Many people will end up at the new federal courthouse and wish they were somewhere else. It’s that kind of building. But it will have plenty of architectural flourishes and even an artistic one — a 33-foot-tall “acrylic prism” that’s been liberated from a basement up near Los Angeles.

The obelisk sculpture is an “anti-object object,” as our arts editor Kelly Bennett explains, the work of longtime artist Robert Irwin: “The artist known as the godfather of a Southern California-initiated art movement called ‘Light and Space’ will have his fingerprints on how visitors to the courthouse perceive the light and space there, both inside and out.”

As our story explains, the artwork has been around for a while but hasn’t found the right home — until now. It’ll fit into the big picture: Irwin is also designing a ramp of zig-zagging hedges for the $385 million courthouse, which is a few months from being finished.

Cleaning Up the Bay

A few weeks ago, we tagged along with an environmental activist who took us on a patrol through the bay and revealed how boat owners sand or paint their boats in the water, sending paint flakes into the water. That causes pollution and is against the law, but it seemed to be quite common.

One boat we found was covered with rust and looked abandoned. (And haunted.)

The Unified Port of San Diego promised to act, and it did. The boat has been removed to be demolished, our reporter Rob Davis writes, and officials have met with boaters to emphasize the rules. Meanwhile, the port has inspected the marinas for pollution problems (no citations were issued) and it’s trying to get grants to help it better deal with abandoned boats.

Attention Must Be Paid (or So They Think)

Many U-T San Diego readers still get their daily news the old fashioned way: on paper. In recent years, they may have noticed “wraparound” ads that cover part of the front page with a half-sized sheet of newsprint. Under its new ownership, the paper has started something new: putting editorials on the front page “wrap.”

The latest one wasn’t about the mayoral election but instead gave suggestions about vice presidential choices for Mitt Romney.

This is another example of the U-T’s ease with using itself as a bullhorn, like your annoying friend who only sends emails in capital letters. Could there be a downside? As our Scott Lewis notes, if the paper “keeps wrapping so many editorials over the front page, the ones that don’t get that play are going to start to feel bad.”

Oh great. Now we have to worry about editorials with low self-esteem.

On the Hoof and Under the Gun

Feral pigs are running amok in the county’s Cleveland National Forest backcountry, KPBS reports, and authorities are considering solutions ranging from gun-packing helicopters to hunting dogs.

Why are the pigs such a nuisance? “One, they destroy natural habitat. Two, they destroy habitat for protected and endangered species,” a national forest representative said. “They can contaminate water supplies and all our water becomes our drinking water, so there’s really no benefit to having the pigs in the forest.”

The pigs may differ.

Cars Where Cars Don’t Go

Something strange has been happening on local roadways: Cars have been leaving them to go places where they don’t belong.

Consider this: In the last couple of weeks, cars have crashed or driven into the Hillcrest post office, a donut shop in Point Loma, a sinkhole in Grantville, a carport in San Marcos and a pool in Escondido.

Several of the accidents occurred when the driver stepped on the wrong pedal. Only the latter accident, which took place on a stretch of road that residents think is risky, resulted in serious injury.  

Judge-Elect Kreep Decries ‘Birther’ Tag

Gary Kreep, the longtime conservative activist attorney who dismayed liberals by winning a local judgeship, tells the North County Times that he doesn’t like the “birther” label, even though he’s been a major force in questioning the president’s citizenship. “I don’t consider myself a birther,” he said. “I consider myself a constitutionalist. … My position is that our rights under the Constitution need to be preserved. If that means taking on a politically incorrect case — like taking on this (presidential) administration — that’s what we should be doing.”   

Kreep talks about his last-minute campaign — he filed with less than an hour until the deadline — and credits “grass-roots supporters, robo-calls, endorsements and slate mailers.”

One of those slate mailers urged voters to support Kreep — and the president he suspects is illegitimate.

Escondido’s Mystify-E-ng Public Art

It’s a little C on top of a big C! A bird on a … thing? Maybe a surfer on a wave?

Nope. The new 3-ton, $200,000 piece of public art making a buzz up in Escondido represents an E. It greets motorists near the south end of the city by the 15 freeway and is supposed to stand for the first letter of the city’s name.

The North County Times quotes the sculpture’s creator as saying it represents Escondido’s history through green metal (farming), silver (manufacturing) and steel mesh (both). Critics — the “eeeeee!” crowd — think it represents a waste of money, with one saying “they could have given the money to the food bank.”

Actually, the paper points out, that’s not possible. The city must use some fees on developers to support public art.

As a public service, I’ve come up with a solution: edible public art. It would definitely take some of the bite out of criticism.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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