Cowboys, the homeless, and 6000 neuroscientists.

The human world is complex. I suppose that’s due in large part to the contradictory impulses and plasticity of the human mind.

A big city like San Diego is filled with this often disconcerting complexity.

My walk around downtown today was a little more interesting than usual. Cowboys, symbols of rugged individualism and freedom, had gathered in the Gaslamp Quarter for the annual Fall Back Festival, an event that celebrates the Old West and early history of San Diego. Meanwhile, 6000 neuroscientists attending the big Society for Neuroscience conference at the convention center were sharing sidewalks with San Diego’s large homeless population.

Seeing that particular combination all together–cowboys, neuroscientists and homeless people–fired up a few billion neurons in my own mysterious brain. And stirred emotions.

So many human values, often in conflict.

Every so often a small work of fiction bubbles out of my brain.

If you enjoy reading, you might click Short Stories by Richard.

Dancers portray the homeless in San Diego.

Audience looks down with expectation as a dancer portrays a homeless person during the first stage of 2018 Trolley Dances at Hazard Center.
Audience looks down as a dancer portrays a homeless person during the first stage of 2018 Trolley Dances at Hazard Center.

This morning I watched the first dance of the 2018 Trolley Dances at Hazard Center shopping mall. This unique annual event is a production of the San Diego Dance Theater.

Arriving early, I stood a couple of floors above the outdoor performance, and let my eyes wander about as I took in the entire scene.

The first dance portrayed the homeless. As the invisible curtain rose, dancers, who sat alone among their scant possessions, rose and converged in a dizzy, tragic performance.

Two male dancers tussled over a shopping cart, but that seemed to be the extent of their malice. The twisting dance showed troubled souls coming together, having a moment of hope and happiness, raising each other up before departing to go their separate ways.

After the first dance ended, I followed the mobile audience as they were led west down the nearby San Diego River Trail to the next outdoor stage. Chairs were set up short of the place where Highway 163 crosses Mission Valley.

I continued walking. What I saw thereafter wasn’t part of the program.

As the audience gathers on the south side of the Hazard Center shopping mall, one performer appears be homeless, sitting alone.
As the audience gathers on the south side of the Hazard Center shopping mall, one performer appears be homeless, sitting alone.
The gathered audience awaits the first outdoor dance of 2018 Trolley Dances.
The gathered audience awaits the first outdoor dance of 2018 Trolley Dances.
The performance begins, and another dancer rushes on to the stage.
The performance begins, and another dancer rushes onto the stage.
Dancers converge in front of the audience. The dance portrays different people who are homeless.
Dancers converge in front of the audience. The raw, disturbing dance portrays the lives of different people who are homeless.
Dancers move about fluidly, showing a variety of emotions, including pain, loss, uncertainty, anger, hopelessness.
Dancers move about fluidly, showing a variety of emotions, including pain, loss, uncertainty, anger, hopelessness.
A shopping cart is a focal prop. Seen from above, it is actually empty.
A shopping cart is a focal prop. Seen from above, it is empty.
Performers tussle over the shopping cart, while a nearby couple dances.
Performers tussle briefly over the shopping cart, while a nearby couple dances.
The dancers spread out and face the audience.
The dancers spread out and face the audience.
The dancers move together, as if suddenly animated by a unifying energy.
The dancers move together, as if suddenly animated by a unifying energy.
One dancer is raised up by the others.
One dancer is raised up by the others.

The dancers exit the stage by struggling up two sets of stairs at Hazard Center.
The dancers finally exit the stage, struggling up sets of stairs at Hazard Center.
They return to take their bow. There is great applause.
They return to take their bow. There is great applause.
The dancers collapse and lie on the concrete.
The dancers collapse and lie on the concrete.
This performance is over.
This performance is over.
The audience will be led across the street and on to the next nearby dance location, on the path by the San Diego River.
The audience will be led across the street and on to the next nearby dance location, on the path by the San Diego River.
What the audience did not see. An empty drug baggie as the bottom of some stairs behind Hazard Center. Very few people use these particular stairs.
What the audience did not see. An empty drug baggie at the bottom of some stairs behind Hazard Center. Very few people use these particular stairs.
The audience heads west along the San Diego Trolley tracks.
The audience heads west along the San Diego Trolley tracks.
The mobile Trolley Dances audience is guided through a short stretch of Mission Valley along the San Diego River toward the next unique stage.
The mobile Trolley Dances audience is guided through a short stretch of Mission Valley along the San Diego River toward the next unique stage.
Empty chairs and graffiti on a construction wall await at the next Trolley Dance stage.
Empty chairs and graffiti on a construction wall await at the next Trolley Dances stage.
This is as far down the path the audience would venture.
That is as far down the path the audience would venture.
Had they proceeded farther, they would have reached a place where many homeless gather--in shadowy places beneath Highway 163.
Had they proceeded farther, they would have reached a place where many homeless gather and take shelter–in shadowy places beneath Highway 163.

