Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Luxe Life

In 1904, a new residential development called Oaklawn was taking shape on the north side of South Pas. The wide, tree-lined streets and sweeping Arts and Crafts showcase homes called for a unifying design in the neighborhood's lines of demarcation. The area was within walking distance to the famous Raymond Hotel -- a stomping ground for the rich and mighty -- and potential Oaklawn residents were tempted with promises of the good life in this "Suburb de Luxe." Advertisements for the neighborhood described it as a place "for those who want the best in every particular."

Apparently, that included walls and gates.

South Pasadena Realty and Improvement Company hired the firm of Greene and Greene to create the prestigious development's entrance gates and surrounding fence. The result? Clinker-brick platforms set with handpicked stones from the Arroyo and embellished with rustic timber, tile roofs and artisan-crafted wrought iron. The gates-- and the corresponding stone pillars on the surrounding walls -- seemed to encapsulate the Greene and Greene aesthetic, right down to the tapering boulders at the base and top of each pillar. As you can see by today's photo, the portals have weathered the last century well and are largely unchanged today. (Trust me, the gate on the other side of the street looks just as wonderful.) The good life, indeed.

(You can take a look at the original Greene and Greene design plans here. For more on Oaklawn, check out this article from American Bungalow Magazine here.)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Settings: Part 24

There's a story here. Maybe more than one. But don't worry, I won't ask my clever readers to concoct their own versions...

Wait a minute, of course I will! (It's what I do!)

So... if this were the setting for a scene in a movie, what would happen here?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Like the Wind

Cyclists, vintage car enthusiasts (and photographers) aren't the only ones who meander down the winding stretch of road along the Arroyo. Here, runners make the most of warm spring weather -- and cast three lovely shadows in the late afternoon light.

Looks like the tree wants to join in.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

In the Mean Time...

Sometimes I turn a corner and it feels like I've turned a page of a jazz age novel. Like this one:

"Don't talk so much, old sport," commanded Gatsby. "Play!"


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fading Beauty

The Rialto may be dark but her romantic soul shines through even late at night, all but abandoned, with leaflets littered on the sidewalk. I hold out hope that savvy investors will see the potential of this beloved movie queen and rescue her from inevitable ruin. (Everyone loves a great comeback story.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Design Elements

South Pasadena is known for its classic homes -- from Craftsman to Victorian -- but it also has its fair share of modern architecture. Like here, for example. I can't quite see the house, but every time I pass this driveway I look to see if the fountain is working. So far? Not working.

Oh well, sometimes form trumps function.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Novel Idea

He was probably doing calculus homework or checking Facebook but I thought of this:

"He drew forth a phrase from his treasure and spoke it softly to himself: A day of dappled seaborne clouds."

--James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Everyday Magic

"Mommy," my four year old daughter said, "what is that thing?"

"What thing?" I said.

"THAT thing." She said. "That thing over there that looks like a moon on top of a little chimney that doesn't have a house under it."

"What do you think it is?" I said.

"I think it's where the flower fairies live. They sleep there during the day and at night they sneak out and make flowers when no one is looking."

(I didn't have the heart to tell her it was just a light fixture.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rectangles and Blue

One of the things I love most about abstract art is the way its world is rendered in shapes and colors. We get to fill in the particulars, imagine the story or transcend the figurative. I remember once standing in front of a Rothko painting with Shanna.

"I don't get it," I said. "It's a black canvas."

"Yes," she said. "But actually look at the paint on the canvas."

I stepped closer, and suddenly I was looking into a painting instead of at a picture.

I know this is just a photograph of a gas pump. But somewhere in my hamfisted grasp at modern composition, somewhere in my attempt at deconstructing the world into rectangles and blue is a nod to Rothko's revolutionary painting technique. It is in the spirit of what Walt Whitman wrote here:

To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same;
Every spear of grass--the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women,
and all that concerns them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Consolation Prize

Friend of GOSP (and intrepid vintage car scout) Dbdubya alerted me to the fact that a pristine 1940 Chevy was parked on El Centro this morning. But by the time I got there... it was gone. I drove around to see if I could find it but this old truck found me, instead.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Settings: Part 23

It's that time again, would-be filmmakers and general tall tale tellers! If this were the setting for a scene in a movie, what would happen here?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Time Traveler

The parking lot was empty when I drove up to make a deposit at the ATM. I turned around and saw this mysterious car. I never heard an engine or a car door slam. It was as if it just appeared...

Maybe I should have looked inside.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


My husband found this four leaf clover just in time for St. Patrick's Day, and that's no blarney. (Remind me to take him along the next time I check out the end of a rainbow.) Today, though, we can all lay claim to a little luck o' the Irish...

It seems that those lads and lasses are on to something. When the American Heart Association convened a few years ago, researchers revealed that Guinness might be just as effective as a daily aspirin for reducing blood clots that lead to heart attacks. The antioxidants in dark Irish stouts reduce cholesterol deposits on arterial walls. (Sorry, lager lovers, but the paler beers don't have the same power.) Now that should put a little zip in your bagpipes!

