San Diego Reader
The Son Not Taken Print E-mail

20000615(San Diego Reader June 15, 2000: Special Father's Day Issue "Daddy")

At breakfast my father asked me what I thought we should do if, in Grandma and Grandpa’s safety deposit box, we found the document identifying his real parents. The year was 1967, and he and I were in Evanston, Illinois, arranging a funeral for his adoptive mother, Elizabeth, who had died suddenly of a stroke. That he was given up at birth he had not learned until his 35th year, when Elizabeth sprang the news on him one Easter. Around the dinner table they were remembering her father, Sam Hill, descendant of a Revolutionary War general, who had often wondered aloud why Elizabeth’s child looked nothing like his parents. Dad had wondered, too.

“Wouldn’t it be funny,” Dad said to his mother that day, “to discover that I —”

“John, as a matter of fact, you were adopted,” she blurted out, vexing his remaining years with an insoluble conflict, namely, whether he should track down his real parents or let them be. Now that we were burying his mother and packing his 86-year-old dad into a retirement home, this bank-vault visit would be his last chance at a birthright.

Fairy Shrimp, Vernal Pools, and the Mayor of Poway Print E-mail

20000420(San Diego Reader April 20, 2000)

Royce Riggan Jr., a biological consultant in San Diego for 25 years, was driving back to his office one Sunday afternoon in January. His route, from the west end of Miramar Road to his working place in the heart of Mira Mesa, took him through the Miralani Business Park along Trade Place, where for a mile one long warehouse abuts another. The route also took him past a lone, fenced wetland habitat, alien to such a locale, on Arjons Drive. It was a habitat he knew well. Riggan, who describes himself as "one of the gray-haired guys" in environmental consulting, had helped designate this 8.7-acre parcel above Carroll Canyon in 1977 as a preserve, for it was home, at the time, to three threatened species—the San Diego fairy shrimp (a crustacean), the button celery (also called coyote thistle), and the San Diego mesa mint—each of which have become federal-listed endangered species. (The plants are also state-listed.)

Never Die: Dawn of the Stem Cell Print E-mail

20000323(San Diego Reader March 23, 2000)

Like many newly married couples, Cristen and Jeffry Hays wanted to get pregnant soon after their wedding in 1992, but felt it best to wait. They used birth control until Jeffry finished three years of chiropractic school, passed his preceptorship, and established a practice in San Diego. Then, in their mid-30s, with "it’s now or never" nagging them, they dropped their protective shields and went at it, a pleasure as often as it was a duty.

For a year, nothing happened. Something was wrong, and the Bakersfield natives suspected the problem was inside Cristen. An insulin-dependent diabetic since 12, Cristen wears an insulin pump, monitors her intake by pricking her finger and testing her blood-sugar level ten times a day, and lives at times emotionally weakened by the high maintenance her illness requires.

California, Here I Come: Divorce in the Golden State Print E-mail

The author with his kids 1983(San Diego Reader February 24, 2000)

I was trembling, tearing open the envelope, with its official return address, University of California, San Diego, Department of Music, Graduate Division. “I am happy to inform you,” it began — but didn’t I know the rest, hadn’t I known it in my gut for months, ever since I kissed and mailed the application, that my westering dream would, in fact, come true? “The Department of Music is recommending that you be admitted,” and then I couldn’t see the words, for I was crying and running to tell my wife and four-year-old twin sons: We’d be moving to Southern California.

City of Artless Politics: Rejecting Nancy Rubins Print E-mail

nancy_rubin(San Diego Reader December 2, 1999)

On Friday, November 19, the San Diego Convention Center board of director's vote was tied, three for Nancy Rubins's proposed Harbor Drive sculpture—the 102-foot-high, 100-ton arch of 60 cabled-together fiberglass boats—and three against. The deciding vote would come from the board's seventh member, chairman William A. Roper.

"We have a split decision," Roper said. "It's not wrong that we have a difference of opinion, [and] that doesn't make me a bad person. I'd rather not be the tie-breaking vote here."

Before casting his vote, Roper said it was necessary to categorize the responses to Rubins's piece that the board had received: first, the phone calls were "overwhelmingly negative"; second, e-mails, faxes, and letters were "two-thirds positive, one-third negative"; third, the two public-art meetings the previous day, totaling 75 people, were "roughly mixed." He said they could "tally it" either way, as many yeas as nays.

Housing Is a Verb: In Twelve Cobbled-Together Parts Print E-mail

recycled_house(San Diego Reader November 18, 1999)


If you cross into Mexico at Otay Mesa, continue south on Calle Mazatlan and cut over to Boulevard Insurgentes, you'll eventually dip down to the Tijuana River which winds through the vast and growing working-class colonias of east Tijuana. Here lives, in congested communities, tens of thousands of residents, most recent arrivals usually from the northern part of the country. Not long ago, some of these people lived in quick-built dwellings alongside the river. But because a hard rain falls every six or seven years, the river floods and people have to move, on top of the mesas or partway up the gently sloping ravines. The newly risen colonias have colorful names—El Florido, El Pipila, Ejido Mariano Matamoros. People have moved in because of the flooding, but they've also come because of the new economic opportunities in northern Baja. Before 1993 these neighborhoods were not here. Then came Nafta and the promise of factory work at the maquiladoras. A visit today reveals that those soccer-stadium-sized American-owned plants continue to thrive.

Last Light: San Diego Representational Painters Print E-mail

19990826(San Diego Reader August 26, 1999)

Part One

When I point at and say, I like that painting, the one suffused with sulphury light, the golden warm of San Diego’s presunset hour, the painter, William Glen Crooks, replies, “Oh, yes, that one. Now that was a California moment.”

That is Portico. It’s a four- by six-foot painting that depicts the semi-shabby, four-door entrance to an apartment house, built in the Craftsman style. Its four doors, side-by-side, are numbered 1, 2, 3, 4 in italics. Each door has latticed windows at the top and each has its own character: 1 is opened, 2 has a wreath and a bamboo curtain behind the windows, 3’s green window curtain is drawn, and 4 picks up the glare of a near-setting sun. Doors 2 and 4 sport floor mats of different sizes; several rectangular mailboxes are off to the left and a potted plant on a curved leg stand is on the right. Across the entire golden-to-yellow surface—or is it that the surface is being goldened by the sun?—cour­ses a modulating, glaring light.

<< Start < Prev 11 12 13 14 Next > End >>

Page 13 of 14