Sunday, September 30, 2012

Freeway Noir: 7

It wasn't the darkness that was so terrifying.  It was everything that she could see in the light.

This wraps up Freeway Noir Week, folks.  Thanks for letting me share a series of shots taken from the passenger seat of a car while driving bumper to bumper home on the 110 freeway.  This coming week?  Color!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Freeway Noir: 6

"I don't want to go in there," She said when she saw the tunnel.

She had a habit of biting her lip when she was scared about something.  She was biting it it now.   It made him want to speed the car just to startle her.  He wanted to drive right up to the edge of the truck ahead and stop just short of collision.  A screech of brakes, a scattering of the change in the cup holder and possibly blood jazzing up that pale pink lipstick.

He didn't like it that he wanted to scare her this much.  As they pulled into the tunnel, she laughed a little.

"Oh," she said.  "This isn't so bad."

He kept his eyes on the lane lines, his foot carefully adjusting to the proper speed limit.  He didn't look to see if she was biting her lip.  It was probably to dark to see, anyway.

We're almost home from Freeway Noir Week -- a series of shots taken from the passenger seat while stuck in traffic on the 110 Freeway.  

Friday, September 28, 2012

Freeway Noir: 5

The hotel gleamed like platinum in spite all those dirty windows. She'd been fooled by flash before.  It was shiny, sure.  But it wasn't clean.

I'm dipping my toes into the dark side with Freeway Noir Week -- a series of monochrome shots taken out of the car window while stuck in traffic on the 110 freeway.  

And no, I wasn't driving the car --- but I was just driving my family crazy as I tried to channel the spirit of Raymond Chandler.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Freeway Noir: 4

Nothing in this place was truly civilized.  Even the palm trees stood like wild sentries threatening to attack all who approached the concrete jungle.

Freeway Noir Week continues.  Share my shots taken while stuck in traffic on the 110.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Freeway Noir: 3

With all of the infernal sunshine in this town, there are bound to be shadows.  A lot of shadows.

Join me this week for Freeway Noir: a series shot from the 110 Freeway.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Freeway Noir: 2

In a cityscape turned ghostly by dusk, painted faces stared from an almost-empty parking structure.  She was a long way from home...

Join me for Freeway Noir this week:  a series of shots taken while stuck in traffic on the 110.

(Do I have to mention this again?  I shot all pictures from the passenger seat, not the driver's seat.  And boy was it hard to drive from there!  I kid, I kid...)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Freeway Noir: 1

Anyone who lives in Southern California knows that being stuck in traffic for too long can make you feel dark and paranoid.  With that in mind, this week I bring you a series of shots taken while stuck in traffic on the 110, trying to get back to South Pas.  From the 4-level to the tunnels, Los Angeles offers the perfect noir landscape.  Anyway, you guys know that I love a chance to pretend like I'm the lovechild of John Alton and Dorothy B. Hughes...

It's Freeway Noir Week, everyone.  A series of shots from the 110 freeway, en route to South Pas.  

Disclaimer: DUH!  I wasn't shooting while I was driving.  Haven't any of you heard of carpooling?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Dance 'Til You're Blurry

I don't know if you guys have been paying attention, but the world has been conspiring to be a ginormous buzzkill lately.  We've got the usual election year mudslinging, more terrifying violence in the Middle East,  dour economic forecasts and enough accompanying bombast to make me wish for a universal mute button.  Not only that, but just when we all have tried so hard to embrace healthy eating, some nosy guys in lab coats just figured out that rice -- pure, simple, Whole Foods staple rice -- contains dangerous levels of arsenic.

Arsenic.

Really!?!

I say we all need a little cheering up.  Even though it's Sunday, it's time for another installment of Laurie's Friday Playlist!  Heck, if you play these tunes long enough, it will feel like Friday.  You might even decide to ditch this week's duties all the way to next Friday, in which case I offer the usual disclaimer:

In no event will we be liable for, including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss of reputation, dance injuries, shirked responsibilities or public displays of silliness arising out of or in connection with the use of Laurie's Friday Playlist.  Play these songs at your own risk, and make sure to turn the volume up to 11.

