San Diego Historical Landmarks—#11: Villa Montezuma (addendum)

San Diego Historical Landmarks

I’m going to backtrack here to add an addendum to my post about San Diego Historical Landmarks #11, Villa Montezuma.

Here is the original post in case you missed it: Villa Montezuma.

Villa Montezuma in San Diego, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Jeff Smith, a long time writer with the San Diego Reader, has an excellent column in this week’s issue in his “Unforgettable: Long-Ago San Diego” column titled “An evening at Villa Montezuma.”

Well worth the read, especially if you love history and music.

“Between 1887 and 1889, Jesse Shepard gave musicales at his Villa Montezuma. He had an international reputation as a singer/pianist. Others called him a charlatan. To bring instant culture to the pioneer town, San Diegans built Shepard a gaudy Victorian mansion at 205h and K Street. Here he performed and, some said, conducted musical séances. What follows is an imagined evening at the villa—Tuesday, February 14, 1888—based on eyewitness accounts….” Read the complete article.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Friday Flower Fiesta (3-20-15)

Friday Flower Fiesta

Photographic Art stamps made from pictures taken this past week.

Iceland poppy

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Unknown flower

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Unknown flower

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Unknown flower

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Clivia

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Sea lavender

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Kangaroo paw

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Unknown flower

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Cherry blossoms

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Primrose

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Sea lavender

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Unknown flower

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Movies you haven’t seen yet

My wise old grandmother

It’s been just a few months short of fifty years since my wise old grandmother adopted me.

With great hindsight after those fifty years, I think I was adopted into a lower middle class family.

Missouri Pacific LinesGranddad was a Road Foreman for Missouri Pacific Railroad and my wise old grandmother was a housewife.

We didn’t have a lot of money so my wise old grandmother taught me to conserve water and electricity, to eat all the food on my plate, to repurpose things, to never throw something away (“There is no away!”) until she had inspected and approved of disposing of that something.

When it came to doing the things that my friends were doing, things like buying music and going to the movies, well, that didn’t happen. My allowance was a dime a week, and with movies costing a quarter and 45 singles costing 69¢, I did not have the willpower to do without M&M’s and save my money for music and movies.

Once I was financially stable enough to buy music, I bought a lot. I was never a movie collector, though. Instead, I have always created lists of movies I wanted to see. When they came on TV as the “Movie of the Week,” I watched them. When Blockbuster and Hollywood Video came along, I rented movies. Now movies are available online so I don’t have to spend money renting movies or going to a theater where the floors are sticky. I just Google the movie I want to watch and add online streaming free behind the title. Then I watch!

Blue Angels MustangI’m currently watching 2014 movies (Google “2014 movies” for a complete list). The three most recent movies I watched were “Need For Speed,” “Enemy,” and “U Want Me 2 Kill Him?”.

I watched “Need for Speed” because I like fast cars. I thought it was a great movie, especially since a Mustang was one of the cars featured prominently.

I watched “Enemy” because Jake Gyllenhall starred, and I’m a fan of his work. The movie was a little difficult to follow, especially since I multitask while watching movies, so after watching it I read the Wikipedia entry. I liked the movie after watching it, but I liked it more after reading the Wikipedia entry. Does that make sense?

I watched “U Want Me 2 Kill Him” simply because it sounded interesting. It’s about the Internet and is loosely based on a real event about online chatting and how you don’t always know who you’re chatting with, even when pictures are available. Reminded me of this meme:

Don't believe everything on the Internet

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Although my favorite movies are action movies, science fiction, and horror movies, I also enjoy movies that end unexpectedly, that ending plot twist. The first movie I remember ending like that was Edward Norton’s first movie, “Primal Fear” from 1996. Richard Gere also starred but it was Edward Norton’s character that I remember.

“U Want Me 2 Kill Him?” has a similar plot twist. I totally understand how two teenagers can get wrapped up in online chatrooms and the Internet, how what you see might not be what you get. I also think it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

There was a lot of foul language in the movie, something I rarely like. However, the context of the language was appropriate for what the two teenagers were going through.

U Want Me 2 Kill Him?

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San Diego Historical Landmarks—#14E: Casa de Machado-Silvas (de la Bandera)

San Diego Historical Landmarks

Old Town San Diego State Historic ParkWithin Old Town San Diego State Historic Park (San Diego Historical Landmark #14) are many historic buildings and rebuilds. We’ll explore nine of them since they also have been designated San Diego Historical Landmarks.

