Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Driving (me crazy!)

The good news? I spotted this gorgeous car the other day when I returned library books. The bad news? It reminded me of this terrible song, and now I can't get it out of my head.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

In the early morning of December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Within hours they had also attacked the U.S. forces stationed in the Philippine Islands. Five days later, the South Pasadena Review reported that Lieut. Henry G. Lee of South Pasadena was safe in Manila. Henry was a member of the 31st US Infantry Regiment, and had been posted to the Philippines in 1940.

At the time of the surprise attack, The United States was unprepared to defend the Philippines. Henry was captured when the Japanese overran the Bataan peninsula. In February of 1942, he wrote his family this letter from Bataan:

I have seen some horrible things happen, and have had my share of narrow escapes, but I have also seen some very wonderful acts of courage, self-sacrifice, and loyalty. And I have found what I have searched for all my life—a cause and a job in which I can lose myself completely and to which I can give every ounce of my strength and my mind. And I have mentally and spiritually conquered my fear of death.

My prayer each night is that God will send you, who are suffering so much more than I am, His strength and peace. During the first few days of war I also prayed for personal protection from physical harm, but now I see that is something for which I have no right to ask, and I pray now that I may be given strength to bear whatever I must bear, and do whatever I must do so that those men under me will have every reasonable chance.

Life and my family have been very good to me and have given me everything I have ever really wanted, and should anything happen to me here it will not be like closing a book in the middle as it would have been had I been killed in the first days of the war. For in the last two months I have done a lifetime of living, and have been a part of one of the most unselfish cooperative efforts that has ever been made by any group of individuals... If the same selfless spirit were devoted to world betterment in time of peace, what a good world we would have.

Henry survived the Battle of Bataan. He held on through the horrors of the Bataan Death March. During his internment at the Cabanatuan prison camp, he recorded his experiences through a series of poems. He wrote them in a children's school book and later buried the book beneath a hut in the prison camp. On the first page, Henry wrote this preface:

I make no pretense to being anything other than a layman, who, during an intense mental and physical experience, found verse the most effective means of recording his reactions—and incidentally, of ridding himself of some otherwise almost unbearable emotions. The best I can say of the majority of these poems is that they are as true as I could make them; the worst, that they are not written by a talented nor experienced poet.
Henry's quiet modesty was upstaged by the poignant music of his poetry. While he may have defined himself as a soldier, he revealed himself as an artist. In the dark days of war, Henry's verses reflected a true poet's inner light.

Somewhere there lives a woman I suppose
Who once was you. All night I fought my brain,
All night with burning eyes that ached to close
I probed the whirling darkness while the rain
Played on the nipa with a rhythmic stamp,
And as forgotten memories seared my heart
The restless mutter of the prison camp
Mocked at the empty years we’ve been apart.
But now the hills that race the tropic dawn
Across a sky ablaze with pagan joy
Have touched me with their strength. Though you are gone
I guard one treasure nothing can destroy—
Across a spring green, a sunlit campus lawn
A golden girl laughs with her dark-haired boy.

A few months before the camp was liberated, Henry and 1617 other prisoners were sent to Bilibid Prison in Manila to work as slave laborers. After several months of hard labor, illness and near starvation, Henry and the others were placed on an unmarked Japanese ship. Thinking it was a legitimate target and unaware of the POWs on board, the U.S. attacked. Henry survived.

The prisoners were loaded onto another unmarked freighter called the Enoura Maru. Lieut. Henry G. Lee was killed when the U.S. sank this ship in Formosa on January 9, 1945.

In July, 1942, Stephen Vincent Benet included Henry's letter to his parents in a popular radio series called Dear Adolf. The letter was read for broadcast by actor William Holden, a private in the US Army and Henry's former classmate at South Pasadena High School. You can listen to the broadcast here.

Although Henry's body was never brought home, his poetry book was eventually recovered. In 1948, Henry's parents Thomas and Mable G. Lee published his poems and letters in a book titled Nothing But Praise.

If Henry G. Lee's life had not been cut short by war, might he have gone on to become one of America's great literary voices? Perhaps he would have come back to South Pas, claimed his golden girl and, in his own words, worked with "the same selfless spirit devoted to world betterment in time of peace." We'll never know.

