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Stories by Thomas K. Arnold

San Diego's best roadside attractions

Bushy beasts, a heavenly meal, a giant lemon, a brutal murder, and so much more. Join us for a road trip to see some of San Diego’s more unusual sights. Roadside attractions have been an ...

June 24, 2020
San Diego's deadliest parks

Author Marty Rubin once observed, “Parks and playgrounds are the soul of a city.” A century before him, famed 19th century horticulturalist Andrew Jackson Downing similarly sang the praises of these urban spots of green ...

June 3, 2020
San Diego college student catches local sex predators

Jessica is pretty, petite, and young — 5’2” and slim, according to her profile on the dating app. Golden bangs cascade across her forehead, and in her profile picture her sweet, silly smile is reminiscent ...

April 22, 2020
The coolness of south Oceanside's Moose Lodge

It’s a Friday night in (pre-pandemic) south Oceanside. An eclectic crew has come out for the monthly “In the Round” showcase, a night “dedicated to songs, the songwriters, and their stories.” Up on stage, Kimmi ...

April 1, 2020
Bird Rock, city by the sea

Bird Rock is the Jan Brady of coastal San Diego. To the south capers playful, silly Pacific Beach. To the north stands La Jolla, elegant and proper. And though Bird Rock is officially one of ...

San Diego's illegal marketplaces

The A Mart convenience store is located at the El Cajon Transit Center, a bustling terminal for trains and buses located at 250 South Marshall Avenue on the west side of El Cajon Valley, where ...

February 19, 2020
Kearny Mesa – beyond car dealers and Korean food

If Clairemont is San Diego’s first bedroom community, then Kearny Mesa, all 4400 acres of it, could be described as its utility room. Bounded by Interstate 805 to the west, Interstate 15 to the east, ...

January 1, 2020
San Diegans who entered death row in the last 16 years, part 2

Continued from last week’s issue… Michael Flinner — condemned to die on March 29, 2004. Flinner, a landscaper from Alpine, was sentenced to death for killing his 18-year-old fiancée in 2000 to collect insurance money. ...

December 11, 2019
San Diegans who entered death row in the last 16 years

When the California Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of convicted double murderer Jeffrey Young last July, the number of San Diegans on death row went down by one, to 37. Young, 44, had been ...

December 4, 2019
Best Reader stories from 1981

Postcards From Western Civilization Some years ago at Christmastime, when I was a teller at a bank downtown, I came to know Wayne Boyer, who was then an apprentice bum. I met him in the ...

November 23, 2019
Reader writers tell funny stories about dead colleague, Steve Esmedina

Esmo’s phone manner was so hugger-mugger that I could be sitting four feet away and could not make out a single word. For all I could tell, he might have been laying fifty on a pony.

September 20, 2001
Drunk on 163

Blubbo, oh Blubbo, where do I begin? You’re dead, gone, laid out rotting in a casket somewhere in the ground; and if that’s just your body, your corpse, your shell, God, I hope so, because, ...

September 20, 2001
Has Jacor,, the megamillion-dollar radio holding company, broken antitrust laws?

Has Jacor, the megamillion-dollar radio holding company that owns or controls ten San Diego stations, including KSDO, KGB, and KOGO, broken antitrust laws in its haste to gobble up the local radio market? Jacor confirms ...

May 1, 1997
Harry Mathis says he didn't know ESPN's plans to turn La Jolla Shores Bl. into a racetrack

Had it not been for his wife, Harry Mathis says he never would have known about ESPN's plans to use La Jolla Shores Drive for a high-speed X Games skating demonstration - plans that were ...

Why Did They Fire John Coleman?

John Coleman says he can pinpoint the day Rodger Hedgecock turned from being a vocal supporter of the referendum drive to put stadium expansion on the ballot to an ardent critic of those efforts. It ...

April 10, 1997
The growing Copley mansion, Fox Hole, at 1252 Virginia Way

Construction crews are again hard at work at David Copley's corner of La Jolla, where three years ago they added what the San Diego Union-Tribune at the time called "a many splendored wing" that more ...

April 3, 1997
Qualcomm paid $18 million for the stadium name for 20 years

Next month it will be Qualcomm Stadium, but ten years, five years, maybe even one year down the road, San Diego sports fans could be trooping down to watch the Chargers play at the Bud ...

