Category: Culture

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Defying COVID-19 Mandates

Today, international news media report that uncharacteristic—and possibly unprecedented—protests are underway across China (See BBC, Guardian, Sky NewsThe Times). Citizens are reportedly taking to the streets because of the government’s zero-SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 policy, which  has brought sweeping, but irregular, lockdowns across some of the country’s regions.

Going on for nearly three years, the restrictions, which include literally locking residents into high-rise apartment buildings as means of combating Coronavirus outbreaks, are as oppressive and severe as the first massive quarantines implemented in late January 2020. While the rest of the world moves to living with an endemic disease, China maintains a pandemic public health policy.

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Elf Tree Peace

Typically, homeless hang out on the sidewalks along the walls outside Sprouts supermarket, located at the intersection of Georgia and Howard in San Diego neighborhood University Heights. As such I wouldn’t have seen—or been able to take the Featured Image of—the tree-hanging lucky charm, whether he be leprechaun or Santa’s elf (you tell me which). But yesterday, the space was uncharacteristically unoccupied.

What a difference 24 hours makes. This afternoon, when I strolled by: One gent lay sleeping, wrapped in a brown blanket. Someone else huddled under a makeshift habitat, of which bicycle hubs were part of the structure. Another fellow crumpled cans collected from recycle bins; he worked from garbage bags carried in, and hanging from, a shopping cart. I couldn’t see the tree, or what was on it.

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Turn a Page

For the longest time, I have wanted to explore Maxwell’s House of Books—and yesterday opportunity presented after Annie and I bought Bible and C.S. Lewis set at the Christian shop a few blocks away. No bookstore can be found in my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights, but La Mesa, Calif. has two downtown. Shucks. We are so denied.

You gotta love a chiding George Orwell quote warning anyone who dares to go inside. Given the state of American politics, we’re all accomplices. We entered to see 18-year-old black cat Rorschach cross our path. (Gulp, is that bad luck?) The kitty has his own calendar, which could be yours for fifteen bucks.

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Sonic Boom of Behavioral Change

Around lunchtime today, when walking home from Von’s supermarket with cheap canned cat food, I got a hankering for a Sonic burger. We rarely eat out and the fast-food place was one of my father-in-law’s favorites. I thought to simultaneously see how the take-out experience has changed and to venture down memory lane. Surprise doesn’t enough express what I found or—stated differently—didn’t.

I stepped inside the restaurant to see chairs stacked on tables in fashion to cordon off most of the dining room. The menu screens were dark, as was the overall ambience. I could enter because roller-skating servers (e.g. carhops) exit through the same doors to deliver meals to parked vehicles. I vamoosed.

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The Problem with Mail-in Ballots

A truly momentous Red Wave washed across the country during yesterday’s Midterm elections—just not the one that many people expected. Today, the faces of pollsters and pundits are flush with embarrassment after Republicans failed to make massive gains in the House of Representatives or also retake the Senate. Forecasts failed.

Why? My hypothesis: Proliferation of mail-in ballots, and expansion of early voting, which fundamentally changes dynamics—such as who and when or influences that affect an individual’s eventual choices. Then there is fraud, but the topic is fraught with so much national denial any suggestion is quickly quashed. So I will abdicate that one for this essay and focus on the others.

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This is Pat

A year or so before China locked down Wuhan because of SARS-CoV-2(severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19, I saw someone rummaging recyclables from bins in an alley. I had a bag of seltzer cans to put out and gave them to the fellow, whom fit my stereotype of a homeless scrounger. But days later, we passed again—and then less than a week later, once more. He was a regular.

When we had amassed more giveaways and he appeared in the alley, I made a delivery and conversation. He wasn’t homeless! He lives here in my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights. He is perfectly housed and also nearly blind. Meet Pat. I wish more people showed as much self-reliance, even without a debilitating handicap.

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Sale Sofa or a New Car?

