Stories for October 2001

Thursday, October 25

Did Bin Laden's Brother Live a Secret Life in San Diego?

One of Osama's 54 siblings involved in Sorrento Valley bulb business

What was Binladen, now 35, heir to a multibillion-dollar Middle Eastern fortune, doing in San Diego? And why would he be involved in a small-time tulip-importing business -- based out of a two-room office in Sorrento Valley?

Duff Brenna: The Altar of the Body

From one narrator to the next

The Altar of the Body opens with George sitting on his porch on a hot day in Medicine Lake, Minnesota. He watches a man push a Lincoln Continental. “It’s an old car, a four-door boater, champagne-colored.…”

Blame It on the Budget

Crispina Lopez de Galliano sits with her husband, Dean, writing a résumé at the Employment Development Department. Galliano, 37, is angry. She believes she lost her job as a cashier at the 32nd Street Commissary ...

Spam Buster

We all get them and we all hate them: unwanted e-mails advertising cut-rate life insurance, low-interest mortgages, get-rich-quick schemes, debt-consolidation services, ink-jet cartridges, and cell-phone accessories. One might live with these annoyances, if they weren't ...


The highest-ranking retired CIA operative in La Jolla has been spurned by the Bush administration, reports the Washington Times. Duane "Dewey" Clarridge -- founder of the CIA's counterterrorism center and ex-chief of the agency's Arab ...

Tears for My Grandfathers

Papa's was a beautiful death.

The first thing they did after he died was clean him up, an incredibly tender gesture It had been him, and they treated his body with kind regard. They removed his clothes and scrubbed him all over.

Snoop around the Dawn Mine, hidden deep within Millard Canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Millard Canyon's happily splashing stream, presided over by oaks, alders, maples, and bigcone Douglas firs, flows out of the San Gabriel Mountains and down into the urban flatlands of the Los Angeles Basin. The six-mile ...

Thursday, October 18

They Make Their Home by the River

Down and out in Mission Valley

His name was Petey and he had lived in the riverbed for 20 years. “It’s a nice place.” He told us that that morning 30 “Mexican kids” had come down looking for a chrome bike, which had been stolen.

Middle-Aged and Unemployed

Michael Davis is unemployed, but his motivation is contagious. At 52, he's seen jobs come and go, and he's out of work again. "I was working for the San Diego Unified School District through a ...

Tijuana Dream Tracker

Monuments to Lincoln, Cardenas, teachers, the free textbook

"Just like Florence, just like Rome, Tijuana, too, has its monuments." Professor Julio Rodríguez steers his blue Ford through Zona Rio, gesturing at one statue after another. "And what are monuments? What do they represent? ...

Fear of flying

A retired rear admiral, ex-SEAL, and military special-ops expert who lives in Coronado has found himself in the middle of the controversy over the nation's airport security. Cathal "Irish" Flynn, who saw two tours of ...

Fattburger broke my heart

A child-sized John Coltrane, a friend had once called him.

It is a quiet night, perked up by a woman — Gentry’s girlfriend — who is dancing to the music by herself. Gentry, in coat and tie, is part of a horn section that is ...

Why do fish jump out of Mission Bay?

Dear Matt: My boyfriend and I recently had a post-sunset picnic at Mission Bay. We observed fish jumping out of the water (really!). I thought they were jumping out and flipping down to scratch themselves. ...

Climb Morena Butte's three-peaked summit for great views of Lake Morena and the border region.

Morena Butte's three-peaked summit plateau presides over a diverse landscape of V-shaped canyons, rock-strewn ridges, and grassy depressions known as potreros (pastures). All three peaks are attractive photographically, as they consist of great slabs and ...

What does the YKK stand for on my zipper?

Yo Matt: What does the YKK on my zipper tab stand for? Company logo, material, brand...what? -- A concerned fly-opener (and -closer), San Diego Yoshida Kogyo Kabushibibaisha. Roughly:Yoshida Company, Inc. Tadao Yoshida started making zippers ...

Why doesn't the dirt in my flowerpots disappear?

Dear Matthew Alice: Plants grow because you give the good soil and water them, right? So why doesn't the level of soil in the houseplants that I've had for years gradually subside? Aren't the minerals ...

Thursday, October 11


"The AB Dolly, the AB Roller, the AB Tiger. There are new machines every day.”

The 24 Hour Fitness center on Midway Drive is in a large strip mall with a Vons and a Sport Chalet. It is a two-story club with a weight room; two aerobic studios; two large ...

