Cool San Diego Sights turns five years old!

This coming Friday, Cool San Diego Sights will celebrate its five year anniversary!

Huh? Seriously? How is that possible?

Apparently I’m having fun, because time is flying!

I keep telling myself that I’m going to slow down this blogging thing, but it doesn’t seem to happen. I keep on walking like crazy, and I keep seeing more “cool” stuff. And so the trusty old camera keeps rising up to snap photographs.

I suppose as long as my legs continue to move, Cool San Diego Sights will expand!

Thanks to all who visit this blog. Some of you I know personally, thousands of you I will never meet. Thank you for coming along on my semi-random walks around San Diego.

During the past five years, too many amazing things have happened to mention. Starting this blog has allowed me to see things I would never have seen, meet people I would never have met. It has completely changed my life.

When I hit the publish button for my first modest post, Ribbon of life mural by the San Diego River, I had no idea how this thing would grow. Cool San Diego Sights now features 1784 blog posts and nearly twenty thousand photographs. It’s approaching half a million page views.

Cool San Diego Sights has also been the successful launching pad for Short Stories by Richard. Writing fiction is my true passion. I still can’t believe that my short story One Thousand Likes has been read by a bunch of tenth grade students. That’s utterly amazing. What an honor.

So, here we are, moving through time, and I have no idea where my next walk will be. Probably from Cortez Hill to a downtown trolley station as I head off to my job this morning. And then I’ll just keep pushing forward.

As of this moment, the only material waiting in my computer are photos of cool street art along El Cajon Boulevard, which I’ll post in the next few days. Beyond that, who knows? Anything is possible!

Have a great week!

Richard

Exciting debut of San Diego’s new Civic Organist!

Raúl Prieto Ramírez, San Diego's new Civic Organist, raises his arms in greeting.
Raúl Prieto Ramírez, San Diego’s new Civic Organist, raises his arms in greeting.

I’m still in a state of elation after experiencing the exciting debut this afternoon of San Diego’s new Civic Organist!

The first appearance of Raúl Prieto Ramírez as official organist for the city of San Diego was nothing less than phenomenal. He performed in Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion, where the public will now enjoy his free performances every Sunday at two o’clock.

His great love of music, his energy, his vivaciousness and his extraordinary skill were apparent from the start. An enormous audience filled the Spreckels Organ Pavilion and welcomed him warmly. At the conclusion of the exciting concert, he received a well-deserved standing ovation.

San Diego is so fortunate. The shoes of previous Civic Organist, Dr. Carol Williams, would be difficult for anyone to fill, but Raúl Prieto Ramírez seems definitely up to the task. His playing is crisp, nimble, precise, and full of expression. His smile is enormous. His mission in life, he told the audience, was to bring to the world great music. That makes him happy.

Raúl Prieto Ramírez comes to San Diego from Barcelona, Spain. He is internationally acclaimed, the founder of the Barcelona-Mataró International Organ Festival. Now he will perform his magic in Balboa Park as Civic Organist and Artistic Director of the Spreckels Organ Society. I can tell you right now the future of the 103-year-old Spreckels Organ is incredibly bright.

My photos of today’s concert captures a true artist’s unbounded passion. That passion translates into musical gold.

Jack Lasher, President of the Spreckels Organ Society, welcomes new San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez to the world's largest outdoor organ in Balboa Park.
Jack Lasher, President of the Spreckels Organ Society, welcomes new San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez to the world’s largest outdoor organ in Balboa Park.
A sparkling debut concert is about to begin.
A sparkling debut concert is about to begin.
A tradition for the Sunday organ concerts in Balboa Park, Raúl Prieto Ramírez plays America to get things started.
A tradition for the Sunday organ concerts in Balboa Park, Raúl Prieto Ramírez plays America to get things started.
The San Diego audience loved our new Civic Organist from the word go.
The San Diego audience loved our new Civic Organist from the word go.
Raúl Prieto Ramírez talks about coming to San Diego, before his brilliant performance of Johann Sebastian Bach's famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
Raúl Prieto Ramírez talks about coming to San Diego, before his brilliant performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor.
Playing the Spreckels Organ with style and passion.
Playing the Spreckels Organ with style and passion.
There were many smiles throughout the large audience at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Every bench was full.
There were many smiles throughout the large audience at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Every bench was full.
Finishing a difficult Classical piece with a triumphant flourish.
Finishing a difficult Classical piece with a triumphant flourish.
With theatrical flair, Raúl Prieto Ramírez talks about the next piece, Danse Macabre.
With theatrical flair, Raúl Prieto Ramírez talks about the next piece, Danse Macabre.
Concentration.
Concentration.
Feeling.
Feeling.
Intensity.
Intensity.
More smiles.
More smiles.
After a great organ rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, Spreckels Organ Society's Executive Director Ross Porter announces kids are needed for the next number.
After a great organ rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, Spreckels Organ Society’s Executive Director Ross Porter announces kids are needed for the next number.
Kids from the audience take the stage right next to the Spreckels Organ console.
Kids from the audience take the stage right next to the Spreckels Organ console.
Here comes a fifth kid.
Here comes a fifth kid.
Instructions are secretly given.
Instructions are secretly given.
While Raúl Prieto Ramírez plays Batalla Famosa, the kids read a short sentence that introduces each part of the music.
While Raúl Prieto Ramírez plays Batalla Famosa, the kids read a short dramatic sentence that introduces each part of the music.
Too much fun!
Too much fun!
Meet the new San Diego Civic Organist, Raúl Prieto Ramírez!
Meet the new San Diego Civic Organist, Raúl Prieto Ramírez!

