Looking into Outsiders

Thirty Years Ago
You are floating weightless in a warm, still place where only now and then do feathery tendrils of sensation tickle your naked body. But your eyes are wide open and nothing covers them but darkness. Water fills your ears and blankets the eardrums, shuts off the sound and substitutes a thick silence, penetrated only by your heartbeat. You’re in an isolation tank in an office on Bayard Street in Pacific Beach, where you pay nine dollars an hour for this experience.

Twenty-Five Years Ago
The street-level penetration of USA Today into the San Diego market, which began two years ago and now includes 2000 coin boxes countywide, has prompted a number of other out-of-town dailies to try similar tactics here. The latest is the Washington Times, which last August contracted the local Pickett News Distributors to stock one hundred boxes with the Unification Church–financed newspaper’s new national edition, printed on satellite presses in Carson, near Los Angeles.
CITY LIGHTS: “LOOKING INTO OUTSIDERS,” Thomas K. Arnold, January 24, 1985

Twenty Years Ago
“The most successful failure in the history of San Diego,” laughs Dick Brown. The San Diego Trolley, to which Brown refers, is not accustomed to such derision, at least not recently. But the former county supervisor is a veteran of the losing side of a mostly forgotten political war from which today’s trolley finally emerged. And Brown has a long memory. “There is another side to this,” he muses. “You just never get to see it. If you asked people, ‘Do you ride the trolley?’ almost everybody would say no. But it’s very popular. They’ve done a terrific PR job.”
“A SMALL ROLE TO PLAY,” Matt Potter, January 25, 1990

Fifteen Years Ago
There have been many big mouths. William Randolph Hearst. Mick Jagger. Desi Arnaz. Wallace Beery. Nat “King” Cole. MacDonald Carey. Fifties singer Guy Mitchell. Probably no one has a bigger mouth than Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, though at least the shape isn’t grotesque. Springsteen’s isn’t really big, it’s a large gnathic boulder, most of it, like George Gershwin’s and comedian Joe E. Brown. (In the film Showboat it looks like he’s wearing two collars!) Andy Griffith has a big, peasant, earth-scoop of a mouth. And Arnold Schwarzenegger’s is like a massive portcullis, with the widely spaced, peglike teeth of a moronic Hun.
“HOW TO READ A MUG,” Alexander Theroux, January 19, 1995

Ten Years Ago
My husband Patrick is a meat-and-potatoes guy. He orders his steak rare when dining out, and a dinner is thought impotent without a slab of meat at its core. One can imagine his surprise the first time he bit into a hamburger prepared by me, only to find it contaminated by flaky hunks of oatmeal. He almost spit it out. I stared at him, wide-eyed. My mother and my old Irish Nanna had always prepared burgers in this manner. It never occurred to me that oatmeal was used as filler to stretch the meat because pennies were always few.
BEST BUYS, Eve Kelly, January 20, 2000

Five Years Ago
The Washington Post is drawing heat for giving $100,000 to the Bush Inaugural ’05 committee, which has already raised a record $20 million or so toward its record goal of $40 million from private donors, mostly big corporations seeking favors from the administration. Closer to home, cell-phone giant Qualcomm of La Jolla, founded by billionaire Democrat Irwin Jacobs, has kicked in $100,000 for the Bush bash. Chargers owner, Bush stalwart, and Stockton developer Alex Spanos has contributed $250,000, this year’s maximum limit. Donors are promised tickets to the best parties in town tonight, along with plenty of quality face time with regulators and legislators.
CITY LIGHTS: “RED CASH, BLUE CASH,” Matt Potter, January 20, 2005

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