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Moss Gropen and the Reader

Scripps Ranch's WWII history, para-mutuel clerks, Poway High wrestlers, Cactus Star Vineyard, San Diego piano bars

I’m hangin’ at Ballast Point. Hey, it’s pretty loud and there appear to be a goodly number of sub-30 folks here.
  • I’m hangin’ at Ballast Point. Hey, it’s pretty loud and there appear to be a goodly number of sub-30 folks here.
  • Image by Matthew Suárez
  • San Diego’s Secret Missile-Testing Sites

  • The first time I ventured beyond the gate, it was padlocked, so I scrambled up and over a low dirt embankment to the left and kept running. Obviously, I told myself, the gate — a rusted and bent relic of the Cold War — was meant solely to keep out vehicles; pedestrians were tacitly permitted, even expected.... (April 2, 2008)
  • Where do they go when the races are over?

  • And where do they go — not after the gates spring open — but after the race is run, after all their races are run? After the society matrons’ $1000 hats are back in the closet, after the losing pari-mutuel tickets have been picked up by the infield “stoopers,” after the last $7 beer has been drunk — where do they go? What happens to these well-bred equines. (7/13/11)

Priscilla Clark runs a horse retirement farm. 
“I’ve seen the most dastardly things, the most 
flagrant abuse. Anybody can see it. It’s not hidden.”

Priscilla Clark runs a horse retirement farm. “I’ve seen the most dastardly things, the most flagrant abuse. Anybody can see it. It’s not hidden.”

  • My house has wheels

  • “I’ve never been homeless before.” At least Osiris Murillo still has her car — where she and her three-year-old daughter will sleep tonight, behind the gates of a designated “safe lot” in an unsafe neighborhood. “I haven’t taken a shower in a week, and I’m getting stinky.” ( Nov. 30, 2011)

The gates open at 6 p.m. for an overnight stay at 28th and L Street in Grant Hill. The homeless have to be out by 6 a.m. (7 a.m. weekends).

The gates open at 6 p.m. for an overnight stay at 28th and L Street in Grant Hill. The homeless have to be out by 6 a.m. (7 a.m. weekends).

  • Magic In A Bottle

  • “I’m ‘micro,’” quips Cullen, who’s also purple from head to toe. It’s pressing time at Cactus Star Vineyard at Scaredy Cat Ranch and the crew — that would be Joe — is immersed in the process of turning just-picked clusters of Syrah grapes into young wine. (11/27/13)

Joe Cullen of Cactus Star Vineyard.

Joe Cullen of Cactus Star Vineyard.

  • Steal Beer And Die

  • The bloodstains have long since faded, courtesy of Scram, sun, and time. More than a decade ago, in the parking lot of a Vons in Santee, Christopher St. Louis, 18, lost his life in the pursuit of free beer, shot by off-duty El Cajon police officer Tenaya Webb. (6/29/16)
  • Stop The Irrational Bike Bias

  • If the streets are underused and there’s room for the bicycle lanes, I have no problem with San Diego putting them in. They’re relatively cheap to install, assuming all you’re doing is re-painting lines or painting the bicycle lane green. That’s fine. The challenge is that when you have a lot of car traffic in that area, the bike lane will make congestion worse. ( 8/24/16)
  • Grappling With Success

  • On a sunny, dry, slightly crisp late-December day, I drive up Espola Road, past a succession of upscale horse properties, to Poway High. It’s here, in a leafy, tony neighborhood next to the Poway Center for the Performing Arts, that high-school wrestling reaches its apex, not only in California, but, some would argue, in the nation. (2/29/12)

Poway Titans in their locker room 
after a recent match with Mt. Carmel

Poway Titans in their locker room after a recent match with Mt. Carmel

  • San Diego’s Piano Bars

  • There’s an iron man caressing the ivories over on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, and if you miss his act this weekend, don’t worry; he may still be playing there 40 years from now. Pianist Scott Skinner, 68, started playing at the Godfather in 1977 and hasn’t missed a note since. (5/31/17)

Scott Skinner: “It seems like they drink less nowadays.”

Scott Skinner: “It seems like they drink less nowadays.”

  • Scripps Ranch – cows gone, rattlers remain

  • Let’s face it: if Gertie Stein had stumbled upon Scripps Ranch in an unplanned detour on the way to surveying the Stingaree in its dotage, she might have quipped, “There’s no ranch in the ranch.” It’s pretty damned hard to find. (11/8/17)

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