Category Archives: History

It’s San Diego Gay Pride weekend!

Out & About

Gay flag in Hillcrest, San Diego, CaliforniaThis weekend is Gay Pride weekend in San Diego.

If you ask yourself why we have Gay Pride weekends in virtually every major city throughout the world, well,

  • as soon as we can get married to the person we love throughout the world;
  • walk down the streets holding hands;
  • make out under the street lamp on the corner like so many straight couples do;
  • put pictures of our loved ones on our desks and walls at work;
  • U.S. and Gay Pride flagsall with nary a second thought….

well, we might not need a Gay Pride weekend anymore. Until then….

This might be the first San Diego Gay Pride weekend that I have missed completely since my first one in 1993.

So here are some pictures of past Gay Pride weekends:

Rainbow balloons

God loves all her children

Lining up for the parade

Colorful costumes

When do i get to vote on your civil rights

San Diego Pride

Gay dog

Rainbow flags

Celebrate diversity

San Diego gay pride parade

Proud ally

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego Gay Pride Weekend is one of the few 3-day gay pride events in the world and, because of our weather and the beaches, is always well-attended. They were expecting around 200,000 people for the 2-hour parade this morning, and more for the festival today and tomorrow, ranking it as San Diego’s largest civic event.

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Tony Gwynn statue at Petco Park in San Diego

Out & About

This morning I went with the Pacific Photographic Society for a private tour of Petco Park, which is where the San Diego Padres profess to being a major league baseball team. Their current record as of today is 41-54, good enough for third place in the National League West, out of 5 teams in that division.

Oh, well.

At least the tour was much better than our major league baseball team is.

On the north side of the stadium is a statue of Tony Gwynn, also known as Mr. Padre. Looks like this:

Tony Gwynn statue at Petco Park in San Diego

Sadly, Tony Gwynn died on June 16, 2014, at the age of 54, after battling salivary gland cancer for about a year. I don’t know what caused the cancer, but chewing tobacco used by major league baseball players comes immediately to mind.

Gwynn was born in Los Angeles and attended college at San Diego State University where he played baseball for three years and basketball for four years. He was drafted on the same day in 1981 by both the San Diego Padres baseball team and the San Diego Clippers basketball team, ultimately choosing baseball.

Gwynn hit left handed and won eight batting titles, was an all-star 15 times, and won seven Silver Slugger Awards for his offensive skills and five Gold Glove Awards for his defensive skills. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007, his first year of eligibility.

Gwynn played in the World Series in 1984 and 1998, the only two World Series appearances in San Diego’s franchise history. He had a .338 career batting average and never hit below .309 in any full season. Gwynn retired with 3,141 career hits with the San Diego Padres, one of just ten players to reach the 3,000 hit club while only playing for only one team.

Following his retirement from professional baseball, Gwynn was hired as the head baseball coach at San Diego State University, which is when I got to know him as I hung out often at Aztec baseball games.

The Padres retired his #19 jersey number in 2004.

RIP, Tony.

Location of Tony Gwynn statue
Location of Tony Gwynn statue at Petco Park in San Diego, Californai

Go to location on Google Maps

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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At least they have new fences….

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

If you go to the world-famous La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California (a neighborhood of San Diego), you can stand looking at the ocean and see this:

La Jolla Cove panorama, La Jolla, California

La Jolla, California

Seals and sea lions at La Jolla Cove, La Jolla, California

Sunset at La Jolla Cove, 10-17-12, La Jolla, California

If you turn and look behind you, this might be what you see:

Red Roost Neptune cottage in La Jolla, California

Red Rest Neptune cottage in La Jolla, CaliforniaNeptune cottage in La Jolla, California

Those two houses, named Red Roost (top) and Red Rest (bottom), were built in 1894. They are the region’s oldest surviving examples of late-Victorian beach cottage architecture.

They were bought in 1967 by the La Jolla Cove Motel and Hotel Apartments, today known as the La Jolla Cove Suites. On adjacent land sat the La Jolla Bath House, demolished to make way for part of the La Jolla Cove Suites.

