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Best Reader stories from 2005

Slab City, Eleanor Widmer, UCSD and polyheme, J. David scandal, Reader writers write about school and about Mom

  • Salvation Mountain

  • The Slabs are Slab City, three miles east of Niland, between the sultry Salton Sea and the Chocolate Mountains. Years ago the concrete slabs supported the barracks of Camp Dunlap, where General George Patton and his tanks rehearsed desert-warfare tactics fro the North African Campaign of 1942. Now the slabs are used by squatters who park their RVs and trailers on the crumbling concrete.
  • By Stephen Dobyns, Nov. 3, 2005
  • The late long-time queen of the cafe critics

  • One of the ironies of Eleanor Widmer's life is what she ate in her last months. Widmer had become a restaurant critic in 1974. In the following years, Widmer had dined on Japanese donburi and barbecue ribs, Peruvian anticuchos and French quenelles, Turkish baklava and Indian raitas, fresh pastas and moles and dumplings. But toward the end, confined to her bed in La Jolla, she wanted only chocolate.
  • By Jeannette DeWyze, Nov. 23, 2005
The first thing I remember is sitting in my room with my three new roommates. They were 10- and 11-year-old boys, away from home for the first time, and two of them were crying.
  • When the loud bell rang – writers on the first day of school

  • By Jangchup Phelygal, Laura Rhoton McNeal, Jim Morris, Rosa Colwin Jurjevics, Jennifer Ball, Rachel Kempster, Matthew Lickona, Jeannette De Wyze, Ollie, Geoff Bouvier, Sue Greenberg, Ernie Grimm, Joe Deegan, Tim Klepeis, Mary Grimm, Patrick Daugherty, Deirdre Lickona, Barbarella, Abe Opincar, John Brizzolara, Jeff Smith
  • September 8, 2005
  • Bad blood

  • A small Illinois biotech company cuts a deal with UCSD. The university agrees to test a substitute for human blood on comatose patients — victims of gunshots and car crashes — without the patients' consent. Within the city of San Diego, the experiment is targeted at several neighborhoods south of I-8, where many poor and minority residents are unlikely to have heard of the study.
  • By Matt Potter, July 28, 2005
"What ambulances can do is give you saline to keep up your blood volume, but they can't actually provide you with blood."
  • Tijuana gardens

  • "Things began to change in 1993, 1994," Rodríguez told me as we sat in his living room. "When we paved the streets, the government paid for two-thirds [of the materials]; we paid for the rest. The changes came very rapidly. Electricity. Water. Sewage. There are older neighborhoods in Tijuana that don't have what we have."
  • By Abe Opincar, June 23, 2005
"The big gardens are behind the homes."
  • Captain Money and the Golden Girl .

  • He had a passion to do well. She had a passion to do good. Together, they touted his investment scheme, which bilked a thousand investors of $80 million. He has confessed to planning and running the swindle; her involvement is under investigation. From conception to collapse the scam was pathetically mismanaged — yet it wound up being one of the largest frauds of its kind in U.S. history.
  • By Don Bauder, June 2, 2005
Nancy Hoover and J. David Dominelli
  • More or less sudden mountains

  • The rocks in and around San Diego have composed amazing, fiery stories for a very long time. An ancient ocean once covered this county; volcanoes used to spew here; and more or less sudden mountains rose and fell in San Diego more than once. This area is currently the most geologically active and diverse in the country.
  • By Geoff Bouvier, Jan. 13, 2005
In ten minutes of walking through Ocotillo's Fossil Canyon, we found dozens of fossils and boulders of limestones, sandstones, marbles, schist, gneiss, quartz, phyllite, and gypsum.
Abe Opincar's mother. I pulled off the road. My mother ran from the car. I ran after her.
  • The woman we never forget

  • By Abe Opincar, Amy Gerstler, Barbarella Fokos, Deirdre Lickona, Ernie Grimm, Geoff Bouvier, Jeannette DeWyze, Jeff Smith, Jennifer Ball, Jim Morris, Laura McNeal, Mary Grimm, Matthew Lickona, Patrick Daugherty, RF Jurjevics, Suzanne Finnamore, May 5, 2005
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Eleanor Widmer on KNSD 7/39 news
Eleanor Widmer on KNSD 7/39 news
  • Salvation Mountain

  • The Slabs are Slab City, three miles east of Niland, between the sultry Salton Sea and the Chocolate Mountains. Years ago the concrete slabs supported the barracks of Camp Dunlap, where General George Patton and his tanks rehearsed desert-warfare tactics fro the North African Campaign of 1942. Now the slabs are used by squatters who park their RVs and trailers on the crumbling concrete.
  • By Stephen Dobyns, Nov. 3, 2005
  • The late long-time queen of the cafe critics

  • One of the ironies of Eleanor Widmer's life is what she ate in her last months. Widmer had become a restaurant critic in 1974. In the following years, Widmer had dined on Japanese donburi and barbecue ribs, Peruvian anticuchos and French quenelles, Turkish baklava and Indian raitas, fresh pastas and moles and dumplings. But toward the end, confined to her bed in La Jolla, she wanted only chocolate.
  • By Jeannette DeWyze, Nov. 23, 2005
The first thing I remember is sitting in my room with my three new roommates. They were 10- and 11-year-old boys, away from home for the first time, and two of them were crying.
  • When the loud bell rang – writers on the first day of school

  • By Jangchup Phelygal, Laura Rhoton McNeal, Jim Morris, Rosa Colwin Jurjevics, Jennifer Ball, Rachel Kempster, Matthew Lickona, Jeannette De Wyze, Ollie, Geoff Bouvier, Sue Greenberg, Ernie Grimm, Joe Deegan, Tim Klepeis, Mary Grimm, Patrick Daugherty, Deirdre Lickona, Barbarella, Abe Opincar, John Brizzolara, Jeff Smith
  • September 8, 2005
  • Bad blood

  • A small Illinois biotech company cuts a deal with UCSD. The university agrees to test a substitute for human blood on comatose patients — victims of gunshots and car crashes — without the patients' consent. Within the city of San Diego, the experiment is targeted at several neighborhoods south of I-8, where many poor and minority residents are unlikely to have heard of the study.
  • By Matt Potter, July 28, 2005
"What ambulances can do is give you saline to keep up your blood volume, but they can't actually provide you with blood."
  • Tijuana gardens

  • "Things began to change in 1993, 1994," Rodríguez told me as we sat in his living room. "When we paved the streets, the government paid for two-thirds [of the materials]; we paid for the rest. The changes came very rapidly. Electricity. Water. Sewage. There are older neighborhoods in Tijuana that don't have what we have."
  • By Abe Opincar, June 23, 2005
"The big gardens are behind the homes."
  • Captain Money and the Golden Girl .

  • He had a passion to do well. She had a passion to do good. Together, they touted his investment scheme, which bilked a thousand investors of $80 million. He has confessed to planning and running the swindle; her involvement is under investigation. From conception to collapse the scam was pathetically mismanaged — yet it wound up being one of the largest frauds of its kind in U.S. history.
  • By Don Bauder, June 2, 2005
Nancy Hoover and J. David Dominelli
  • More or less sudden mountains

  • The rocks in and around San Diego have composed amazing, fiery stories for a very long time. An ancient ocean once covered this county; volcanoes used to spew here; and more or less sudden mountains rose and fell in San Diego more than once. This area is currently the most geologically active and diverse in the country.
  • By Geoff Bouvier, Jan. 13, 2005
In ten minutes of walking through Ocotillo's Fossil Canyon, we found dozens of fossils and boulders of limestones, sandstones, marbles, schist, gneiss, quartz, phyllite, and gypsum.
Abe Opincar's mother. I pulled off the road. My mother ran from the car. I ran after her.
  • The woman we never forget

  • By Abe Opincar, Amy Gerstler, Barbarella Fokos, Deirdre Lickona, Ernie Grimm, Geoff Bouvier, Jeannette DeWyze, Jeff Smith, Jennifer Ball, Jim Morris, Laura McNeal, Mary Grimm, Matthew Lickona, Patrick Daugherty, RF Jurjevics, Suzanne Finnamore, May 5, 2005
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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