Monday, May 31, 2010

For Those Who Have Fallen

For the friends we have lost, and for all the friends we never had a chance to meet:

The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish'd Sabbath,
On the pavement here, and there beyond it is looking,
Down a new-made double grave.

Lo, the moon ascending,
Up from the east the silvery round moon,
Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon,
Immense and silent moon.

I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-key'd bugles,
All the channels of the city streets they're flooding,
As with voices and with tears.

I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring,
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
Strikes me through and through.

For the son is brought with the father,
(In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell,
Two veterans son and father dropt together,
And the double grave awaits them.)

Now nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive,
And the daylight o'er the pavement quite has faded,
And the strong dead-march enwraps me.

In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin'd,
('Tis some mother's large transparent face,
In heaven brighter growing.)

O strong dead-march you please me!
O moon immense with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans passing to burial!
What I have I also give you.

The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music,
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
My heart gives you love.

--Walt Whitman

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Urban Moon(s)

I was looking through my files last night and found this image from late September. I liked the way the full moon was upstaged by Mission Station's moon-like clock...

The moonlight breaks upon the city's domes,
And falls along cemented steel and stone,
Upon the grayness of a million homes,
Lugubrious in unchanging monotone.
Upon the clothes behind the tenement,
That hang like ghosts suspended from the lines,
Linking each flat to each indifferent,
Incongruous and strange the moonlight shines.

There is no magic from your presence here,
Ho, moon, sad moon, tuck up your trailing robe,
Whose silver seems antique and so severe
Against the glow of one electric globe.

Go spill your beauty on the laughing faces
Of happy flowers that bloom a thousand hues,
Waiting on tiptoe in the wilding spaces,
To drink your wine mixed with sweet drafts of dews.

--Claude McKay

Friday, May 28, 2010

Blue on the Hill

As a collector of South Pas stories, you'd think I would know the scoop on this enormous blue tarp cascading down the hillside above Lower Arroyo Park.

Someone really wanted to do their own backyard version of Christo and Jeanne- Claude? No?

I don't have a clue.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

"I am the poem"

I can barely write today's post.

Patricia Kaye died Tuesday from advanced metastatic bone cancer. Most of you knew her as YakPate – the audaciously brilliant Los Angeles blogger, poet and daily commenter to this blog. I knew her as Pat. She was my best friend.

I can't begin to explain how much darker the world is without her.

I met Pat 22 years ago, shortly after I moved to Los Angeles. She was the owner of a boutique graphic design and marketing agency in Burbank, and the coolest business woman ever to rock a pair of leopard print leggings. She hired me as a freelance copywriter, but it didn't take long to realize we would develop more than just a temporary work relationship. I think the first hint was during a late afternoon brainstorming session for one of her fussier clients:

"We need inspiration," I said. "Do you want me to make some coffee?"

"Sure," Pat said. "And I'll run down to 7-11 and pick up a bottle of Baileys."

She did. And we drank it. I don’t remember if we came up with any usable marketing concepts that afternoon, but I do know that we planted the seeds of a grand and flourishing friendship. It was a friendship that blessed and transformed me in more ways than I can count.

I quickly found out that Pat was no ordinary marketing executive. Beneath the business suit ("Corporate Drag," as she referred to it) beat the heart of a true poet. Not only did she write poems and short stories with breathtaking talent and insight, but she viewed the world -- all of it -- as some kind of beautiful jungle just waiting to be explored. Everything was an adventure, and everyone was invited.

When she was younger, she lived like a character out of a great hippie rock opera: once working as an exotic dancer on top of the Luxor hotel in Egypt, later making leather goods in a commune in the Canary Islands. She was a passionate activist for populist causes and seemed the most happy when she felt like she was making a difference for those less fortunate. Even as a business owner, she infused work with big ideas and even bigger Robin Hood-ish generosity. She specialized in the marketing materials for credit unions -- the fair-minded, member-owned, little-guy financial institutions competing with big banks. Pat was the credit union industry’s champion. In fact, she was a champion of most underdogs and outsiders. Maybe that's why she was friends with me.

