Describing Darkness: Scott B. Davis Night Photography Print E-mail

29_palms_california(The Summerset Review Winter 2012)

About eight p.m. under a fading turquoise sky and clouds with watercolor-grey outlines, the night photographer Scott B. Davis angles his black Toyota truck with camper hull into a strangely beautiful but noisy promontory in San Diego's Balboa Park. It's nothing more than an empty parking lot off Golf Course Drive—where I feel commanded by the wide-armed view of the city skyline and the red-lighted Naval Medical Center and where Davis, a nocturnalist, sees something else entirely. The something he sees is not there or barely there or quickly receding from whatever thereness it had.

Caitlin Rother: Crime Writer Print E-mail

caitlin(San Diego Magazine July 2010)

If you don’t know San Diego true-crime writer Caitlin Rother by name, you may recall the notorious subject of her 2005 book, Poisoned Love—the pretty, young toxicologist, Kristin Rossum, whose meth addiction drove her to sleep with her boss and poison her husband. To give his death the aura of suicide, Rossum sprinkled rose petals around his body. That book, a bestseller, launched Rother’s career. In five quick years, the former Union-Tribune reporter and Pulitzer-Prize nominee, has written “back-to-back-to-back books,” a string which, she says, in a break from editing her next grim tale, has been “exhausting.”

The fortyish author, attractively dapple in a black turtleneck and black leather jacket, seems anything but worn. At a Kensington coffeehouse, she opens up about a life she never expected would be this full. For Rother, the slog of producing a book a year—four nonfiction murder stories and a novel about “beautiful beauty [school] students” being killed in Pacific Beach—include researching, interviewing, and writing. And that’s just the half of it.

Greeting the Tense New Dawn Print E-mail

Rothko_hierarchical_birds(University of San Diego Magazine Spring 2007)

Last April, Dee Aker and Laura Taylor, peace-builders with the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice, flew to Kathmandu, Nepal. It was their third trip in seven months, each flight taking 38 hours with a 10-hour layover in Bangkok. Before leaving San Diego, Aker and Taylor had read State Department warnings: Nepal was still unstable and had been since Feb. 1, 2005, the day King Gyanendra had declared a state of emergency. Frustrated by a decade-old Maoist insurrection, he had closed the country, jailed political dissenters, shut down radio and TV stations, and cut electric communications, even cell phones. In the interim, some liberties had been restored, but much of the country continued to struggle under martial law.

The Patient Person Print E-mail

featureb1(University of San Diego Magazine Summer 2006)

Elaine Allen, a 66-year-old retired Navy captain, is being wheeled into the emergency room at the Naval Medical Center San Diego. Her body and head are strapped to a backboard and her neck is collared; she blinks at the fluorescent ceiling lights whizzing by above her. It’s not clear yet how serious her injuries are—15 minutes ago, she was hit from behind by a driver doing 80 mph. Allen asked to be brought here because she’s Navy and she knows the hospital’s reputation. She’s rushed into a curtained bay where a nurse leans over her and makes eye contact. He tells Allen that he’s here to take care of her. She’s frightened, disoriented. He says he knows how uncomfortable she must be with her head pinned. The nurse, an open-faced man with a satiny shaved head, says he and his team are going to move her: she may feel a jolt.

”Are you ready?”

Bulldog for the Underdog Print E-mail

Bulldog_Michael_Shames(University of San Diego Magazine Winter 2005)

San Diego’s leading consumer activist won’t admit it, but he’s feeling a tad pushed. Michael Shames ’83 (J.D.) is with a photographer on a Friday afternoon. He’s being worked through poses at his desk.

Pick up the phone. Look busy. Look natural. No. Look angry.

“I don’t do angry,” says the executive director of UCAN, the Utility Consumers’ Action Network, a nonprofit watchdog that protects consumers against fraud and utility abuse.

To do angry, Shames says, he needs to be in a meeting with energy company bosses, he needs to hear about their unnecessary rate hikes, he needs to get frustrated when they don’t listen to the consumers’ point of view. “Right before I walk out,” he says. “That’s when I get angry.”

The Unmitigated Gall of Dinesh D'Souza Print E-mail

DSouzawithReagan(Counterpunch August 16, 2005)

Abridged Too Far

I am a freelance journalist for the weekly San Diego Reader, where, during last seven years, my profiles, narrative nonfiction, and investigative articles have appeared. This past spring, the Reader published my 12,000-word cover profile of Dinesh D'Souza. D'Souza is an Indian-American immigrant who is one of America's prominent conservative authors as well as a skilled debater and right-wing pundit. D'Souza is best known for two books: Illiberal Education (1991), which attacked affirmative action and political correctness on campus, and The End of Racism (1995), a book still mired in debate because of D'Souza's claims that the economic disadvantage of African-Americans are due to the "pathologies of black culture."

The High Tech High Way Print E-mail

hightechhigh(University of San Diego Magazine Spring 2005)

High school. The mere thought of it induces shudders. Long hallways with crammed lockers and mass crowding; alarm bells that summon students from room to room like Skinnerian rats in a maze; rows of desks where pupils, immobilized, write notes and take tests.

Maybe your high school was even worse. Perhaps your memories—or those of someone you know—are of armed guards, metal detectors, fights, chaos. Who among us wants to go back? And yet, despite the near-universal angst of such memories, many still believe that to educate adolescents, high schools must resemble work camps in which students endure standardized examinations, classroom isolation from their peers and a one-size-fits-all learning model of droning lectures and rote homework.

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