Best Reader stories from 2016
Spanglish, Glorietta Bay seahorses, 9-11 and San Diego, La Jolla thresher sharks, Marines vs. bicyclists, death of Golden Hill landlord
Sign from the ’90s spelled “Famoust” and “Pinneapple.” No one has ever bothered to change it. Liquor Store(s) Si Señor sells “Sodas” — the real Spanish word is refresco or gaseosa.
- “Tengo que ir hacer laundry, then I have to study en la biblioteca,” I’m paraphrasing what the Latina students in my college sounded like. My first real encounter with Spanglish speakers was in Minnesota. Spanglish frustrated me. I kept telling them to speak one language or the other, not to skip between both.
- By Matthew Suárez, Dec. 28, 2016
- She rose from afternoon slumbers with something pinching her tail. Three feet below the surface of San Diego Bay her equine head, crowned with a five-point coronet, poked through a blanket of eel grass. Alarm widened her two glistening brown eyes as she tried to dart away into deeper water. But I wasn’t about to let her go now.
- By Neal Matthews, Dec. 21, 2016
At least ten inches from tail tip to coronet, she glowed in majestic awesomeness.
- Sher Mohammad Haidari heard the radio crackle with Taliban chatter as the Army platoon he was with trudged through a valley in eastern Afghanistan looking for a U.S. soldier who had abandoned his post. The enemy, hidden in the vegetation, reported “24 flowers” approaching them that could easily be picked off with rocket-propelled grenades. Be patient, let them pass into the kill zone and spring the ambush, ordered the Taliban commander.
- By H.G. Reza, Dec. 14, 2016
Assimilation has not been easy for the Haidari family.
- Former FBI agent Mark Rossini, who was assigned to the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, said CIA officials blocked the memo to the FBI because the agency was complicit with Saudi intelligence agents who were trying to recruit Khalid al-Mihdhar and/or Nawaf al-Hazmi. Mihdhar and Hazmi, both Saudis, lived in Clairemont and Lemon Grove in 2000 and were in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon.
- By H.G. Reza, Sept. 7, 2016
Former FBI agent Jim Bernazzani is speaking out about intelligence failures before 9/11.
- Omar al-Bayoumi met Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar under dubious circumstances in a Los Angeles restaurant. Three days later he helped them move into his apartment complex, though he later insisted they were strangers. Bayoumi, married with four children, did not work, yet he seemed not to want for money. He was 42 at the time and claimed to be a student. However, nobody knew where he went to school, and he always seemed to be hanging around the Islamic Center of San Diego on Balboa Avenue, next to the 805 freeway.
- By H.G. Reza, July 27, 2016
Pentagon after American Airlines flight 77 crashed into it. Hazmi and Mihdhar were two of the five hijackers of this flight on September 11, 2001.
- The bloodstains have long since faded, courtesy of Scram, sun, and time. More than a decade ago, in the parking lot of a Vons in Santee, Christopher St. Louis, 18, lost his life in the pursuit of free beer, shot by off-duty El Cajon police officer Tenaya Webb.
- By Moss Gropen, June 29, 2016
The crime scene
- The whole time, 100-plus-pound sharks were leaping clear of the water, shredding tackle, and making short work of the local mackerel population. You could see their tails slashing bait, and the the stoke level was high in the kayak lineup.
- By Ian Pike, May 18, 2016
“I’m no trophy hunter, so an estimate of 150 pounds is good enough for me.”
- I got the text from my roommate on a Sunday night. “Oh, Rod,” I sighed. It was sudden news, and I wanted to be surprised. But I couldn’t be. My landlord had not taken care of his health and seemed much older than his 64 years. I didn’t know what exactly would have killed him, but I didn’t expect there’d be any great mystery about it. Who will tell his family? I wondered instead. What will happen to his house?
- By Ian Anderson, May 25, 2016
Golden Hill alley
- On Sunday, January 17, Elizabeth Daubner was enjoying a weekend bike ride with several other riders in the Sycamore Canyon region to the east of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. She had parked in a lot off of Highway 67 and descended down the Ridge Trail into Goodan Ranch. A short while after passing through the southern gate of the ranch, her group had a startling encounter.
- By Dryw Keltz, April 13, 2016