Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Last year, at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park’s annual Fourth of July celebration, diverse people from our community joined together on stage to read parts of the Declaration of Independence.

People from all walks of life, converging from different places, each with their own unique struggles, ambitions and experiences, remembered some of the enduring principles that underlie a free society.

During the event, anyone in the crowd was invited to come up onto the stage to read, and many did.

Of all the photos I took at the event, the above photograph to me is the most powerful.

Even with all of our human differences–the millions of unique personal beliefs and desires that frequently conflict–there are high ideals that are cherished by one and all.

We all want to live. We all want to be free. We all seek happiness.

Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Carving stone and the Blue Granite Shift.

Fascinating public art can be found at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, in the outdoor space between the Concert Hall and the Museum. Scattered among trees and shadows are the stones of the 200-foot Blue Granite Shift, created by artist Mathieu Gregoire in 1995.

At the north end of the installation lie natural, uncarved stones. As you proceed south, the stones are subjected to human action, until they finally become sculpted and polished into smooth geometric forms.

When you walk back and forth through Blue Granite Shift, it’s like moving forward and backward through time, observing how complex natural forms that slowly evolved over eons are abruptly transformed by human ideas and cutting, reducing tools of creativity.

Every stone, touched or untouched by human hand, is part of the larger world, where all things, including the viewer, exist under one sun in a clock-like cycle of shifting shadows.

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!

May love prevail.

This morning, as I walked through downtown to catch the trolley, I observed something near my feet.

I saw litter. I saw a raised fist. I saw the large words: ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE.

May the latter message–the one that promotes love–prevail.

Stonehenge, stacked blocks, and a La Jolla Project.

Looks somehow familiar?

No, this work of art in UC San Diego’s Stuart Collection isn’t titled Stonehenge. But that’s what many students call it.

Environmental artist Richard Fleischner created this monumental public art, La Jolla Project, in 1984. His artwork explores how universal architectural forms might be integrated into a natural setting. For his La Jolla Project, he used stones quarried in New England and cut near Providence, Rhode Island, on the other side of the continent. A whole lot of human calculation and labor was required to create something that appears extremely simple.

To me, it looks like an enormous giant sat down on a green patch of grass and stacked some toy blocks. The blocks are scattered and assembled in several ways, often forming columns, benches and arches. These simple blocks remind the viewer that all architecture–all existing physical matter in fact–can be broken down into the most rudimentary shapes we learn in basic geometry.

As you walk around La Jolla Project, you feel you’ve entered a strange otherworld that is somehow different from ordinary space and time. It’s a place where abstract forms have materialized in a familiar, park-like landscape. Did they descend from the stars? From the hand of a gigantic, playful child? From the realm of pure ideas? (As I think about it, these vertical forms almost appear like words spelled out with an alien alphabet, including a punctuation mark here or there.)

Should you ever visit UC San Diego, wander through this mazy construction and perhaps arrive at your own conclusion.

But first you must find La Jolla Project on the Revelle College lawn south of Galbraith Hall, beside Scholars Drive South, north of the La Jolla Playhouse.

Bring a compass.

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!

The mess of creativity at a beautiful museum.

The creative process is messy. Heaps of old ideas and the peculiar shapes of new ideas are scattered on the ground around a busy creator.

With saw and hammer the pieces are cut and pounded until segments fit together. It’s sort of like a construction site.

In an essay you write for school, in a new work of fiction, a speech, invention, sculpture or painting . . . there are steel beams and two-by-fours, boards of drywall, sharp nails.

I walked past the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s historic La Jolla location yesterday. The already beautiful building is in the process of being altered, enlarged.

Along the construction site fence are images of paintings in the museum’s collection. Beyond the fence, you can see the messy but semi-ordered heaps. It’s a moment in the creative process. Once all the elements of that mess are integrated with creative energy, the finished building will be spectacular.

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!

Complex people in a complex city.

The immense complexity of the city and its people is evident in every one of my walks.

