Nature's first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf's a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay. --Robert Frost Have something poetic to add? Go to the Community tab at the top of the blog whenever you feel like leaving a comment or just saying hello.
As I look toward Glimpses of South Pasadena's 10th anniversary next week, I've been featuring some favorite shots and narrative posts from over the years.
Some of my favorite photos are not my best technical ones. Street photography is funny that way. Plus, it's too hard for me to be objective -- and photography is such a subjective art, anyway. What I can say is that this particular photograph is my favorite. It was taken way back in 2008 with an old FujiFilm point and shoot bridge camera. (I first posted it here.)
I'll never forget the odd but wonderful feeling I had when, while having coffee and ice cream with my family at Busters, (remember Busters?!) I glanced at the large window and saw my darling little 3 year old Raine's reflection blending with the face of the beautiful, thoughtful young woman behind the glass.
In the early morning of December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Within hours they had also attacked the U.S. forces stationed in the Philippine Islands. Five days later, the South Pasadena Review reported that Lieut. Henry G. Lee of South Pasadena was safe in Manila. Henry was a member of the 31st US Infantry Regiment, and had been posted to the Philippines in 1940.
At the time of the surprise attack, The United States was unprepared to defend the Philippines. Henry was captured when the Japanese overran the Bataan peninsula. In February of 1942, he wrote his family this letter from Bataan:
by Laurie Allee I do wander everywhere, Swifter than the moon's sphere; And I serve the fairy queen, To dew her orbs upon the green. The cowslips tall her pensioners be; In their gold coats, spots you see; Those be rubies, fairy favours, In their freckles live our savours. I must go seek some dew-drops here, And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
--William Shakespeare Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II, Scene i
This shot combines several things I love about shooting pictures in South Pasadena. First of all, it's Kaldi. The historical building originally served as early South Pasadena's bank building but now offers a prime, central spot for satisfying a coffee jones while taking in a great view of the South Pasadena Public Library and Morrow Bay Fig tree. Second, it's one of those night shots that allows me to pretend I'm really a film noir cinematographer. Third, there's an old car. Even in this shot. See it?
I'm spending this week with some of my favorite Glimpses photos. Some things deserve a second (or even a third) look! Want to leave a message? Click on the Community tab at the top of the blog to say hi or start a conversation.
It's funny to think about the things that end up as traditions. I seriously doubt the Pilgrims put little marshmallows on top of their yams but a Thanksgiving table today hardly seems right without them, right? They flavor our memories, along with green bean casserole, pumpkin pie and the never ending argument about which is better -- cornbread dressing or breadcrumb stuffing. And at our house, no Thanksgiving would be complete without hand-shaped turkey cookies.
In fact, making and decorating sugar cookies spans all holidays around here...
I remember watching movies set in neighborhoods with Craftsman houses nestled into tree-lined streets and wondering where IS that?
Turns out, a lot of those films were shot in South Pas. While some people might be annoyed living among so many film and TV productions, I think it's fun to be a small part of the dream factory. (Plus, it's kind of exciting to see your street in a Steve Carrell movie...)
I've only gotten a few checks from a studio in the almost ten years I've lived here. One was merely for using my driveway to stage equipment for a CSI shoot down the street. Thanks, Hollywood!
I put together the above video a few years ago, so it is missing quite a few productions. (In fact, I've barely scratched the surface of South Pas film and television history.) I think I might need to make a Part 2.
Want to leave a comment? You can always click on the Community tab at the top of this blog to start a conversation.
These two South Pasadena parrots had been having quite a squabble. The one on the right had been chasing after the one on the left for most of the morning. The one on the left had no problem divebombing and pecking the one on the right.
After about twenty minutes of talking it out on this palm frond, they seemed to patch things up. Whew! I hate it when the neighbors fight.
You can always say hi or leave a comment by clicking on the Community tab at the top of the page.
We all know that South Pasadena has a lot of gorgeous old-growth and heritage trees. But did you know that our city is part of Tree City USA? South Pas meets the program's four requirements:
1. A tree board or department
2. A tree care ordinance
3. An annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita
4. An Arbor Day observance and proclamation. (I'll admit, I've never officially observed Arbor Day.)
Tree cities not only look better than their more sparse cousins, they enjoy things like better storm water management, energy savings and increased property values. As an unabashed treehugger, I agree that these are all good things. But I think I'd love trees even if they offered nothing of tangible value. Come on... they're beautiful, lush trees! What more do you want?
Before you click on the above video compilation of South Pas trees, I am reminded of my very favorite South Pasadena tree story. I've told this one before, but it's worth a repeat:
Okay, so this might not be technically abstract, but file it under modern, which is close.
I love the South Pasadena Craftsmans and Victorians ... but the mid-century modern homes in Monterey Hills are also wonderful. These ginormous doors really sum up that middle of the 20th Century optimism, don't they?
I'm all about finding art in the ordinary, people. (And optimism in doors.)
River rock as modern art? Yes! At least that's what I see when I focus closely.
