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Stories by Mike Madriaga

Fiddling with Jamie Shadowlight

“For hip hop, I play more groove and rhythm-oriented lines with lots of space.”

Pacific Beach violinist Jamie Shadowlight was ecstatic when she heard electric violinist Lindsey Stirling would headline the San Diego Fair on June 27. “Stirling has made playing violin fun and inspired so many young people ...

This time Baja 500 warns the selfie takers

Last year's close calls cited in warning video

On June 1, Felipe M., a San Diego offroad photographer, drove down to Ensenada to cover the Baja 500 race for his Baja Sports fanpage. He found a remote spot and parked his vehicle close ...

Pacific Beach sends dog owners to re-education camp

“It strikes me as similar to ‘surf gangs’ who attack any outsider"

“A San Diego Police officer rolled up on an ATV and stopped us,” Steve G. said. “He told us dogs were not permitted in the park — except at certain unfathomable hours. A second officer ...

Still snowing in Baja

“The cold temperatures should’ve ended on March 21”

Some of the Baja 500 and San Pedro Martir Hillclimb racers are concerned about the “weird” weather reported in Baja. On May 23, the Mexico Secretary of Environmental Protection reported 1″ snowfall at the San ...

Bay Park – around long before Clairemont

60-foot height limit, Seisel's, Poseidon Project, Coastal Trailer Villa, trashcans destroyed

Red balloon sent up in Bay Park "I am against high density,” says Johnson. “I think it’s wrong. I'm very unhappy with the way that this is going. We don't need more people [here]. That's ...

On a VW Bus south of the border

Woodstock 2019

On March 18, Tom Summers posted a Facebook photo of himself and his 1962 Volkswagen Bus at a crossroad more than 1161 kilometers south of his Imperial Beach homebase. Summers is a 72-year-old retired marine ...

The $4.6 million Mission Beach lifeguard tower

From jetty to San Fernando Place

On May 9, the old wooden South Mission Beach Lifeguard Station was demolished. “It didn’t take too much effort to bring it to the ground,” Dana Vanos said. The circa 1974 temporary installment was located ...

Tijuana Chewbacca fans geek out

Peter Mayhew played the hairy sidekick of Han Solo.

On May 4 about 800 Star Wars fans rendezvoused on Avenida Revolución in Tijuana to geek out and pay homage to the actor that played the original Chewbacca. "Many of us Mexican fans lament the ...

Encanto – snubbed but proud

MLK Park, trolley in-filling, Salaam Fish House, North Encanto lunch group, Pepperview Canyon, Apostolic Prayer Temple

On top of this little corner of the world Here on Skyline Drive, great swaths of sward stretch out below, springy and green. Here, there are vacant lots littered with possibility, within sight of a ...

The 17th Street stolen bike economy

Bicycle parts from the corner of Imperial to K Street.

Within the last week, fashion-photographer Ron Morales and I rolled downtown to see if we could locate a stolen $1900 Raleigh iE e-bike. I drove down 17th Street and pulled over before it turns into ...

Valley Center gopher snake lover gets a reaction

They flatten their heads and hiss like rattlesnakes

On April 30, Jessica Y. found a snake by her Valley Center house, picked it up, then snapped a selfie. Jessica, posted the photo on Facebook and captioned it: “Instead of killing gopher snakes: pick ...

The moral dilemma of the chicken on La Rumorosa

Leave frozen food on the side of the highway?

At about 8 am on April 19, motorists ascending La Rumorosa’s windy two-lane road witnessed a truck hauling a trailer plunge down an 80-meter embankment into a canyon. La Rumorosa, a municipality of Tecate about ...

Spring breakers flock to Rosarito

The thrill of Papas and Beer, Bombay Beach Club, Club Tequilas, Coco Beach

Any worries among local business that media reports and government warnings about violence in Mexico would scare away spring breakers were dispelled when college students flocked to Rosarito Beach in droves. “It’s not as bad ...

San Diego purveyors of hip-hop gear

Dr Dre, Ice Cube, Tribal Clothing, Snoop Dog, Writerz Block, Wild Style

Local sports team gear — an SD hip-hop first Word on the South Bay streets is much of the 619-based hip-hop movement started at the Vista Terrace Hills apartments in San Ysidro. “We’ve been repping ...

Ghost rider in Escondido

Why do they choose Mercedes-Benz?

On April 20, Jonathan W. from Clairemont saw a Facebook photo of a teenager climbing out of the sunroof of a Mercedes-Benz W210 in Escondido, while the vehicle “was going fast up a hill.” “They’ll ...

F-bombs don't faze 105.7 fans

"I strongly prefer the new format"

On the morning of March 23, listeners of 105.7-FM were shocked to hear “a bunch of F-bombs” on the air. “I heard maybe seven F-words,” said Dillon. “It was Twisted Sister and it was like ...