The fifth one, San Diego Historical Landmark #14E, is Casa de Machado-Silvas (de la Bandera).

Casa de Machado-Silvas (de la Bandera)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This house was built by Corporal José Manuel Machado for his daughter, Maria Antonia, and her husband, Manuel de Silvas. Sources say it was built as early as 1832 and as late as 1843. Sources also disagree on names, some saying it was Maria Antonio and José Antonio Nacasio Silvas.

Machado was a “Leather Jacket” soldier of the Spanish army and was stationed at the San Diego Presidio in 1782. Leather jacket soldiers got their name from the long, sleeveless coat made of up to seven layers of white, tanned deerskin. Carried on his left arm was a two-ply cowhide and wood shield. Protecting his legs while traveling through thick chaparral was a leather apron that fastened to the pommel of the horse’s saddle and hung down over his legs. The leather apron evolved into the chaps of the American cowboy. The leather jacket soldier was well known for his skill in using lanzas—long, steel-tipped, wooden lances—in close combat.

The house became known as the “Casa de la Bandera,” or “House of the Flag,” when the lady (I could not find out who “the lady” was but I’m presuming she was Maria) hid in it the Mexican flag that had been cut away from the Plaza pole after the Americans had reoccupied San Diego in 1846 at the beginning of the Mexican-American War.

María Antonia renovated the house in 1854, turning it into the Commercial Restaurant, later renaming it Antonia Restaurant. At various times it also served as a saloon and a community church.

Machado Memorial Chapel

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Casa de Machado-Silvas (de la Bandera) was listed as a California Historical Landmark in 1932 and a San Diego Historical Landmark in 1970. In 1975, when the Caifornia State Parks took over the property, it was renovated into a house museum.

Casa de Machado-Silvas (de la Bandera)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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

For previous posts in the San Diego Historical Landmarks series, go here.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Peace in Ocean Beach

Picture of the Moment

One of the more eclectic neighborhoods of San Diego is Ocean Beach.

It’s a time warp right out of the ’60s.

It’s fun to go there because it’s a beach, of course, and it’s one of the best places to watch storm waves crashing to shore.

It’s also interesting to drive the streets because you never know what you might find on any given day.

Recently I found a large garden ornament, which fits in well with yesterday’s Music on Monday’s focus on peace.

Peace symbol in Ocean Beach stamp

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Music on Mondays (3-16-15)—Imagine a get together on the peace train

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Today seems to be a big war day because on this day in history, the United States Military Academy was established, the Battle of Averasboro (North Carolina) occurred in 1865, President Reagan ordered troops into Honduras in 1988, United States troops massacred unarmed villagers in Vietnam in 1968 in what would become known as the My Lai Massacre, and fighting on Iwo Jima ended in 1945.

So maybe we need to explore some songs about peace for today’s Music on Mondays….

Peace lily

At the top of my list of songs about peace would be John Lennon’s classic hit “Imagine” from 1971. Imagine if there were no religion and no countries. No gods and no borders to fight over. The world might truly live in peace….

“Imagine” by John Lennon

Surprisingly to me, “Imagine” only spent nine weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at #3. That made me wonder what #1 and #2 were. So here’s some history:

“Imagine” debuted at #20 on October 23, 1971. #1 was Maggie May/Reason To Believe by Rod Stewart.

“Imagine” jumped to #6 on October 30. #1 was Maggie May/Reason To Believe by Rod Stewart, and #2 was “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves” by Cher.

“Imagine” moved to #4 on November 6. “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves” took over the #1 spot, and #2 was “Theme From Shaft” by Isaac Hayes.

November 13 saw the same #1 and #2 songs with “Imagine” moving to #3.

November 20: Cher and Isaac Hayes switched places with Lennon staying at #3.

November 27: Isaac Hayes remained at #1, Cher at #2, with Lennon falling to #6.

December 4: “Imagine” fell to #10. “Family Affair” by Sly & The Family Stone took over the #1 position. “Theme from Shaft” fell to #2.

December 11: #1 and #2 stayed the same. “Imagine” fell to #13.

December 18: “Imagine” fell to #23. “Family Affair” remained #1 while “Brand New Key” by Melanie took over the #2 spot.

