Turkey, Cranberries, Apple Cider and WalMart stampeding. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving has become about all of these things – the best and worst of what we are about here in America. It’s hard to believe that a Holiday that has us giving thanks for the simple things in our lives has been over-run by greed, groveling and outright disregard for other humans. That is what I think of Black Friday at Walmart. Just this week at Black Friday sales people were shot, robbed from and maced as they tried to do there Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving. We decided to have a look first hand at this mess and headed out on Thanksgiving to WalMart in Mira Mesa and it did not disappoint. People were there in force – probably 2,000 jammed into the store and everyone was out for themselves – groping pushing and shoving to get a chance at deals on things they probably didn’t need or want. My brother handed a 99 cent video game that he had scored (an outdated Xbox game that never caught on) to a lady next to us and she was thrilled and then stated that she actually needed to buy the Xbox now so she could use it. It’s that illogical behavior that companies like WalMart are hoping for when they have these frenzied midnight Thanksgiving sales. People are hoping to improve their lives by getting a fantastic sale on something but they just dig themselves in deeper.
Here is Danny sleeping in Aisle 5 of Walmart.
Here is a photo I snapped of the gang loading up on silly stuff that they had no intention on ever buying.
What a Thanksgiving Day. Tu and I spent the day making rounds visiting the families in various parts of San Diego. There was a trip up to San Marcos to have Turkey Dinner/Lunch with Tu’s Uncle and her family and then it was off to Danny and Camille’s house to have a second dinner. All in all we did what everyone does on Thanksgiving – eat too much and have a great time. On the way back from San Marcos we spotted this beautiful church and I thought it looked really nice as the storm clouds brewed in the background. I shot this picture and I was pleasantly surprised at the beauty and drama of it – the clouds really made the picture.
Last week I visited Occupy Los Angeles. It is my third visit to Occupy camps throughout the country and it was quite interesting to see. What is most interesting having visited the camps in various cities is that the movement in each city really seem to take on the identity of the city itself. The Occupy movement in Los Angeles has over 100 tents and they completely surround City Hall. In the middle of the camp they have a created a super size structure that has interesting artwork documenting the movement itself. Los Angeles by far had more tents than New York and San Diego combined. It also appeared to be more heavily populated by homeless people than the other two camps and I would have to say the camps in San Diego and New York had at least 25% homeless populations. While the movement was large in Los Angeles it seemed to be much more heavily skewed toward Marijuana legalization and environmentalism than either San Diego and New York which were much more heavily focused on economic injustices. I am not sure why that is, but that is what it seemed like to me. The police seemed to be much more lenient than the other two cities as well. In fact, for the very large camp (probably 100 tents or more), I really only saw two police officers patrolling the perimeter. In San Diego for example I saw about 25 police officers monitor 7 to 10 tents and 50 protestors.
The Occupy movement is growing stronger and new people are joining everyday. There was a national day of activities for the movement last week and it resulted in a flurry of activity that was well publicized. My next stop will be San Francisco and perhaps Chicago as my goal will be to photograph and document as many camps as possible.
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.