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Best Reader stories from 2012

Cheese smugglers, Romney country, rare fruit, Afro puffs, Nathan Fletcher, Bread & Cie, Cuyamaca pot bust

“If you bought this at the market, why are there people’s names on them?”  - Image by Howie Rosen
“If you bought this at the market, why are there people’s names on them?”
  • Presidential candidate Mitt Romney roots deep and wide in San Diego

  • It is Matt Romney who takes public credit for calling his part of the Romney clan to San Diego County. “My wife and I looked at a map, and we were looking at areas where my family lived, and we wanted to be near family,” Matt told the North County Times. “But not knowing where they’d end up, we decided that we’d pick a nice place where we could attract them to come."
  • By Matt Potter, Oct. 24, 2012
  • We went to Mexico to get ahead. We smuggled cheese to get back.

  • Maybe the cheap rent and cost of living south of the border would give us some room to breathe, along with a chance of putting money back in our pockets. Because our American reality was that we didn’t have enough money to pay the rent, and moving to a different apartment was out of the question. I had about two-thirds of the current amount due in my pocket. In San Diego, all that would get us was evicted.
  • By Steven Strasser, Dec. 19, 2012
  • My friend Kelly, a Mission Valley prostitute?

  • The entire drive back home to San Diego is dominated by Kelly’s blabbering. She’s on drugs. Textbook speedy. “I hope they don’t find me,” she says, “’cause they’ll hurt me.”
  • “Tomorrow, we’re gonna figure it out,” says her mother, who is also in the car.
  • “Sept. 19, 2012
  • Showdown on the Rio Alamar

  • If things go as planned, this patch of raw nature will soon be bulldozed. The stream will be encased in cement, and the remaining floodplain will be filled and graded for a new highway. This is phase three of a government works project in which the entire length of Rio Alamar, one of Tijuana’s last natural streambeds, is being channelized.
  • By Dave Good, Sept. 5, 2012
In the town of Campo, springs and creeks trickle south across the border and join at Arroyo Tecate. The Tecate and the Cottonwood form a stream that, once it reaches the outskirts of Tijuana, changes names to Rio Alamar.
Ben Kotnik: “Some people say they know about jackfruit — but they don’t know jack about jackfruit.”
  • San Diego photographer Larry Hoagland tries to kill wife... twice

  • News reports stated that Connie Hoagland had left her job at a daycare center that afternoon and gone out to her truck, which was parked on the street. There was a terrible explosion. Connie was injured and taken to a hospital. There were unconfirmed rumors that it was a pipe bomb.
  • By Eva Knott, Aug. 15, 2012
  • San Diegans with Afro puffs

  • My three-year-old daughter has a beautiful Afro. It’s big and round (unless she’s leaned back in her car seat and flattened it), and most importantly, she loves it. After I use the pick to roundify it, I adorn it with one of the brightly colored headbands I purchased at the Rite Aid on Adams Avenue ($4.99 for a pack of six). My daughter runs to the full-length mirror in my bedroom, where she dances and sings, “I’m a princess! Shake your booty!”
  • By Elizabeth Salaam, July 11, 2012
I’m overjoyed my daughter loves her hair. I’m afraid there will come a day when she tells me she wishes it were long, straight, and yellow.
  • Bread & Cie spreads by word of mouth

  • Behind the glass that separates the kitchen from the customers at Bread & Cie Bakery and Café in Hillcrest, steam heat pours from the oven. Patrons gather at the wraparound counter, pointing to this loaf or that quiche as the line to order swells. If he sees the line beginning to snake, Charles Kaufman, owner of Bread & Cie, assists the staff in taking orders.
  • By Maryann Castronovo, July 4, 2012
Charles Kaufman, owner of Bread & Cie, worked at Buckeye Bakery in Atlanta; the Firehouse Bakery in Alexandria, Virginia; Grace Baking in Berkeley; La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles.
  • Nathan Fletcher’s Untold Stories

  • The saga of Nathan Fletcher and his mother Sherrie involves a series of men, a nasty custody battle, bankruptcy, divorces and remarriages, children and stepchildren, and the death of a husband. In all, Sherrie has been married four times. Though she has managed to hold her life together, it has not always been easy.
  • By Matt Potter, May 23, 2012
  • Citizen pot bust

  • I thought about the spring day my two hiking buddies and I were off-trail, crashing through dense thickets of tangled brush. It was growing dark, and the three of us had gotten separated. I stopped to rest and happened to look down and I saw a plastic pipe. I wondered why an irrigation tube would be way out there.
  • By Chuck Harper, Feb. 8, 2012
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Tagging Renoir