The owners intended to demolish the red cottages and build an apartment building. They met with community resistance, although the San Diego City Council withdrew its objection to demolition in 1975. In March 1976, the cottages were placed on the register of the California Office of Historic Preservation, an action that the owners knew nothing about.

That designation, a subsequent designation from the National Register of Historic Places, and the fact that San Diegans passed Proposition D in 1972, setting a height limit of thirty feet on new construction in La Jolla, have prevented the owners from developing the properties.

Since they could not develop the property as they wished, they evicted the tenants in 1977 and began what appears to be intentional and prolonged neglect.

There have been many plans over the years to develop or restore the properties, but none of them have come to fruition.

In 2010, the two properties were put up for sale at $10 million each. I’m sure the land itself in this location is worth $20 million, but the hassle of trying to develop or restore these two houses precludes any logical, sane person from spending that kind of money on them.

Historic structures are required to be kept weatherproofed and free of litter and excess vegetation. I’m not seeing that here and wonder why the City of San Diego doesn’t do something. This is so sad.

Well, at least the houses have new fences around them……..

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Halls of History—Billions and billions served

Halls of History

When I started college at Texas A&M University in September 1973, I lived in Moore Hall, a dormitory just feet from a McDonald’s restaurant at Northgate. It became my go-to dining experience if I missed eating in Sbisa Hall, and for late evening, midnight, and after-midnight snacks.

Texas A&M UniversityWhen I moved off campus for my sophomore year, it was more of an effort to get to McDonald’s at Northgate, several miles away. Fortunately, there was another McDonald’s a half mile from me on Harvey Road. Since it was on the way to campus, it became my daily dining experience for the final three years of my undergraduate experience.

I lived in Houston from May 1977 to April 1983 and never did find a McDonald’s to call my own.

When I moved back to College Station in April 1983, McDonald’s on Harvey Road again became my go-to eatery…. for ten years!

When I arrived in San Diego on April 27, 1993, I immediately looked for a McDonald’s. Amazingly, there was one in Hillcrest right behind the Center for Social Services, which is where I “came out,” and where my life was centered for the next eleven months.

Recently, I discovered that the McDonald’s at 1414 University Avenue in Hillcrest was built in 1977 but is an original McDonald’s location from the 1960s. Here it is:

McDonald's in Hillcrest, San Diego, California

My discovery came about because two of the three original locations remaining in San Diego County were in the news.

One is at 1146 East Valley Parkway in Escondido, about 30 miles northeast of Hillcrest, and the building was recent demolished and rebuilt, now looking like this:

McDonald's in Escondido, California

That restaurant was not yet open when I went by on June 6. It should be open now.

The third oldest location, at 137 Canyon Drive in Oceanside, about 30 miles due north of Hillcrest,  is the one that was making the biggest headlines here. It looked like this on June 6:

McDonald's in Oceanside, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Along with it being an original location dating from the 1960s, it also has one of the few remaining signs stating how many billions of burgers had been sold:

Mcdonald's in Oceanside, California

If you look at your local McDonald’s, it probably says something like “BILLIONS AND BILLIONS SOLD.” The sign at the Hillcrest location says “BILLIONS SOLD.”

McDonald’s pre-corporation history started when Richard and “Mac” McDonald opened a barbecue restaurant at 1398 North E Street in San Bernardino, California, on May 15, 1940. The San Bernardino location is now an unofficial McDonald’s museum owned by the Juan Pollo restaurant chain (not related to El Pollo Loco).

McDonald’s as a corporation was founded on April 15, 1955, when Ray Kroc opened the ninth McDonald’s restaurant after, according to one source, having purchased McDonald’s equity and assets from Richard and Maurice. The real story of Kroc’s purchase might never be known because there is a lot of disagreement about how it came about.

Ray Kroc’s aggressive business practices were the subject of the song “Boom, Like That,” released in 2004 by Mark Knopfler, formerly the guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for Dire Straits.

Ray Kroc, who had joined McDonald’s as a franchise agent in 1955, lived much of his life, and died, right here in San Diego. He owned the San Diego Padres professional baseball team from 1974 until his death in 1984.

