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Stories by Bill Manson

Adios, Costa Azul

Everybody’s la-la-ing like crazy

Adios, Costa Azul

Dead Owl, lost pearls

“Pearl Ship in the Desert” is El Centro's greatest mystery

Dead Owl, lost pearls

Mr. Stein’s ghost

Things are strangely quiet here

Mr. Stein’s ghost

Urban forester

“Trees are sentient beings, our partners. We need them”

Urban forester

The two coasts: drifting apart?

How do we define “evolution”?

Are San Diegans becoming as different from New Yorkers as bonobos have become, say, from chimps? Biologist Nathan Lents was in town the other day, talking at the Central Library and on KPBS about how ...

Jaws of life (Release the Kracken!)

Their eyes pop out and their stomachs explode through their mouths

“Conserving our planet one fish at a time.” You do a double-take when you see the sign. Because Randy Hupp’s a commercial fisherman. But he is serious about this. What he’s started, from his home ...

Joy Juice

"We just want to take the edge off."

“Two claps!” says Tysheen. “Now, shout it out.” “Bula!” “OK. Gulp it down in one. And, one more clap!” This is kava-drinking in City Heights. Boy. Have to say. It’s ceremonial and it’s fun. Only ...

The heart of democracy

Peace, after more than 20 years of horrible warfare

The one thing you notice about these taxi drivers is they’re always talking. Laughing, shouting, arguing, confiding. They’ll stop only if a passenger comes trundling across from the Santa Fe Depot to their Kettner Boulevard ...

Avenue Mural Project brought in a heavy

“This is about nothing but love.”

Has anybody seen the movie, Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment? About this crazy artist who couldn’t bear to see a bare wall? Each time, he had to fill it with a mural. It was ...

Willy Clauson came back to Tijuana

An original who touched greatness with "La Bamba"

My passport ran out of juice last year, just when the Mexican government was deciding it wanted to see official papers as foreigners headed south. That’s the only reason I didn’t hear, until the other ...

Latin jazz for the pure of heart

"Don’t try too hard."

Bill Caballero turns his trumpet towards Roy Robinson. Robinson lights up. His hands flail back and forth from one conga drum skin to another. Then Caballero’s wailing trumpet takes up a response. People watch the ...

French bowls without wine

“It’s more social than intensely competitive.”

This is Chris Conway’s first day. He’s been meaning to come do this with his dad Gareth for years. But now here he is, in a game he’s never played, French bowls — boules, if ...

Why not fish jerky?

and, Requiem for a Persian

Why not fish jerky? “I was sitting on a mountaintop in the Gila Wilderness,” says Nick Mendoza. “I was thinking beef jerky, and then the thought came: beef jerky? Why not fish jerky?” Mendoza was ...

How to stop the lemmings

Marshall's Plan

Is an upstairs office in downtown Coronado going to save the world? Out of his modest headquarters on Orange Avenue, Marshall Saunders founded Citizens’ Climate Lobby back in 2007. His idea was that we had ...

Draw the dog

Nate Kapnicky: Quartyard's canine caricaturist

Lyla sits still like a pro. Which is a miracle here in the middle of flailing dogs and foamy beers and baby strollers. The little black and tan pooch obviously doesn’t know what’s happening, because ...

Ben Franklin, Kim Kardashian, and me

Psoriasis provides a reason to ride 60 kilometers

“What do Ben Franklin and Kim Kardashian have in common with me?” asks Cristy Boisvert. “Psoriasis.” I’ve just met Cristy here, on Silver Strand beach, soaking up the morning sun in today’s cold wind. Behind ...

Dance like everybody's watching

"Once we face an audience, I become this other, sexier, younger, woman."

Another lunchtime, another sandwich and coffee in the park. Horton Plaza, where the sunken space is now strewn with Parisian-style park tables and chairs. It feels oddly underemployed, even though lots of folks are out ...

"This is how it should be."

Low riders and more at the 48th annual Chicano Park Day

“You see this? This is how it should be,” says David Sanchez III. He’s leaning over and pointing to the exaggerated solid chrome wheel rim of a black 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air that’s sitting on ...

"You can eat this?"

Mushroom hunting in the foothills of Mount Palomar

“Watch out for rattlers,” says Will. Which is a problem, because my mycological friend Kim and I are down on our knees in the thick, soft, untrodden leaf loam they call oak duff. We’re looking ...

The Chart Lady of Point Loma

When marine electronics fail, you're going to need a paper chart

“Paper charts need no batteries.” Ann Kinner, Captain, US Coast Guard, has put the little sign strategically among all the rolls of charts in her Seabreeze Book and Chart Store in Point Loma. It’s the ...

Sacred acorn paste of the Kumeyaay

Eat the way the local Native Americans ate, but better

Tipoff from my friend Ed: “Haute Kumeyaay Cuisine. Barona. Be there or be square.” “There” is at Barona’s Cultural Center. This Mexican pop-up chef, Gilberto Morales, who created his Baja-based Restaurante Nomada — Cocina Itinerante, ...

Sushi's cruel amusements

Shrimp Liberation Front, anybody?

Can we stop this already? I’m in a Japanese sushi eatery. The sushi chef - attractive girl – takes this live shrimp, throws his rear end into the fryer, brings it out red and cooked, ...

Quartyard II aims for East Village's sweet spot

If you build it, will they come...again?

By the time you read this, Quartyard II should be up and running. That’s what they promised. But I’ve been wandering past this replacement location at 13th and Market in East Village for months, chafing ...

How wrong we’ve been about saké

Young, hip San Diegans are the hope

The other day, Cowboy Star, the very Texan steakhouse on 10th and Market, staged an interesting dinner: a nine-course meal built around Wagyu steak and saké. “We had seven different sakés to pair with the ...

