Friday, October 31, 2008

Things that go bump in the night...

A baseball diamond is cheerful and friendly in the daylight... but just look how spooky it is in the wee small hours, behind the silhouettes of all those trees. Lower Arroyo Park seems desolate and dreamlike late at night. (Can't you envision a goblin hiding back there behind one of those trees?)

South Pasadena will have quite a few goblins and ghouls prowling its streets tonight, in search of all things chocolate and caramel. Our neighbors told us that El Centro alone got over 700 trick-or-treaters last year. Even if you subtract for hyperbole, given all the kids who live in South Pas I have a feeling we're gonna see a lot of little monsters around here as soon as the sun goes down...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Midnight Stroll

Lucy Maud Montgomery once said, "Twilight drops her curtain down, and pins it with a star." This time, I think she used streetlamps, instead.

Just another late night walk on Meridian at Mission, behind the Alexander Building.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happily Ever After

Looking up to the sky beneath these two fluffy South Pasadena Palms, listening to the chatter of wild parrots, I can easily imagine that I'm in a kind of paradise...

I could be on a hilltop, in St. Lucia, gazing out to the placid Caribbean, in the shadow of the Gros Piton, near a fruit-laden Julie Mango tree, where just 7 years ago today I gleefully kissed my newlywed husband.

Happy Anniversary Groom! Listen, I think they're playing our song...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Roadside Design

I spotted another beautiful vintage automobile yesterday. (This is shaping into a series!) I love the way it seems like the car was painted to blend with the monochromatic background color palette. It's like a matching throw pillow on a sofa.

Ah, harmony.

Monday, October 27, 2008


I always look at all the beautiful bricks when I see Calvary Presbyterian Church during the day. But at night... I can't help but stop and stare at these lovely glowing doors.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


You never know what you're going to find when you walk around South Pasadena. Beautiful historic homes? Check. Towering trees? Check. A random canopy bed in someone's front yard? With balloons? Check.

I love this town!

I'm fairly certain this was a leftover item from the street-wide yard sale on El Centro yesterday... but then again, one never knows.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Palm Reading...

In Following the Equator, Mark Twain came up with the absolute best description of a palm tree. He wrote that a palm is "nature's imitation of an umbrella that has been out to see what a cyclone is like and is trying not to look disappointed."

Here are a bunch of the big, wild beauties lining Stratford Avenue, near Garfield Park.

Friday, October 24, 2008

San Pascual Stables

It's hard to believe South Pasadena is part of the greater Los Angeles area with all that gridlock, pavement and crowded urban clutter. Here's the opposite: open space, dirt and the wonderful equine zen of San Pascual Stables. Specializing in hunter/jumper training, San Pasqual offers boarding facilities, an English-style riding academy and a summer day camp for kids. (It's also a great destination for film crews.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008


"A stair," Kafka once wrote, "not worn hollow by footsteps is, regarded from its own point of view, only a boring something made of wood."

There's nothing boring about this old worn-hollow beauty behind the Alexander Building. (I'm resisting the urge to create a movie scenario around this shot. But I won't stop you if you're so inspired...)

And speaking of inspired, Ken Mac over at the fantastic Greenwich Village Daily Photo surprised me with a "Blogging Friends Forever" Award just a day after lovely Scarlet at Jamjarsuperstar awarded me with an E for Excellence Blog Award. Holy moly! This is really great because I have never won anything -- except for $100 on a long shot horse named Clabber Girl years ago at Belmont Race Track. I'm truly honored to be picked by both Scarlet and Ken. Scarlet's musical knowledge is encyclopedic, and her blog is a fabulous source for discovering new artists. And Ken's phenomenal shots of New York capture the soul of the city to the point where you can almost hear the Gershwin soundtrack playing.

So, according to the rules of the award, I get to give the award to five other photo bloggers with these conditions:

1. Only five people are allowed.

2. Four have to be dedicated followers of your blog.

3. One has to be someone new or recently new to your blog and live in another part of the world.

4. You must link back to whoever gave you the award.

5. You have to give everyone else a pony and a gift certificate to Barnes and Noble.

Okay, I made up number 5. (Have I mentioned how much I don't like rules?)

With gratitude and great pleasure I would like to pass the award to these photography bloggers:

Hope of Knoxville Daily Photo. Hope can squeeze images out of her Nikon Coolpix that will astonish you. The photographs of her kids capture the essence of childhood and a mother's love with the same poignancy and joy of the paintings of Mary Cassatt...

Wayne of Vancouver Daily Photo. I don't know what I love most about Wayne's blog: his terrific eye for interesting subjects, or his ability to make me spew coffee out of my nose laughing at his self-deprecating wit. I picture Wayne as a sort of Canadian Jack Benny with a camera. Vancouver is a gem of a city and Wayne's record only adds to the luster.

Scott of Minneapolis Daily Photo. This shot of Grumpy's Bar is one of my favorite photographs of all time. Scott is always pushing his camera to create unusual, new images. Like this one. Scott's pictures remind me of David Foster Wallace stories -- ordinary subjects, deeply felt, often treated with an absurd and whimsical point of view.

Kevin of The Jimson Weed Gazette. When I first discovered K's photos, I'm afraid I fell all over myself in comments like a squealing fangirl. Spare, intense, often jarring -- I think Kevin's photos truly capture Los Angeles. What Raymond Carver did with a typewriter, Kevin does with a camera.

Meead of the former Mashhad (IRAN) Daily Photo and now at Portland Oregon Daily Photo. Meead's beautiful soul touched many of us from across the globe -- writing passionately about life in Iran and about his dream of peace throughout the world. Now he's studying in Portland and I'm honored to be able to see my country through his eyes. (Incidentally, Sara N now beautifully continues Mashhad Daily Photo.)

So there you have it. Treat yourself to a few minutes exploring the worlds of these talented bloggers. And thanks, Ken and Scarlet, for honoring me!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tropical British Isles?

I've included several posts featuring South Pasadena's Victorian and Craftsman homes. Here is an example of one of the more incongruous styles of architecture found here -- and around the greater Los Angeles area. Is it just me, or does a proper English country house look a little bit weird surrounded by all those palms? In a spec meeting, I'd sum this up as Wuthering Heights: Pacific Coast Edition.

(For those of you paying attention... is that an excellent example of San Gabriel Valley topiary, or what?!)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

100 Days ... and counting!

Today marks my 100th post here at Glimpses of South Pasadena. Let's head on over to Mission Wines and get a bottle of bubbly!

When I started this blog I had no idea what I was getting into. I thought it would be a nice little way to chronicle an exploration of my new town. I thought maybe five people would read it -- and all of them would be members of my family.

Instead, it has introduced me to a world of new friends starting right here at home. A big shout out to Scott Feldmann over at The South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce. To Chief Dan Watson at the South Pasadena Police Department. To Steve Fjeldsted the oh-so-cool city librarian who doesn't even seem to mind the fact that I tend to obsessively prowl around the library after hours. And to Mister Earl and Trish -- South Pas residents and faithful Glimpses readers whose comments add the wonderful historic details to so many of my posts. This blog has connected me to all of you-- and many other fabulous South Pas neighbors who have either written or stopped me and said hello. It has also connected me to a wild and talented network of local area bloggers including (but certainly not limited to) Petrea Burchard at Pasadena Daily Photo, Ben Wideman at the sky is big in pasadena, Keith at Gem City Images, Kevin at The Jimson Weed Gazette, Cafe Observer, Miss Havisham, Pasadena Adjacent and Altadenahiker. Your photos, art and writing amuse, inform and inspire. Because of all of you, I feel like a welcome part of the community.

And that community has also extended across the earth! Glimpses has been graced with thousands of visitors from all over the planet. As part of the City Daily Photo family, I have been privileged to meet my world neighbors from almost every continent. Your comments here and your many spectacular blogs have given me insight I could have never picked up from history books or news sources. When I was a young girl growing up in Texas I always wanted to have a pen pal. Well, now I have dozens of them. Viva l'Internet!

