Dvořák, Liszt and laughs on Silent Movie Night!

Where can you listen to exquisitely played classical music, then laugh at absurdly silly slapstick humor . . . all in one sitting?

At Silent Movie Night!

This evening, acclaimed concert organist Clara Gerdes played classical compositions by Dvořák, Duruflé and Liszt on the incomparable Spreckels Organ in Balboa Park. Then immediately after, the audience was laughing uproariously to the gag-filled antics of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton! (Accompanied by organ, of course!)

From the sublime to the absurd. That was the magic of Silent Movie Night at the 34th San Diego International Organ Festival!

You didn’t go? Why not?

Silent Movie Night is one of the most fun events every summer in Balboa Park. A couple thousand happy people fill the benches at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. And it’s free!

So watch for it next year!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

A major Hollywood star’s connection to the Gaslamp.

To Kill a Mockingbird. Moby Dick. The Omen. Cape Fear. Roman Holiday. Twelve O’Clock High. The Boys from Brazil. The Guns of Navarone. Spellbound. The Yearling. Gentleman’s Agreement. On the Beach. The Snows of Kilimanjaro.

Gregory Peck was one of Hollywood’s very biggest stars.

In 1962 he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. During his film career, he received five Best Actor nominations.

Gregory Peck was born in La Jolla. He attended San Diego High School and San Diego State University (then called San Diego State Teacher’s College).

His father, Gregory Pearl Peck, was a chemist and pharmacist–who worked in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Market Street.

The McGurck Block, 1887.

From 1903 to 1984, the Ferris and Ferris Drug Store occupied this building. For a long time it was San Diego’s only all-night drug store and, for a period of time, actor Gregory Peck’s father worked as the night druggist. The building was also used as a post office and as a ticket booth for the Coronado Ferry. The upper rooms of this three-story Italiante [sic] Revival building were used for rented rooms and became known as the Hotel Monroe in 1929.

Gregory Peck with his father, from Photoplay (1945). Public domain photo from Wikimedia Commons.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Top Gun fans vs. reality on USS Midway!

Yesterday a large group of dedicated Top Gun movie fans from a Facebook group visited the USS Midway Museum.

They all were having a blast, some wearing movie-inspired flight suits, checking out exhibits at San Diego’s popular aircraft carrier museum, taking photos near an F-14 Tomcat fighter jet, before heading off to dine at Kansas City Barbeque, where the bar scenes in Top Gun were filmed.

It was interesting to watch their enthusiasm for the classic movie, whose sequel Top Gun: Maverick will be debuting in one week on May 24. I loved the original Top Gun when it came out in 1986, myself!

As I toured the USS Midway yesterday, I noticed a variety of connections the historic aircraft carrier and its present-day museum have to the actual TOPGUN aviator school and its pilots depicted in both the original and upcoming movie.

An F-14 Tomcat on the flight deck of USS Midway. These fighter jets co-starred in the original Top Gun movie, providing exciting, incredible visuals.
A fan group is photographed during their Top Gun Days event aboard USS Midway in San Diego. Three actual Navy pilots pose in front.
Nearby on the flight deck is an F/A-18 Hornet. This fighter jet was used as an adversary during the original Top Gun. The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet will be flown by the characters of Top Gun: Maverick.
One of the pilot ready rooms inside the USS Midway aircraft carrier. VFA-151 Ready Room One is where F-18 pilots gathered for briefing before and after flights.
A look inside USS Midway’s F-18 ready room. During Operation Desert Storm, F-18 Hornets were launched from this long-lived aircraft carrier, which was built at the end of World War II.
What it would have been like sitting in the F-18 ready room. The characters in Top Gun: Maverick are F/A-18E/F Super Hornet pilots, part of a special detachment aboard an aircraft carrier.
White board at front of the ready room, with mission and aircraft details.
An exhibit aboard the USS Midway Museum details the history of TOPGUN, originally the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School located at NAS Miramar, aka Fightertown USA.
Exhibit concerns TOPGUN – The Early Years.
The Navy Fighter Weapons School was established on March 3, 1969 at NAS Miramar in San Diego, California. TOPGUN’s objective was to develop, refine and teach air combat maneuvering tactics and techniques to selected fleet air crews…
Museum exhibit video shows the Tactical Aircrew Combat Training System TACTS in operation.
Visitors to the USS Midway Museum can climb into an F-14 Tomcat cockpit, located on the Hangar Deck.
Maverick call sign painted by the cockpit of the F-14 Tomcat.
The two-seated cockpit’s front seat, where an F-14 pilot sits facing his flight controls. The bubble canopy gives the pilot all-round visibility.
The rear seat of the F-14 cockpit, where Goose in the original Top Gun movie flew. This is where the fighter jet’s Radar Intercept Officer sat.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Evel Knievel’s Stratocycle at Automotive Museum!

The San Diego Automotive Museum is an incredible place every auto enthusiast must visit. In addition to unique and rare cars they have lots of great motorcycles, too!

One motorcycle now on display is Evel Knievel’s “Stratocycle” from the 1977 movie Viva Knievel!

The uniquely modified motorcycle–a Harley Davidson XLCH Custom Sportster–has wings and a rocket-shaped exhaust. The Stratocycle is so cool it was adapted for a popular toy!

It had been several years since I last experienced the San Diego Automotive Museum. The current displays are more awesome than ever. Walking around, your eyes will pop out of your head!

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster.

You might notice I’ve been visiting many local museums the last couple of weeks. I’m taking advantage of the San Diego Museum Council’s “The Big Exchange” reciprocal free admission program. It lasts through May 18, 2022. Learn more here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

World’s longest running IMAX film projector!

The world’s longest running IMAX film projector is on display in San Diego’s Balboa Park. That’s because this venerable old projector operated for 48 years at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center!

Tonight I headed over to the Fleet Science Center to watch The Sky Tonight, a once-a-month astronomy presentation on the giant space-like IMAX dome. As I waited in the theater lobby for the show to begin seating, I noticed the historic projector on display to one side, behind an open curtain.

A gentleman briefly explained the projector’s history. The very durable, then state-of-the-art projector was originally installed in 1973. It was the second IMAX projector made. Apparently nobody knows what became of the first!

When I got home, I found this link to a great article concerning the projector, and its replacement last year with a new, improved IMAX Laser digital video projector.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Unarius Academy of Science students reenact past lives!

A fascinating display in one window of the Unarius Academy of Science in El Cajon shows students engaging in psychodrama, reenacting past-life experiences.

I walked past the Unarius Academy of Science today. It’s located in downtown El Cajon. You might have seen their flying saucer car or the space murals by their parking lot.

According to an educational sign in the window, beginning in the late 1970’s, students were filmed during their elaborate psychodramas to help them recognize and overcome past-life shocks and traumas.

A different display filled this particular window the last time I peered through it, a little over a year ago.

I can’t say I know anyone who has studied here, but no doubt the coursework is just a bit unusual!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

La Mesa’s famous movie history remembered!

In the early 20th century, La Mesa was home to the American Film Manufacturing Company. Some of the most popular movies of the time were filmed around San Diego!

The historic Wolf Building, at 8360 La Mesa Boulevard, has a plaque that recalls how the city was a pioneer in early motion pictures. The American Film Manufacturing Company made this new building and adjacent lot its home from August 1911 to July 1912. They created over one hundred “Flying A” Western “one-reelers” while in La Mesa…

According to this Wikipedia article, Flying “A” made over 150 films in San Diego County. The films were usually western adventures, comedies or an occasional local documentary…

The popular movie actors would make appearances at La Mesa parades and public events.

I’ve photographed the Wolf Building as it appears today. The Corner Store shoppers who haven’t read the nearby plaque probably don’t realize they’re experiencing a bit of motion picture history!

Also, I’ve posted two public domain images. The advertisements from the American Film Manufacturing Company are dated a few years after the studio departed La Mesa for Santa Barbara.

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Spider-Man comes home to San Diego!

The first reviews of Spider-Man: No Way Home are coming in and it’s going to be awesome! By all accounts the movie is going to be an epic multiversal thrill ride that brings laughs, tears, fond memories and cheers! Are you stoked, too?

Did you know that Spider-Man makes his home in San Diego? It sure seems that way. Because I see him in the city frequently. At least, I see a lot of him when Comic-Con comes around!

Enjoy this collection of Spider-Man cosplay photos that I’ve taken over many years of walking around downtown during San Diego Comic-Con. If you’d like to see hundreds of cool photographs of Comic-Con related stuff, just click here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Horrifying scenes in Balboa Park!

Several horrifying scenes were observed by those visiting Balboa Park this evening!

An enormous crowd eagerly watched as Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy and Buster Keaton were frightened out of their wits by a series of absurdly hilarious incidents. All the while accompanied by music from the Spreckels Organ!

Yes, tonight was Halloween Silent Movie Night at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Organist Mark Herman provided musical notes of suspense and humor for three spooky silent films during this last performance of the 33rd San Diego International Organ Festival.

Mark Herman performs over 30 concerts and silent film presentations around the world every year. His international awards and accomplishments are numerous. This was his very first visit to the mighty Spreckels Organ, world’s largest musical instrument!

The organ added emotional flair to the nonstop slapstick action on the screen. Laughter erupted frequently!

How can you not laugh when Laurel & Hardy finally manage to break into a graveyard, then encounter a prankster in a ghostly sheet!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Poster art in Little Italy’s Amici House!

If you’re a fan of poster art, you’ll probably enjoy a visit to the Amici House in Little Italy. A couple of walls are covered with movie, travel and concert posters–all in Italian!

The posters were hung during the COVID-19 pandemic closure.

Yesterday I discovered that the Amici House, which serves the Little Italy community as an event, heritage and visitor center, is open once again!

Come by and enjoy the coffee cart and shady patio outside!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!