$350,000 just the beginning

Dauntless schooner for sale

I admit it. I’ve got the bug. There’s something about wooden boats that makes me go all gurgly inside. But add in the word schooner, and I go twice as gurgly. Those yachts with their ...

A shark-sized bite out of the real Coronado

New landlord in, old businesses out

It has that weird feeling, like Dead Man Walking. We’re at the bar. Jimmy has got me my regular Arrogant Bastard. Tiger does a pretend growl. “That Arrogant Bastard.” Miguel the chef sits with his ...

Birdman of East Village

They’re not pets

Has anybody seen the Birdman of East Village lately? Okay, that’s just what I call him. I met Victor Vasquez, 53, taking his three birds: Sydney, 30 years old, a medium sulphur-crested cockatoo from Papua ...

Original Pulp Fiction manuscript found in a Carlsbad garage

I also write introductions for art books

OMG: I’m holding it in my hand. A hand-typed script movie people would kill for. I just ran across it in this rare and ancient bookshop and literati haven, in an alley off Carlsbad Village ...

The $400 hangover cure

Doctor housecalls making a comeback

“Always have a job and a hustle.” That’s what Cheré’s mom told her. Cheré Amor Vassell has followed her mom’s advice. In her 13 years as a nurse, she has worked in Virginia, Japan, Florida, ...

How to tie a bow tie

Advice from the Guinness World Record holder

The Pass, the Under, the Wings, the Flop, the Hole, the Prep, the Stuff, and the Cinch. That’s all you’ve got to learn if you wanna tie a bow tie in front of other people ...

Skydive dive

Indoor skydiving place has cafe for decompressing

It’s not what you expect to find next door to Father Joe’s, but right on the corner of 14th and Imperial you can now join the craze for indoor skydiving and then nosh on a ...

San Diego sidewalk cafe rules don't make sense

Set my drinkers free

Question: How come you can drink a glass of wine at some sidewalk cafés and not others? Scene One: You don’t even want to know when this is. But I was a student, in Wellington, ...

Fun things to do in San Diego

A million things under the sun — we offer a few (some indoors)

County Administration Center Waterfront Park In 2014, 12 acres of former parking lots were converted into a public park facing San Diego Bay. Running both north and south of the county government headquarters established in ...

MishMash and Iron Fist bring burger-beer bars to the barrio

“What I like with the restaurant scene is that small is beautiful again."

There’s a lot of change in Barrio Logan. The building boom on César Chávez has brought several new places. For starters there’s Mariscos El Pulpo, a Mexican-style sports bar-eatery. Then there’s Malane’s place, MishMash, this ...

Hotel del Coronado expels prince

Embarrassing to honor Hitler friends Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson

It was 10:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 7, 1920. Britain's prince of Wales stood at the entrance to the Crown Room in the Hotel del Coronado. He had come for a dinner-dance in his honor. He ...

The cult of the pit

You love me now, but will you when I’m four?

I have a dog in this fight. Or, rather, I had a cat. Mr. Whiskers was my buddy for 12 years. He sat by my computer while I worked, came with me on walks under ...

Get metaphysical

Get into the gourd Fallbrook Painting and carving gourds has to be the most fun gift-making hobby in, well, actually, 15,000 years. That’s how long our ancestors have been using and carving gourds. And we ...

Barking SEALs

Formerly secretive warriors can’t stop talking

One thing you know: in Coronado, at SEAL hangouts such as Danny’s Palm Bar and McP’s Irish Pub, the talk has been all Robert O’Neill. Matt Bissonnette. Team Six. The Shooter. The Point Man. Zero ...

Not the Israel my parents fought for

The bombs are wrong, says Miko Peled.

What does Miko Peled think of what’s been happening in Gaza? “There’s only one way to describe what’s happening now. It’s a massacre. There is no way to justify it, to excuse it, to paint ...

What if I cured Alzheimer’s and nobody cared?

Medical world’s biggest mystery

There aren't too many doctors on planet Earth who think like Joseph Abramowitz.

I have loved Tijuana

Everybody knows that Pasaje Rodriguez is shaping up to be the coolest passage in TJ. But who knew of the jewel right in its heart? Pasajes (passages) are the arcades that run from Revolución through ...

Did Chris Kyle deck Jesse Ventura?

Jesse Ventura sues the wife of deceased SEAL sniper Chris Kyle over allegations made in a book.

Bay dreams

Good and ghastly ideas for our waterfront

What could we do with our waterfront, if we really put our thinking caps on?

An Old Truth Made New Again

How many people assassinated Mexican presidential hopeful Luis Donaldo Colosio Murrieta in 1994?

Original Artists Work to Restore Chicano Park Murals

Armando Nuñez is touching up a skeleton. “That first day,” he says, “I brought a half-gallon can of green bathroom paint. Everybody brought whatever they had. That’s how it was. We didn’t plan. We just ...

Afghanistan, Love, Regret

Khaled Waleh, owner of Zia’s Afghan Café in North Park, gives the reporter his dad’s phone number in Parwan province.

UPS Can't Find Me. FedEx Can't Find Me. Visitors Always Get Lost.

San Diegans outside the bubble.

What’s it like to live in what passes for “the wilds" of San Diego County? Bill Manson finds out.

Sometimes, Wildlife Comes to You

Is Mother Nature nibbling around the edges of San Diego, ready to take her back?

Midsummer. Japatul Valley, south of Alpine. Too hot to sleep indoors. Warren Storm-thunder snoozes in his hammock. He has slung it under trees down by a creek bottom near his isolated valley home. Then, around ...

San Diegans Talk of Revolution

‘When I heard that Qaddafi was killed,” says Abdul, who’s from Lebanon and doesn’t want his real name used, “I had to laugh because not too long ago he was calling his people cowards, rats. ...

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