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Stories by Matthew Lickona

Happy Trumpsgiving

Happy Trumpsgiving Hunter P. Thompson: "Sure, everybody here agrees that Trump is a fascist hatemonger with no sense of respect or decency. That just means he’s just like the rest of us. Those protesters who ...

April 30, 2022
San Diego men look at selves in swimsuits

Men's Summer Swimsuit Issue Nowadays, whenever I occasion to strip down to my swimwear, my own interior monologue pesters me, "Are you standing up straight? Is your stomach tucked in? Are there zits on your ...

March 27, 2022
USD students look back at high school, the campus's Catholicism

Class Struggle “We had a lot of cliques at my school. There were the drama kids, and we had a group we actually called the Clique. It was just the people that seemed to party ...

February 7, 2022
Personal history of La Mesa, the charm of Encanto

Where Sweet Peace and Love Abidith During school vacations, Carl and I hopped the freight train that chugged through twice a week. It stopped in La Mesa to unload flatbeds of planks to the lumberyard. ...

February 5, 2022
Reader editor Matt Lickona welcomes first child

I Have Purchased a Grey Cardigan Sweater My wife and I fell in love over wine, bourbon, and cognac. We attended a college with a dry campus, and many evenings were spent sitting in my ...

November 29, 2021
Nathanael West, Jim Thompson, Max Miller

Janet, My Mother, and Me “We went out to Belmont, and Harry couldn’t stop picking winners. We went to the 21 Club for dinner, and we scalped tickets for a Broadway musical in the fourth ...

November 20, 2021
Kosher cooking in San Diego State area, Navy couple in Otay Ranch

The Door’s Open. Go In! Some beards, like Alan’s, are magnificent in their autonomy — they grow as they wish, untrimmed and untamed. “You shall not round the corners of your beard.” These beards grow ...

November 13, 2021
San Diego Reader’s Best Of issue 2021

Best Friend to Joshua Trees Is there anything to be done about the plight of the Joshua tree? While state and federal agencies dither over whether the imperiled desert dweller deserves endangered species protections, one ...

October 20, 2021
Army-Navy Academy, wine experts behind doors, castrated man's life

An unhampered look at Carlsbad's Army Navy Academy "Unlike the upper-school cadets, these boys will break down and cry, a lot. They don’t want other boys to see ’em cry, ’cause it’s not macho. But ...

August 29, 2021
Alexander Theroux's father and brothers, Amy Chu's mother, Matt Lickona's grandparents

Decent Life Led by the Ordinary Man I will never forget the time a monsignor from our church, favoring our simple household with a visit, stopped by and in the course of dinner, sat back, ...

August 21, 2021
Midway upon the journey

I noticed a convertible on the way into work today. Pretty good looking… especially for a Buick. Good grief, I’m admiring a Buick. Old, old, old. The kind of person who still says Good grief, ...

April 21, 2021
Is American cuisine inherently racist?

I remember the first time I felt nervous about what I was eating. “Nervous,” as opposed to “apprehensive,” which describes how I felt the first time I ate ant eggs, corn smut, and rattlesnake at ...

April 7, 2021
El Indio’s Rube Goldberg-esque tortilla conveyer belt makes good TV

David Page’s initial interest in San Diego’s venerable El Indio Mexican restaurant was maybe not entirely visual, but he grants that “what interested me the most at the time — provided they could meet the ...

April 7, 2021
A night out with a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Both sky and highway are washed in gold from the lowering sun as I sail along the 94 toward downtown, there to attend the Grand Re-opening of Rooftop Cinema at the Grand Hyatt. It’s a ...

March 24, 2021
Something rotten at the Reader?

We get letters! A longtime Reader reader wrote in a couple weeks back to complain that “The Reader is now spinning Republican shit on your [our?] newly [duly?] elected governor Gavin Newsom… the man we ...

March 24, 2021
Night on University Ave., Olive St. above Switzer Canyon, Rob Quigley's vision for Little Italy

University Avenue Nocturne “We try to cruise by the hot spots where there has been trouble. Bars or restaurants, businesses, what have you. For example. Shooters bar on 30th Street in North Park has had ...

