International Organ Festival begins with a Thank You!

The 34th San Diego International Organ Festival began this evening in Balboa Park.

It was the first festival concert of many to come this summer. They are free to the public on Monday evenings, beginning at 7:30 pm. See the full program here. Some of the world’s top organists will fill thousands of ears with dazzling sound from the incomparable Spreckels Organ.

But tonight, before San Diego Civic Organist Raul Prieto Ramírez began his magic, two people were brought to the pavilion stage for a special Thank You.

Past Spreckels Organ Society President Arlene Way and Civic Organist Emeritus Robert Plimpton spoke a few words–including doing good for the community and bringing happiness to people–then received applause.

I want to personally thank Robert Plimpton. He’s the one who “introduced” me to the Spreckels Organ. One day, I forget when, as a young man in Balboa Park, I sat down on one of those metal benches and listened. I hadn’t realized an organ could play so movingly, so exquisitely. Like poetry.

His energetic, elegant, precise play of the mighty Spreckels Organ made me a fan of the King of Instruments for life. Sitting on that bench, amazed, it might have been the first time I realized Balboa Park has a living heartbeat.

So, thank you to all who keep that heartbeat going.

And thank you Robert Plimpton.

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!

Begin the adventure of a lifetime in San Diego!

Would you, or someone you know, like to embark on the adventure of a lifetime?

You can start that adventure this very moment. Sign up to become one of a select few: those who help sail famous tall ships right here in San Diego. Including the oldest active sailing ship in the world, Star of India!

Start down the path to becoming a crewmember and you’ll create incredible memories. Your background, age or experience don’t matter.

Today I watched from the poop deck of Star of India as two new museum volunteers learned to tie knots.

With training, which includes a special class that begins every January, you, too, can help operate the replica 19th century schooner Californian; the replica 18th century British Frigate HMS Surprise; the 19th century three-masted Bark Star of India; the replica 16th century Spanish Galleon San Salvador; and the 20th century steam yacht Medea.

Learn all about this incredible opportunity by clicking here!

Retired? No problem? A student? No problem. Don’t know anything about ships or sailing? No problem!

Begin this adventure and you’ll learn nautical skills and acquire knowledge that very few people share.

Afraid of climbing high into a tall ship’s rigging? No problem! When operating these historic ships, there’s plenty to do down on deck, too!

This afternoon I spoke to Jim, First Mate of Star of India, and absorbed all sorts of interesting information. He told me there’s something new to learn at the Maritime Museum every single day. And he’s been with the museum now for almost 50 years! (He started out working in the gift shop!)

Interested? Begin your adventure of a lifetime now, by clicking here. You’ll even have a chance to help sail the beautiful Star of India herself, when next she goes out to sea, in November 2023!

That would make for one amazing memory.

Two beautiful tall ships of the Maritime Museum of San Diego, Star of India and Californian, head out into the Pacific Ocean.
Two beautiful tall ships of the Maritime Museum of San Diego, Star of India and Californian, head out into the Pacific Ocean.

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!

Pacific Beach’s faithful pier dog.

Walk down the boardwalk in Pacific Beach and you might notice a corroded plaque mounted near the office door of the Crystal Pier Hotel & Cottages.

The plaque remembers Sinjin, the pier dog.

On the ground beside the door, water and dog treats are offered In Memory Of Sinjin, Bonita, and Mr. Blue.

Sinjin

07/01/91 – 01/10/06

LOYAL COMPANION, KNOWN BY MANY, FRIEND TO ALL, FAITHFUL PIER DOG, A TRUE BEST FRIEND YOU ARE FAMILY AND WILL BE MISSED AND LOVED ALWAYS.

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!

ARTS youth add more smiles to National City!

A few weeks ago a corner store in National City was brightened by the young artists of A Reason To Survive (ARTS).

The Munchies Corner Store, at the corner of 18th Street and Palm Avenue, has been painted colorfully with many fun, smiling characters! (Including a few of the tasty snacks that await inside!)

The mission of A Reason To Survive is to lift and encourage South Bay youth to become confident, compassionate, and courageous community builders through the transformative power of creativity. As you can see, these young painters have made a positive contribution to their community!

Enjoy some photos that I took this morning. You can plainly see how the efforts of ARTS and inspired young people are making National City more welcoming and beautiful…

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!

Celebrities, giant chickens, and history in Carlsbad!

Did you know the historic 1914 Twin Inns restaurant in Carlsbad hosted a variety of celebrities over the years? (Including Groucho Marx, who took the occasion to promote his latest movie Duck Soup.)

Did you know the restaurant’s big plaster chickens along Highway 101 were featured in National Geographic Magazine?

Did you know the first Carlsbad City Council meeting took place underneath the restaurant where a teen hot rod club met?

Did you know the Twin Inns provided take out chicken dinners that were packed inside a hollow loaf of bread?

I learned all this and more during a visit to the Carlsbad Historical Society‘s museum, which occupies the old Shipley-Magee House at 258 Beech Avenue.

Walking through rooms filled with fascinating exhibits, I discovered several displays that celebrate and remember Carlsbad’s famous Victorian restaurant.

Should you visit the museum, you’ll find a glass display case that contains an elegant Twin Inns guest register. And examples of the Blue Willow pattern china that diners might remember. And you’ll see old photos of the architecturally amazing building and some very beautiful artwork.

Photographs I’ve taken of Carlsbad’s landmark Twin Inns building can be found 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!

Copper printing blocks form storytelling art.

These copper Batik Printing Blocks, combined like words on a page, seem to tell a beautiful story. A complex story about life.

You can find this huge “panel” of Indonesian tjaps at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. The artwork has been installed on the second floor, near one of the doors that leads to the outdoor terrace overlooking the Plaza de Panama.

The copper blocks were used for wax resist textile printing. Each block, whose intricate design would be repeated on fabric, is combined with about 200 other unique blocks.

The cumulative effect is like a pile of golden Autumn leaves. Or shining memories collected like precious coins, spread on a table before one’s hands. Or a page ready set for a printing press.

It’s the story of a culture, created by many hands.

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!

Paper Girls appear on a Comic-Con trolley!

Here come the 2022 Comic-Con trolleys!

I spotted a new trolley wrap this morning. It promotes the upcoming Amazon Prime Video science fiction television series Paper Girls. The show is about four young paper girls who become involved in an epic adventure. They must save the world when they find themselves in a war among time-travelers!

As more Comic-Con trolley wraps appear, I’ll post photos!

Comic-Con is now about a month away, and more and more cool stuff should be appearing in San Diego. Stay tuned!

UPDATE!

A couple days later I got more pics…

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!

The shining new Timken Museum of Art!

Oh my goodness! I stepped into the newly renovated Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park today and my mouth dropped open. The first thing I noticed: all that brightly shining brass!

Had I stepped into a golden palace?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when the Timken was closed to the public, not only was a new high tech air filtration added to the museum, but works of art were rearranged, gallery walls painted a pleasant slightly bluish off white (which works perfectly with the many painted masterpieces in gold frames), and all of the building’s brasswork was polished. I’m talking lots and lots of ornate brass, both inside the museum and out!

The building is now more light-filled and elegant than ever, but also less stodgy, more inviting. And it’s still free to view some of the very finest paintings on display in San Diego, including our city’s only Rembrandt.

I learned those two tapestries that used to hang in the central lobby were removed to preserve them, and that the Mercury sculpture has been moved into the outside garden. It’s visible in one my photographs.

The museum’s huge windows not only invite in ample light, beauty and life from the outside world, but the collection now extends itself into that outer world, as well!

I noticed two pieces recently added to the Timken’s world-class collection are now on display, including the fantastic Salomé, considered the most famous painting of artist Ella Ferris Pell.

You might enjoy reading something I posted four years ago, after an architectural tour of the Timken’s remarkable building. The sleek building is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of mid-century Southern California Modernism and the International Style in the nation. You can find that blog and see those photos by clicking 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!

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Top Gun car honors United States Veterans.

A car has been specially altered to honor those who’ve served in the United States Armed Forces.

Andy “Bluebat” Mercado (@bluebatmobile) told me today in the parking lot near the San Diego Automotive Museum that the intent is also to honor his own Veteran father. Yes, today is Father’s Day.

I’d seen Andy’s blue and yellow 1997 Acura NSX, with distinctive U.S. Navy markings, and a tribute to deceased Blue Angels pilots printed on the rear window, at other special events. But today I noticed the words Blue Angels decorating both sides of the car had been changed to the Top Gun movie logo. The change was made a couple of weeks ago.

Of course, the original TOPGUN (United States Navy Fighter Weapons School) was located at San Diego’s old Naval Air Station Miramar. Pilots competing at the school were an essential part of the first Top Gun movie, whose blockbuster sequel opened a few weeks ago.

I see from a decal Andy supports various causes. I spotted The Wingman Foundation, Wounded Warrior Project, and PTSD Awareness.

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!

Balboa Park performer on So You Think You Can Dance!

Did you know a long-time street performer in Balboa Park has appeared on the popular television show So You Think You Can Dance?

If you’ve visited San Diego’s Balboa Park in the past few years, it’s quite likely you’ve seen Kareem “Anointed” Ali and his talented friends wowing huge crowds with their athletic dance routines, acrobatic leaps, physical contortions and fun bits of humor. All concluded with an inspirational message.

Well, a number of years ago, while speaking to Anointed Ali, I learned he’d appeared as a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance. I then found a YouTube video of his routine here.

The judges were absolutely amazed. You will be too!

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!