I could not know the meaning nor the way,
I was not one with all that time must end,
Until one hopeless, joyless, bitter day
I looked at unmasked death and saw a friend.

--Henry G. Lee, 1915-1945

Sunday, May 29, 2011


I'm not sure what I was trying to capture when I took this photograph. I think it had something to do with all those rectangles, straight lines, angles and sharp edges broken up by the organic, freeform curve of that tree. Something grabbed in late afternoon with bright light compressing the three dimensions into flat picture plane. Something arty, referring to nature vs. city.

Or maybe I just liked that street lamp.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Remnants of the Past (#1)

I never knew Cappy's back when it was more than just an iconic South Pas storefront with locked doors. I've heard some great stories about it, though. What are yours?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Here Comes Another One

Okay, I confess. I barely crept over the border into Pasadena again to take this picture. It's the exact same spot where another amazing automobile was parked earlier in the month. Is this a secret portal to vintage car heaven?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Stumbling Over Artwork

I noticed several of these whimsical sculptures displayed at the school administration building. Anyone know what they are?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tennis, Anyone?

I was wandering around the baseball fields at Arroyo Park the other day. While I was taking pictures of these cool shadows, a kid was playing catch with his grandfather. Their conversation went something like this:

"You've got to throw it harder!" The grandfather said.

"I don't want to practice anymore!" The kid said.

"You're going to keep practicing and that's all there is to it!"

"I'd rather ride my bike!"

"When I was your age, I didn't even have a bike!"

"Yeah," the kid said, "that's probably why you're so mean now!"

The grandfather started laughing. The kid joined in.

"Well," the grandfather said, "you certainly know how to throw a fast ball ... with that smart-aleck mouth of yours."

"If I do," the kid said, "I get it from your side of the family."

I can't help but think with all that volleying, they picked the wrong sport.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Faded Beauty

Check out my column at Patch today. I finally delved into the history of the Rialto and let me just say this: our beloved old queen has quite a story. (The column should post sometime this morning.)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

All in a Day's Work

You have to be a little insane to be a daily photo blogger. Posting every single day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and yes, even on Christmas means that while you might have occasional flashes of relavence -- posts that are thoughtful, or interesting with pictures you're proud of -- more often than not, you just have to pull something out of thin air. And that means sometimes you get into weird territory. For instance, you might do a post on your high fever, or one about the robot you found in your kitchen. Anything -- anything -- is better than breaking your stride and missing a day.

Recently, Blogger went down for almost 24 hours. Daily photo bloggers flooded Twitter and Facebook with frantic messages. We weren't worried about data being lost or security being breached or anything reasonable like that. "I haven't missed a post in almost 1050 days!" I tweeted with all the anxiety of a caffeine addict who realized she had mistakenly bought decaf. "I don't know what to do with myself!"

I remember reading about a psychological syndrome akin to obsessive compulsive disorder. It had to do with believing that the trivial tasks you complete are secretly, magically saving the world. Superhero psychosis, or something like that. I can't remember where I read it, but it was probably a daily blog. (And it's a good thing the blogger posted it. Who knows what might have happened to the world if a day was skipped...)

(I finish up my week of iPhone shots with this ridiculous creation shot with my iPhone, edited with Photoshop for iPhone and turned into a comic with the Half Tone app.)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Coming up Roses

These roses in my front yard were completely white when we moved in a few years ago. Sure, you'll probably tell me the new pink petals have something to do with bees and cross-pollination or something equally scientific. Little Bit has a better explanation: "Magic!"

(I continue with my week of iPhone camera shots. This one was shot using the MoreMono app.)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Office Retro

I'm not sure, but I think Don Draper might be in that building.

Actually, this wonderfully retro office was used as an exterior location in Mad Men -- along with quite a few other spots around town. In the real world, Seven J. Investment like to keep more than just the building rooted in the 20th Century: The business is listed in the phone book, but I couldn't find a company web site.

(I continue my week of iPhone photos with this lomography shot taken with the MoreLomo app.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Author Night Tonight with Steve Hodel

Is it possible that South Pasadena was home to one of the most infamous killers of the 20th Century? Retired LAPD Homicide Detective and New York Times bestselling author Steve Hodel thinks so ... and his evidence is extremely compelling.

