Colorful banners celebrate Italian Americans.

Jim Croce.
Jim Croce.

Occasionally, over the years, I’ve shared photographs of colorful banners hung from street lamps in Little Italy. Many can be found along India Street. Most celebrate famous Italian Americans.

The face you see might be of a popular musician, or an Oscar winner, or an inventor, or a Major League Baseball player, or a religious leader, or a powerful politician or businessman . . . you get the idea.

During walks through Little Italy in the past few weeks I noticed many banners that I hadn’t photographed yet.

In no particular order, here they are:

Mother Cabrini.
Mother Cabrini.
Bruce Springsteen.
Bruce Springsteen.
Jerry Lewis and Frank Busalacchi (San Diego restauranteur).
Jerry Lewis and Frank Busalacchi (San Diego restauranteur).
Vito Marcantonio.
Vito Marcantonio.
Fiorello La Guardia.
Fiorello La Guardia.
Louis Prima.
Louis Prima.
Dana Reeve.
Dana Reeve.
Al Pacino.
Al Pacino.
Francis Ford Coppola.
Francis Ford Coppola.
Jimmy Durante.
Jimmy Durante.
Giada De Laurentiis.
Giada De Laurentiis.
Joe Pass.
Joe Pass.
Russ Columbo.
Russ Columbo.
Robert Mondavi.
Robert Mondavi.
Jennifer Capriati.
Jennifer Capriati.
Roger Enrico.
Roger Enrico.
Ernest and Julio Gallo.
Ernest and Julio Gallo.
Frank Capra.
Frank Capra.
Carlo Vinci.
Carlo Vinci.
Dean Martin.
Dean Martin.

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!

Six names on six benches.

Around noon today I sat down, opened a book.

I’d taken a walk around Cardiff-by-the-Sea and had found a perfect shady bench in Glen Park.

Below in the distance people were darting about the basketball court shooting hoops. One person missed, madly whirled, lunged forward, fell back, reached, barely intercepted, passed, darted, jumped impossibly high, caught, shot again, swished, shouted happily.

Upon finishing a chapter, I got up and gathered my stuff. The bench I’d been sitting on had a plaque. “Gotta go, gotta ride.”

It felt like the perfect small poem.

I found six names on six empty benches.

Every word shined.

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!

Unsung hero is a bright light in City Heights!

Volunteers for a community clean-up gather in City Heights for the Global Day of Caring.
Volunteers for a community clean-up gather in City Heights for the Global Day of Caring.

I’m honored to know an unsung hero in City Heights. Carlos Quezada, co-founder of Love City Heights, has been named by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez an Unsung Hero for the 80th Assembly District!

Carlos has been working diligently for years to celebrate and revitalize the diverse east San Diego neighborhood of City Heights. He’s the driving force behind the “drive-through art gallery” on University Avenue between I-805 and I-15 that I’ve blogged about for a couple of years now.

Carlos has brought many great artists and muralists together with school students and community businesses and organizations to paint a picture in City Heights of a bright now and even brighter future. It’s amazing how one positive, energetic person can have a tremendous impact on their community!

And you know what true unselfishness is? I was going to take Carlos’ photo once and he modestly rebuffed my attempt. The only photograph of Carlos that I’ve posted until now is the one you see above. See the guy in the very back wearing a Love City Heights T-shirt? That’s him!

Congratulations to Carlos Quezada!

Yet another mural is being painted today, and I’m about to head out my door to see it!

UPDATE!

I finally got a photo of Carlos! That’s him on the left. To the right is Melody De Los Cobos, the Artistic Director of Love City Heights. She’s a super cool artist who is well known in the local arts community!

Carlos Quezada and Melody De Los Cobos of Love City Heights.
Carlos Quezada and Melody De Los Cobos of Love City Heights.

Record your COVID-19 story for the History Center.

Street art spotted during a walk along North Park Way. This masked face looks a bit like a cosmic ice cream cone.

I was looking at the website of the San Diego History Center yesterday when I noticed a cool project they’ve undertaken.

The History Center is looking for San Diego residents to document their personal stories regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

The recorded experiences–in writing, video or audio–will be preserved by the San Diego History Center and become part of their permanent collection. Years from now, when people want to understand what this unusual moment in history was like, they’ll be able to refer back to your own unique story.

Questions you might answer include “How has COVID-19 changed your daily life?” and “How is your neighborhood/social circle responding to the crisis?” and “Has COVID-19 changed your perspective about living in San Diego?”

If this project piques your interest and you have something to say, go to the History Happening Now! website and Share Your Story by clicking here!

A strange mixture of sights downtown.

Go on any walk through downtown San Diego and you’ll see a strange mixture of sights. Sometimes you have to stop in your tracks to look again.

Many of the visions that rise before your eyes seem contradictory. Urban hipsters drinking coffee and listening to live music . . . a few steps away from people who are homeless. The boarded window of a looted Gaslamp shop . . . and spray painted messages of empathy and kindness.

And there are the sights that are wonderfully odd. Downtown’s reggae dog. A surprising tree in a surprising place. An insurance company for sharknados.

So much strangeness is mixed in the ordinary life of a city.

The mysteries appear everywhere.

I took these photographs during several walks the past few days.

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!

Amish in San Diego, postcards, and Mexico.

I learned something interesting yesterday.

I was downtown inside the Santa Fe Depot, waiting at the train station’s kiosk for my microwaved chicken burrito, when I noticed a stand containing postcards. I wondered, in this digital age of ubiquitous cell phone cameras, where anyone can instantly post photos to social media, who would buy postcards? I asked and received a surprising reply. Amish tourists love postcards!

Which makes sense. The Amish tend to live much more simple lives, remaining largely “in the past” and shunning many of the conveniences of modern technology. And it seems to me that in some respects this might be wise. Less distraction. More eye to eye human contact.

I’ve often wondered why I sometimes see Amish folk walking around downtown San Diego, gazing about in wonder at the tall buildings and hustle and bustle around them. It seems a very odd place for these people to be. One thinks of the Amish driving pony carts in the rural Midwest or Northeast, not walking about urban California in the extreme southwestern corner of the United States.

I was told by my friend at the kiosk that the Amish come to San Diego to seek medical treatments in Mexico. I did an internet search and found this page with some explanation.

I asked my friend what Amish “tourists” were like. He explained they tend to be very quiet, but if you initiate a conversation they are surprisingly friendly and open, and in many respects much like you or me.

Next time I see these plain-dressed folk walking about, I think I’ll smile and say hello.

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 tale of two San Diegos.

Many of these photos aren’t cool. But they represent reality.

There is a tale of two San Diegos that can be read every day.

One San Diego is optimistic. The other is bleak.

We are all participants in this tale of two San Diegos.

The story is complex and heart-breaking, and has uncounted pages.

There are many ways to help San Diego’s homeless. If that’s something you’d like to do, click here.

You can help restore murals around San Diego!

Do you love art? Do you love San Diego’s unique history and culture? Do you want to beautify our city?

Your help is needed!

As you might have read in my previous blog post, local artists have formed a team that intends to restore many of San Diego’s neighborhood murals. Over time street murals can become faded, peeled, dirty or defaced, and need a little love to restore them to their full glory.

The growing Southeast Art Team, led by a super optimistic, smiling Kim Phillips-Pea, has plans to restore various murals in different San Diego communities. But, of course, buying paint and other supplies requires funds. That is where you come in!

You can help to restore beautiful murals around San Diego by visiting the Mural Restoration Project San Diego’s special GoFundMe page here.

Perhaps, like me, you don’t have much skill with a paintbrush, but you can provide a helping hand to mural-restoring artists who do!

Click here!

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.

Little Saigon Stories in North Park windows.

...You are the bright pearly moon at night...Thousands of distant stars Am I...
…You are the bright pearly moon at night…Thousands of distant stars Am I…

Little Saigon Stories can be glimpsed in the windows of a North Park building, at the corner of El Cajon Boulevard and 30th Street.

A project of Media Arts Center and The AjA Project, Little Saigon Stories celebrates and recounts the history of the Vietnamese community in East San Diego. Various events were held in 2019, including lectures and the creation of public art recounting the stories of Vietnamese refugees and immigrants.

The area called Little Saigon is generally located along El Cajon Boulevard, in the neighborhood of Euclid Avenue.

Little Saigon Stories in windows at El Cajon Boulevard and 30th Street.
Little Saigon Stories in windows at El Cajon Boulevard and 30th Street.

Despite living here for so long, I've actually never gone back to Vietnam...
Despite living here for so long, I’ve actually never gone back to Vietnam…

I speak four languages. English, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Chinese...
I speak four languages. English, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Chinese…

I came here under the ODP program, parental sponsorship...I sponsored my son to come here...Now he has a child...
I came here under the ODP program, parental sponsorship…I sponsored my son to come here…Now he has a child…

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!