Pages in the story of a city.

There are infinite pages in the story of any city.

Eyes briefly pass over the turning pages.

I lifted my camera to take a few photographs during my morning walk downtown…

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 stories I’ve written, click Short Stories by Richard.

Windblown leaves on a November day.

A windy November day. Autumn between the USS Midway and Ruocco Park.

Leaves flutter on trees, release, tumble along the grass.

They return to the Earth.

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!

That moment you see inexplicable magic.

There are moments when this world seems suddenly, inexplicably transformed.

New light.

New perception.

New understanding.

A short story came to me yesterday while I sat in Balboa Park across from a splashing fountain. My eyes were resting on the broad scene.

So many people, engaged in every sort of activity. So much humanity. And at the center of it all, that everlasting fountain.

Shimmering and shining like magic.

I took out my pen and wrote down a few inspired words.

They might form a short story, or they might form a poem–I’ll let you decide. Read it here.

Do smartphones make people more shallow?

I probably shouldn’t post this blog. I share some of the guilt. After all, I’m a producer of internet content.

During my walk through Balboa Park today, I felt creeping despair.

Balboa Park is an amazing, wonderful, special place. Lifted eyes see a world that is infinitely interesting and beautiful.

About one third of the people I observed had their eyes absolutely fixed to the tiny screens of their smartphones. They were too obsessed to notice the vast world around them. Nor other people around them.

Of these, many were grown adults searching for a virtual Pokemon, a game fit for the simple mind of a child. At least these people looked up from time to time.

Yes, I know some people were busy communicating with friends, or perhaps looking up information, or a map of the park.

I also know that our lives are complex and so is human psychology. Everyone is different. I, too, have my silly, simple pleasures. It’s hard to draw firm conclusions. Technology changes. The culture changes. People change. Fads come and go.

But it does appear that humans are powerfully drawn to stimuli on isolated screens.

And, of course, the wonderful thing about smartphones is they can make life so much easier. Eye-to-eye politeness is no longer required. The potential for vulnerability in spontaneously spoken words is thankfully avoided. Problem solving is automatic. Critical thinking is less and less necessary. Simple and self-comforting ideas flood social media. Self absorption is made as easy as pie. Narcissism is rewarded.

I often wonder, as virtual reality becomes increasingly prevalent, whether people will permanently insert their entire selves into shallow, shrinking virtual worlds. The Matrix, of our own choosing.

If it feels good, why fight it?

New mural painted on Union-Tribune building.

A new mural is being painted on the north side of 600 B Street, the new home of the San Diego Union Tribune. It depicts a man sitting on a wall reading a newspaper. Loose windblown pages transform into colorful butterflies.
Mural painted on the north side of 600 B Street, home of the San Diego Union Tribune. It depicts a man sitting on an actual wall reading a newspaper. Loose windblown pages transform into colorful butterflies.

A mural is being painted on the north side of the building at 600 B Street, a high-rise that is the new home of the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper. The large mural overlooks a fenced park-like space that once was the playground for a downtown child care center.

I saw the colorful new mural behind scaffolding this morning while walking to a nearby trolley station. The artwork cleverly depicts a person reading a newspaper, while “sitting” on a wall that juts from the building. The man doesn’t seem to notice that windblown pages are rising skyward, transforming into butterflies.

The image is quaint, almost nostalgic, as if it were lifted from the pages of a treasured children’s book. I suppose the San Diego Union-Tribune is the inspiration for this mural. It’s a funny choice of images, considering the fact that physical newspapers are slowly vanishing. A few years from now, the hopeful image might provoke a bit of sadness.

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

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

Balboa Park Activity Center’s The Circle and the Self.

The Earth and a crescent moon. One of 26 terrazzo inserts arranged in a circle in the entrance plaza of the Balboa Park Activity Center. Created in 1999 by artist Joyce Cutler-Shaw.
The Earth and a crescent moon. One of 26 terrazzo inserts arranged in a circle at entrance plaza of the Balboa Park Activity Center. Created in 1999 by artist Joyce Cutler-Shaw.

I recently enjoyed looking at some very cool public artwork. Located in front of the Balboa Park Activity Center, The Circle and the Self by artist Joyce Cutler-Shaw is a series of images that tells a unique story about human activity and sport. Twenty six terrazzo inserts are arranged in a circle on the building’s front plaza, within a large tile map of the western United States, which was designed by another artist Raul Guerrero. I took a close-up photo of each terrazzo square and show them in sequence. That way you can easily follow the artist’s narrative, and the thought-provoking transformations.

The gymnasium-like Balboa Park Activity Center is where many San Diegans go to participate in badminton, table tennis and volleyball. Similar artwork by the same artist can be found inside the building. Seventy two laser-cut metal plates depict the bodies of athletes engaged in sport, in many different, often imaginative environments.

Human figure poses beneath the slender blue moon. That moon will transform as the narrative moves counter-clockwise around the circle.
Human figure poses beneath the slender blue moon. That moon will transform as the narrative moves counter-clockwise around the circle.
Reaching up toward the ring-like moon. Striving toward hopes and dreams.
Reaching up toward the ring-like moon. Striving toward hopes and dreams.
After grabbing hold of the ring, and another, a gymnast swings through space.
After grabbing hold of the ring, and another, a gymnast swings through space.
This outdoor public art titled The Circle and the Self tells the story of human athletic pursuit and competitive sport. Each tile measures 16 by 16 inches square.
This outdoor public art titled The Circle and the Self tells the story of human athletic pursuit and competitive sport. Each tile measures 16 by 16 inches square.
Planet Earth seems to transform into a ball. Is it a tennis ball being served?
Planet Earth seems to transform into a ball. Is it a tennis ball being served?
Here's a planet-sized ball swooshing through a cosmic basketball net.
Here’s a planet-sized ball swooshing through a cosmic basketball net!
Perhaps that ball is a round blue moon orbiting the Earth.
Perhaps that ball is a round blue moon orbiting the Earth.
A player tosses the ball toward the net.
A player tosses the ball toward the net.
This fun artwork causes the curious viewer to actively walk around the large Activity Center patio. Now that's true kinetic art!
This fun artwork causes the curious viewer to actively walk around the large Activity Center patio. Now that’s true kinetic art!
A ball and net, half light, half shadow.
A ball and net, half light, half shadow.
A competitor leaps!
A competitor leaps!
Another figure aims to shoot the ball.
Another figure aims to shoot the ball.
Is this an Olympic athlete engaged in shot put competition?
Is this an Olympic athlete engaged in shot put competition?
Circles are a common image in sport. A sphere moves and bounces equally. The playing field is level.
The circle is a common image in sport. A sphere moves and bounces equally. The playing field is level.
Is that a flying ball and baseball player?
Is that a flying ball and baseball player?
Here comes the ever-changing blue ball!
Here comes the ever-changing blue ball!
Getting ready to catch the ball--or is it the Earth flying through space?
Getting ready to catch the ball–or is it the Earth moving through space?
Dynamic artwork shows human physical activity while moving along life's circle.
Dynamic artwork shows human physical activity while traveling along life’s circle.
Is this man playing handball?
Is this man playing handball?
A blue circle on a stick. What sport is this?
A blue ball on a stick. What sport is this?
Perhaps this ball is about to be served in table tennis.
Perhaps this ball is about to be served in table tennis.
The magical blue ball suddenly grows!
The magical blue ball suddenly grows!
The blue circle now seems to be a lake inside the contours of an ocean coast.
The blue circle now seems to be a lake inside the contours of an ocean coast.
As scale is altered and perspective changes, ocean and coastline become the planet Earth once more. Other blue circles are heavenly bodies throughout the universe.
As scale is altered and perspective changes, ocean and coastline become the planet Earth once more. Other blue circles are heavenly bodies throughout the universe.
Our big blue marble is third planet from the sun. It has its own small orbiting moon.
Our big blue marble is third planet from the sun. It has its own small orbiting moon.
The viewer of this art has returned to the beginning. We've come full circle.
The viewer of this art has returned to the beginning. We’ve come full circle.
The Circle and the Self by Joyce Cutler Shaw, 1999. City of San Diego Civic Art Collection. Commissioned for the citizens of San Diego.
The Circle and the Self by Joyce Cutler Shaw, 1999. City of San Diego Civic Art Collection. Commissioned for the citizens of San Diego.

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Shining Freedom sculpture catches fire!

During my recent walk around Coronado, I came upon a dull, lifeless metal sculpture standing at the center of a small park. But then a rising sea breeze moved the nearby trees. The sculpture began to slowly turn. I stood in one place, snapping a few pics…

Freedom sculpture at Glorietta Bay Yacht Club Promenade appears dull and utterly lifeless.
Freedom sculpture at Glorietta Bay Yacht Club Promenade appears dull and utterly lifeless.
Freedom turns in the wind and surfaces begin to reflect the bright sunshine.
Freedom turns in the wind and surfaces begin to reflect the bright sunshine.
Shining Freedom sculpture catches fire! The kinetic sculpture was created by Jon Koehler.
Shining Freedom sculpture catches fire! The kinetic sculpture was created by Jon Koehler.

The public art, titled Freedom, was sculpted by artist Jon Koehler and installed in the Glorietta Bay Yacht Club Promenade in 2009.

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