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Stories by Mary Lang

University Avenue: From Washington Street to La Mesa Boulevard

“This used to be a beautiful place,” says Jonnie. “A family part of town. Nice people lived here. That all changed with the Vietnam War, 1975. People from war places started coming in, big-time.”

San Diego's stonecutters

Remember you must die, and someone has to carve your epitaph

Remember that the dead now outnumber the living. There are 18,000 deaths in San Diego County each year. A single San Diego funeral home handles 15 corpses a month. Five of those bodies — former ...

Trail of Blood: When Adoption Leads to Obsession

“You definitely don't forget," Diane Galiley says. Tiny body clad in A sky-blue pajamas, she’s curled up in a “papasan” chair in the living room of her La Mesa apartment. Watery eyes, huge in her ...

Home Before Dark

Somali refugees make their way in San Diego

There are other sizeable Somali communities in Seattle, Washington, D.C., Minnesota, South Dakota, New York, Boston, and Miami. “In Minnesota and South Dakota, usually it's young people,” she said. “Those communities came out of San Diego."

Loss: All We Left Behind In 1992

Unlike 1984, when Ronald Reagan made it a point to finish his campaign at a giant rally in the parking lot of Fashion Valley, George Bush came to see the All-Star game and was booed by the locals.

San Diego's panic buttons

With a shotgun in one hand and the phone in the other

The telephone is hidden in a black box fixed to the north wall of a small building, island-side of the tollbooths. It’s easy to miss; the signs, posted at even intervals along the Coronado bridge, ...

Summer San Diego

Geography, like your body, is destiny

At the sensitive age of 13, I was given a role in a San Diego Junior Theater production of a musical version of Little Women, a role identified in the script and program as “Fat Boy.”

San Diego romance writers compare notes

In love 17 hours a day

Romance Writers of America, a national organization 3000 members strong, was formed, according to their literature, for published and aspiring writers with “a common interest: their love of romance and their desire to write what ...

Me and Ed

Edward would have been gorgeous if he had all his fur.

I find a cinnamon-colored strand of fur, black-banded, poking through the sleeve of my sweater. Another cat hair; I had hoped I’d gotten them all out of my life. They turn up now and then, ...

Tales of loss and desolation: Merry Christmas!

Reader writers pour out souls

A criticism implied in every gift I don’t remember Christmas. None in particular. There’s this Christmas thread, an irregular stream of pictograms (orange snowriding disk = delight) linked by an underlying Christmas smell (new plastic, ...

So many demonic sightings in East San Diego County

Satan chasers

Satan,” wrote Anton LaVey in The Satanic Bible, “has been the best friend the church has ever had, as he has kept it in business all these years.” Since the appearance in 1983 of Michelle ...

Latter Day Saints in San Diego

Nobody doesn't like Mormons

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is now the fastest-growing religion, in the United States and worldwide. San Diego County, by no means a Mormon stronghold, is home to more than 52,000 ...

All the World's a Sneetch

Dr. Theodore Seuss Geisel died Tues. evening — now all the questions come out.

A generation learned to read with the Seuss I-Can-Read series. In my kindergarten, perhaps first grade, there was a prohibition against reading Dr. Seuss books aloud for reading tests. Too many kids knew them by heart.

Back To School

Mr. Van Winkle asked the Student Council Reps, to indicate to the classes that if they can convince him through sound logical arguments that they should ride skateboards to school that he will reconsider his position.

San Diego, My Lovely

On the noir side of town

Stretching east of 30th Street, the Mid-City mesa has for decades been a Gasoline Alley wasteland of car washes, card parlors, dinky pink bungalows: low-rent neighborhoods whose obscurity is secured by distance from freeway off-ramps.

Worn, Solid, Absolute

I admit this wincing: For a time I was one of those little girls who lives for horses. Since living was for me largely a matter of reading, the obsession took the form of reading ...

The Other Zoo

The electric sodium lights hiss in the zoo’s parking lot. A winged beetle flops, buzzes feebly on the cement apron next to where I park the car. The 11 p.m. air is vaguely scented with ...

Jesus as New Ager

The Essenes--From the Dead Sea Scrolls to Tecates Fat Farm

The incense-choked jumble of the recent Whole Life Expo: vegetarians and environmentalists and every shade of new-age devotee wandered endless rows of booths for radical cancer cures, aura-photography, and Delphi, the City of Dolphins. Few ...

Where'd You Get Those Genes?

San Diego's Fertility Center and eugenics

"Maybe this is a real broad statement to make," Schneider continues, "but when I meet someone like you, for example, I have a pretty good idea you’re not waiting in the welfare lines when you leave here, right?”

Sailor's Paradise

Paint your dreams, live your nightmares

The sailor came here in 1974. San Diego was an exotic port. He felt strange and free. The attraction was aesthetic. There was no snow. (He was from Minnesota.) There were palm trees and beautiful ...

We went to Hoover

Talmadge was our hiking grounds, the caves on lower Van Dyke, but we avoided Razor Flats

Marking the end of a basement corridor in the Clarion Hotel (formerly the Lafayette), a doorway frames a rectangle of strong light. Figures move against the light. Shrill talk and laughter rocket out. Jean pauses ...

The story I wanted to write... but didn't

Sandy and a girlfriend had gone into a liquor store, robbed the clerk, They locked the clerk in a walk-in cooler. Sandy started feeling bad about the guy. She went back and let him out.

In the Time It Took You to Read this Headline, San Diego's Traffic Troubles Got a Little Worse

In the skies with Metro Traffic Control's Kymythy Schultze

“It’s starting out calm today. Only three accidents and a vehicle fire so far.” Metro Traffic Control’s airborne reporter Kymythy Schultze wriggles a bulbous headset into a comfortable position over her ears. “And there’s a ...

UCSD shows exactly what gall bladder surgery is like

Under the knife

Two rubber-veiled hands press cloths down; the pumpkin square of abdomen shines taut. Framing the exposed area, faded aqua drapes conceal curves of body. Another sheathed hand grasps a silver blade, angles it with delicacy ...

Fighting Words: The Vietnam Books

The war had a vocabulary so different from the rest of the world that it was almost a language apart.

Veteran Readers The first three Vietnam Vets whom I asked, "What novels about the Vietnam War have you read?" hadn't read many. All three served in the Marine Corps, all were in boot camp in ...

Under a Rock

A Discussion with "Your Typical Paleontologist – Geologist."

“This is my pride and joy,” Kern says. A shark’s tooth. He found it while doing field work for his dissertation. Four or five million years old. “The biggest ones are about six inches long.”

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