Posts Tagged ‘San Diego’

San Diego beachLife Is Orchestrated

Randy Hasper

    On the fourth of July, we rode the San Diego trolley to Weiler, Germany.  We bought our tickets at the E Street Station in Chula Vista. The station glowed in the Southern California summer sun, the wind washing over us from the bay, the palms shinning and bouncing above us.

Samuel Trefzer and Johannes Sattler bought their tickets just behind us. We helped them, setting down our giant cardboard monster and ice cooler to counsel them on communicating with the ticket machine.  They pronounced their “w’s” like “v’s.” We had made contact with Weiler.

We jumped on the red trolley together, standing up in the isles because the seats were all filled, Weiler, Germany incarnated in Sammy and Johannes, and San Diego, California, incarnated in my wife and daughters,  side-by-side, at the same place at the same time with the same destination.  We were linked, German tourists and San Diegans both out for a day at the ball park.

We jerked forward on the tracks, rocking toward Petco Park. We talked and jostled and laughed. We put our monster on the floor and people eyed it with wry smiles. We explained that we had acquired our flat friend from a movie theatre. He was a lobby add. We had rescued him from the trash bin and  given him the name, “Kooz.”  We  planned to hold him up at the game when Padre slugger Kevin Kouzmanoff came to bat. We wanted to add to the festive, positive mood of the day, and just maybe a camera man would point three seconds of video fame our way.

But the monster was already working. He was our social glue on the trolley; making connections for us and helping us contribute to the profoundly local and colorful social milieu that adds a nonnegotiable value to a ticket on MTS.

A young man sitting below us called up, “Art, $5.” He waved some pictures he had colored with pencils.  I recognized him. I had seen him in church a few months ago. “Hey, I  know you,” I said. He peered up at me. He stuffed his pictures back into his back pack. “Just trying to make an honest living,” he defended. But it wasn’t necessary. We shook hands.

When we got off the trolley at Petco Park, Sammy and Johannes were behind us. I waited for them. “We heard you talking to that guy,” Sammy said.

We chatted briefly, but we were at the gate and everyone was eager to get into the game.

“Here’s my card,” I said. “It has my email, phone. And come to church tomorrow. It’s at 10:30.” I gave them the address.

“We will,” they enthused.

They were at church at 10:15 a.m. the next day, having spent the night in their car. After the service, they chatted it up with the band and took away chord charts of the songs they liked.

And they came home with us, two kids from Germany, touring the West Coast for four weeks, living in their car, eating too much fast food, looking for the California of they imagined their peers living – surf and skate and beach and left-over 60’s hippy culture.  I suggested we stop and pick up some pizza, but my wife knew they needed a home cooked meal. And they did. They had been eating fast food for weeks and were good and sick of it.

We sat on our backyard patio in East Lake, the cool Pacific breeze in our faces, the water lilies on the pond glowing in the West Coast sunshine , the queen palms waving, our deep green  square of irrigated grass shining in the dry heat, discussing the game we saw yesterday. The baked chicken and stuffing and fresh green salad disappeared at an astonishing twenty-year-old-boy pace. It was summer in the USA and Germany was meeting the real California.

When I was in grade school, I had ridden an historically early version of the skate board with steel wheels, in college I had worn a white arm band with a blue dove on it,  I had written my freshmen comp paper on the “War Ravaged Children of Vietnam,” and I had surfed at Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach in the 70’s.

We fed them stuffing as if it was Thanksgiving, and they told us about Spaetzle with layers of cheese on it. We grabbed a laptop. Off we went to Weiler and Lindau in southern Germany. We looked at pictures of Lake Constance and historic town-hall buildings. Back and forth we flew between San Diego and Weiler.

We explained why, when they woke up in their car at 7 a.m., at the beach parking lot, on the fourth of July, people were streaming by them with boogie boards and coolers, families everywhere, filling all the available space. They were mystified. But, we knew the answer.  Who doesn’t go to the beach on the fourth of July in San Diego? We told them about being in Rome in a few years back when the Pope came to town, and how we took the train to Ostia to avoid the crushing crowds. In California on the fourth of July, it is always as if the Pope is at the beach. Everyone wants to see the grandeur.

We talked about their  choices to go to Yosemite and Sequoia, why in San Diego they would want to walk along the beach by the Hotel Del Coronado at sunset, visit La Jolla Shores to kayak and snorkel at La Jolla cove. We recommended they not spend too long in Las Vegas when they went next week. And we let them take showers upstairs, knowing that living in your car was great fun but lacking in offering certain pleasurable daily living-at-home rituals. They were grateful we insisted.

They left in the evening, off to the beach again, to see the palms trees that have so oddly absented themselves from southern German hometowns, to see the California gold puddle in the salty water as the sun set over the West Coast yet again, to see the real Southern California.

I told them they had to email me when they got home, so we would know that they made it back okay. We sat back out on the patio satisfied. On the 5th of July, without leaving San Diego, we had gone to Germany and come home again.

Friendliness is underrated.

Life is orchestrated by unifying forces.

Here Comes the Sun

Posted: January 17, 2008 in nature
Tags: , , , ,


“The jewel that we find, we stoop and take it,

Because we see it; but what we do not see

We tread upon and never think of it.” 