March 20, 2021
Inside gay killer Andrew Cunanan: Bishop's School, older friends, Gay Pride parade

Schoolboy charm A 1988 graduate thought she recalled Cunanan going up to one of her male friends, grabbing one of his pectorals, and saying something like, "Oooh, very nice. You've been working out. Give me ...

March 13, 2021
Ostrich meat from Bear Valley, melancholy journey of Ramona steer, duck hunting near Chocolate Mountains

Long Neck, Low Fat David Stepp waits for an ostrich craze A 220-pound bird has got about 85 pounds of meat. And the meat is red meat. Two of the muscle groups taste exactly like ...

March 1, 2021
The soundtrack of our lives

A moment: a cloudless Saturday afternoon, Balboa Park, just in front of Cabrillo Bridge, maybe 200 people — couples, families, friends — lounging on the grass in the spreading shade of the Moreton Bay fig ...

February 24, 2021
Stadium sayonara

I saw my first rock concert in 1987 — U2 played the Carrier Dome in Syracuse as part of their tour for The Joshua Tree. Time magazine put them on the freaking cover, with the ...

February 10, 2021
Apple Tree's produce man talks, writer joins Gulf Coast Grill cooks, donut immersion

Banana Man Across the aisle, is another table like yours neatly stacked with oranges, grapefruits, pineapples, papayas, and other fruits. That table, as well as the rack against the wall, are refrigerated. Your table is ...

January 31, 2021
Couching my approach to 2021

My boys found a couch by the side of the road that was neither falling apart nor inundated with animal hair, and so they carried it home. We don’t have room for it, but never ...

January 27, 2021
What chefs themselves eat, San Diego homeless remember their moms, roadside graves, will we be together forever?

Sweat Cuisine "Let's say you have a banquet. Chicken Kiev and vegetables and potatoes, 600 people. An hour before the banquet starts, you find out it's down to 500. You've got 100 leftover half-cooked chickens, ...

January 10, 2021
2020, signing off

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a sign that’s been cropping up around my neighborhood of late. A few days ago, I spotted a rejoinder. On the one hand, I tend to agree that ...

December 23, 2020
Why to write Christmas letters, Catholic newlywed confesses, Truman Capote

Christmas Letters The letters sent during her children's early years offered tales of Bud's rise through academia, each new pregnancy, larger home, additions to those homes, children's grade-school successes, vacations. When the boys began to ...

December 12, 2020
Sign of the times

“I’ve seen it around,” says my neighbor Nick about the sign in his front yard, “and every time, I liked it, because it pretty much says what I believe. We’re all just human beings, and ...

November 25, 2020
Garbage thinking with Ben Wheatley

In The Simpsons: Season 7, Episode 3, “Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily,” Homer and Marge lose custody of their children and have to attend a parenting class in order to get them back. At one point, the ...

November 25, 2020
UCSD’s The Koala: no longer endangered

Artist Andres Serrano’s 1987 photograph Piss Christ served as my proper introduction to the meaning of free speech. Serrano, a Catholic, intended it to be a comment on the commercialization of Christian icons — the ...

November 4, 2020
San Diego Reader's Best Of issue

Look for the online list of Best Of voting winners soon. We have printed and re-stocked extra copies of this week's print version where the Best Of voting winners are listed. Best place in San ...

October 21, 2020
Joseph Mitchell’s and Joe Gould’s Secret

I started writing for the Reader 25 years ago; Joseph Mitchell is one of the big reasons why I wanted to do so. The summer before my senior year of college, I visited Thidwick’s Books ...

October 14, 2020
What happens when all the world’s a stage?

Just under a year ago, I was given the honor of working as the Reader’s theater critic. For a while, I joked that God was so horrified at the prospect that he killed the entire ...

October 14, 2020
The Chargers crowd, the Padres crowd, where old Chargers are

Cheerleading Is More Dangerous than Fighting Cage-fightin’ rock stars. It’s Wednesday at 1:00 p.m., and I am waiting for amateur mixed martial arts fighter Jaime Reyes at the Lakeside Cafe. When he walks past me, ...

October 11, 2020
Golden State dreams

Winding my way up La Mesa’s Mount Nebo on a Sunday morning, I wound up on the Summit Drive cul-de-sac. All but one of the houses sported a tasteful Biden/Harris 2020 sign in the front ...