As usual, you can find all of these songs on iTunes, Amazon and most other MP3 sites.  Remember, I tend to jump around the musical spectrum and might follow the Cotton Eyed Joe with Mozart's Requiem.  Why?  Because when life offers you a buffet, it's best to pile your plate high and sample everything.

So, put on your dancing shoes because today I bring you  Laurie's Shameless Dance Party ... a Playlist for Cutting Rugs and Shaking Booties!  Don't worry, there's not a Macarena or Chicken Dance in the whole mix...

Let's start with an a fantastic classic from the swing era. Anyone who thinks radical music was born with the electric guitar hasn't really checked out the wild carryings-on from the age of jitterbugs.  If the Andrews Sisters were the 1940s versions of Disney pop stars, Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey were the ones your mother warned you about. (Even Keith Moon had nothing on swing drummer Gene Kruppa.)  Here's one of my favorite recordings of Sing Sing Sing with Benny Goodman's orchestra, a fantastic Harry James trumpet solo and Kruppa himself in all of his wild glory.

Don't sit down yet, I'm just getting started.  Next, I bring you something that has probably already blown up your Facebook feed.  But in case, like me, you never check Facebook, I bring you the Korean sensation Psy with his infectious dance track Gangnam Style.  It proves to everyone that groove is the universal language and dancing like nobody is looking is probably the key to peace between nations.

Speaking of dancing like nobody's looking, let's slow it down for a few minutes and trance out with Radiohead's front man Thom Yorke as he offers wonderful weirdo choreography to accompany Lotus Flower.

Like this mellow vibe?  Then hang out on the dance floor for some classic psychedelic naval-gazing with the Beatles Tomorrow Never Knows.  Who needs electric guitars when we have a sitar and a tamboura?

Feeling warmed up?  Then rave on into the classic nineties dance track by Underworld that always makes me feel like anything is possible.  Karl Hyde and Rick Smith are now considcered the elder statesmen of electronica -- even acting downright responsible by serving as musical directors for the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics.  But here, in Rez, they're the hypnotic pied pipers of party fun.

Don't put down those glowsticks!  This past week, Shannon Leto of Thirty Seconds to Mars dropped a brilliant remix of the band's song Night of the Hunter.  It turns an epic track worthy of a Kubrick-directed rock opera into an infectious electronic dance piece.

Okay, everybody can come back to earth now, grab a partner and show off your best Texas two-step with this catchy country rock song City Lights by Jeremy Williams.  (Hint: the brilliant Austin singer/songwriter just happens to be my nephew -- and you can get his entire album on iTunes.)

We've all heard the old saying, "I'm dancing as fast as I can!"  Well, those behind South Africa's Shangaan Electro Dance have gone literal.  180 beats per minute?  Why not?!  Or, in the words of Richard Hlungwani during a CNN interview, “The world will go faster. It won’t go at the pace it’s going now, It will go a little bit faster, because Shangaan electro is going to do that.”  Check out the Electro Dance here with Nwa Pfundla. 

I know what you're thinking ... what we need right about now is some good, sixties-inspired Brit-Rock with a beat that makes you want to put on your GoGo boots and do the Pony!  Gotcha covered with Miles Kane's impossibly hip Rearrange.  All I know is that I want this guy to score the next James Bond series.

Which brings us to our final number, by a woman who is no stranger to GoGo boots.  Most of the Best Of lists choose Vogue as Madonna's most fabulous dance song, but I have always been partial to Ray of Light.  It's utterly goofy with melodic optimism, and that's just what I want.  It's unbridled hope and inspiration set to a beat that everyone can dance to.

Keep dancing, everybody.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

a world of lizards


“It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see..." 

"You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?" 

"No," said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, "nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people." 

"Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy." 

"I did," said Ford. "It is." 

