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Editor's choice: 2002-2004

San Diegans talk about their tans, smuggled aliens who die in crossing, Balboa Ave. dragsters, James Hartline's campaign against gay baths, our foreign cabbies

BORSTAR team during cliff-rescue training in Laguna Mountains, 12/06/02. "When we found the footprints and started following them, we kept noticing very small footprints."
  • BORSTAR team during cliff-rescue training in Laguna Mountains, 12/06/02. "When we found the footprints and started following them, we kept noticing very small footprints."
  • Image by Joe Klein

Said Souikane: "Girls do compliment me."

Said Souikane: "Girls do compliment me."

I'd Never Marry a Pale Girl

On a sunny afternoon in June, Mark Davis is peeling off the top of his wetsuit after taking a swim at La Jolla Shores. Davis, 23, just returned to San Diego after graduating from Humboldt State University, but his skin is dark enough to convince you he'd never left. "I'm actually here to go swimming, not surfing."

Unlike many beachgoers, Davis's tan is of little if any concern to him. "I honestly don't think it's that important to get a tan. I like a natural tan, but tan people who overdo it can look hideous, especially an artificially brilliant tan. “

By Robert Kumpel, June 20, 2002 | Read full article


On April 2, 1999, a late-season snow storm dumped a foot and a half of snow on migrants around Nelson Canyon, a couple of miles east of Interstate 8 and Highway 79.  "Eight people died that day."

On April 2, 1999, a late-season snow storm dumped a foot and a half of snow on migrants around Nelson Canyon, a couple of miles east of Interstate 8 and Highway 79. "Eight people died that day."

Once You're Wet, You're Done

One night in 1999, eight illegal immigrants died during a spring snowstorm in the mountains of San Diego County.

These smugglers tell them, 'Within a couple of hours across the border, you will be in a vehicle on your way to Chicago,' or wherever they want to go. We hear that every single time. In reality, it is two, three, four days later, and they are still walking in these remote areas without water and, in winter, without warm clothes. We have found so many people wandering around out there, lost, and we will ask them, 'What happened?' and they will say, 'I fell behind, I couldn't keep up with the smugglers.' "

By Ernie Grimm, Jan. 2, 2003 | Read full article


Earl Williams: "The younger crowd doesn't like the rules at Qualcomm."

Earl Williams: "The younger crowd doesn't like the rules at Qualcomm."

Killer Speed

On a recent Friday night at 11:00 p.m., a lone policeman sits in his patrol car watching from 50 yards away a group of souped-up cars in the Target parking lot on Balboa Avenue. "It looks like they're gathering," says Johnnie.

Johnnie, 29, has been fascinated with drag racing since he participated several times in illegal street events in the early 1990s.

Due to stepped-up police pressure and legally sanctioned racing at Qualcomm Stadium and the Carlsbad Raceway, fewer drivers race on the streets these days. But on any given evening, says Johnnie, races can materialize in several areas of town.

By Joe Deegan, Sept. 25, 2003 | Read full article


Vulcan Baths on Cedar, across from county administration building. "Methamphetamine allows people to have sex for two, three, four days without stopping."

Vulcan Baths on Cedar, across from county administration building. "Methamphetamine allows people to have sex for two, three, four days without stopping."

Bathhouse Quagmire

"I was in those San Francisco bathhouses in the late 1970s," says James Hartline, an HIV-positive Hillcrest man who is campaigning to get San Diego's three bathhouses shut down. "Those bathhouses were a big part of the generation of the gay scene in San Francisco. They're part of the whole foundation from which these gay communities evolved because they represent everything that the gay community is about, which is sexual liberation with nobody telling you what you can and can't do."

By Ernie Grimm, Nov. 6, 2003 | Read full article


Taxi at airport. One Afghani makes almost no money at all but keeps his job so that his family has a car to use. An Iranian man told me he does well enough, although he loses "about a fare a week" to runaway fare-jumpers.

Taxi at airport. One Afghani makes almost no money at all but keeps his job so that his family has a car to use. An Iranian man told me he does well enough, although he loses "about a fare a week" to runaway fare-jumpers.

Second Only To the Cowboy

Of the nine city cabbies I interviewed, one Afghani makes almost no money at all but keeps his job so that his family has a car to use. An Iranian man told me he does well enough, although he loses "about a fare a week" to runaway fare-jumpers. An older Russian driver said he has been robbed three times, including once when he was stabbed in the head.

By Geoff Bouvier, Sept. 4, 2003 | Read full article


Beautiful Light

It's not even noon and already I'm closing the blinds on the south-facing windows of my home office. That pesky natural light is overrunning the glow of the lamp by which I work. Too much of a bright thing. Most mornings, in the cliché of coastal overnight and morning low clouds, the daylight coming into my room takes its time. Like age or awareness. But now, at 11:44, the light's pouring in. If I don't mute it, my eyes'll hurt. Southern California light. How did it get so damn bright when it's not even that hot?

By Thomas Larson, Oct. 7, 2004 | Read full article

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