Just a mile down the road from me is The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, which has one of San Diego County’s year-round ice skating rinks. Regretfully, the Salvation Army is quite homophobic so I have not been by to visit the facility and, thus, have no pictures of it. And you won’t find a link from my blog to their web site; you’ll have to find it on your own if you’re interested.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#1: El Prado Designation Area, part 11

San Diego Historical Landmarks

For the introductory blog post to San Diego’s historical landmarks, click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 1
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 2
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 3
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 4
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 5
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 6
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 7
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 8
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 9
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 10

El Prado Area Designation

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Next to the San Diego Museum of Art is the Timken Museum of Art.

Timken Museum of Art

Timken Museum of Art San Diego

Of all the buildings in Balboa Park, this one seems most out of place because its architecture does not match the predominant Spanish architecture. It was designed by San Diego architect John Mock and is considered one of the most important examples of mid-century southern California modernism, as well as one of the finest examples in the United States of the International Style. Construction materials include travertine, bronze, and glass, embracing the landscape of Balboa Park from its lobby, and making great use of natural light created by pioneer lighting designer Richard Kelly.

Putnam Foundation Art CollectionThe Timken Museum of Art houses the world-class Putnam Foundation Art Collection and is considered one of the great “small museums” of the world. It is the only museum in Balboa Park which does not have an admission fee. Donations, of course, are happily accepted, and memberships are available.

The Putnam Foundation Collection dates back to the early part of the 20th century when sisters Anne and Amy Putnam came to San Diego. During their extensive travels, they developed a love of fine art and spent decades acquiring European old master paintings, mostly for public collections in San Diego, but also for their own private collection. They established the nonprofit Putnam Foundation in 1951, and subsequent acquisitions became part of the Putnam Foundation Collection.

The Timken Museum of Art was founded in 1965 as a permanent home for the Putnam Foundation Collection, featuring paintings from European and American old masters. Notable artists represented in the collection include Rembrandt, Rubens, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, John Singleton Copley, and Eastman Johnson. The museum also is noted for its collection of Russian icons, icons here having a totally different meaning than in today’s computer world.

Since I only today realized that the Timken Museum of Art always has free admission, I scurried over to Balboa Park and made my way to the museum. I was quite impressed.

They don’t allow any photography whatsoever, so one either has to search for hours on Wikipedia or Google royalty-free images to find something, or you can go directly to the Timken Museum of Art online gallery.

I did find a royalty-free image of the one painting that I found the most impressive:

Death of the Virgin, Petrus Christi, Timken Museum of Art, San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I couldn’t find a royalty-free image with the frame, so I used a picture and put my own antique wood, museum-quality frame around it.

This probably was the largest painting in the museum, measuring a whopping 67×54 inches. I am not much into religious paintings, but I found the history of this painting to be interesting. In art, a painting’s history is called its provenance.

Titled “Death of the Virgin,” Petrus Christus (unk.-1475/6) painted this from 1460-65 using oil on oak panel. It is his largest known work and was originally the centerpiece of a triptych. The two side panels were destroyed during World War II, a fate of many works of art during that time.

Its provenance has been traced back to the town of Sciacca in Sicily during the 16th century. Various families in Palermo and Bagheria, Sicily, owned it until it was sold to Knoedler & Company of New York in 1938. The Putnam Foundation acquired it in 1951.

It has not been registered as stolen or missing by the Art Loss Register database, nor is it known to be an art loss related to World War II. Barring any future research revealing it to be stolen or missing, it will most likely remain here in San Diego at the Timken Museum of Art.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (6-9-14)—Beep beep

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

On this date in 2006, the movie “Cars” was released. Since we have had so much fun recently with old cars and car music, I thought we would continue with our cars theme for today’s Music on Mondays.

Our last cars-themed Music on Mondays ended with 1957, so let us continue with 1958. All of these songs are, of course, in my music collection.