Tonight at 7:00PM, the South Pasadena Public Library Community Room hosts an encore Author Night with Hodel, author of Black Dahlia Avenger: A Genius for Murder. Hodel captivated a library audience back in 2008 when he revealed evidence that his very own father Dr. George Hodel was the 1947 Black Dahlia murderer.

On January 15, 1947, the body of 22 year old Elizabeth Short -- later nicknamed the Black Dahlia -- was found mutilated, bisected at the waist, drained of all blood and posed in a Los Angeles vacant lot. The crime made headlines for months as the killer taunted the police with numerous phone calls and cryptic notes. Despite a huge manhunt, the Black Dahlia case remained one of the most notorious and high-profile unsolved crimes of the 20th century.

Tonight, Hodel returns with his follow-up book Most Evil: Avenger, Zodiac, and the Further Serial Murders of Dr. George Hodel. Hodel has uncovered stunning forensic, visual and circumstantial evidence that his father was most likely "The Zodiac" serial killer who terrorized California in the late 60s and 70s with a bizarre series of murders.

George Hodel was born in 1907 and grew up in a house on South Pasadena's Monterey Road. As a child musical prodigy he was visited by Rachmaninoff. He was declared a child genius after scoring 186 on an IQ test. (Einstein himself scored 185.) At 14, George graduated from South Pasadena High School. He breezed through Cal Tech and became a notable Hollywood physician -- hobnobbing with the glitterati and making a name for himself among Los Angeles' upper crust.

In 1949, as the LAPD began investigating the Black Dahlia murder, Hodel abruptly moved to the Philippines. He returned to the United States in the late 60s, settling down in Northern California. He died in 1999.

Steve Hodel spent 24 years as a homicide detective with the LAPD. He earned one of the highest solve rates in the department. Suffice it to say, his shocking discovery is fascinating as well as horrifying.

Author Night is free to the public, presented by the library and Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library. The Community Room is located at 1115 El Centro Street and no tickets or reservations are necessary. Refreshments will be provided and signed hardback copies of Most Evil will be available for only $10.

(I continue my week of iPhone shots with this spooky one, processed with the Plastic Bullet app.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Baseball Blogging

Baseball fans, if you're not reading Sully Baseball -- the witty and informative blog of South Pasadena's own Paul Francis Sullivan -- you're missing out on some of the most thoughtful (and often hilarious) commentary about America's favorite pastime. Sully is an Emmy nominated TV producer, filmmaker, comedian and Red Sox fan whose savant-like knowledge of baseball would be frightening if it weren't so much fun. Not only does he write at length about all things related to baseball, he makes wonderful videos, too. This is one of my favorites.

South Pasadena has always had a fascination with baseball. Thousands of innings of Little League ball have been played across the fields of Lower Arroyo Park alone. But back in 1925, South Pasadena caught World Series fever. Mission Street merchants built an elaborate platform on the Alexander Building at the corner of Mission and Meridian for the sole purpose of announcing the games in real time. Pasadena Star News donated a telegraph operator who relayed the action directly from the ball park. An announcer on the platform gave running play-by-play commentary as a scorekeeper marked a chalkboard. Incidentally, the Pirates beat the Senators 4-3 in that series, making the Pirates the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit during a Fall Classic. I'll bet Sully didn't know that story.

Then again, I'll bet he did.

Check out Sully Baseball right here.

(I continue with my week of iPhone camera shots. This one was taken with the Retro Camera app, using the Fudge Camera setting.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Caption This Photo (#62)

I really need help with this one...

(I continue with another shot from my iPhone. This one, like yesterday's, was shot using the MoreMono app and taken straight from the camera, er, phone.)

Monday, May 16, 2011


We can't seem to escape the orange roadwork signs as the Fair Oaks construction project branches out to side streets. How does everyone feel about the progress so far? Feel free to rant (or rave) in comments.

(This week, I will have a little fun with iPhone camera apps. Here, I used the free MoreMono app and cropped the image into a square.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Digital Dystopia

As you might have noticed, Blogger was down for most of yesterday and this morning. This is the first time I have missed a post in my almost 1050 days as your trusty daily photo blogger. (It wasn't my fault!) Our pal Petrea from Pasadena Daily Photo tweeted last night that it was good for blogging addicts to be forced to take a break. I would directly quote her, but as of this moment Twitter is also down. Okay, people. Which one of you is responsible for breaking the internet?