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!

Strength and determination in wheelchair rugby.

Today I watched some of the world’s best athletes compete. I headed up to Balboa Park to experience the 28th Annual Best of the West Quad Rugby Tournament in the Municipal Gymnasium. Most people know the sport as wheelchair rugby, or murderball. That last name sounds rather tough, but it’s for a good reason.

The quad rugby players that participated in this tournament are among the best in the world. Some have competed in the Paralympic Games. There were teams from California, Arizona, Texas and Minnesota, and even from London and Australia. The amazing team from Australia was this year’s Best of the West champion.

At the very top level, wheelchair rugby players are unbelievable athletes. They are strong, fast, agile, and can turn and accelerate on a dime. To block opposing players, trap them defensively, or upset an unfolding strategy, players will literally smash their chairs into one another. As if in some sort of crazy demolition derby, the bashing wheelchairs sometimes tip sideways, even turn over. And the players don’t seem fazed in the least. Each is an irresistible force, determined to assist their teammates and find a way through the opposition to score, no matter how.

Here are a few photos that capture a bit of the action.

The composition of one photograph turned out to be exceptionally dynamic, but the image was completely unfocused, so I altered it to appear like a cool oil painting.

You really have to see quad rugby in person to appreciate the heart of these players.

Raw human determination can be unstoppable.

Watching quad rugby is inspirational.

For an explanation of quad rugby, click this photo and it will expand for easy reading.
For an explanation of quad rugby, click this photo and it will expand for easy reading.

The victorious Australian quad rugby team celebrates by joining hands.
The Australian quad rugby team celebrated their championship by forming a circle, joining hands and rocking the gymnasium with a spirited, victorious shout!

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!

Three short stories about creativity and freedom.

I’ve recently written three short stories that touch upon human creativity and freedom. And the unending struggle . . . and the infinite mystery . . . and slow, bitter anguish . . . and sudden inspiration . . . and that joy a creator experiences when they’ve assembled a thing that seems powerful and true. In other words, that wonderful but turbulent journey undertaken by every passionate artist.

These three new works of fiction can be found on my writing blog Short Stories by Richard. How it has grown! Please enjoy the following links:

A Secret Junkyard is an odd, funny story that concerns black despair and creative rebirth.

A Long, Deep Drink suggests that satisfaction can be found by turning to gaze in a different direction.

The Pistachio Rocket is about launching upward, ignoring rules.

I hope you enjoy reading these! You might be surprised!

Two cool murals in an Ocean Beach alley.

Spiritual revelation is suggested by many eyes and mandalas in an Ocean Beach mural. This cool street art can be experienced in a little-visited alley. The whole can be glimpsed from any place where you stand.
Spiritual revelation is suggested by many eyes and mandalas in an Ocean Beach mural. This cool street art can be experienced in a quiet alley. The whole of this world can be glimpsed from any place where you stand.

Each life has an infinity of roads not taken. Robert Frost touched upon regret with his famous poem. But, you know, every road that is taken contains an abundance of life, if we choose to see.

Yesterday, during the Ocean Beach Street Fair, I ventured, by chance, through a seldom-visited alley. And discovered two amazing murals.

And then I moved on. Chances are I won’t go that way again.