So, here's to 100 -- nope, make that 1000 more posts, at least. Thanks for being here, everyone.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Have you ever seen a car like this before? I must say, although we get a lot of great antique cars around these parts, this one wins the prize for all-out coolest. Look at those art deco lines. Those weird center-placed headlamps. Those sunflower yellow wheels! (And is it just me, or is that paint slightly purple?!)

Sometimes a vehicle stops being just another mode of transportation and becomes an art form. I think this baby qualifies.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Night Light

"Photography, as we all know, is not real," Arnold Newman once said. "It is an illusion of reality with which we create our own private world."

Which is exactly what I was doing here, once again, as I lurked around the library late at night.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Only in America...

Hey! A message that crack dealers and Big Pharma can both agree with!

Actually, this eye-catching neon sign is on the side of the Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain. (And to be fair, the other side of the sign says SODAS.)

So, the message is appropriate for the source... but heck, the subtext speaks volumes.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Firefly Bistro

South Pasadena is a foodie's dream. And if you live in the Mission West District (or take the Gold Line and get off at Mission Station) you're actually within walking distance to several epicurean delights including Bistro de la Gare, Brigante and this magical looking spot called Firefly Bistro. Those twinkly lights will draw you in -- but you'll stay for the food. I don't know of another place with a menu that offers grilled plum glazed quail salad as well as Parmesan Tabasco hominy grits. The husband and wife chef team of Paul Rosenbluh and Monique King is the creative force behind the bistro's unique dishes. They're also co-owners of the restaurant, along with Monique's stepfather Carl Weintraub who also happens to be the bistro's maitre D'. (Paul also once served as sous chef at the now closed Coyote Cafe in Austin, Texas -- a favorite restaurant in the town where I grew up.)

Go anytime for a cozy evening of good food -- but don't miss jazz Wednesdays or blues brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fremont Centre Theatre

Is it Rapunzel's castle? Not quite... but any number of wondrous other tales are told behind this beautiful window. It's part of the Fremont Centre Theatre, specializing in plays that are "original, unique, and obscure --with a few old favorites from time to time." The husband and wife team of James Reynolds and Lissa Layng Reynolds opened the Fremont in 1997, utilizing their extensive theater and business experience. But they're not just bringing great dramatic productions to the San Gabriel Valley. (Valley Magazine named the Fremont as Best Equity Waiver Theater.)When they're not lifting up the curtain, they're lifting up the local community. As volunteers and fundraisers they have contributed to local women's shelters, the South Pas police department, the Pasadena Humane Society, and Foothill YMCA. They have also directed local elementary school productions of Shakespeare -- for which they each received Distinguished Service Award from the local PTSA. Who needs a fairy godmother with helpful neighbors like these?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Caption this photo... (#2)


How about this:

As the financial crisis continues to impact 401K investments, individuals eye alternative retirement options.

Anyone else care to come up with a caption?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blue Victorian

I know, I know... South Pasadena is known for it's Craftsman architecture. But I just can't help but go on an Easter egg hunt to find yet another unusually colorful structure. What's not to love about this blue Victorian house with lavender and white trim? To me, this place is absolutely literary. In fact, when Virginia Woolf imagined a room of her own, I have a feeling it might have looked something like that lovely one up there with the open window.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rialto Visions Plein Air Paint-Out

The California Art Club and the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce presented yesterday’s fabulous Rialto Visions Plein Air Paint-Out. Artists set up easels along Fair Oaks Avenue to render versions of the beloved South Pas landmark in oil, watercolor, pastel, pencil and charcoal. A select group of works will be juried into an upcoming exhibition at SoPas Gallery.

After everyone washed their brushes and packed away their paints, The Rialto opened for one night only to present a sneak preview of Local Color. I couldn’t make the evening show, but I thoroughly enjoyed strolling through the creative morning scene.

