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Thirty Years Ago The recent swell of Letters to the Editor on the subject of my sourness, or sore-headedness, or however it's diagnosed, has reached a point where it seems advisable for me to step forward and say something conciliatory. Negativism in a movie reviewer is to a large extent a matter of proportion, and consequently a matter of circumstance. And a cold statistical calculation of negativism is misleading. (A man may come up to me and deliver a deft soccer-style kick to the shins. "How do you like that?" he tests me. Not very much, I shrug. He drills his fingertips sharply into my solar plexus. "Take that." I'd rather not, I decline. Offended, he spits in my face. "And that?" My face goes ashen. "What's the matter with you?" he cries, echoing the sentiment I hear approximately every week of my sorry existence. "Don't you like anything?") -- "NAY-SAYING," Duncan Shepherd, June 10, 1976

Twenty-Five Years Ago Four years ago, I spent the week before Christmas in a flophouse on the upstairs floor of the old Backesto Building, downtown at Fifth and Market. My room cost eighteen dollars for seven days. The dresser and the end tables on either side of the white, iron-frame bed were covered with fresh sheets of newspaper -- a touch of cleanliness -- and the room was lighted by a bulb that hung from the tent-shaped skylight that bisected the lofty ceiling. -- "AROUND DOWNTOWN," Robert Paul, June 11, 1981

Twenty Years Ago As Alvin Ducheny and I roll through Barrio Logan in his dirty, white Mercury Lynx, I ask him, "Why do so many people hate your guts, Al? You'd think you were a Communist or something." When you're talking to a guy who is probably the most hated person between Golden Hill and National City, a guy who does things to make sure he maintains his reputation, you can get away with questions like that.... In 1981, when Ducheny and his wife Denise, an attorney, were just becoming involved in community politics, somebody airmailed a Molotov cocktail through the window of their office. -- "BAD BLOOD IN BARRIO LOGAN," Stephen Meyer, June 12, 1986

Fifteen Years Ago Tuesday: 'Twas a Tuesday evening, before Matlock and after all the news programs -- time and boredom. Tuesday is the day of the week most difficult to bear. Mondays have the anxiety associated with dread, with beginning another week of work. On Tuesdays, the anxiety is absent and only the tedium remains. I think of Tuesday as a day when I long for the feeling of stone, the texture and substantialness of a Henry Moore sculpture. Something to rub my hands along and try and reconnect with something that feels bigger than me. -- "SO CONCENTRATED THAT IT CRYSTALIZES," M. Corinne Mackey, June 13, 1991

Ten Years Ago Wherever you stand on the abortion debate, the issue will be impossible to ignore during the Republican National Convention in August. Every major local civic landmark is booked with either a pro-life or pro-choice rally or demonstration. If you plan to visit SeaWorld, Balboa Park, Seaport Village, or even the beach, you may become part of the debate, which promises to divide GOP delegates as it did in Houston four years ago. -- CITY LIGHTS: "ABORTION AUGUST," Jamie Reno, June 6, 1996

Five Years Ago "He turned a little rat hole into one of the most popular clubs in San Diego," says sound engineer Brad Engstrom about Bill Winston, his former boss. In the early hours of April 4 -- just after Winston was released from a two-week stint in jail -- he headed directly to the nearest fix he could find. Despite all his hard work and good fortune, Bill Winston died of a heroin overdose at the age of 45. -- SCENE: "WILD BILL," Ed Decker, June 7, 2001

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