on religion to engage in orgiastic excess. Those people are acting out a kind of childlike contrariness, playing out an anti-creed in the fashion that Satanism, say, relies upon orthodox Christianity for its liturgy and mores.

I’m talking about people who’ve seen the abyss — and fallen in. In an Old Testament way, the earth opened up and swallowed their faith. It was there one minute, gone the next. Like a thief in the night, life stole their faith away.

It sometimes takes years for them to appreciate the loss. The emptiness is so all-consuming that it leaves no room for anything as spectacular as an anti-climax. People who have lost faith don’t talk about it much because there isn’t much to be said about silence. And how, anyway, could one express what it is like to have lost a world?

Religion has been in the news so often as of late — the debates over lesbian Episcopalian bishops, TV ministers gone bad, the decline of mainstream Protestantism, Muslim extremists, the list goes on and on —-that I’ve thought a lot about how disparate the experiences of the loss of faith and reli gion seem to be.

I’m thinking of someone I know. What his faith was is unimportant, as is his name and where he lived. His story illustrates the essential privacy of faith, its radical remove from the world. He had lived in faith for many years, come to it simply because, he said, “I loved God.” He can trace his loss of faith to a particular instance — the murder of a friend. In his mind he sees a bloody hospital gurney; the emergency room floor was wet with his friend’s blood. His friend cried out to be saved, he remembers, but there wasn’t much saving to be done. “He was incoherent and combative up to the very end,” the physician in attendance said. “He was afraid.”

This person I’m thinking of visited the detective, the murder site — the exact place where the assailant lunged and planted a knife several times in the innocent chest. This person I’m thinking of read and reread the autopsy report. And somehow, he says, his faith quietly vanished. Grief burned him up inside and perhaps, he said, consumed his faith. He doesn’t really know.

Does he still believe in God? He says he does. But God lives very far away, he says, so far away that believing or not believing does not really matter. He says he no longer feels moved to pray — something he had once done several times a day for a very long time.

What interests me here in this particular story is this person’s perception of distance, that he places God at a great and tangible remove, as if God existed incommunicado in an inconceivably far away country. This interests me because it gives us some idea of what faith must be and how different it is from mere religion. Faith is exercised in a realm apart from arms caches, from elections, from sex stories, from, in short, human potential.

Those who have lost faith are elsewhere. They live in exile from the things of this world and in exile from the Kingdom of God.

- Abe Opincar


In the past year, six babies have been found abandoned in San Diego County. Left on a doorstep, in the back of a truck, in a dumpster (wrapped in plastic), in a day-care center, on a lawn at a high school, in a cardboard box at a self-service carwash. The cruelty of these acts seems repugnant. The question that keeps running through Carol Baenziger’s mind is, “Is that a horrible thing to do?” The answer she gives is, “I don’t think so.”

Baenziger: "In some of the foundling cases, we have no leads at all."

Baenziger: "In some of the foundling cases, we have no leads at all."

Baenziger is the Department of Social Services official whose photograph has often appeared with articles about the foundlings. She is often smiling, holding a chuckling babe. “Imagine you’re a 15-year-old girl, you’re pregnant, you haven’t told your parents, you give birth in secret. Or you’re a mother of three and can neither afford nor care for a fourth. The reasons for these acts are as unique as the children themselves.

“We don’t really know why. In some of the foundling cases, we have no leads at all. The common thread, if there is one, is that they felt it was the only thing they could do. They didn’t know there were support systems in place that they could call upon.”

The sheer number of them — six — when in past years three was considered high, makes Baenziger agree there might be a domino effect at work. Much has been written on the cases, and it could be that a desperate new mother, seeing that other abandoned babies have been found and cared for, might consider abandonment a viable option. Baenziger is of two minds about the press coverage. “I don’t want to send the message that we’ll always come to the rescue. It’s luck that none of these cases has ended in tragedy yet.” lust a month before Baby Noel was discovered, another newborn was found in a trash bin, wrapped with its placenta in a striped towel, asphyxiated in a plastic garbage bag. “But people need to know they can get help. So we go to a press conference saying, ‘We can help you, please contact us,’ and the police are standing right next to us saying, ‘Uh, yeah, we want to talk to you, too...’ Gonna put you in jail.”

The most popular motive the press has speculated over is economic. Poverty may have played a part in some of these cases. We all know the poor have gotten poorer and there are more of them. Some 61,000 families are on welfare in the county. Despite this, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was cut by nearly five percent in October, and there are now five low-income renters vying for every low-income housing unit in town. Flomes for unwed mothers are turning away girls at the door. No room at the inn.

“It used to be there were orphanages,” Baenziger says. “Now there are none. Nationwide, we’re seeing a trend of more people leaving babies in hospitals, but that’s not shown up in San Diego yet. So you get the new mom who drives around a shopping mall parking lot for hours, waiting for a nice car, a Mercedes or BMW, to pull in.”

Postpartum depression, said to afflict ten percent of mothers, has also been named a factor. Both depression and postpartum psychosis, a rarer condition, are due to hormonal upheaval in the body following birth. With both conditions, a woman can be normal one minute, irrational the next.

“Baby loy” was the one found in the back of a truck. The truck was parked at the Plaza Bonita shopping mall one day in January. She was two days old. National City Police located her mother, Adriana Avila, before long. She hadn’t wanted to leave the baby in the back of the truck, but she couldn’t find an unlocked car. She was married, had two toddlers at home. She and her husband were unemployed. She told the police she “couldn’t afford” another child. She pleaded guilty to felony child abandonment in February, was given probation, and ordered into therapy. Postpartum depression was cited.

“Carolina, also known as ‘Baby Girl Escondido' was perhaps an hour old when she was found. The umbilical cord was still attached. She was in a cardboard box wrapped in a towel, covered by a pair of adult-sized sweatpants.”

Two guys came to Super Wash around 11 a.m. one day in August, heard muffled cries from somewhere beyond the wash bay. “The men who found her found her right away, and that’s what saved her life. They called the paramedics. Within 24 hours the hospital where she was taken gave her a clean bill of health. She has been placed in a foster home.

“In the case of a baby, when you have no leads at all, you just try to get it freed for adoption right away. Baby Noel, the one we found plastic-wrapped in a dumpster, has been freed for adoption. The process was expedited. It usually takes about six months. It’s not bureaucratic laziness, it’s cautionary. A mother may be sick in a hospital somewhere. Time for recovery has to be allowed. But in Noel’s case, we had nothing on the mom. I mean, zippity-doo-dah. So we said to the court, ‘Let’s get the ball rolling right away.’ ”

A child may be abandoned in an attempt to save it from hardships a woman can’t protect herself from, let alone a child. Eric Wilson, two years old, had apparently been left with his grandmother “for a long, long time,” Baenziger says. The mother had run off to Arizona or somewhere. The grandmother, Judith Carr, was reportedly raped, beaten, and knifed by her boyfriend, in the dinky trailer they shared.

Two weeks later, in July, Carr took Eric to ABC Daycare Center in National City. She asked them to watch him for the afternoon. They agreed, if she would supply his medical and immunization records. She said they were in her car. She walked out, got into a taxi, and drove off. That night, the day-care worker reported the child to the authorities.

But Eric was outgoing, friendly, and didn’t exhibit any separation anxiety, Baenziger says. “After a week of separation, there was still no mention of‘mom’ or ‘granny,’ anything. If this is a kid who doesn’t say those words, you wonder if any bonding took place. Oh, he was a charmer. Walk right up to anyone.” Although there was a suspicion that Eric had been abused, no physical evidence of that has been found. He’s in a foster home now.

“Lupita, or ‘Baby Jane Doe,’ God, she was a pistol. A really big kid. In good health.” Lupita was about eight months old when a woman walking past San Dieguito High School one Saturday night in August heard her cries. She found the baby on a grass lawn by the school gym. “She may have been reunified with her family by now. That case took some real interesting twists and turns. There was discussion early on that the people who found her knew her.” Baenziger declines to be more specific, citing confidentiality. There is a lot she cannot say. “Abuse may be a factor in some of these cases. For example, I can’t tell you whether these children have been drug-exposed or not. And there is some question over whether drug-exposure constitutes child abuse.”

The healthy eight-month-old “Baby Boy Doe” who was found on a doorstep in East San Diego, near the intersection of Chamoune and Wightman, was also “a real pistol. He and Lupita could’ve been brother and sister, they were both so feisty. The woman who found him even kept him for two days before calling us. But I can understand that. You must wonder if there was some reason the mother ran off like that. You must hope she’ll come back. You must wait, telling yourself, ‘Something must have happened to her,’ and ‘Maybe she’ll come back.’ ”

“This has gotten a lot of national attention. I’m still waiting on Geraldo Rivera, though. ‘Women who abandon their babies and the protection workers who hate them.’ I was on the phone with someone from New York City. I thought in New York City they must have a baby in every dumpster, but he was completely shocked by it. He said, ‘I thought out there everybody just went surfing, not abandoning babies.’ ”

- Mary Lang


Sinor was the last of the shaggy-dog columnists, a throwback to the gentle days of hot lead and warm Pegler, when one opened a newspaper not for titillation or a recitation of disasters but to check in with a familiar personality.... Sinor’s appeal, like that of Dagwood Bumstead and Dwight D. Eisenhower, lay in his banality...

— Imaginary eulogy for John Sinor

The Best of Scribes, the Worst of Scribes

Sinor: his specialty was telling you how he’d spent the previous 48 hours.

Sinor: his specialty was telling you how he’d spent the previous 48 hours.

