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Stories by Abe Opincar

What San Diego restaurant staffs eat, dumpster diving for dinner

What Insiders Eat Travis Murphy, also a cook, planned the staff’s daily dinner. At Nine-Ten, he said, the hardest part of arranging the staff meal, also called the “family meal,” was “to find something to ...

July 4, 2020
A close look at religions in San Diego

There Is One God "The equality of all people and all religions is central to our faith. We didn't want to seem as though we were saying, 'No! We're not Muslims! Don't attack us! Those ...

May 2, 2020
Mayor O'Connor goes slumming in Balboa Park, Mayor Faulconer reads Dr. Seuss racist book

Caught between a hug and a hard place If you move to somewhere on the East Coast, such as Boston, NYC, or Philadelphia, fewer people will try to hug you, mostly because they’re all too ...

April 25, 2020
Deep into Alpine, North Park, Normal Heights, Fallbrook – and Sabre Springs

Where the Mountain Meets the Sky “We had grapes, for example. Grapes were hauled from here to the railroad station in Lakeside. We had wheat, olives, citrus fruit, barley. Chickens and turkey ranches. Also, John ...

April 12, 2020
Normal Heights – you want to be involved

We the people of Normal Heights Adam Deutsch and his wife Claire moved to Normal Heights in 2014. Shortly after their move, the couple went to a meeting of the Normal Heights Community Planning Group ...

Best Reader stories from 2006

Border angels I wanted to learn about a group called Border Angels that, among other things, sets out water in the desert areas of the 66-mile San Diego sector. Usually, gallon bottles of water are ...

February 16, 2020
Best Reader stories from 2005

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 ...

February 15, 2020
San Diego love stories

Why Knot? Randy said that some years ago he bought a thirty-foot trimaran, intending to sail it to the South Pacific. “Now we’re going to fly to the South Pacific on our second anniversary,’’ said ...

February 14, 2020
Best Reader stories from 2002

He's sad for ships DeRosset doesn’t speak abstractly about his work. He’s a storyteller. “What’s really nice,” he told me before I’d had a chance to see the painting at the church, “is that I’ve ...

February 2, 2020
Best Reader stories from 2000

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 ...

January 26, 2020
Best Reader stories from 1999

Was Jesse Ventura a SEAL or a UDT guy? Well, I thought, Jesse certainly looks and sounds like many SEALs I’d known during my 16 years in the Teams. But I’d never known or even ...

January 25, 2020
Best Reader stories from 1993

In time for the morning glass For a few years back in the '60s, Mike Doyle was the hottest surfer in the world. With an unusual combination of power on big waves and stylistic grace ...

January 4, 2020
Best Reader Christmas stories

Sister Santa’s once-a-year smile I fell in love with America for the first time on a sweaty night in a Bangkok refugee center in March 1991. “In America people have meat with every meal,” my ...

December 24, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1990

The Hale blinks Twilight has ebbed to a fringe of lapis on the western horizon, and the stars spin slowly as the dome of the 200-inch Hale telescope on Palomar Mountain blinks awake. Bob Thicksten, ...

December 22, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1988

Ku Klux Klan 's John Metzger talks of hate and tears "My father was in the Crusaders, a national organization that was pretty powerful in San Diego, which was part Christian Identity. It’s a church ...

December 15, 2019
Abe Opincar and the Reader

Opincar wrote for the Reader from 1984 through 2008. He is the author of Fried Butter (Soho Press, 2003). Editor's picks of stories Opincar wrote for the Reader: My psychiatrist is dead; all falls apart ...

August 31, 2019
Other San Diego summers

Phoenix without apologies Traveler, consider our Phoenix. An hour away by air, this flat, posh suburb of Greater L.A. is your finest summer vacation bargain. For the price of a bad weekend in a tacky ...

July 6, 2019
Surreal Estate

A typical conversation went like this: “Excuse me, do you offer home mortgages?” “Well, yes.” She seems startled. “What sort of customers borrow from your bank?” “People who have no other choice.” On April 25, ...

March 21, 2008
23 Reader writers describe the regime of editor Judith Moore

Busy Fingers Are Happy Fingers — Joe Deegan Mother Reader — Barbarella Build Your Writing Muscles — Ollie Let the Tape Recorder Do the Work — Matthew Lickona Faith — Abe Opincar Make Something Better ...

Faith

"Execrable." And... "You sound like a fluttering dilettante." There were many more in a similar vein. I have all her editorial comments saved somewhere on the jittery hard drive of my old computer. The two ...

August 16, 2007
San Diego Sikhs run into trouble – on Miramar Road, at Charger games

Sikhs don’t engage in door-to-door pamphleteering and they don’t broadcast television or radio commercials promoting their faith.

November 2, 2006
How long can Alpine stay rural?

A hamlet morphs into suburb.

An introduction to San Diego's pygmy goats

Dori Lowell, business manager for the National Pygmy Goat Association based in Snohomish, Washington, says, "People who love pygmy goats come from all walks of life, but they're usually animal lovers who've had some exposure ...

July 20, 2006
El Cajon Boulevard refugees tell of persecution in Uganda, war in Liberia

In the office where I met David Omen Acana II, paramount chief of the 800,000-member Acholi tribe in northern Uganda, a large color photograph of two hippos hung on the wall behind him. The animals, ...

June 8, 2006
San Diego immigrants not forced to come here

"I thought I had come into hell. Van Nuys was so hot. I mean, God. And at that time I was naughty: I smoked. And I thought, 'How can anybody have a cigarette in this ...

March 2, 2006
Abduction and murder at T.J.’s Camp Campestre

Under normal circumstances, it would be difficult not to stare at ten men dressed in black who brandished submachine guns. Under normal circumstances, ten men dressed in black who brandished submachine guns would be the ...

