Author: Joe Wilcox

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Lemons and Oranges

Winter, or what I call late Summer, is when citrus trees bear luscious fruit in Southern California. Consider this lovely lemon tree that greets residents of quaint cottages along the Alabama-Florida alley. Who wouldn’t want to live in such a charming retreat, tucked away and lush?

But bring your high-paying job. Charm isn’t cheap in San Diego, given rising real estate costs. Median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,095, according to Zumper (about which I am largely unfamiliar). When I last cited the company’s data, February 2021, the median was $1,810. Yikes! Two bedroom: $2,895.

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Simply Stated: San Diego Unaffordable Housing

Three residences all on the same block in University Heights define the scope of the housing crisis in Southern California. This is not a story about limited availability of units, as news media and political prognosticators regularly (and falsely) claim, but about rising prices driven by numerous market dynamics (such as emigrants or corporations paying cash) mixed with insanity that defies common sense.

The market bears what people are willing to pay and they seem all the more recklessly anxious to fall for fear-economics and the privilege of paying more, more, more.

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The Cats of University Heights: Gazer

The series‘ sixth New Years kitty is not the one originally planned. While walking this morning with my wife, I spied a ginger gawking above us; what a vantage to survey and sun. This fine feline joins Lovely (2021), Gem (2020), Storm (2019), Norman (2018), and Chub (2017).

The Featured Image and companion come from iPhone 13 Pro. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 32, 1/499 sec, 77mm; 9:27 a.m. PST. The other is same but 1/513 sec, 10 seconds earlier.

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We End Twenty-Twenty-One with an Electric Story

The last post of the year fulfills one of my personal resolutions for 2021: Publish something here every day, and I have. The process proved beneficial for honing storytelling, which often constructed around one (or more) of my photographs. Rarely did I sit down to write with clear topic in mind; often the prose unfolded as a storytelling process anchored, sometimes loosely, by the illustration.

Similarly, my continual need to have something to write about encouraged me to look for objects to be topics, improving my photographic craft, too. I lack the sense of composition and style necessary to be a professional shooter. My eyes instead see stories in the things I capture. I stare in awe at the pros producing photos as art; I can’t.

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Leave It Be

Wet weather welcomed the last week of the year, here in San Diego, with sporadic rain showers. Today, for awhile, the sun emerged from behind scattered clouds and I took advantage for several, desperately wanted […]

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In the Dumpster

End of year is a good time to take out the trash, so to speak, to clear out the past and prepare for the future—opportunity to start Jan. 1, 2022 fresh and tidy. That’s where I am on this wet Wednesday evening. But what if you literally can’t take out the garbage, as is the case for many San Diego County residents? Teamsters Local 542 is on strike with Republic Services, which my landlord unfortunately uses.

The Featured Image, taken today with iPhone 13 Pro, is outside the apartment building where we live. (Vitals: f/1.5, ISO 50, 1/2994 sec, 26mm; 11:22 a.m. PST.) I would like to thank my immediate neighbors for not massively overflowing the dumpster. You might think, looking at the pile, that I am being facetious. Not so. The sentiment is sincerely expressed. Stacks of bags and refuse elsewhere exponentially exceed this modest mess. My fellow residents show remarkable restraint.

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‘Growing with Passion’

Whenever walking by this mural, I often regret not photographing the lively, colorful Yipao Coffee outdoor café that once occupied this location. More importantly: What the place displaced—trees and lush green space that the (permanently closed) florist had used. Hence the irony, if you don’t see it yet, of “growing with passion”; because all that remains is dirt, on top of which vehicles park. Nothing green grows, nor the vitality of human interaction.

In late June 2018, I shared about the departure of Florabella, which had to abandon its 24-year commercial space after the landlord informed the owner that rent would triple effective July 1. I wondered: What will replace the florist? Well, Yipao took up residence in the not-long-later clearcut corner area. Interesting aside: John Adams disappeared and was discovered to be accidentally locked inside the closed floral shop, which Yipao used; perhaps for storage. He is among the “Cats of University Heights“; June 2019.

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The Cats of University Heights: Cinnamon

For reasons, I can’t guess, most of the kitties seen along Cleveland Avenue and profiled in this series are gone. Let’s review them. Those known to have moved away: Fresh; Levi; Mika; MiniMisty; and Pepe. Likely moved: Black; Black and WhiteLeery; and MellowNot seen recently: CloverLiloPepper; and SleepyStatus unknown: Bell; Hunter; and MandyMissing: Fess (sad story). Special mention: Roly Poly; (second cat to appear in the series; presumed moved); Priscilla (who disappeared before the series started). Still resident: Tortie. That’s only one for certain among 21, plus our newest inductee.

I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image on Dec. 23, 2021. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6. ISO 100, 1/80 sec, 28mm; 9:08 am. PST. For color, this fine feline earns nickname Cinnamon

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The Road Less Traveled

The Georgia-Meade Bikeway, about which traffic circles I have negatively opined, nears completion—and certainly appears to be ready through the University Heights to Normal Heights portion. In observation, and preparation to write about the occurrence, I captured the Featured Image on Nov. 28, 2021. Vitals, aperture manually set for this and the two companion photos: f/8, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 28mm; 9:59 a.m. PST.

The view looks down Meade Avenue from Georgia Street. The traffic circle at Alabama is clearly visible but barely the one at Louisiana two blocks beyond. Near the horizon to the right is the North Park water tower, which many locals regard as an essential navigational landmark.

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Annie and the Snowman

Merry Christmas! My wife poses with an inflatable along Madison Avenue, between Georgia Street and Park Blvd, in our neighborhood. I photographed kitty nicknamed Alcatraz nearby the same spot 10 months ago; early March 2021, the black and white appeared in my “Cats of University Heights” series.

I left Leica Q2 at home and so used iPhone 13 Pro to take the Featured Image—first of four and best of the lot. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 32, 1/328 sec, 13mm; 10:31 a.m. PST, today. As you can see, the snowman is quite large, and the smartphone’s wide-angle lens let me capture the inflatable and surrounding scene for context. We had heavy rain for the holiday. I’m dreaming of a wet Christmas…

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A Christmas Eve Reflection

The San Diego neighborhood where I live, University Heights, is a monument to secularism. The closest Jesus comes to being depicted or referenced anywhere is half his name in Christmas, prefaced by Merry, like on the, ah, Prideful trees that I wrote about two days ago.

So on this fateful Christmas Eve, I have no religious photos to share; no crosses, no nativities, nothing other than the stone snowman you may remember from two years ago. He made a 2020 appearance on the same property but brandishing a presidential political sign—and I did not approve. The fresh Featured Image comes from Leica Q2, two days ago. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 1 p.m. PST.