Tag: culture

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Yeah, Let’s Lower Old Glory to Honor Them

Since the disastrous defeat in Afghanistanself-imposed, but denied, by the current Administration in Washington, D.C.—I have observed a number of American flags flying half-mast in my neighborhood of University Heights. The question: Why aren’t they all?

San Diego is still very much a military town, and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is located in the Northern section of the county. Nine Marines and a Sailor stationed there were killed in the Kabul Airport bombing about 10 days ago. The White House ordered half-staff flags for the fallen heroes—yeah, let’s lower Old Glory to honor them. So why are only a few of my neighbors doing so—again, remembering the area’s military heritage, the Navy, especially.

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Graffiti? Message? Warning?

What a surprise is this. While walking in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood today, I spotted the oddest thing: The pictured graphic and text on a utility pole at Monroe and Utah. Is that sign meant to alert Antifa members? During last year’s racial riots and protests, I frequently passed persons all-black-clad—the group’s de facto uniform—hanging about some University Heights streets, presumably waiting for rides.  Seeing such scribbling, self-labeled anti-fascists would know where to gather—or maybe the scrawling is nothing more than graffiti.

I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 2:47 p.m. PDT. In post-production, I over-saturated purple and red; sunlight had faded both colors.

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Garbage In, Garbage Out

Yesterday, a homeless dude slept on this sofa when I walked by. Today, somebody surely seems determined to discourage his return. That is, unless he stacked up the recyclable refuse to protect his siesta spot. I observed the jacket with him when sauntering past and respectively choosing not to take his photo.

Best I can do is the Featured Image, and companion, both captured using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set for both: f/8, ISO 400, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 9:13 a.m. PDT.

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An Independence Day Reflection

I can’t attest to other San Diego neighborhoods, but University Heights has undergone dramatic, observable changes since start of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns in mid-March 2020. Many of the older, long-time residents sold their homes during the bubble boom and much younger folks—many of them couples with small children—moved in; more new renters can be seen than buyers, and a good number of the arrivals are Northern California escapees.

The question: How much does the demographic shift affect observable patriotic behavior—and, perhaps, installation of a more liberal administration in Washington, D.C. diminishing Donald Trump’s brand of rah-rah Americanism? I ask because this Fourth of July noticeably differs from every other seen since our first here in 2008. Most notable: The significantly smaller number of U.S. flags hanging from houses or multi-unit dwellings and absence from Park Blvd, which is the main business street. Other reasons may include progressives’ success spotlighting the country’s racial wrongs. Dunno, but I can say that this year’s celebration is muted—more so than even during pandemic lockdowns. Also observed: A surge in rainbow flags, which considerably outnumber the Stars and Stripes—that, too, diverges from all previous years.

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The Bicycle

My wife typically goes to bed and rises earlier than do I. When getting up to feed the cats, Cali and Neko, Annie saw bicycle handlebars sticking up behind a parked car; about 3:30 a.m. PDT. She assumed that one of the apartment building’s other tenants had a visitor who left the bike locked on the sidewalk. But daylight revealed a wayward fixed-speed roadster, apparently abandoned and unlocked. We both wondered where it came from and how in a neighborhood rife with bicycle thieves no one had ridden off with the thing.

Someone stole two of our then three bikes from a locked garage, in February 2010. Annie sees frequent posts on Nextdoor about bikes taken from behind locked fences or about neighbors reporting random two-wheeler chop shops. We wondered where the women’s rider came from. Perhaps someone, ah-hum, borrowed—then abandoned—it?

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The Discarded Sentiment

What demonstration marched through the neighborhood unbeknownst to me? While walking with my wife through the alley separating Alabama and Florida streets, I stopped to wonder about the forlorn placard that is the Featured Image. I captured a single photo using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 4:33 p.m. PDT, today.

The message piqued my interest—and as a photographic object, I liked the mood created by bands of light shining through the fence. For your edification (and mine), according to Wikipedia: Yellow Peril “is a racist color-metaphor that represents the peoples of East Asia as an existential danger to the Western world”. Yikes!

