Monday, February 28, 2011

Winter Tree/Spring Sky

I couldn't resist posting another from the incredible storm-related light show the other day. We might not have gotten all the freak snow everyone was predicting, but we got some gorgeous colored skies.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Edge of a Storm

The light was incredible yesterday around sunset. North of this spot -- and out of the shot -- our San Gabriel Mountains were shrouded in ominous black clouds. Everything to the south, however, was billowing and colorful. It was like being sandwiched between storm and calm. Here, a cyclist (and I) look at the bright side.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Executive Decision

I can just imagine the conversation when this entryway was being designed:

"I just can't decide," he said when he came back to the office. "I have seven different tile samples to choose from, but I can't pick one. I like them all."

"Then use them all!" She said. Her eyes sparkled, magnified by the bifocals she had worn for the twenty years she'd been his secretary.

"The Board wouldn't like it," he said. "The Board definitely wouldn't like it."

"But you'd like it," she said. Then, more softly, "And I'd love it. I'd absolutely adore it."

(Sometimes, the secretary is simply more powerful than the Board.)

Friday, February 25, 2011

The trees along this city street...

The trees along this city street,
Save for the traffic and the trains,
Would make a sound as thin and sweet
As trees in country lanes.

And people standing in their shade
Out of a shower, undoubtedly
Would hear such music as is made
Upon a country tree.

Oh, little leaves that are so dumb
Against the shrieking city air,
I watch you when the wind has come,—
I know what sound is there.

--Edna St. Vincent Millay

Thursday, February 24, 2011

In N Out

I'm not going to pretend I don't know that this In N Out is officially in Alhambra, because borders don't matter when it comes to great burgers. Anyway, it's barely over the South Pasadena city limits. (And you can smell those fries cooking practically all the way to Garfield Park!)

There's a reason this Southern California institution is so famous: yummy burgers. And if you're wheat intolerant, it's really the only fast food joint in town. There's no hidden gluten in the fries or shakes, and the bunless, lettuce-wrapped protein style Double Double is one of life's great joys. In fact, I wish I had one right now.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I can never decide the best part about this vantage point ... the classic bungalows in the foreground, or the water tower on the hill. (Is it too much to mention that the parrots love to hang out in the trees here?)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


“. . . That's what my work is about, the collapse of everything, of meaning, of language, of values, of art, disorder and dislocation wherever you look, entropy drowning everything in sight . . . "

--William Gaddis

Monday, February 21, 2011

Winter Vista

Look what we found yesterday morning! Altadena Hiker has some great shots here, too. I have a feeling today is going to be a kind of snow theme day for San Gabriel Valley bloggers. I'll update with links to more pictures as I find them.

Update: Check out Mister Earl's snow pictures here!

Ben over at the sky is big in Pasadena posted a shot taken by a guest photographer right here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Storm View from Pasadena

I saw the storm brewing from a parking structure in Pasadena yesterday. I couldn't resist trying to capture those intense clouds. (By the time I got back to South Pas, it was pouring.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I love the old buildings on Fremont and I hate to see an empty storefront there. So let's do a twist on my favorite game -- and give me yet another chance to make you guys do all the work as I recover from this blasted cold:

If you were going to open a business in this spot, what would it be?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Palms, Wires, Sky

Note to self: next time, release a single red helium balloon before taking this shot. (Can't you see it?)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I don't know what it means either

I found this sign when I was wandering around the neighborhood south of Huntington. And while we're on the subject of the neighborhood south of Huntington, please check out my latest column at South Pasadena Patch. (It should post sometime before lunch today.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pink Trees...

The cherry blossoms are here just in time for Valentine's Day! Ordinarily, I would ramble on today about the benefits of being a hopeless romantic -- but I have a cold and I can't manage to warble my usual love songs when my nose is this stuffed up.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ticket Booth in Limbo

I often take odd, abstract photos of the Rialto. The theater cries out for someone grieve its decay and imagine its rebirth. It has been reduced to a moldering collection of walls and doors and objects, not the thriving city arts, film and music center it could be.

It really could be!

But, until then, it sits. Very still. Perfect to find little pieces of it to fill my viewfinder.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ah, Kindergarten...

The new friends! The lessons!

The colds.

We're sick yet again around here. Your faithful blogger is too zonked out to offer much today, so talk amongst yourselves! (And if you are anywhere near a five year old -- any five year old in town -- run as fast as you can and douse yourself in Lysol.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

On the sidewalk...

Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.