“Hop In My Jalop”
Chuck Alaimo Quartet

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Let’s Go For A Ride”
The Collegians

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Spark Plug”
Four Teens

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

A couple of years ago I was going through Joel Whitburn’s “Top Pop Singles” looking for the title of singles that I used to have on vinyl but had not been able to find on CD or in digital downloads. That’s when I discovered Jan & Dean’s older music; you’re probably familiar with three of their hits: #1 “Surf City,” #3 The Little Old Lady (From Pasadena), and #8 Dead Man’s Curve. Dean was drafted into the Army in 1957, and while he was gone, Jan teamed up with Arnie to continue the surf rock sound that Jan & Dean eventually would become quite famous for. Here’s Jan & Arnie:

“Gas Money”
Jan & Arnie

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“The Ballad Of Thunder Road”
Robert Mitchum (yes, the movie star)

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When I graduated from high school in 1973, two friends and I spent the summer touring the United States west of the Mississippi River. We made it to every national forest, every national monument, and every national park, as well as every city with a population of 100,000 or more. Sometimes we just drove through to say that we had been there.

1954 Nash RamblerLarry, who had just bought the 1973 Buick Apollo that we went in, had grandparents in Sacramento, California (we lived in far south Texas, in Kingsville). We stopped to spend the night with his grandparents, and his granddad started comparing his 1954 Nash Rambler with Larry’s 1973 Buick Apollo (with a 400 ci engine). Granddad took us for a ride in his Nash Rambler, which had been slightly modified to include an 8-track tape player. The tape we listened to comprised nothing but car songs, many of them classics now. One of them was “Beep Beep” by The Playmates, which tells of a “little Nash Rambler” keeping up with a Cadillac. Oh, the disgrace for that poor Cadillac.

“Beep Beep”
The Playmates

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Halls of History—The 1961 Dodge Polara police car

Halls of History

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When Jim and I decided to go to the May 3 fundraiser for Cat House on the Kings in Fresno, we also decided to drive, even though the round-trip distance would be 800 miles….

we also decided to go up a day early and get a hotel room for Friday night….

we also decided that we would come back via the loop road that goes through Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park so we could visit the huge, gigantic, monster, really really big sequoias and redwoods….

we also decided to rent a car since rental cars are really inexpensive, they give you unlimited mileage, and they get better gas mileage than our 2002 Toyota Camry….

We stayed at a hotel in Visalia on Friday night, about 20 miles south of Fresno. When I got up Saturday morning, I went to check out the neighborhood, which basically meant that I walked around the hotel parking lot because my choice was that or walking along the freeway.

Around the corner from our room was this really cool car:

1961 Dodge Polara

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

That’s a 1961 Dodge Polara, but not just any 1961 Dodge Polara. This one is special.

I spent some time taking pictures and examining virtually every square inch.

1961 Dodge Polara

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

1961 Dodge Polara

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

1961 Dodge Polara

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

As I was taking pictures of the car, the owner came out of his hotel room and unlocked the car.

1961 Dodge Polara

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Check out the pushbutton controls:

1961 Dodge Polara

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Dodge Polara was introduced in 1960 as Dodge’s top-of-the-line full-size car. The Polara nameplate was retired in 1973.

The owner had just bought the car at auction and was driving it home to California. The trunk was full of historical papers and books documenting the history of this specific car.

In addition to being registered in Arizona as a historic car, its history includes starting out as a police car for the California Highway Patrol, one of only two authorities (the other being the City of Los Angeles) which used the 1961 Dodge Polara with police car outfitting. This was quite a historic vehicle.

The owner’s intention is to restore the car to its police days. I believe he said that he would need special permits in order to do that since installing flashing red lights and other such police outfitting on a car is illegal. Nonetheless, it was pretty cool that the car came with a trunk full of historical documents associated with the car.

1961 Dodge Polara

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays—Everything was fine up the Grapevine Hill

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Dare I say that one of the highlights of this millennium for me was being a vendor at the May 3 fundraiser for Cat House on the Kings? Yes. I’m just a silly softie for Mother and Father Nature’s critters, especially those rather closely related to Zoey the Cool Cat.

