Monday, January 31, 2011

NO parking, NO passing, NO entry,
NO crossing, NO stopping...
NO bicycles or skateboards!

Why are there no YES signs?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Minimalism, I heard once, is confirmation in art that there doesn’t have to be “something” to look at in a photograph or a painting. I don’t remember who said it, but I agree. It is also said that Minimalism is a reaction to Abstract Expressionism. However that may be, I happen to like both for somewhat the same reasons that I enjoy sitting on a bench facing a broad meadow with nothing going on in it... and I also like “seeing” something that involves me emotionally in nothing more than the designs and shapes of the lights laid out below me when I look at a city at night from the air. I don’t need to know quite literally what I am seeing.

Looking over my friend Terry’s shoulder as we talked this morning, I saw beyond the bit of window in my field of vision a wall... just that. A wall that had stains on it which reminded me of Japanese prints of ocean waves. I’m guessing the stains were made by water spraying or splashing onto cement blocks, or perhaps they were made by some chemical or mineral seeping out of the blocks. Knowing what caused the patterns is not important and was not relevant to my liking what I saw.

I went outside with my camera, sat on the sidewalk, and got my pictures for the day. While I was there a young man of perhaps twenty came to where I was sitting and asked if I needed help. I showed him the camera, reached and shook hands with him, and thanked him for being the kind of person who goes to help when he sees an old man on the ground. It was a good moment for both of us.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

LICHEN is a simple slow-growing plant that forms a crust-like, leaf-like, or branching growth on rocks or trees or buildings. In four photographs below are lichens growing on rocks near Alpine east of San Diego. I was going to say the photographs of lichens and trees have nothing to do with the poem; but, of course, that wouldn't be true. When I took the photographs, I was stunned all over again by their beauty and with their existence out there in a lonely, moist canyon. When I wrote the words of the poem, I was stunned all over again by the innocence of children that turns somehow into... well that fellow who killed people in Arizona and into Hitler and into the thousands of people who were willing to goose-step across Europe and Africa to his tune... and into all of us who know better but often don't do better. (This little bit of writing at the beginning of today's blog was put in Sunday morning after I read my e-mail and was asked what the pictures have to do with the poem.)WITH ALL THIS BRIGHTNESS

With all this brightness in the world
it’s easy to find even in children
wisdom remarkable
regarding war and other atrocities...

isn’t it obvious what’s wrong
with killing people wholesale
even one at a time selectively
take for example old Adolf
shot himself finally
good riddance
in the bunker
meant to save him
what a waste of energy
when he might have been a potato farmer...

and they just keep coming
these madmen
who make tender love at midnight
glaze their hearts
yes and even eyes in daylight
not to see what evil they do...

but back to the question
with all this brightness in the world
Jesus why doesn’t someone invent
peace on earth
good will to men?

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Vietnamese Buddhist Organization on Fanita Road in Santee is a reminder that myths are powerful. All religions depend on them. The trick is to know how to appreciate myths and let their intrinsic truth and mystery empower us without ever having to believe they depict reality exactly as it existed once-upon-a-time or now.Who says it’s not real,
the phoenix perched there in air.
The dragon watches.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Today I stopped midway through my bike ride to talk with a fellow standing on the north side of the University Avenue bridge crossing Highway 163. He was holding up a big wooden cross that could be seen by morning rush hour traffic heading downtown. On one side of the cross was the question, “Are You Ready?” On the other side: “Heaven or Hell.” The word “”Heaven” was nestled in wonderful blue sky and puffy clouds. The word “Hell” was surrounded by angry flames.

I asked if I could take his photograph. Smiling, he turned from his “work” and posed for me. I asked what group he represents, and he told me he is an independent Baptist missionary. He says God called him back from fifteen years “duty” as a missionary in Japan to warn Americans that they must turn away from their wickedness. He said God directed him to construct the cross and to stand with it at various intersections and overpasses in San Diego County. He has a schedule. He is not what I expected. He is not homeless. He is clean. He is not angry. His tone is gentle and soft. He believes he is doing something important.

He and I, standing together, talking amicably on a bridge above rushing morning traffic, are a paradox. Nothing about his “work,” his message, makes sense to me; but he, the man standing on the bridge, trying to do what he believes he should be doing, seems to be a man of honor. He is convinced that many of the people in the cars are going to hell unless he can get their attention and turn them to whatever conversion experience he believes God has told him will save them. He clearly wants to save them from eternal disaster. Some of the people who see his sign may indeed exist in a kind of hell on earth, but I don’t believe there is a place where people go after death to be tormented eternally. He clearly believes there is an alternative destination after death that is eternally blissful and wonderful, a place reserved for people who do whatever he thinks God is telling him people should do. He seems secure in his beliefs. I am secure in mine.

I decided not to ask more questions. I thanked him for letting me get his picture. He said, “God bless you,” and patted my shoulder as I got back on my bicycle to ride away.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My photo du jour is Dave Yoshida of Fortunate Fields, Inc. who has moved his office from Fifth Avenue to 1010 University Avenue, Suite C-207, San Diego, CA 92103. His business card says, "Crunching Your Numbers Since 2006." Income tax time is worry-free for me because his accounting organization takes care of it for us. Give Dave a call (619 220-0375) if you need somebody to crunch your numbers.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It seems appropriate, looking back on it, that I rode through Mission Gorge today where rock-strewn hills and soaring steep cliffs rise up on both sides of the narrow road. I say the ride was appropriate because I came home to listen to President Obama deliver his State of the Union Address. I like what he had to say. Some media wonks pronounced his speech and the mood of the house to be boring; but I have a very different, very positive sense of the man and the sense of his effect on people. Barack Obama is a solid rock of a president. He made it clear that he needs us and we need him. He is the people’s president. He said, "We are part of the American family. We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share common hopes and a common creed."

Monday, January 24, 2011

Click on the photographs to enlarge them.
Today in the easternmost edge of Chula Vista from the crest of a little hill above Sweetwater Reservoir I got a couple of pictures of Mt. Miguel.GREAT DAY... Many San Diego folks know and appreciate the work of my friend Tom Fagan without ever knowing who he is. They have seen his wonderful murals at Children's Hospital, the Del Mar Fair, and in restaurants around the area. What they are less likely to know are his oil paintings and water colors. I am especially taken by his Gas Lamp paintings, five of which I have included here. I apologize for the failure of the camera I was using today to get rid of all reflected light. I'll try again sometime soon with a polarizing filter. Take a look at Tom's WEB site:

Sunday, January 23, 2011


The signs are all there.
But what do they mean?

I understand caution and stop.
Go is not always good advice.

Broad arrows pointing nowhere
presumably meant something once.
Things change.
Up can become new down.
Out... the new in.
Proceed with caution.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.

The last two lines of "My Lost Youth" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow