Thursday, April 30, 2009

Reedy's Barber Shop

In the Los Angeles metropolitan area, trendy hair salons are as ubiquitous as palm trees and vanity license plates. But Reedy's Barber Shop is special. Accommodating all styles from conservative to rock-a-billy; flat-tops to rock star shags, this one-chair barber shop marries old-school with new style in what can only be described as classic. In fact, the tradition of great barbering has continued in this exact location on Mission Street for almost 100 years.

A beauty shop opened here in 1912 when the structure was built. A barber shop took its place in 1924, operated by William Halminski. In 1955, William passed the sheers to his son Edward who continued until his own retirement in 1992 when he personally asked skilled local barber/stylist Steve Reedy to step in and set up his own shop. Steve opened his door in 1993.

If you're looking for a salon that offers chakra-balancing organic mud facials in addition to highlights -- this place isn't for you. But if you want a truly excellent hair cut at a low price in a great setting, you can't go wrong with Reedy's. If you ask around, chances are you'll hear something like, "Reedy is the best barber in town. Period." (My husband agrees.) You can read why guys love Reedy's so much here, here and here.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Open Window

I wish I could think of a perfect poem to accompany this image. But... I'm blank. Then again, M.C. Richards once said, "Poetry often enters through the window of irrelevance." (Well, maybe that's it!)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Moving Violation

Now this is something we don't see every day. I'm not sure of the penalty for disregarding that street sign ... but how do you give a horse a ticket, anyway?

I spotted these charming equine traffic violators on Saturday afternoon. I assume they were meandering toward the Mission West Spring Festival, but we'll never know. (Check out my overflow blog for a few more shots.)

Monday, April 27, 2009


The Mission West Spring Fest came to Mission Street over the weekend, bringing with it a variety of arts and crafts, yummy food, live music and vertigo-inducing kids' rides. It was a great chance to shop for handmade goodies, chow on kettle corn and dance in the streets. It also provided an excellent opportunity to lurk like the paparazzi and take pictures.

I had to smile when I saw these guys. I first noticed the older gentleman with the confident walk and the carefree smile. He had a kind of Steve McQueen cool that I believe only comes from a life spent taking risks, being true and seeing the humor in falling flat. Then I noticed the young ones behind him. They didn't know the man, but they seemed like they could have been versions of his younger self with all of that swagger and sweetness, bravado and hesitation...

I think Pete Townshend nailed it in one lyric: "Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss."

Sunday, April 26, 2009


If you read the headlines or watch the news, you probably won't want to leave the house. Let's review: we've got a global swine flu pandemic in the making, a few escalating wars, at least two nuclear threats and a worldwide economic meltdown. We've got a nationwide housing market catastrophe, an unemployment disaster, a health care crisis, and an education system freefall. We've got a government that appears to have lost its checks and balances -- as well as its ability to balance its checkbook. We've got enough nightmare-inducing facts and figures to have made even Nostradamus need an antidepressant.

But the couple in this picture is oblivious to all of that.

I think these two are wiser than all the scaremongering prognosticators. In this couple's world, it's just a sunny day in springtime -- a perfect time to be in love.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Taste of Yellow

Here's a little something for those of you who have emailed me asking for more pictures of Victorian era South Pasadena homes. The neighborhoods around the library and all over the Mission West District are loaded with wonderful little cottages like this. They're often overshadowed by those famous Craftsman scene stealers, but they're every bit as beautiful.

Houses like this represent a kind of homespun turn-of-the-last-century American gestalt. (Note: there's not only a rocker but also a porch swing! Bring on the lemonade and apple pie...) When we see this cheery yellow house, it's hard not to reminisce about the past, about childhood, or maybe just imagine the way we wish things once were. I'll let poet Raymond A. Foss sum it up:

Forsythia blooms
plucked from the bush
a sudden jolt
back to when I was six
walking to kindergarten
petals curl on my tongue
a taste of yellow
like the first time
forty years ago

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cutting Remarks

I've posted before about the common yet curious abundance of topiary in this part of the world. Fellow San Gabriel Valley blogger Keith at Gem City Images joined me in a bit of a competition to see who could find the most outrageous example. (I think it was a toss up!)

Which brings us to this odd arrangement in front of bank offices on Fair Oaks. I'm still trying to figure it out ... did a landscape designer arrange this seemingly random pattern? Were bushes already there when an over-zealous gardener decided to get creative? Is this some kind of joke with hedge fund managers? Does this spell something in braille? Morse Code?

Maybe I'm weird, but I just love this stuff.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Caption this photo... (#9)

Yeah... I don't know what it is either. But I saw it on the ground near the bike rack at Mission Station. Who wants to take a crack at writing a caption for it?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

South Pasadena's lush environment often makes me feel like I'm living in a version of Eden -- albeit, one with a lot of Craftsman houses. This area is so incredibly leafy and fertile. Flowers sprout from sidewalk cracks. Like these volunteer impatiens I spotted growing next to a curb near a neighbor's driveway. A flower bed probably contains the well-manicured relatives of this wandering youth. It's cool the way life is so tenacious and surprising, how it often chooses to bloom in unlikely places. Such is our wildhearted planet.

There is more to environmentalism than dour lectures about cow methane, trendy canvas grocery bags and rows of recycling bins. I believe at the heart of it is a profound respect for the delicate intricacy of mother earth's many organisms. In the seventies, it was called ecology -- a decidedly more respectable name than the current, more lackadaisical term "Green Movement." (Whenever I hear the term Green Movement, it makes me think of something gastrointestinal that surely needs medical attention... but I digress.)

On this Earth Day, why not take the time to reflect on the abundance of differing life forms that share our habitat -- and resolve to do our best to make sure they continue to grow and thrive. If nothing else, it's just good manners as fellow roommates sharing the planet.
Happy Earth Day, everybody!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hot Stuff

These pretty flowers showed no sign of wilting in yesterday's record heat wave. And it was no dinky heat wave...

It was mindnumbingly hot.

It was the kind of hot where you can almost feel your molecules and atoms speeding up and turning the whole of your mass into a rowdy mosh pit of subatomic vibration. (Well, it certainly felt that way standing in the parking lot of OSH trying to find the keys to the car.) It was the kind of hot where you suddenly realize the tops of your ears are capable of sweating. Where you can drink a glass of water and wonder why you never noticed before that water is the very best thing that has ever crossed your lips and you simply must have more of it. RIGHT NOW!

My garden thermometer still hovered around 100 degrees at 5:00PM and it was 84 at midnight. The offshore flow pattern is expected to bring more heat today. I understand it's snowing in New York? Just like a teenager ... young Spring is so moody.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Settings: Part 9

Just when you thought I'd forgotten about my favorite game, it's time again to play! Don't be shy, people. Climb into armchair filmmaker mode and tell me... if this were the setting for a scene in a film, what exactly would happen here?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Silent Delight

I've been night prowling again. This quiet evening along Fair Oaks was at the same time both wistful and happy. When I noticed the sign, it reminded me of a poem. (I can't help it. Everything reminds me of a poem.) As written by William Blake:

The moon, like a flower
In heaven's high bower,
With silent delight
Sits and smiles on the night.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Trash ... and Treasure

Though it's almost lost behind the leaf bags, that vintage gold Cadillac looks like it yearns to be taken out for a spin.

(And while we're on the subject of Cadillacs, I suppose this is one way to get one ...)

Friday, April 17, 2009


This image gives a pretty good idea of the utter devastation created by Wednesday night's fire. I would show you more, but I had to creep around a strip of Do Not Cross tape and poke my camera through a gap in the fence to grab this shot.

The scene was charred and perplexing, quiet and broken. Isn't it odd the way the roof now resembles the spine of a fallen dinosaur? What struck me most was the fact that this decimated structure is only about four feet from the historic Community building next door, yet the fire didn't jump across. Even more curious to me is the fact that the high winds of Wednesday afternoon had settled into stillness by the time this fire broke out. Small miracles and big questions ... I guess these things are part of any disaster.

