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?
...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...
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...
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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, Brown-gray, 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.
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?
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...)
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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?
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.
In December of 2007, after many years on the west side of Los Angeles (and at least a third of those years spent stuck in traffic on Pico Boulevard) my family settled into a happy little house in South Pasadena. This daily blog covered over 4 year as I put down roots in my new home town.
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Thank you Charlie's Coffee House for hosting my recent photo exhibit, South Pas: Observed. From October 2011 through January 2012 my pictures graced the walls of the best place in town to get a cup of coffee!
Read the nifty story on photo bloggers Petrea Burchard, Ben Wideman, Kat Likkel and little old me featured in the September, 2011 issue of Pasadena Magazine.
For over 4 years, I presented a picture a day from South Pasadena, California -- an incorporated city within the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. All photos up to November, 2008 were taken with a Fujifilm Finepix E900 camera. I added a Fujifilm Finepix S2000HD megazoom in December 2008, a Nikon D3100 in 2010 and a Lumix DMC-DS8 in 2011. I shot with them all. In August 2010 I joined the iPhone camera craze and sometimes included pictures captured by my phone. I regularly cropped images and used basic editing software to adjust the brightness, intensify the contrast, and increase color saturation. Other than that, all images came straight from the camera with minimal alteration. (If I couldn't have done it in a darkroom, I wouldn't do it with a computer.)
The bigger picture:
Consider it a love letter to the place I call home.
You can click on any picture to see a larger version.
All photos and prose on this blog copyright Laurie Allee. Reproduction without written permission is prohibited. (Plus, it's really uncool.)
Run, don't walk to the nearest bookseller and pick up a copy of Margaret Finnegan's delightful debut novel, The Goddess Lounge -- undoubtedly the kookiest, most wonderful riff on Homer's Odyssey ever written. Margaret never ceases to inspire and make us laugh at her blog Finnegan Begin Again. Her book is magical, silly, smart and a wonderful love letter to the all the goddesses among us.
Kevin McCollister of East of West LA blows our minds with haunting images of Los Angeles. But since we can't put his blog on our coffee table, we can buy his fantastic book. I believe Kevin's images truly capture the quixotic and often heartbreaking soul of LA. Don't take my word for it, see what The LA Times had to say.