The London funny mag Private Eye has an occasional feature called “Peter McLie, The World’s Worst Columnist.” Mr. McLie (a takeoff on some English hack) specializes in a fatuous babbling that’s more easily illustrated than described: “Have you seen the latest idea from America in the shops? They are called gloves, and they provide warmth and comfort to your hands during a cold spell. If you see a pair of these so-called gloves, I advise you strongly to snap them up, as they seem to be very thin on the ground just now.”

So much for London. Here in Sandy Eggo, some local journalists and word-watchers long maintained that we had a columnist every bit as bad as Peter McLie. His name was John Sinor, and he was a 30-year veteran of the San Diego Tribune when it folded into the Union last February.

Sinor’s specialty was to spend 500 words, every other day, telling you how he’d spent the previous 48 hours. One column he’d give you a blow-by-blow description of how he got up at two a.m. to raid the icebox; in the next he’d rattle on about how friendly school bus drivers used to be.

Then there was coffee. My collection of Sinor columns is far from complete, but it would appear that he wrote about Nature’s laxative at least once a week. Sometimes it was instant, sometimes it was spilled, sometimes it was keeping him up all night. Last January, in one of his last pieces, Sinor spent an entire column giving a recipe for making a righteous brew out of just four coffee beans.

Sinor was a poet of the commonplace but never seemed to pay much attention to headline news. Try to guess when he pecked out the following paragraph. “Whatever happened to all the gasoline anyway? Last year at this time they had so MUCH gas, stations were begging us to buy. Offering eight times the usual amount of trading stamps if we would fill up.”

That was February 1974. The height of the OPEC oil embargo. This obliviousness was honest and homespun, not an act, and it tickled Sinor’s legions of fans — and he had them, surely, else why would he have survived so long? But of course it irritated some young up-and-coming journalists who believed a hack’s first duty is to produce something called News You Can Use.

These up-and-comers entered journalism in the 1970s and 1980s and represented the first generation of journalists to regard themselves as high-class professionals (newspapermen having traditionally been a colorful but uncouth lot, drawn mostly from the same hairy-armpit castes that provide us with public-school teachers and private investigators). Knowing little about journalism’s gnarly past, these youngsters fancied that most people who wrote for a living were keen-minded, worldly wise folk who swallowed international affairs and public policy issues with their morning java. “Columnist,” to these youngsters, meant Mary McGrory and Anthony Lewis and other professional thumbsuckers who worried long and often about detente, racial inequality, abortion, and the bomb.

But Sinor’s worries seemed to come straight out of The Life of Riley: a flat tire, a son in Marine boot camp, a rec room that needed repair. Good material for a humor columnist. Perhaps if Sinor had packaged himself as a sort of male Erma Bombeck, the up-and-comers wouldn’t have hated him so much. But he wasn’t a joke-smith any more than he was a political commentator or a movie reviewer. He was an old-fashioned as-I-please monologist, in the tradition of Aleck Woollcott, Robert Ruark, the young Westbrook Pegler, and George Orwell before he got TB.

Back when we had about 17,000 dailies in this country, newspapers had more Sinor-type columns than Carter’s had pills. And the people loved ’em. But tastes change. In recent years, whenever two or more young reporters gathered in a San Diego watering hole, was a dead certainty that 20 minutes wouldn’t pass before someone started cussing out old John Sinor.

“We’ll, there’s one good thing about the Tribune folding,” seethed a 30-something reporter at a Tribune “wake” in September 1991. “Finally we’ll get rid of old Sinor and his mindless meanderings.”

There’s no room today in daily newspaper columning for the John Sinor type. His approximate successor at the merged U-T is Peter Rowe, a deadly earnest young man who cannot compose a two-sentence paragraph without reminding us that he knows everything that’s happening in the world and moreover also knows the politically correct stance to take anent each problem. One really feels for poor young Rowe: here he is, writing the “passing scene” column and striving so hard to be whimsical in the manner of the great Sinor — but producing, instead, tortured jokes that have all the gossamer gaiety of the “humor” page in The Masses, ca. 1930. One gathers that Pete is too proud to write the way old John did. People might think he was...stupid.

Sinor and Morgan:The Dueling Columnists

The young turkeys sneered at old Sinor, but the joke was on them. He was the class act of the Tribune, a newspaperman completely lacking in earnestness, intellectual pretension, and public ambition. Best of all, he refused to allow himself to become engaged in ideas. Paul Fussell, in his satirical monograph “Class,” describes this kind of intellectual apathy as an unmistakable badge of the American aristocracy. . It’s only the middle classes, with their subscriptions to The New Yorker and the New Republic and National Review and their eagerness to stay up-to-date with political fashions (saying “gay” for homosexual and “African-American” for Negro), and their ludicrous belief in Getting Ahead Through Education, who yearn to be intellectually trendy. Imagining Sinor as a warrior-barbarian whose only present concern is an early-morning raid upon Thanksgiving leftovers in the refrigerator, one immediately thinks of Henry VIII (or at any rate, Charles Laughton). Where’s the other drumstick, m’love?

Morgan (1953). always got the finest pickings from the mailbag, while Sinor had to make do with the crumbs.

Morgan (1953). always got the finest pickings from the mailbag, while Sinor had to make do with the crumbs.

“A mind so fine that no idea could penetrate it.” That’s what T.S. Eliot said about the grey matter of Mr. Henry James. And people are still reading stuff that James wrote over 100 years ago. We shouldn’t be surprised if, 100 years hence, folks are still perusing the morocco-bound essays of our own John Sinor.

As luck would have it, lack of ideas was a signal trait of the Tribune’s other veteran columnist, Mr. Cornelius (“Neil”) Morgan. No coincidence there. Like Sinor, Morgan was a self-made aristocrat from humble beginnings (Sinor had been a shoe salesman, Morgan a Navy lieutenant, before each entered the hurly-burly of the fourth estate). They ought to have been friends, and at times they were. But there is something poignant and heart rending about these two solons being stationed at the same journal. It meant that Sinor had to spend most of his working career laboring in the shadow of the other.

As the senior columnist, Morgan always got the finest pickings from the mailbag, while Sinor had to make do with the crumbs. An unfortunately high percentage of these epistolary leavings were semiliterate scrawls, in Crayola and carpenter’s pencil, on the backs of four-color postcards from Quality Court motels in Truckee, California, or Sparks, Nevada.

Thus Morgan’s “Crosstown” would shine with social notes from the local glitterati — Jim Copley’s baptism, Lizabeth Scott’s coming-out party — but Sinor’s columns would go for weeks with no mail. Finally, just when John was beginning to look like the loneliest man in the world, he’d publish some random correspondence under the heading of “Dear John Letters.” Sometimes these notes would give us glimpses of secret glamor in the life of Sinor. From the early 1970s: “Dear John: On a recent visit to relatives in Phoenix, I saw a documentary film on television on the building of the railroads in the east. One of the main characters looked remarkably like you, except he had a beard. Could it be? Do you moonlight as a film star? — Mrs. C.B., La Jolla.”

“Dear Mrs. C.B.: Well, I did make the film some years ago for Encyclopaedia Brittanica Films....”

We can well imagine what sort of gentlemanly rivalry must have existed at the Tribune during those rip-roaring days of the 1960s and 1970s, between Messrs. Morgan and Sinor. Sinor the film star, Morgan the nationally known writer. It was inevitable that sooner or later one would burn with envy for the other’s laurels. Since most of the laurels went to Mr. Morgan, the green mantle usually fell to John Sinor.

If you are of a mature age, you may recall that in those far-off days, Neil Morgan had acquired for himself some repute as a social historian. He wrote many books about California and the modern American West — Westward Ho!y Decline of the West, and California Here I Come! are just a few of them, if memory serves.

Sinor used to smart when one of these new titles appeared, which they did, regular as clockwork, on the average of once every six months. And who can blame him? John Sinor was a true Westerner, raised in the shadow of Sutter’s Fort (pronounced Sooter’s Fo’t). Whereas Neil Morgan was a slicker from the East (Mt. Pilot, NC) who happened into California only because that’s where his Navy boat chanced to dock one day in

  1. Yet it was Morgan who now was setting himself up as a latter-day H.H. Bancroft, authority on aLL things Californian. Can yon imagine the outrage in Morgan s little piney-woods piedmont home town if fohn Sinor had presumed to go to North CaroYma and start telling Tarheels about then own history7.

Well, sir! It’s a good thing Mr. Sinor was an even-tempered sort. He chose to bide his time and then take his own journey to Northern California and Oregon. When he filed his dispatches it became dear that Sinor was the true son of Californee, and Morgan just a lucky interloper.

Neil Morgan would never have been able to furnish us with the understated, Hemingwayesque detail that John Sinor gave us at the end of 1964:

"Farther to the north and east, in the Tahoe country, the Truckee River is brown and roily and rumbles throng the ponderosas.

"On a summer day, a boy can wade in the Truckee and catch a fine big German brown trout. A few days ago, a boy waded in the river to save his dog and the torrent drowned him."

A man who can write like that need never fear for immortality.

- Margot Sheehan


Number of foreclosures in San Diego County this year: 10,166

Number of bankruptcies: 11,592

Percentage increase from last year: 4.9

Number of construction foreclosures: 2830

Percentage increase: 103

Percentage decrease in number of building permits issued: 11

Volume of retail sales: $11,896,000,000 Percentage increase: 7.4

Amount of money announced cut from the budget of San Diego State University this year: $17.4 million

Number of departments proposed for elimination: 9

Number of departments proposed for deep cuts: 4

Class sections cut from fall schedule: 150

Approximate number of part-time and temporary employees not rehired this fall: 50

Money lost by each resident student, in additional student fees, this year: $376

Amount of budget cuts this year, San Diego City Schools: $18 million

Percentage of that amount to be absorbed by employees, through salary reductions and two extra unpaid days a year: 63

Total of these cuts, with additional budget reductions approved for ’92-’93 school year: $30,731,536

Number of positions to be cut, ’92-93 school year: 56.23

Programs eliminated from San Diego City Schools:

African-American Male Improvement

Hispanic Reading


Socratic Seminar

Social Concerns

Elementary Instrumental Music

Interscholastic Athletics

Endangered species that may be found in San Diego County this year: 11

Stephen’s kangaroo rat

Bald eagle

American peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcon

Brown pelican

Light-footed clapper rail

California least tern

Least Bell’s vireo

San Diego mesa mint

Slender-horned spineflower

Salt marsh bird’s beak

Number of divorces filed in San Diego County in latest fiscal year: 20,855

Percentage increase from year before: 6.7

Number of missing persons reported in city of San Diego this year:

Adults: 2434

Juveniles (17 and under): approx. 7900

Number of sexually abused children (substantiated to the point of legal proceedings) in the county this fiscal year: 18,258

Physically abused children: 27,170

Severely neglected children: 3,276

Generally neglected children: 20,932

Emotionally abused children: 5,801

Exploited children: 332

Number of children whose caretakers were absent or incapacitated: 8,364

Number of children abandoned this year: 6

Number of children abused to~death last year: 16

Number of fatal home accidents in San Diego County this year: 153

Number of those deaths that occurred by asphyxiation: 3

Aspiration (food, peanut butter): 2

Burned by hot water in bathtub: 2

Cut by catheter: 1

Drowning: 16

Electrocution: 2

Fall from stairs, fence, roof, etc.: 40

Gunshot: 3

Hanging: 2

Hyperthermia (high body temperature): 1

Inhalation (aerosol, Halothane): 2

Drug overdose: 69

Pacemaker failure: 1

Smoke and fumes from house fire: 5

Infection from “struck and lacerated” toe: 1

Stung by yellow jacket bees: 1

Wedged between bed and wall: 2

In San Diego County, 411 people have been diagnosed with AIDS this year.

Of those, 69 have died.

There were a total of 3609 reported AIDS cases.

Of those, 2374 have died.

Number of suicides in San Diego County this year: 303

Number of those by wrist slashing: 4

Auto driven off cliff or onto railway: 7

Drowning: 3

Gunshot: 144

Hanging: 45

Jumping from highway bridge: 3

Jumping from Coronado Bridge: 5

Jumping from building: 4

Drug overdose: 70

Suffocation by plastic bag: 13

Suffocation by plastic bag after poisoning: 4

Number of suicides by unknown means (remains mummified): 1

Ten most popular locations for suicides in San Diego County this year:

City of San Diego: 132

El Cajon: 24

Escondido: 18

Chula Vista: 14

La Jolla: 12

Oceanside: 10

Spring Valley: 9

La Mesa: 8

Carlsbad: 7

Vista: 6

Estimated number of hairs lost this year by city residents: 41,930,327,000 strands.


Number of lost shopping carts retrieved in San Diego this year by Complete Shopping Cart Service: 140,000

A spokesperson for the service says, “Some stores actually encourage customers to take ’em, if the people live nearby and don’t have any other transportation. For instance, you’ll usually find more carts in apartment complexes in the vicinity of grocery stores. Down in Pacific Beach it’s mostly transients who take them. Smart and Final Iris downtown has a major problem with the homeless too, because their carts are bigger than normal ones. You can put more stuff in ’em.”


Pat in the SDPD Property Room, the city’s Lost & Found, says she gets “about 125 to 130 things a day, including prisoners’ property. Anything from bicycles to ammunition, anything that can be connected with a person, like, if we found someone’s wallet with ID in it. If it’s worth more than ten dollars we keep it here. People turn things in 15 to 20 times a day. Everything from thousands of dollars down to a T-shirt. Probably the strangest thing I’ve got here is some bones. Someone brought in these bones. They thought they were human. It turned out to be some kind of animal.”


Number of dead animals removed by the city's Special Collections department this year: 6,500

“That’s spread about evenly around the city,” says Leon Crowder, supervisor. “No neighborhood is more fatal than others that I can see. It’s mostly cats and dogs. It’s more cats than dogs, but it’s close to a tie. About as unusual as we get is deer. Three or four a year. Every now and then we’ll pick up a bobcat. A lot of times we’ll pick up a possum that’s still alive, maybe with babies. We turn them over to the Humane Society. A good 90 percent of our pickups are car fatalities, especially during warm weather. Animals want to stay warm and covered in the winter; they don’t move around as much.”

Number of lost animals picked up by Animal Control in the last fiscal year: 40,809

Number of those that were cats: 16,849

That were dogs: 22,549

That were recorded only as “livestock”: 647

That were recorded as “other”: 765

“Livestock,” says Sgt. Heidi Burke, “would include horses, cows, goats, donkeys, sheep, and pigs. Those would be picked up mostly in rural areas of the county. The ‘other’ category would be hamsters, guinea pigs, bunnies. We also pick up wildlife, sometimes injured wildlife: rattlesnakes, skunks, possums, things like that.”


Number of lawsuits against the city, this fiscal year: 177

Amount of money the city paid out in lawsuits, January through March of this year: $2,748,250.86 Amount of money the city paid out in lawsuits involving the police: $4,345.57

“That’s pretty low. We are the envy of Los Angeles and San Francisco and cities around the country,” says Bill Corbett of the city attorney’s office. Is San Diego’s renowned conservatism the reason? “I think it’s because people here expect people to take more responsibility.”


Maximum amount of fat removed in a typical liposuction procedure: 2,000 cubic centimeters

“It depends on the procedure and the patient’s body weight,” says Dr. Sheldon Lerner. “A half cup on one person may be the equivalent of one cup on another person. You’re losing inches, not pounds.”


Estimated county acreage lost to forest fires this year: 6,526.5

“It’s impossible to say how many trees were lost,” says Darryl Page, of the U.S. Forest Service. “The number of trees on an acre of forest land varies so widely that to state an average number would be erroneous. A lot of that land is chaparral, too. People seem to care more if it's trees, though, because it’s nicer to walk through.”


Estimated gallons of “effluent” dumped through break in sewage-outfall pipe from February 4 through April 4: 10,200 million

Water used in the city of San Diego this year: “I know it's under last year's figure of 187 million gallons a day — 68,255 million gallons for the year,” says Kurt Kidman.

Number of drowning deaths in the county this year (beach, pool, bathtub): 43


Number of golf balls lost over the right-side fence at Torrey Pines driving range, every day this year: 45-60

Estimated number of golf balls Southwest Golf retrieved from San Diego courses every month this year: 350,000

Number of baseballs the Padres went through at home games this season: 7,776

“I couldn’t really say how many of those go into the stands at Jack Murphy Stadium,” says a Padre representative. “We hit 87 home runs at home games. Most of those are gone. The fans keep ’em for souvenirs.” Umpires prepare eight dozen baseballs for every game, and any scuff mark or defacement makes a ball un-reusable. “Balls are rarely reused.”

LOST REMAINS Leroy, a garbage collector, says, “The richer the neighborhood, the more trash they make. Mission Hills, Point Loma. But it’s bagged up better. They make nice, tight seals on their bags. You get those scented kinds of bags there, too. In a place like East San Diego there’s less trash per household, but it’s messy. Cans scattered all down the alley! You get diapers, food remains, tampons, condoms, dogshit, coffee grounds sprinkled over it. I don’t even notice anymore. But they don’t want something anymore they just put it out for you. What am I supposed to do with a couch? I can’t get that in the hopper.”


According to the San Diego Apartment Association, as of spring ’92, the vacancy rate in the city of San Diego was 6.4 percent, translating to 25,369 units; the rest of the county reports 6.6 percent, or 25,905 units. Highest vacancies are in the northernmost communities, with some higher than twice the county average: Oceanside, 15.4 percent; Vista, 14.5; Encinitas/Leucadia, 13.8; Cardiff, 13. Imperial Beach is up from 3.8 last year to 14.2; National City’s rate went from 3.8 last year to 12.2. In the city of San Diego, the highest apartment vacancy rates are in Logan Heights, 20.9 percent; College Grove, 13.6; and East San Diego, 13.5.


According to the November issue of the San Diego Economic Bulletin, published by the Convention and Visitors Bureau, 34 of the 51 areas in the chamber of commerce’s housing-price index posted a decrease in price in ’92. Only three areas showed a “real” increase (when inflation is factored in): El Cajon, Scripps Ranch, and Oak Park. The most significant decline was recorded in Rancho Bernardo, whose prices fell 11.4 percent between ’91 and ’92. Other North County areas recording declines of around 8 percent were Fallbrook, Encinitas, and San Marcos. Between April and October, western Oceanside recorded a decline of 15.4 percent; the eastern side, which has decreased in value over the past two years, showed a 1.6-percent gain in that six-month period.


Jerry Morrison, a lodging industry consultant, reports that though room demand increased 3.1 percent in San Diego this year, room supply just about canceled that out at 2.4 percent. In other words, San Diego’s hotel industry was pretty flat in ’92. Occupancy, at 66 percent, was barely up from last year’s 64 percent. Likewise, the average daily room rate climbed from $73.82 to $75.99.


New OSHA regulations dictate that dentists must change gloves every time they re-enter an operatory. A dentist sees as few as 10 and as many as 20 patients per day — and that’s not counting the assistants. One dentist says she uses 50 pairs of surgical gloves a day; a second claims his office goes through a box of 100 every half day. California Dental Association President Bruce Valentine says that in ’91 his office spent about $8400 on surgical gloves — seven pairs of gloves per patient-visit x 15 cents (price per pair) x 8000 (patient-visits per year). That’s a lot of rubber: 56,000 pairs in a year.


Of the dozens of articles left each week in train compartments (baggage handlers say about one article a day) — including books, coats, sweaters, keys, sunglasses, cassettes, stuffed animals, blankets — those most likely to be retrieved are wallets, cameras, radios, and purses. Those hardest to return? Young girls’ purses — no ID.


The word on lost luggage in the airline industry is “mishandled bags.” Upper management at US Air says odds are “10,000 to 1” that a bag would actually disappear. They claim US Air is successful in “reuniting” 98.7 percent of lost bags with their owners. Without citing figures, one vice president says an average of 5 bags are lost per 1000 boarders. This year, as of September, 9,192,350 passengers had flown in and out of Lindbergh Field. If US Air is representative, that’s over 45,000 bags lost — even before Thanksgiving and Christmas.


Dave Veidt of Pacific Recycling says he recycles 30 tons of Yellow Pages a month — “and that’s off-season.... There’s always some book being tossed.” What happens to it? He sells it to the Orient, where it’s turned into corrugated boxes and paper board — with a yellowish tint.


Fiscal year ’92 saw a loss of $440,000 in library materials; at an average of $25 each, that’s 17,600 fewer books. Since 1985, 177,587 books have been labeled “missing”: more than 50 days overdue.

In July, the American Library Association presented San Diego the “Best of the Best” award for its Neighborhood Pride and Protection program. The City of San Diego invested almost $9 million in funding for this package of programs, which resulted in the addition of Sunday hours at the central library and 15 other branches, the hiring of youth-services librarians, and the establishment of Homework Centers in all branches. In a year of severe budget restraints, cuts in library hours were limited to a few weeks in November and are now back to previous status. No personnel has been lost, and new branches are being built (Rancho Penasquitos opened in October; Carmel Valley and Scripps are scheduled for next February).


An Orkin Pest Control employee stopped en route to a job said he kills an average of a thousand cockroaches a day — “Those are just the ones I can see are dead.” That’s about 5000 a week (without overtime); in a year: 260,000.


County Vector Control reports that as of December 1992, a total of 3481 complaints were lodged about evidence of rats in north, central, and south San Diego. This situation has brought in 15 to 20 calls a day to the Mission Valley offices of Truly Nolen Pest Control. Sales representative Greg Miedema says some of the heaviest-hit areas are Allied Gardens, Del Cerro, Tierrasanta, Claire-mont, Mira Mesa, and La Jolla. He attributes the increase in complaints to a combination of drought, cold weather, and occasional earthquakes (it disturbs their nesting).

During this busy season, the seven reps from the Mission Valley office might service anywhere from 150 to 200 customers a month. For each customer, somewhere between 40 and 100 rats are caught. That’s an average of 11,900 rats a month or 142,800 a year. “It’s a continuous battle.”


Number of cars stolen citywide through June 1992:10,068

“The most popular cars to thieves,” says a Detective Stephen at SDPD auto theft, “are the ones that are easy to steal, obviously. Toyotas, Volkswagens. The ones with an easy-to-break lock mechanism in the door. Thieves, they don’t want to work any harder than you or I do.” He flips through his last year of monthly auto-theft reports. “Let’s see. Toyota, Volkswagen, Toyota. Toyota, Datsun, Hyundai, Volkswagen. Toyota, Toyota, Volkswagen. Volkswagen. Toyota, Toyota, Hyundai, Toyota. Datsun, Toyota, Toyota, Volkswagen....”

These cars are not in demand for their sleek styling, reliability, speed, or status. “There’s a big connection with narcotics. [The thieves] strip [thecars], remove the radios. Cars contain a certain number of items that are a quick sell for narcotics. They don’t care what kind of car it is, as long as they can steal it. That’s a generalization; there are a • number of different elements to car theft.” For example, there’s an amount of supply-and-demand car thievery. “Someone will call from Mexico and order a certain-size engine.”

Number of vehicles (all types) stolen countywide this year: 17,240 Number recovered: 13,218 (77%)

Number of automobiles stolen: 10,683 Number recovered: 8589 (80%)

Motorcycles: 585 Recovered: 307 (53%)

Recreational vehicles (boats, campers, etc.): 114

Recovered: 69 (61%)

Trailers: 196 Recovered: 87 (44%)

Number-one target vehicle:

'87 Hyundai Excel Number two: ’80 Toyota Corolla Three: '88 Hyundai Excel Four: '81 Toyota Corolla Five: '82 Toyota Corolla

Motorcycles: Numbers one through five were Hondas; six and seven were Yama-has, followed by a Honda, a Honda, and a Kawasaki.

Trucks: Toyota pickups and vans,

Dodge vans, Chevy pickups.

One of every 98 persons in California was a victim of vehicle theft last year, according to Officer John Marinez of the California Highway Patrol. The most popular vehicles by year were 1979 autos, 1986 motorcycles, and 1986 trucks and vans (older models are more numerous and easier to break into). Car makes and models: Hyundai Excels, Honda Preludes, Toyota pickups, VW Jettas and Sciroccos. Hyundais aren’t desirable for the car itself — it’s the stereo system. This is a $7 billion nationwide industry; California’s vehicle thefts account for $1 billion of that total.

Marinez says more cars are stolen and broken into at North County Fair than at any other mall in the county. He attributes this to the size of the parking lot and the fact that it’s all out in the open.


As of March 1, efforts were stepped up to prevent pedestrian highway fatalities by establishing checkpoints at San Onofre, to the north, and San Ysidro, to the south, the most popular spots for crossing the freeway.

In ’91, three deaths were reported near San Onofre; this year, there were five. In ’91,14 fatalities were reported near San Ysidro (12 were aliens). Fifteen others were injured, 3 of whom were non-aliens. This year, 5 people, all aliens, were killed, with 16 others (9 aliens) injured.

Near the southern checkpoint, freeway crossers tend to go east to west; 68 percent were hit south of the checkpoint; 92 percent during darkness; 83 percent while checkpoint was in operation.

Average age of victims: between 21 and 30

The worst days: Saturday and Sunday The worst time: 8 to 9p.m.

Worst time of year: summer

Numbers of deaths were higher in the past:

San Ysidro: 1987:15 1988:28 1989:24 1990:17

San Onofre/Oceanside: 1987:5 1988: 6 1989:14 1990: 15


There are so many bikes stolen in San Diego that the police don’t even monitor the numbers. The SDPD’s Mona Vallon estimates she sees three to four hundred stolen-bike reports a month. “They run the gamut from $10 pieces of garbage to $1500 carbon-frame custom-made mountain bikes. There are no unpopular bikes as far as thieves are concerned. We get a lot of bikes stolen in the beach areas, but it might be just because there are so many bikes at the beach and people are so careless with them. We also get a lot of stolen bikes reported from Mira Mesa.

“Our biggest problem is that people don’t write down the serial number. If you don’t have the serial number, the odds of me finding your bike are between slim and none. Someone will call and report their black Schwinn was stolen, and I may have 500 black Schwinns listed in our computer database. It’s simply impossible to check them all. And most of the time, thieves don’t even bother to scrape off the serial number. You know what I’ve noticed, though? Someone will report a $300 bike stolen, and I’ll ID it. I mean, I’ll ask them to describe the foam on the handlebars, they’ll describe a certain scratch on the frame, and it all checks out. I make a positive ID, but I’m looking at a bike that’s worth maybe $20.1 think there’s a lot of insurance scamming going on.”


Laundry services regularly end up with lost items. A man at Silver Coin, a service in La Jolla, says, “We lose nothing or a lot. A guy lost eight towels not long ago. We replaced them. In this business we do have thieves, but it’s not as bad [at Silver Coin] as it is a lot of places. We have been responsible for clothing getting mixed up, but most people bring it back. They’re either honest, or they don’t want to wear anyone else’s clothes. Someone walked off with a down comforter worth a couple hundred dollars about six months ago. We had to replace that.”

The Point Loma Laundry Center’s Andrew Gilligan fills up a 33-gallon garbage can with socks “every two or three months. There are thousands and thousands of socks. The craziest thing I’ve had lost here was a transient type of individual who had some type of parole-release document. He lost it somewhere between the washer and dryer. He was just about suicidal. We tore the place apart looking but couldn’t find it. A couple weeks later, while cleaning out a dryer, sure enough I found it.

“You would not believe how much gets left here. Some of it you would not believe. Like bedsheets? How do you forget about bedsheets? I mean, they’re so big. I can’t figure out if people get blown away in one of the local establishments here and forget to come back, or ... or what." It’s one thing to drop a pair of underwear as you’re crossing the parking lot, but “two or three washers-ful of items? How do you forget about two or three washersful of items? What we do is, about every six months or so, we bundle it all up and take it down to Saint Vincent de Paul.”


“The best places to witness,” says Sherry, a member of a local Christian fellowship, “are downtown at Horton Plaza, because of all the homeless; Hillcrest, because of the bars where the homosexuals go; and the last couple blocks of Garnet in Pacific Beach, by the intersection of Mission Boulevard. There’s a lot of homeless there, plus the young kids who go to the bars and hang out on the sidewalks. That’s best in summertime. We always get a good crowd. After we’re done, we go to the Denny’s on the corner.”

“John,” of Horizon Christian Fellowship, says, “I take the bus to work. Busses are a good place to tell people about the Lord. There’s many down-and-out people who ride the bus, who need to hear the good news about Jesus Christ. When it’s crowded, the guy next to you doesn’t want to give up his seat just to get away from you. But you can find lost souls anywhere.”

Tina came out this summer with a group from her church in Phoenix, Arizona, and stayed to attend SDSU. “I’ve done it a couple of years now, which is how I decided to go to State. I think Southern California is kind of a magnet for troubled people. One day a bunch of us went to the boardwalk in Mission Beach. There were all these kids running around the roller coaster place, in the video arcade. They spend the whole day there, without their parents’ supervision, getting into trouble. Rough characters sit on the wall around there. They give us a hard time. We had a bonfire on the beach, we had a guitar, we sang songs. We invited all the kids to come


Curtis Tankersly is the director of loss prevention for the Marriott Hotel on Harbor Drive. Protecting the corporation and the hotel owners against liability is only part of his responsibility; the guests are his real job. A former police officer, Tankersly has been with hotel security for four years. Some of his duties include speaking to employees and conventioneers about safety, emergency plans, and hazardous materials (the Marriott has never been fined by OSHA — “That would be a loss”); tracking alleged thefts from guests’ rooms or cars parked on the premises; and making sure guests’ baggage arrives at the hotel (one couple lost seven pieces of luggage while lunching at the Spaghetti Factory).

But that’s just the routine stuff.

In October, 112 stainless-steel plate covers (estimated at $35 each) were stolen from the Marriott’s food service department, shoved into a garbage can, and hustled out on a dolly. They — $3920 worth — were recovered; the thief, a parole violator, was charged with grand theft.

About a year ago, the hotel purchased a 70-foot cardboard giraffe for the banquet department. Soon after it was placed in one of the function rooms, staff saw the $400 prop leave with two young men and a woman. They caught up with the thieves just as they got into a taxi. After calling the taxi company and the police, the thieves were traced to Dick’s Last Resort, where the giraffe was perched on a barstool. The young people thought it was funny; Tankersly and the cops weren’t amused.

Another time, Tankersly recalls, some poor guy lost his clothes. “It was last January and it was pretty cold out. A bunch of fellas in their 20s set this guy up with a girl they knew he liked. The couple went for a walk; she convinced him to go skinny-dipping in the pool. He took off all his clothes, and she stole them, handed them to his buddies. They took off. They just left the guy there. We got him a towel and arranged for a taxi. As he was getting into the cab, his friends finally gave him his clothes back — they really let it go a long time. Of course, we couldn’t allow them to stay.”

Those who lose items at the Marriott should consider themselves lucky. An intricate system of tracking, checking, calling back, and following up keeps a lost-and-found coordinator in a full-time job. Those who claim items were stolen are a different matter. In addition to launching full investigations (depending on the nature of the alleged claim), the hotel uses a state-of-the-art electronic key-card system, which records who goes in and out of each room. (Once a guest leaves, his key isn’t good anymore; it decodes itself.)

“It keeps our employees and guests honest,” says Tankersly. If a guest accuses an employee of stealing his camera, and the key system reflects that no one but the guest himself has entered the room, Tankersly reasons, “that guest might have been at Sea World or in Tijuana and lost the camera, and they tried to get us to cover it for them.”

Guests call to retrieve all sorts of misplaced items, which the hotel is happy to replace: a child’s teddy bear, contact lenses left in a water glass and accidentally thrown out by a maid. Then, recalls Tankersly, there’s the occasional “sexual aid — vibrators and everything else” — and drugs. Tankersly remembers one gentleman who wanted reimbursement for cocaine the police department had confiscated from his room. “He expected the hotel to pay for it, because they didn’t get it back to him.” A few weeks ago, Tankersly recovered a man’s jacket and coat. Inside were his wallet and some marijuana. “I won’t allow my staff to dispose it. We had the police department here,” Tankersly recalls. “In the meantime, the guy comes to reclaim his stuff. And then, of course, then the marijuana wasn’t his....” He smiles. “Someone else had worn his coat.”

Tankersly encourages use of the hotel’s safety deposit box (free of charge to guests), where they can leave valuables such as cash, jewelry, cameras. “Law requires it,” he explains. “If you don’t have them and something comes up missing, there’s more liability.”

When asked about his staff of investigators, Tankersly would only say that it numbers “more than 40.” He’s proud of their efforts to get items back to the guests. “We get detailed descriptions. We ship it back at no charge.”

Tankersly takes me to visit Lost-and-Found Coordinator Enrile Romeo. In the bowels of the hotel, Romeo’s lost-and-found bins are stacked neatly, by number, and held under lock and key. The small room, with 80 full bins, still has space for three people to stand and pivot, but not much more. All items are dated, labeled, coded, cross-referenced, sealed in plastic, and held for return (after 90 days, and much effort to contact the owners, they’re given away to shelters). Even then, the former hotel guests are kept posted with calls and letters and followups. “It’s very time-consuming,” admits Enrile.

Two bins alone contain a hundred pairs of glasses; one shelf, organized by month of abandonment, is piled with 50 assorted paperbacks, videos, magazines, each carefully tagged, despite their throwaway appeal. Multicolored straw hats — tourist purchases in TJ? — sit high on a shelf, stacked to the ceiling. Four bicycles (one rusting), one massage table, a dozen heavy coats, luggage sets, two TVs, a computer’s hard drive, countless umbrellas....

As Tankersly walks me out through the employees’ entrance, he can’t resist picking up astray bit of garbage, which he drops into a nearby bin. It’s the fourth or fifth time in an hour that this vigilant superemployee has absentmindedly cleared away trash, moved an ashtray, or grabbed a towel draped on a chair. As we shake hands, his eyes are already searching around.

- Sue Greenberg



San Diego Union

January 1


For the first time since the mid-1970s, San Diego’s unemployment rate exceeded the national average last year. The county has lost approximately 16,000 jobs during the recession.

Gannett News Service

January 2


Chargers’ owner Alex Spanos: “It’s been eight years, and I’m tired of sitting around having losing seasons. I got (general manager) Bobby Beathard two years ago and now I’ve got Bobby Ross.”

San Diego Union

January 2


By Tom Blair

We have the bumper sticker, espied by Nikki Symington in South SD: “Of All The Things I’ve Lost, I Think I Miss My Mind The Most.”

San Diego Tribune

January 3


Bobby Ross takes over a Chargers team that just finished 4-12 (its fourth straight losing season), traded away its first-round draft choice and hasn’t been to the playoffs since 1982.

Los Angeles Times

January 3


“I’m frustrated with the system,” said Ted Cashuk, an accountant who lost $361,000 when Pioneer failed. “It inundates us with paperwork. It shouldn’t be taking this long.”

San Diego Union and Tribune

January 7


San Diego Tribune will merge Feb. 2, resulting in the elimination of up to 173 newsroom, photo and library positions. The 3 1/2-month process of deciding which people will work at the merged newspaper and which employees will lose their jobs has fomented scores of rumors.

San Diego Union

January 8


Employers’ payrolls were down by 17,800 jobs in November compared to a year earlier in San Diego County, worse than the 15,800 yearly job loss in October and the steepest loss of jobs on a year-to-year basis since the recession began in July 1990.

San Diego Tribune

January 10


When Channel 10 ran its annual toy drive this past Christmas, staffers made a disturbing discovery: Many of the people calling in were not the traditional poor and downtrodden. A lot were middle-class workers of blue and white collar who had lost their jobs and couldn’t find new ones.

Los Angeles Times

January 11


Eventually, however, the Chicago mob lost interest in Rincon....

Los Angeles Times

January 12


The trademarks of today’s bankrupt consumer in Southern California are a lost job coupled with runaway credit card bills and multiple mortgages on a house falling in value.

Los Angeles Times

January 12


2,500 investors have lost much, if not all, of their life savings invested in the now-bankrupt Pioneer Mortgage Co. in San Diego.

Aviation Week and Space Technology

January 13


Local 1125 of the International Assn, of Machinists and Aerospace Workers at General Dynamics Convair in San Diego said the joint venture would result in the loss of thousands of aircraft production jobs in southern California.

San Diego Tribune

January 15


The loss of a newspaper to a community is like a good friend going out of our lives. —


Daily Telegraph

January 16


Dennis Conner was happy enough, for he defeated Bill Koch steering Jayhawk from the America 3 syndicate, avenging Tuesday’s opening loss against Koch’s other boat, Defiant.

Los Angeles Times

January 17

COUNCIL PASSES 21-POINT PROGRAM AIMED AT BOOSTING CITY TO BUSINESSES Business leaders ... said the plan is a welcome economic tonic for a city that has lost 33,600 jobs in the past two years.

San Diego Tribune

January 17


First National Corp. today reported a loss of $10.3 million in 1991, leading to the immediate resignation of the company’s president and chief executive officer Michael West.... Chairman Malin Burnham attributed the surprisingly large loss and the deterioration of the bank’s loans to San Diego’s weak economy.

Los Angeles Times

January 25


Skateboarder Mark (Gator) Anthony, former national skateboard champion, pleading guilty to murder and rape in death of 22-year-old Jessica Bergsten, in letter to the court explained his actions: “Obviously I lost the battle when I acted out unexpectedly. The sad result was our loss of Jessica Bergsten, who deserved much, much better and who never wronged me in any way.”