I remain in awe of the firefighters who kept this from becoming a truly tragic inferno. To all of the fine, selfless public servants who protected the entire Mission West District with swiftness and skill: thank you, thank you, thank you! You are all deeply appreciated.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fire Trucks fight blaze along Mission Street

It was a little too exciting around here last night. A 3-alarm fire broke out at 8:45PM at the South Pasadena Public Works Department Yard at the corner of Orange Grove Avenue and Mission Street. Fire trucks from Alhambra, Arcadia, Glendale, Pasadena and San Marino assisted in knocking out the blaze by 10:15PM. A storage building basically burned to the ground, including a few city vehicles that were inside. The damage is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $1 million. The cause is under investigation.

As far as we know, there were no injuries. Thankfully, the historic Community Services building and beloved Orange Grove Park -- both right next door -- were spared.

I noticed a helicopter circling nearby around 9:00PM. That's not unusual for anywhere in Los Angeles. But, within minutes there were two more. I happened to be checking email and got a message from Mister Earl that while he was returning home from Trader Joes he had seen flames coming from what appeared to be the historic Community Services building.

I rushed to the scene so fast I forgot my tripod and I couldn't get close enough to use a flash, as evidenced by the blur above. I ran into Mister Earl and -- along with several dozen other South Pasadena residents and a cadre of journalists -- we watched as the firefighters tamped down the flames. Huge plumes of heavy smoke filled the skies for several hours. An entire city block was cordoned off, with police vehicles from both South Pas and San Marino. The Gold Line train was suspended until the fire was out. My house still smells like smoke even now.

That's enough excitement for one night.

My pictures are mostly blur, but you can see more pictures here and video here. Also, check out my overflow blog for an arty shot of Mister Earl and me at the scene.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Tucked in among all the historic Craftsman homes (and not far from Ernest Batchelder's first house) is a pristine mid-century modern structure made of sharp concrete angles and huge sheets of glass. In the daylight, you might not notice the home blending with carefree nonchalance into the surrounding landscape. But at night, it looks like a brightly lit proscenium facing the dark street. I always steal a long look when I drive by, hoping to see someone sit down at that grand piano. I go back and forth about what music I think would be played there. (How about this?)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Too Cool for School

I've already demonstrated why South Pasadena High School looks less like an average institution of learning and more like a think tank for otherworldly cold fusion supergeniuses who also happen to have impeccable design sense.

Or maybe it's just me.

Here's the school from another angle ... providing the inspiration for all those nuclear physics whizkids to minor in noir filmmaking. I know there was some controversy when the city chose this (ultra cool, so much cooler than any school I've ever seen) streamlined art deco design, but I'm thankful they did.

Monday, April 13, 2009


A yellow house? Sure. Right next to a pistachio-green one? Okay, maybe. Up against an asymmetrical red wall surrounded by pink flowers? Add a couple of girls on pastel bikes with purple helmets and it's a scene worthy of ... well, of this!

Color is wonderful.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Today is Easter. The Christian holiday falls in the middle of the Jewish Passover, and just a few weeks past Nowruz and the vernal equinox. It's lovely to realize how different faiths are woven together with so many common threads. After all, Christ's Last Supper was a Passover Seder, and the Christian tradition of colorful Easter eggs delivered by a magical bunny is based on the tale of the Pagan goddess Eostre or Ostara.

I've written before about seasonal rituals. I love the way various beliefs beautifully interlace in our human tapestry. Whether you are someone of faith who honors the holiness of these days, or an agnostic who finds wisdom in the metaphor, it pays to explore springtime's transformative garden. Maybe, if we're lucky, we'll find a little inspiration tucked away there.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Enjoying the View...

If you drive west on Huntington from here to just past here, this is what you will see if you look up. I pulled the car over the other day to try and find the sippy cup my daughter had dropped on the floor. This was the view out of my sun roof. (I'm beginning to think I should do a photo series of South Pas palms shot from the sun roof...)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hot Wheels

There has been a lot of chatter lately about how to rescue the automobile industry. Here's an idea: start making them like this again! I've loved discovering all the cool rides in my old cars of South Pas series, but the shiny, robin's egg blue dreamboat in this photo actually makes me drool with car envy. Pretty sweet, isn't she? (Take it away, Beach Boys...)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Office Memo...