"So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't people get rid of the lizards?" 

"It honestly doesn't occur to them," said Ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want." 

"You mean they actually vote for the lizards?" 

"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course." 

"But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?" 

"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?"

 "What?"

 "I said," said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, "have you got any gin?" 

"I'll look. Tell me about the lizards." 

Ford shrugged again.

 "Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happenned to them," he said. "They're completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone's got to say it." 

"But that's terrible," said Arthur.

 "Listen, bud," said Ford, "if I had one Altairian dollar for every time I heard one bit of the Universe look at another bit of the Universe and say 'That's terrible' I wouldn't be sitting here like a lemon looking for a gin.” 

― Douglas Adams, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

Thursday, September 20, 2012

And Another One...

I'm on a roll, gang. Yet another beautiful car I had not seen before. Wish I'd had my camera with me, but my trusty iPhone captured the moment in a pinch.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vroom Vroom

I'm still tickled by all the old cars cruising around South Pas. Every time I think I've seen them all, a new one shows up. I mean an old one.

A new old one.

Oh, you get what I mean...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Map of a Few Generations

Lucky for me, I live in a place where masterpieces are literally minutes away from home. Here, at the Norton Simon in Pasadena, Sam Francis' Basel Mural I offers a beautiful, expressive focal point.

Some people meditate for clarity, but I prefer to stare at something like this to sort out the big questions of life. And like meditation, staring at artwork often brings surprising revelations.

I've always been partial to Francis, and not just because of his expansive visual style. He belonged to the same era as my father. They were both born in California, both joined the Army Air Corps during World War 2. My father was fortunate enough to serve his time in the Pacific without any physical injuries, but Francis was badly hurt during training maneuvers and spent three years recuperating in bed.

During his recovery, Francis learned to paint. He used his new hobby as an escape as well as an expression. I remember once showing my father a print of a Francis painting. I don't recall if it was the one in today's post, but it was similar in its wild explosions of noisy color. I saw infinite optimism and potential when I looked at it.

"Interesting that he was in the Air Corps," Dad said. "This painting kind of reminds me of what the ground looks like after a bombing mission."

Ever since that conversation I can't look at anything by Sam Francis without thinking of my dad.
In Francis' last years, as he was suffering from cancer and clinging to life, a bad fall took away the use of his right hand. Like so many of his generation, he didn't let the setback stop him from achieving his goals. He simply used his left hand to create a series of brilliant small works.

That also reminded me of Dad. No matter how badly my father's body fell apart during the last years of his life, he was undaunted and without complaint. He might not have painted canvases, but he filled our family's world with great beauty all the same.

When my family and I visited the Norton Simon recently, I stopped for a while to look at this familiar painting. I'm about 15 years older than the last time I saw it. I still find the optimism there that spoke to me in my youth, but I can now better imagine the world it brought back to my father.

"What do you think of this one?" I asked my daughter.

"It looks like a map of a sad place," she said. "But it's hopeful too. I'm not sure why."

And right then, I realized how weirdly connected families are ... how my little girl not only saw what I saw in that painting, but also the impressions of her grandfather who died before she was born.

"Or," she said walking away, "Maybe he just liked paint splatters."

Art. It transforms, connects and heals. (And sometimes even makes us laugh.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

two golden hours


"Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered for they are gone forever."

--Horace Mann

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012

El Centro After the Rain

A simple street corner, a little rain, a setting sun. Nice how something so ordinary can seem so ... extraordinary.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Walking Toward the Big Sky

Even the alley behind the railroad tracks looks promising with clouds like this.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

a portion of the rainbow...

“The true harvest of my life is intangible - a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched.”

--Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Old World Charm

It's hard to imagine poor Walter Raymond back in 1934, fretting away his last days in the caretaker's cottage of his magnificent Raymond Hotel, late on the mortgage and gripped with panic as the Depression brought financial ruin and a wrecking ball destroyed his creation...

