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Stories by Chad Deal

Best Reader stories from 2011

Dad was a bum Mike Elliott’s father disappeared when he was 13 years old. Not disappeared as in vanished mysteriously. Disappeared as in left and never came back. Some 27 years later, on a rainy ...

March 7, 2020
Jamul – last bastion of civilization on the 94

Jamul Residents Wage Indian Blood Battle over Gaming Site The Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs is asking a lot of questions about the Jamul Indian Village. The government agency has launched an investigation to determine ...

Jacumba – the far edge of San Diego

A quiet street and an old hotel Jacumba is a kind of living ghost town out in southeast San Diego County, on the Mexican border, in what’s called, the Mountain Empire district. It has come ...

Spring Valley – land of contrasts

Dictionary Hill in Spring Valley got its name from encyclopedia salesman One of the oddest things about the Dictionary Hill area, also known as La Presa, is the way the streets were laid out on ...

Campo –small town rich in drama

Complications of Tijuana to Tecate to Campo train Ten federal agents waiting at the railway museum are demanding that the train continue onto its last stop in Campo and be cleared through customs before anybody ...

Every taco tells a tale

Some speak of ancient Aztec pit cooking. Some recall distant coastal villages and the catch of the day. Some crow about the possibilities when price is not an object (you may have heard murmurs of ...

May 16, 2018
San Diego shows to get this sellout off his couch

Last month, a local Facebook friend posted: “‘There’s no music/art scene in SD.’ Sure there is, but you are in your room missing it.” Easy for him to say, I thought. He’s the promoter of ...

March 14, 2018
San Diego arts nonprofits on the ground

Nonprofits nationwide are nervously waiting to gauge the impact of the recent tax overhaul, which reduces the number of taxpayers who qualify for the charitable deduction by about half and is predicted to slash giving ...

February 7, 2018
San Diego Reader writers dig deep into Christmases past

Every Power Rangers toy known to man The exact moment the sleigh bells stopped jingling — by Chad Deal Sister Santa’s once-a-year smile I adored American Christmas — by Tam Hoang We were ruthless Christmas-letter ...

I wanted every Power Rangers toy known to man

I’ll never forget the day the great Santa swindle came crashing down around me. It was Christmas morning, and I was eight years old. When I bolted out of bed, Santa was as concrete a ...

December 20, 2017
Winter is God's cocktail hour

Winter. It’s the five o’clock of the annum. God’s own cocktail hour. A time to rejoice and be merry and say things you’ll later frown about at family gatherings. New year, new you. This is ...

December 6, 2017
Kimpton Hotel's alleyway of Mexican primo spirits

“Curadero” may not mean much outside of the downtown San Diego Kimpton, but within its lobby-side, mural-strewn walls, the neologism signifies top-quality Cali-Baja cuisine, inspired cocktails, choice drafts, 80+ premium Mexican spirits (including mezcal, bacanora, ...

Burgers with a side of ambience

We all know what makes a burger. It’s gotta have ground beef, or at least ground something. Mash it into a patty, fry it, grill it, broil it, or nuke it (you know who you ...

Spooky Cigarette's infectious intersection

Spooky Cigarette has just wrapped up a full-house set at Space Bar. The show was well-attended and the audience more than enthusiastic, yet frontman Frank Mindingall gives off little more than a sense of calm ...

August 30, 2017
Reckless Brewing slaughters sacred cows

A metal ball rolls down a ramp, launching an RC car into a series of homemade 2˝x4˝ dominoes. Clack, clack, slam! A stuffed bunny hangs from a noose, a baseball glove drops, and a jug ...

August 23, 2017
The Beyond Burger lives up to its name

Santa Monica-based fast casual vegetarian chain Veggie Grill rotates their menu with the seasons, highlighting crisper, more refreshing offerings over the summer months. San Diego claims two of their more-than-thirty nationwide locations. About three years ...

Cache — Hillcrest's proto-Parisian salon

A trip to modern speakeasy cache is a trip through time. From the moment you discover its entrance disguised as a walk-in freezer by the bathrooms of not-for-profit Tacos Libertad (the latest offering from Cohn ...

July 26, 2017
There’s always a full moon over the Caliph

One day in 1957, Philadelphia disc jockey Hy Lit fell asleep listening to a stack of new releases. The last single played repeatedly until Lit awoke, leading him to include it in his rotation at ...