Who's sleeping on the Orange Avenue bridge over 805?

Not a problem on Adams Ave. overpass

On April 5, motorists traveling southbound on the 805 prior to exiting on El Cajon Boulevard were greeted by a Caltrans changeable message sign that reads “FEELING DROWSY? EXIT AND REST.” Some drivers may have ...

New North Park Target starts debate on grab-and-dashes

The Ralph's approach vs. Costco's

Joan LaRose has been to the new Target store in North Park three times since it opened on March 12. She and her neighbors "love" the convenience of having a 35,200 sq./ft. "small-format" Target nearby; ...

San Diego Reader 2019 Music Issue

Guitar-based bands, children of hip-hop, jazz stories, funk scene, record label turmoil, art of music

Guitar bands spotted in the wild Here’s a fun-fact: contrary to popular opinion, guitar-based bands aren’t on the endangered species list. They may not generate the national coverage they once did, but if you venture ...

North Park locals patrol the neighborhood

“It’s a freak show out there”

The last time there was a seemingly life threatening conflict behind Claudia’s Spanish Revival home in North Park, she didn’t swipe her smartphone to dial 911 — instead, she pumped her 12-gauge shotgun. “Expecting the ...

Chula Vista police arrest three for buying minors booze

Decoy Shoulder Tap

On March 9, the Chula Vista Police Department arrested three people for providing alcoholic beverages to minors. The operation was called Decoy Shoulder Tap, where a minor under the direct supervision of a peace officer ...

Baja 500 shifts starting place to Estero beach from Ensenada

Pluses and minuses for the La Jolla of Baja

On March 4, Ensenada restaurateurs of the National Chamber of the Restaurant and Seasoned Food Industry organization gathered to discuss their discontent with the announcement that the Baja 500 races — was moved. “No one ...

Mike Madriaga and the Reader

Degree in digital journalism at City College

How Madriaga came to the Reader: On April 19, 2014, my wife suggested that I email the Reader our photos taken earlier in the day at Chicano Park Day. Rob Mizrachi, the former-editor of the ...

Airbnb vans invade San Diego streets

Why bother with a $100/night hotel room?

On the Airbnb app/website, Craig is referred to as a “Superhost” for his $70 per night unit that can sit five visitors. Craig accommodates his guests in his green 1998 Ford E350 van; he’s based ...

Face first into coral reef in Fiji

Lucky to make it out alive

Amanda was surfing Cardiff Reef on her 9’6″ triple stinger when I reached out to her. “When I’m home I typically like to keep it mellow — I like to walk the board,” she said. ...

Cars end up on Pacific and Mission Beach boardwalk

Blame Uber drivers, their customers, or Zonies?

“What in the hell is that car doing?” said Stephanie Z. when she saw a black SUV driving along the Pacific Beach Boardwalk — on February 7. “The driver stopped and tried to reverse,” she ...

Colton Underwood groped, then blamed for walking out of Mavericks

Did fans really care about cystic fibrosis?

On Feb. 13, when Bachelor star Colton Underwood abruptly left a charity event at Mavericks in Pacific Beach, many took to social media to discuss the sequence of events that made national news on Valentines ...

What's left of San Diego goths

Post punk, dark wave, industrial, punk, thrash metal, black metal music

Charlie Garcia cancelled his San Diego Goth Swap event earlier in the month due to the then-forecasted heavy rains and rescheduled it to Feb. 17. “With so many vendors involved along with food carts,” Garcia ...

Ocean Beach sea foam – Ew!

The ocean’s way of cleaning itself

On February 17 at about 7 am, Jim Grant pulled up to a “big whitish blob” north of the Ocean Beach Pier. “The foam was coming up the stairs and had come over the 40” ...

Green Angels in Baja are truly angels

"We feel safer traveling there than we do in the U.S."

On February 13, Sam Cooper saw a social media post regarding the Ángeles Verdes (Green Angels) -- that reminded him of his "worst and best" trip to Mexico. "Ángeles Verdes saved me too," he said. ...

Oranges split in Valley Center, Fallbrook, Escondido

Farmers market vendors blame rain

Orange tree owners from Valley Center and Escondido took to social media to vent about their fruit splitting. “What caused the spitting this year?” questioned one woman from Escondido on February 11. “My other citrus ...

Lifeguards rescue boogie boarder in Mission Beach

Slipped off in rip current

On February 4 Mission Beach lifeguard, M. DeRieux, spotted a young boy as he “slipped off of his boogie board in a rip current directly off of the Mission Beach main tower,” reported the Lifeguards ...

Spring Valley artist uses wet sand at Pacific Beach

Seven drone pilots offered to film her

On February 12, Leslie Monroy went out to the north side of Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach with a stick and a rake — to create art. “The closest name that I can come up ...

