Saturday, December 03, 2011

San Diego's Inferiority Complex

Ever since I was a child, San Diego has suffered with the thought it was Los Angeles' snot-nosed kid sister (Baja LA, if you will). Even as the region grew from a sleepy little navy town to a major metropolis it has always felt dwarfed by the great city to the north. (I'm sure Trenton feels the same way about Philadelphia.)

Sure, the San Diego Zoo is world famous and even Angelenos don't know where the LA Zoo is. And Sea World swallowed LA's Marineland of the Pacific back in the 1980's like a stray anchovy.

But, LA's college football teams are better than the San Diego Chargers. Malibu has better beaches than La Jolla. LA has a galaxy of stars in Hollywood while San Diego's biggest celebrity is a giant fish.
Technically, Shamu is a mammal.

The Getty Museum alone has more fine art than every museum and art gallery in San Diego. LA has world class graffiti that actually sells for thousands of dollars while San Diego is still in the pre-neanderthal spray painting lame initials on walls stage.

All of that is to explain San Diego's recent passion for public art. The stated goal is something on par with the Eiffel Tower or the Sydney Opera House. They want a photo op that people will travel around the world to gawk at. And, they want some big piece of shit that just screams "We're better than you, suck on this LA!"

One try was "The Kiss" (actual title "Ultimate Surrender" sounds like a lesbian nude wrestling league). A photo realistic rendition of a famous Life Magazine picture at the end of World War II (taken in New York) that stands a grotesque 25 feet tall. It is impossible in a photograph to show the disgusting kitschiness of this work. It was only supposed to be on loan to San Diego until 2010 but it is still there because no one else in the freaking world will take it.
Most visitors try to peek up her skirt.
A failed attempt at iconic art was to bridge the main road to the downtown convention center. Called "Pleasure Point," the sculpture was to use junk boats in a jumble that looked more like "Marina After Hurricane" than anything pleasant. The public attitude (generally WTF!!!) killed the project but a smaller version hovers over the entrance to to San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art.
It takes guts just to walk under this.
The latest plan to make the world forget the Pyramids is a couple of sail-like structures. At 500 feet, "Wings of Freedom" would be the tallest buildings in earthquake prone San Diego. Unlike the Sydney Opera House (where they preform operas) or the Eiffel Tower that offers a unique view of Paris, This sculpture would do nothing more than sit there collection sea gull poop.
The original plan was for an amphitheater but that was deemed too expensive. So the current idea is a useless lump of metal that will cost half as much as something useful.

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