San Diego Reader
Reina's Story Print E-mail

20030807(San Diego Reader August 7, 2003)


In April 2001, 15-year-old Reina was leaving her home in Tenancingo, a high-plateau town west of Mexico City. She was happier than she’d been in a while, traveling north to Tijuana, in the company of Arturo López-Rojas. At 32, Arturo was nicely dressed, heavy, and short, barely five feet tall; Reina, with a pretty round face, was shorter by several inches. Arturo was taking her to the border crossing at San Diego to get her into the United States; he would then deliver her to her new job as a housekeeper, maybe with children to watch; he also vowed that once she had established herself, they would marry. This bundle of offerings excited Reina. She knew of other girls who’d made the trip to California, who were cleaning grand houses with grassy yards and swimming pools and sending money to their loved ones in Tenancingo—dollars instead of pesos.

Struck Rich! Winning the California Lottery Print E-mail

LotteryPostcard1_preview(San Diego Reader June 26, 2003)

"You won how much?" I asked again.

"Ten million," he repeated, as though it were the time of day. Then, just as flatly, he asked that his name not be used, though he would "throw" a few facts my way, careful to conceal his identity behind cryptic remarks. In 2001 the former San Diegan had won $10 million on the SuperLotto Plus (matching six of six numbers), after buying an "Instant Millionaire" winning ticket in 1994. "I’m really blessed," he said, "basically because I’m a really good person. To somebody who never had money, the first time I won was a nightmare. You get under a lot of stress when you make investments. I like to gamble—I’ve been gambling since I was 21—[so I] walk into these Indian casinos and right away, just because of my past, they think I’m doing something. My past is my past; it’s over with. Now I live a simple, humble life. I’m married and I have a beautiful dog. That’s the way life is. I still work for a corporation in San Diego," though now he’s moved to a high desert community, where he continues to bet on the Lotto.

I Am Your Loving Daughter, Clara Clemens Print E-mail

20030508(San Diego Reader May 8, 2003)

In 1940, the recently widowed and wealthy Clara Clemens Gabrilowitsch bought a small estate in the Hollywood hills and sought counsel from a medium named Sardoney about her love life. Known also by his epithet the Human Radio, Sardoney channeled news that a fresh husband was in transit and that Clara could not “escape this appointment with Destiny.” The irrepressible Clara opened herself to the possibility. Soon she met and started dating a dashing Russian émigrè musician, who claimed to have conducted many of the world’s greatest orchestras and to be well-acquainted with several U.S. presidents. Jacques Samossoud was the man and Clara was smitten. In 1944, the pair were married. In a nod to the New Age, she wrote of their union as “positively miraculous in its multifarious strata of rainbowism.” He was 50, and she was 70.

El Cajon Mojo Master Lectures Spielberg Print E-mail

DrCapersandDog2(San Diego Reader April 24, 2003)

It was no accident, said San Diego clairvoyant Dr. James Capers, that movie mogul and occult aficionado Steven Spielberg attended his lecture in February, when Capers demonstrated his "spiritual gifts" at the Los Angeles Conscious Living Expo. Capers surmises that Spielberg came to his lecture (which he describes as "sitting-on-the-floor-room only") because Spielberg had been cursed by an African witch doctor: "Mr. Spielberg should be afraid -- these demonic powers are quite real."

According to April's Vanity Fair, Michael Jackson had Baba, a "voodoo priest" from Mali, brew up death curses for Spielberg, Hollywood powerbroker David Geffen, and 23 other Jackson "enemies." Baba, who is probably closer to a witch doctor than a voodoo priest, nonetheless received $150,000 for the conjuration that included a ritual sacrifice of 42 cows.

Does the City of San Diego Care How Much Water You Use? Print E-mail

20021003(San Diego Reader October 3, 2002)

In recent years, the 855 employees of the San Diego Water Department have faced scandals, alleged mismanagement, media scrutiny, and the rebuke of the City Council. All this began in 1999 when news stories appeared locally about water thieves and industrial hogs who didn’t pay their bills—accusations that proved true and forced changes in how the 100-year-old agency operates. Consequently, the department has new policies to deal with the press. Senior public information officer Kurt Kidman said that "10 years ago we might [have been] a whole lot more accommodating than we are right now." But today, he said, the department is "in a real difficult position. We’re definitely under the gun with Channel 10. When we breathe, they want to know how much it cost us." In 1999 KGTV/Channel 10 reported on how "big water customers are allowed to run up huge bills that go unpaid." In the "hidden meter" scandal, reporter Mark Matthews discovered one million dollars’ worth of unpaid bills, with "dozens of industrial water meters . . . recording only 10 percent of the water going through them."

Busy Being Born: On the Molecular Origins of Life Print E-mail

18kand_1-650(San Diego Reader September 12, 2002)

Ask evolutionary biologist Christopher Wills and organic chemist Jeffrey Bada, who are studying the origin of life on earth at the University of California, San Diego, to define life and both will answer, "an autonomous self-replicating system that replicates imperfectly via natural selection." Key for this pair is understanding how the abiotic or non-living world developed into the biotic one. Co-authors of The Spark of Life: Darwin and the Primeval Soup (2001), Wills and Bada believe life could arise only in optimal conditions and over a significant period of time.

Bada echoes Wills. "When I talk to the lay public about the origin of life, I’m talking about something that can’t be seen even with the best microscope."

I Have More Money Than We Could Possibly Spend In Our Lifetimes Print E-mail

20020418(San Diego Reader April 18, 2002)

Perched atop a flagpole at One Times Square sat the New Year’s Eve ball, ready for its traditional drop. For this drop, marking the end of the millennium, the famous orb had been sold to Waterford, legendary Irish glassmakers, and re-spangled. It was now the Waterford crystal ball. Such advertising was emblematic of the 1990s: From Tiger Wood’s hat to movie titles on NASA rockets, panoptic exposure seemed valuable at any price. Awaiting the Waterford’s fall, bodies had back-filled midtown Manhattan all day until, at 11:59, nearly one million gleeful voices began counting down the ball’s light-pulsing descent, synchronized to the (now-forgotten) "Anthem for the Millennium." In that moment, most revelers believed the Y2K scare was bogus and the new year would arrive intact, granting not so much a new age but, what was truly hoped, continuity with the one passing, its incontinent profits a testament to the prodigal investor. Everywhere people were betting that the American good life had another good act to go.

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