Tag: urban photography

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The More You Pay, The More You Will Pay

Funny the things you long for. On Oct. 15, 2021, I shared a photo showing the cost of gasoline as $4.94 a gallon (rounded up) at the Fourth and University Shell station in Hillcrest. Fast forward to today and you pay $6.60 per gallon (again, rounded up). That $1.66 more than the old price—high for the time—seems oh-so affordable now. By the way, cost is 33 percent more than before.

Several large hospitals surround the station, and I got to ask: Is this why medical services—like ambulance—cost so much in San Diego? Yeah, the question is facetious. That said, unless the arm is severed and shooting blood, wrap a tourniquet and drive yourself to Emergency—and hope none of the doctors and nurses treating you filled up at this Shell. Somebody has to pay, and that could be you. Yuck. Yuck.

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Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

Last week, my wife and I drove out to La Mesa, Calif. to reminiscently walk around Grossmont Center, hoping to beat planned changes that could close many of the stores. Eleven months ago, Federal Realty Investment Trust announced acquiring controlling interest in the outdoor shopping mall from San Diego’s Cushman family. But the new owner won’t become sole proprietor for another three years, which will present a “unique opportunity providing an unencumbered ‘blank canvas’ for redevelopment”.

To my relief, most of the long-time tenants remain, even Barnes and Noble—a marvel of retail survival in the era of Amazon electronic and print book online sales dominance. But missing is what I photographically looked for: Flower beds down the center way separating stores. I clearly remember them, if nowhere else, near the Walmart.

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Better Bee Reading

Outside the “1917 House“, where also is the little homes collection, my wife and I came upon something new: cute book-sharing repository. Unlike others around our neighborhood of University Heights, this one doesn’t bear a LittleFreeLibrary label. I’m good what that distinction. This thing is fresh and oh-so Spring. Correction: Early Summer, in San Diego. (The other two seasons are Mid Summer and Late Summer. I know, I know, you don’t have to say it.)

During post-production, I recomposed the Featured Image to give more space to the honeysuckle, which sweet succumbing scent is such a relief from toxic construction dust and stink weed smoke (the latter disgusts my nostrils). Aroma and ambience make Birds, Bees, and Books an appealing pitstop. But do watch out for the stinging insects buzzing by searching for nectar.

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Chopped Before Its Time

While walking West on Monroe Avenue, in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, my wife and I could hear tree cutting as we approached cross-street Georgia. Sure enough, to our left, going towards Mission, a work crew cut and carted two palms. We had to investigate.

As you can see from the Featured Image and companions, all captured using Leica Q2, an extremely healthy-looking palm top is lifted and dumped. I wondered why and what was chopped. Annie and I walk down this street somewhat regularly, not recalling any recent road signs or other indications that the city would destroy more trees.

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Bitter Blue

Earlier today, I came upon a notice warning that my hosting software is using an outdated, meaning unsupported, PHP version. Updating fatally crashed the site—so severely that I couldn’t access via tried-and-true Recovery Mode. Hours later, after reverting versions, the site came back to life. A single plugin presumably toasted everything. With the offender disabled, I will try the newer PHP once again.

But first, I had better fulfill my daily posting goal, which is how we come to the simple Featured Image, which I captured using Leica Q2 on May 13, 2022. I stopped for no particular reason before the flowers, along a sidewalk somewhere near where San Diego neighborhoods North Park and University Heights meet.

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‘Free! To Good Homes!’

Somewhere in my San Diego neighborhood, I passed by these giveaways that aren’t for just anyone. Read the sign. Does your residence rise to the high bar set by “Good Homes” with an exclamation? I couldn’t take anything being among the many unworthy.

There are the makings of a good home, singular, for someone starting out in a first rental, particularly a studio. That’s who would be most worthy recipient. What first furnishings: Sofa, storage rack, pillows, VHS player, cleaning supplies, and more.

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Perspective Highway

During the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns, I got into the bad habit of photographing alleys, buildings, and streets—yeah cats, too—but have yet to get back to people. They have come out of their dwellings, so I have no excuse.

That as preface, I present a pair of photos where humans are present but unseen. Hey, these aren’t self-driving cars. The view looks out from the University Avenue bridge in Hillcrest onto slow-moving traffic along California State Highway 163.

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This is Progress?

I am not obsessed with the construction site at El Cajon Blvd and Louisiana Street, despite the number of recent photos and commentaries about it: Cave’s Grave; Wonder Wall; Shattered Serenity; Postal Convenience Center. My interest is what the project represents to San Diego neighborhoods Hillcrest, North Park, and University Heights, where relaxation of zoning rules is bringing down charming businesses and homes and replacing them with high-rises that are way out of character with the area.

The Featured Image, taken on May 7, 2022 using Leica Q2, captures before, during, and after multi-unit construction. Foreground looks across the aforementioned recent demolition to a four-story residential complex at Mississippi, overlooking the recently relocated Red Fox Steak House.

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Decorating the Cave’s Grave

The demolition site at El Cajon Blvd and Louisiana Street in University Heights returns five days later, because of alterations. Remnants remain of the Cave of Wonders building, but somebody has graffitied over some of the doodle drawings of the still-standing inner wall.

In reviewing the Featured Image, I see another change: The livable-looking property that was to the right behind in my previous shots is gone. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 100, 1/160 sec, 28mm; 4:48 p.m. PDT; Leica Q2.

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We All Need a Smiley Break

Flashback two years, to May 2, 2020: SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns compelled Californians to avoid anyone and to otherwise practice so-called safe social distancing. The seeming hardship would pale compared to racial riots that would erupt weeks later.

One of my neighbors literally put on a happy face—among several encouraging, or funny, street decorations to adorn this University Heights property and/or the sidewalk straddling Meade Avenue. Seems like every time I walked by something different greeted. Thank you.

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The Better Barrier

Across my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights, increasing trend: homeowners surround their front yards with obnoxious fences that while providing privacy create fortress-feeling and block residents’ view of surroundings—and beneficial sunlight. If you want to live in a dungeon, please sell your property to someone who will appreciate the local climate and move elsewhere. Perhaps Chicago, where you can add bars to all the windows, too.

Contrast that to the Featured Image, taken today using Leica Q2. While walking past this hedge, and not for the first time, I stopped to really look at its lovely practicality. The residents have privacy, which includes keeping dogs from peeing or poohing on the lawn, while providing a natural, beautiful barrier for their enjoyment and for other people.

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The Cave of Wonders Wall

New construction is everywhere among several San Diego neighborhoods, following zoning changes meant to encourage multi-unit dwellings. ADUs—so-called accessory dwelling units—add large structures in spaces once considered to be back yards. The spin doctors who sprinkle marketing sugar onto urban renewal medicinals call these buildings Granny Flats. Oh yeah? So why does gran need four to seven residences?

The project at El Cajon Blvd and Louisiana Street is much bigger—and I see similar high-rises, or larger, going up around University Heights, as well as bordering Hillcrest and North Park.