Category: Culture

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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!”

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.