Category: Culture

Read More

Need a Lyft?

Ahead of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic leading to California’s statewide shutdown, electric scooters suddenly vanished from many San Diego County communities. Local governments didn’t want the things cluttering the streets. But, as life returns to some semblance of normalcy, scooters creep back onto the streets, something like cockroaches emerging from Nuclear Winter.

Still, sightings are rare enough in my neighborhood that today I was surprised to see this lone Lyft parked at Alabama and El Cajon, where sits BLVD North Park, which is located in University Heights. If you can’t build real estate in the location you want, pretense naming is your solution.

Read More

Give Peace a Chance to Bring Justice

This morning, while walking from the Point in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, I passed by a dove placidly perched on a wooden fence. The bird looked somewhat scrawny, and I wondered if even weakened—for it made no attempt to flee when I turned back with Leica Q2, stopped, manually focused, and captured the Featured Image. Surely there is a metaphor here somewhere.

Racial riots rage across swathes of the country, months after the first ones in late May 2020: Chicago, Ill., Kenosha, Wisc., Minneapolis, Minn., Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash. are among the cities stricken by arson and looting. Today, in D.C., on the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s “I Have a Dream” speech, thousands of protesters rallied for racial equality and against violence during The Commitment March. Afternoon stormy weather and heavy rains dampened activities, which, more or less, came to a soggy end by early evening. Mmmm, is there another metaphor there?

Read More

Going Postal

Among Americans, few institutions, and the services provided, are as meaningful as the United States Post Office. The Second Continental Congress created the U.S. postal system on July 26, 1775—nearly a year before the Colonies formally declared national independence from Britain—and chose Benjamin Franklin as the first postmaster general. Living generations, even the youngest among them, share some emotional experience from receiving, or sending, mail. The card from grandma is a tangible expression of her love for you. Delivery of an online-ordered package—and every other one before it—is a moment of anticipation and joy. Feelings about the mail are entrenched, and within our society they are universally shared.

We put faith in the Post Office and its capacity to deliver our mail. But now, Democrat politicians and their supporters assert that our faith is misplaced—that we cannot trust the USPS, because the Trump Administration conspired to  disrupt postal operations to tamper with this year’s Presidential election. The allegations exploded like a supernova—seemingly from invisibility—not long after the President raised concerns that universal mail-in ballot initiatives, like the one here in California, would lead to voter fraud. Trump’s Democrat rivals assert that cost-cutting streamlining of postal operations and recent slowdown of mail processing are evidence of his interference to steal your vote.

It’s non sequitur. One thing has little to do with the other. Donald Trump is a longstanding critic of the USPS as it exists today—way before the brouhaha about mail-in ballots—and there are legitimate concerns that existing postal logistical capabilities and various states’ voting rules will lead to electoral chaos. But as a political maneuver, Democrats have whacked a hornet’s nest of emotional attachment to mail that already stings the President.

Read More

Who is Watching You?

Be not fooled. We live in a surveillance society. I am not paranoid, nor even freaked by this startling situation. I merely take for granted that someone, somewhere, is watching—perhaps from a business’ security camera, household door webcam, or citizen’s smartphone.

Occasionally, though, surveillance severity surprises me. And I wonder: From what is the watcher afraid—or, worse, what is he or she hiding? The Featured Image is one example. I frequently walk by this house and marvel because the windows are so appealing but typically blocked by blinds or curtains. Who lives in such darkness? Vampires? On Aug. 18, 2020 something else rapped my attention—and I can’t say whether or not newly added. Look at those industrial-size security cameras. Yikes!

Read More

What Does Popular Music Tell Us About Race in America?

Someone please explain this to me—seeing as I am an older white guy who is supposedly clueless about social justice matters. Today, I moseyed over to the Billboard Hot 100 to see where ranked controversial Cardi B song “WAP”, which is shorthand for “Wet-Ass Pussy”. The tune is Number One its only week on the chart. That’s an impressive debut.

Unexpectedly, I am perplexed by the other nine, in context of racial riots raging across the country; protesters demanding “no justice, no peace“; and U.S. representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) calling for “unrest in the streets“. Among the Top 10 songs, seven are from artists of color (the majority men); one is from a mixed-race troupe;  and two are from white male solo singers. If anyone is looking for someplace where there is black representation, look no further.

Read More

CLAWS Dig In

We follow up my neighborhood’s lone Trump-Pence 2020 sign with something even more surprising: Black flag that is the Featured Image, which I captured using iPhone XS on August 16. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/1229 sec, 52mm (film equivalent); 11:51 a.m. PDT. The tabby nicknamed Ranger from my “Cats of University Heights” series lives in the same residence.

Have feline families formed a coalition against racism? Nope. It’s the meeting of art, entrepreneurism, and opportunity. “CLAWS is not a group or organization, it’s my idea/message/statement/artwork/design”, creator Ryan Patterson explains on his Cat Magic Punks page. “If you love cats and are against white supremacy, you’re part of it!”

Read More

The Strong Arms of Defiance

Around the corner from where was the Urban Pumpkin is the local gym, which closed during California Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom’s first state-shuttering order in mid-March 2020 but has since defied the second shutdown, started July 13, that restricts indoor activities at many commercial businesses and institutions (like churches). Four days ago, San Diego County issued an order for the “immediate closure of Boulevard Fitness”; compliance “may be enforced by the San Diego Police Department”.

In meaningless sense of solidarity—the way flabby, beer-gut spectators feel good when watching their favorite sports team compete and win—I have checked daily for more than a month to see if the gym is open, silently cheering that it was. But on a Monday morning, following the “cease and desist” order, would Boulevard Fitness welcome patrons of exercise and good health?

Read More

I Quit Nextdoor AGAIN

For the third time since joining the so-called neighborhood social network in August 2017, I write about leaving. Previously: October 2018 and July 2019. Pandemic, pets (lost ones), police, politics, and protests were all good reasons to make 2020 a grand return. Every week passes like a lifetime this year. Many of us are confined to our residences or street, because of “shelter-in-place” and “social-distancing” orders; fear of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19—infection; work-from-home requirements; job loss; or school closures. Nextdoor was a way to connect and to stay informed.

But, today, I unceremoniously deactivated my account, once more, because the mandatory “Good Neighbor Pledge” offends me. The thing popped up when I opened the News Feed—first time, this morning. To read, or do anything else, means acknowledging “I agree”. I don’t.

Read More

The Incident at Texas and University

Last night, as I pulled into Pizza Hut’s parking lot, a lady driving a SUV blocked my way. While plenty of spaces were available, she chose to wait for one right in front of the store. There, a most ramshackle man lean-lifted a walker—one without wheels—slowly advancing between the painted lines towards the sidewalk. He was so weather-worn and browned from the San Diego sun, his race wasn’t identifiable. There are people who panhandle and pretend to be homeless, but not this gent. He was beaten down and bent over,  pushing snail-like forward. He genuinely lived on the streets.

Eventually, he cleared past, and the lady parked, allowing me passage to do likewise. Because of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic, the Hut only allows one customer to enter; others wait outside. By the time I advanced on the door, the chonky SUV driver had gone inside and a petite younger woman stood before me. While waiting, I observed two unexpected happenings.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.