--Jack Kerouac

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Winter Light

The low-hanging sun was just begging to have its picture taken. So I obliged.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Quiet Moment

I've always been moved by the subtlety of Edward Hopper. The way he carefully constructed diagonals and shapes in so many of his paintings (Nighthawks, is a great example) brought a great modern aesthetic to his realism. The way he painted hope through a filter of melancholy always summed up what it is like to be a child of the twentieth century. I always think of Hopper when I look at the houses in today's photo. The archetypal setting, the muted color scheme, the little teacup shrubs, the wonderful lines, lines and more lines would have been great if translated by Hopper's brush.

Art historians always speak of the way Hopper's works exist in "quiet moments." Art scholar Deborah Lyons said it well, "Our own moments of revelation are often mirrored, transcendent, in his work." Hopper found epiphany in the mundane.

It's in the Hopper spirit that I study South Pasadena. The classic American symbols here are set pieces for our own revelations. Our ordinary things --the Craftsman houses, the topiary bushes, the mid-century driveways promising freedom and adventure not far from home -- have been quietly beside us in our moments of grace and wonder. They provided a backdrop for generations of lovely, commonplace history. They still do.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Big Musings on Little Details

There are so many quirky little details I've come to love about South Pasadena. You know what I'm talking about -- the wonderful minutia of this place, the bits and pieces that make our particular tapestry into a comfy sort of security blanket.

There are lovely little details like the way pigeons always congregate on the street lamps at Fair Oaks and Monterey. (Start noticing it! It's like they all got a memo.) There may be a few counter-culture birds lingering in other spots, but the main perch action during the day is always at the Fair Oaks/Monterey intersection. I notice those birds every time I stop at that light, and they always make me feel better. I know they're hanging out up there, like they always do. It's as if they're saying go ahead, move along, we've got things covered here.

There are other little details like the way the library is never actually silent because the chairs -- those fantastic, old chairs -- are so creaky you can hardly shift positions without announcing your move to every other creaking patron nearby. It's wonderful, really. It never ceases to make me giggle and elicit glares from serious South Pas students who ensure that our school district scores high on standardized tests. They don't seem to notice cricket-hum of all that constant squeaking. Maybe it is as familiar to them as it is to me.

These are the little details you wouldn't know by simply passing through. But they've become dear to me as I put down roots in this place and, who knows, leave my own weird little marks here.

The lamp in this picture has been crooked since I can remember. Sometimes I drive by just to make sure it's still crooked. I think of it as my own crooked touchstone, and it always seems to set me straight when I need to feel grounded. If the homeowners ever get around to fixing it, I might just have to come by in the night and tip it back to this position.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Threatened Wilderness

God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.

--John Muir

When the Arcadia Woodlands were razed last month, most of us were stunned. It was a reckless decision carried out with little discussion and an almost gleeful disregard for public outcry. The echoes of all those chainsaws and bulldozers still reverberate, making it hard not to imagine warnings from the spirit guides that surely must haunt our Arroyo corridor. We have paved so much of paradise. For decades we have slashed and buried because it was easy or handy or politically connected. But we simply can't destroy all of our wild places in the name of convenience. We have so few green spaces left, we must use our best minds to find ways to manage the needs of civilization without decimating our natural wonders.

Which brings me to nearby Hahamongna Watershed Park. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Works is leaning toward turning much of it into yet another dumping ground. (CORRECTION: they are leaning toward destroying much of the habitat in order to remove debris. The end result is the same: it means turning much of this beautiful wilderness into a wasteland.) Our good friend Petrea over at Pasadena Daily Photo has studied this developing story with great interest. Please take a look at her post from yesterday and follow the links for more information, as well as ways to help.

I will include more information here in the coming weeks.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Shadow Boxes

So, I've been looking at a lot of Escher lately, can you tell? The shadows were so lovely at Charlie' yesterday, I couldn't resist trying to capture them.

UPDATE: Hey, check out my latest at South Pasadena Patch! I didn't realize it was being run today. It's a history of the Raymond Hotel with video montage of wonderful vintage pictures. I pretended to be Ken Burns and narrated the video.

Friday, February 4, 2011


I'll seek a four-leaved shamrock in all thy fairy dells,
And if I find the charmed leaves, oh, how I'll weave my spells!

--Samuel Lover

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It all evens out...

A friend in New York called me on my cell phone the other day. She had just ducked into a cafe to warm up before walking to the subway in a snowstorm. I had just sat down on the bench in this picture. Remind me of moments like this when it's 105 this summer and we haven't had rain in two months.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Homemade Fountain

Today is the first day of the month and that means it's Theme Day for participating City Daily Photo bloggers. This month's theme is Fountains.

I know, I know ... I could have shown you this one. But that would have been too obvious.

For a worldwide gallery of fountains -- enough for a lifetime of wishes -- check out what my fellow bloggers have come up with. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.