March 27, 1997
UCSD nurse threatens William Rehnquist

Susan Viola Klat, until recently a night-shift nurse at UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest, is now sitting in a Washington, D.C. jail. Three weeks ago she was convicted of making threats against William Rehnquist, chief ...

March 20, 1997
San Diego concert promoter Bill Silva gets a sweetheart deal

Three months after he cohosted a "birthday party" fundraiser for City Councilwoman Valerie Stallings's 1998 reelection campaign, veteran San Diego concert promoter Bill Silva has been given what critics are calling a sweetheart deal to ...

March 13, 1997
Did Ticketmaster Squeeze Ringling Brothers?

Ticketmaster's legal problems may have disappeared from the headlines, but they are far from over. The country's biggest sports and entertainment ticket broker is once again facing an antitrust action in court, this one brought ...

March 6, 1997
Monica Pollard has every right to return to Oceanside

San Diego may soon be home to a notorious New England killer. On a hot summer day in July 1985, in the northwest Vermont farming town of St. Albans, a man named Monica Pollard plunged ...

February 6, 1997
Hamels of Mission Beach mad at city, ready to quit

The Hamels are ready to call it quits. After 30 years of running their sportswear and bike rental emporium at the foot of Ventura Place in Mission Beach, brothers Dan and Ray Hamel want to ...

January 16, 1997
KGTV Channel 10 news operation placed under marketing director

The first week in December, KGTV Channel 10 station management announced that long-time news director Jeff Klotzman would be departing at the end of the month and the entire news operation would be placed under ...

January 2, 1997
Welcome, GOP Convention Delegates, to San Diego, City of Shame

The maid had been referred to the Wilsons by Neil Morgan’s wife. The legality of her work status was still not known, said Davies. He said Wilson’s ex-wife Betty had handled all of the other details.

August 8, 1996
Union-Tribune's Self-ish History

The San Diego Union-Tribune harbors “unprofessional, childlike, head-in-the-sand attitudes toward events and ideas." The paper has "bad journalistic habits, plus [a] tendency to sound the bugle call to action whenever it feels its ideological tenets ...

April 25, 1996
Wolfman Jack –San Diego top 40 DJ immortalized in American Graffiti

“The trouble is, in the early 1970s the radio people began to take over, the accountants and the researchers, the people who didn’t know what the hell was going on. That’s what screwed things up.”

Neil Morgan biography of Ted Geisel (Dr. Seuss) skipped the dark side.

Longtime followers of the Union-Tribune and its predecessor, the Evening Tribune, are familiar with the gentle musings of ex-Trib editor Neil Morgan, and the way he pulls his punches for what he calls the “friends” ...

June 8, 1995
Arizona Republic writer ignores nastiness of MTV Spring Break

Last year, MTV rolled into town for a spring break taping session at Mission Beach, and the Union-Tribune opened the floodgates of hype, churning out column after column about how hip and harmless the event ...

March 23, 1995
Woman's World Shops leaves El Cajon

San Diego may have lost much of its aerospace industry, but that's nothing compared to the gaping hole El Cajon is about to face. Woman's World Shops - makers of extra-large clothing for the extra-big ...

March 23, 1995
Press gives Fiesta Island dried sewage black eye

That gooey stuff spread out all over Fiesta Island may look like dried sewage and smell like dried sewage, but to Susan Hamilton, deputy. director of San Diego's clean water program, it's a precious commodity. ...

March 23, 1995
John Moores blew more than $200,000 on Kathleen Brown in California and Ann Richards in Texas.

It's been 11 years since the Padres were number 1 at anything, but new owner John Moores tops the list of professional baseball team owners who contributed money to federal candidates or a national party ...

March 23, 1995
Danny Welsh wrote March 1972 cover article in Life, “Tampering with Justice in San Diego,”

How did theSun get Cox’s interview of Wilson? ‘The Baltimore Sun reporter happened to be in town. But he knew Bob Cox and they sat down together one night just to play the tape.”

January 26, 1995
Union-Tribune, lost 3 percent of its average daily circulation

Helen Copley can’t be much of a happy camper these days. During the first half of the year, Copley’s flagship newspaper, the Union-Tribune, lost 3 percent of its average daily circulation, down to about 372,000; ...