Here is Alex Schaefer wielding a paintbrush like a magic wand. I was particularly moved by the vibrant whimsy of this painting. For me, it really captures not just the grace, but the twinkly fun of our wonderful old theater. Alex told me that if the light was right in late afternoon, he might end up painting two canvases. (You guys all know how I feel about the light at The Rialto!) I don’t know if he made his goal, but I’m glad I could be a bystander to observe the process of his work – and that of all the other artists.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Get out your protractor...

M.C. Escher said, "We adore chaos because we love to produce order." Well, I think he would have totally grooved on this wondrous scene from Mission Station. When I watched my husband and daughter walking into that linear vanishing point, I just had to grab a shot of it. Those competing angles are so dizzying they are verging on multistability!

Escher also said, "I walk around in mysteries." Don't we all?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

South Pasadena in the Media

PBS Now aired a fascinating story yesterday about the rising price of gas in this country and how it is literally fueling the housing crisis. South Pasadena was featured as an ideal pedestrian enclave centered around the Metro Gold Line train. If you watch the clip, you'll see some great video from this part of downtown, right near Mission Station.

(Thanks go to Wayne -- of the wonderful Vancouver Daily Photo -- for the heads up about the show.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gus's BBQ

A lot of friends have piled into cars and headed out Route 66 toward California. Not all of them stop, stay, and create a legendary restaurant. That’s exactly what happened here in 1946. In that heady post-war boom of entrepreneurial spirit, three friends left Cleveland and ended up in South Pasadena. An old diner called Hamburger Mac’s was for sale on Fair Oaks Avenue. The buddies scraped together the cash, became partners and created Gus’s– simply the yummiest place for traditional BBQ in the Los Angeles area. And that tradition continues. (In fact, ABC Channel 7 agrees and included Gus’s BBQ in their top 7 BBQ joints in Southern California.)

Ribs, pork, chicken and brisket are on the menu, along with all-American favorites like burgers, chicken fried steak, flat iron steak, chili, fried catfish and a few contemporary items like a pesto chicken sandwich and jambalaya pasta. Traditional sides abound. (Did someone say sweet potato fries!?)

The original sign competes each night with the neon across the street at Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain making this downtown spot a comfort food lovers dream.

Needless to say, it’s kind of hard to stick to a diet in South Pas…

(Hat tip to Pasadena blogger Ben Wideman, whose series over at the sky is big in pasadena inspired today's neon sign shot...)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Walking in the light...

There is something different and almost hyperreal about the light in Southern California. I've never been able to put my finger on exactly what it is -- a layer of smog? A saturation of the copious amounts of psychedelic drugs passed around here in the late 1960s? A giant hole in the ozone layer directly above Los Angeles? Magic?

Whatever it is, I never get tired of it. Golden, sparkly, too-many-gamma-rays Southern California light. Seen here as I wandered through the Farmer's Market.

(Ken Mac, this one is for you!)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tunnel Vision

At some point a local girl scout troop painted this mural in the tunnel near lower Arroyo Park. During the day, it's a charming little bit of children's art on otherwise drab concrete.

But by night... it's all kinds of creepy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mission Wines

Wine! Expensive sports cars! Forget today’s depressing economic indicators and join me in a late nineties day-trading fantasy world of conspicuous excess!

Actually, I snapped this picture a few weeks ago at the Classic Car Show. All drooling aside for the shiny roadster parked in front – let’s concentrate on Mission Wines, the charming shop in the background. Don’t assume South Pasadena’s wholesome Mayberry reputation requires tea totaling. Hardly. This is definitely a wine drinking town. It boasts several wine bars, any number of restaurants with great wine lists, a true French cafĂ©, a specialty French gourmet food and wine shop, Bristol Farms and – get this—two killer wine shops within walking distance of each other on Mission Street. (My husband and I joked that the reason there is such an abundance of wine here is because so many South Pasadena residents are the parents of young children. Even our little 1350 square foot house has a wine cellar!)