Double rainbows over downtown San Diego

Alexander's band helps

In the last couple of weeks, the elusive “double rainbows” have been spotted throughout San Diego County. “It was surreal,” said Chris Mannerino, “On February 5, I saw it out of my new office and ...

These boards lift the rider above water

One of the hottest products at Consumer Electronic Show

One of the hottest products showcased at the January Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas was the e-Foil board. These boards have electric motor powered hydrofoils underneath them, which lift the rider above water once ...

South Park woman's anti-scooter crusade

"Marie is trying to figure out a way to tow them off."

South Park resident Marie, who stands about five feet tall, likes to stroll her neighborhood carrying a big stick. “I yell at them motorized scooter and bike riders to get off the sidewalk,” she said, ...

Free beer at La Rumorosa

Truck accident near Tecate brings out ethical questions

On February 3 at about noon, a white International diesel truck with a trailer full of beer toppled over at La Rumorosa on the Mexicali-Tijuana 2D Highway, about 60 miles east of Tijuana. According to ...

San Diego Venezuelans grateful to Trump

Drenched at Waterfront Park

During the rainstorm on February 2, Oceanside resident Ana Groening trekked down to Waterfront Park while "many others didn’t make it." That Saturday, many of Groening's fellow-Venezuelans were slated to meet at the waterfront park ...

A tidal island in Mission Bay

You may be able to walk to it

Leisure Island at Mission Bay might be one of San Diego's only sandy "tidal islands,” if you can catch it on the right day. A tidal island is a body of land that is connected ...

Pit bulls no match for Imperial Beach feral cats

Olive had tears of blood

“These Imperial Beach cats are ballsy,” Julie said, “normally cats just freeze and run away.” She was referring to the rash of cat attacks reported on the Ring and Facebook apps. “Both of my [Pitbull ...

Even the DA buys into Alphabetic Evolution

Transition of script lettering to graffiti writing

On January 25, Jose Venegas finished painting a mural titled Alphabetic Evolution at the juvenile office of the district attorney, located at Meadow Lark Drive, northeast from 163 and Genesee. “This 15-foot painting represents the ...

I once lived in an RV in San Diego, and it sucked

Van-lifers on Fiesta Island: you are subject to police profiling

On January 26, about 150 van-lifers converged at Fiesta Island. Jarrod, 33, rolled to the Vanlife Meetup in his 2003 Ford E-350 ambulance that he purchased from Pennsylvania last week. “[I believe that] most of ...

A camel for San Diego Somalis

You'll know you're in City Heights

“It’s a camel, but what is the point of this?” asked Kee. “Ohhh, it’s a bike rack.” She was referring to a new red colored bike rack that measures about four feet long, on the ...

"Bad chemical smell" on Fiesta Island

“A lot of contractors dump wood and furniture in the pits”

On January 12, Tiffany Bauer and her kitties inhaled a “bad chemical smell” exuding from a nearby fire on Fiesta Island. Bauer looked outside of her window and noticed a burning “sofa” about 100 feet ...

Ensenada begging children ready to run

Just wait till summer

"Their parents force them to beg for money and the children become very insistent,” Max said. “Our tourists will spend less money on the boardwalk, Calle Primera (1st Street) and at the entrance of the ...

Rosarito, Ensenada get 14-foot waves

"But weren’t the beaches closed?"

On January 10, Alfredo Haro saw the local news: “14 foot” waves crashing against rocks protecting loading docks at Port of Ensenada. Instead of staying warm in confines of his Playa Hermosa Surf & Skate ...

San Diego millennials show their nerdy business models

On Twitter, her “reach isn’t drowned by algorithms”

Nikki from Lemon Grove makes money in not-so-orthodox methods. “I’ve had a few people come to me that have giant fetishes,” she says, “which is basically the idea of a giant woman stepping on, eating, ...

Boaters had a 9.6 million dollar surprise

Was it worth the lost time?

When Ed Noonan returned to his Point Loma residence after Christmas vacation, he and his fellow boaters had a 9.6 million dollar surprise waiting at Shelter Island. “We got to try out the new Shelter ...

Calif. exhaust bill stirs furor

If I’m 50 feet away and my windows are closed and I can hear your vehicle...

Some San Diegans are up in arms about the California exhaust ticketing bill that was signed into law by Jerry Brown in June. On January 1 the law went into effect. “Does that mean I ...

The fickle Chargers fans

From 44K Facebook unlikes to 89K Instagram views of Melvin Gordon TD

On January 6, after the Los Angeles Chargers beat the Baltimore Ravens 23-17, the former San Diego team's social media accounts jolted and "recouped some of their old fans." In 26 hours: their Twitter account ...

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