US National Beat Poet Laureate in Balboa Park!

Chris Vannoy, US National Beat Poet Laureate 2018-2019, reads live poetry in the Zoro Garden during the Garden Theatre Festival in Balboa Park.
Chris Vannoy, US National Beat Poet Laureate 2018-2019, reads live poetry in the Zoro Garden during the Garden Theatre Festival in Balboa Park.

Tomorrow you have a chance to hear US National Beat Poet Laureate 2018-2019, Chris Vannoy, read live poetry in Balboa Park! He’ll be performing with local poetry group The Mightier P.E.N.S. (Poetic Expeditionary Nation of Semanticists) in the Zoro Garden beginning at 2 pm.

Today during my extensive walk through Balboa Park, I happened to stumble upon this summer’s weekend Garden Theatre Festival. As I entered the stony, amphitheater-like Zoro Garden, live poetry readings were underway. Everyone in the audience was invited up to the microphone to read poetry!

And wouldn’t you know it, I was fortunate to enjoy several readings by Chris Vannoy, who will soon be named the United States Beat Poet Laureate by the National Beat Poetry Foundation!

I’d heard Chris perform with The Mightier P. E. N. S. a couple years ago, and blogged about that event here.

His hard-hitting beat poetry is vivid and resonant. His words are like the many butterflies that flit through the garden–bright sparks in the sunlight–burning red hot for just a moment–each a revelation–a brief glimpse of something elemental. Delicate words, transient words, an incantation of power spoken briefly into the wind.

Congratulations to a local poet whose voice is now magnified! And whose smile appears to be indomitable!

The Garden Theatre Festival continues through Sunday August 19, 2018. Live performances are enjoyed free to the public in Balboa Park's Zoro Garden.
The Garden Theatre Festival continues through Sunday August 19, 2018. Live performances are enjoyed free to the public in Balboa Park’s Zoro Garden.
Chris Vannoy of the local poetry group The Mightier P.E.N.S. expresses thought and emotion with vigorous words as the audience listens and reacts.
Chris Vannoy of the San Diego poetry group The Mightier P.E.N.S. expresses complex thought and emotion with vigorous words as the audience listens and reacts.
Two in the audience listen to powerfully spoken truth.
Two in the audience listen to a poet’s powerfully spoken truth.
Someone in the audience signs up to read a poem. Anybody could participate during the event.
Someone in the audience signs up to read a poem. Anybody could participate during the event.
Chris Vannoy, who will be named US National Beat Poet Laureate in September, finishes and earns enthusiastic applause.
Chris Vannoy, who will be named US National Beat Poet Laureate in September, finishes his reading and earns enthusiastic applause.

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A skeleton in plain sight.

Sometimes I lie awake in the middle of the night, thoughts tumbling through the darkness. Sometimes an uninvited notion enters my skull.

You, too, might share this uncomfortable realization.

I recently published a short story. It’s titled Skeleton Forgiveness.

You can read my very short work of fiction by clicking here.

Lingering in sunlight at the edge of an ocean.

Today I found myself walking through Coronado.

The sunshine was strong. I settled on a bench facing a margin of white beach and let my mind wander.

I and many others were sitting, relaxing, playing, speaking, thinking, soaking in one more summer at the edge of an ocean. A canvas of wide blue unrolled into the distance. Tiny glints of light beckoned from very far away.

My eyes were drawn irresistibly to a mystery beyond the horizon.

As our eyes rise to peer beyond life’s ebb and flow, we drift to strange places beyond our reach.

My photographs have been altered slightly. You might recognize Point Loma, Mexico and the small, rocky Coronado Islands that jut from the ocean a bit southwest of Tijuana.

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 small stories that I’ve written, wander over to Short Stories by Richard.

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.

Images from a Memorial Day weekend.

Late light reflects from the Marriott Marquis onto San Diego Bay near Seaport Village.
Late light reflects from the Marriott Marquis onto San Diego Bay near Seaport Village.

So far this Memorial Day weekend I’ve enjoyed short walks through several favorite places. I’ve done a lot of sitting, reading, writing, eating ice cream, enjoying sunshine. And I’ve taken photos, of course. I always carry my little camera in hand. So why not?

Here are some random images. The first eight photos are from Friday evening along the Embarcadero. They are followed by photos from Saturday and Sunday.

Another beautiful day at Embarcadero Marina Park North.
Another beautiful day at Embarcadero Marina Park North.
Kites fly above Donal Hord's sculpture Morning.
Evening kites fly in the remaining daylight above Donal Hord’s sculpture Morning.
Sunset clouds reflected in the still water of Marriott Marina.
Sunset clouds reflected in the still water of Marriott Marina.
Many downtown buildings reflect light magically.
Many downtown buildings reflect light magically.
A fine Friday walk by the water to begin the long Memorial Day weekend.
A fine late Friday walk by the water to begin the long Memorial Day weekend.
A bright moon above tinted clouds.
A bright moon above tinted clouds.
Leonardo Nierman's sculpture Flame of Friendship catches the sun's last rays as the lights come on at the San Diego Convention Center.
Leonardo Nierman’s sculpture Flame of Friendship catches the sun’s last rays as the lights come on at the San Diego Convention Center.
Artist Pete Tillack creates stunning new artwork in front of Michael J Wolf Fine Arts in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Artist Pete Tillack creates stunning new artwork in front of Michael J Wolf Fine Arts in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Three sailboats pass the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) aircraft carrier docked at Naval Air Station North Island.
Three sailboats pass the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) aircraft carrier docked at Naval Air Station North Island.
A bunch of happy people on the ferry to Coronado waved at me from beneath the ship's American flag.
A bunch of happy people on the ferry to Coronado wave at me from beneath the ship’s American flag.
Looks like some folks enjoyed a tour of the USS Midway Museum during the Memorial Day weekend.
Looks like a family enjoyed a tour of the USS Midway Museum during the Memorial Day weekend.
Many people were out on Sunday enjoying the San Diego sunshine.
Many people were out on enjoying the San Diego sunshine.
A restored PCC streetcar of the San Diego Trolley's Silver Line passes near Kansas City Barbeque. A huge inflatable Uncle Sam is out for the Memorial Day weekend.
A restored PCC streetcar of the San Diego Trolley’s Silver Line passes near Kansas City Barbeque. A huge inflatable Uncle Sam is out for the Memorial Day weekend.
In Balboa Park, at the International Cottages, a big food festival was underway on Sunday. Yummy smells filled the air.
In Balboa Park, at the International Cottages, a big food festival was underway on Sunday. Yummy smells filled the air.
Colorful dancers grace the outdoor stage at the International Cottages.
Colorful dancers grace the outdoor stage at the International Cottages.
San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez greets people up on the stage at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion after the Sunday concert.
San Diego Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez greets people up on the stage at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion after the Sunday concert.
A dapper Marine and his new bride head for a stretch limousine in Balboa Park.
Marine and a new bride head for their stretch limousine in Balboa Park.
Street entertainment delights a crowd in Balboa Park's Plaza de Panama.
Street entertainment delights a crowd in Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama.
The WorldBeat Cultural Center had lots of colorful flowers out on the sidewalk beside Park Boulevard.
The WorldBeat Cultural Center had lots of colorful flowers out on the sidewalk beside Park Boulevard.
Many flags fly proudly on the Memorial Day weekend near the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center. Including the POW/MIA flag. You Are Not Forgotten.
Many flags fly proudly on the Memorial Day weekend near the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center. Including the POW/MIA flag. You Are Not Forgotten.

Today I published two new stories on my website Short Stories by Richard. They’re both very quick reads.

Handling a Harpoon and White Marble touch upon some of life’s deepest mysteries.

Everyone out there have a great Memorial Day!

Richard

A short story about regret and redemption.

I wrote another short story. This one is titled The Firefly.

It’s about regret and redemption.

And hopelessness and release.

And hurt and freedom.

If you’d like to read this small work of fiction, click 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 whole selves into shallow, shrinking virtual worlds. The Matrix, of our own calculated making.

If it feels good, why fight it?