December 25: “Brand New Key” moved to #1 with “Family Affair” falling to #2. “Imagine” dropped completely off the chart.

In retrospect, I think “Imagine” has had a much longer shelf life than any of the other songs.

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The rest of the songs are in no particular order. Just whatever came across my mind as I was writing this post.

“Get Together” by The Youngbloods

Come on people now, smile on your brother.
Everybody get together and try to love one another right now

“Get Together” original was released in late 1967 but only made it to #62 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was re-released in 1969 when it was chosen as the theme for the National Conference of Christians and Jews, making it to #5 on the charts.

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“Peace Train” by Cat Stevens

Oh, I’ve been smilin’ lately,
Dreamin’ about the world as one

“Peace Train,” released in 1971, peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Cat Stevens probably is the epitome of walking the talk. In December 1977, Cat Stevens (neé Steven Demetre Georgiou) converted to Islam, adopted the name Yusuf Islam in 1978, and auctioned all of his guitars in 1979 and donated the money to charity. He left his music career to devote himself to educational and philanthropic causes in the Muslim community. He has received several awards for his work in promoting peace in the world, including the 2003 World Award, the 2004 Man of Peace Award, and the 2007 Mediterranean Prize for Peace.

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My six favorite San Diego vista points

Out & About

The following are my six favorite places from which to view San Diego:

San Diego Sky Tours

San Diego Sky Tours takes you on a 20-minute flight over downtown San Diego, Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres), Qualcomm Stadium (home of the San Diego Chargers), Sports Arena (home of the Los Angeles Clippers when they were the San Diego Clippers), SeaWorld, Coronado Bridge, Hotel Del Coronado, beaches, San Diego River, and more! Take a ride in a biplane, a tour aircraft, or a helicopter. Nothing quite like it. Rates start at $124.

Remember, too, that if you fly into San Diego, sit on the left side of the airplane. The view of downtown San Diego as you are coming in for the landing is not to be missed!

Downtown San Diego from San Diego Sky Tours

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Mount Soledad

A very popular tourist vista because it’s just minutes north of downtown San Diego, and downtown La Jolla, one of the area’s best tourist venues, is on the north side.

Mount Soledad rises about 823 feet above the coastline. There is a huge cross and Veterans Memorial at the top. On a clear day you can see Tijuana, Los Angeles, and probably Tokyo!

View from Mount Soledad

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Mount Helix

The most popular vista point in East San Diego County. Mount Helix rises 1,365 feet above sea level. It’s about 14 miles inland but you can see the ocean on a clear day. There is am amphitheater and large cross at the top. Along with Easter Sunrise Service, there are usually theater presentations during the summer. Right now the only thing I see on the Mount Helix calendar are weddings and Power Yoga.

Mount Helix is my favorite place to see the sun rise.

Sunrise from the top of Mount Helix in La Mesa, California

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Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel

In downtown San Diego on the harbor front. Comprising two towers, the older one, at 497 feet tall, has a vista point bar at the top. Unfortunately, it is way too small and crowded all the time. Be sure to visit Seaport Village at the foot of the towers.

Downtown San Diego

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California Tower

The California Tower is 198 feet tall and located in Balboa Park.  While it is not as tall as the other vistas, the views are spectacular.

After having been closed for eighty years, it opened again on January 1, 2015. If you go, and I highly recommend that you do, make reservations and buy tickets online. They sell out far in advance, and it’s not even Tourist Season yet!

You won’t go to the tippy top because it’s not safe yet, but you won’t be disappointed. Afterwards, enjoy the rest of Balboa Park, including the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

California Tower and San Diego Museum of Man, Balboa Park, San Diego

Gian Panda Gao Gao at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Coronado

A trip to Coronado has to be on everyone’s list of places to visit while in San Diego. You will travel over the very beautiful Coronado Bridge on your way to see the Hotel del Coronado, one of the most famous hotels in the world; Frank Oz’s house where he wrote much of “The Wizard of Oz”; Coronado Beach, one of the best beaches  in the United States according to those who rank such things; and downtown San Diego from across the harbor. If your budget includes splurging at a restaurant, splurge at Peohe’s.

San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge

Downtown San Diego from Marriott Coronado Island Resort

Hotel del Coronado

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