Everyone who lives here knows that the San Gabriel Valley it is (literally) built on river rock. Here, we have a detail of my almost 118 year old home's original river rock foundation, built with stones dragged from the nearby Arroyo Seco. There are hundreds of similar river rock foundations holding up my friends' and neighbors' houses, but no two are exactly alike.
Stones as foundation, shapes as foundation of art, art as foundation for expansive thought... now you see it too, right?
I hope my South Pasadena friends and neighbors have stocked up for the Halloween trick or treat onslaught! This is one of my favorite video compilations from several years ago.
I get nostalgic around Halloween.
More than any other holiday, Halloween reminds me of life's brevity. How quickly kids grow up: last year's fairy costume doesn't fit, someone's too old to dress up like a pirate, this year the neighbor's giant blow-up monster no longer seems menacing...
"It all depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves." --Carl Jung
I've had fun looking through my lens darkly this week! Tomorrow I'll repost my favorite South Pasadena Halloween video.
"Deep into that darkness peering, long ago I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before..." --Edgar Allen Poe
Still feeling a Halloween vibe? I'm wrapping up my latest noir week tomorrow. Quote the raven: Nevermore! Quote you? Go here and say what you will.
"It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch." -- Raymond Chandler
Stay tuned this week as I get in the mood for Halloween with a little South Pasadena noir.
"There are things known, and things unknown. In between are the doors." -- Jim Morrison
I'm in a spooky mood leading up to Halloween, people. Check in this week for a daily trick or treat featuring darkness and light.
I received a great email from long-time reader Sally wanting to know how to directly access all of my Glimpses of South Pasadena photo slideshows and videos. Thank you for your interest, my good pal Sally! In case there are others who would also like access to all of the videos:
It's really hard to pick a favorite of all the old cars I've captured in South Pasadena over the years, but this one is definitely up in the top ten. Okay, in the top twenty. Oh, who am I kidding? I love them all.
Schrödinger said it was the defining trait of quantum theory. What is it? It’s that quirky talent discovered by quantum physicists whereby a weird telepathic link allows teeny tiny subatomic particles to mysteriously influence each other’s properties even if they are very far away from one another. These particles are linked together -- or entangled -- so that one can't be sufficiently described without a full mention of its counterpart. In fact, you can instantly influence the properties of a particle on the opposite end of the universe by merely nudging its entangled twin. Some say the power travels at millions of times the speed of light. Even Einstein was baffled. He called it too spooky to be real.
Okay, so I can’t really get my head around it either.
It's time for another round of Let's Read Books by South Pasadena Authors! From children's books to political commentary, history to literary fiction (and even cookbooks!) the list of books written by South Pas writers is long and varied. Here are my reader picks for Fall 2017:
The Los Angeles region doesn't have the greatest track record when it comes to preserving landmarks. Despite the efforts of dedicated preservationists, many architectural wonders have been lost to the wrecking ball. The Richfield Tower, The Brown Derby, The Garden of Allah, and The Ambassador Hotel are just a few of the historic structures that have been demolished in the name of progress. (Many South Pasadena residents were worried that our very own Rialto Theater would meet the same fate. Luckily, for now, that disaster seems to be averted.)
You won't find points of interest once the last art deco tile or Spanish arch has been hauled off to a landfill -- a parking lot here, a nondescript office building there. What's left behind is a creeping blight of utilitarian sameness that has earned Los Angeles the title of "Strip Mall Capital of the World." We've gained a lot of dry cleaners and nail salons, but we've lost a lot of our history and perhaps more than a little of our soul.
Spend enough time in South Pasadena and you'll notice that the Rialto, the historic buildings and the classic craftsman houses aren't the only remaining treasures of our past. This town has more than its fair share of vintage cars. Hang out on Mission Street on a weekend afternoon, and you'll see a promenade of enough old roadsters, coupes and muscle cars to satisfy even the most persnickety car buff. I'm not just talking about your standard issue American Graffiti-worthy hot rods, either. I've spotted a late 30s Peugot 402 and a 1949 Hudson Commodore -- even a mysterious black sedan that two confounded car aficionados argued about while standing nearby. (One insisted it was an unmarked 1939 Cadllac; the other swore it was a Citreon Traction Avant.)
Glimpses of South Pasadena finally has its own social media! No longer forced to share space with my personal photos, macro shots of food and endless political retweets, this little blog finally has its own Instagram and Twitter accounts:
If you look closely at South Pasadena – and I mean really closely, sometimes with your nose right up to the surface -- you’ll find some historic little details. While much of Los Angeles (and much of the United States) has boomed with the philosophy of “New is Better” -- South Pasadena and much of the neighboring San Gabriel Valley have stuck to the idea that old is cool.
Glimpses of South Pasadena is (almost) 10 years old!
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 almost 5 years as I put down roots in my new home town -- and almost 5 more as I settled in and became a South Pas old-timer. While I don't always blog daily, I add new posts every week.
You can always find the blog at its original address:
my multimedia column archive: Views from the Front Porch
Published at Patch.
Thank you Charlie's Coffee House for hosting my 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.
Some posts on this blog include recommendations with affiliate links to Amazon. What does that mean? If you purchase an item from an affiliate link, Glimpses of South Pasadena receives a small commission from the sale at no extra cost to you.