There was something wonderfully pixilated about Pat. Just being around her made your surroundings seem as if they were twinkling with fairy dust, with a possible banana peel hidden somewhere to slip you up and keep you laughing. While she could have discussed philosophy with the great thinkers of the Western philosophical canon, she also could have made George Carlin tip his hat, squeal with laughter and quite possibly shoot milk out of his nose. The woman was capital F Funny – possibly from her years following standup comedy in the early 80s (another incarnation, and the topic of her unpublished novel, The Ha Ha Cafe) but most likely from her keen ability to see this world as the ultimate absurdist circus. If anyone could take an existential pie in the face with great style, it was Pat Kaye.

No matter what happened, in Pat’s world the future was always about radical possibility. The past? Something to mine for gems. Although her history included long episodes of tragedy and despair worthy of a Gothic novel, those dark times never defined her. They just made a great backdrop for all of her sparkly light.

And man, was she ever sparkly. She was one of those fairy godmother people who gave far more then she took, who made everything a little more lovely and magical and whose gifts not only delighted but changed you. Just ask her nieces and nephews, her sister and brother, and her many many many many friends. We were damned lucky to be loved by Pat. So much of who we are is a direct result of knowing her.

A couple of weeks ago, Pat flew back to Louisville by ambulance plane to spend the time she had left with her family. The pain had become almost unbearable and the options had been whittled down to one: hospice. Even then, in the face of such surreal, Kafka-esque circumstances, Pat was hopeful and inspiring.

“How do you do it?” I asked her the day before she left. “How do you stay so bright and beautiful in the face of such crap? How do you manage, even now, to have fun?”

“Because life is wonderful,” she said. “Even the part where it ends.”

She shared with me one of the last poems that she wrote. I remember the final lines, although I wish she were here to correct my paraphrasing:

I used to think it was important to be the poet
But now I realize, it doesn’t matter
Because I am the poem.

I am the poem.

Pat was 66 years old. Details of the services in Kentucky can be found here. I'll update when I know more about the memorial service in Los Angeles. Read more of Pat's gorgeous words at her blog here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Remnants of Winter

Almost June, and the mountains still have a little snow...

Are we sure summer is just around the corner?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hidden by Roses

Where the rustic porch was hidden by roses, red and white,
And honeysuckle laden with wealth of blossoms bright,
And the brier gave its sweetness at the dewy evening hour,
And the violet its perfume to the kissing of the shower;
Where bird and insect singing from the cherry-laden tree,
Were answered from the clover fields by humming of the bee:
Where dozing in the shadow the faithful watch-dog laid,
And flashing through the scented grass the tiny kittens played;
And where life's chain unbroken by loved ones forced to roam,
Shone bright, undim'd by sorrows in the heart's remembered home.

--William H. Bushnell

Monday, May 24, 2010

Your Conscience in Traffic

Or am I being too philosophical for a Monday?

Update: Monday morning: I said philosophical not political, people!!! My fellow liberals who emailed me in a panic can calm down.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

In the Pink

I used to think a certain blue gate was the most festive one in South Pasadena. But how do you beat a fluff of pink bougainvillea?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rorschach Graffiti

If you do your grocery shopping at the Ralphs on Huntington, surely you have noticed this rather abstract bit of tagging on the fence across the street. I think it looks like a dragon. Little Bit thinks it looks like a seahorse. Your thoughts?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Look! A Tree!

Last time I was under the weather and ill-prepared for a post I distracted you with a colorful sunset. This time, I give you a high contrast camphor tree in monochrome.

Now, where is my vitamin C?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Standing High

Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colours
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you,
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth,

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so helplessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs —

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next, a star.

--Rainer Maria Rilke

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Festive View

These charming old windows on Mission will have a pretty good view of this weekend's South Pasadena Fun Fair! Each year the school fundraiser turns downtown South Pas into a carnival of rides, games and about umpteen skillion confetti eggs hurled at random by rampaging elementary school students. (One fourth grade kid last year had a pitch worthy of notice by a major league scout. If I see him again this year... look out.)

You can see my pictures of last year's Fun Fair here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hard-boiled Doors

Come on in -- there's nobody in here but me and a big bluebottle fly.

