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Best Reader stories from 2000

Penasquitos teens in big trouble, Stephen Facciola, Olive Street, Cameron Crowe, Lester Bangs, San Diego Chinatown, Padres and the Mob

Bruce Springsteen and Lester Bangs, 1975. Lester returned to town to spend the Christmas of 1973 with Andrea, who had an apartment in El Cajon. It was a festive time, and Lester wore an expensive new sport coat and much cologne from the many Christmas gifts he got from the Creem staff. He had put on so much weight that he looked obese.
Bruce Springsteen and Lester Bangs, 1975. Lester returned to town to spend the Christmas of 1973 with Andrea, who had an apartment in El Cajon. It was a festive time, and Lester wore an expensive new sport coat and much cologne from the many Christmas gifts he got from the Creem staff. He had put on so much weight that he looked obese.
A Mexican man, Andres Roman Diaz, 66, was walking along Black Mountain Road. Roman had finished work at Evergreen Nursery, where he’s employed six days a week watering plants. He was carrying three gallons of drinking water and two sacks of groceries back to his encampment in McGonigle Canyon.
  • Rancho Peñasquitos boys, charged with hate crime

  • The teenagers shot at Roman from the Subaru with the BB gun during three or four passes. They took turns shooting at him as they drove by, but they missed him. On a fourth or fifth pass, Roman was struck, and his back was punctured with BBs. The youths then stopped the car and three of them pursued Roman on foot.
  • By Thomas Larson, Dec. 7, 2000
  • My El Cajon Valley High School days with Lester Bangs

  • When Lester Bangs moved to Detroit to join the staff of Creem magazine, we kept in touch with letters and phone calls that came less and less often. The last times I saw him were during a boozy visit to El Cajon at Christmastime in 1973 and, briefly, in 1982 when he came to his mother’s funeral. After he moved to New York I lost contact with him, and whatever lifestyle he lived or adventures he got into I only heard about long after the fact.
  • By Robert Houghton, July 13, 2000
  • A house and a tree spell contentment to me

  • Olive Street came into its name around 1906, when streets between A and Sacramento were named after trees. One portion of Olive, a quiet cul-de-sac in North Park, has just 15 homes — 22 counting those off the alley. Here neighbors jog together, go to the movies in a pack, and check with others on Friday night to see who wants to order take-out.
  • By Jangchup Phelgyal, Nov. 9, 2000
Stephen Facciola. Fifteen hundred books stand in tall tidy stacks throughout Facciola’s Vista home. Useful Plants of Ghana; A Guide to Mangoes in Florida; Traditional Bulgarian Cooking; Vegetables of the Dutch East Indies; Lost Crops of Africa; Medicinal Plants of Vietnam...
  • Stephen Facciola's edible world

  • He and Caplan started to swap names, to compare notes on big players in the exotic fruits and vegetables community. (“I’m sure you’re acquainted with Paul Thomas in Bonsall. Cofounder of California Rare Fruit Growers. You have a lot of rare fruit and vegetable people in San Diego.” “Dr. Condit lived in Vista. Do you remember Dr. Condit? Taught at UC Riverside? The world’s foremost expert on figs.”)
  • By Abe Opincar, Nov. 22, 2000
  • Masters of deceit

  • On Tuesday, June 29, 1999, the San Diego City Council went into secret session to consider a series of financial concessions demanded by San Diego Padres owner John Moores. Although the closed-door meeting had been billed on public notices as a discussion about "real property interests in the East Village area of downtown San Diego," the real topic was the granting to Moores of almost $5 million worth of "modifications" to the Padres lease at Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley.
  • By Matt Potter, Aug. 31, 2000
All councilmembers except Juan Vargas attended, including Valerie Stallings, who had reaped thousands of dollars by selling stock obtained in an offering by Neon Systems, a Texas company controlled by Moores.
  • 29 Reader writers on their fathers

  • By Abe Opincar, Anne Albright, August Kleinzahler, Bill Manson, Deirdre Lickona, Duncan Shepherd, Eleanor Widmer, Ernie Grimm, Jangchup Phelgyal, Jeanne Schinto, Jeannette DeWyze, Jeff Smith, Jennifer Ball, Jim Eichel, John Brizzolara, Judith Moore, Justin Wolff, Linda Nevin, Mary Grimm, Matthew Lickona, Patrick Daugherty, Richard Meltzer, Stephen Dobyns, Sue Greenberg, Susan Luzzaro, Thomas Larson, Thomas Lux, W.S. Di Piero, June 15, 2000
John Brizzolara with his sister and father. Robert Brizzolara died of a heart attack while on a fishing trip in Wisconsin in September 1968. He was 49 years and seven months old. In July of this year, I will be that age precisely.
  • New Yorker's Janet Flanner, my mother, and me

  • Pictures, maps, photographs, and paintings crowd William Murray’s Del Mar walls. Three images catch my attention. They interest me as much for divergence of style as for dissimilar content: a pencil sketch of famed New Yorker writer Janet Flanner, her features retreating into the creamy yellow paper; a moody depiction of a stern bishop waving a thurible; and a lighthearted drawing of a topless woman sunbathing on the Riviera, her lissome figure stretched across the paper.
  • By Matthew Lickona, Feb. 10, 2000
Bill and Janet. "Janet and I, both helpless in the kitchen, ate with gusto, then sometimes helped clean up afterward. "
  • What it means to be Chinese in San Diego

  • Murray Lee runs a finger across a family tree he’s displayed in the Chinese Historical Society Museum on Third Avenue downtown. On the left of the big white board, Lee taps at a solitary name, Ah Quin, a man from Canton, China, who moved to San Diego in 1880 and who, by the time he died in 1914, was the most influential Chinese in Southern California. (He died with $50,000 in his estate.)
  • By Abe Opincar, Feb. 3, 2000
Chris Fan: “Even if they don’t support the Communist government in China, they feel Taiwan should be part of China."
  • Are the San Diego Padres married to the mob?

  • With Williams near death in June 1988, Lucchino stepped forward to claim a part of the Orioles. In the Williams biography, Emmett is quoted as describing events at a party held at the house of Ethel Kennedy, the late Senator Robert Kennedy's widow. Lucchino, who Emmett says once dated Kennedy cousin Maria Shriver, approached her father R. Sargent Shriver and his son Bobby and discussed putting a deal together for the team.
  • By Matt Potter, Jan. 27, 2000
Sinatra and the mob. Top row: Paul Castellano, Gregory De Palma, Frank Sinatra, Thomas Marson, Carlo Gambino, Jimmy Fratianno, Salvatore Spatola; bottom row: Joe Gambino, Richard Fusco
Michael Angarano, Patrick Fugit, and Cameron Crowe on the set of Almost Famous. The movie strikes me as insufferable dogmeat.
  • Third spud from the sun: Cameron Crowe then and now

  • Still and all, a couple things about Cameron set him down a peg from even the rank and file of ’zine greenhorn dust-suckers. Unless he had an NHRP affiliation that no one was aware of (S.D. correspondent-designate?), he for all intents & purps was not even a — how you say? — symbolically employed writer-in-training, most likely just someone Tiven knew, or knew of, through the teen-auxiliary grapevine.
  • By Richard Meltzer, Nov. 2, 2000
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Bruce Springsteen and Lester Bangs, 1975. Lester returned to town to spend the Christmas of 1973 with Andrea, who had an apartment in El Cajon. It was a festive time, and Lester wore an expensive new sport coat and much cologne from the many Christmas gifts he got from the Creem staff. He had put on so much weight that he looked obese.
Bruce Springsteen and Lester Bangs, 1975. Lester returned to town to spend the Christmas of 1973 with Andrea, who had an apartment in El Cajon. It was a festive time, and Lester wore an expensive new sport coat and much cologne from the many Christmas gifts he got from the Creem staff. He had put on so much weight that he looked obese.
A Mexican man, Andres Roman Diaz, 66, was walking along Black Mountain Road. Roman had finished work at Evergreen Nursery, where he’s employed six days a week watering plants. He was carrying three gallons of drinking water and two sacks of groceries back to his encampment in McGonigle Canyon.
  • Rancho Peñasquitos boys, charged with hate crime

  • The teenagers shot at Roman from the Subaru with the BB gun during three or four passes. They took turns shooting at him as they drove by, but they missed him. On a fourth or fifth pass, Roman was struck, and his back was punctured with BBs. The youths then stopped the car and three of them pursued Roman on foot.
  • By Thomas Larson, Dec. 7, 2000
  • My El Cajon Valley High School days with Lester Bangs

  • When Lester Bangs moved to Detroit to join the staff of Creem magazine, we kept in touch with letters and phone calls that came less and less often. The last times I saw him were during a boozy visit to El Cajon at Christmastime in 1973 and, briefly, in 1982 when he came to his mother’s funeral. After he moved to New York I lost contact with him, and whatever lifestyle he lived or adventures he got into I only heard about long after the fact.
  • By Robert Houghton, July 13, 2000
  • A house and a tree spell contentment to me

  • Olive Street came into its name around 1906, when streets between A and Sacramento were named after trees. One portion of Olive, a quiet cul-de-sac in North Park, has just 15 homes — 22 counting those off the alley. Here neighbors jog together, go to the movies in a pack, and check with others on Friday night to see who wants to order take-out.
  • By Jangchup Phelgyal, Nov. 9, 2000
Stephen Facciola. Fifteen hundred books stand in tall tidy stacks throughout Facciola’s Vista home. Useful Plants of Ghana; A Guide to Mangoes in Florida; Traditional Bulgarian Cooking; Vegetables of the Dutch East Indies; Lost Crops of Africa; Medicinal Plants of Vietnam...
  • Stephen Facciola's edible world

  • He and Caplan started to swap names, to compare notes on big players in the exotic fruits and vegetables community. (“I’m sure you’re acquainted with Paul Thomas in Bonsall. Cofounder of California Rare Fruit Growers. You have a lot of rare fruit and vegetable people in San Diego.” “Dr. Condit lived in Vista. Do you remember Dr. Condit? Taught at UC Riverside? The world’s foremost expert on figs.”)
  • By Abe Opincar, Nov. 22, 2000
  • Masters of deceit

  • On Tuesday, June 29, 1999, the San Diego City Council went into secret session to consider a series of financial concessions demanded by San Diego Padres owner John Moores. Although the closed-door meeting had been billed on public notices as a discussion about "real property interests in the East Village area of downtown San Diego," the real topic was the granting to Moores of almost $5 million worth of "modifications" to the Padres lease at Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley.
  • By Matt Potter, Aug. 31, 2000
All councilmembers except Juan Vargas attended, including Valerie Stallings, who had reaped thousands of dollars by selling stock obtained in an offering by Neon Systems, a Texas company controlled by Moores.
  • 29 Reader writers on their fathers

  • By Abe Opincar, Anne Albright, August Kleinzahler, Bill Manson, Deirdre Lickona, Duncan Shepherd, Eleanor Widmer, Ernie Grimm, Jangchup Phelgyal, Jeanne Schinto, Jeannette DeWyze, Jeff Smith, Jennifer Ball, Jim Eichel, John Brizzolara, Judith Moore, Justin Wolff, Linda Nevin, Mary Grimm, Matthew Lickona, Patrick Daugherty, Richard Meltzer, Stephen Dobyns, Sue Greenberg, Susan Luzzaro, Thomas Larson, Thomas Lux, W.S. Di Piero, June 15, 2000
John Brizzolara with his sister and father. Robert Brizzolara died of a heart attack while on a fishing trip in Wisconsin in September 1968. He was 49 years and seven months old. In July of this year, I will be that age precisely.
  • New Yorker's Janet Flanner, my mother, and me

  • Pictures, maps, photographs, and paintings crowd William Murray’s Del Mar walls. Three images catch my attention. They interest me as much for divergence of style as for dissimilar content: a pencil sketch of famed New Yorker writer Janet Flanner, her features retreating into the creamy yellow paper; a moody depiction of a stern bishop waving a thurible; and a lighthearted drawing of a topless woman sunbathing on the Riviera, her lissome figure stretched across the paper.
  • By Matthew Lickona, Feb. 10, 2000
Bill and Janet. "Janet and I, both helpless in the kitchen, ate with gusto, then sometimes helped clean up afterward. "
  • What it means to be Chinese in San Diego

  • Murray Lee runs a finger across a family tree he’s displayed in the Chinese Historical Society Museum on Third Avenue downtown. On the left of the big white board, Lee taps at a solitary name, Ah Quin, a man from Canton, China, who moved to San Diego in 1880 and who, by the time he died in 1914, was the most influential Chinese in Southern California. (He died with $50,000 in his estate.)
  • By Abe Opincar, Feb. 3, 2000
Chris Fan: “Even if they don’t support the Communist government in China, they feel Taiwan should be part of China."
  • Are the San Diego Padres married to the mob?

  • With Williams near death in June 1988, Lucchino stepped forward to claim a part of the Orioles. In the Williams biography, Emmett is quoted as describing events at a party held at the house of Ethel Kennedy, the late Senator Robert Kennedy's widow. Lucchino, who Emmett says once dated Kennedy cousin Maria Shriver, approached her father R. Sargent Shriver and his son Bobby and discussed putting a deal together for the team.
  • By Matt Potter, Jan. 27, 2000
Sinatra and the mob. Top row: Paul Castellano, Gregory De Palma, Frank Sinatra, Thomas Marson, Carlo Gambino, Jimmy Fratianno, Salvatore Spatola; bottom row: Joe Gambino, Richard Fusco
Michael Angarano, Patrick Fugit, and Cameron Crowe on the set of Almost Famous. The movie strikes me as insufferable dogmeat.
  • Third spud from the sun: Cameron Crowe then and now

  • Still and all, a couple things about Cameron set him down a peg from even the rank and file of ’zine greenhorn dust-suckers. Unless he had an NHRP affiliation that no one was aware of (S.D. correspondent-designate?), he for all intents & purps was not even a — how you say? — symbolically employed writer-in-training, most likely just someone Tiven knew, or knew of, through the teen-auxiliary grapevine.
  • By Richard Meltzer, Nov. 2, 2000
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