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Stories by Elizabeth Salaam

The fire station that Rob Wellington Quigley built

Pacific Highway doesn’t look like it sounds. The name calls to mind surfboard-topped VW buses, sunsets, and bike-riders in bathing suits, something like what you’d see on Highway 101 around Cardiff. But instead, it’s mostly ...

January 8, 2020
A week in San Diego without a phone

I never take my phone out on the water in Mission Bay, where I go to stand-up paddle board a couple of times a week. Sometimes I wish I had it to capture a picture ...

November 6, 2019
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 ...

Eastlake – growing pains

Peace east of Eastlake It was inevitable that there would be development. The Olympic Training Center sits on land donated by Eastlake, the sprawling development to its immediate west. Every time I pass through Eastlake, ...

San Diego cool coworking spots – do they work?

A mile east of all the beer Stacy Keck tells me she can’t function at 6 am. So we decide to meet instead at 8:30, and she gives me an access code so I can ...

San Diego's tallest buildings – higher and higher

When I buy my ticket to True Romance at Rooftop Cinema Club, I have visions of vertigo from the thrill of the rise to the top of the Manchester Grand Hyatt. I am not yet ...

December 19, 2018
Can't get the homeless out of Fox Canyon

A year and a half ago, one of Teri Siciliani’s neighbors called to alert her to a homeless encampment on the back side of Siciliani’s property in the Fox Canyon neighborhood of City Heights. From ...

December 5, 2018
A week of free art in San Diego

Monday At 7 pm on a Monday evening, the 20-foot ceilings in World Beat Cultural Center provide a feeling of spaciousness even though nearly all of the 100 or so chairs arranged in rows in ...

August 15, 2018
Forget farm-to-table. Embrace farm-to-fork

Watlington’s farm Trish Watlington reaches into a bed of bright red-orange nasturtiums and picks off a couple of whitish green seedpods about the size of wasabi peas. “Here, try it.” She hands one to me ...

July 19, 2018
San Diego benches of note

At 11:30 on a coolish Saturday morning in April, I have the bench to myself. Sometimes when I pass by, a woman with a shopping cart stuffed and piled with her belongings occupies the far ...

May 30, 2018
Mission Beach in the off season

The Bro Tai and the Golden Swan My fancy friend Tina likes to get dressed up in lots of jewelry and perfume to drink martinis on leather bar chairs in the presence of men wearing ...

March 21, 2018
San Diego's City Heights on the way up

The large picture windows at Lotus Garden Seafood and Noodles restaurant in City Heights overlook the corner of Euclid and University. Over a heaping plate of chicken chow fun, one can observe the comings and ...

February 14, 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 ...

Miracle Mai Tais

My Christmas miracle came in a highball glass filled with ice and equal parts rum and mai tai mix. At the time, it was clear that the drink had done what it was supposed to ...

December 20, 2017
Make it a point to spread the love

Holiday lights make the early darkness of winter a beautiful thing. One of my favorite displays in San Diego is the simple strings of colorful lights that wind around the railings on the streets above ...

December 6, 2017
The top ten trees of Balboa Park

Canary Island pines, Australian tea, Moreton Bay fig, Kauri pine, Calif. juniper, Ilelo palm, dragon tree, elderberry, bunya nunya.

All Hail the Queen of Customer Service

What you need to know about Margaret Parker (besides the fact that this is not her real name) is that when it comes to customer service, she doesn’t play. According to her own estimation, she ...

July 6, 2016
Ashley Nell Tipton, Empire Builder

Tipton’s rise to stardom began on season 14 of Project Runway.

May 18, 2016
HOA tricks, lies, and deceives ... and residents still don't care

“Why are all these foreclosed homes submitting ballots?”

October 28, 2015
Point Loma is a drippy mess

Chrissy Seigler noticed a leaky water main valve on the sidewalk in front of her Point Loma home. The water was seeping out from the lid and dribbling down the street. In early June, Seigler ...

September 9, 2015
From couch potato to Potato Chip Rock

Julian Duval is about to rock my world. The 68-year-old president of the San Diego Botanic Garden drives me around the garden in a golf cart talking my ear off and making me laugh with ...

August 26, 2015
Doula dilemma at Mary Birch

“I tried to figure out if I should suck it up and push through, because I really wanted to try and help these women.”

August 5, 2015
Water-leak warfare

On February 14, 2015, the City of San Diego installed a new digital water meter at a University Avenue property belonging to Edwin Widjojo. The installation took place in the middle of a bill period, ...

Torrey pine down

On Tuesday, June 30, the last of a 100-foot-tall Torrey pine was cut down at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas. It took six workers 35 hours to remove the tree, one of four ...

San Diego Reader 2015 Fun issue

Urban Adventures Beach Town Suburban Ocean & Bay Backcountry Mexico

June 10, 2015
Natural History Museum hosts exhibit on Spanglish

“The Desert at Night” is the Natural History Museum’s attempt to engage Spanish and English speakers at the same time.

June 3, 2015
Not that horrible woman from the Reader!

Half of them have holes in their mouths where their teeth used to be, and the other half have sets of some-large-some-small teeth.

May 13, 2015
Reader writers tell stories about Mom

Wonder and Hope — Mom always convinced me it would be an adventure. By Ian Anderson The Animal Keeper— Animals spoke to my mother “in a language only she understood.” By Whitney Butler La Gringa ...

May 6, 2015
I could lose you forever

When I am an old woman who repeats the same stories over and over again, the one I will tell of my mother will not be about the bread she baked some Saturday mornings, or ...

May 6, 2015
Give me the pills and nobody gets hurt

The downside of happy-pill nation.

April 1, 2015
The visionary behind the Help Neil Catch Fish Foundation

“This is it. My bones are here. San Diego is the best place on Earth.”

Meet Kleptomom

"They never look at the bottom of my cart. But if they do, I'll just say, 'Oh my gosh. Sorry. Totally forgot."

February 4, 2015
And the arts cover contest winner is ... Sarah Stieber!

Sarah Stieber paints in what she calls “Electric Realism,” a style that projects the “amplification of real life,” and uses bright, vivid colors that suggest “wishful seeing.” Stieber created “Fierce” in 2014, originally intending the ...

February 4, 2015
Theater, out of the theater

Picture this: you spend the evening climbing in and out of cars where you experience a series of five-to-ten-minute plays that take place inside the cars (The Car Plays, La Jolla Playhouse, 2013–2014). Or you ...

February 4, 2015
Rocket concert-goers app born at Coachella

In April 2013, Ryan Grainger and Bobby Sullivan found themselves faced with a particular First World problem at Coachella. The then-20- and 19-year-old University of San Diego students could not see all 190 performances. Although ...

January 21, 2015
Sensei Dan Thoene’s got a black bracelet in arithmetic

“A kid raised his hand in the back and said, ‘How long does it take to become a black belt?’”

December 31, 2014
Don your red suit

Why not teach the teen to cook? Fashion Valley Practice and prepare for your holiday meals with hands-on cooking classes featuring instruction on classic dishes and treats from prime rib to eggnog, and from snowflake ...

December 3, 2014
Second Chance finds jobs for San Diego ex-cons

The last couple of times Brenda Peterson had job openings in her court-reporting company, she filled the positions with members of an unlikely pool of candidates: ex-convicts, or more politely put, the formerly incarcerated. It ...

October 15, 2014
San Diego airport art: Taxonomy of a Cloud, The Journey, Astralgraph, Signalscape

I’m standing in Terminal 2 at the San Diego International Airport on a Monday morning in early July. My escort, Constance White, the airport art program manager, leads me through the new food-court atrium, past ...

October 8, 2014

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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