--Raymond Chandler, The Little Sister

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Chariot Awaits

Who says fairy tales don't come true? Sure, the house is right out of a storybook -- but the sweet ride parked out front really makes for a happily ever after. I wonder... does it belong to a handsome prince or to a bad-a** princess?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Saffron Diffusing

I noticed the glow of these two as they seemed to blend right into their golden background. Then I happened upon this poem:

A Life's Love Song

As the sun-beams with amber tinge shine
Through the sheaves that responsive are glowing,
Thy heart lends a glad hue to mine,
In Love's golden bloom ever growing.

Thy radiance with Love's ripening powers,
In the gleam of warm glances alluring,
Endows me with fruitage and flowers
Of a sweetness and fragrance enduring.

O Love, may thy vital rays glow
Like the sun-beams their saffron diffusing--
All thy tints on my being bestow,
My life-growths forever suffusing!

-- Henry O'Meara (1848-1904)

(I'm going to be bummed if I find out they're just friends...)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Twilight Zone

Ever had one of those nights?

Actually, I found this image in my files and remembered how much I liked it. Sure, the camera lens was smudged and caused the lights to make those crazy stripes across the image. Or was it aliens that landed on the library grounds? You decide...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Staring at Walls

Can you handle yet another shot of brick walls? I'm a little obsessed with them. I've noticed them anew after spending far too much time lately in other parts of Los Angeles. It's nice to be away from the ubiquitous Southern California stucco and back to the bricks and mortar of old South Pas. Here, I lingered in back of Gus's long enough to admire the afternoon light playing off of all those rectangles. I might have taken even more pictures, but great barbecue beats art (and architecture) any day.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Summer's Coming...

The sunbeams o'er the meadows lie,
And zephyrs light are straying;
And, oh! 'tis time that school was done,
And children--out a-playing.

--Mary Dow Brine

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Alleyway Art

I can't tell you how many times I've taken a picture of this alley off Mission. The color scheme makes me think of something by Hockney. Like this. Or maybe this.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Five is Good!

Everybody kick up your heels! Little Bit is five years old today! Happiest birthday ... my beautiful, brilliant, wildhearted poet child.

(Don't miss this portrait of the birthday girl and yours truly -- posted today by my dear friend Virginia at Birmingham Daily Photo!)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Don Draper on Line One...

It's no wonder Mad Men films so much in South Pasadena. Where else can you find mysteriously retro (and undeniably groovy) business names like this one? (Wouldn't it be cool if this place were somehow working with this one?)

I'm sure there is a very respectable, very state-of-the-art company operating here. But allow me to imagine a few IBM Selectric typewriters and teletype machines (and possibly a few shrinking rays and time portals) behind those vintage brick walls.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

South Pasadena Eclectic Music Festival

Music lovers of all ages boogied down yesterday at the South Pasadena 2010 Eclectic Music Festival and Art Walk. Stages and special events were set up all over the South Pas Mission West District. Here, Los Angeles-based jazz quintet Wonk set down a vintage-inspired funk groove at the K-JAZZ stage. The ever-cool BurkeTriolo Studio provided the venue and South Pasadena Rotary Club hosted this section of the event. (Thirsty jazz fans here were even served Donati wines and Angel City brew by South Pas police chief Dan Watson and his wife Kathy!)

The free Artmobile Shuttle made it easy to check out the other venues -- from emerging artists in jazz at SPACE to the Los Angeles Clarinet Choir at the South Pasadena Public Library.

Party on, South Pas!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

More than a Statue...

Today is the first day of the month which means it's Theme Day for participating City Daily Photo bloggers. This month's theme is Statues.

Created by artist Michael Stutz, the 10 foot bronze sculpture at Mission Station is called "Astride-Aside."

“The daily ebb and flow of life reveals a drama accentuated in my work," Stutz explained in a statement at the work's 2003 installation. "Using organic forms, I explore the dichotomies between permanent and impermanent, public and private, external and internal, to create an intimate and humane ideal. Light plays through the latticed forms of the woven sculptures, blending line, movement, time and the body. Focused, hand-wrought, craftsmanship reveals a yielding openness that invites viewer interaction.”

Viewer interaction? You bet! These two girls couldn't help but interact with the piece at last year's ArtsFest. It's a great example of how public art can be both inspirational and accessible.

Learn more about Astride-Aside here, and read a detailed history of its creation here. For more statues from around the world, check out my fellow bloggers' interpretations of today's theme. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants