Just another fine day in San Diego.

Street performer balances a ball at Navy Pier.
Street performer balances a ball at Navy Pier.

Almost any day in San Diego is a fine day. A fine day to open eyes and experience life.

When I walk about, I often take photos of everything and anything. Photography helps one to see the surrounding world: a fascinating world in constant motion.

Here are some photos that I’ve taken on different walks around San Diego. Every walk is a fine walk. There is so much to see.

Saturday morning on the pier near the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market.
Saturday morning on the pier near the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market.
A bicyclist with a daring spirit at the Harbor Drive pedestrian bridge.
A bicyclist with a daring spirit at the Harbor Drive pedestrian bridge.
A standup paddleboarder off Coronado, sailboats and the San Diego skyline in the background.
A standup paddleboarder off Coronado, with sailboats and the San Diego skyline in the background.
Bagpipes and a smile outside Petco Park.
Bagpipes and a smile outside Petco Park.
Early morning produce is ready to deliver in East Village.
Early morning produce is ready to deliver in East Village.
A boy and a kite at Embarcadero Marina Park North.
A boy and a kite at Embarcadero Marina Park North.
Someone seeks attention in Seaport Village.
Someone seeks attention in Seaport Village.
Pigeons on Broadway.
Pigeons on Broadway.
A smiling face.
A smiling face.
Rolling down the Gaslamp.
Rolling down the Gaslamp.
A big wheel in Balboa Park.
A big wheel in Balboa Park.
A handstand on a bench. Another sunny day in San Diego.
A handstand on a bench. Just another fine day in San Diego.
A scene of ordinary city life near the Fifth Avenue trolley station.
A scene of ordinary city life near the Fifth Avenue trolley station.
Entertainer with horse head at the Little Italy Farmers' Market.
Entertainer wears a horse head at the Little Italy Farmers’ Market.
A slow Sunday in downtown San Diego.
A slow Sunday in downtown San Diego.

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

Discover real magic in beautiful Balboa Park.

Bagpipe player attracts attention of visitors to San Diego's beautiful Balboa Park.
Bagpipe player attracts attention of visitors to San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park.

Real magic can be found in Balboa Park. Simply enter the place with wide eyes and an open heart.

You’ll find beauty, wonder, warmth, laughter, inspiration, and life as it should be.

All of it is magic.

A few photos…

Street musicians add magic to the park, entertaining both young and old.
Street musicians add magic to the park, entertaining both young and old.
An artist paints the California Tower from the edge of the San Diego Museum of Art's grassy May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden.
An artist paints the California Tower from the edge of the San Diego Museum of Art’s grassy May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden.
A park visitor on roller skates passes through the May S. Marcy Sculpture Court while diners at Panama 66 enjoy life.
A park visitor on roller skates passes through the May S. Marcy Sculpture Court while diners at Panama 66 enjoy life.
A pair of penny-farthing riders head through the Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park on a sunny San Diego day.
A pair of penny-farthing riders head through the Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park on a sunny San Diego day.
Visitor to Balboa Park reads sign describing an outdoor sculpture recently installed in the Plaza de Panama, part of the Art of the Open Air exhibit.
Visitor to Balboa Park reads sign describing an outdoor sculpture recently installed in the Plaza de Panama, part of the Art of the Open Air exhibit.
Street performers in the colorful Plaza de Panama. A child readies for a photo on the splashing fountain.
Street performers in the colorful Plaza de Panama. A child readies for a photo on the splashing fountain.
A street performer will attempt to free himself from inescapable chains at the foot of the reflecting pool.
A street performer will attempt to free himself from inescapable chains at the foot of the reflecting pool.
A large crowd watches some street entertainment. The Botanical Building rises in the background.
A large crowd watches some exciting street entertainment. The amazing Botanical Building stands in the background.
One of many characters that visitors might see during a walk through Balboa Park in San Diego.
One of many unique characters that visitors might see during a walk through Balboa Park in San Diego.
A photography class in world-famous Balboa Park. Students check out their cameras near the Museum of Man.
A photography class in world-famous Balboa Park. Students check out their cameras near the Museum of Man.
The very popular dog park at the west end of the Cabrillo Bridge on a typical, magical day.
The very popular Nate’s Point Dog Park at the west end of the Cabrillo Bridge on a typical, magical day.
People enjoy sports on the broad grassy area at the west edge of Balboa Park.
People enjoy sports on the broad grassy area at the west edge of Balboa Park.
Plucking arrows from a target of Balboa Park's 28-acre Rube Powell Archery Range. I took this photo while crossing Cabrillo Bridge.
Plucking arrows from a target in Balboa Park’s 28-acre Rube Powell Archery Range. I took this photo while crossing Cabrillo Bridge.
A couple enjoys a lovely day during a stroll through the Alcazar Garden.
A couple enjoys a lovely day during a stroll through the Alcazar Garden.
Victorian street act wows a small crowd within colonnade of the Casa del Prado.
Victorian street act wows a small crowd within colonnade of the Casa del Prado.
A glimpse down El Prado past the big fountain, from east to west, through the central part of Balboa Park.
A glimpse down El Prado past the Bea Evenson Fountain, from east to west, through the central part of Balboa Park.
Another beautiful day in one of the most wonderful places on Earth.
Another beautiful day in one of the most wonderful places on Earth.

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

Do you love Balboa Park? Follow my special new blog which I call Beautiful Balboa Park! It’s just getting started!

Fun photos of Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival!

Murrugun the Mystic prepares to swallow a real sword. He currently holds the world record for longest sword swallow. He has starred on AMC's Freakshow and many other television shows.
Murrugun the Mystic prepares to swallow a real sword. He currently holds the world record for longest sword swallow. He has starred on AMC’s Freakshow and many other television shows!

Wow, what a day! Where do I begin? How about with this weekend’s awesome Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival!

This is the third year in a row I’ve attended the fantastic event. It’s as good as ever! Here are some photos from today to prove it!

If you’re in San Diego tomorrow, head on over to Seaport Village to check out the busker action! On Sunday the various acts will be performing from 12pm – 6pm.

The 2016 Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival features many of the world's best street performers on several stages.
The 2016 Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival features many of the world’s best street performers on several stages.
I saw a few world-class jugglers, including the UniProShow's amazing Jamey Mossengren, a seven-time World Unicycle Champion!
I saw a few world-class jugglers, including the UniProShow’s amazing Jamey Mossengren, a seven-time World Unicycle Champion!
A performing duo called Her Majesty's Secret Circus Show had a funny act that included juggling, silliness and lots of bad jokes.
A performing duo called Her Majesty’s Secret Circus Show had a funny act that included juggling, silliness and lots of bad jokes.
A wicked-looking knife getting readied at the Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival!
A wicked-looking knife getting readied at the Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival!
A secret agent with a bow and plunger prepares to shoot at a bullseye held by another secret agent on a unicycle.
A secret agent with a bow and plunger prepares to shoot at a bullseye held by another secret agent on a unicycle.
CREW was providing crazy good percussive beats using old garbage cans and other odd household objects.
CREW was providing crazy good percussive beats using old garbage cans and other odd household objects.
Fantastic break dancing and acrobatics were the specialty of the super entertaining Flying Tortillas!
Fantastic break dancing and acrobatics were the specialty of the super entertaining Flying Tortillas!
Audience members are readied for a rare stunt. A member of the Flying Tortillas will run and launch himself bodily over six people!
Audience members are readied for a rare stunt. A member of the Flying Tortillas will run and launch himself bodily over six people! Can he make it? You’ll have to go see for yourself!
Murrugun the Mystic breathes fire. He is keeping the old circus sideshow traditions alive.
Murrugun the Mystic breathes fire. He is keeping the old circus sideshow traditions alive.

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

Incredible didgeridoo player adds life to San Diego!

Mitchell, an incredible musician, plays one of his didgeridoos in Balboa Park on a beautiful San Diego day.
Mitchell, an incredible musician, plays one of his didgeridoos in Balboa Park on a beautiful San Diego day.

Please meet Mitchell, the self-named Didgeridude! For many years I’ve seen him playing his collection of cool didgeridoos in public around San Diego. I’ve often walked past him performing in Balboa Park or Seaport Village, and have paused to listen to his incredible, resonating music. But I’d never spoken to him at length until last weekend.

Mitchell is not only a really great musician, but he’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever be pleased to meet. His spirit is a big as the universe; perhaps that’s why his music sounds like emanations and echoes from a place deep in the heart of the cosmos.

It brought a smile to my face when I heard he first took an interest in the didgeridoo after watching the movie Crocodile Dundee. This ancient musical instrument of the Australian Aborigines requires a special circular breathing technique, and it’s plain to see that playing the didgeridoo continuously is a labor of love that requires dedication and great effort. Mitchell told me he loses about a pound on those days he comes out to perform in public.

Check out his cool website, which is called Didjetellus. “Did I tell you” that his website has cool samples of didgeridoo music and MP3 files you can download? Mitchell does school presentations and can be booked for private concerts.

Mitchell has given me so much pleasure over the years, I feel privileged to have finally met him. If you want to hear something really cool and unusual, click the many MP3 samples on his website!

The Didgeridude is one very cool dude!
The Didgeridude is one very cool dude!
This didgeridoo features a snake! Mitchell told me it would be fun if he could somehow devise a way to make a mechanical tongue come out of the snake.
This didgeridoo features a snake! Mitchell told me it would be fun if he could somehow devise a way to make a mechanical tongue come out of the snake.

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Do you love Balboa Park? Follow my brand new blog which I call Beautiful Balboa Park!

Photos of Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival.

Derek McAlister prepares to open his amazing act with some fire juggling by Marriott Marina at Seaport Village.
Derek McAlister prepares to open his amazing act with some fire juggling at Seaport Village beside the Marriott Marina.

Rubber chickens were flying this afternoon. There seemed to be a whole flock of them at the Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival! The event continues into this evening, and then more acts follow tomorrow. If you’re in San Diego, check it out!

My favorite performer was Murrugun the Mystic. This is why.

All of the buskers were fantastic! Many of these pics were taken from a bit of a distance, but they provide a taste of the fun…

Derek McAlister climbs a 20-foot Chinese pole and performs fantastic aerial acrobatics at the Spring Busker Festival.
Derek McAlister climbs a 20-foot Chinese pole and performs fantastic aerial acrobatics at the Spring Busker Festival.
Street performers had shows all day at two plazas in Seaport Village. Tomorrow, too!
Street performers had exciting shows all day at two plazas in Seaport Village. Tomorrow, too!
Alex Clark, with training from Cirque Du Soleil, balances atop ladder while juggling knives.
Alex Clark, with training from Cirque Du Soleil, balances atop ladder while juggling knives.
Girl throws rubber chicken up to plunger-headed, unicycle-riding Groovy Guy Collins, who has starred on the Travel Channel.
Girl throws rubber chicken up to plunger-headed, unicycle-riding “Groovy” Guy Collins, who has starred on the Travel Channel.
The Frisbee Show featured juggler and comedian Greg Frisbee.
The Frisbee Show featured juggler and comedian Greg Frisbee.
Boy volunteer balances two spinning balls atop two rubber chickens!
Boy volunteer balances two spinning balls atop two rubber chickens!
CREW is a San Diego-based percussion group that creates music with everyday objects.
CREW is a San Diego-based percussion group that creates super cool music with everyday objects.
Unusual instruments produce fun beats as busker festival visitors sit in sunshine by San Diego Bay.
Unusual instruments produce fun beats as busker festival visitors sit in sunshine by San Diego Bay.
Some important tools of the busker trade.
Some important tools of the busker trade.
The Checkerboard Guy David Aiken had everyone laughing with his funny antics!
The Checkerboard Guy David Aiken had everyone laughing with his funny antics!

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World’s first: Flaming arrow shot from throat!

