Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Playdate with the Proletariat

One of these dolls will run you upwards of $150, including the dress and the shoes. The other costs $29.95, and she comes with clothes, shoes, a baby brother doll, a storybook and some little plastic chachkas to help care for her brother and manage her long hair.
The ritzy one has an exclusive cachet. She's an official "American Girl" doll -- a doll so incredibly special, according to the company marketing materials, she will not just offer superior doll companionship, but allow little girls to "follow their inner star." (Right. All the way to the American Girl store, where the extra accessories necessary for following those inner stars add up to truly astronomical amounts.)
The budget doll, however, can be found at Target, with a slew of multi-cultural friends. You could buy the whole gang with a few wardrobe changes and still spend less than one of those inner star-following high-brow dolls.
"Mommy," Little Bit said to me the other day, "some of the girls at school say that American Girl dolls are the only good ones. I don't get it. I like my Target doll better than my American Girl. My Target doll is just as fun, plus she doesn't have those weird teeth."
(Atta girl!)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Room With a View

I tend to look out of this window a lot when I need to think about something. (And sometimes the subject of my thinking renders the scene decidedly more bleak than the sunny, blue-skied view I present today.) I don't know what it is about antique lace curtains over my 112 year old water glass sash windows but when I look out -- or maybe just at -- this window, the whole world seems to open up.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dry Spell

"Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it's the answer to everything. To ''Why am I here?'' To uselessness. It's the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it's a cactus."

--Enid Bagnold

(And who takes pictures of cactus? Writers who need those flowers, even when they haven't been able to write.)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oldies but Goodies

You never know what you'll stumble upon when you explore Mission Street's antique stores. (But can you still buy Tri-X film?)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Double Scoop Still Life

These warm days sure don't feel like February. For a little bit of frosty goodness, head over to Busters for some Fosselman's ice cream. It's even better if you sit at one of the charming little outdoor tables. There are views of this, and this, and this, and sometimes this and (if you look closely enough) this.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Kaldi: Dark to Light

I don't remember snapping this iPhone photo. In all likelihood it was an accidental shot fired off when I was checking a text. Either that, or Kaldi's intense dark roast saturated my creative brain, prompting me to subconsciously attempt an impromptu yin/yang study of one's interior shadow juxtaposed by community light...

Nah, it was just an accident. (But remind me to go back and shoot the scene with a proper camera!)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rebel Artist

"You know why I love coloring on the sidewalk, Mommy?"

She put down the chalk and looked up.

"Why?" I said.

"Because nobody tells me to color inside the lines. The only lines I have to color inside of are the ones on the sidewalk."

"That's true."

"Wait a minute," she said. "I don't even have to do that! I can color the pieces of grass, too!"

"I think that's an excellent idea."

She sighed before picking up the chalk again.

"You know," she said. "I wish school was more like this sidewalk."

(Me too.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In an Ordinary Place

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place... I've found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”

--Elliott Erwitt

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Dust of Snow

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

--Robert Frost

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Up the Street with a Paddle...

The restaurant formerly known as Wild Thyme (formerly known as The Bakery) has reinvented itself yet again. Canoe House is open, serving up Hawaiian flavors with island hospitality in a completely renovated space. (There's even a Tiki Bar.)

I haven't checked it out yet, but I'd love to hear from South Pas foodies who have tried the place. Anyone?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Posy Poesy

Okay, you guys know what a big ole goofball I am about Valentine's Day. So sue me, I'm a shameless romantic with a weakness for dramatic declarations and a soft spot for kitsch...

But grand gestures and Whitman Samplers aside, I think it's great to have an excuse to say I love you. Or I'm sorry. Or even just, hey, I wanted you to have these flowers.

Happy Valentine's Day, y'all.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Deco Unexpected

The next time you see a play at the South Pasadena High School Auditorium, make sure to check out the water fountain in the women's bathroom.

Who knew?!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Look Up: (#7)

Next time you are in the library community room, look up. Seriously, LOOK UP AT THAT AMAZING CEILING AND DRAMATIC PENDANT LAMP! (The flowers on the beams get me every single time. I just dare you not to sigh or smile when you see them.)

They don't make 'em like that anymore.

For more on the art and architecture of the South Pasadena Public Library, check out my column from last year at Patch. Coming soon: details on the history of the majestic library fig tree -- another great South Pas object begging for you to look up.

With this, I wrap up Look Up Week. It was fun taking a closer look at things above us. Several readers have wondered if I take requests for theme weeks. You bet! Just leave a comment or send me an email. (My email address is linked on the right side of the blog.) Just know that if you guys want a Craftsman week, I (and a whole lot of talented San Gabriel bloggers) have already pointed out what a challenge that can be...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Look Up: (#6)

When the world at eye level is too bleak and monochromatic, it helps me to look up at the sunset sky. Colors bloom and wither so quickly, if you're not paying attention you just might miss a moment of perfect, harmonious bliss. (Lucky for me, I captured it in the camera yesterday, just outside of OSH.)

I've been looking up this week -- literally and figuratively.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Look Up: (#5)

I don't need an excuse to look up at the beautiful details of the historical Baranger Studios building. It draws my eyes upward every time I pass by...

(For more details about the history and whimsy of this wonderful place, click here.)