July 5, 2017
Space Time to poke hole in San Diego bubble?

There’s a time and a space for everything. At least, that’s the idea behind art-and-music collective Space Time, which held its first of many events at Barrio Logan’s Bread & Salt in July of 2016. ...

All about those buns

La Mesa’s downtown strip has been raising eyebrows as an aspiring food and drink district lately. The fast-casual BLVD Noodles is among the more recent arrivals, touting a menu of pan-Asian appetizers, ramen (the first ...

San Diego Reader 2017 Fun issue

Climb the California Tower in Balboa Park Balboa Park’s California Tower at the San Diego Museum of Man was closed to the public in 1935, but after extensive construction and safety renovations it reopened for ...

June 21, 2017
Adam Gnade finds love in this meatgrinder called life

According to Adam Gnade’s latest album, Life Is the Meatgrinder That Sucks in All Things, recent American history is split into two distinct parts: before and after September 11, 2001. The spoken narrative serves as ...

June 21, 2017
Party at the snakes' place

"We got any locals here?” one of the Widows asks to scattered whoops of recognition. “Thank you for coming out from under your rock.” Two hits on a snare drum and a brass crash. The ...

June 21, 2017
Liberty lunch for the office crowd

You have a choice of about 30 eateries at Liberty Public Market, but if you’re taking a quick workday lunch break you’d do well to check out neighboring Officine Buona Forchetta, a recent expansion of ...

Pig meets ramen

Tajima’s new Adams Avenue locale, discreetly lodged between a French bistro and a coffee house, was thoroughly covered by Reader writer Patrick Henderson shortly after it opened. New since his visit, however, is a flash-in-the-pan ...

Hand-pumped, bellows-powered

“The Kirtan scene [in San Diego] is pretty small,” says Tom Warner, bassist in Pilgrimage of the Heart Kirtan Band, which has performed on over 400 occasions throughout Southern California. “Most people practicing yoga don’t ...

June 14, 2017
Banzai! Dollar Bud drafts when the Pads win

Cousins Chad Cline and Jason “Rocky” Nichols come from a long lineage of dives. Their great-grandfather purchased the Waterfront Bar (whose liquor license dates back to the end of Prohibition) around the late ‘60s. While ...

The Routine flits between genres with bass

About seven years ago, Jamie Minotti of the Madero Group management outfit teamed up with several promoters throughout town to produce the Ocean Beats series, a forum for electronic bass music that had hitherto been ...

June 7, 2017
This way to the Donkey Show in North Park

Everyone knows that gringos going gaga for Cinco de Mayo is stupid, but new North Park neighbor Tamarindo takes it in stride, cheekily dubbing the day’s drink special “The Donkey Show.” It’s a nod to ...

Shades McCool, lighthearted nihilist, at your service

Bob Baker’s Auto Group, Mossy Nissan, Drew Ford, Toyota of Escondido... The manic anthems of San Diego auto commerce are forever seared into the brains of anyone who spent time near a radio in the ...

May 31, 2017
San Diego Reader 2017 guide to tacos

Taco means tiny taste of temptation. Satisfaction by a thousand different cuts of meat and veggies. Is it just me, this wacko taco love affair? I don’t think so. Every San Diegan has a secret ...

Hangin' with Mom at South Park Abbey

The locale on the corner of Grape and Fern was built in the late ‘40s as a laundromat and went on to operate as a thrift store, a lighting store, and a “Cuban restaurant with ...

Paradox Effects — serious gear for those who play

The workshop of Paradox Effects looks a lot like what you might picture when you imagine “Tijuana do-it-yourself boutique guitar pedals.” The low-ceiling warehouse overlooks TJ’s affluent Hipódromo neighborhood from the lower-class residential hillside of ...

Maybe the best surf-and-turf taco in town

Tamarindo North Park Latin Kitchen and Bar Last month, Tamarindo debuted at the former site of North Park landmark Claire de Lune Coffee Lounge. The locale serves inventive agave and sotol cocktails (Mark Broadfoot of ...

In-Ko-Pah 4 a go

For the past four years and for the price of a few burritos and a couple beers, Jim Ko-Pah’s and John Ko-Pah’s high-desert “High Jinks” has been one of San Diego’s best kept secrets among ...

