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Mary Lang and the Reader

Prostitutes, Somalis, romance writers, Satanists, Mormons, Hoover High, San Diego traffic

More than 20 million people in the US have gallstones in their gallbladders. - Image by Janet Taylor
More than 20 million people in the US have gallstones in their gallbladders.

Lang wrote feature stories from the late 1980s through the late 1990s, including a social column called On the Town by Liz Lang.

Editor's picks from stories Lang wrote for the Reader

About 1935, the era of the beat cop ended. “When they put us in patrol cars, that personal touch was lost."
  • San Diego prostitutes after the Stingaree shut down

  • When Guthrie joined the police force back in ’29, his superiors explained to him that sex was “nice and necessary” but needed to be kept quiet. If it’s illegal, he reasons, you can hold the threat of jail over sex workers’ heads to keep them in line. You keep it discreet and low-key, you keep out pimps and organized crime, you keep the price reasonable, you control the spread of disease. (July 15, 1993)
  • Home before dark

  • All their lives they’ve worked and provided for their families, and all of a sudden they’re here. They can’t do anything. They can’t get a job. It’s very hard for a Somali man to feel, ‘Yeah. You’re worthless. You can’t do anything.' " (Feb. 18, 1993)
Coronado bridge. The average call to CRISIS Team is from a woman and lasts 20 minutes.
  • With a shotgun in one hand and the phone in the other

  • “The unusual thing was that my last caller was referred by the Coronado bridge. She said the phone is out. The only other phone it can reach is this one." She points to a beige rotary-dial phone on a comer table beneath a framed photograph of a tropical beach. “Most bridge calls are from people who had a flat tire." (July 23, 1992)
  • In love 17 hours a day

  • The romances of yesteryear, the old Harlequins, were all nurses and doctors and probably wouldn't have interested her in the least. She did read Forever Amber when she was 15 and thought that was a great book. Got into The Robe and The Silver Chalice — by Costain. Thomas Costain. (June 4, 1992)
  • Nobody doesn't like Mormons

  • In Steve Andersen’s garage are four 50-gallon drums of fresh drinking water, 30-gallon canisters of wheat, some honey, sugar, salt, and dried prepared foods. “During the time in the church’s history when the nearness of the Millenium was a more potent part of our everyday feelings about life, it may have been the case that people were stockpiling food and clothing because they wanted to survive its arrival. (Oct. 31, 1991)
Rick Post: "I never met a Satanist who wasn’t into meth."
  • Satan chasers

  • San Diego County is crawling with Satanic cult groups, in Post’s view, including the Ordo Templi Orientis, the Order of Thelema, the Temple of Set, the Brotherhood of the Mind, the Rainbow Children, a group that meets in Balboa Park called the Knights of Satan, and a Satanic “enforcement arm” of a group of bikers in the meth trade known as the Crystal Circle (Dec. 5, 1991)
"They didn’t even have ladies' choice at the dances back then."
  • We went to Hoover High School

  • The pretty, popular girls, still fashionably dressed, coiffed, with lacquered fingernails, moving about the room in clouds of perfume and confidence. The forgettable girls, peripheral characters sitting quietly in their flower-printed knits — old-lady clothes. The girls neither popular nor unpopular, dependable on committees, good students, like Jean. (Nov. 2, 1989)
8 at the 805. The accident on 805, an overturned truck, is out of the road and not causing any problems.
  • Under the knife

  • The man whose body lay pale and naked in UCSD Medical Center’s Operating Room 3 suffered from increasingly frequent attacks of pain, the result of gallstones. As in almost all cases of surgery for gallstones, the man’s entire gallbladder was to be removed. Cholecystectomy is considered a major operation but not a dangerous one. The mortality rate is less than one percent. (July 20, 1989)
  • In the Time It Took You to Read this Headline, San Diego's Traffic Troubles Got a Little Worse

  • The Cessna curves up and left, beginning a flight pattern that will encompass the southern half of San Diego County: I-805 south, from Clairemont to Mission Valley; east on I-8; a cut across Gillespie Field to torn highway 67 in El Cajon; a curve southward near the Route 125 connector to highway 94 at Grossmont Center; west to downtown; over Coronado and down the Silver Strand. (Sept. 14, 1989)
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More than 20 million people in the US have gallstones in their gallbladders. - Image by Janet Taylor
More than 20 million people in the US have gallstones in their gallbladders.

Lang wrote feature stories from the late 1980s through the late 1990s, including a social column called On the Town by Liz Lang.

Editor's picks from stories Lang wrote for the Reader

About 1935, the era of the beat cop ended. “When they put us in patrol cars, that personal touch was lost."
  • San Diego prostitutes after the Stingaree shut down

  • When Guthrie joined the police force back in ’29, his superiors explained to him that sex was “nice and necessary” but needed to be kept quiet. If it’s illegal, he reasons, you can hold the threat of jail over sex workers’ heads to keep them in line. You keep it discreet and low-key, you keep out pimps and organized crime, you keep the price reasonable, you control the spread of disease. (July 15, 1993)
  • Home before dark

  • All their lives they’ve worked and provided for their families, and all of a sudden they’re here. They can’t do anything. They can’t get a job. It’s very hard for a Somali man to feel, ‘Yeah. You’re worthless. You can’t do anything.' " (Feb. 18, 1993)
Coronado bridge. The average call to CRISIS Team is from a woman and lasts 20 minutes.
  • With a shotgun in one hand and the phone in the other

  • “The unusual thing was that my last caller was referred by the Coronado bridge. She said the phone is out. The only other phone it can reach is this one." She points to a beige rotary-dial phone on a comer table beneath a framed photograph of a tropical beach. “Most bridge calls are from people who had a flat tire." (July 23, 1992)
  • In love 17 hours a day

  • The romances of yesteryear, the old Harlequins, were all nurses and doctors and probably wouldn't have interested her in the least. She did read Forever Amber when she was 15 and thought that was a great book. Got into The Robe and The Silver Chalice — by Costain. Thomas Costain. (June 4, 1992)
  • Nobody doesn't like Mormons

  • In Steve Andersen’s garage are four 50-gallon drums of fresh drinking water, 30-gallon canisters of wheat, some honey, sugar, salt, and dried prepared foods. “During the time in the church’s history when the nearness of the Millenium was a more potent part of our everyday feelings about life, it may have been the case that people were stockpiling food and clothing because they wanted to survive its arrival. (Oct. 31, 1991)
Rick Post: "I never met a Satanist who wasn’t into meth."
  • Satan chasers

  • San Diego County is crawling with Satanic cult groups, in Post’s view, including the Ordo Templi Orientis, the Order of Thelema, the Temple of Set, the Brotherhood of the Mind, the Rainbow Children, a group that meets in Balboa Park called the Knights of Satan, and a Satanic “enforcement arm” of a group of bikers in the meth trade known as the Crystal Circle (Dec. 5, 1991)
"They didn’t even have ladies' choice at the dances back then."
  • We went to Hoover High School

  • The pretty, popular girls, still fashionably dressed, coiffed, with lacquered fingernails, moving about the room in clouds of perfume and confidence. The forgettable girls, peripheral characters sitting quietly in their flower-printed knits — old-lady clothes. The girls neither popular nor unpopular, dependable on committees, good students, like Jean. (Nov. 2, 1989)
8 at the 805. The accident on 805, an overturned truck, is out of the road and not causing any problems.
  • Under the knife

  • The man whose body lay pale and naked in UCSD Medical Center’s Operating Room 3 suffered from increasingly frequent attacks of pain, the result of gallstones. As in almost all cases of surgery for gallstones, the man’s entire gallbladder was to be removed. Cholecystectomy is considered a major operation but not a dangerous one. The mortality rate is less than one percent. (July 20, 1989)
  • In the Time It Took You to Read this Headline, San Diego's Traffic Troubles Got a Little Worse

  • The Cessna curves up and left, beginning a flight pattern that will encompass the southern half of San Diego County: I-805 south, from Clairemont to Mission Valley; east on I-8; a cut across Gillespie Field to torn highway 67 in El Cajon; a curve southward near the Route 125 connector to highway 94 at Grossmont Center; west to downtown; over Coronado and down the Silver Strand. (Sept. 14, 1989)
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