Murrugun the Mystic from AMC show Freakshow begins his busker festival danger act with fire eating.
Murrugun the Mystic from AMC television hit Freakshow begins his busker festival danger act with fire eating.

Today I witnessed the grittiest performance I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a few.

I went to the Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival today and enjoyed a number of excellent, very entertaining acts. But the one that really stood out was performed by Murrugun the Mystic. He’s one of the stars of the AMC television reality show Freakshow.

While in a great deal of pain, Murrugun was first in the world to shoot a flaming arrow out of his throat! Let me describe his entire act…

Unfortunately, I filled up my camera’s memory card midway through his fire eating, just before he got to the really big stuff. At the end of some more conventional (but great) fire eating tricks, he really wowed the crowd. He filled his throat with a large quantity of kerosene combined with light gasoline, then produced two MASSIVE fireballs from his mouth. You had to see it to believe it! These balls of flame must’ve measured 6 feet in diameter. Oh, man! It was a bummer my camera ran out of memory! Afterward, he promptly rinsed his throat out with mouthwash and then water, because the flammable mixture is highly carcinogenic.

Next Murrugun balanced his entire body weight on a demonstrably sharp samurai sword. He leaned over the horizontal blade and supported himself on his stomach, lifting arms and legs from the ground.

Next came the bed of nails. I was volunteered, along with five other guys in the crowd, to help Murrugun wow the gathered audience. Each of us tested the nails, and while they weren’t sharp as pins, they were definitely pointed. Murrugun lay on the bed of nails, placed a board over his torso, and four of the guys, weighing a total of about 910 pounds, stepped up onto the board! I and another fellow helped to balance the four. Ouch! While this sort of thing has been performed for thousands of years, and the many nails effectively support a whole lot of weight, I wouldn’t want to be sandwiched between them and the combined mass of four guys!

Now the show got interesting in an alarming way. Murrugun used a very long pole to support “The Knives of Death”. I believe that’s what he called them. These five long knives faced downward from a ring, and should they topple down from the top of the pole, they’d probably impale poor Murrugun. I’m not sure how his act was supposed to proceed. The knives were balanced atop the pole. Suddenly down came the knives from on high and Murrugun lay flat on his back. The knives mostly missed him. But one sliced his leg. A good three inch gash was visible, and blood. He seemed stunned. He very gingerly hobbled to the back of the stage area, checked himself, and it looked to me like he then decided to tough it out. The audience didn’t seem to know how to react. Like them I just watched, astonished.

He was obviously hesitant and in pain. He told us he’d now perform a world’s first. He’d shoot a flaming arrow from his throat.

I could see his hands visibly trembling while he tried for a few seconds to piece two slender hollow rods together, which formed the shaft of the arrow. He gradually composed himself.  He lubricated the long shaft, which was possibly two to three feet long, lit the pointed end, then proceeded to swallow the unique arrow. He bent over, and after attaching the arrow end to a slingshot-like device, shot the arrow out of his throat and through the air! He missed the balloon in the bullseye, perhaps 10 or 15 feet away, but not by much!

I know that street performers–and circus and carnival sideshow performers–have a difficult profession and can endure a lot of hardship. But what I witnessed this afternoon was truly heart-rending and impressive. It seemed no amount of pain could slow down Murrugun’s showmanship and passion for his art.

Murrugun the Mystic noted that because Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have decided to eliminate elephants from their show (the news just out), perhaps there’s a chance the circus sideshow will make a comeback. That is Murrugun’s wish and personal mission. Can you help make that happen? Here’s his Facebook page.

Thanks, Murrugun, for privileging me to be a tiny part of busker history!  Good luck!

Murrugun the Mystic makes his entrance near Seaport Village's gazebo in the Plaza East.
Murrugun the Mystic makes his grand entrance near Seaport Village’s gazebo in the Plaza East.
Fire eating preceded balancing on a sword, being crushed on a bed of nails, and shooting a flaming arrow from his throat!
Fire eating preceded balancing on a sword, being crushed on a bed of nails, enduring knives of death, and shooting a flaming arrow from his throat!

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20 Ways To Help the Homeless in San Diego.

Homeless by trolley tracks between San Diego Convention Center and Petco Park.
Homeless by trolley tracks between San Diego Convention Center and Petco Park.

Living downtown, every day I see many people on the streets of San Diego who are homeless. When I take my “cool pics” I often consciously or unconsciously aim my camera lens away from less pleasant images. But the reality is, there are many urban neighbors who are in a desperate life situation. Whatever their story is, they need our help and compassion.

I’ve been walking throughout downtown for about 14 years now, and it has been a ritual of mine to reward street performers with a bit of money as I wander about. A fair number of these performers are homeless, or very needy. It just seems like a positive thing to do. When I talk a bit and get to know those who are homeless better, I realize that many are not so different than me, or anyone else. Life at times presents us all with extraordinary, seemingly impossible difficulties. A helping hand is often appreciated.

If you’ve thought of providing a helping hand to the homeless, or those at risk for homelessness, here’s a list of organizations in San Diego that could use your assistance. Check each website for opportunities to volunteer or provide a donation. Forgive me if I’ve overlooked anyone. If you can think of additions to this list, leave a comment!

Person lies face down on grass in San Diego's Embarcadero Marina Park North.
Someone lies face down on the grass in Embarcadero Marina Park North.

Alpha Project provides the homeless with affordable housing, substance abuse treatment, basic and emergency services, transportation assistance, mental health counseling, employment training and placement, emergency shelter and more.

Urban Angels‘ mission is to nourish and provide food for the homeless of San Diego. They run the kitchen at Connections Housing, a new, state-of-the-art homeless facility.

San Diego Rescue Mission provides shelter, food, education, work training, rehabilitation and long-term care programs for the homeless.

StandUP for Kids provides assistance to homeless and at-risk youth throughout San Diego County.

Veterans Village
provides homeless veterans with a safe place to live, care for Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury, help in overcoming addiction, and employment assistance.

The Salvation Army serves the homeless, low income individuals, and those facing difficult life challenges. Volunteers serve the homeless downtown with Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

Father Joe’s Villages is the largest one-stop center in the region offering housing and services for the homeless. They help families with children, single women, and single men including chronically homeless individuals, veterans and people living with addiction and/or mental illness.

Interfaith Community Services empowers people in need to stabilize and improve their lives through comprehensive programs, in partnership with diverse faith communities and people of compassion.

Make Change Count meters around downtown San Diego raise money to help the homeless.
Make Change Count meters in downtown San Diego raise money to help the homeless.

Monarch School‘s mission is to educate students impacted by homelessness and to help them develop hope for the future with the necessary skills and experiences for personal success.

San Diego Food Bank is the largest hunger-relief organization in San Diego County.

1st Saturdays are ordinary San Diegans who collect money, clothes, bedding, and other items that help those in need, to be distributed the first Saturday of every month.

Just Call Us Volunteers collaborates with other non-profits to serve free healthy meals in San Diego and teach cooking using fresh and nutritious ingredients.

Catholic Charities provides a safe, supportive, sober environment and opportunities for those with few or no resources to gather, begin, and continue self-help efforts.

PATH is a family of agencies working together to end homelessness for individuals, families, and communities throughout Southern California.

Downtown San Diego Partnership is a leading partner towards the campaign to end homelessness in downtown San Diego.

Family Health Centers of San Diego is dedicated to providing healthcare services to medically underserved persons, including homeless children and adults.

YWCA has programs that support victims of domestic violence and homeless women in their journey from homelessness to stable housing.

United Way of San Diego County focuses on education, financial self-sufficiency, health and homeless prevention.

Regional Task Force on the Homeless conducts a physical count of the homeless in San Diego. They can always use more volunteers for the annual census. Information gathered during WeAllCount helps determine which services and programs can do the most good.

Wheels of Change provides employment for homeless people who are staying in shelters. Those who’d like to participate earn wages for work cleaning up communities–picking up trash, pulling weeds, etc. The program would appreciate your help.

Small work of art I bought from a friendly gentleman in a very difficult life situation.
Small work of art I bought from a friendly gentleman walking down the street. He was in a difficult life situation.

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Lots of fun at Seaport Village’s Busker Festival!

Baard Kolstad drums like crazy near the Pier Cafe.
Baard Kolstad drums like crazy near the Pier Cafe.

This afternoon I checked out the Spring Busker Festival at Seaport Village. A huge crowd turned out to enjoy the sunny day and some amazing street performers! Enjoy a few cool pics!

Aerial silks dancer performs near Seaport Village carousel.
Aerial silks dancer performs near Seaport Village carousel.
Crowd gathers at West Plaza for a Busker Festival magic show.
Crowd gathers at West Plaza for a Busker Festival magic show.
Funny magician wows kids at Seaport Village.
Funny magician wows kids at Seaport Village.
Folks head toward busker stage in Embarcadero Marina Park North.
Folks head toward busker stage in Embarcadero Marina Park North.
The hilarious Skip Banks prepares to enter a huge balloon.
The crazy Skip Banks prepares to enter a huge balloon.
Skip Banks' head pops out of big balloon at Busker Festival.
Skip Banks’ head pops out of big balloon at Busker Festival.

Skip Banks was absolutely hilarious. His hyperactive routine, celebrating silly slices of our pop culture, was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long while! His website has some great videos.

Acrobatic juggler entertains crowd with spectator's help.
Acrobatic juggler entertains crowd with spectator’s help.
Baard Kolstad, of Norway, sets up in East Plaza at Seaport Village.
Baard Kolstad, of Norway, sets up in East Plaza at Seaport Village.

Baard Kolstad came all the way from Norway to participate in the Seaport Village Busker Festival. With his dazzling skills, he seems destined to be the next big rock drummer!

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Joshua Randle, a great musician in San Diego.

Joshua Randle and friend play music on San Diego's embarcadero.
Joshua Randle and friend play music on San Diego’s embarcadero.

I was surprised during my walk today to hear some exceptionally good music from two young performers near Seaport Village. Joshua Randle and his friend were playing extremely polished music with outstanding vocals and providing great, energetic entertainment for everyone passing by. I have no doubt that these guys will become superstars!

Please check out Joshua’s website!

Joshua Randle is a talented up-and-coming singer and musician.
Joshua Randle is a talented up-and-coming singer and musician.
A beautiful day and some great positive, stirring music.
A beautiful San Diego day and some great positive, stirring music.

Art, music and fun on San Diego’s waterfront!

Street performer on a bench plays guitar and sings.
Street performer on a bench plays guitar and sings.

Enjoyed my walk today. Took a bunch of pics. Street artists and performers use their talents to add zest to the colorful San Diego waterfront.

Silver robotic mime and a frozen high five.
Silver robotic mime and a frozen high five.
Resting on the grass, waiting to sketch a tourist portrait.
Resting on the grass, waiting to sketch a tourist portrait.
Playing a bluesy guitar near Seaport Village.
Playing a bluesy guitar near Seaport Village.
Passersby talk with a funny caricature artist.
Passersby talk with a funny caricature artist.
Man with horn plays Mariachi tunes near the USS Midway.
Man with horn plays Mariachi tunes near the USS Midway.
Little girl on wall awaits a cool twisted balloon creation.
Little girl on wall awaits a cool twisted balloon creation.
Hand painted names make memorable souvenirs.
Hand painted names make memorable souvenirs.
Caricature artist at work on a sunny San Diego day.
Caricature artist at work on a sunny San Diego day.
Birds perch on guitar-playing white statue-man.
Birds perch on guitar-playing white statue-man.
Captain America patrols San Diego's Embarcadero.
Captain America patrols San Diego’s Embarcadero.
Sax player entertains people on San Diego waterfront.
Sax player entertains people on San Diego waterfront.
Artist sells space art and handmade crafts on the Embarcadero.
Artist sells space art and handmade crafts on sidewalk.
A beautiful day by the water put to music.
A beautiful day by the water put to music.

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