Happy St. Paddy's Day, everyone. Wear green and be safe.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Mal-tease Falcon?

I thought I'd framed another introspective noir setting. But then I noticed that the building looks like it has a face. A face with a slight smile -- albeit, one that is literally in the gutter.

Oh well.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Have a Nice Day!

There is nothing mellow about this yellow...

Have you ever seen a more cheerful car? I had to give it a close inspection to make sure I wasn't missing a happy face painted on the hood. There wasn't one, but the effect was just the same.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kat Tale

Why am I posting a picture of my cat Mirabelle? Well, she is a resident of South Pasadena. (A very pampered, very spoiled resident...) But this picture is also my attempt to approximate some of the wonderful shots of another San Gabriel Valley resident named Kat -- the blogmistress of Pasadena, 91105 and Beyond.

Kat's blog is a recent addition to the City Daily Photo family. She describes her pictures as "found moments" with serendipity playing a large part in what she shoots. It is any wonder I'm crazy about her work? Kat's whimsical, color-saturated slices of San Gabriel Valley life are a joy to behold. She truly captures the ordinary as extraordinary -- from the dreamlike view of a tree that grows both oranges and lemons to the in-your-face macro shot of her mother's new puppy. Clicking through her posts is like flipping through a fabulous technicolor storybook. Did I mention that many of the shots were taken with her iPhone?! All this and she can write, too.

You may have already been introduced to Kat's blog by our good friend Petrea at Pasadena Daily Photo. But if not, click here to visit Pasadena, 91105 and Beyond.

Welcome to the San Gabriel Valley blogger family, Kat!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Going Up

Remember this image of an empty lot? What a difference a few months (and, dare I hope for it, a recovering economy) can make! Those in the know tell me this structure on Fremont will have mixed retail space on the bottom floor and residential units above.

The restored/refurbished ComericA bank building will be finished sometime this year -- hopefully with the historic rosettes. South Pasadena's talented Steve Dahl of Dahl Architects dropped me a line letting me know that a new cafe will soon open in the space formerly occupied by Puff across from Busters on Mission. Steve is also working on a 70 seat theater in the old nursery building at Mound and El Centro (recently occupied by Dynasty Iron Doors.) What a perfect choice for the space! I would love to see South Pasadena become a live theatre enclave. Fremont Centre Theatre has already set a gloriously high standard. And, gee, we have a certain magical, multi-use movie palace just waiting for a new life -- and a few savvy investors.

The sound of those power saws and jackhammers is music to my ears. I believe South Pas is much more than just a beautiful bedroom community. Our downtown is special. We have some of the best restaurants in the region. Our galleries challenge, delight and inspire. Our local shops have any number of unique treasures never seen in big box stores. Plus, we're right on the Gold Line.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bippity Boppity BOOOOO!

I'd be a little nervous if I were the Prince ... one wrong move and she will CUT you with that glass slipper.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Forgive us our trespassers...

I haven't done it (yet,) but I am tempted to jump over the fence and stretch out in that tree swing...

Who's with me?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Arch Rivals

So, all those many years ago when the builders were working on this place, I think a conversation went something like this:

"I started on the garage, boss."

"What do you mean, you started on it?"

"I went ahead and built the first doorway on the right. You know, nothing to it, standard square garage door. It's done."

"Dear God, man, the doorways are supposed to be arched! The owners have already special ordered the doors!"

Maybe the owners just never noticed the difference...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Poetry in Motion

By the late sheen of an arctic sky
alive with branches shimmying with
light he comes to me: the cyclist,
active, floating, magical, observant,
and the poem comes from him -
whatever he can make it: the hope
that what he turns to will take hold.

--John Morgan

Friday, March 5, 2010

When in doubt...

What's a blogger to do when she's been under the weather and finds herself unprepared for a post?

Look! Something pretty!

The change of season has Mother Nature dressing the sky in warmer hues. (Though, it will be a few months before we see this shade of gold.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Creature of Excellence

It was odd to see a seagull so far from the beach. Did he want to visit the mountains for a change of pace? Maybe he wanted to hang out with the San Gabriel Valley wild parrots? Seeing this little guy reminded me of the classic 1970s novel, Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. I like this quote in particular:

How much more there is now to living! Instead of our drab slogging forth and back to the fishing boats, there’s reason to life! We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Urban Oasis

Tasty ice cream and strong coffee aren't the only reasons why Busters is such an uplifting spot for afternoon refreshment. Don't you just love the colors of the building itself? (You can see more of it here.) Add a little Sunday afternoon live music and this South Pas hangout is a perfect prescription for the blahs.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Love Street

You all know how much I love doodles in cement. (Actually, this one is my all-time favorite.) There is something so wistful and sweet about these signatures from the past.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Today is the first of the month, and that means it's Theme Day for participating City Daily Photo bloggers. This month's theme is Passageway. What better subject that the heavily traversed crosswalk on Mission at Meridian? I may be over analyzing, but I think there is a lesson to be learned from that happy little jumping girl in the picture.

For more interpretations of today's theme, explore the many corridors of the City Daily Photo community. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants