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Best Reader stories from 2015

Otay Mesa tunnels, I teach war, Bill Kolender, dangerous bike spots, Fallbrook's gang, Torrey Pines Gliderport fracas, lobster fisherman, Vietnamese thinks hard about English

Tam Hoang. Some of you probably had that one friend in school who was really, really into Asian stuff. I want to be the reverse of that dude.
  • Tam Hoang. Some of you probably had that one friend in school who was really, really into Asian stuff. I want to be the reverse of that dude.
  • Image by Howie Rosen
  • Cartel tunnels to Otay Mesa are infrastructural marvels

  • The amount of warehouse space in Otay Mesa has nearly quadrupled since the mid-’90s, and the expansion has been almost as frenetic in Garita de Otay. Forklifts, jackhammers, and heavy vehicles attract little attention. Cartel trucks back into loading bays, pallets are loaded in, and the drugs are delivered north to distribution hubs. There are three official border crossings near Otay Mesa; one, for commercial vehicles, is inside the industrial zone. “All of this has created a candy store for smugglers,” a U.S. agent told me.
  • By Monte Reel, Dec. 16, 2015

2011 Otay Mesa drug tunnel

2011 Otay Mesa drug tunnel

  • The stories not told

  • Currently, I teach tenth and eleventh grade English at Coronado High School. When I came to Coronado, one of the books on the reading list was Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, a novel about the Vietnam War told through vignettes. Cool deal, I thought. It’s about Vietnam. I’m Vietnamese. Mission accomplished.
  • By Tam Hoang, Nov. 11, 2015

Tam Hoang

Tam Hoang

  • Bill Kolender – the Union-Tribune's favorite cop

  • It was a last hurrah of sorts for two San Diego institutions, the late Bill Kolender and his onetime employer, the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Almost nobody didn’t love Bill Kolender,” said the U-T’s October 6 editorial of farewell. “Unless, perhaps, you were a crook or a political opponent who got creamed by him in an election.” Though unacknowledged, the paper’s tribute to Kolender was also an homage to its once-powerful self.
  • By Matt Potter, Oct. 21, 2015

Bill Kolender

Bill Kolender

  • Dangerous bike spots

  • Friars Road, Nimitz Blvd, University Ave., Pershing Dr., Genesee, Pacific Hwy at Barnett Ave.
  • Safer routes: SD River Trail, West Point Loma, Robinson, Governor
  • By Dryw Keltz, Sept. 23, 2015

“Going down Pershing into downtown where the freeway ramps for the 5 are on the right side and you have 
to cross your heart and haul ass before a car nails you.”

“Going down Pershing into downtown where the freeway ramps for the 5 are on the right side and you have to cross your heart and haul ass before a car nails you.”

  • Dishonor among Varrio Fallbrook Locos

  • Nico said that after some years he went through the ritual of being jumped into the gang. “It’s basically when your inner circle of friends just jump you, beat you up.” He thinks he was 17 years old when five or six men pounded on him for some minutes. “It’s basically initiation from all of them.” His best pal Torito, who is two years older, was present but did not participate in the beating.
  • By Eva Knott, June 24, 2015

The curvy road from Fallbrook to De Luz is posted at 20mph.

The curvy road from Fallbrook to De Luz is posted at 20mph.

  • Keep out!

  • “It was a beautiful Sunday morning,” Kuczewski, 57, recalls the moments before the second arrest of his life. His first arrest had taken place in the same spot just a few months earlier. Both the March 8 arrest and the one in November 2014 happened at the Torrey Pines Gliderport. The first was for trespassing, the second for malicious mischief.
  • By Thom Senzee, June 17, 2015

  • Accept the craziness of San Diego lobster fisherman

  • Just after 7 a.m., when most of San Diego is getting ready to start their day, Medak pulls his first trap. He swiftly slides it down the gunwale to Hartman. Three California brown pelicans take up residency on the rear of the boat. One slyly moves closer at the scent of lobster. It eyeballs Hartman as he handles the lobsters and measures them from the end of their shell to their eye sockets using a metal ruler. One by one he throws each lobster back in.
  • By Siobhan Braun, April 8, 2015

Shad Catarius

Shad Catarius

  • That feeling of being the servile colonial subject eager to impress

  • If you grew up speaking Vietnamese, like I did, there was probably a moment in your life when you realized the limitations of your vocabulary. So, a conversation with your mom went something like this: “Vietnamese Vietnamese registration Vietnamese units Vietnamese Vietnamese credentialing.”
  • The word that comes to mind is “static.” Or maybe even “arrested.”
  • By Tam Hoang, March 11, 2015

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