While the Blogger team works to restore missing posts (mine from yesterday has disappeared) I will deal with other connectivity snafus. AT&T U-Verse screwed up the Allee household's autopayment and disconnected our phone, internet and cable. (Thank goodness for Charlie's free WiFi. And strong coffee.)

Happy Friday the 13th, everyone.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lesson Learned from a 6 Year Old...

Sometimes you just have to stop what your doing and have a cookie. (Even if it spoils your dinner.)

Best in Show

I know what you're thinking: that's one tough puppy.

And speaking of tough puppies, South Pasadena's own Kaz Aizawa has won an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation for his work in Nickelodeon's T.U.F.F. Puppy. Read more about it here, and check out the winning T.U.F.F Puppy episode Toast of Tuff: Bread Dog.

Congratulations, Kaz! You're the toast of South Pas!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Time Out

There are a lot of great places to take a break in South Pas. This sunny spot outside of Busters is one of my favorites.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Classic Ride

Cruise on over to my column at Patch. This week, I muse about South Pasadena's penchant for old cars, and the city's historical significance in Southern California's changing transportation landscape. Be sure to check out the video for a collection of gorgeous vintage automobiles. (It should post sometime before lunch today.)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Here's to all the moms: the great boo-boo fixers and sniffle wipers, the keepers of our embarrassing secrets and champions of our noble attempts. Here's to the ones who taught us how to say please and when to say no, the ones who put up with our whining and stayed up with our fevers, the ones who tucked us in and held us close and ultimately let us go.

Thanks, Mom!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sunny Atmosphere

Come to me, O ye children!
And whisper in my ear
What the birds and the winds are singing
In your sunny atmosphere.

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Friday, May 6, 2011

Food for Thought

I've known what it is to be hungry ... but I always went right to a restaurant.

--Ring Lardner

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Art Auction to Benefit Friends of South Pasadena Library

The Friends of the South Pasadena Public library are presenting an online auction of these three paintings by Zolita Sverdlove, the celebrated South Pas artist who passed away in 2009. The pieces have been donated by her husband to be used as a Friends fundraiser. Two other paintings by Sverdlove now hang in the main reading room of the Library.

The new paintings are:

1. Edible Nasturtium, 12 X 9" framed watercolor
Starting Bid: $150

2. Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, 8.5 X 12" framed watercolor
Starting Bid: $150

3. Pueblo, 11 X 14 framed oil
Starting bid: $450

Email bids to zolitapaintings@yahoo.com and make sure to mention the title of the painting.

You can take a look at the paintings up close in the Community Room tonight for the Artist Night with Diana Bryer and musician David Plenn at 7 PM. You can also check them out during the concert with the LA Clarinet Choir, David Batt, and the Lyric Opera of LA as part of the South Pasadena Eclectic Music Festival on May 7th at 5:00 PM. Both events are free.

The deadline for bids is midnight on May 9, 2011 and winners will be notified on or about May 10, 2011. For more about Zolita’s art, please check out more info from the library.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Neighboring Rival

Okay, full disclosure: I snuck just across the border into Pasadena to take this photo. (I couldn't resist.)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

You've Got Mail

Today is the first of the month, and that means it's Theme Day for participating City Daily Photo bloggers. Today's theme is Mailbox.

A friend recently asked me if I had received something she had sent. I immediately checked email, blog comments, Twitter direct messages, Facebook and my phone texts. I didn't see anything from her, so I told her to resend it.

"I can't resend it," she said. "It's an actual piece of mail. You know, with a stamp on it?"

Sure enough, I found an envelope beneath a large pile of bills and an even larger pile of catalogues. Actual mail, with my name and address handwritten in ballpoint pen. In this age of spam folders, blogrolls and Evites, holding a real letter in my hand felt unique and strange. And somehow new.

Actual mail? Yeah, I predict it's the next big thing.

For a digital walk through a worldwide neighborhood of mailboxes, check out my fellow City Daily Photo bloggers. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

UPDATE: The beautiful and talented Jilly of Monty Carlo Daily Photo and Menton Daily Photo managed to photograph the exact same mailbox, halfway around the world. See for yourself.