Author: Joe Wilcox

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Lafayette Hotel Closes (For Remodeling)

Walking along the alley separating Louisiana and Mississippi, my wife asked what was hanging before the Lafayette, which we could see because of leveled buildings on El Cajon across the way. We knew that the iconic hotel would close this month for massive, projected $26 million renovation—and, sure enough, it did four days ago.

I walked over to find the early stages of remodeling prep and three banners hanging before the main structure, as you can see from the Featured Image and companion. I part way crossed The Boulevard and stood on a median strip to take the shots.

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Wee Bit of Urban Paradise

Keeping to my goal of posting something each day, I share an outtake and humbly ask your understanding. I haven’t felt well most of today—and that is quite unusual for me, being someone blessed with hearty constitution. I suppose that my problem could be SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19. But symptoms say otherwise. No fever or other markers manifest.

Please pardon my being brief on this fine Tuesday evening, therefore. The Featured Image comes from Leica Q2 on Aug. 5, 2022. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/60 sec, 28mm; 6:11 p.m. PDT.

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A Grim Remembrance

Twenty years ago today, my wife and I stood staring out our front door transfixed by the Fox News helicopter hovering low nearly overhead. The thing couldn’t have been much above the treetops. For about thirty minutes we watched the copter, all while wondering why we couldn’t find explanation for its presence.

In October 2002, there were no social networks, like Facebook or Twitter, to blast second-by-second chirps about immediate happenings. We relied on radio and television, along with Google and Yahoo search. None answered the question. So Annie headed out for a walk. Literally, two minutes later, a friend rang, warning: “Someone is driving a white van down Connecticut Ave. shooting people”. Ah, yeah.

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Pain at the Pump

If you’re wondering why another gas price photo, so am I. But the cost—a full dollar more than the Mobile Mart just three days ago—demands documenting. Today, I came upon the Shell station while walking to Petco in search of a potted plant for our cats Cali and Neko (out of stock, of course). Location: Fourth and Washington in San Diego neighborhood Hillcrest.

What can you say about seven dollars and twenty cents per gallon, unleaded? This place inched up to $7 during that last big rise (June 2022), but not higher. To think that in October 2021 $4.94 was outrageous. Now we can only wish that the price was as low.

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Return to ‘Game of Thrones’

Over the last couple of weeks, I watched the original “Game of Thrones”, all eight seasons, streamed from HBO Max. My overall impression is much better—with respect to the final, tumultuous episodes that had many fans screaming loud criticism. Continuity is stronger storytelling viewed as a flow from first to the last—stark (no pun intended) difference during the final airing in 2019, when weekly nail-biting waits created so much anxiety and animosity about how the show runners chose to end a story that had advanced beyond the source material (In 2022, George R.R. Martin has yet to catch up the books).

I have two major complaints, though, and both are with the last episode. (Spoilers start here, so stop reading if you haven’t watched the series.) Jon Snow asks Tyrion Lannister about murdering the Dragon Queen: “Was it right? What I did. It doesn’t feel right”. Her death feels wrong. Whoever wrote the dialogue was right to ask the question. Daenerys Targaryen had overcome so many obstacles to reclaim the Iron Throne, only to have everything snatched away so carelessly by a wimpish hand. If Jon Snow had been a fraction of the man that Daenerys was woman, maybe the betrayal would have been better received—or better storytelling, if not at all.

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The Innovative Urban Garden

Around front of the property where I observed “Carport Lettuce” in July 2020, the hydroponic operation has grown to include chickens. In August 2021, a trailer took the setup on the road. Somebody is an ambitious and clever urban farmer.

The Featured Image is for the birds, while the companion shows off some of the growing apparatus. Vitals, aperture manually set for both: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 28mm; 3:20 p.m. PDT. The other is same but two minutes later.

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Oh No, Not Again

A week ago, price at the pump was 90 cents less than it is today at my local filling stations. This evening, in North Park, I passed a Chevron sign for $6.60 per gallon, regular unleaded. Oh my, what’s going on with gas going up the cost ladder again?

In the Featured Image, captured using Leica Q2, the Arco across Texas Street (at El Cajon Blvd) seemingly offers a deal for 10 cents a gallon less. But hours later, the station had matched Mobile Mart.

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Parrot and the Clock

Oddly together describes some of the items left in San Diego alleys for scavengers to take. The colorful inflatable toy juxtaposes with an antique-looking clock that isn’t as old as appears. Electric cord is the giveaway. I cropped out owls in the box, while a real vintage clock is out of frame; not photographed because of reflective glare from the morning sun.

I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image on Sept. 26, 2022. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 9:24 a.m. PDT.

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September Sunflower

Our Internet service is wonky and unreliable, which is why the unexpected break from the planned series about the New Vision Christian Fellowship building destruction (and replacement). I have several suspicions (e.g. hypotheses) about what may be the cause. When, or sadly if, resolved, a separate post will be warranted.

For this Tuesday, to stay simple while we have some IP/bandwidth functionality, I share something unexpected: September sunflower; I usually only see these puttering about our San Diego neighborhood in late Spring or early Summer.

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The Cats of University Heights: Quizzical

While walking down Mission, today, I heard constant meowing across the street and wondered: Where? How’s an apartment’s second floor balcony. Closing in, I pleaded with the kitty not to jump. Surely my human talk was gibberish at best.

That said, my approach silenced the shorthair, who cocked its head and posed. Several times—almost like I had been beckoned to come and shoot portraits. Cue the Twilight Zone music for the episode about mind-reading cats.

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Lonely Locust

We take yet another break from the New Vision Christian Fellowship building destruction (and replacement). Dual problems plague us this evening: ants and uncharacteristically unavailable Internet access. To save time and keep posting simple, please regard this locust (not a grasshopper, right?) seen on Sept. 20, 2022.

I used Leica Q2‘s Macro mode, which is activated by turning a ring around the f/1.7 Summilux lens, to capture the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 28mm; 6:16 p.m. PDT.

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No Vision

New Vision Christian Fellowship closed its University Heights building in May 2019, long after selling the property to a developer for as much as $34 million (I couldn’t confirm the amount). If my observation of apparent sparse attendance—except for free food days—indicates anything, the church hadn’t thrived for some time in the location. Proceeds from the sale created opportunity for relocation (Orange Avenue in City Heights) and funds to expand evangelical work.

But the departure nevertheless left a hole in the heart of the San Diego neighborhood, which would be filled with a towering edifice currently under construction. A modest religious institution will be replaced by a towering cathedral for materialistic worshippers.