Golden Dreams

Rat rod

Everybody wants a piece of artist, Eddie Montoya

I’m like everybody else on the street. We’re bending over, craning our necks to see inside. It’s like a rusty version of every getaway car you ever saw in movies such as Bonnie and Clyde. ...

O.G. Gringo

In the lost cinema of the barrio

“Let me show you something,” says Gary Harper. It’s around nine on a Thursday night. We’re both taking a moment out on the sidewalk away from the music at Border X in Barrio Logan. I ...

Christmas with intoxicated Bob

Bob was the opposite of transcendence

I missed the first half of Mass on Christmas Eve because I’m an usher down at Our Lady of the Rosary. That means I wind up dealing with the busyness at the back of the ...

Bridge booms in Balboa Park

An old ladies' game no longer

“I didn’t know people still played bridge.” “I guess you could say it’s extremely vulgar. I like it a lot.” — Exchange from Whit Stillman’s excellent movie Metropolitan, which came out in 1990, 17 years ...

The other truth

“How did I become a Flat Earth believer?”

Rosie Gutierrez is 33, looks 23, and is not easily dissuaded. She’s a trainee nurse, wife, mother, works in a restaurant to pay the bills, and, oh, by the way, believes that the earth is ...

Last day

“Nobody thought this was the right choice”

Michael Schmid has decided to end his life. I first met Michael at the Café Madrid in Coronado. First thing you notice are his electric-blue eyes. The next is his soft voice, which makes you ...

Theater of war

“There goes a certified hero.”

I spot him walking his bike along the avenue, downtown Coronado, Sunday morning. Blue and white Hawaiian shirt, jeans, spikey gray hair, Beach Cruiser bike, heading for a coffee at Café 1134. I’d asked to ...

We’ll help Trump build the wall

“The press makes us look evil, criminals. But we come in peace."

“The Hondurans aren’t bad, but their effect is ba-ad,” says Jorge. He’s driving me in his taxi from downtown Tijuana to the caravan’s rained-out encampment. “Now, I wait two hours for a job. It used ...

Baja’s Hearst Castle

“A hallucination materialized”

Back in 2011, a real-estate man named Tony Wells caught the attention of the LA Weekly with El Bordello Alexandra, a Venice Beach apartment complex that he’d spent ten years transforming, along with his partner ...

The journey to “see the end of the wall”

“If I had known the walk was what the walk was, I would have stayed in the car.”

“If I had known the walk was what the walk was, I would have stayed in the car,” says the man at the beach where the United States ends and Mexico begins. And it was ...

Raul Urreola’s night shoot

“If a scene is too complicated, too expensive, I find a way around it.”

Half past 10, Sunday night. Coronado. Just happen to walk into this parking lot outside an eatery called “Nado Republic.” Two men are standing in the lot’s shadows. One has black eye-liner and black polish ...

Float your troubles away

The launch of Loi Krathong, the basket-floating festival

The young man in his sampot chong kraben picks up a red traffic cone and uses it as a loudspeaker. “Let’s go!” He’s launching the parade around the temple grounds, kicking off Loi Krathong, the ...

Memorial for The Man

Stan Lee, the Creator

“The man is dead,” texted my brother on November 12. “Which man?” I answered. “The Man.” The capital “M” got my attention. “God?” “Yes. Blasphemy, but not by much. He was the Creator. Stan Lee.” ...

Melancholy vs. midday meal

“Smile — You’re in San Diego.”

November seems odd/ You’re my firing squad/ November — Tom Waits, “November” My wife might say that anyone who goes listening to Tom Waits’ “November” in November — when the darkness starts closing in even ...

Star Bar’s star

“This is our refuge, our comfort. She is good people.”

“Longevity!” says Mr. Evans. “That’s the thing. Longevity: I come in here, and it’s familiar, welcoming, comfortable, like home. Like $2 beers on Thirsty Thursday. Still. Price unchanged! And Loni? Don’t get her mad. She’s ...