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I Won’t Go Soft on Hard Seltzer

Before the Wilcoxes relocated to California from Maryland some thirteen-and-a-half years ago, I generally replaced soda with a couple tablespoons of apple juice mixed with a 12-ounce can of seltzer (e.g., carbonated water). But finding the bubbly proved to be really challenging in SoCal. A few stores stocked seltzer in quart-size plastic bottles but no cans and for considerably higher price than what we paid back East.

Then came LaCroix’s bold brand turnaround early in the last decade. Packaging makeover and consumer rage against sugary soda won over mainstream Millennials, ultimately leading to a seltzer surge—whether measured by increased number of brands, flavors, or sales. That’s good for me, now a drinker of straight seltzer; no juice added by my hands or artificial flavors by bottlers.

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Pandemic Pollution

What a difference a year makes. In April 2020, when SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), which causes COVID-19, seemed so dire and face masks were so difficult to find, I wrote about the perils of not wearing one—illustrated with a rare, discarded protective covering. Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks, or social distance, in most situations—meaning: “except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance”.

Long before the unexpected change to pandemic public policy, just two days ago, face masks could be found littered all about the County. San Diego Union-Tribune spotlighted the debris along beaches in July 2020; early last month, ABC News reported that “discarded masks litter beaches worldwide, threaten sea life“; the local CBS affiliate, reporting about the April 24, 2021 “19th-annual ‘Creek to Bay Clean-up'”, explained that there has been a surge in ‘single-use plastics”— and the “biggest offender? PPE [Personal Protective Equipment], especially masks”.

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One Woman’s Treasure

A few days ago, an overstuffed beanbag—suitable for someone of great heft—appeared in the alley between Alabama and Mississippi at Monroe in University Heights. San Diego residents frequently leave unwanted things for foragers to take. What’s that saying about one person’s trash being another’s treasure?

Today, my wife and I happened to pass by, seeing a new addition: The Vitamaster Slendercycle prominently placed in the Featured Image and companions. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 9:50 a.m. PDT. The second, composed as shot, is 1/200 sec, 9:51 a.m. I used Leica Q2 for both. The last, added after posting, is a closer crop of the first.

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A Plea for Continued Relevance

On March 1, 2021, as I walked along University Ave. in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood, a huge banner beckoned my attention. I frequently see signs like this in apartment and house windows but nothing this large nor with Still added. I used iPhone XS to snap the companion to the Featured Image, which I captured the next day with Leica Q2 Monochrom. Vitals for the smartphone shot, which is composed as taken: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/761 sec, 52mm (film equivalent); 9:05 a.m. PST. For the camera, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 200, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 10:27 a.m.

Why is such a banner, with Still added, seen as necessary? The trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is underway in Minneapolis. He is implicated in the death of George Floyd, whose alleged homicide sparked racial riots and protests in the city and across the country—with loud voices crying “defund the police” and “no justice, no peace”. Nearly ten months later, Americans have largely stopped rallying for racial reckoning—and the organization that gathered them before isn’t yet, if it ever will, marshaling masses together. Black lives still matter, but the movement apparently does not.

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Why is Hollywood Obsessed with Viral Armageddon?

I really want to know. That sentence, the title, and a short list of TV Shows about viral epidemics is as far as this post proceeded when I started it on April 26, 2016. I meant to come back many times over the nearly five years since and really regret the failure following the World Health Organization’s declaration of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

Still contemplating writing this essay, but not getting to it, I shot and edited the Featured Image on June 11, 2017. San Diego’s Museum of Man (since then renamed to “Us”) featured exhibit “Cannibals: Myth & Reality”. With so many of the virus movies or TV series focused on Zombie apocalypses, the exhibit artwork seemed so perfect illustration. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec, 28mm; 2:07 p.m. PDT, Leica Q.

Half a decade later, I wonder: How much did pandemic feature films and TV shows create soil for COVID-19 to grow into a state of global fear—and, as I will opine in six days, far exceeds the real risk posed to the majority of people; whether or not they are infected? Surely, you can guess my answer.