Get Your Own Hobby

In response to one of our Loyal Readers who suggested I get a hobby and quit photographing the Painted Utility Boxes of San Diego, I say this:

Get your own damn hobby.

That said, I now present you with even more of my utility box finds.

This box portrays a rather industrial-looking building with one heck of an antennae, somewhere in front of a mountain range.  While this box lives in North Park, I think it is portraying the San Diego East County government building.

I think the design would have been more strong had they incorporated the safety label into the building itself, rather than design the building around the label.

This utility box tells the story of the agrarian life on the family farm being encroached upon, divided up, and parceled out by modern life and highway culture.  What was once all pastures is now chopped up by highways stuffed bumper to bumper with cookie cutter identical vehicles.  The drivers of these vehicles are emotionally stunted by their lack of connection to the land.  This fact is symbolized in the art by the lack of any portrayal or depiction of the drivers.  The only wildlife are carrion birds.

While this isn't a utility box per se, it is a street light, and street lights are part of the overall utility infrastructure.  It is a stretch, but I'm going with it.

This very cool looking stenciled bit of art is on the base of a street light outside and Italian coffee shop in North Park where I had a really lousy chai and a really awesome pastry.  Anybody know who this is supposed to be?

The top of this utility box shows a good sized common king snake.  King snakes are common in many of San Diego's little canyons and ravines, and do a heck of job of keeping the rodent population down.  They probably also keep the lagomorph population down, but I'm not going to ponder cute little bunnies being suffocated by the constricting coils of a cold blooded predator.  That thought bums me out.

Aquatic theme, lots of eyeballs, Mac the Knife.

Adjacent box, still aquatic, still some eyeballs, and how small is that surfboard if it is the right size for a seahorse?

Wow. What a babe.  This hot utility box was photographed in IB. That 'hood is not afraid of sultry sirens.

Even the mermaids get Restylane here in SoCal.


My Census Job

To riff on this past year's theme of my bizarre employment or lack thereof, I have been in training for the past week or so for my deeply glamorous and fulfilling new work gig with the the US Census.  We all have preconceptions about what a bunch of idiots the census takers are, and I'm here to share with you just a few little gems from my training with the census.

Our census worker training sessions met in a temporary building, unironically referred to "The Outhouse", situated behind a union workers' meeting hall.  Our outhouse sported dark faux-wood paneling and metal folding chairs which created a cozy rec-room pizza party vibe.  The cool vibe almost, but not quite, cancelled out the  musty veterinarian office odor wafting up from the wall to wall indoor-outdoor carpet.  That carpet really tied the room together.

Here are a few bright and shining highlights from census training:

When covering a training module regarding personal safety, our instructor gave us the very reasonable guidance to avoid areas that are known to be dangerous or areas we feel could might even maybe possibly be dangerous.  Don't go into apartment buildings where the hall lights are burned out, don't go into condemned buildings, don't do your work after dark, don't get yourself tangled up in the fangs of a fierce attack dog.  All of these points are valid and reasonable.

One of my fellow census workers then asked, "As a census worker, can I carry my firearm?"

Two points:  1) I don't know!  CAN you?  It is  MAY I carry my firearm, little Mr. Poor Grammar Militia Guy!  2) Really??  Are you really asking that question?  Why on God's green earth would a census worker need to carry a firearm?

Seriously, we are counting people in households.  We are not on the SWAT team. The gun carry question then metastasized into this fellow informing all of us at census training of our constitutional rights, his concealed carry permit, and the California law that allows all of us to carry unloaded weapons, which we all know are really really useful.  This topic was workshopped for a good twenty minutes, handbooks and training manuals were checked and rechecked, phone calls to superiors were made, and the conclusion was reached that since the census training manual does not explicitly overrule our constitutional rights to keep and bear arms, then it looks like we are good to go on the weapons carrying.  Good to know.

My second favourite census training moment came when we were covering the training section wherein it is explained that it is not our job, as census workers, to report illegal activity and that no negative ramifications can come to an individual as the outcome of complying with the census.  The point, no matter how convoluted the presentation in training, is that all census info is confidential, census data is not used to cross reference with immigration information, no deportations will occur as a result of participating in the census, and no personal information is made public for 72 years after the gathering of said personal information. The census takers are counting how many folks are in the household, not who has a green card and who doesn't.

One of my fellow census trainees then asked, "What if you go to a door and some guy is killing some lady?"

Excellent question, to which I ask, "Do you really think if somebody is murdering somebody else they will come to the door to answer your census questions??"

Knock! Knock!  "Hi, I'm Joe from the US Census!  How many people are in your household?"

"Well, it was 2, but now we are down to 1."

"OK, thanks!  Hmm, since you are killing that lady right now, I'm wondering how many people were in your house as of April 1, 2010?"

"Oh, I see! Since I just killed this lady today, it would be 2 total in household back on April 1, 2010."

"Thanks for your participation in the US Census!  Goodbye!"

I imagine more gems will present themselves soon enough, and I"ll be sure to tell you all about them.


Tito Gaona Utility Box

Who doesn't love a circus on their box?


You Can't Hold a Good Utility Box Down

Our tour of found-art and colorful improvements of utility infrastructure continues!

While this first picture isn't really a utility box, it is a concrete pylon that has been beautifully rendered into a luscious depiction of California Poppies.  The artist's use of complementary colors in delicate, almost pastel hues lends a softness to this hard and dried up corner next to a car repair shop.  This photo was taken in North Park.

Wow.  While I do like the multi-culti depiction, this one just makes no sense to me.  Is that a piggy bank, or is it a plastic shopping bag? Or the weird love-child of a piggy bank and a plastic shopping bag?  This gets the WTF award out of this particular batch of utility boxes.

This is the backside of the same utility box.  The person's head is wrapped in an old-timey mumps scarf, and the teapot/brown paper bag seems to be the epicenter of a big red snake/sausage.

The dog playing with a ball is sporting some large and blank Special Moments eyes, while the other dog looks like he is wearing glaucoma glasses and a circus dog tutu-like collar.

I am willing to be that these 2 sides were done by the same artist who was exploring different techniques and motifs.

Adjacent to the above pictured utility box we find this other multi-culti family and earth themed utility box.  The colors are bold, and all the people portrayed have weird noses and no eyelids (with the exception of the older gentleman in the bottom left of this utility box) yet are cute and not too weird or creepy.  The overall effect is a charming and eye-catching utility box.  The  Keith-Harring-esque style works well here.

The little angel is chubby, eyelid-free, and sporting quite a leaf.

While the colours have faded and the details have flaked and weathered a bit, the spirit and joie de vivre of this utility box shines through.

The fun Vaudeville-ey pictures really spice up this corner of El Cajon Blvd.  I do love the curvy dame in front of the mic, and the jester who keeps 5 balls in the air through rain, foul weather, or 148 blearily sunny San Diego days each year.

The back side sports a grumpy looking Chaplin-like ringmaster, and a little girl with the bunny she just pulled from the top hat.  Or maybe she is trying to stuff the bunny into the top hat.  One mustn't assume.

I love this utility box.  It could be may favourite on in all of San Diego.  I am a sucker for the Vaudeville theme.  But, you know, I really love all the painted utility boxes.  They may be bush league, but they are a delight.  Who would have thought that such a conservative military town would have such an widespread and unsung cultural and artistic bounty such as this?


Why oh why am I driving a Toyota?? Pics from the Lowrider Show

Why the heck am I driving a Toyota???  It is fuel efficient, paid for, compact, easy to park, and it has no soul. None.

IQ and I went to the 40th Annual Chicano Park Day festival and Low Rider Show.  Good Lord!  There were panty-droppers everywhere you looked.  This is one super awesome event that truly put all of Texas to shame.

Here are some highlights from what we saw:

FYI: My Toyota has no airbrushing on the hood.

No dragon slaying, bow and arrow sporting magnificent airbrushing exists on my little Yaris.

No semi-nude babes adorn the front of my car.

I have no skulls or curlicues.

My little Yaris has no stylin chrome.  It is not as sexy as this one.

My Yaris lacks heft, style, and brawn.  It also is not nearly as shiny and fancy as this old car.

Nobody wants their picture taken in front of my Toyota the way they do in a front of a classic Chevrolet.

Nobody looks super stylish and cool just for sitting in my car.  This car, however, adds a heavy dose of bad-ass to whomever comes near it, much less sits in it or owns it.

Gorgeous hood ornament.  Do you think I could special-order one of these for my car?

Sweet paint job on an old caddy is way cooler than my gray Yaris.

Gather round, y'all.  This car won "Best Paint Job".

I May Be Poor, But This City is Painted-Utility-Box Rich

I know I haven't posted in a while; it is because I have been in a deep, dark, lousy surf, unemployed, jury-duty-serving malaise.  There is only one thing that can lift one's spirits after such a string of mediocre weeks.  Well, two things, and since we don't have jobs and friends and a great house lined up in a city that is an awesome match for us, then you know what I am talking about:  PAINTED UTILITY BOXES.

Bring. It. On.

Here is an exuberant, yet not overwrought, art-deco inspired box near Hillcrest.  It is caddy-corner from a Starbucks that serves stale cupcakes.

Here is the back side of the same utility box.  I like how they seemed to incorporate the actual shape of the utility box with the tall building motif.

This box has a nice vibe reminiscent of 70's colour block/flower power pieces. It is simple, has little depth, but dresses up the utility box nicely.

This box is right outside a school playground in Hillcrest.  It looks to me like what a grown-up envisions when they think of art done by kids.  It is fake kid art.

Is the art fake or is the kid fake?  Both.

This utility box is also outside the elementary school in Hillcrest.  Some not so clever vandals changed it up some, leaving it almost as cryptic as it was pre-tagging.

What kind of an angry animal is that?  The head shape suggest a kitty, but the teeth are not cat teeth.  This critter's dentition is totally lacking in incisors or canines, and the whole set of teeth look more like an herbivore's teeth.

This is the partner piece utility box of the mysteriously-toothed kitty creature utility box.  This critter is less fierce looking, and kind of looks like a skunk or maybe a cartoon of a sports fan who has painted their face.  The teeth on this one are so indistinct they offer no help in identification.