World-class athlete hero needs a helping hand!

Meb Keflezighi, San Diego hero, is Grand Marshall of 2014 Big Bay Balloon Parade.
Meb Keflezighi, San Diego hero, is Grand Marshall of 2014 Big Bay Balloon Parade.

San Diego sports hero Meb Keflezighi seems superhuman when compared to most of us ordinary mortals. Meb’s long-distance running accomplishments are truly legendary. He has been 3-time national champion in cross country, Olympic silver medalist in the marathon, and winner of both the New York City and Boston Marathons. (What’s more, Meb is a terrific human being, who happened to graduate from San Diego High School, about a mile from where I now sit!) But as thousands of onlookers witnessed, even our biggest world-class heroes sometimes need a helping hand!

Meb was chosen to be Grand Marshall of today’s 2014 Big Bay Balloon Parade, a fun event held on San Diego’s Embarcadero in conjunction with the upcoming Holiday Bowl. (He also presided over a 5K run just beforehand.)  Meb rode on the parade’s leading float to great applause. But his ride turned out to be somewhat unusual. Some leg muscle was required…

Elite long-distance runner Meb Keflezighi speaks to 5K race participants.
Elite long-distance runner Meb Keflezighi speaks to 5K race participants before parade.
Meb watches first wave of Bumble Bee 5K run, a special Holiday Bowl-related event.
Meb watches first wave of Bumble Bee 5K run, a special Holiday Bowl-related event.
These guys might not be Meb, but they are giving the race their best effort!
These guys might not be Meb, but they are giving the race their best effort!
Meb awaits start of Big Bay Balloon Parade on the Forever Young float.
Meb awaits start of Big Bay Balloon Parade on the Forever Young float.
But the float's motor doesn't work! Guys have to push it down the parade route!
But the float’s motor doesn’t work! Guys have to push it down the parade route!

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Iconic downtown sculpture changes color again!

Fountain of Two Oceans sculpture in front of Wells Fargo building in downtown San Diego.
Fountain of Two Oceans sculpture in front of Wells Fargo building in downtown San Diego.

Perhaps you recall my blog post from early in the summer, where I was astonished at how the Fountain of Two Oceans sculpture in front of downtown’s Wells Fargo building had suddenly turned white! Well, yesterday I saw it has changed colors once again!

I’m guessing a number of people found the weird, mottled white color unattractive.  (Personally, I thought it was ghastly.)  Today, the human figures appear bronze again, but much darker than before, without the heavily tarnished surface. In my opinion, this is a big improvement.  What do you think?

Before the figures were painted white:

Bronze nudes of Sergio Benvenuti’s Fountain of Two Oceans.
Bronze nudes of Sergio Benvenuti’s Fountain of Two Oceans.

Painted white, possibly to resemble marble:

Fountain of Two Oceans sculpture suddenly becomes white!
Fountain of Two Oceans sculpture suddenly becomes white!

Now much darker, matching the fountain’s base:

The reclining human figures today have a very dark bronze appearance!
The reclining human figures today have a dark, new bronze appearance!

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Wasted grocery food turns to art in Balboa Park.

A little diving in San Diego grocery store dumpsters yielded lots of good food.
A little diving in San Diego grocery store dumpsters yielded lots of good food.

A unique event took place today. It was extremely unusual, fun and enlightening.

Rob Greenfield is an activist working to persuade grocery stores to donate expired foods to local food banks and hunger relief charities like Feeding America. His effort is called Donate Don’t Dump. To raise awareness, he has created unusual, colorful works of art in various cities, using perfectly good food he’s found while dumpster diving.

As part of my walk today, I took a few pics of Rob and his friends creating a fantastic bit of artwork on the grass in San Diego’s Balboa Park.

He told me that some grocery chains are better than others at donating their expired foods. He explained food retailers have nothing to fear from lawsuits should someone sicken from food poisoning, because of the federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.  $165 billion dollars of food is wasted each year, enough to fill two Rose Bowl stadiums every single day, according to Rob!

Once the art had been admired, bystanders were invited to eat! The food was great!

Wasted food includes vegetables, baked goods and expired packaged items.
Wasted food includes vegetables, baked goods and expired packaged items.
Rob Greenfield checks salvaged food to be assembled into activist art in Balboa Park.
Rob Greenfield checks salvaged food to be assembled into activist art in Balboa Park.
Rob Greenfield explains his goals on a bench, with Casa del Prado arches in the background.
Rob Greenfield explains his goals on a bench, with Casa del Prado arches in the background.
Laying out the food articles into an elaborate, very colorful design has begun!
Laying out the food articles into an elaborate, very colorful design has begun!
A crowd watches near the Botanical Building as the food creation nears completion.
A crowd watches near the Botanical Building as the artistic food creation nears completion.
Rob Greenfield explains that more needs to be done to save perfectly good food.
Rob Greenfield explains that more needs to be done to save perfectly good food.

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Cool stuff at Wheel Works Building in East Village.

The super cool Wheel Works building in East Village covered with nostalgic signs.
Nostalgic advertising signs seem dilapidated in trendy, modern East Village.

I always enjoy walking around J Street, between 13th Street and 12th Avenue, in downtown San Diego’s East Village. This is where there used to be an old Sinclair Paint warehouse. The warehouse has today been converted into the Wheel Works Building, a hip multi-media incubator and special events venue. What makes the historic place most interesting to me is all the cool and creative stuff that surrounds it! Take a look at these pics!

Turning a bit left, gazing over bright red bougainvillea at the new Central Library.
Turning a bit left, gazing over bright red bougainvillea at the new Central Library.
Rusted factory gears on sidewalk with words Art and Industry.
Large factory gears on nearby sidewalk with words Art and Industry.
This old building, now containing offices, used to be a Sinclair Paint warehouse.
From what I’ve read, I believe this structure used to be part of old Sinclair Paint warehouse.
Parts of factory machinery today are brimming with potted plants.
Rusted parts of machinery on sidewalk are brimming with potted plants.
Very cool door with lots of cogs and gears around it.
Door has lots of cogs and gears around it.
I believe 21st Century Bob used to be an antique store here.
I believe 21st Century Bob used to be an antique store here.
Lots of metal industrial contraptions decorate the outside wall.
Various industrial contraptions decorate the outside wall of the Wheel Works Building.
South side of Wheel Works building seen from San Diego's Central Library.
South side of this unusual, eye-catching place seen from the San Diego Library.

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A very cool photographer near Seaport Village.

Photographer near Seaport Village shows me some great stuff.
Photographer near Seaport Village shows me some great stuff.

Yesterday I took a leisurely walk past Seaport Village. I said hello to a gentleman in the nearby Embarcadero Marina Park North who was displaying some stunning framed photographs, hoping for a donation. I’d never seen him there before.

I’m glad I paused to chat. Ralph Guest is one cool dude. (And a much better photographer than me!) In semi-retirement, he’s just begun to show and sell his photographs. He spends a lot of time out east of San Diego in the desert, especially in and around Slab City, which he described for me. He’s taken many amazing photos of the place, and of the people, who are called Slabbers. The folks out in the desert are a laid-back, independent,  unique bunch. He described a place out there named East Jesus, where trash is converted into art and power is supplied entirely by solar power. According to Wikipedia, “The inhabitants of East Jesus…provide a refuge for artists, musicians, survivalists, writers, scientists, and laymen. They are dedicated to providing a working model of an improbable improvised community…” Sounds to me like a rather interesting place! Ralph has photos and videos that can be checked out via links on his website.

It’s great to meet new people!

Ralph Guest is a super cool and interesting guy!
Ralph Guest is a super cool and interesting guy!

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Old Hotel Churchill in downtown San Diego.

Faded castle on side of San Diego's old Hotel Churchill.
Faded castle on side of San Diego’s old Hotel Churchill.

My walks through downtown often take me past a large, dilapidated building with a giant faded castle painted on its side. This now sad sight was once the splendid Hotel Churchill, the destination of tourists visiting San Diego a hundred years ago.

The Hotel Churchill was built to accommodate visitors to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition in nearby Balboa Park. The Arthurian theme made visitors feel like they’d entered Camelot, much like the Excalibur Hotel does in Las Vegas today. The building has been abandoned for many years. I remember watching the San Diego Fire Department using the tall edifice for practice, breaking through one window from the top of a firetruck’s ladder.

In 2003 the city designated the Hotel Churchill a local historical landmark. There are plans afoot to restore the old building and convert it into affordable housing.

Touristy hotel was built for 1915 Panama California Exposition.
Touristy hotel was built for 1915 Panama California Exposition.
Old door with spears and portcullis is locked shut.
Old door with fanciful drawbridge and portcullis is locked shut.
Looking up a rusty old fire escape.
Looking up a rusty old fire escape.
Hotel Churchill, a local historical landmark,awaits restoration.
Hotel Churchill, a local historical landmark, awaits restoration.

Here’s a pic I took in February 2015. The old hotel has been fenced off, awaiting restoration…

Hotel Churchill seen in early morning from across C Street.
Hotel Churchill seen in early morning from across C Street.

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Fountain of Two Oceans sculpture turns white!

Bronze nudes of Sergio Benvenuti's Fountain of Two Oceans.
Bronze nudes of Sergio Benvenuti’s Fountain of Two Oceans.

This blog post is long overdue. The interesting pics you see here have been sitting idle on my computer’s hard drive, accidentally forgotten.

I was astonished several months ago to see that the Fountain of Two Oceans sculpture in front of downtown’s Wells Fargo building had completely changed. For the last 30 years, the two bronze figures reclining in the fountain’s basin have looked exactly like…bronze. Then–poof–one day I noticed they’d turned white!

I’m not sure if that’s white paint, or what exactly. It seems the intent was to make the figures stand out more, and appear like marble. To my eye, however, the white coating makes them garish, black-eyed, and almost ghostly. At a distance they look bland and formless.

According to an internet search, The Fountain of Two Oceans was placed in downtown San Diego in 1984. The art, now a familiar San Diego landmark, was created by Sergio Benvenuti, a sculptor from Florence, Italy.

Fountain of Two Oceans sculpture is now white.
Fountain of Two Oceans sculpture is now white.
White coating makes bronze sculpture seem ghostly.
White coating makes bronze sculpture seem ghostly.

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A few odd reflections on Beech Street.

Cubism in real life: A mosaic of fractured reflections.
Cubism in real life: A mosaic of fractured reflections.

Downtown on Beech Street there’s a glass building with zigzagged sides.  The varied reflections of nearby buildings make for a very cool sight!

Crazy reflections on a building in downtown San Diego.
Crazy reflections on a building in downtown San Diego.
Reflections on a building in downtown San Diego.
Reflections on a building in downtown San Diego.

Clock tower at 12th and Imperial trolley station.

Clock tower at 12th and Imperial trolley station reflected in windows.
Clock tower at 12th and Imperial reflected in windows.

I got some unusual photos of the clock tower that stands next to the transit center at the 12th and Imperial trolley station downtown.  The clock is one cool San Diego sight that can be seen from many points in the city.

Looking up the interior of the clock tower structure.
Looking up the interior of the clock tower structure.

You can stand inside the base of the tower and look outward!

Clock tower above musician on Harbor Drive bridge.
Clock tower above musician on Harbor Drive bridge.

Sailboats race on shining San Diego Bay.

Sailboats on shining San Diego Bay.
Sailboats on shining San Diego Bay.

I snapped these photos almost directly into the sun.  I assumed they’d turn out lousy.  But the effect is actually pretty cool!  To me it looks like white sails winging through a brightly shining heavenly space!

Sailboats race in a bright silvery space.
Sailboats race in a bright silvery space.