Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stairway to Nowhere

A friendly new reader tipped me off to this little bit of South Pas hiking history. It's on Monterey, about a half block east of Foremost Liquor. I couldn't see anything more than overgrown weeds but apparently, somewhere beyond this (blocked!)entrance 272 wooden steps lead all the way up the hill, topping out on Alta Vista. At least at one point they did. The chain link fence renders the whole area off limits now and my reader said the last time he climbed the stairs was back in 1980. Anyone else?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Serenade in Green

I couldn't make out exactly what he was playing, but it was something kind of like this.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Back From Lunch...

...and in my imagination, it included three martinis. Like this other structure, the building in this picture looks too retro to possibly live by today's rules. Voicemail? Nope. Just leave your messages with Velma at the switchboard...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Raising the Bar...

Reverse Happy Hour? I can imagine it now: you walk in and hear something from a jukebox loaded with Janice Ian, Loretta Lynn and Morrissey. The Karaoke hasn't started up yet, but when it does there is only one song choice. The bar napkins aren't printed with trivia questions, instead you read statistics for things like car crashes, divorces and bed bug infestations. There are no drink specials. There are no cocktail peanuts. There might be, however, a performance artist whose props include stage blood, a painting by Margaret Keane and a powerpoint presentation outlining the effects of global warming...

But what do I know?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Speaking of Birthdays: Glimpses of South Pasadena is 2!

How did I miss it? On July 13, GOSP quietly and uneventfully turned two years old. I'm not sure how it's possible that I have posted 743 photographs of our fair city. (Well, I suppose you can't count this one. Or this one either. But what the heck, that's still 741!)

A big thanks to all of you, my fabulous readers, for your continued collaboration. Your comments give this blog a color and depth I could never achieve on my own. Long-time residents offer an insider's history of South Pasadena. Visitors near and far stretch the boundaries of our San Gabriel Valley neighborhood to span the globe. I may take the pictures and write the posts but you, my readers, make this blog a real community.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Another Shameless Birthday Post

One of these days I'll sleuth around and find out why South Pasadena High School has these numbers in the sidewalk. But for today I'll just use this one to mark my 46th birthday!

I'm hopelessly obnoxious when it comes to birthdays. Everyone's birthdays. Even birthdays of people I don't know. (Yes, I'll sing along in a restaurant when someone is getting serenaded by harried waiters and well-meaning friends. I'll join in from across the room even if I don't know the person. I might even get a little misty-eyed.) That's right, I'm a full-fledged (birthday) card carrying sentimental fool and proud of it.

Birthdays don't always yield the best presents, and sometimes they roll around in the middle of one of those chapters in your life that, if written, might begin with lines like "the primroses were over" or "midway in our life's journey, I went stray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood." or even "as Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect."

Life is funny like that.

But birthdays offer a great chance to celebrate, ponder and plan your next big plot line. One with a brand new number on your jersey. So, dear readers, on this day of my birth you are ALL instructed to party hardy and eat cake! I'll be the one in the corner of the restaurant with a silly hat, a "46 is the new 30" T-shirt and an inferno of birthday candles just waiting for a really good wish. (By all means, sing along.)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Settings: Part 30

It's no wonder South Pas acts as a backlot for Hollywood. Not only does our city play a recurring role in film and television as America's hometown, but at ten minutes from downtown Los Angeles it still has a few unpaved rural pockets like this one. So... (you all know what's coming) if you were going to set a scene for a movie here, what would happen?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Just Guessing (Part 2)

It was still quite light out of doors, but inside with the curtains drawn and the smouldering fire sending out a dim, uncertain glow, the room was full of deep shadows.

--Kate Chopin

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Remnants of the Raymond

If you drive around Raymond Hill today you might not notice this broken bit of river rock wall lining several of the streets. The quiet stretch of stone is all that remains of the world famous Raymond Hotel. At the turn of the last century wealthy patrons were shuttled to their grand hilltop accommodations via an elaborate underground subway tunnel and elevator -- the only hotel entrance of its kind in America. After checking out the posh digs, the guests could admire the 19 foot ceilings of the dining room, play golf or hike around the Raymond's extensive garden pathways. If they made it to this stone wall they could survey the vast flower fields which grew around the base of the property. Those flowers added to the Raymond's cachet. The hotel was hyped around the world as a floral "paradise on earth", with fresh cut flowers placed daily around the hotel and in all the rooms -- even during winter months.

I always look to see if there is an errant poppy or snapdragon blooming near the wall now -- more subtle reminders of what was once there.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Suburban Citadel

Monterey Hills is a time capsule of mid century through eighties architecture -- a great counterpoint to all of the classic Craftsman, Victorian, Tudor and Spanish homes found around the rest of town. In fact, if I didn't already know that the Brady Bunch house was in Studio City, I would swear you could find it somewhere in the Altos.

I've heard of a man's home being his castle but this place seems more like a fortress. (A 1960s fortress where the guys from Dragnet might pull up for a stakeout...) Even so, I just love the way those beams cast sharp, pretty shadows in the afternoon sunlight.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hands Full

Been trying to juggle too many things lately? Yeah, me too. This guy from the recent South Pasadena Fourth of July Parade makes it look so easy!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

How hot was it?

It was so hot even the lemonade stand proprietors packed it up early and headed for the comfort of Popsicles and air conditioning.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Or bats?

I'll admit, I always look up at the belfry of St. James Church to see if I can spot Quasimodo or Scottie Ferguson lurking on those mysterious wooden stairs.

