Author: Joe Wilcox

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Who Skewered Teddy?

Yesterday, as my wife and I approached the blue-and-white house where flew the American flag at half-mast in September 2021, a tiny teddy came into view—back-to. As we passed, I stopped, pulled out Leica Q2, adjusted the aperture, and snapped the sole shot that is the Featured Image. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/2000 sec, 28mm; 12:51 p.m. PST.

The front-view of the stuff bear looks across Lincoln near the corner at Alabama in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood. I want to know why the plushy is so unceremoniously placed. Is it meant to signal something? Was it found on the sidewalk or street and put up where more easily seen?

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The Cats of University Heights: Meowy

Day before yesterday, in the alley separating Alabama and Mississippi, not far from cross-street Meade, a black-and-white kitten approached my wife and I—and, oh, what constant meowing; hence the nickname. From apparent age, colorization, and vocalization, I wondered if Squeaky had wandered over from Louisiana. But quick photo comparison unquestionably identifies two different kitties.

Today, we saw the youngster yet again, but on the front-side of the apartment building, facing Mississippi. But unlike the Featured Image and companion, where Meowy wears a collar, there was none today. The cat clearly wanted something; perhaps food, its human caretaker, or both. We couldn’t guess, even after the kitten settled down on a welcome mat outside an apartment door.

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Big, Boastful Branding

I smile—and occasionally chuckle—when walking by this camper sticking out into the alley separating Cleveland and Maryland, not far from our old University Heights apartment. My Maine hometown is the same name, which I admit is part of the appeal. Brrr, in Caribou, its 3 degrees Celsius (37 F) and raining as I write from warmer San Diego, where the evening sky is partly overcast and the temperature is 13 C (56 F).

The camper’s vintage is unknown to me, and who could guess from the little visible from the alley? But the thing is loved—looking at the pristine wooden door—and source of the owner’s pride. Otherwise, why let the branded top front boastfully hang out in view?

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Tick-Tock

What an unexpectedly appropriate Featured Image. Being the first day of the year’s last month, I am thinking about time and how to meaningfully fill the 31—okay, now thirty—days that remain. Expect my report in early 2022.

My wife and I passed by the wall clock along the alley separating Louisiana and Texas streets behind the liquor store and its parking lot located on Meade Ave. I often see Princess Leia in the vicinity, but not today. She joined my “Cats of University Heights” series in June 2018.

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Abandoned

On Veterans Day, I passed by this pair of abandoned boots alongside the Monroe Avenue wall of LeStat’s on Park in the San Diego neighborhood of University Heights. Perhaps some street person lost them or they were left for one of the area’s homeless.

I stopped for the Featured Image, taken with Leica Q2, thinking to update illustration for a 16-year-old post. The footwear’s good-looking condition and odd location tweaked my interest. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/30 sec, 28mm; 10:33 a.m. PST.

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‘Kiss Me on the Bus’

A few weeks ago, I spotted this green bus seen again today. Then, I was sheepish about photographing the thing. But with clearer line of site from my eyes, and no obstructions, out came Leica Q2 to take the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 1:10 p.m. PST.

Converted school buses aren’t rare sightings, but they’re uncommon enough to rouse my attention—particularly when an air conditioner hangs out the back window. Now that’s something new. Someone clearly lives in the vehicle, which bears New York plates (I obliterated the numerals in post-production). Welcome to San Diego!

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The Cats of University Heights: Squeaky

For the first post-Thanksgiving Caturday, we present a kitten nicknamed Squeaky for its high-pitched mewing. I met the little squirt once, and not since, on Oct. 20, 2021, along the same stretch of Louisiana where lives Honcho.

The Featured Image and companion come from iPhone 13 Pro, captured in Apple ProRAW and converted to JPEG after being cropped 3:2 and modestly tweaked. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 50, 1/122 sec, 77mm; 2:37 p.m. PDT. The other: f/2.8, ISO 32, 1/283 sec, 77mm; 2:38 p.m. Squeaky came close for a visit, but we never connected; a roaring vehicle scared back the kitten.

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Homeless in Hillcrest

This gentleman is one of the many street dwellers seen today, when I walked from University Heights to neighboring Hillcrest on an errand. He caught my attention for what the Featured Image fails to reveal: The large load of belongings on the cart and spread somewhat down the sidewalk. He also was overdressed for the unseasonably warm day—25 degrees Celsius (77 Fahrenheit), when I used Leica Q2 Monochrom to take the street shot from the hip. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 200, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 2:20 p.m. PST.

While you might think otherwise from the profile and apparent skin color, he is a white guy. Anyone living long under the San Diego sun will become darker, with respect to skin tone; dirt and grime contribute to the change. This characteristic distinguishes the truly indigent from people begging for money; the grifter will often send off a benefactor with “God bless you”. The others offer thanks, with a sincerity of appreciation that is unmistakably authentic.

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Fit to Survive

Hard to imagine that a year ago, Californians freaked about rising SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 infections, with Governor Gavin Newsom imposing additional lockdown restrictions that essentially cancelled Christmas. Thanksgiving already was collateral damage.

Some small businesses, like Boulevard Fitness, resisted closure and defied threats of fines—or worse. The city (or county) could pull permits, particularly related to public health. For eateries and pubs, liquor license could be yanked instead or as well.

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Pedal the Pacific

Is it irony that an organization that cycles for its cause advertises on the side of a van? Maybe somebody will get the message about “trafficking” when stuck in rush-hour traffic beside the vehicle—or perhaps consider that an unmarked, white, windowless van could be carrying sex-trafficked men, women, or kids. Shiver the thought.

The group explains its mission: “Pedal the Pacific exists to educate all people about sex trafficking. We use bikes as a platform to raise awareness, educate peers, fundraise for leading nonprofits, and develop leaders who believe that no voice is too small to make a difference”.