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Thirty Years Ago My estranged wife Dot and I, along with our two young sons David and Andy, boarded her old Chevy station wagon at 2:30 a.m. one cold January morning to see the famous publisher Malcolm Forbes and a balloon physicist start on their balloon voyage aboard the Windborne. They hoped it would become the first free air balloon to carry men across the Atlantic Ocean.

It was before 3 a.m. as we passed Oceanside, and the hot water warning light glowed its customary but unloved glow in friendly contrast to the Southern California cold. "What time are they supposed to lift off?" Dot asked, pretending not to notice that the warning light was on.

-- "MORE THAN HOT AIR," George Grider, January 30, 1975

Twenty-Five Years Ago Harlan peels a banana in the reserved, reticent way he addresses all things. He chews it thoughtfully and thoroughly and folds the peel into a plastic bag. As he eats, he speaks in a calm and even voice, and he talks about what he loves most in the world. It is rock climbing.

"Twice," he says, "I have completed a difficult pitch and stood up finally at the top and stretched out my arms and shouted for joy." It is difficult to imagine.

-- "CLIMBING," Amy Chu, January 31, 1980

Twenty Years Ago You look at a picture of two teenage girls lying dead, murdered, by the side of a road in El Salvador, and the image butts against the mind. Something in this picture prevents its filing. Maybe it is the positioning of the corpses, or the way the sunlight splashes down on the leaves beside the bodies, or perhaps the knowledge that the photographer, John Hoagland, moved around in front of his own lens and became a corpse himself.

-- "PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE WAR ZONES," Neal Matthews, January 31, 1985

Fifteen Years Ago Something near a "controversy" seems to be breaking out around Michael Moore's Roger and Me: around, in particular, his rearranging and compressing of some events therein without telling us that that's what he is up to. Is this any way for a documentary to behave?

The only regrettable thing about this latest go-round in the old argument (never mind whether or not Roger and Me gets its Oscar nomination in the segregated and déclassé category of Documentary Feature) is that it has egged Moore into defending himself with stuff about "advancing the form," just as though the form had been securely in the hands of the fact-people until he came along to liberate it.

-- FILM: "WHATNOT," Duncan Shepherd, February 1, 1990

Ten Years Ago This Sunday, 26 lucky San Diego public officials, including Mayor Susan Golding and assorted city council members and aides, will be in Miami for the Super Bowl.

But unlike most San Diegans who managed to buy their way into Joe Robbie Stadium, these city officials did not have to endure long lines and lotteries. Nor did they have to fork over $1000 or more per ticket from black-market scalpers.

Instead, each got to buy a pair of tickets at the face value of $200, courtesy of Chargers owner Alex Spanos and his friend the mayor.


Five Years Ago This hookah-smoking emporium must rank as one of the most exotic entertainment/service establishments in San Diego -- I can't think of anything else like it.

I ordered something that no one could spell for me, but is sounds like "Fukahfukah." I ordered this because it smelled more like conventional pipe tobacco than the other, sweeter options. This stuff was supposedly cured in molasses and it was like smoking a plum pudding. I tried a few drags off some other kids' pipes and those were like smoking fruit salad. After three minutes I felt like I did when I stole my dad's cigarettes when I was nine and got as whacked and dizzy as an Amazonian shaman at some rain ritual.

-- T.G.I.F., John Brizzolara, January 27, 2000

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