February 2, 2006
Tijuana, the busiest U.S. consulate in the world

When Dean Haas considers his career so far, he describes its most emotionally difficult period as a two-week "hostage situation" involving a group of Americans "who'd gone to look for Noah's ark." There was, of ...

January 19, 2006
What's different about Tijuana bodybuilding

"This gym, NeoSpa, opened in 1988. It was started by a Russian group that came to Tijuana. They came up with the name and made the original investment. They also opened a disco and a ...

September 29, 2005
22 Reader writers on school experiences

My first day in school was really my second day — Jangchup Phelygal The Radiators That Ticked Heat into the Room — Laura Rhoton McNeal Rear Rank Rudy — Jim Morris Forget-me-nots — Rosa Colwin ...

September 8, 2005
Out of Africa

It looks as if you're cradling a baby goat in your arms while something explodes from its backside. Right wrist rests atop left elbow. Right elbow rests atop left wrist. Right pinky and index finger ...

September 8, 2005
San Diego's Most Wanted worked with weights at Valley Barbell Club

"At the time it was cross tops and black beauties. Not yet the methamphetamine." "I was caught up in the first DUI sweep in San Diego. I had my picture on the front page of ...

July 21, 2005
Tijuana : Arenales, Guerrero Park, Real del Mar, Gaspar Rivera's home

I didn't recognize where I was. "Things have changed a lot," said Jorge Rodríguez, leading me out of the rain, into his two-story cinder-block house. "I came to Los Arenales looking for new horizons," he ...

Reader writers honor Mom

"Careful, Ma; don't spill your soup," I warned. "First time you spill, that's it — you're going to the home.” Mom's reply was immediate. "I know. I've picked out what I want to take with me."

Bleach, Hand Cream, and Onions

"I visited your father's grave," my mother said when she last called. "And I gave his headstone a good kick." This is the sort of joke we share, my mother and I. Survivors of an ...

May 5, 2005
Neighborhood: small towns of San Diego

I see Asian gang cars some nights, in a long caravan down the Mira Mesa Boulevard. They meet at In-N-Out Burger before heading off for illegal street races on Kearny Villa Road or in Sorrento Valley.

Normal Heights

Before the newlyweds across the street went on their honeymoon, they asked me to keep an eye on their house. Yesterday, a neighbor two doors down, an elderly Mexican woman, brought me a big bowl ...

Nowhere Zone: The Rise, Fall, and Rise of Normal Heights

“Of all the things we did for Normal Heights, the most important was down-zoning. When the community plan was finalized in 1985, no one could build any more of those big ugly apartment buildings.”

November 27, 2002
A visit to a Tijuana morgue

Not long after my brother died and was buried in Oregon, I found myself in the depósito de cadáveres, or morgue, at Tijuana’s Autonomous University of Baja California. My hand rested on the handle of ...

October 31, 2002
Tijuana's Cultural Center turns twenty

“On the morning of January 20, 1974, the police came. The neighborhood’s name was Tierra y Libertad, ‘Land and Liberty.’ The police marched right into the neighborhood. Perhaps they were state police. I’m not sure. ...

October 10, 2002
Tijuana Dream Tracker

"Just like Florence, just like Rome, Tijuana, too, has its monuments." Professor Julio Rodríguez steers his blue Ford through Zona Rio, gesturing at one statue after another. "And what are monuments? What do they represent? ...

October 18, 2001
Reader writers tell funny stories about dead colleague, Steve Esmedina

Esmo’s phone manner was so hugger-mugger that I could be sitting four feet away and could not make out a single word. For all I could tell, he might have been laying fifty on a pony.

September 20, 2001
The Shadow Knows

In late January 1954, Dick Tracy found an infant abandoned in a tree. For more than a week the comic-strip detective searched for the mother. Suddenly, “as if dropped out of nowhere,” a Mrs. Catchem ...

September 20, 2001
Married to the Peso

In Mexico City in June of 1994, Pat Nelson took a friend, a Mexican financial consultant, to lunch. "My friend said to me, 'Pat, in '92 and '93 the Mexican government issued short-term bonds that ...

June 28, 2001
Survival Poet

'I'm totally lyric," says Erika Lara, a woman in her early 30s who sits on a metal folding chair on the marble landing before Tijuana's municipal government building. "A lyric poet. Uneducated. I barely finished ...

May 24, 2001
Our Students Don't Kill

'We currently have 20 kids here who've committed homicides. We get about one a month. In every case except one, it was an armed assault, usually a robbery, involving money, drugs, or both. The one ...

April 19, 2001
Alejandra's Difficult Choice

'Let me explain it to you slowly, because my life is very complicated. When I was 15 years old, I went from my small town in Puebla to Tecate, where I crossed into the United ...

April 5, 2001
San Diego has largest community of Mexican Jews in U.S.

“I even speak Yiddish with a Mexican accent. I can’t help it.” If you call the Institute for Jewish Research in Manhattan and ask to be referred to a Yiddish speaker in San Diego, you’ll ...

March 29, 2001
Tijuana's Troubled Families

'Go to the border between 5:00 and 7:00 in the morning, and you can understand something about my patients' lives. At that time in the morning, the border is crazy. People honking, yelling, fighting for ...

March 1, 2001
Rules for Your Life

"I knew Somalis who drove taxis and said I should try it.. For three months, I've been driving a cab. I live with a friend in a small house in Lemon Grove. I pay $300 a month"

January 18, 2001
Escape from Iraq

"There weren't so many big strong guys in Iraq, and so Saddam Hussein's security service was looking for strong guys to work as his bodyguards. You looked big. You looked frightening, like you might kill some people"

December 7, 2000

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