Zoey the Cool Cat

Jim and I drove from La Mesa to Fresno, 350 miles. Going over Grapevine Hill (“The Grapevine”) between Los Angeles and Bakersfield, with its twists and turns and up to ten lanes of traffic in each direction, was an experience itself.

Grapevine Hill

Go to location on Google Maps

Hundreds of big rigs were going up to 25 mph in the two right lanes while trying to make it up the 6% grade to the top of Tejon Pass, elevation 4,183 feet. They had their emergency lights flashing and were stomping on the brakes going down the other side. There are many runaway truck ramps on both sides of Tejon Pass.

Grapevine Hill is one of only two places in the United States where traffic is inverted, i.e., northbound traffic is on the left side of the freeway instead of the right side. Yuma, Arizona, has an east/west inversion.

Grapevine Hill handles extremely high traffic volume at all hours of the day between Los Angeles and the Central Valley (Bakersfield and points north). Traffic can be doing 110 mph in the fast lane and 25 mph in the slow lane. I tended to stay in the middle lanes doing 50-70 mph since I was unfamiliar with The Grapevine.

Back before Interstate 5 was built, The Grapevine was a long, winding road notorious for racing and accidents, made famous in the 1951 hit song, “Hot Rod Race” by Arkie Shibley & His Mountain Dew Boys.

“Hot Rod Race” tells the story of a Ford and Mercury racing on Grapevine Hill, neither driver gaining an advantage, and staying “neck and neck” until they both were overtaken by a kid in “a hopped-up Model A.”

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In 1955, Charley Ryan & The Livingston Brothers recorded “Hot Rod Lincoln” as a response to “Hot Rod Race”:

“You heard the story of the hot rod race that fatal day, when the Ford and the Mercury went out to play. Well, this is the inside story and I’m here to say, I was the kid that was a-drivin’ that Model A.”

At 0:45 is this verse:

Left San Pedro late one night
The moon and the stars were shining bright
Everything went fine up the Grapevine Hill
We were passin’ cars like they was standing still

San Pedro to the north side of Grapevine Hill is a whopping 100 miles, not exactly a leisurely drive, but this was when the car culture was gaining momentum in Los Angeles.

San Pedro to Grapevine Hill

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Probably the most recognizable version of “Hot Rod Lincoln” is the 1972 song by  Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen which peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#1: El Prado Designation Area, part 10

San Diego Historical Landmarks

For the introductory blog post to San Diego’s historical landmarks, click on San Diego’s Historical Landmarks.

#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 1
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 2
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 3
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 4
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 5
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 6
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 7
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 8
#1: El Prado Area Designation, part 9

El Prado Area Designation

View Larger Map

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Let’s keep meandering along El Prado to the East. We’re nearly to the end!

On the north side of the Plaza de Panama circle is the San Diego Museum of Art.

San Diego Museum of Art

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego Museum of Art

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The San Diego Museum of Art is the oldest, largest, and most visited art museum in San Diego County, hosting a half million visitors each year. The Museum’s permanent collection of Spanish and Italian old masters, South Asian paintings, and 19th- and 20th-century American paintings and sculptures is one of the best in the nation.

Arguably the Museum’s most famous possession is The Penitent St. Peter, painted by El Greco from 1601 to 1605, and purchased for the Museum in 1940 by Anne and Amy Putnam.

The Penitent St. Peter

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Museum regularly features major exhibitions from around the world, as well as an extensive year-round schedule of supporting cultural and educational programs for children and adults. There also is a research library which provides access to an extensive collection of art history publications.

Art Alive San Diego Museum of ArtEach year since 1981 the Museum hosts Art Alive, its major fundraiser. Floral designers use organic materials, mostly flowers, to interpret a work of art from the Museum’s permanent collection. For four days the resulting creations are displayed next to the art work that inspired them.

Although many of the buildings throughout Balboa Park were built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, this building was not one of them. Construction on this building did not begin until April 1924, after almost two years of planning for a municipal art gallery.

Appleton S. Bridges (1848-1929), a local business and civic leader, funded construction of the building. He hired William Templeton Johnson (1877-1950), one of San Diego’s leading architects at the time, to design and construct the new art gallery.