Mission Wines is a fantastic boutique wine shop specializing in “small production, hand crafted, artisan wines from around the world.” In other words: great finds from cool little wineries you have probably never heard of. And don’t think you have to be George Soros to afford the selections – with help from the knowledgeable staff, you can find something special for $10 and under.

Wine tasting is available during business hours. (Walk to Busters or Kaldi for coffee afterwards…) You don’t even have to live in South Pasadena to enjoy the great selection. If you’re a US citizen, you can shop online.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Baranger Studios Details

I recently wrote about the historic Baranger Studios building ,but I neglected to show you its charming little courtyard. I never need an excuse to point out more of South Pasadena's whimsical multicolored red bricks, or yet another type of romantic vintage streetlamp. Isn't this a wonderful setting? (The curlicue ironwork on the fence really sends it over the top for me, but then again it doesn't take much to make me happy...)

In case you were wondering where many of those highly collectible original Baranger Motions ended up -- look no further.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Pedestrian Wonders

I've sent a lot of Fedex packages lately, which means I've been walking around here a lot. I know it's just a typical, ordinary Southern California strip shopping center, but I just can't resist focusing on the elegant columns and arches. Who was it that said the art is in the details?

Saturday, October 4, 2008


So, I was standing here pointing my camera at this interesting alley off Mission and Fair Oaks. And I was thinking, hey, too bad there isn't something organic, something whimsical, something lively to juxtapose against all those harsh architectural angles...

And suddenly, this guy rode into the shot. What are the odds of that?

(I'm thinking maybe I should have played the lottery that day.)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

These tidy benches face west from the shoulder of Arroyo Drive. If you look down and over the wall, you'll get a fantastic bird's eye view of the South Pasadena Skate Park. (If you turn completely around and look across the street, you'll see this.) I often spot a group of high school kids hanging out here in the afternoon when I'm fairly certain they're supposed to be in class. It's a nice sunny spot with a killer view. Hey, who uses algebra in real life anyway?

(And for those of you scratching your head over my post title -- I'm just making a smart-aleck reference to the world's best argument for skipping school.)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bedtime Story

I know I should probably stop prowling around the library at night...

Then again, nah! The South Pasadena Public Library looks entirely too magical with all those shadows and glowing lights. When I was a kid, I used to imagine books coming alive in libraries during the wee small hours when nobody else was around. (This could very well be due to the fact that I often sat up in the middle of the night pouring through a novel under my blanket with a flashlight.) But seriously, can't you see an after hours party where Daisy Buchanan dares to dance with Sal Paradise, and Miss Havisham ties one on with Frederic Henry and Susie the Bear guards the door...?

Like I said ... I should probably stop prowling around the library at night.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Line Dance

It’s Theme Day again for those of us participating in City Daily Photo. Today’s theme? Lines. Lets not get fenced in here, let’s get a little less esoteric with lines…

We love to draw them, hate to wait in them, curse them on our faces and laugh at them when declared by strangers in bars. Lines. They’re everywhere. Those of us who photograph things find myriad ways to capture them. Poets rhyme them. Actors learn them. We pray our children won’t sniff them. We hope our economy won’t lead us to stand in them.

Euclid defined a line as “length without breadth," and I love him for making the mathematical sound so boundlessly poetic. For it’s true: in math a line extends forever in both directions. In two dimensions, two different lines can either be parallel – alas, they never meet -- or they may intersect at one and only one point. Such a fitting metaphor for those singular moments in life that lead to the most memorable, oft-quoted lines. In three or more dimensions, lines may skew – they don’t meet, and they don’t define a plane. And how often our own lines (and lives) skew too. Geometry gives us the line segment, a part of a line that is bounded by two distinct end points – like our own short lives, line segments on some big unknown continuum…

So here’s to the lines: the simple, universal, straight-shooting lines. To all the ways we walk them, tow them and reel them in – but most of all, to coloring outside of them.

And here's to all of my fellow City Daily Photo bloggers posting from around the world. Take a look at some of their wonderful interpretations: Click here to view thumbnails for all participants .