Friday, June 26, 2009

Iconic

Every community has its icons -- structures that seem to capture the heart and soul of the place, and of the era. This quaint, old fashioned water tower seems to personify South Pasadena's Mayberry reputation even better than the quaint, old fashioned soda fountain or all the quaint, old fashioned houses. It perches on a hillside just like so many other water towers on hillsides in so many other small towns in America. It's a symbol most people in our culture can relate to even though it is belongs to my city.

Icons are funny like that. Everyone recognizes them even though they exist in a world that the rest of us can never really inhabit. And when an icon disappears -- it's as if there is a rift in the ordinary fabric of things. Like this week, for example. In the space of a few days the world lost three icons of the 20th Century. Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson all died within hours of each other. No, I didn't know any of them. And I wouldn't even necessarily call myself a fan of any of them. But they were such a part of my cultural landscape -- such familiar touchstones of my coming of age, my history -- that without them, I feel a little disoriented. As writer Susan Orlean said on Twitter today, without them the world feels a little less familiar now.

17 comments:

Dixie Jane said...

It's rare to see a water tower without the familiar grafitti written by, "Class of ----." We had one in the little town where I grew up. And I always wondered about the sanity of those who climbed up there to carve their place in a world (as they knew it)soon to be forgotten.

Judy Williams said...

Oh that's fabulous. I like how the crop is tight and all we think about is that wonderful old metal structure. Something about water towers that harken back to another time. The newer ones look more like something out of a sci-fi movie. Great shot and it's perfect in BW.

wv: dirtink - how Peter Pan described Tinker Bell after a timely period without a bath.

Mister Earl said...

Great photo, Laurie. Looks like it's really old. The tree on the tower and the ladder on the left side, in the smaller view, look like a grease stain and damage to the photo paper, making it look like an old photo from a scrap book.

Nice words about icons. I don't look at McMahon and Fawcett as true icons: they haven't been in the forefront of our culture for awhile and were never at its center. But Michael truly was a central fixture of our culture for decades with all his many aspects, and it's difficult not to be affected by his loss.

Virginia said...

This is a great shot and the BW is perfect of course. And call me cynical, but all I can think about is the media circus that will surround MJ's funeral which has real promise to be a circus in itself.

altadenahiker said...

Isn't there a water tower in south Pas that was converted into a home? I've always wanted to go inside (that one, I mean, not this one).

I was shocked that the death of those two kicked everything else out of the news.

Trish said...

the tree printed on the tower is part of the SoPas "logo". Check out the refuse receptacles and bus benches in town, if not printed on, they are imprinted in.

to my knowledge, the "Class of..." never grabbed on, at least in my era. I think part of it was that from a young age we were told to keep our mitts off of it and be "good citizens". Well, that and Mr Balk wouldn't have sold kids enough paint to do that!

I LOVE the reference---for me all three and this photo DO go together very much for me.

All three folks, Ed, Farrah, MJ...were certainly a big part of my younger years. Sad that MJ is overshadowing Ed and Farrah. I met all of them at various times. Farrah was arm candy for Lee at the time...but certainly not a "dumb blonde". Ed was pretty full of himself, but I think was playing up the celebrity thing at the time. MJ...was quiet, trying to not get mobbed--even in death he cannot avoid that. I had a lot of respect for Farrah---despite the image and T&A, she did teach a lot of girls they could go somewhere & do something, even if the road wasn't exactly what they intended when they set out.

May their memories be for a blessing and may they all be at peace.

dbdubya said...

There is a water tower that's been turned into a home, AH, but it's just outside of South Pasadena. It's in Pasadena west of Fair Oaks and north of Columbia (the border between Pasadena and So Pas). It's difficult to find because it's on a heavily treed, large lot. It originally was water storage for the turn-of-the-century Raymond Hotel, one of the grand hotels in the Pasadena area. The Raymond House restaurant on Fair Oaks was also part of the hotel which was located just above it on top of Raymond Hill. The hotel burned down a couple of times and the area is now apartments and built in the 40's.

altadenahiker said...

I love the Raymond House, db, and have been there many times. And I almost moved into one of the apts on Raymond Hills, back in the 90's. Thanks to you, I know where to search for the other tower; and I will. Maybe Laurie can give us a shot someday.

Ken Mac said...

how old? 40s?

Shanna said...

Who but Laurie would turn a water tower into a tribute to the passing of those famous people?
Well, if it were not for this blog, I would know little or nothing about current events.

I can tell you though that Kent Twitchell, known for his huge murals of cultural icons, recently exhibited an unfinished very huge painting of Michael Jackson at a recent exhibit at Look Gallery. It was the central focus of the show. It was really a stunning painting! I stared at it for quite a long time. I also saw a drawing of Michael's hand and a video of him posing for Kent.

Shanna said...

P.S.
Google:

kent twitchell look gallery

to see the painting.

dbdubya said...

Try Grace Terrace, AH, and make sure you look up into the trees or you won't see it.

There's another converted water tower that's now a residence in Sunset Beach. It's a summer rental and is currently for sale. You can see photos of it at SBWatertower.com

Mister Earl said...

It's up the hill from the Yoga House, AH.

Trish said...

AH---good thing you didn't move into Raymond Hill area---it IS a fault line...shaking there is worse than just about anywhere else in SoPas during almost any quake.

had heard some time ago about the old water tank...the mind forgets things once in a while.

Laurie said...

Wonderful comments, folks. Thanks.

I need to check out the water tower house. DB mentioned it in another comment and it slipped my mind until now.

I also need to get some SLEEP! I'm falling asleep at the computer. So... until tomorrow... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

Andrew said...

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Sandie said...

Seeing these photos makes me very, very homesick. I grew up in South Pasadena and have been living in Camden, Maine for the past 14 years. Thank you for doing what you do with your photos.