There is the Ukulele. There are people that play the Ukulele. Then there is Jake Shimabukuro. I got my first glimpse of Jake Shimabukuro years ago when I was browsing YouTube and came across a video of him playing in Central Park New York. He was playing a song written by George Harrison “While my Guitar Gently Weeps”. The way he played that song completely transformed my perception of the Ukulele. The beauty and complexity of the sounds that he was bringing out of the Ukulele were grander and more beautiful then a 34 string harp yet he managed to deliver it with the simplicity of a traditional Hawaiian Ukulele sound. The video went on to become a viral sensation and since then Jake Shimabukuro has been transforming the world of the Ukulele with mind-blowing renditions of familiar songs as well as creating beautiful and timeless original pieces. Jake Shimabukuro has transcended from performer, to artist, to virtuoso. We are lucky to live in times where we can see a musician who is truly the best of all time.
I got a chance to see Jake for the second time in my favorite music venue in San Diego – Anthology. The atmosphere of the club is picture perfect for a performer such as Jake. The acoustics, lighting and ambience is conducive to watching and listening to every single note; and Jake does not miss a single one seemingly playing on every fret and string of the Uke in every single song he performed. If you have a chance to watch Jake you will find that he is like no other. He is young, hip and brings a rock and roll attitude to every song while respecting the timeless tradition of Ukulele playing and his Hawaiian roots. Jake loves San Diego and has many friends and fans here. He has played at Anthology 5 times and I have seen two of those performances thankfully. After each show, Jake takes the time to meet with fans back stage, sign Ukulele’s, CD’s, T-Shirts and anything else they present. People come from all over the world to see his shows in San Diego – there were 5 people that flew from Japan to watch him at this show. I feel lucky to have only been required to make the short 10 mile drive to Downtown to catch the show. Every time I see him, I feel like I am watching history in the making – watching the greatest Ukulele artist ever to play.
I have never really loved Los Angeles to tell you the truth. It is a city that has never made any sense to me. It is a hodge-podge of 99 cent stores, check cashing places and homeless everywhere, everywhere and that feeling that just about everybody is on some type of drug. Sure it is probably a city that appears in more movies than any other city in the world (thanks to it’s proximity to Hollywood), but the city can never seem to progress like other cities have in the past 20 years. It is as if nothing has been rebuilt and restored, as if everything there has been mis-managed into a state of disrepair.
There is a single bright spot in the city that rises up and provides some real beauty in stark contrast to the rest of the city and that is the Walt Disney Music Hall. It has almost cartoonish lines and curves and is entirely made of smooth brushed steel. When you see it in the city you almost cannot believe it at first because it is so beautiful. I took a couple of pictures of this beautiful building the architecture is just astounding to me.
Tonight Tu and I went out to take some photographs. I have been wanting to develop a series of photographs about levitation. I have seen some on the internet but they look really difficult to pull off. Well Tu did a pretty good job for her first time and we shot her in Downtown San Diego with an umbrella. It was not really raining or anything but it made a good prop and easy to try to create a swept away look. We’ll keep practicing.
America’s cup is in San Diego this week. This is the first time that it has been in San Diego for the last 16 years since Dennis O’Conner lost the cup to New Zealand. While I did not get a chance to go and photograph the event from my brothers helicopter, I did head down to the Bay to check out all of the excitement. While I was down at the Bay I also took the chance to visit many of the famous ships that are down at the docks. One of the most notable landmarks in San Diego is the Star of India – a very old sailing ship – actually the oldest active sailing ship in the world. It is kept in pristine condition and at times goes out on sailing trips in the Bay. The ship was built in 1863 and is now docked as a museum in San Diego.
It was absolutely coming down in buckets today in San Diego. The skies opened up and gave us a month of rain in a single day. The paper reported the the rainfall in the last 12 hours has exceeded the average that we get for the entire month of November. That means coats, scarves, blankets and lazy days here in San Diego. I caught a picture of a barely able to keep her eyes open Darla and her mom (and my sister) Elizabeth wrapped in woolen sweaters and hats. You can picture how happy and safe Darla feels and how happy Liz is to have her right there next to her.
Tonight I found a new location to photograph the Coronado Bay Bridge. A place with just a little bit more light than trying to photograph it from the Island of Coronado itself. If you go a little bit west of Chicano Park (which can be dangerous for a white boy hanging out alone), you’ll find a small bridge the juts out over the water. It is near the various naval shipyards so it provides some unique views of the bridge. A little known fact is the Coronado Bay Bridge has two reasons why it was designed with its beautiful curves rather than going straight over the water. The relatively short distance of between the mainland and Coronado is so short that if they built a straight bridge it would have been too low for the Navy ships to go underneath so they needed to create a curve so that they could make the bridge longer and higher. The second reason is that in order to qualify for a city bond the bridge had to be a certain length, so they had to put the curves into to make the bridge longer.
It was a beautiful night in San Diego last night; an almost full moon, wispy clouds and temperature in the mid 60’s. I decided to get the camera and tripod out and take a trip down to the Bay to see if I could improve my night photography skills. Shooting at night is a bit difficult because you have to allow for longer exposures and have to carefully compose your shots so that you are not bringing in too much or too little light. For example, you might see a great shot but smack dab in the middle of that shot is a street light with blaring light that will drown out everything else with obnoxious lens flares. Anyway, you can take some very nice photos at night. I prefer to shoot along the water because you can get nice reflections and the steady ripple of water flattens and smooths out nicely on long exposures. It can be a lot of fun after a night photo shoot, taking your camera home, uploading the pictures and seeing if any magic happened during the night. This is one picture I took right near SeaPort Village near some boats. Not a perfect shot but we’re getting there with practice.
I spent a day with one of my very good friends, Maryann, and her boyfriend Lee in a part of Brooklyn called Williamsburg. Williamsburg is a super trendy and hip area where everything is original – you won’t find a Starbucks or McDonald’s anywhere near this area as they seemingly only support local merchants and goods. It is truly unique. So Maryann and I have been good friends for many years as we share the same passion and career – we’re fraud consultants and our aim is to rid the world of fraudsters, scammers, cheats and liars. We have collectively traveled to most places in the world to consult banks on how to stop fraud (although she more than I), and have fought fraudsters from Taipai to Toronto, from Norway to New Zealand. And to state without reservation that if there was ever fraud in the Arctic Circle we would be there too (which would be cool since I am dying to photograph polar bears someday). You might notice Maryann is wearing a big RoboC0p/Terminator boot on her foot- well she just had surgery on her foot so she is wearing that boot for protection and to help her foot heal. It was a great day visiting my very good friend Maryann and meeting her super cool boyfriend Lee. I decided to edit the pictures in black and white with selective color since Maryann’s favorite color is orange. Great day in the hood.