May 10, 2017
Batman and Rodin — welcome to Perry Vásquez's world

Artist and musician Perry Vásquez recently released a concept album designed to prod at the listener’s sense of morality, justice, and personal responsibility. The Gates of Heck began as a visual arts project in 2008, ...

May 3, 2017
There she is: Star Bar

It’s hard to believe that any dive worth its weight in spilt Schlitz has survived the past few decades of redevelopment in the Gaslamp with any semblance of integrity left intact, yet there she is: ...

The Hot Nerds blend includes sarcasm

"You’re just in time for the cupping,” Hot Nerds keyboardist Alia Jyawook says as I enter Modern Times Beer in Point Loma. Images of medieval hack medicine and bizarre sex moves flash through my mind ...

April 5, 2017
Festival of Dead Deer reunite for a night

“We just want to do one more proper show before we get older,” says Festival of Dead Deer guitar/vocalist Michael Crain. The LA-based trio put out an LP on San Diego’s Three One G Records ...

Clutch Bar’s Bar Monster requests you stay off your phone

Were it not for the name and the salvaged “CUSTOM SERVICE” sign overlooking the pool table, you might not guess that the Clutch was once an auto shop before becoming a neighborhood bar in the ...

March 22, 2017
San Diego Reader 2017 music issue

Make no mistake about it, San Diego is home to its share of top talents in pop, rock, jazz, and blues. The Reader’s music crew cast its net to find out why these music makers ...

March 15, 2017
Seemed sketchy

Jeff Trageser is the Open Oscillator electronic open-mic host and bassist of indie act Takahashi. Local band? “Lucy’s Fur Coat.” Live band? “The Incredible Moses Leroy and the Softlights.” Local album? “In A Safe Place ...

March 15, 2017
A style of music I wasn’t aware of

Glen Galloway of Singing Serpent Studios has been playing with Sumatraban and Error Massage in the absence of Octagrape mate Jason Begin (the Donkeys), who relocated to New Mexico. Tyler Ward of Octagrape and Glen ...

March 15, 2017
Fast, punchy, straight to the point

Three One G label owner, promoter, bassist, and vocalist Justin Pearson has been wrapping up a Dead Cross LP on Ipecac Recordings with the addition of Mike Patton (Mr. Bungle, Faith No More, Fantômas) on ...

March 15, 2017
Noise at the library

Sam Lopez is a promoter, label owner, and noise musician. Local artist? “I’m very partial to the artists who have had releases on [my label] Stay Strange — Monochromacy, Xavier Ramirez, and Michael Zimmerman.” Live ...

March 15, 2017
Get your head caved in

Projection artist (RETOX, Die Mißbildungen Des Menschen), videographer, musician, and Space Time curator Xavier Vasquez... Local band? “RETOX, Hexa, Gloomsday, Schizophonics, Monochromacy.” All-time local band? “Black Heart Procession.” Venue to perform/host? “The Casbah, the Hideout, ...

March 15, 2017
Open Oscillator host Jeff Trageser talks sonic 'tronics

“We weren’t connected to the electronic scene in San Diego when we started in January 2015, but we really dug the vibe of the ‘singer/songwriter’ events like Grampadrew’s Flim-Flam Revue,” says Jeffrey Trageser, host of ...

March 8, 2017
Sip pulque, wait for wings to sprout from back

Long before Tecate roja and caguamas of Indio dominated Mexican bartops, Aztec priests, warriors, and sacrificial victims sipped a milky agave wine called pulque. Fabled among its acolytes as a wellspring of fertility and divine ...

March 8, 2017
The Würm has turned

“I was always under age when I lived in San Diego, so venues were mainly Ché Café, Soma, WorldBeat Center, and the occasional DIY thing,” says Miguel Trost de Pedro, aka Kid606, a 37-year-old electronic ...

March 1, 2017
Because We Love You Fest fertilizes TJ’s subterranean scene

Experimental music rarely goes as planned. Often, that’s the point. Sometimes, nothing happens at all. Just ask John Cage. One thing’s for sure: it’s a gamble. It’s downright audacious first-date material. Most people find it ...

February 27, 2017

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
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