A new public space opened last month in downtown’s Little Italy neighborhood. Piazza Giannini, located at the corner of India Street and West Cedar Street, is a community gathering place that pays tribute to a famous Italian American who invented many of the conveniences of modern banking.
Born in San Jose, A.P. Giannini was a big believer in California. He started the Bank of Italy in San Francisco, and dedicated it to ordinary middle class Americans and hardworking immigrants that other banks wouldn’t serve. Believing in equal access to all, the Bank of Italy opened hundreds of branches throughout the state. Eventually it became Bank of America.
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Look what I discovered this evening! I had disembarked from the trolley at the Santa Fe Depot and was making my way to America Plaza when my eyes were ensnared by a very cool sight.
At first glance I thought it was a cluster of directional signs that point every which way to cities around the world. Then I realized these signs were far more interesting!
On one side each sign contains a thought-provoking quote from a modern artist. The cities shown on the reverse side are those associated with the artists.
The modern artists quoted are: Pablo Picasso, Jeff Wall, Jackson Pollock, John Baldessari, Jose Clemente Orozco, Edward Ruscha, Joseph Beuys, Richard Diebenkorn, Henri-Robert-Marcel Duchamp and Eleanor Antin.
I walked back across Kettner Boulevard to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and learned that these unusual signs were installed by the museum about two weeks ago!
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A new street mural in downtown San Diego is being completed even as I post this! It’s being painted on a large parking lot wall just south of C Street, between Front Street and 1st Avenue. Check it out!
The artist, Trek Thunder Kelly, who operates out of Venice Beach, California, is known for creating unique designs that mix oddly contrasting messages and images. The cool mural that he’s working on at this very moment is sponsored by the internet retail company Zappos, and it extols one of their stated core values: humility. I couldn’t help but notice the quote highlights another important human virtue: nobility.
Be humble. You are made of earth.
Be noble. You are made of stars.
These powerful true words come from a Serbian proverb.
When I spoke to Trek, it sounded like he’d paint some of the stars with glow-in-the-dark phosphorescent paint. At this point he has a limited supply, so it will have to be artistically applied. I can’t wait to see the completed artwork!
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I spotted these funny pictures and quotes on some windows in the Horton Plaza shopping mall food court, in downtown San Diego. I’m not sure if this particular eatery closed down or is soon to debut. I saw no sign. But I had a good laugh!
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Many distinguished speakers at the Tony Gwynn Memorial Tribute remembered and honored one of the greatest baseball hitters of all time. The public ceremony was held at Petco Park on June 26, 2014. Here are some quotes…
Ted Leitner, Padres radio broadcaster:
So we will cry together, we will laugh together, we will have joy together today, but one thing we will never never do is to forget the greatest hitter of his generation and one of the greatest people in the history of major league sport.
I would like one more time one final standing ovation before the anthem for that magnificent Padre, number 19, Tony Gwynn.
They lied to us, you know. They lied to us in the movie A League of Their Own, when the manager and the Tom Hanks character said “There’s no crying in baseball!” Wrong, huh? Since June 16, there’s been almost nothing but crying in baseball.
People identified with him more than big muscled sculpted athletes because they thought he was the guy next door. Tony was chunky…He was 4 for 5 today, he doesn’t need to lose weight, okay?
Many of you were there in 2007 when he was inducted with the immortals, literally, in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. It was the biggest crowd in Cooperstown history, beyond Ruth, beyond Mantle, beyond Aaron, beyond anybody when he and Cal Ripken were inducted that hot summer day.
See, nobody’s talking about at-bats and number of hits. We know those numbers. 3141 hits, and 15 All Star Games, and 8 batting titles and 5 Gold Gloves, and all that stuff, but it’s, and that is greatness unto itself, but it’s so beyond that, it’s so beyond that, but the man and the compassion…
But he stayed here. It was never about the money. It was about you folks…it was about this Padre organization that he loved..he was never about the money.
The greatest laugh of all time…it was the best…it was better than the game. I could’ve broadcast that instead of the game.
Ron Fowler, Executive Chairman of the San Diego Padres:
Tony was important to all of us. The number of wonderful stories since his passing from around the country reinforces the many reasons why he was loved by so many.
We all know of Tony’s iconic status as one of the greatest baseball players ever, but even more importantly, many of us experienced the special qualities of the warm, giving and compassionate member of our community. What stood out most for me was Tony’s ability to relate to people from all demos and economic strata. His special ability to relate to children…
Tony considered himself an Everyman and remained an Everyman throughout his entire life, so approachable and so easy for San Diegans to embrace as our city’s favorite son.