French art from the Impressionist and Belle Epoque eras at Lemon Grove’s Rock Liquor
“If you bought this at the market, why are there people’s names on them?”  - Image by Howie Rosen
“If you bought this at the market, why are there people’s names on them?”
  • Presidential candidate Mitt Romney roots deep and wide in San Diego

  • It is Matt Romney who takes public credit for calling his part of the Romney clan to San Diego County. “My wife and I looked at a map, and we were looking at areas where my family lived, and we wanted to be near family,” Matt told the North County Times. “But not knowing where they’d end up, we decided that we’d pick a nice place where we could attract them to come."
  • By Matt Potter, Oct. 24, 2012
  • We went to Mexico to get ahead. We smuggled cheese to get back.

  • Maybe the cheap rent and cost of living south of the border would give us some room to breathe, along with a chance of putting money back in our pockets. Because our American reality was that we didn’t have enough money to pay the rent, and moving to a different apartment was out of the question. I had about two-thirds of the current amount due in my pocket. In San Diego, all that would get us was evicted.
  • By Steven Strasser, Dec. 19, 2012
  • My friend Kelly, a Mission Valley prostitute?

  • The entire drive back home to San Diego is dominated by Kelly’s blabbering. She’s on drugs. Textbook speedy. “I hope they don’t find me,” she says, “’cause they’ll hurt me.”
  • “Tomorrow, we’re gonna figure it out,” says her mother, who is also in the car.
  • “Sept. 19, 2012
  • Showdown on the Rio Alamar

  • If things go as planned, this patch of raw nature will soon be bulldozed. The stream will be encased in cement, and the remaining floodplain will be filled and graded for a new highway. This is phase three of a government works project in which the entire length of Rio Alamar, one of Tijuana’s last natural streambeds, is being channelized.
  • By Dave Good, Sept. 5, 2012
In the town of Campo, springs and creeks trickle south across the border and join at Arroyo Tecate. The Tecate and the Cottonwood form a stream that, once it reaches the outskirts of Tijuana, changes names to Rio Alamar.
Ben Kotnik: “Some people say they know about jackfruit — but they don’t know jack about jackfruit.”
  • San Diego photographer Larry Hoagland tries to kill wife... twice

  • News reports stated that Connie Hoagland had left her job at a daycare center that afternoon and gone out to her truck, which was parked on the street. There was a terrible explosion. Connie was injured and taken to a hospital. There were unconfirmed rumors that it was a pipe bomb.
  • By Eva Knott, Aug. 15, 2012
  • San Diegans with Afro puffs

  • My three-year-old daughter has a beautiful Afro. It’s big and round (unless she’s leaned back in her car seat and flattened it), and most importantly, she loves it. After I use the pick to roundify it, I adorn it with one of the brightly colored headbands I purchased at the Rite Aid on Adams Avenue ($4.99 for a pack of six). My daughter runs to the full-length mirror in my bedroom, where she dances and sings, “I’m a princess! Shake your booty!”
  • By Elizabeth Salaam, July 11, 2012
I’m overjoyed my daughter loves her hair. I’m afraid there will come a day when she tells me she wishes it were long, straight, and yellow.
  • Bread & Cie spreads by word of mouth

  • Behind the glass that separates the kitchen from the customers at Bread & Cie Bakery and Café in Hillcrest, steam heat pours from the oven. Patrons gather at the wraparound counter, pointing to this loaf or that quiche as the line to order swells. If he sees the line beginning to snake, Charles Kaufman, owner of Bread & Cie, assists the staff in taking orders.
  • By Maryann Castronovo, July 4, 2012
Charles Kaufman, owner of Bread & Cie, worked at Buckeye Bakery in Atlanta; the Firehouse Bakery in Alexandria, Virginia; Grace Baking in Berkeley; La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles.
  • Nathan Fletcher’s Untold Stories

  • The saga of Nathan Fletcher and his mother Sherrie involves a series of men, a nasty custody battle, bankruptcy, divorces and remarriages, children and stepchildren, and the death of a husband. In all, Sherrie has been married four times. Though she has managed to hold her life together, it has not always been easy.
  • By Matt Potter, May 23, 2012
  • Citizen pot bust

  • I thought about the spring day my two hiking buddies and I were off-trail, crashing through dense thickets of tangled brush. It was growing dark, and the three of us had gotten separated. I stopped to rest and happened to look down and I saw a plastic pipe. I wondered why an irrigation tube would be way out there.
  • By Chuck Harper, Feb. 8, 2012
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