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Stories by Steve Sorensen

Oceanside – eclecticism reigns

Homes at end of Oceanside Blvd. claim emergency The city never got approval,” says Mackin. “They just started doing it. These homeowners had carte blanche to put as much rip rap as they wanted on ...

Encinitas, not a neighborhood but a kingdom

Bicyclists dominate Caltrans meeting About half of the meeting’s 40 attendees indicated they were cyclists, and will use the proposed bike lane. But even hard-core cyclists were skeptical of some sections of the proposed eight-mile ...

San Diego Easter stories

Where to find an Easter Sunrise in San Diego County Whether or not you hold religious beliefs (Christian or otherwise), or you simply appreciate a fine, early-morning pilgrimage (Easter or otherwise), consider the following treks ...

April 10, 2020
Best Reader stories from 1994

A little bit east of Eden When I was living in Los Angeles years ago, a door-to-door solicitor pitching San Diego vacations and tours showed me a brochure of local attractions. Included on the list ...

January 5, 2020
Best Reader stories from 1993

In time for the morning glass For a few years back in the '60s, Mike Doyle was the hottest surfer in the world. With an unusual combination of power on big waves and stylistic grace ...

January 4, 2020
Best Reader stories from 1991

Satan chasers San Diego has many experts in the field of Satanism who say the county is a hotbed of Satanic activity. The hidden canyons of the back country, Ramona, Santee, Escondido, even Oceanside, are ...

December 28, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1988

Ku Klux Klan 's John Metzger talks of hate and tears "My father was in the Crusaders, a national organization that was pretty powerful in San Diego, which was part Christian Identity. It’s a church ...

December 15, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1987

Explosion! The sighting of San Diego was a welcome event for the crew of the GSS Bennington on a sunny July 19,1905. The patrol gunboat had just completed a rough, seventeen-day journey from Hawaii, and ...

December 14, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1986

Was James Gibson tortured by Mexican police? When two Mexican police officers and two FBI agents showed up at his beachfront Playas de Tijuana apartment on October 17, James Gibson had reason to suspect that ...

December 8, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1985

The spirit of Steve Ponchetti It has forever been the custom of the Diegueño Indians to bury their dead twice: once at death, and then once again a year later. And so it was that ...

December 7, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1984

Tight-lipped submariners aboard the Blueback open up Of course, all submariners are interested in naval history, and remain closer than even infantrymen to their dramatic and bloody heritage, and the Blueback crew seems to sense ...

December 1, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1979

Park there, pay here On the afternoon of the All-Star baseball game in July, Evan Jones was standing on top of one of those pedestrian towers that corkscrew up the side of San Diego Stadium. ...

November 16, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1978

From Spanish rancho to hard-core Marines In 1942, the Ninth Marine Division marched in and took over what had been the Santa Margarita y Las Flores Ranch. The Second World War had begun and the ...

November 10, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1976

Who Are the Rosicrucians? The Rosicrucian Fellowship International Headquarters is located on top of Mount Ecdesia. just outside of downtown Oceanside. It’s a garden spot in an otherwise gritty town that makes its living hustling ...

November 3, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1975

I tell them my name is Ernie Klein, I'm 42 years old, and I'm unemployed It's the day after Thanksgiving and I'm standing in line at the unemployment office. I'm near the end of my ...

November 2, 2019
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 ...

Leucadia – funky no more

La Costa Ave. missing time capsule found In the 1970s, Encinitas sheriff’s deputies would make the Leucadia rest area one of their first stops in their morning patrols, to kick out squatting hippies and camping ...

Reader's Steve Sorensen publishes new book, A Branch of the Sky

Editor: Steve Sorensen, who wrote for the Reader from 1976 off and on through 1997, has come out with a new book, A Branch of the Sky: Fifty Years of Adventure, Tragedy, and Restoration in ...

February 1, 2019
Baja California Sur – like Leucadia of the ’70s

Not long after the New Year, my friend and neighbor here in Zacatitos, Marilyn Z, sent me an email saying that, at 81 years of age, she had lost her battle with cancer and had ...