Reggie Jackson, member of baseball’s Hall of Fame:
He was a genuine man, he was a quality man, one hundred percent family man, he was a great son, a great husband, a great father, and a great brother. A great friend and a great teammate. He was the example of what we all want to live and emulate as a person. He cared about his fellow Man, and we understand and know that he cared about his community.
During the dash of his 54 years, he showed us the template of how to live with dignity.
I’ll leave you with something to think about as I refer about baseball. I saw some great hitters. I saw Mike Schmidt and Jim Rice. Kaline, Dick Allen, Molitor, Yount and Brett. Cooper and Bench. I saw Mays, Aaron, Clemente, Billy Williams, Stargell and Stretch McCovey. I saw Banks at the end. Number 19, Tony Gwynn, belongs on that page.
John Boggs, Tony Gwynn’s agent:
Tony was a very humble man, and he wasn’t big on ceremonies, especially ceremonies that were about him, but I know he’s looking down this evening on all of us here at Petco and I’m sure he’s very grateful for this outpouring of love.
He was an incredible friend. He was the definition of friend. In life there are a lot of acquaintances but very few true friends…He touched so many people, and I was just lucky to be one of them.
He was so much better than the statistics he accumulated.
There was also the memory of Tony and Ted Williams together in the first interview they did together and I’ve never seen Tony so energized and excited as two of the greatest hitters exchanged baseball knowledge…I was lucky to be just a fly on the wall.
And Tony’s humility. Waiting for the Hall of Fame call, I could not believe how nervous he was. With all of his accomplishments, I said, “Tony, this is a slam dunk.” And he just smiled and looked at me and said. “Hey, you never know.” That was Tony. He never took anything for granted.
To the fans, he loved you and appreciated you more than I convey into words. He loved the city of San Diego, he loved being an Aztec, and he most definitely loved being a Padre. He was and always will be Mr. Padre.
Kevin Faulconer, Mayor of San Diego:
Tony Gwynn represented the best of San Diego. His infectious personality did more than spark the Padres to two World Series appearances, he lit up our entire community with pride, and it’s almost impossible to sum up how much Tony Gwynn meant to our city.
Damian Jackson, former San Diego Padres player:
He was a baseball giant to me…who he was as a man so overshadows what he was as a baseball player, and that’s amazing to me.
He not only showed us how to play the game the right way, but he also showed us how to be the right person, and be a great, respected man in the community.
And boy did he love his family. He talked about them daily. When he talked about his children, he just lit up, like the sun.
He wouldn’ve been a great dad to have.
So Tony taught and inspired us on a daily basis…he was a Hall of Fame man, in my eyes.
You inspire me to be a better father, you inspire me to be a better man, and your legacy lives on in this city and in my heart. And thank you Tony. May you rest in peace.
Rob Manfred, COO of Major League Baseball:
In my 25 years in the game, I’ve known scores of players. Even among this elite group, Tony Gwynn was special. He was special because of his Hall of Fame talent, his devotion to the game, and the values he came to represent.
Tony Gwynn may have been the perfect member of the baseball family.
While he was playing, baseball could always count on Tony to do the right thing…he was a great role model to young players.
Mark Martinez, SDSU Aztecs baseball head coach:
He was my colleague, my mentor, but more importantly, my friend. My family. He was part of the Aztec family.
Coach Gwynn’s a teacher. And he was best at teaching all kinds of things. Obviously baseball, but teaching life lessons…All of his teachings were centered around his core value: Do things right.
And then he would say: “Let’s go to work.” Let’s go to work. Does that not embody what he was about? For 20 years in the big leagues and 12 years on the mesa…
Finally, Coach Gwynn is a gift. He’s a gift to all of us. His laugh, his mentorship, the way he made you feel important, even if he just met you for the first time. He gave these gifts every single day.
Trevor Hoffman, former San Diego Padres player:
Whenever… he had the opportunity to speak to you the fans, it felt like he was talking to us one on one.
What a gift he gave us all. That joy that everybody’s talked about, his smile, and his laugh, will be etched in our memories forever, another great gift…He always said, you give a little bit, you get a lot. How appropriate that was about T. Gwynn…What a great man, T. Gwynn.
It was on one of those videos we heard Tony say thank you, thank you, thank you–always being humble, always thanking us. Well it’s us that needs to be saying thank you to T. Gwynn. Thank you for your Hall of Fame career over twenty years, sharing it with us. Thank you for representing San Diego with such class. And thank you for letting us all in your house tonight. Amen.
Anisha Gwynn Jones, daughter of Tony Gwynn:
On behalf of all of the Gwynn family, I would just like to take the time to thank each and every one of you for all of the support and all the love. Thank you. You guys are why my dad loved San Diego so much.
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This cool graphic appears on the front of downtown San Diego’s popular restaurant and concert venue House of Blues, not far from the ticket window. It consists of a famous quote made by Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
The quote reads:
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”