Emphasis on the writer — a Reader group issue

The story I wanted to write, favorite books, deep night in San Diego, and contest winners from our readers

The Idealization of Jessica Trump

She paused for a moment. I could hear her thinking, and then she said, “My spring break is next week, and I haven’t made any plans. I could catch a flight the day after tomorrow if you want me to.” It was Thursday. She could be here on Saturday. I was stunned by the thought of meeting her in person. We were in love, that was for sure. I couldn’t think. I could barely speak.

By Tad Simons, Dec. 19, 1985 | Read full article



Shots in the Dark

Between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m., Priority One calls — those relating to life-threatening situations or crimes in progress — decline from an early-evening high. Reports of alcohol-related traffic accidents rise, car thefts drop slightly, burglaries taper off. After 2 a.m., the number of rapes reported increases. Priority One calls reach their lowest point. Off-work domestics and restaurant workers sit hugging their shopping bags to their breasts at bus stops, waiting for the last bus of the night.

Thirteen different authors on SD at night. July 5, 1990 | Read full article

Matt Potter

Matt Potter

The Story I Wanted to Write but Didn’t

The Palms Hotel at the comer of 12th and Island Avenues, downtown, is an appropriate venue for a mystery. The tall, boxy Victorian windows peer blankly down on the passing trolleys, hiding secrets buried deep inside like pallid worms in the woodwork. Until this spring, the place was owned by a nameless trust administered by Los Angeles lawyer Robert Ballantyne, a longtime friend and business associate of Robert O. Peterson, Mayor Maureen O’Connor’s husband.

By Matt Potter, Oct. 5, 1989 | Read full article

Lost in a Book

My father came home with a carton of books, every one of them about horses. Brumby the Wild Stallion by Mary Elwyn Patchett. Star Roan. Lonesome Sorrel. Walter Farley's Black Stallion. Some of Marguerite "Misty of Chincoteague" Henry's books like King of the Wind, a historical novel about the Arabian Thoroughbred,…. Books about Seabiscuit, and Man o'War, and Mustang Annie, a girl who got polio and was in a body cast and then saved the wild mustangs of Nevada.

Dec. 20, 1990 | Read full article

Writing contest winners

Rasco’s quit business, replaced by a Salvation Army thrift store. The Texaco station finally gave up too — where it stood there’s a Yum-Yum doughnut shop. A U-Totem convenience store was snapped together where there was a Chevron. The Union and the Hancock stations were bulldozed into memories. The last remaining station, Gulf, sold out to some econo outfit that made you pay in advance for the gas. The Humpty Dumpty became a Cotija Taco Shop.

April 4, 1991 | Read full article

Writing Contest Winners

If I’d grown up here instead of in Fallbrook, I would have gone from kindergarten through the eighth grade at Vallecitos School, in the center of the valley. For high school, I would have been bused to Fallbrook to spend four years hanging out with the rest of the Rainbow boys by the corner of the library, with my hands in my pockets, laughing, sneering, telling secrets, sneaking smokes, talking about the bikes we were gonna get.

April 11, 1991 | Read full article

Back to School

I was walking home with a new friend from school. He asked me where I lived. I really didn’t know. Since our walk was short, and since we both seemed to be going in the same direction, he decided that I, as he, lived in Talmadge. When we came to my street, and when my friend saw that I had to pass beneath the significant giraffe, he stopped, said, “I thought you lived in Talmadge.”

Sept. 12, 1991 | Read full article

Loss: All We Left Behind In 1992

Fetherling returned in time to preside over the Times’s corporate retreat from San Diego. When the end came, it was not proud. Times editor Shelby Coffey arrived in the newsroom unheralded. As he confirmed the worst to the staff, someone picked up the phone and began spreading the word. Soon the TV vans were pulling up in front of the building and commencing interviews with the walking dead. Six or so would remain in San Diego.

Dec. 24, 1992 | Read full article

Roommates from Hell

I walked outside to the storage door. I pushed on the door and opened it. I saw the rope around John’s neck and John’s face looking at me. I screamed and ran into the house and called Jennifer to come right away. Then I called 911 and told them my roommate had hung himself. The voice at 911 asked me if John was still warm. I said I wasn’t going to touch him.

June 16, 1994 | Read full article

University Avenue

Stories about the crash circled desultorily through school the next day — stories of scattered limbs, of fiends pulling rings and watches from charred wrists and fingers. Billy enjoyed a short-lived social heyday among our classmates, being the only one who had actually seen the jet go down. He told and retold the story so vividly that we could all see in our minds the 727, its burning wing, soaring downward through the bright blue Santa Ana sky.

Feb. 23, 1995 | Read full article

Welcome, GOP Convention Delegates, to San Diego, City of Shame

The papers also avoided the tender subject of Wilson’s estrangement and eventual divorce from his first wife, Betty, and the fallout of their separation on the mayor’s lifestyle. Married in 1967, during Wilson’s first term as an assemblyman from San Diego, the Wilsons had been portrayed by the Copley papers as the perfect political couple. The stories highlighted the Wilsons’ happy home life in a modest condo in Clairemont.

August 8, 1996 | Read full article

Blubbo’s World

“We used to call them pachucos back when Steve and I were coming up. There have been gangs in this part of the city forever. Over here in Shelltown where Steve lived, the big gang was Los Hermanos, and Steve was involved with them. He at least had friends who ran with them. In this neighborhood you got a hard education real fast. You got your ass kicked. You learned how to take a beating.”

Sept 20, 2001 | Read full article

Neighborhood: Small Towns of San Diego

Some of San Diego is undeniably slouching off into the Sad, Great Homogenization, but some of SD’s retro, some of it’s rich, and some is “alternative.” In short, we San Diegans have still got options. And option number one, the angel of my appreciation, the element that bucks convention, San Diego’s last true neighborhood and earthly connection, indeed, the soul of this good place, is Ocean Beach. If SD were the Beatles, then OB’d be George Harrison.

Dec. 24, 2003 | Read full article

Santa’s Helpers

We have a Christmas tradition: we all get around the table, say grace, and we do silly things with video cameras. One Christmas, my uncles and aunties brought us outside and we just had a race up the street to see who could run faster. There was a lot of teasing and trash talking like, "Oh, you can't beat me just because I am old or just because I'm a little overweight."

Dec. 23, 2004 | Read full article

At Home in San Diego

I don't know about you, but I'm always hard-pressed to say precisely where something is in Mission Beach. "Um, it's on the left side, before the roller coaster, about halfway down." And I never drive there, not if I can help it, not unless I'm ready to crawl in traffic. Anyway, the only way to really see the place, to get the true feel of it, is to walk or skateboard, to Rollerblade or ride your bicycle.

Dec. 30, 2004 | Read full article


I haven't spoken to her in eight years, ever since she threw a scene at Taco Auctioneer in Cardiff. I won't send her a Mother's Day card because I don't have any emotion left for dealing with her. I know it's tough being a mother. I was in the 98th percentile in spatial relationships when I was seven, and I think all that ability has gone into loading the dishwasher. I am a master dishwasher setter.

May 5, 2005 | Read full article


I believed that playing piano would transform my life. I practiced after dinner. I played Beethoven's sonatas until the spine of the book broke and the pages were soft at the edges. To make those sounds with my hands would change everything, I thought — did change everything, when I played well enough. In the first line of Opus 49, "Sonata Facile," in the falling down trill of those plaintive notes, lay both solace and escape.

August 11, 2005 | Read full article

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