San Diego Museum of ArtAlthough the Spanish Colonial-style architecture from the 1915 Exposition suggested the style, Johnson and his associate, Robert W. Snyder (1874-1955), looked directly to sixteenth-century Spanish Renaissance models in the plateresque style for inspiration, specifically the Cathedral of Valladolid in Valladolid, Spain; the University of Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain; and the Hospital de la Santa Cruz in Toledo, Spain.

Architectural sculptor Chris Mueller, who had supervised architectural details of many of the 1915 Exposition buildings, enhanced the façade with the addition of sculptural elements, among which are life-sized sculptures of Spanish Old Master painters Velázquez, Murillo, and Zurbaran, and busts of El Greco and Jose de Ribera.

San Diego Museum of Art

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego Museum of Art

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

San Diego Museum of Art

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Heraldic devices and the coats-of-arms of Spain, the United States, California, and San Diego also are present.

San Diego Museum of Art

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San Diego coat of arms, San Diego Museum of Art

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Construction took two years, during which time The Fine Arts Society was formed from the merger of the San Diego Art Guild and the Friends of Art to operate the new museum. The Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego officially opened its doors on February 28, 1926, and ownership and maintenance of the building was transferred to the City of San Diego.

The core of the Museum’s collection was formed thanks to the generous donations of Appleton Bridges, Archer M. Huntington, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Timken, the Spreckels family, Alice Klauber, Mr. and Mrs. George D. Pratt, Mrs. Henry A. Everett, and Amy and Anne Putnam.

Visit the San Diego Museum of Art web site for more about the museum, including hours and current exhibitions.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!

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Music on Mondays (5-26-14)—It took 43 years?

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Arguably the top story in music news this past week was the lawsuit against Led Zeppelin by the relatively unknown (compared to Led Zeppelin) rock group Spirit. Spirit had its greatest success in the 1960s and ’70s. I have a complete collection of music by both groups.

My high school friends introduced me to the two groups when I was 16. Everyone knew how much I loved music since I played the piano and violin, and sang in the high school choir. When they had a surprise birthday party for me in March 1971, Mark Johnson gave me Spirit’s “The Family That Plays Together” album and Jamie Perez gave me “Led Zeppelin III.”

Happy anniversary to Jim & Russel

Led Zeppelin is in the process of re-mastering and re-releasing their music. The re-mastered Led Zeppelin I, II, and III are out. Led Zeppelin IV, their most famous album since it contains the incomparable “Stairway To Heaven,” was due to be re-released in a few weeks.

The lawsuit claims that Led Zeppelin plagiarized “Stairway to Heaven” from an instrumental section of Spirit’s song “Taurus.” I have known about the supposed similarities since 1997 when Randy California of Spirit discussed it in an interview just before he died. It should be noted that Led Zeppelin and Spirit toured together in 1968 and 1969. “Taurus” was released by Spirit in January 1968. “Stairway to Heaven” was released by Led Zeppelin in November 1971.

Have a listen; it’s the guitar in the introduction of “Stairway to Heaven” that is said to be plagiarized. Listen to “Taurus” beginning at 0:44 and then listen to the guitar in “Stairway to Heaven,” specifically the first 2:15.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

What do I think? Here’s what I think:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“All You Need Is Love”…. One of the greatest plagiarized songs of all time! (LOL). In the beginning you hear a Beatles rendition of the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in April 1792. Other bits and pieces include “Greensleeves,” first registered at the London Stationer’s Company in September 1580 by Richard Jones (“A Newe Northen Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves”), and Glen Miller’s “In The Mood.” Sources indicate that The Beatles paid royalties to Glen Miller for his contribution.

The Spirit lawsuit seeks to give Randy California writing credit on “Stairway To Heaven” and to block the re-release of “Led Zeppelin IV.”

So it took 43 years for Spirit to realize a similarity and file a lawsuit? Hmmmmmmm. Dubious. Then again, maybe it’s not too late for Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle and Richard Jones!

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If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!

Real Estate Solutions by Russel Ray