There is something about the old fashioned bricks and paned windows that make me linger and look at this building on Fair Oaks whenever I pass by. It's such a classic structure. And in an era of open space workplace design and cubicles, it's nice to see offices with actual windows.

Those windows make me think of a poem: The Instruction Manual, by John Ashbery. The first lines are these:

As I sit looking out of a window of the building
I wish I did not have to write the instruction manual on the uses of a new metal.
I look down into the street and see people, each walking with an inner peace,
And envy them—they are so far away from me!
Not one of them has to worry about getting out this manual on schedule...

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Full Spectrum

What I want to know is this: if a garage band were to practice in this garage ... what kind of music would play?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Everyday Wonder

A couple of ordinary birds perch on one of the many rather design-challenged, late 20th Century street lamps that illuminate neighborhoods all over this country. These aren't the sort of birds that prompt people get out binoculars or guidebooks. (Or cameras.) But when my 3 year old daughter spotted them the other day, she said, "Look at those shiny birds sitting up there! How did they get so way up high? It's like magic!" And when you think about it -- really and truly think about it --it IS like magic. We've just gotten so used to everyday wonder, we no longer notice the thrill of simple miracles. Like shiny birds in flight. Or electric lights. Or deep blue skies.

In 1938, Thorton Wilder introduced Our Town -- a masterpiece of simplicity about two families experiencing everyday magic and universal human truths that are part of being alive on planet earth. Most of us have seen or read (or performed in a high school production of) the play. It's a thoughtful meditation about the theme of realizing life as you live it. It's about recognizing wonderful, ordinary things. (Like shiny, magic birds on a streetlamp.)

As Emily Webb says toward the end of the play, “Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.”


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Shades of Gray

How does one decide if an image should be black and white or color? There are as many explanations as there are photographers to explain. For me, it's always intuitive. Color expands and stretches the imagination, tickles the brain and fires up emotions. Black and white subdues and reveals the structure, focuses the eyes and makes you think. Woodstock was tie dye but formal events are always black tie. Musicals are in technicolor, film noir is black and white. I suppose I tend to choose color or black and white based on the mood of the subject -- or my own mood when shooting the subject.

Sometimes, though, it's interesting to mix it up. Like here. The whimsical blue building above looks much more serious and austere in monochrome. It's kind of fun to move past the obvious and find another layer.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Seasonal Delights

There are regular strawberries, and then there are strawberries from the various local growers at the South Pasadena Farmers Market. The last few weeks have bestowed an abundance of ridiculously huge, dazzlingly juicy specimens -- outlandish things that taste like the springtime of dreams. My little girl asked, "Mommy, are those strawberries REAL?"

I've always thought California was the fabled land of milk and honey. And everybody knows that strawberries taste great with milk and honey...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Big Slice of Orange

It's not the right shade to have been chosen by Longhorns fans. Clemson? Syracuse? Maybe University of Tennessee?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Yellow Journalism

It's the first of the month, and that means Theme Day for participating City Daily Photo bloggers. This month's theme is Yellow. And what a perfect opportunity to highlight a local treasure.

While many visit South Pas to admire the historic architecture, others make the trek -- sometimes across many miles and enduring great hardship -- to experience the Great Saffron Structure. Purportedly built upon one of North America's most powerful energy centers, this metal grid has been the subject of both literature and song. Worshipers of many neo-Pagan religions have journeyed to the site for healing as well as goddess celebration. Scientists at JPL and Cal Tech have conducted experiments proving that the structure emits highly unstable alpha waves that have an ability to attract vintage automobiles to the area...

...or maybe it's just April Fools Day, and I'm in the mood to pull a few legs. After all, it was former race car driver Bobby Unser who said, "Yellow usually means it's not that serious."

I guess I could have gone all out and tried to convince you that this contemporary metal extension of an office building was really a little-known offshoot of the Arts and Crafts movement, but that would be too much of a challenge. Besides, I'm not brave enough to go that far. Guess you could call me yellow. (And definitely not that serious.)

Be sure to check out all the other fantastic (and far less smart-alecky) images from today's Theme Day photobloggers.