                                                                               Angelo – Measure For Measure

To live in San Diego is to live among jewels, and to really thrive here one must be constantly looking down. There is one precious treasure San Diegans walk on daily — it is the sun, the jewel that defines the city.

Sun, sun, sun – in this town you walk all over it. Check the bottoms of your shoes. They are probably warm. San Diegans bask in sunshine about 70% of the daylight hours. City hall scandals, half-a-million dollar house prices, Qualcomm stadium, Balboa Park, the San Diego zoo, Sea World – all and more make up the local identity, but it is the average daytime temperature, the 70.5 degrees, that best defines this city. The essence of San Diego, in the long run, is what piles up on the red tile roofs, covers the sidewalks and fills the potholes in the streets most everyday – sunshine! Sunshine is San Diego’s bejeweled identity.

The experts say that the Sun’s energy output is about 386 billion billion megawatts, and  in San Diego the sun certainly rules as Shakespeare’s jewel multiplied by billions. The sun is warmly overhead and underfoot here often and it’s worth taking a second look at it. If you live here, if you pay the local sun tax, if you visit here — don’t miss this radiant gift.  How could you? You could. We all tread on jewels.

Illumination 101

One of the primary lessons the impressionist painters taught is to catch light on the smooth surfaces. In 1892 the French Impressionist Monet rented a room opposite the Cathedral of Rouen and painted the church’s facade over and over again. Each painting is a unique study in light, because with the changes in light, the colors and angles of the walls were ever changing. This approach still yields treasure.

When the sun is out, San Diego’s architecture is a vast sun catcher. In the afternoon the huge windowed walls of San Diego’s downtown buildings turn into great sheets of fire as the sun sets over the Pacific. Solar fire falls onto all unblocked offices and homes facing west. Every window becomes the sun’s picture frame. Some places in the world are defined by ice. San Diego is defined by fire.

On a sunny afternoon, the edges of the city, an overhead street sign, the top of a building, a fender speeding down the Interstate 5 – all turned to California gold. A custom wheel spins the local yellow star into a perfectly straight thread of gold. Here, the ordinary commute home is a solar fantasia.


Natural Sun Catchers

Although the sun is the largest object in the solar system and contains more than 99.8% of the systems total mass, the small, thin, fragile surfaces of the natural world finely show it off. 

San Diego is a city where the trees work for the city as a force of light gatherers. San Diego’s palms are sun harvesters, and they fill up and literally drip with light. Their dark green and shiny surfaces turn sunshine into sterling silver. The tall Mexican fan palms drip silver light from their glowing fan tips. The graceful queen palms grab light with their long silver-green fingers. “Catch more,” they cry, holding up their hands to the sun.

Kate Sessions, San Diego’s early 20th century “city gardener,” who imported, propagated and popularized many trees here helped set the stage for a tree lit city. The trees in this city are the daytime street lamps.

The magnolias, bearing dark green shiny leaves, function as sun spades, slicing light in half. The avocados do the same. The secret to being a leafy street lamp is in having shiny leaves. Banana leaves glow like pale green lamp shades. Jacarandas blaze with an inspired blue-lavender splendor.

Light Remixed

Walls, shadows, leaves — it’s all good, but to see San Diego’s light in a special glory, one should see it mixed, and remixed with water. Along the cliffed beaches, the swells toss the water joyfully against the sandstone. Then as the salty sea runs back into the ocean, it grabs the light from the air and hangs glowing icicles of light between rock and sea.  Along the sandy beaches, the sun and water mix in another form as the waves  fall and break into tiny white water bubbles. The bubbles are lenses, they focus the light.  With the sun directly overhead, each single bubbles catch a bit of it and casts a tiny star-shaped bright spot onto the sandy floor below. Astonishing — the sun in a bubble!

It has been computed that one hundred and nine earths would fit across the sun’s disk. Its interior could house about 1.3 million earths and in this beach city, every sunny day the sun is as tiny and accessible to San Diegans as a bubble floating at the edge of the sea.

Stay at the shoreline that is filled with suns long enough and the light will get by you and head for the water, like some huge solar bonfire falling out of the sky. Every San Diego day ends with the sun in the sea. Down the bright light tumbles, past a bit of glowing dust wafting by like a planet, past the illuminated sea gulls, past the radiated tourists, past the silver palms. As it cartwheels toward the Pacific, it distorts in the thick atmosphere at the horizon, and its brilliant golden light trickles down its sides and puddles in the water. There it flows in a long glitter path, a sun road across the salty blue, collected finally in the tide pools, pure California gold.

At the end of the day, every San Diego frond and flat wall celebrates the sun. Every shell fragment lying on the shore and every wispy cloud above is baptized together for one glorious moment in golden fire until at last a tiny gold rim remains on the ocean’s horizon, and then is gone. The copies dissolve, the gold fades, and the light vanishes!  It was the jewel of the city.

Did they see it? Perhaps some San Diegans didn’t. Not to worry. In San Diego the sun will almost always come out tomorrow. And mostly likely, it will come out the day after that and the day after that. And although it may be tread upon,  there is the frequent opportunity here to stoop and take it — even for the briefest of flickering, sentient moments – the jewel of the city, the  beautiful, glorious San Diego sunshine.