I've seen too many movies.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hoofing It

With two local stables (and a little girl who squeals like Christmas morning every time she sees a scene like this one) it's easy to envision a horse in my family's future. While nearby rush hour drivers fight freeway squall, here a few riders meander along the Arroyo with a peaceful clip-clop. Say what you will about Los Angeles and its car culture. In this neck of the woods the horses get the right of way.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

like a changing dream

But then the sunset smiled,
Smiled once and turned toward dark,
Above the distant, wavering line of trees that filed
Along the horizon's edge;
Like hooded monks that hark
Through evening air
The call to prayer;--
Smiled once, and faded slow, slow, slow away;
When, like a changing dream, the long cloud-wedge,
Grew saffron underneath, and ere I knew,
The interspace, green-blue--
The whole, illimitable, western, skyey shore,
The tender, human, silent sunset smiled once more.

--Richard Watson Gilder

Monday, July 12, 2010

Petal Pushing

One of my favorite Southern California flowers is the Agapanthus. It is commonly called "Lily of the Nile" but the name is misleading -- it's not a lily and all species are native to South Africa, particularly the region of the Limpopo River . (Not a Lily of the Limpopo? Now that's a great name for a flower!) When I first moved to Los Angeles my roommate and I thought the lanky, tufty-headed things looked like magic wands so we called them Wicca Sticks. I overheard my neighbor refer to them as "those feather duster flowers." Little Bit thinks they look like pompoms. Whatever they are, they sure add a festive note to summer gardens. What do you think they should be called?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

In a Minor Key

We didn't have much June Gloom this year, but July seems to be feeling a bit melancholy. While the rest of the country swelters, South Pas chills under heavy morning clouds. When this guy walked by he was humming something plaintive and beautiful. (Sunny days may be great for falling in love, but cloudy days are perfect for writing songs about it...)

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Sometimes it only takes a shift in perspective to reveal a whole new view. Here, a row of cypress trees reach for the sky along Arroyo Drive. I usually find these long, skinny things a bit mournful but from this vantage point I think they're full of hope.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sound the Fairy Call

When I sound the fairy call,
Gather here in silent meeting,
Chin to knee on the orchard wall,
Cooled with dew and cherries eating.
Merry, merry, Take a cherry
Mine are sounder, Mine are rounder
Mine are sweeter, For the eater
When the dews fall. And you'll be fairies all.

--Robert Graves

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Color Change

After all the red, white and blue of the holiday weekend, how about a little green?

Monday, July 5, 2010

New Heights

Kids literally jumped for joy at the Fourth of July fun fair at Garfield Park yesterday...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

2010 South Pasadena Festival of Balloons

Are you ready for a grand, old-fashioned Fourth of July party? You'll be hard pressed to beat South Pasadena's annual Festival of Balloons. Festivities start at 8:00AM with a Kiwanis Club sponsored pancake breakfast at the Fire Station. (Tickets are $7.00, kids under 6 eat free.) The famous South Pasadena Fourth of July parade starts at noon on the corner of Mission and Meridian, ending around 1:30PM at Garfield Park. (Take a look at some of the highlights from last year's parade here on my overflow blog. I'm particularly fond of these classic cars.) The fun continues in Garfield Park with family games and a smorgasbord of culinary delights from local food vendors. At 5:00PM the gates open at the South Pasadena High School football field for the annual fireworks show hosted by the Rotary Club. (Tickets are $7.00, kids under 2 are admitted free.) The rockets don't start red-glaring until 9:00PM, but there will be plenty of food, fun and music to keep you in the spirit of things until then.

Click here for the complete schedule of events.

Happy Fourth of July, everybody!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Gearing Up

South Pasadena certainly knows how to celebrate the Fourth of July. It's hard to top the pancake breakfast, the parade and the fireworks show but citizens try in the form of elaborate block parties. When we say the city shuts down for this holiday, many streets literally do shut down! (I can smell the barbecue already.)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Settings: Part 29

This house is too good not to use as a setting for a movie, if only for my favorite blog game! So, lets channel our inner Van Sant, Soderbergh and von Trier ... if this were the setting for a scene in a film, what would happen here?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thank You, Chief Watson

Today is Dan Watson's last day as Chief of the South Pasadena Police Department. It's no mystery how I feel about it, or about the circumstances leading to the Chief's decision to leave. It's also no mystery why Mammoth Lakes jumped at the chance to lure him to the mountains. (His first day as Police Chief of Mammoth Lakes is next week. You can read all about it here.) The powers that be in Mammoth recognized Dan's leadership, experience and wisdom in every way the powers that be in South Pasadena did not.

But the people of South Pas know Dan's worth. We know how lucky Mammoth is to have him. It was evident at yesterday's farewell lunch as hundreds lingered in not one but two thunderous standing ovations. How fitting that the event was held at the War Memorial building, a structure built for the purpose of honoring heroes.

Chief Dan is one of South Pasadena's heroes.

My father used to tell me to make sure I always left a place better than it was when I got there. I don't think I ever really understood what he was talking about until I met the Chief. Dan is much more than just the best police chief our city has ever had. His community involvement reached way beyond official duties. There is a common joke told around town that goes something like this: if you need to find Dan Watson, just go to wherever somebody asked for volunteers.

Chief Dan, you are leaving South Pasadena a better place than it was before you got here. We're a better city because of your guidance, and we are better people because of your fine example. Thank you. I consider myself lucky to call you my friend, and I know I stand with a crowd of others who feel exactly the same way. I think I speak for the entire city when I say that no matter where your adventures take you, we hope that you will always consider South Pasadena home.

We'll leave the light on for you.