San Diego Union

January 26


[Mack’s victim] James English, 52, was upgraded from critical to serious condition yesterday. English probably will lose part of his vision and might not be able to read again, his brother said.

San Diego Daily Transcript

January 28


A.J. Felton, Resolution Trust Corp. sales office director: “Where this thing will end up is anybody’s guess but it’s obvious it’s going to end up with a loss to the taxpayers.”

Washington Post

January 19


Richard Werner, California Housing Advisors’ president: “Right now, I don’t see any source that is large enough to replace what’s been lost.”


January 21


Max Schetter, Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce economic research director: “It will help the tourist industry, which has been hit by the recession, and it will help offset some of the losses we are seeing in other recession-hit areas, such as retail stores.”

Associated Press

January 22


Seventy-six-year-old man granted leniency from federal prosecutors after he robbed a

bank to pay for his heart medicine is charged with setting fire to his hotel room in a quarrel over lost dentures.

San Diego Tribune

January 22


By Neil Morgan

“Mr. San Diego" Ernie Hahn ... and co-developer Harry Summers face the loss of millions in their Plaza at La Jolla Village.

Los Angeles Times

January 24


By Tony Perry

Does the 4.9 [rating] mean that [Roger] Hedgecock has lost more than half his audience in the past year and thus needs to stir up some will-he-or-won't-he controversy?

San Diego Tribune

January 25


Inside the plants, workers say, anxiety is palpable and employees are afraid they will lose their jobs for talking to outsiders, for coming to work late, or for no reason at all.

San Diego Union

January 25

FIRED WORKER KILLS MAN AT CONVAIR PLANT: 2ND SUPERVISOR BADLY WOUNDED Friends described Mack as a proud man — so proud he never let any of them know he had lost his job. “I’m not saying he was right or wrong,” said a friend of Mack’s. “But the mental stress must have been too much. You bust your ass for 25 years, and they fire you. It’s stressful.”


January 30


More than 800 people would have lost their benefits in the next two weeks.


San Diego Union

February 1


Harold Brown, president of the city’s Black Economic Development Task Force: “Now that the merger is taking place it would follow that we feel that even that small edge has been lost and you’re back to a situation that is worse than the one that existed because it is perceived that the Union is more conservative than the Tribune.”

Los Angeles Times

February 2


“I always feel bad when a paper’s gone,” said Helen Terry Massie, a 20-year reader of the scrappy afternoon paper, who has watched newspapers fold in New York City and elsewhere. “You’re losing two sides of a situation and a story.”

Los Angeles Times

February 5


Psychologist Nancy Haller: “Those who lose their jobs feel they have nothing to lose because they have lost everything.


Daily Telegraph

March 4


For the first time, Dennis Conner is sailing his own boat in the America’s Cup defense trials, not someone else’s. And for the first time, since 1974 at least, he is losing. And it is hurting him.

Los Angeles Times

March 6


President Thomas Day: “And we have recovered some of the ground that we lost because we have gone down in students.”

Los Angeles Times

March 15


Representative Bill Lowery (R-San Diego): “We [he and wife Katie] were two folks on different coasts, writing in the same checkbook. I lost track.”

Los Angeles Times

March 18


About Leonard E. Eddington II, accused of murdering his estranged wife, Ronald Brock testified: “He said before he lost his property in a divorce, he’d go up on the roof and saw the house in half and her too if she got in the way.”

Daily Telegraph

March 31


With defeats at the hands of New Zealand and Nippon in the last round and the loss of II Moro’s speed edge, Cayard’s confidence had taken a blow.


New York Times

April 1


HomeFed Corporation said today that it had lost $35.6 million in the fourth quarter of 1991 and that it had not met a deadline set by Federal regulators to strengthen its financial condition.

Los Angeles Times

April 2


The Grand Jury scoffed at Jacobsen’s oft-repeated claim that less than 1% of the county’s $711 million welfare budget is lost to fraud.

Wall Street Journal

April 3


Shares of Price Co. lose nearly a quarter of their value in heavy trading after the San Diego retailer posts 26% decline in fiscal second-quarter profit.

Daily Telegraph

April 4


The misery was shared by France’s Ville de Paris, who collided with Nippon and lost both the umpire’s verdict and most of her bow.

New York Times

April 6


The company said the regulators would sell the institution, probably with Federal financial assistance, and that shareholders and bondholders would probably lose their entire investments, as they would if the institution were seized.

Daily Telegraph

April 7


Unbeaten in the last round, Nippon has discovered the reverse side of fortune, losing all but one of six races in the semi-finals.

Los Angeles Times

April 9


Thomas J. Wageman, HomeFed president and chief executive, said the thrift feels that it has “sufficiently provided for losses, and additional provisions are not required at this time.”

San Diego Daily Transcript

April 9


First National Corp., parent of First National Bank, reported it lost $5.1 million for the first quarter of this year ended March 31.

Daily Telegraph

April 10


DENNIS CONNER’S hopes of reaching the America’s Cup defenders’ finals suffered a further setback when his Stars & Stripes lost to revamped America3 in a close race in a shifty wind on smooth water.

Daily Telegraph

April 11


The next time they returned to the windward mark, Paul Cayard tried to shoot the mark as Dennis Conner had done in the defenders’ trials on Tuesday. But possibly because he had noted how Conner had lost a protest in mirror-image circumstances, he dropped his jib. But, like Conner, he brushed the buoy and was penalized. Conner is still furious about losing Tuesday’s protest.

Daily Telegraph

April 12


Stars & Stripes’ 44-seconds defeat by America3 on Saturday, in a good sailing breeze, meant Conner lost his first chance to ensure a place in the defenders’ final. Theoretically, Conner’s place in the final could have been secured yesterday, but that required Koch allowing his America3 to lose to his other boat, Kanza.

Los Angeles Times

April 12


By Steve Baker, whose son was murdered fourteen years ago by Robert Alton Harris. Somewhere along the way, the criminal justice system lost sight of its fundamental responsibility to punish those who break the law. And while more and more Californians lose their jobs, Harris is sheltered, fed and clothed at taxpayer expense.

National Mortgage News

April 13


When troubled HomeFed Bank hired Thomas Wageman last year to replace chairman Robert Adelizzi, part of the deal included the purchase of Mr. Wageman’s Dallas home as an incentive to relocate here. The thrift lost $20,000 on the deal and Mr. Wageman used the proceeds to purchase not a California house but another Dallas home.

Daily Telegraph

April 16


Much of the blame must be laid at the door of the disorganized America’s Cup Organizing Committee, who for the past 10 months have been on the brink of bankruptcy. They are still being sued for £180,000 by a Los Angeles-based helicopter firm for loss of income while assisting television coverage.

Daily Telegraph

April 17


Conner is fielding one boat with a £7 million budget — and there is no love lost between the two men.

Los Angeles Times

April 18


Joe Francis, executive director, San Diego County Central Labor Council: “Whole American cities have been decimated as employers joined the gold rush to Mata-moros, Tecate, Tijuana, and Ciudad Juarez. Thousands of American workers have been dislocated, lost their jobs.... The grim reality of poverty and pollution characterizes our relationship with Mexico.”

Los Angeles Times

April 21


Jim Vlassis, Mira Mesa High principal: “Americans are bleeding, and many have already lost their jobs. We have to take our fair share and (two days without pay) is far better than losing jobs completely or hurting kids in the classroom.”

Los Angeles Times

April 21


Mary Nichols, Natural Resources Defense Council: “This is the first documented loss of habitat that the state can’t dismiss or ignore.”

New York Times

April 22


The deadly pellets dropped at 6:10 A.M. According to several witnesses, Mr. Harris appeared to lose consciousness after about one and one-half minutes, although his body continued a series of convulsions and his head jerked....

Los Angeles Times

April 22


Michael Baker’s 26-year-old sister told one reporter that it was none of-his business why she wanted to witness the execution. Unless he’d lost a brother, she said, he wouldn’t understand.

Miami Herald

April 25


Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes continues to rack up losses against Bill Koch’s America.

Daily Telegraph

April 26


Mrs. Tolly Travis, socialite from Perth, Western Australia: “In Newport, the parties went on all day and all night. Everybody had a marvelous time. The America’s Cup Ball was out of this world. Perth was really lively, too. But San Diego is a dead loss. The problem seems to be there is no sense of style or elegance here. Can you imagine a city that is hosting the America’s Cup and expecting visitors from all over the world to close its restaurants before midnight? I am hoping Italy wins the Cup this time so that the next defense will be in the Mediterranean.”

Daily Telegraph

April 28


One protest by Italy’s II Moro di Venezia has already seen one of New Zealand’s victories lost in the jury room and, because the Kiwis have been forced to alter the way they used their bowsprit to fly their spinnakers, they lost another race on the water to II Moro on Sunday.


Los Angeles Times

May 1


According to the report, the young woman lost consciousness but was picked up and passed from man to man and partly disrobed.

Daily Telegraph

May 1


Conner is staring long odds in the face yet again after losing to Bill Koch yesterday. Conner said of his rival’s boat, America3: “That’s a heck of a boat. The more I see of it, the more I think the Cup will stay in America.”

New York Times

May 2


Nearly 460 employees will lose their jobs at General Dynamics’ Convair division between now and the end of June.

New York Times

May 3


Many in Sacramento trace the Governor’s [Pete Wilson’s] troubles in large measure to the loss of Otto Bos.

Daily Telegraph

May 4


If America3 lost, Conner would take the rap for being the only man to lose the cup twice.