September 30, 2020
Tagging Renoir

The pale blue, two-story stucco and cinderblock building squats in a parking lot along Broadway in Lemon Grove between a Walgreen’s and an Eyeglass World. It houses Rock Liquor (Beer Wine Grocery) and a Western ...

September 30, 2020
De Anza Cove terrorized, La Jolla Cove cesspool, doomed life in Eastlake, South vs North Park, displaced persons in City Heights

The Ugly Trailer Park Across the Water Beauty and the blight on Mission Bay. Cityzella terrorizes humble trailer folk at De Anza Cove. By Ollie, Sept. 14, 2011 | Read full article What am I ...

September 28, 2020
Religion in Christmas movies, Yellow Deli a cult?, San DIego Sikhs, Christmas without Jesus, Hare Krishnas

Church on Sunday? If not, did you ever wonder why people do? One man's search for Christianity's core. By Matthew Lickona, April 8, 2009 | Read the full article Joy to the Screen Isn’t the ...

September 26, 2020
Chalk talk for Chief David Nisleit

On August 27, San Diego’s chapter of Black Lives Matter held a protest in the Poway cul de sac that is home to San Diego Chief of Police David Nisleit. The “black women and femmes” ...

September 16, 2020
BrainLeap helps kids pay attention with The Attention Arcade

“What I was doing before wasn’t nearly as cool,” says Jeff Coleman, CEO of BrainLeap Technologies, the company he co-founded with his wife, UCSD researcher Leanne Chukoskie and her colleague, UCSD professor Jeanne Townsend. “This ...

September 16, 2020
Amy Lowell, Matthew Lickona, Truman Capote, Jack Kerouac

Amy Lowell: Selected Poems "I've had amazing experiences since I started working on this, saying to people 'Amy Lowell,' and they say, 'Oh, I love Amy Lowell.' Or, 'When I was young, I always read ...

September 7, 2020
OB drum circle of life, or death, or what?

“Right now, people who come here with no masks, with no distancing, are being irresponsible, and they could get sick — deathly sick — and die. We have to get tough, and I’m telling you, ...

September 2, 2020
Death, destruction and rebuilding in La Mesa

Maple muse “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.” — W.B. Yeats, “The Second Coming” “And you know something’s happening, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?” — Bob Dylan, “Ballad ...

July 29, 2020
La Jolla – a shoreline and a mountain

What Windansea surfers said about Tom Wolfe Eight summers have drifted by since Tom Wolfe (author of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test) traveled to California to write a series on “The New Life Out There” ...

Legacy International Center: the inverted cathedral

No cross tops the spire attached to the Legacy International Center, Christian evangelist Morris Cerullo’s new, nearly $200 million campus in the heart of Mission Valley. Instead, the spire’s gray façade, set among limestone blocks ...

July 1, 2020
La Mesa Police Department: due process or don't process?

A big white banner hangs on the La Mesa Police Department’s headquarters; the blue letters read, “We are one strong community.” There is something to the claim of community. It was impressive to see people, ...

June 17, 2020
Vet Chris Mavry holds the line between protest and riot

I was late to the protest in La Mesa on Saturday night. I hadn’t intended to go at all — what could I possibly add that social media and TV news would not have covered? ...

June 3, 2020
Common enjoyment à la mode at Somi Somi

Ice cream is a sauce. I’m not going to refer you to Webster’s or any such thing, just so I can hear you protest that sauces are, by definition, fluid. First, because I stopped trusting ...

May 13, 2020
Creating interim solutions with backtoworkaftercovid.com

AV Builder Corp President Tony Madureira is frustrated, and not just because he doesn’t have enough general contracting work for his employees during the shutdown. “I picked up some takeout fast food the other day,” ...

May 13, 2020
Stories hiding in the corners of San Diego

The Ugly Trailer Park Across the Water Cityzella terrorizes humble trailer folk at De Anza Cove. By Ollie, Sept. 14, 2011 What am I doing in Eastlake? I'm telling you it's a trap. And we're ...

May 10, 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
Saved by singing at Peter D’s and with the Red Karaoke app

Gather ‘round, my children. I want you to hear what a success story sounds like. It begins with a challenge; sometimes, that challenge is a crisis. “It was supposed to be a simple gall bladder ...

April 29, 2020

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