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!

How homeless people can get help in San Diego.

Are you homeless?

During a period of my life, many years ago, I was also homeless.

When I was young I suffered from terrible depression. For reasons I’ll keep to myself, my life was incredibly painful. I threw everything away. I just about gave up.

Fortunately, there was a part inside me that never surrendered to the darkness. As I grew older, I found positive ways to overcome my depression.

I know there are many who are homeless and hurting in San Diego. If you happen to be homeless, for whatever reason, and you’d like a helping hand, I’ve learned about a great way to get help.

There’s a phone number that you can call confidentially to get lots of information. That phone number is 211.

Call 211 any time of the day or night and a friendly person will answer who can help you in different ways. The people at 211 are hooked up with over 6,000 community resources, and can assist callers in over 200 languages.

They know all about the shelters around San Diego and what you can do to get off the street. They know where to get medical help, help for emergencies, places to get food, legal help, help to overcome addiction, help for runaways, help for those who’ve been victims of violence, help for veterans who are experiencing a rough time . . . help for all sorts of difficulties that many people face in life. Call 211 and someone will assist you. It’s completely confidential.

If you don’t want to talk to anyone, you can also visit the 211 website by clicking here. Check it out and give the possibilities some thought.

I can say from personal experience that you should never give up hope. Even if your life seems completely hopeless, a path is always there to a brighter, better future. Always.

Real-life superheroes help San Diego homeless!

Visitor to San Diego Comic-Con takes a photo with The Nyght, patrol leader of the Xtreme Justice League, a group of real superheroes in San Diego.
Visitor to San Diego Comic-Con takes a photo with The Nyght, patrol leader of the Xtreme Justice League, a group of real superheroes in San Diego.

Today I was walking around outside San Diego Comic-Con when I met a real-life superhero. His name is The Nyght. He’s a member of the Xtreme Justice League.

The Xtreme Justice League began in San Diego, but now has superheroes operating around the country. Their primary mission is to help local communities stay safe.

These volunteer superheroes, wearing outlandish protective garb, are highly trained for what they do. They conduct safety patrols in rough neighborhoods and offer a variety of public safety services. They report dangerous activity that they observe to law enforcement. They strive to provide positive role models for at-risk youth. They oppose vigilantism–they believe in compassion, nonviolence, volunteerism and heroism.

They also work to help the homeless.

Tomorrow–Saturday July 21, 2018–members of Xtreme Justice League from all around the country will converge in Balboa Park’s Pepper Grove to help San Diego’s homeless. Their event is from 10:30 am to 2:00 pm. If you’d like to help them out, they accept donations of items such as individual tissue packs, socks, sunglasses, water bottles, sunscreen and sleeping bags.

You can learn more about who the Xtreme Justice League is, and what they do by visiting their website here!

The Xtreme Justice League works to increase community safety. They encourage residents to become involved in helping the homeless and reducing crime.
The Xtreme Justice League works to increase community safety. They encourage residents to become involved in helping the homeless and reducing crime. Be your own hero!
The Nyght tells me a little about the Xtreme Justice League, and how they and their members from around the country will help the homeless this Saturday in Balboa Park.
The Nyght tells me a little about the Xtreme Justice League, and how they and their members from around the country will help the homeless this Saturday in Balboa Park.

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!

Are you a blogger? Do you want to help make the world a better place? You might want to join Bloggers Lifting Others Generously.

A discouraging visit to Harbor Island.

Early this morning I headed to Harbor Island, hoping to capture photos of the sun rising over downtown San Diego. Alas, the sky remained gray and overcast.