Few San Diego neighborhoods can compete with Hillcrest for the financial gulf between those with means and others with little or none. People pay beaucoup bucks to live and party in what I unaffectionately call Hellcrest, where the homeless camp or roam rampant and the housed sidestep those who aren’t like someone might a piece of dog poop.

Sofa sale at one of the finer furniture boutiques had me laughing on Oct. 13, 2022. I can’t say which is funnier: The 50-percent discount or the original price—both of which you can see in the Featured Image, which I captured using Leica Q2 Monochrom through the display window. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/100 sec, 28mm; 10:37 a.m. PDT.

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The Green No Deal

The most common consequence of new home ownership in my San Diego neighborhood is the obliteration of the green outdoor space. Perhaps the lawn is replaced with gravel, rocks, or sand. Shrubs and/or trees are chopped down, replaced by fence. The point: This is more typical occurrence than not, which strangely surprises.

For a community where liberal values reign and residents will rail about the dangers of fossil fuels escalating global warming, too little regard is given to the immense importance of grass, flowers, shrubs, and trees that temperate climate, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and increase supply of breathable oxygen. Killing these things that grow and replacing them with cement, gravel, stone, or sand that absorb heat surely contributes to the problem the Green New Deal crowd claims to be concerned about. Can you say contradictory behavior?

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New Poster Child for the Pro-Choice Lobby

As Halloween approaches, decorations proliferate and some become quite elaborate. This caged kid in a tree had me chuckling, earlier today—for elaborate staging and opportunity for me to be snarky. Disclaimer: My sarcasm is sure to offend somebody. If that’s you, please accept my no apology.

Pro-lifers are giddy as a bear slopping honey from a fallen beehive, following the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v Wade. They aren’t too bothered by stings from swarming Pro-choicers, who are losing their minds over the 6-3 decision. Since they are absolutely crazy—uh, crazed—let’s pretend this shrieking girl is their marketing maven—warning about the horror show progeny that you could produce because you can’t legally have a doctor cut it out.

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Urban Camping

Pop-up homeless shelters are increasingly common sights around San Diego, spurred by devastating rents (e.g., many people can’t afford them) and, on Sept. 30, 2022, the end of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19-era eviction moratoriums. Many encampments are hidden away—or, when not, part of a larger grouping; the idea being safety in numbers protects against law enforcement or outraged, eh, housed residents.

So I was surprised, on October 15, to find this publicly placed standalone habitat at Georgia and Howard in University Heights. Climb the brick wall to the right and you will come out in the Sprouts market parking lot. Public library is on the same block.

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The Reader

Five days ago, while walking through San Diego district Hillcrest, I passed a gent reading a newspaper outside the bagel shop at shopping center The Hub. A few meters beyond him, I turned about and backtracked, thinking he could make a good moment. I shot two quickies from the hip, using Leica Q2 Monochrom.

The first is blurry; the second is the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 10:10 a.m. PDT. The candid capture is minimally recomposed and somewhat straightened. I seriously considered presenting a tight, 100-percent crop, which would make the headline—about a fired cop—clearer. Zooming in for a look is your job, should you want it.

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Welcome to Hellcrest

I grit my teeth and put on my persevering personality, whenever need demands walking to neighboring Hillcrest. The atmosphere reeks of hedonism, narcissism, and self-obsession. Physically, the place is dirty, gritty, and seedy—particularly along the main University Avenue corridor and somewhat less Washington Street. The community is considered to be San Diego’s gay district, which couplings confirm and the plethora of rainbow flags or others for various gender identities; fire hydrants, too.

Here’s where someone will accuse me of being homophobic, when I am not: Well-to-do residents who whoop up happy hour and late-night fling fests grimly juxtapose a sizable homeless population. For a community of residents obsessed with all-rights for all genders, the lack of regard—or even sympathy—for people lacking more fundamental rights (life and well-being) is inhumane and, disappointingly, jives with my atmospheric assessment in the previous paragraph. What? Is it liberal values for me but not for thee?