October 7, 2009
Five San Diego micro-publishers: Chubasco, Gene Kira, OldCastle, Blue Dove, In One Ear

Chris Ahrens lives in the kind of house any surfer would love. It’s on the hill above Cardiff, with a view of one of the best reef breaks in San Diego county. Wet suits are ...

February 20, 1997
The Rusty Preisendorfer story is a San Diego story

Five-thirty on a workday evening, the traffic is backed up stoplight to stoplight on Miramar Road, and 805 is choked from Chula Vista to Del Mar. At a shaded business park on Commerce Avenue, the ...

November 24, 1994
Don't pitch your tent on San Clemente Island

“We went over to Santa Catalina Island and trapped eight goats, fit them with radio telemetry collars. Because goats are gregarious and tend to congregate together whenever possible, the Judas goats led us to the remnant herds.”

August 22, 1991
Range runners harvest scrap explosives in Chocolate Mountain target area.

“There are four or five dealers in Imperial County who buy scrap off the range, and none of us has been harassed by the law. But the range runners have really been harassed.”

February 28, 1991
Seeds and advice dispensed on Carlsbad Avenue

“What’s the right time to plant celery?” “What’s the best thing to control whiteflies?" "Which beet is the best for making borscht’” "How do you get rid of gophers too smart to trap?"

November 8, 1990
A Jewish doctor, wife, and nine kids run San Onofre's oddest surf camp

The small ad in the back of Surfer magazine has a simple, irresistible appeal: "The Paskokwitz 7-Day Surfari. An experience that will last a lifetime." For young beach rats, aching to get away from mom ...

September 6, 1990
100 hot meals a day to Pala, Pauma, La Jolla, Rincon, and San Pasqual Indian reservations

Foster, a Shawnee Indian originally from Oklahoma, has been delivering about 100 hot meals a day to homebound elderly people on the Pala, Pauma, La Jolla, Rincon, and San Pasqual Indian reservations.

August 16, 1990
Every San Diego hitchhiker has a story of his favorite ride

The smartest hitchhiker I heard about was a guy who hitched carrying his belongings in a gas can with the bottom cut out. Drivers who will never pick up a hitchhiker will stop for a motorist out of gas.

May 11, 1989
San Diego's game wardens are watching you

One by one, the men went around to all the traps and stole the lobsters that were inside. Foley watched the hoop netters until two in the morning, then she met them at the Shelter Island ramp.

April 20, 1989
The highs and lows of the SD&IV

Flfty years ago, railroad companies liked to give a away free calendars to encourage passengers to travel on their lines. On the cover of the calendars there was usually a picture of some dramatic western ...

February 2, 1989
The Kumeyaay celebration of winter solstice

The Christmas decorations came to Balboa Park the second week in November this year. Curious people couldn’t help but stop and stare at the strange sight of plastic reindeer dragging Santa’s sleigh toward the organ ...

December 22, 1988
The Imperial Valley as modern Dust Bowl

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese-Americans were put in relocation camps, and their farms fell to pieces. "Local people went out to their farms, tore down their homes, hauled the materials back, and built homes for themselves,

November 3, 1988
Mike Doyle and Catalina, David Eggers and Gotcha, Chris Gage and Beach Towne, Pat Daly and Picante, Corky Carroll and Lite Beer

The commercialization of surfing started out innocently enough. The way ex-world-champion surfer Mike Doyle recalls it, it began in the summer of 1966, with the Catalina Swimwear promo tour. Before the mid-Sixties, Catalina Swimwear had ...

San Diego County has more endangered species than any other place in America

Today, the largest populations of San Diego mesa mint are found on Miramar Naval Air Station. “Driving by there on 1-15 on a warm day in April, you can smell a pleasant, minty aroma,”

August 25, 1988
Henry Rodriguez, La Jolla Indian elder, goes back up Palomar Mountain.

It was through Henry’s persuasion that the La Jolla reservation built the campground and water slide below Palomar Mountain, on the San Luis Rey River. Those popular improvements now provide income for the reservation

April 14, 1988
Slab City and its neighborhoods: Poverty Flats, Niland Heights, Little Canada, Slab City Singles, and Drop Seven and Drop Eight

One young, enterprising resident, recognizing the lack of trash disposal services in Slab City, painted a sign on the side of his trailer: ‘‘Trash Hauling — Big Sack 50 cents — Small Sack 35 cents.”

March 10, 1988
Three days along the San Dieguito River

In the next three days, I learned that the San Dieguito River drainage is a kind of graveyard for dead automobiles. They litter the river’s canyons like dinosaur bones. That V-12 was simply the first.

February 11, 1988
With the flow at San Diego's Twelfth Avenue plasma center

Before the cashier would give him his money, she put a drop of indelible ink on one of his fingernails, to make sure he wouldn't be back later in the day trying to donate under a different name.

December 23, 1987
Navy bombs Chocolate Mountains – Reader sends first journalist to visit

The northern, more rugged sector of the Chocolates that is owned by the navy. It is probably the most beautiful area of the range, but unfortunately it is also the most heavily bombed, by far.

October 29, 1987
San Diegans remember their days in the Civilian Conservation Corps

""At Pine Valley, the guy who owned the store put up a wooden dance floor with lights, and on the weekends all the gals would come up from Imperial Valley, 'cause it was so hot down there.”

September 17, 1987
Jerry Balistreri is a model recycler, but don't say that to Adams Ave. neighbors

“Right now the landfills charge twenty-seven cents to dump a tire, because they're bulky, they don’t decompose, and they keep coming back to life — they keep floating up to the surface. So tires are a big pain."

June 18, 1987
Confessions of an avid eavesdropper —from Oceanside to downtown Greyhound station

I was intrigued by one woman who kept saying to her fussy two-year-old child, “If you don’t shut up, I’m gonna bust you one, little girl.” She said it with as much affection as anger.

May 14, 1987
San Diego's he-man Jerry Schad – the rougher it gets, the better he likes it

I made my bed in the lee of a stout little juniper, but Schad, fond of wind and rain and discomfort,made his on the crest. Then we huddled together to cook noodles and tuna, with a Kahlúa chaser.

Eden Gardens grows hot

"When I was a kid growing up here, during the war years, Eden Gardens was little more than a place to contain Mexican farm workers,” Frank Renteria said, folding his hands on his desk and ...

March 5, 1987
The king of Moonlight Beach

Anyone not familiar with the curious habits of Louis Ortiz might mistake this rasty-looking character rooting through the fire pit at Moonlight State Beach for just another beach wino out on his dawn patrol, rummaging ...

January 15, 1987
The wild horses of Coyote Creek

Apparently the horse thieves drive as far as they can down the rough dirt roads south of Anza, then ride into Coyote Creek on horseback. “They go in and rope the young foals.”

The RV show in Del Mar - what's not to like?

I was sitting in the captain’s chair of a big thirty-four-foot Executive, surrounded by all the plush comfort's due a man of significant corporate weight: rich burgundy carpets, vinyl-walnut cabinets, and dramatic scarlet curtains. In ...

November 13, 1986
Why bike lanes in San Diego are not the answer

Until January of 1984, Kathleen O'Brien had been thinking she had a very good chance of making the U.S. Olympic cycling team. Though she had only been a competitive cyclist for a couple of years, ...

October 23, 1986
San Diego's prosperity gurus – Judith Larkin, Sami Sunsong, Terry Cole-Whittaker

It’s amazing how quickly new-age fads come and go. The fire-walking rage burned itself out in less than a year. Flotation tanks, those sensory-deprivation aids to meditation, can be found lying belly up at garage ...

September 11, 1986
San Diego's houseplant industry had to change

“When I first came to Encinitas, in 1975, every street in Encinitas had its own greenhouse. And every greenhouse had a family with its own story — the Andersons, the Weidners, the Eckes. And every greenhouse had its own clientele."

Canon Tajo — as large and impressive as Half Dome

“What I don't understand is how people can be so cruel to each other.” this big, kind, brokenhearted cowboy was saying. Just two days ago, he had walked into a restaurant in Phoenix and ordered ...

June 5, 1986

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