Category: Culture

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Too Much for Some, Not Enough for Others

Today, while walking with my wife along Meade Avenue in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, I was reminded about the food giveaway still going on at Garfield Elementary. Four full cartoons of skim milk littered the sidewalk and, later, a twist-tied bag containing unopened cereal and other sugary breakfast eats that would appeal to children.

In mid-March, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the closure of most businesses and all schools. While the state is now reopening and adults return to work, kids remain home—many with parents who are still furloughed or fired. San Diego County’s unemployment rate is a staggering 15 percent, up from about 3.5 percent before the lockdown precipitated by the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic. Select schools offer free food to needy families, and they are many.

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Signs of Our Turbulent Times

Six minutes after seeing the squirrel treed by Bruce, I came upon something quite unexpected along the Florida-Georgia alley between Madison and Monroe in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. The Featured Image (warning 29MB file) needs no explanation—other than camera (Leica Q2) and vitals: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 10:15 a.m. PDT, today.

We started 2020 with a pandemic and subsequent, nearly-nationwide shutdown of most businesses and all schools. Just as states started to reopen, a black man (George Floyd) died in the custody of white police officers. People poured into the streets, protesting and rioting, in response. Seattle surrendered six blocks to vigilante demonstrators, who have cordoned off the area, which they claim to be a cop-free zone.

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Feel Free to Flee, Bud

Raging riots—er, protests—across the country shine spotlights on law enforcement, following release of citizen-captured video showing the death of George Floyd under the knee of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. A lifetime—oh, yeah, just eight days—has passed since the incident that precipitated looting, property destruction, and violence in major cities across America, including San Diego.

Is surveilling cops the new thing, in the wake of the alleged MPLS murder and its aftermath? I wonder. Today, as I walked through the alley separating Campus and North, flashing cop car lights along Monroe near Park caught my attention. Approaching, I saw some dude apparently filming what looked like an insignificant incident—something to do with a car that would later be towed. His iPhone pointed at one of the two “Protect and Serve” vehicles. I circled and captured four shots of him, using Leica Q2, from two different vantage points. Apparently, he saw me take the last photo, pulled back the smartphone, and walked off fairly fast—to the corner, around it, and away.

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Flickr a Week 22a: ‘I Can’t Breathe’

The entry previously planned for today is now queued for mid-July, which reveals just how far in advance posts are prepared. I made the change around 9 p.m. PDT last evening, to make place for a provocative and timely street portrait by Miki Jourdan. Reason: Protests, riots, looting, and property destruction are underway in major metropolitans across the United States; Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, MinneapolisNew York, and Washington, DC are among them. City-wide curfew is underway in LA, as I write, while Minnesota’s governor has mobilized the National Guard to the Twin Cities.

The incendiary that set the country ablaze was the death of George Floyd, an African-American man arrested six days ago for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill and who died in police custody, while Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on the victim’s neck. The tinder is much more than racial tension; many millions of Americans already are frustrated by “stay-at-home” and “social distancing” orders; closing of most businesses and all schools; cancellation of many summer events; and sudden, explosive unemployment—sacrifices meant to slow spread of  SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19. What had been economic and viral pandemics adds another: violence.

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Flickr a Week 17b: ‘COVID-19’

With much of the United States largely still shut down to combat the viral pandemic, cities look more like post-apocalyptic movie sets and little resemble bustling bastions of human habitation. Self-titled “COVID-19“—also known as SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—captures the loneliness with foreboding colors, punchy contrast, and captivating composition. At any other time, the street shot would beg questions: “Why is he wearing a mask?” “Is that cosplay for the comic book convention?” Here and now, we know—and the dude’s protective gear impresses compared to the bandanas and home-made face coverings many of us wear.

Chris Yarzab captured the moment on March 26, 2020, using Nikon D80 and 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 lens. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 110mm. There are different street-shooting styles. While many photographers get close to their subjects, such as zone-focus adherents, others reach from afar to produce their art; like Chris. Besides, the long-shot also adheres to strict “social distancing” guidelines. The portrait was taken in Panorama City, which is a Los Angeles neighborhood.

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Garbage Day

Trash and recycle collection is underway throughout San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood—and, whoa, is it needed. The cans overflow like I’ve not ever seen in the nearly 13 years living here. Shouldn’t surprise with most stores closed and Californians ordered to stay at home (e.g., “shelter-in-place“). Damn the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—aka COVID-19pandemic for the catastrophe unleashed on communities, counties, and countries across the globe. As asked three weeks ago: “I Wonder Which Will Flatten First: Us or the Curve?

The Featured Image (warning: 25MB file), taken on March 31, 2020 using Leica Q2, shows what happens with some of the refuse. The pizza box is one of three stuffed in a hedge. Seriously? Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 125, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 11:16 a.m. PDT.  The companion shot, from the same camera yesterday, gives glimpse of overflowing cans that typically wouldn’t be. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 4:25 p.m.

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From Fallen Flowers the Taco Truck Rises

The Taco Truck is a daily fixture, typically gathering a constant line of customers nearly all day long, at the corner of Meade and Texas in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. But after California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide “stay-at-home” order on March 19, 2020, the food service operation vanished—for more than three weeks. I wondered why given that eateries offering delivery or take-out were permitted to stay open. What’s not take-away about a food truck serving burritos and tacos?

A few days before April 12, when I shot the Featured Image, the Mexican meals-on-wheels reappeared, but without standing tables alongside for customers and with a whiteboard upon which was scribbled a phone number to place orders to be picked up at the window. I suppose selling something is better than nothing, despite the stolen ambience and charm that made the place popular plus—that is festive and social, and, of course, good eating.

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Complacency Can Kill You

For the second consecutive day, I broke quarantine. Yesterday, my wife and I took a chance drive to Costco Business Center, hoping to grab a few extra bulk items. Each grocery trip risks exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), also known as COVID-19. Luckily, the warehouse was fairly calm, and we were able to purchase most of what we wanted—and items that could be precious should there be prolonged lockdown, or worse, panic in the streets. That was supposed to be the last supply run. Except…

Last night, a discovery: The pet grass that I planted for the cats had developed mold, and growing a new batch would take days. So, this morning, I walked 2.3 km (1.4 miles) to Ralph’s supermarket, which sells the same brand: Priscilla’s. Along the way, I counted the number of people passed to see which ones wore a face covering. The results stunned. Fifteen percent, which is a dramatic decrease from a few days ago. What changed?

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Let the Kids Play

Something puzzles me, or did until seeing the scene that became the Featured Image. Today, I observed several family groups—parents and youngsters of various ages—walking around the neighborhood. We’re talking four or more people slowly moving down the sidewalk. I wondered: “Why today? Why not on other days? Are they bored being stuck inside, observing the “shelter-in-place” order?” By taking over a sidewalk, they impede other folks also seeking fresh air and exercise—and they draw attention, presumably silent complaint from many passersby, because of their numbers.

The answers to all the questions are one, and I am troubled by it. As my wife and I approached Trolley Barn Park this afternoon, we could see yellow “Caution” tape flapping in the wind. The entire thing had been cordoned off, with extra warning wrapped around the kids play area. The barrier wasn’t there yesterday, and its placement partly explains why I see more parents and children roaming about. The safest place for them to be, when not inside their residences, is what the city/county closed down.

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I Wonder Which Will Flatten First: Us or the Curve?

Today, the global number of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), also known as COVID-19, infections topped 1 million and 50,000 deaths. As I write, based on data collated by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University: 1,015,709 confirmed cases; 211,615 recovered; 53,069 dead.

One month ago, there were eight reported Novel Coronavirus cases in the United States. This moment, according to John Hopkins: 245,213. The dramatic rise is part increased testing, part exponential community spread of the virus. This USA Today headline, regarding April 1, makes the point better than I could: “More than 1,000 in US die in a single day from Coronavirus, doubling the worst daily death toll of the flu”. That number doesn’t include collateral casualties—people who, being treated for something else, might otherwise have lived if not for overwhelmed hospitals in hot zones like New York.