Robert Kumpel and the Reader
Judith Moore, potholes, lovers' stories, Moslems and locals look at 9-11, pedophile priest Paul Shanley, Van Dams, what we think of our bellies and our tans, homeless talk about Thanksgiving
The Garbers. “The first night we met, we went for a walk down Seal Beach pier, and when he held my hand, I felt the sparks then.”
Robert Kumpel wrote for the Reader from 1993 through 2007. He lives with his family and teaches school in Georgia.
Editor's picks of stories Kumpel wrote for the Reader:
- When first asked to write for the Reader, I was instructed to run everything by Judith Moore. Who was this lady? Why did she live in Berkeley if she edited a San Diego paper? She never told me my introductions were unnecessary. She just slashed them. If I had an idea for a story that didn't work, she said, "That's not what we're looking for," and it was over. (Aug. 16, 2007)
- “For the most part, we have oil-based black asphalt,” Luque said. “Then we have concrete, which is gray or whitish in color. Many years ago, concrete was used extensively for a variety of reasons. It was used by the WPA [Works Progress Administration] under Roosevelt when they were expanding the infrastructure of a lot of our roads. It’s a lot stronger than asphalt and it lasts a lot longer, but there are also some negatives to concrete; particularly that it’s very expensive. Back then it was much more reasonable. (March 20, 2003)
- “We met through work,” says David. “I was in Charlotte Russe’s construction department, and she was in operations. We started dating secretly, without letting anyone know, as we weren’t sure if it was acceptable or not. After a year or so of dating, I knew. We took a vacation down to Mexico, and I proposed and gave her a ring. I already had another job lined up.” (Feb. 13, 2003)
- “I don’t know who I blame for the attack and crisis. I think the United States is to blame for the attack more than anyone, because I think they have the ability to know what is going on in the whole world, so they should have known it was coming. I usually think that the United States can do anything. I was thinking that of course they are taking care of the crisis to the best of their ability." (Sept. 26, 2002)
- Casey Matthews, 21, a Carlsbad resident, is a repairman for the City of Escondido. “I was at work, and seeing how I was a city employee, I was sitting on my ass. I didn’t believe it. I thought it was a joke. I’d heard about it on the radio, on the way to work, but I didn’t actually see the footage until I got there. I didn’t do much that day. I left work, because a friend of mine had a bunch of relatives out in New York and he was having some trouble. They said that if we wanted to go home, it was all right. But I was able to sleep.” (Sept. 5, 2002)
- Shanley invited McLean to his Boston apartment. "I actually went to talk to him because he was a priest, and I thought he would talk me out of it -- I think I wanted to be talked out of being gay. And he did just the opposite. He said, 'It's okay to be gay. The Church, society, and everything else has told you it's not okay, but I'm telling you it's okay to be gay.' "(Aug. 1, 2002)
Said Souikane: "Girls do compliment me."
- "I don't really think about skin cancer too much. I'm not really worried about it. I've had a bad sunburn before. I couldn't put any lotion on or anything. Even aloe vera gel hurt. My mom's pretty tanned too. My mom's jealous of my tan, and my dad kind of makes fun of me. He tells me I look like a black man with two white parents." (June 20, 2002)
Jack LaLanne, 86, speaking on the phone from Morro Bay, grows furious when he talks about the focus on abs. "These AB Rollers and this ‘three-minute abs’ and all that? It’s all a bunch of lies."
- "I feel really sorry for the parents, but at the same time I question their lifestyle. Personally, I couldn't do that to my kids. None of the people I know take recreational drugs or 'swing.' I'm sure that anything that influences your state of mind can lead to any act." (March 28, 2002)
- "I would like to have a flat stomach because I want it to go along with the rest of my body. I like every other part of it; like, I think that it’s beautiful and I want that to be as, well, as close to my idea of perfect as I can get it, and I don’t see that it is. If I see somebody whose abs are better, then that bothers me." (Oct. 11, 2001)
- "Sister Winnie is over at 16th and Island. She's very good. Horizon is the best one for Thanksgiving. You get showers, you get clothes, you can have anything you want there. You also get an eye test and a glaucoma check. They have doctors -- they have everything. It's in Clairemont." (Nov. 22, 2000)