Hope, flying saucers and flaming green hair, part of a second mural on two walls in the same alley.
Hope, flying saucers and flaming green hair, part of a second cool mural in the same alley.
Guys load empty kegs during the Ocean Beach Street Fair.
Guys load empty kegs during the Ocean Beach Street Fair. Day-to-day work, surrounded by wonder.
Swirling, blooming beauty painted in a nook. A mermaid is perched above flowers.
Swirling, blooming beauty painted in a nook. A mermaid is perched above flowers.
I see a lot of names. I assume these are the beautiful mural's creators. I might never meet them, but their art has touched me.
I see a lot of names. I assume these are the beautiful mural’s creators. I might never meet them, but their art has touched me.
This alley that is seldom taken contains untrod flowers, and life, and no regrets.
The human world contains many alleys. This one contains a glimpse of untrod flowers, and surprising life. We turn a corner right or left, and continue the journey.

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!

To read a few thoughtful stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

A brilliant recital at the San Diego Opera.

The San Diego Opera has performances scheduled for April and May 2016. Madama Butterfly and Great Scott.
The San Diego Opera has performances scheduled for April and May 2016: Madama Butterfly and Great Scott.

Yesterday evening I attended a recital by Ferruccio Furlanetto at Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego. The concert was a collaboration between the San Diego Opera and the San Diego Symphony.

Simply: it was a powerful and deeply moving experience. The combination of a full symphony orchestra and one of the world’s great opera stars stirred my soul and mind in a way that very, very few things can–not unlike the world’s greatest literature or poetry.

Both the quiet moments and the thunder seemed the very elements of human life, but exquisitely condensed, made poignant. During the diverse program, Ferruccio’s voice rose through the hall with sadness, memory and yearning. It was a performance that lifted me as I listened, and as I watched.

And I didn’t understand most of the words that he sang!

A voice that can express high passion with minute subtlety is a rare thing, indeed. Ferruccio was brilliant, and now I want to experience more of the opera.

It was a shame that I saw very few youthful faces in the audience. I suppose the opera is a medium that relies largely on reverence to tradition. But the opera could easily speak to modern, younger audiences. Much of human experience is universal. We all have those same feelings that are expressed in the opera: the same passions and tensions that result from human interaction. I challenge writers and composers to renew the opera and make it less stuffy, less repetitive, less beholden to the past. Our present world is full of great issues and movements. Make these part of a living art, one that moves boldly and experimentally forward into the future.

Because art is ultimately about life. Our lives.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can enjoy more Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Do you like to read short pieces of thought-provoking fiction? Please click Short Stories by Richard.

Wisconsin Badgers fans go wild in San Diego!

Wisconsin Badgers fans go wild! Passion runs amok at the base of the Unconditional Surrender statue near the USS Midway Museum.
Wisconsin Badgers fans go wild! Passion runs amok at the base of the Unconditional Surrender statue near the USS Midway Museum.

In the past few days, during my walks, I’ve noticed that a dedicated army of Wisconsin Badgers (and Green Bay Packers) fans has descended upon San Diego for the 2015 Holiday Bowl. The University of Wisconsin–Madison football team will be competing against USC at Qualcomm Stadium on Wednesday. By all accounts, it should be a great game!

Here are some random fun pics that I’ve assembled!

Wisconsin Football semi-trailer truck parked conspicuously behind the San Diego Convention Center. The years of their 14 Big Ten Championships are proudly displayed.
Wisconsin Football semi-trailer truck parked conspicuously behind the San Diego Convention Center. The years of their 14 Big Ten Championships are proudly displayed.
The red rig is almost obscured by decals dedicated to Wisconsin's numerous past bowl game appearances.
The red rig is almost obscured by decals dedicated to Wisconsin’s numerous past bowl game appearances.
Billboard on Pacific Coast Highway just north of downtown San Diego reads: JUMP AROUND AND BUCKLE DOWN. THAT'S WISCONSIN.
Billboard on Pacific Coast Highway just north of downtown San Diego reads: JUMP AROUND AND BUCKLE DOWN. THAT’S WISCONSIN.
Opposite side of the same billboard proudly reads BADGERS NEVER TAKE A HOLIDAY UNLESS IT'S FOLLOWED BY A BOWL.
Opposite side of the same billboard proudly reads: BADGERS NEVER TAKE A HOLIDAY UNLESS IT’S FOLLOWED BY A BOWL.
Alamo Flags in Seaport Village has a big University of Wisconsin banner in one window.
Alamo Flags in Seaport Village has a bold University of Wisconsin banner filling one window.
Wisconsin Badgers fans check out a street performer on San Diego's Embarcadero. What do you think of our weather?
Wisconsin Badgers fans check out a street performer on San Diego’s Embarcadero. Hey, guys–what do you think of our weather?

Join me for all sorts of unique San Diego sights on Facebook and Twitter!

Do you like to read inspirational, thought-provoking fiction? Visit my Short Stories by Richard writing blog!