Savage Beauty: the Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay

Plus The Selected Poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay

“Millay was the generation of my grandmother, so when you begin the biography of someone of this age, you realize the people you need to interview who are living may not be living a great deal longer."

Who Will and Won't Fight and Why

Few young San Diegans are eager to respond to 9/11 attacks

Many San Diego stores display the American flag and patriotic slogans, such as "United We Stand." Many draft-age men wandering in and out of those stores, however, don't seem ready to join the fight. Loc ...

Strange company

Arizona officials have yanked the racing license of Jeremy Simms, the real estate magnate and ex-car dealer whose close connection to one-time Las Vegas casino owner and fellow La Jollan Allen Glick have raised questions ...

Yachtsmen are mindful of ladies

A little more San Diego Yacht Club history and how Shelter Island help boats land at La Playa

The club’s most memorable award was given by the Royal Order of Mudhens. The perpetual trophy — donated by the Jessop brothers — went to anyone who fell overboard or capsized a skiff while fully clothed.

A shady passage out of L.A.

Ocean views and a trickling stream hightlight a visit to Temescal Canyon near Pacific Palisades

The seemingly ridiculous concept of hiking in Los Angeles is belied by the availability of many fine trails not necessarily in the city itself, but rather within city limits and just beyond the edge of ...

Are there any exceptions to the law that a person can't be tried twice for a crime?

Hey, Matt: I know we have a rule of double jeopardy saying a person can’t be tried twice for the same crime. But are there any exceptions? What if someday O.J. Simpson breaks down and ...

Why does the Reader print six consecutive pages of body-scultpting ads, microdermabrasion ads, laser eye correction ads, etc.?

Dig this, answer guy: The Reader now prints six consecutive pages of body-sculpting ads, microdermabrasion ads, laser eye correction ads, varicose vein removal ads, and have-a-youth-obsessed-brain-leech-grafted-to-your-skull ads, with half a page of actual text squeezed ...

Can you help me dress in drag for Halloween?

Dear Matt: After seeing Hedwig and the Angry Inch, I’m inspired to go full drag this Halloween. The problem is, I have no idea how to start! As a straight male who’s never dressed up ...

Friday, October 5

Roller coaster at Belmont Park

Alone again in the darkness this Friday night

I was really scared at the top ’cause my dad said once it broke down at the top and it was stuck.

Thursday, October 4

You're Worth Over 800 Million Dollars. Is it Enough to be Considered Old Money?

I have a friend who’s lived in San Diego for more than 20 years but grew up in the Old Money enclave of Washington, D.C. I’ll call him Andrew. He claims his parents weren’t Old ...

The Mudhens Move to Talbot Street

San Diego Yacht Club moves from Glorietta Bay to La Playa

Most members lived on the “mainland” — Mission Hills and Point Loma (especially the Roseville/La Playa area, which runs west from the old Marine Corps recruiting depot) — and most moored their boats around the Roseville Pier.

One Percent Innocent

While "innocent until proven guilty" may be the basis of criminal law in America, convicted felons find that it works in reverse when appealing their cases. Appealing a conviction is a long, arduous process, and ...

Mayor's Mysterious Money Mavens

In January, San Diego mayor Dick Murphy gave his first "State of the City" speech, in which he set forth ten goals, including fixing sewer spills, building a downtown ballpark, and finding money for a ...

Crash and burn

During the late dot-com stock-market boom, the once high-flying stocks owned by Padres owner John Moores and his JMI Equity venture capital investment company were the envy of the high-tech world and helped Moores become ...

Nine-one-one (operator)

“She said, ‘My husband just shot himself. I had the address here, but we always verify it. I said, ‘What’s your name?’ She said,‘Ruth’.... I immediately put the call in, so we had officers rolling.”

Hard-core chess fiends love Saturdays

For people who like to solve problems

The club boasts “virtually all the strongest players in San Diego County,” says Saponara, “including one of the best players in the United States” — 41-year-old Cyrus Lakdawala. “But we have players at every other level..”

Toe Jams

"I like myself a great deal, and I'm afraid that if God gave me arms, my ego would have been out of control," says Mark Goffeney, the armless guitar player and lead singer of the ...

Drive and then hike to Toro Peak, the pinnacle of the desert-bordering Santa Rosa Mountains.

At 8716 feet Toro Peak crowns the Santa Rosa Mountains, an elongated complex of ridges running for some 35 miles between Palm Springs in Riverside County and Borrego Valley in San Diego County. Perhaps nowhere ...

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