A city is like a small slice of the larger human world. Many individuals heading in different directions, or forward together…talking or silently thinking…interacting in the places where they work, rest, shop, live. You see the complexity in the streets signs and the architecture, in restaurant menus and colorful store windows. You see it on the active sidewalks, in styles of dress, facial expressions, postures of ambition or resignation. A city and its people are too complicated to ever adequately describe.

Much of the complexity rises from the ongoing tangle of human desires, predilections, emotions. One thing that seems constant in the world is human yearning. And those yearnings often create tension.

Today I walked around downtown. I came upon a political rally at the County Administration Building. Roused citizens, desiring liberty, were chafing at the slow reopening of society during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. They expressed their reasons. They yearned for individual liberty. But others in our society yearn for collective security. It’s that never-ending political conflict.

As I continued my walk, I turned my eyes upward to see the mysterious, ordered windows where different people work and live. And I looked at the intersecting streets and sidewalks, where separate lives move forward.

All that human complexity makes a city what it is. It also makes every single walk every single day fascinating. And thought-provoking.

Even during the current COVID-19 pandemic, when the city seems more lonely and troubled than usual.

He was simply resting in the sun.

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!

If the above images feel almost like a poem, it was my intention. To read a few philosophical stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

Library honors those who dare to write!

To write a book requires great daring.

An author labors every day, hour, minute, writing, brainstorming, re-writing, doubting, dreaming, despairing, pouring out heart, soul and some of their deepest, most vulnerable thoughts for the entire public to read.

Will the finished words be criticized?

Will the author be ridiculed?

Will all that hard, agonizing work simply be ignored?

During the month of February, the San Diego Central Library is honoring the work of local writers. Books and eBooks that have been published in the past year are on display in the Local Author Showcase. The beautiful books have taken center stage on the first floor of the library for everyone to admire.

Writing is difficult. Writing a book is extremely difficult.

Congratulations to those who dared and succeeded!

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 to possibly move the Earth.

I wrote another small story yesterday.

The words came to me in Balboa Park while I listened to my friend Mitchell playing didgeridoo. People walking down El Prado would pause before the strange, resonant instrument. A brave few would dance.

As people came and went, I wondered what effect their movement might have on the planet. Both Mitchell and I are curious about strange, cosmic things.

The title of my short story is Spinning the Earth.

If you like to use your imagination, click here!

Radiant Spire proposed for Notre Dame.

Appearance of rebuilt Notre Dame Cathedral with Radiant Spire, designed by architect Eugene Ray.
Appearance of rebuilt Notre Dame Cathedral with Radiant Spire, designed by San Diego architect Eugene Ray.

I guess it’s too late now. Last month the French Parliament passed a law that states Notre Dame Cathedral must be restored to its exact condition before the recent, catastrophic fire.

But how might Paris have appeared if Notre Dame were crowned by a glowing spire?

The Radiant Spire is a fantastic concept created by architect Eugene Ray, who from 1969 to 1996 headed the Environmental Design program at San Diego State University. In 2019, with the help of architect Joe Cordelle, he designed a geodesic structure that unites a cone and sphere, and which radiates light.

I saw these images today while visiting the exhibition Radiant Architecture: The Visionary Work of Eugene Ray at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. As a proposal the Radiant Spire is inspiring and very beautiful.

But, alas, it will remain an idea.

Description of Radiant Spire for Notre Dame Cathedral. The elegant structure evokes an exuberant spirituality reaching skywards...
Description of Radiant Spire for rebuilt Notre Dame Cathedral. The elegant structure evokes an exuberant spirituality reaching skywards…
Elevation view of proposed spire for Notre Dame.
Elevation view of proposed spire for Notre Dame.

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 small story inside the Coronado Library.

Yesterday afternoon I spent some time reading in the Coronado Public Library.

I was sitting comfortably in the library’s Reading Room, my eyes resting on Donal Hord’s sculpture Mourning Woman, when I became aware of happy, excited voices drifting in from the Children’s Room.

And a small story whispered into my mind.

The story isn’t about Death–it’s about Life. So I changed the Mourning Woman to the Silent Woman. I also changed the season, and the appearance of the Reading Room.

If you’d like to have this very small story whisper to you, click here.