November 17, 1994
P.B. Nights: Does Racism Reign?

Pacific Beach, some say, is becoming an increasingly racist place. White gangs like P.B. Vurmin (sic?) have sprung up in the western end of the community, as if to counter the growing presence of blacks ...

January 27, 1994
Bummed Out, the O.B. Spaceman Passes On

He sold Spaceman of Ocean Beach bumper stickers. He began handing out free “space cards,” assuring their bearers passage to a new planet once the earth was “cleansed” of people in the year 2005.

How C. Arnholt Smith got Ernie Hahn – and Fashion Valley – going

"Smith did everything first class, even if it wasn’t with his own money,” Hahn was quoted as saying, praising Smith for his vision in triggering the revival of downtown with his bank building and adjacent West-gate Plaza Hotel.

Larry Lawrence and the Greening of American Politics

“Bill and I go back 16 years,” Lawrence says. “I met him when he was attorney general of Arkansas. And the first time Shelia met Hillary was at some social function. And she and Hillary hit it off."

L.A. Times leaves San Diego

LA Times scoop: “The Police Department has dismissed tickets for Police Chief Bill Kolender’s wife and son, Asst. Police Chief Bob Burgreen’s daughter and some of Kolender’s friends, among them KSDO sportscaster Ron Reina.”

November 12, 1992
The death of the San Diego Tribune

On the day it was announced that the Tribune was folding — er, merging with the San Diego Union — a lot of things happened that didn't quite make it into the front-page story that ...

September 19, 1991
Gangs of San Diego beaches

Most come from broken homes. The younger ones live either on their own or with their grandparents. The older ones don’t have permanent homes; they stay with friends.

August 1, 1991
Banned clothes at San Diego high schools

San Diego High: No hats or caps worn in class. Any “colors” that are worn for any particular gangs are prohibited, as are scarves hanging out of pockets and pegged khaki pants with slits at the ankles.

April 4, 1991
Police crack down on Ocean Beach skateboarders

Skateboarders, particularly in San Diego’s beach communities, are accustomed to getting citations from police for riding in either in the street or on the sidewalk in a business district. But in Ocean Beach, the penalties ...

March 14, 1991
First names most popular with San Diego businesses: Bob, Dave, Mike, Jim, Don

Hundreds, if not thousands of San Diego businesses bear the first names of their owners, and the most popular business names aren't necessarily the most popular baby names. Top honors go to Bob, ranked 21st ...

April 26, 1990
Reader writers: 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.

Garnet Avenue between Mission Boulevard and Morrell Street – “Main Street U.S.A.”

It always pays to read the fine print. San Diego city planners learned this lesson the hard way last month, when they belatedly discovered that their two-year-old proposal to rezone the commercial center of Pacific ...

April 21, 1989
Bloods in trouble at Mission Beach jetty parking lot

This summer, the jetty parking lot on the south end of the Mission Beach isthmus became a popular hangout for the Bloods, a coalition of black street gangs whose members invariably wear something red. Their ...

September 22, 1988
Ocean Beach People’s Food directors take over from founders

A month after it began, the workers’ revolt is over. The two-week-old rebel government has been toppled. Its leader and his three top lieutenants have been exiled. Several other “subversive elements,” in the words of ...

November 26, 1987
Ocean Beach – most dangerous place to swim in San Diego

Ocean Beach is the most dangerous place to swim in the entire county, according to recue figures compiles by the various lifeguard agencies that service San Diego’s seventy miles of coastline. During August, city lifeguards ...

September 17, 1987
Shortcut from La Jolla to I-5 rendered impossible

For years Pacific Beach and La Jolla residents trying to reach northbound Interstate 5 have used a short cut to avoid the congested intersection of Garnet Avenue and Mission Bay Drive. (Several blocks north of ...

August 21, 1986
Point Loma Tennis Club condominium owners getting fined

Aside from their regular monthly mortgage payments, tax bills insurance premiums, and homeowner association fees, Point Loma Tennis Club condominium owners also have to worry about another potential drain on their finances: fines for breaking ...

January 9, 1986

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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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