Even worse, I observed something that was ugly and very discouraging.

I’ve never seen gang-style graffiti on Harbor Island. Not until today.

Harbor Island, the home of large bayfront hotels, elegant restaurants and marinas, has always seemed immune from any negative influences from downtown San Diego. Growing homeless and drug problems downtown and in neighboring communities haven’t seemed to reach this tourist destination. That appears to be changing.

I seldom post photos of the street people, the drug addicts and drug dealers on stolen bicycles, and the many broken souls that now fill most corners of downtown. I try to keep my blog positive. But this extremely sad and sometimes frightening reality seems to be growing worse.

Fortunately, on my quiet morning walk along San Diego Bay, I also saw much that was beautiful and good.

And I discovered something cool! Fun photos of some colorful artwork on Harbor Island are coming up in my next blog post!

On the bright side, this friendly guy caught some fish at one of the beautiful Harbor Island marinas.
On the bright side, this friendly guy caught some fish at one of the beautiful Harbor Island marinas.
And grass is still green, and flowers still bloom.
And grass is still green, and flowers still bloom.

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!

Walking forward through life, or a dream.

Color in the sky above downtown San Diego.
Color in the sky above downtown San Diego.

Here are photos from different walks the past couple of weeks.

It’s odd–how every living experience instantly vanishes, becomes intangible: an insubstantial memory. I look at these photographs and my days seem so ephemeral. Our walk through life is very much like a dream.

Garbage truck lifts dumpster in front of the San Diego Symphony's Joan and Irwin Jacobs Music Center.
Garbage truck lifts dumpster in front of the San Diego Symphony’s Joan and Irwin Jacobs Music Center.
Working on the street near Sixth and Broadway.
Guys working on the street near Sixth and Broadway.
Someone rides a dockless rental bike down the sidewalk after an early morning shower.
Someone rides a dockless rental bike down the sidewalk after an early morning shower.
Wichita State band members by downtown hotel gets instruments ready for their NCAA basketball tournament game that was held at SDSU's Viejas Arena.
Wichita State band members by downtown hotel, getting their instruments ready for an NCAA basketball tournament game held at SDSU’s Viejas Arena.
Having a friendly chat while walking the dog on the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade.
Having a friendly chat while walking the dog on the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade.
Picking up litter on railroad tracks.
Picking up litter on railroad tracks.
A tree's reflection in windows.
A tree’s mysterious, golden reflection in windows.
A gull soars above downtown San Diego buildings.
A gull soars above downtown San Diego buildings.
A TV news van is parked by the Hall of Justice one evening.
A TV news van is parked by the Hall of Justice one evening.
Walking along in the Gaslamp near Bub's.
Holding hands in the Gaslamp Quarter near Bub’s.
Homeless man walks through life with his stuff.
Homeless man walks through life with his stuff.
Man in kilt, smoking a pipe, relaxes in Seaport Village on St. Patrick's Day.
Man in kilt, smoking a pipe, relaxes in Seaport Village on St. Patrick’s Day.
Fishing in the Marriott Marina. A friendly wave from folks who work at Hookup Baits, my work neighbors.
Fishing in the Marriott Marina. A friendly smile and thumbs up from folks who work at Hookup Baits, my work neighbors.
Looking down from the Harbor Drive pedestrian bridge at the train and trolley yard.
Looking down from the Harbor Drive pedestrian bridge at the train and trolley yard.
People linger high above the city on the 9th floor of the Central Library.
People linger high above the city on the 9th floor of the Central Library.
A view over East Village construction toward mountains in San Diego's East County.
A view over East Village construction toward mountains in San Diego’s East County.
Feeding birds at the library one fine day.
Feeding birds at the library one fine day.

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!

Mysterious visions underfoot.

Blue face of a dog, afire with red nightmares, with eyes that are haunting.
A dog’s face–a small work of haunting chalk art.

As I journey through the city I often see mysterious visions underfoot, produced by unknown hands. They are the dreams of wandering souls, made visible.

Dreams of the searchers . . . the restless . . .

Wherever you happen to walk, countless others have walked.

Free Yourself, with a heart.
Free yourself, with a heart.
Grace, on a step among leaves.
Grace, one step up from fallen leaves.

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!