While the grand hotel has been gone for decades, the caretaker's cottage still remains. It's home to The Raymond Restaurant -- a perfect South Pas Craftsman setting to enjoy creative cocktails and California cuisine. The bar has been set up in one of the back rooms of the house overlooking this beautiful patio. After a few of those well-mixed cocktails, you might feel just like you are back at the turn of the last century enjoying the Raymond Hotel high life. (Not that I would know or anything...)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Imagining the Rialto...

Wouldn't it be great if this were available right around the corner?

Yesterday I took my family to see a special screening of Secret of the Wings at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. Secret of the Wings is the latest in Disney's Fairies franchise, and I can't imagine a more magical setting for a screening than the majestic El Capitan.

Unless, of course, it could be at our very own Rialto Theatre.

Naysayers love to insist that glamorous old movie palaces aren't practical, that people would rather stay at home and watch their Blue Rays than go sit in a theater, especially an old theater.

Well, the sold-out show at El Capitan yesterday is just one example of how wrong those naysayers can be. (I've covered many other success stories of renovated movie palaces in my Rialto series on Patch right here and here.)

When the curtain rose yesterday, illuminated by dozens of glimmering lights every bit as whimsical as fairy dust, Little Bit said, "This place is more special than any other building in the world! Will we ever have a theater like this at home?"

I don't know. I hope so.

Share my dream of a reborn Rialto? Join Friends of the Rialto here.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Color Week #7 PURPLE

Who knew a garage door could be so avant garde? I hope a garage band practices in there. Preferably one that samples old Edith Piaf with an accompanying vuvuzela...

No?

Well, it's a perfect way to round out Color Week. Thanks for taking a break with me to look at our technicolor hometown.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Color Week #6 BLUE

It's hard to be blue with skies like this.

Nothing dark this week, folks. Just bright, shiny shades of Color Week.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Color Week #5 GREEN

I'll bet you thought I would post a photograph of one of South Pasadena's famous green parrots? Instead, take a look at another of our feathered neighbors. I've seen this guy and his posse wandering all over town, especially in the Arroyo adjacent neighborhoods and in Monterey Hills.

Color week continues for a few more days!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Color Week #4 YELLOW

Not that you would ever consider such a thing, but if you were to climb over the fence of the water tower at sunset you might see a view like this one. (I'm speculating, of course.)

It's Color Week this week at Glimpses. No black and white but everything else.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Color Week: #3 ORANGE

No jack o' lantern could possibly be spookier than this sky after an autumn storm in Garfield Park. The ground was squishy with mud and the air felt like it had ice stuck to it, but the sky blazed.

I'm using all the colors in the Crayola box for the next few days. Join me for Color Week.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Color Week: #2 PINK

In the pink? I'll say. If you don't think this is the most awesome, over-the-top proof positive that fairies exist and they are living right out in the open where everyone can find them, then you must either be colorblind or have no soul.

This is more than pink. This is pink if it had several more syllables and a publicist.

To heck with Fifty Shades of Grey ... This week my fetish is color. Join me as I paint the town.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Color Week: #1 RED

I've been consumed with black and white photography lately, so it's time to have a colorful interlude. This week I bring you color, color and more color. Join me as I take a trip across South Pasadena's rainbow.

I could have featured a detail of one of South Pasadena's red brick buildings, or maybe a still life with strawberries, tomatoes and apples from the Farmer's Market. Nah, I just couldn't resist this beautiful old red car. Long may she run...

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Unrelated, but important: South Pas friend and neighbor Yvette emailed me about the loss of her pet cockatiel Lamby Bird and I want to put the word out in case anyone in town has seen him. See the side bar on the right of this post for more info

Saturday, September 1, 2012

And Many More

This is a special birthday wish for the beautiful, effervescent and brilliantly talented Shanna Galloway:

My dearest Shanna, may your year be filled with inspirational views and dreamlike vistas. To heck with silver linings ... here's to gold ones!

(Now, everyone go over to Shanna's blog VIEW and marvel at the most gorgeous sky photographs of all.)