Los Angeles Times

May 7


Max Schetter, Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce economic research director: “The best case would be that someone purchases Convair, expands operations and hires more people. The worst case is that someone buys them, moves them, and we lose all those jobs. More likely, it will be something in between.”

Los Angeles Times

May 8


San Diego Economic Development Corp. President Dan Pegg: No matter how many jobs eventually are lost, San Diego will feel intense economic pain because jobs now at risk are “high-paying, highly taxed jobs, the kinds of jobs we really hate to lose.”

Los Angeles Times

May 15


HomeFed, which lost $807 million last year, has been insolvent since last fall when continued loan losses depleted its capital base below minimum levels required of all savings and loans.

San Diego Business Journal

May 18


Estimates of how many General Dynamics jobs San Diego might lose in the coming year range from 2,500 to more than 10,000.

Los Angeles Times

May 22


On the City Council, Henderson was often viewed as a divisive force, offering long-winded logic on nearly every subject. “When he lost,” said one longtime city official, “my ears rested.”

San Diego Daily Transcript

May 28


Beyond the obvious concern that the bank lost $10.3 million in 1991, and $5.1 million for the first quarter, owners must also be worried whether First National can meet a regulatory deadline of July 31 to increase its sagging capital ratios.

San Diego Union-Tribune

May 31


The other shoe: Clark Anthony, a pro with nearly two decades at KFMB, lost his radio job in the budget slashing two weeks ago. Last week, he lost `his post as weekend TV weatherman.


Los Angeles Times

June 2


UCSD professor Harley S. ^Shaiken: “When (governments) start business wars ... it often means (the victor) ends up with the fewest protections for the workers and the communities involved. It’s a game of musical chairs, and when the music stops, more jobs are lost.”

San Diego Daily Transcript

June 4


The largest decrease in employment was in manufacturing with a loss of 1,200 jobs. The figure was 129,700 compared to 130,900 the month before.

San Diego Daily Transcript

June 4


Unless they can work something out with Bank of America and Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Harry L. Summers and Ernest Hahn could lose all but a small portion of the 17-acre Plaza at La Jolla Village.

San Diego Daily Transcript

June 11


Attorney William Braniff: “Experience has shown that many failures of financial institutions involve a degree of fraud, either in direct losses or in covering up the extent of loss that resulted from bad business or management.”

San Diego Daily Transcript

June 25


The realization that they were probably witnessing the demise of their company was not lost on several shareholders, one of whom compared the proceedings to a funeral. “It seems to me like we’ve come to a wake,” said Pat Iodice. “Tom Wageman (HomeFed Bank’s president) and all his directors and managers are in black suits. All we have to do is bury HomeFed Corp.”

New York Times

June 26


HomeFed’s chairman, Kim Fletcher, has expressed optimism that the holding company can survive the loss of HomeFed Bank, although shareholders are j expected to lose their investment.

San Diego Daily Transcript

June 29


During May, HomeFed Bank reported a net deposit loss of $184 million, primarily in short-term retail accounts.

San Francisco Chronicle

June 29


California has lost some 600,000 jobs since employment peaked two years ago.... Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties account for fully 85 percent of the state’s job losses in the recession.

San Diego Daily Transcript

June 30


Mike Conover, Secura Group: “There’s a lot of people losing their jobs because of the mergers and banks going out of business.... It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”


Los Angeles Times

July 1


The loss of the Convair missile operation figures to be a severe blow to San Diego’s status as a defense contractor. San Diego thus stands to lose all 4,500 of its Convair missile jobs over the next year or so....

Washington Times

July 4


Vice Adm. Edwin R. Kohn Jr., commander of naval air forces in the Pacific ... said he removed Capt. Skip Braden and Cmdr. David Tyler “because I lost confidence in them.”

Washington Post

July 7


HomeFed, whose capital had been dissipated by two years of losses caused mainly by bad real-estate and commercial loans in Western states, was taken over by the Office of Thrift Supervision at 4:45 p.m.

Los Angeles Times

July 8


Rep. Bruce F. Vento (D-Minn.), House Banking Committee member: Timothy Ryan Jr., Office of Thrift Supervision, “screwed around with this for the last two years — this baby (HomeFed) lost $1 billion.... They have been dragging their feet.”

San Diego Daily Transcript

July 8


John Quinn, spokesman for Resolution Trust Corp.: “The loss of HomeFed will be sizable, in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but it’s too soon to tell now.”

Los Angeles Times

July 12


Nancy Chase: “Tom [Shepard] lost the most in all this, undeniably.... Roger [Hedgecock] bounced back immediately, but it’s taken Tom almost 10 years to get back to where he was.”

New York Times

July 15


With baseball’s All-Star Game being played last night in Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, where President Bush was in the crowd, the convention’s planners were resigned to losing much of the television audience.

New York Times

July 15


Many environmental and labor groups have opposed a free trade agreement, warning that jobs will be lost and that American companies will move polluting factories south of the border to take advantage of Mexico’s lax environmental regulations.

San Diego Daily Transcript

July 15


Hughes Aircraft, McDonnell Douglas experienced huge layoffs in a short time frame. Of its 40,000 workers, 10,000 lost their jobs within six months.

Los Angeles Times

July 17


“I don’t know the whole story yet,” said Dave West, longtime Perot supporter from San Diego. “I haven’t lost my respect for him, not one bit.”

San Diego Daily Transcript

July 17


The Bank of Southern California sustained a net loss of $1.8 million, or 79 cents per share — its largest in recent history.

Los Angeles Times

July 21


Peter Reeb, partner at Meyers Group, San Diego real estate market research firm: “You look at the San Diego economy and you see that we have lost 20,000 jobs in the last 18 months and you understand why it’s pretty hard to sustain a strong housing market.”

San Diego Daily Transcript

July 23


BSD Bancorp Inc. reported a net loss for the second quarter of $3.8 million caused mainly by the addition of $3.5 million to its loan loss reserves. The loss cut into the bank’s capital cushion, placing it below one key regulatory target.

Los Angeles Times

July 29


Timothy Ryan Jr., Office of Thrift Supervision: “HomeFed will languish in government conservatorship, unable to be resolved, losing value and competing with private sector financial institutions for funds. No one can argue that the scenario saves money for U.S. taxpayers.”


Los Angeles Times

August 1


San Diego County has lost 4.5% of its jobs over the past two years.

San Diego Daily Transcript

August 5


High vacancy levels and declining property values are a key reason for the sharp increase in loan losses at the nation’s banks and insurance companies in recent years.

Los Angeles Times

August 5


Cmdr. Robert (Bunga) Clement: “They lost confidence in my ability to lead because I wouldn’t reprimand my officers for exercising their First Amendment rights.

San Diego Daily Transcript

August 5


Though there is consensus that the city is moving in the right direction by forming a task force with Hughes to deal with the possible loss of 4,500 local jobs, people wonder if much will be accomplished.

Los Angeles Times

August 11


San Diego Police Officer and convicted rapist Henry Hubbard, Jr., makes statement at his sentencing hearing: “During the commission of the crimes, I lost touch with my emotions and with reality. The lawlessness involved went against every moralistic and humanistic value that I possessed as a caring and law-abiding member of society.”

Los Angeles Times

August 14


The result, officials said, would be a gutting of public transportation in the city and a loss of 300 to 400 jobs.

Los Angeles Times

August 15

JUDGE DISMISSES LAWSUIT AGAINST CITY ATTY. WITT A malpractice lawsuit against City Atty. John Witt was dismissed Friday after a judge found that Witt had no responsibility to represent a city official who lost his job as a result of a City Hall sex-and-money scandal.

San Diego Business Journal

August 17


Having already lost the carnation and chrysanthemum wars, the industry worries that NAFTA will mean defeat for the domestic rose-growing industry.

San Diego Daily Transcript

August 20


The number of bank presidents losing their jobs is something that obviously has much to do with San Diego’s and California’s economic problems.

Los Angeles Times

August 26


Michael Ryan, recruited after nationwide search to lead Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, after being laid off because Chamber lacks money to pay him: “This city suffered a double whammy. First, it lost all those local Marines being sent off to the Gulf conflict. Then the recession hit. Wow.”

Los Angeles Times

August 26


Unnamed SDSU professor: “He [SDSU President Thomas Day] has lost any effectiveness that he had built up over recent years.”

San Diego Union-Tribune

August 27


Cornerback Gill Byrd, a man who has labored nine seasons in the NFL without once appearing in a playoff game ... thanked Spanos for his steadfastness in the face of adversity. “There’s a verse in the Bible that says, ‘Let us not lose heart doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.’”

New York Times

August 28


Father Joe Carroll, president, St. Vincent de Paul Center: “Once you let them believe they [the " homeless] have a right to it, the city in effect loses control of the property. San Diego says it is not going to let that happen. They’ve seen what happened in New York.”


Los Angeles Times

September 1


Sacramento County Superior Court Judge William R. Ridgeway: “The court is left to wonder whether and on what basis the commission rejected the documentation in the petition, and the record indicating that the gnatcatcher’s coastal sage scrub community habitat would be lost within 20 years,”

Los Angeles Times

September 2


San Diego City Manager Jack McGrory said San Diego officials project the loss of $12 million in annual property tax reimbursements and a one-time loss of $5 million in redevelopment money.

Los Angeles Times

September 6


Is there anyone who doesn’t know someone who lost their job this year?

Los Angeles Times

September 7


After spending their lives building tract homes they could never afford, feeling more exploited as the recession hit the lower class especially hard, drywall hangers say they have nothing to lose.

San Diego Business Journal

September 7


Rohr posted a $25.2 million loss on sales of $298.8 million for the third quarter ending May 2. During the same period last year, the company made $9 million on $358.2 million in sales.

Gannett News Service

September 10

Local news was dominated by Wednesday’s headline in the San Diego Union-Tribune: the Hughes Aircraft Co. was halting production of Tomahawk missiles in San Diego and shifting the work to a sister plant in Tucson, at a loss of up to 2,000 jobs here.

New York Times

September 11


The plaintiffs ... each seek damages in excess of $10,000 for “physical and psychic injury,” loss of wages and past and future medical and psychological treatment.

Los Angeles Times

September 16


Cecil H. Steppe, interim director, Department of Social Services: “There was some recent media attention on thousands of misplaced case files throughout the department. Although many files have been closed for various reasons, they are not lost.

San Diego Union-Tribune

September 19


Ross said he’s well aware of the Chargers’ losing ways, that the club is 22-50 since 1988 and hasn't been to the playoffs since the 1982 season, the longest streak in the AFC. But he wanted to make it clear that he’s responsible for only two of those losses.

Los Angeles Times

September 20


“ ... we have enjoyed a bonanza that I don’t think people began to appreciate until they began losing it....”

San Diego Daily Transcript

September 28


The growing realization is, the report noted, that those job losses are permanent.

Los Angeles Times

September 29


Max Schetter, Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce: “Lord knows, having lost more than 38,000 jobs (in San Diego County) over the past two years, jobs should be our No. 1 priority.”

Los Angeles Times

September 30


USD student: “I knew they weren’t coming. Bush already knew he lost in California. It wouldn’t be worth his while.”

San Diego Daily Transcript

September 30


More than half of the construction firms surveyed here have lost at least 25 percent of their work force within the past two years.


San Diego Daily Transcript

October 14


In its most turbulent year since its founding shortly before the October 9&7 stock market crash, the San Diego Stock Exchange has been battered through 992, losing 4&.316 points, or 15. percent of its value, since Dec, 31,1991.

Reuter Business Report

October 20


A spokesman for the company said 1,700 workers will lose their jobs over the next five months at the San Diego-based Convair division, which currently employs 4,200.

San Diego Union-Tribune

October 29


Alex Spanos’ ... football life has been a string of 6-10s. And, absolutely, he has been a bad loser. He has been part of the problem, which he admits, and losing ate at him because he couldn’t correct it in football as he has in his business life.

San Diego Union-Tribune

October 30


A sobbing Susan Bray ... described one incident in which Spaulding came to her home and she was on the floor crying because she was so distraught by their sexual relationship. “I was so ashamed and I was so upset about this,” Bray said. “He reached down and put his arms around me. I said I was so afraid I would lose my job. He said, ‘If nobody else cares about you, at least you know I care about you.’”

Los Angeles Times

October 30


The race has already become the most expensive mayoral cam- v paign in San Diego history. Including funds spent by losing candidates in the primary, the race’s final price tag probably will exceed $2 million'.


New York Times

November 1


Even Barry Goldwater, who lost to Lyndon Johnson in a landslide, carried the county in 1964. Jimmy Carter, who won the race in 1976, lost in San Diego County to Gerald R. Ford. This, historians say, is GOP country. Until now.


November 2


Betty Broderick still rages about the ex-husband she murdered. Private investigator Marion Pasas, who worked on Broderick’s case: “There’s inequality here. Dan Broderick felt he didn’t owe Betty anything. He took away [everything]. She had nothing left and nothing more to lose.”

San Diego Business Journal

November 2


The lion’s share of missile operations now owned by Hughes will disappear from San Diego during the next year. Hughes is consolidating Tomahawk missile production in Tucson, a loss of 1,300 jobs here.

San Diego Union-Tribune

November 4


Try as he might to brand Susan Golding as a failed, Establishment politician, loser Peter Navarro was never able to convince enough voters that they would be better off with a neophyte.

Los Angeles Times

November 5


Retiring chairman George Bailey: the Doyle-Jacob race “got a little rough, a little dirty, and I don’t think that’s necessary. In 35 years of public life, I never lost an election and don’t ever remember having a campaign like that. I just wouldn’t get involved in something like that.”

Los Angeles Times

November 5


Spaulding strongly contradicted Bray’s testimony last week, which indicated that she “submitted” to Spaulding’s sexual advances because she feared losing her job overseeing planning issues in the historic Gaslamp Quarter.

Los Angeles Times

November 5


Navarro offered a different interpretation for his apparent loss.... “Clearly, the ideas that I represented in terms of change, in terms of protecting the environment, in terms of diversifying our economy, lost out to a political Establishment here which is intent on continuing to rely on overdevelopment and speculation.”

San Diego Union-Tribune

November 6


Navarro, who initially reacted petulantly to his loss in Tuesday’s mayoral election, sounded a note of conciliation yesterday after a private meeting with his victorious rival Susan Golding and Mayor Maureen O’Connor. The remarks from a smiling and somewhat relaxed-looking Navarro contrasted sharply with his lingering anger the day after he lost to Golding by about four percentage points.

San Diego Union-Tribune

November 7


Glen Broom, chairman of the journalism department at San Diego State University, said, “Anytime the community loses a major voice, then I think it’s a loss.”

New York Times

November 7


John Morton, Lynch, Jones & Ryan media analyst: “It’s ... expensive to keep these editions going, especially if they are losing money, and as a result they tend to get hurt first in a recession.”


November 9


Timothy Ryan Jr., Office of Thrift Supervision, said the condition of the industry is markedly improved from four years ago, when the nation’s 3,100 S&Ls were losing more than $1 billion a month.


November 11


HomeFed’s ... increased reserving for loan losses sucked away its cash, leaving it hundreds of millions of dollars short of meeting minimum capital requirements.

Associated Press

November 12


San Diego forensic psychologist Dr. Reid Meloy: “When spurned lovers don’t properly mourn their loss, depression can escalate into revenge fantasies — or worse.”


San Diego Union-Tribune

December 4


“I did survive, but I don’t feel very lucky,” said English, 52, who said he is now legally blind, suffers a severe hearing loss, seizures and high blood pressure. “I am told I am better off than Michael Konz, but I don’t feel so.” Deputy District Attorney Robert Sickels: “The loss of a job at General Dynamics certainly pales in comparison to the loss those families have faced,” he said, referring to those of Konz and English. ■

Los Angeles Times November 14 BRAY WINS VERDICT WORTH ONLY

$28,150 In a loss to [Susan] Bray that may have cost her thousands of dollars, the city did not commit an “intentional infliction of emotional distress,” according to the verdict.

Los Angeles Times November 25 POLICE TO CUT 60-70 OFFICERS WITH BUYOUT The significant loss of so many j officers leaves the city — which did not graduate a single officer recruit from its last academy j class — in a bind over how to j make good on a promise by the City Council in June that it I would hire 250 new officers by the end of 1998.


Los Angeles Times December 1 SAN ONOFRE’S LANDMARK NUCLEAR UNIT PUT TO REST “It’s my life’s work; it’s like losing a relative, a friend,” said Jay Iyer, who helped design Unit 1 back in 1963.

Los Angeles Times December 1 $1 14 MILLION EXPANSION PROPOSED FOR CONVENTION CENTER If the center is not expanded by 1997 to meet the needs of large clients, convention officials say, downtown merchants will lose out on an estimated $100 million in potential business annually from delegates.

Los Angeles Times December 3 COLLEAGUE TAKES BURGREEN TO TASK OVER SCOUTS Lt. Roy Blackledge apologized to the Explorer Scouts who were affiliated with the San Diego Police Department, the Explorers program of the El Cajon Police Department, and the Boy Scouts of San Diego County “who will probably lose their camp on Fiesta Island to satisfy the cries of one vocal, liberal group.”

UPI December 4 MARRIOTT SUED BY OWNERS OF SAN DIEGO HOTEL Owners of the San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina said Friday they have sued Marriott Corp. and its chairman seeking to recover more than $100 million in allegedly lost profits and excessive management fees.

Los Angeles Times December 4 KPBS MAKES DEEP CUTS IN PRODUCTION STAFF KPBS executive producer Paul Marshall: “ ... loss of experienced producers means the station is basically going to kind of start all over again.”

funded” out of Mountain Shadows Home in Escondido. “There’s nowhere for them [Mountain Shadow residents] to go. We’re talking people in wheelchairs being homeless. We don’t know what to do (if, indeed, the funding is lost).”

Daily Telegraph April 10 CONNER STRUGGLES TO STAY IN CONTENTION DENNIS CONNER’S hopes of reaching the America’s Cup defenders’ finals suffered a further setback when his Stars & Stripes lost to revamped America3 in a close race in a shifty wind on smooth water.

Daily Telegraph April 11 ITALIANS JOIN NEW ZEALAND IN FINAL TRIAL The next time they returned to the windward mark, Paul Cayard tried to shoot the mark as Dennis Conner had done in the defenders’ trials on Tuesday. But possibly because he had noted how Conner had lost a protest in mirror-image circumstances, he dropped his jib. But, like Conner, he brushed the buoy and was penalized. Conner is still furious about losing Tuesday’s protest.


Stars & Stripes’ 44-seconds defeat by America3 on Saturday, in a good sailing breeze, meant Conner lost his first chance to ensure a place in the defenders’ final. Theoretically, Conner’s place in the final could have been secured yesterday, but that required Koch allowing his America3 to lose to his other boat, Kanza.

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