This week is Look Up Week: join me as I point my camera above me.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Look Up: (#4)

We've all looked up to this South Pas landmark. But what many people don't know is that beneath this water tower, in a funky little house, lived one of the most influential contemporary artists of the 20th Century.
Many of us looked up to Mike Kelley, whose quiet, domestic years as a South Pasadena resident offered a sharp contrast to the messy complexity and downright punk aesthetic of his work. Most of us had no idea such a radical art legend lived in that little house under the water tower. I shot many pictures of the house, never knowing who the owner might be. (Not even with clues like this one.) Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight once described Kelley as “an avatar of the power and humanity inherent in recognizing the radical impurity of human experience. His art searches out dark and soiled places where defects, fault lines and inadequacies are obvious and routine, and where failure takes on the poignant, fragile, even heartbreaking beauty that accompanies any loss of self.”
Mike Kelley passed away last week at the age of 57. 57 years old is too damn young for anyone to leave this world -- especially someone as rambunctious, groundbreaking, complex and passionate as Mike Kelley.
As I look upward now, I wish him luck, love and wild inspiration on his next adventure. If the spirit world is in need of a good shaking up, Mike Kelley is just the right rebel angel for the job.
UPDATE: Please check out Pasadena Adjacent's moving post about Mike Kelley. Be sure to click on the videos -- including the one in the comments section.
This week is Look Up Week -- a chance to look at things above us.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Look Up: (#3)

At some point telephone poles will become as obsolete as Victrolas, dictophones and typewriters. Sure, it will be nice not having to worry about downed power lines in storms, but underground cables and wifi hubs just don't have the romance of these wonderful, old relics.

It's Look Up Week this week here at Glimpses! Join me as I point my camera toward the sky.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Look Up: (#2)

I've been taking pictures of the iconic Monterey Hills home for years, but this is the first time I snuck into the front yard and crouched on the ground to do it. Can you blame me? Builder C. S. Conners' gorgeous, soaring white angles look more like sculpture than architecture.

And guess what? If you've got a spare 1.5 million, the place can be yours. Recently listed, the house has a unique open floor plan, light-filled rooms offering magnificent views of the San Gabriels and even a pool. (You can find out more about the listing right here.)

It's Look Up Week this week at Glimpses: South Pas views from the ground up.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Look Up: (#1)

This week, I plan on sticking my nose in the air. Don't worry, I'm not trying to give attitude ... just altering my perspective a bit here at Glimpses.

Ever notice how different your surroundings appear when you study them from a different angle? Let's take a look at some familiar things from bottom to top. Hey, we've all got to find something to look up to!

Here, we see one of the new retro street lamps on Fair Oaks Avenue. Long-time readers know how I feel about the colossal mess that was the Fair Oaks construction project. The bulb-outs are idiotic, the asphalt/concrete/faux brick blend made uneven patchwork of a perfectly fine thoroughfare, the median planters impede traffic and the loss to our business district from months of gridlock is still being felt by local merchants.

And then, there's all that money that was spent on something that, in the end, turned out to be a city embarrassment rather than a city improvement.

But I will give credit where credit is due: the street lamps are really pretty. Especially with a milky blue sky as a backdrop.

Stick around with me for the rest of Look Up Week: a series of familiar things that tower above us.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Variation on a Theme...

The winter light has made me obsessed with tree shadows on buildings. (Such gorgeous trees! Such wonderful old buildings!)

Saturday, February 4, 2012


They may look shy, but these first graders received a school award last month for excellence in the performing arts. (What's that, you say? You recognize a certain adorable Little Bit up there? You certainly do! And I'm going to be waving this picture around saying "I knew it! I knew it all along!" at the Oscars in 20 years when she bags the award for best director...)

Speaking of performing arts, don't miss South Pasadena's 5th graders performing Guys and Dolls this weekend at South Pasadena High School. (1401 Fremont. Look for the signs directing you to the little theater.) 5th grade students from all three elementary schools have joined together to bring us the musical classic.

Several cast members created a flash-mobs around town recently, belting out some of the show's tunes and proving that South Pas kids have more than good grades ... they've got great pipes!

You can see the show tonight at 7:30 and tomorrow at 1:30. Tickets are available at the box office before the show. Click here for more details.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


"Mommy, why do they chop off those roses' heads?"
My 6 year old daughter stopped and looked at these pruned bushes on the way to the playground at Garfield Park.
"Well, I think it's supposed to make them grow," I said.
"But they were growing before just fine," she said.
"I'm not sure what the point is," I said. "It's just something that gardeners do to make the rose bushes look more groomed. They cut off the dead leaves and flowers."
I really didn't have any idea what I was talking about.
"But what if the rose bushes wanted to keep those dead leaves and flowers? It's not like the wind wouldn't knock them off. Or the rain. Who cares if they are a little messy?"
"I guess the gardeners want it to look a certain way."
She lingered for a moment and then sighed.
"I get it, Mommy," she said. "They just want to make them bloom the way they want them to do it. Not the way the bushes want to do it. Grown ups always do crazy stuff like that."
(Yes, yes they do.)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Animal Magnetism

Today is Theme Day for participating City Daily Photo bloggers. Today's theme is Animals.

Meet Otto, one of South Pasadena's more regal residents. Otto has an impressive show horse background, but he was kind enough to gently, patiently give rides to a passel of excited 6 and 7 year olds at a recent birthday party.

Otto is just one of many horses occupying the two stables in South Pasadena. You'll see his pals meandering along the trails of the lower Arroyo, reminding us that there is still a little Wild West left in the big city.

For more examples of critters from all over the world, check out my fellow City Daily Photo bloggers. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants