Thursday, May 31, 2012

Style Guide

"Elegance is refusal."

--Coco Chanel

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ninja Playground

"Invincibility lies in the defence; the possibility of victory in the attack."

--Sun Tzu

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Widescreen Craftsman

What do you do with the challenge of photographing Craftsman houses? Sneak up on them in bright afternoon light, zero in on a piece of the architecture and go for a widescreen view!

(Well, that's my latest strategy. How am I doing?)

Monday, May 21, 2012

tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm

"A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease."

--John Muir

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Park Day

At the turn of the last century, before Garfield Park was a park, it was a brambly-wild patch of land owned by the Southern Pacific Railroad. South Pas leased the seven-acres for a number of years before finally purchasing it in 1920 and transforming it into the jewel in South Pasadena's crown. Even with a modern playground and tennis courts, Garfield Park feels a bit like a garden from a lost era. (All those old-fashioned rosebushes! That wonderful sign!) And although the park suffered significant tree loss from last year's windstorm, the place still beckons with plenty of shady spots to have a picnic or just take in the rolling hills, vintage streetlamps and chattering birds. (I'm particularly fond of that tree in the background, even though it's just about to burst into a giant white puffball and send me for the nearest bottle of allergy medicine. Ah, the price of beauty...) (Read about my favorite Garfield Park story from history. For more on South Pas parks, check out one of the first columns I wrote for Patch.)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Settings: Part 40

All that talk about film the other day put me in the mood for my favorite Glimpses game. This is your producer talking, my cinephile friends ... put on your director's caps and tell me if this setting were in a movie, what would happen here?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Trippy Blossoms

Left to her own devices, Mother Nature is a psychedelic free spirit.

(South Pasadena is blooming. Welcome, Spring!)

Thursday, May 17, 2012


(Sometimes the most interesting picture is the one you find around the corner from where you thought you were going.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

iPhone Noir

I once had a professor who insisted that some of the most haunting film noir scenes did not take place in shadowy alleys or low-rent bars, but rather in ordinary suburban settings that seemed innocuous on the surface, but hinted at something lurking below. Remember that insane carousel scene from Strangers on a Train? I had an entirely new view of amusement parks after seeing that film.
David Lynch's Blue Velvet probably cornered the market on creepiness beneath the picket fences of suburbia, but that film built on the foundation of the works of writers like James Cain and Raymond Chandler. To this day, I can't look at a happy Mayberry scene without imagining the way Chandler would have described it.
I remember being surprised to learn that Chandler lived in some truly white-bread neighborhoods in Los Angeles County. I always pictured him in a seedy walk-up in Hollywood, not a cozy little bungalow in Monrovia. But maybe he understood what my film professor was trying to say. Maybe he liked imagining potential darkness inside every sunny American dream.
(I think Chandler would have loved the iPhone MoreMono app. It turns everything into Marlowe's playground.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Night Stroll

Problems always seem to recede into the shadows when I take a walk at night. It's hard to maintain vigilant focus when you're tucked into all those deep blues, blacks and greens. I can't feel too bleak when windows and streetlamps splash all that gold light around. If the day favors reality, night leans toward the imagination, mystery and dreams.

(And a smooth, pearly moon is a nice counterpoint to a sandpaper day.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Long View

I love grand, sweeping panoramas. For a city of only a few square miles, South Pasadena has an amazing number of beautiful views. (I actually wrote about it for Patch a while back.) Sure, a postcard view is an easy shot for a photographer when all you have to do is point your camera at a beautiful setting.

But what a payoff!

Former South Pas residents who have moved away often write me asking to post photos of specific views. Recently, a reader living in China asked if I had any stormy views from Monterey Hills looking toward the San Gabriels. Here you go...

For some truly remarkable view shots, check out The Library of Congress Panoramic Photograph Collection, 1851-1991. The images feature cityscapes, landscapes, bridges, waterways, natural disaster overviews and some pretty amazing old group portraits and beauty contests. (Check out this amazing shot of South Pasadena's historic Raymond Hotel! And for those of you who read my Castle Green post a few days ago, here's a great shot of Pasadena's famous Hotel Green.)These photographs give us a long view of world history and offer a fantastic window into our shared past.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

sublime and moving space

"These trees are magnificent, but even more magnificent is the sublime and moving space between them, as though with their growth it too increased.”

--Rainer Maria Rilke

What a perfect thought for Mother's Day: the sublime and moving space created by our children as we watch them grow. We are more magnificent because of those little acorns. Our growth is increased along with theirs and no matter how wide the spaces become, our roots are entwined in a never ending hug.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Your Welcome

Experts say that creativity is boosted by several factors: a relaxing environment, the ability to rest your gaze on a long view, and the colors blue and green.

Okay, gang. Now I expect to see some masterpieces from all of you!

Friday, May 11, 2012

My Kind of Garden...

Maybe it's just me, but I think this fabulous green machine is as pretty as a flower.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

like a race of giants that have faded into mere mythology

Telephone Poles

They have been with us a long time.
They will outlast the elms.
Our eyes, like the eyes of a savage sieving the trees
In his search for game,
Run through them. They blend along small-town streets
Like a race of giants that have faded into mere mythology.
Our eyes, washed clean of belief,
Lift incredulous to their fearsome crowns of bolts, trusses, struts, nuts, insulators, and such
Barnacles as compose
These weathered encrustations of electrical debris¬
Each a Gorgon’s head, which, seized right,
Could stun us to stone.
Yet they are ours. We made them.
See here, where the cleats of linemen
Have roughened a second bark
Onto the bald trunk. And these spikes
Have been driven sideways at intervals handy for human legs.
The Nature of our construction is in every way
A better fit than the Nature it displaces
What other tree can you climb where the birds’ twitter,
Unscrambled, is English? True, their thin shade is negligible,
But then again there is not that tragic autumnal
Casting-off of leaves to outface annually.
These giants are more constant than evergreens
By being never green.

--John Updike

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

To Your Health

The raw food people tell us that the secret to health and longevity is consumption of copious amounts of uncooked, unprocessed vegetables and fruits. Paleo eaters maintain that our hunter/gatherer genes require animal protein, lower carbohydrates and, yes, some of those raw, unprocessed vegetables. Then again, the Aruvedic experts chime in with advice to make sure to eat warm, cooked energy foods -- like potatoes -- to mitigate the effects of excess pitta in your dosha. Mind/Body experts tell us that our happiness index largely determines our health, and that adding moderate amounts of sugar and caffeine boosts our brain serotonin, making us feel happier and, in turn, boosting our immune systems.
Well. I have the perfect solution:
In n Out's number 1 combo, protein style. Yup. The ultimate health food is a lettuce-wrapped burger, fries and a coke.
Stay with me, here. It's got enough red meat to make the paleo eaters happy without a big, bad, industrialized, overprocessed white flour bun. The lettuce and tomato on the burger are raw, and you know what that means ... unadulterated micronutrients, people! Add a few pitta-extinguishing french fries and an happiness-inducing/energy-boosting coke and you've got a meal worthy of its own food pyramid.
(As you might have noticed, I manage to find the health properties in foods our experts overlook...)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Stumbling Over Brilliance

Do you think nature gets irritated that we take beautiful things like this for granted? I mean, really ... just look at this flower!

Inspiration. It's right under our feet.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Castle Next Door

South Pasadena's historical Raymond Hotel is only a memory, but Pasadena's Castle Green reminds us of our region's whimsical and opulent past. Built in 1898 as annex to the world famous Hotel Green, the Castle Green is a 7-story Moorish delight.
At the turn of the last century, San Gabriel Valley residents and tourists could ride bikes on the Great California Cycleway -- Horace Dobbins' elevated wooden bike path leading from Hotel Green to just past South Pasadena's Raymond Hotel. Original plans called for the bike path to meander along the Arroyo, tunneling through the hills of Elysian Park all the way to Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles. There were even plans for a Swiss dairy in Highland Park, and a grand casino called Merlemount to be built in South Pasadena's Lower Arroyo Park. (Learn more about the cycleway here and here with history of the freeway that eclipsed bike paths in my previous post here.) Although the cycleway was never completed (and South Pas never became a gambling mecca) the elevated bike path from Pasadena to South Pas was the place to see and be seen.
Only a a few remains of the cycleway can be found in South Pas -- a dirt path near the railroad tracks under the Oaklawn bridge and a canopied stretch adjacent to the freeway near Arroyo. The only traces left of the Raymond Hotel are remnants of the original river rock garden walls, the caretaker cottage (now the Raymond Restaurant) and a few of Walter Raymond's palm trees.
But the Castle Green still stands. It's a beautiful reminder of our region's history.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Supermoon over SoCal

While the official Supermoon of 2012 occurred last night, tonight's almost-full moon will be pretty spectacular, too. (Go outside and look up tonight!)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Another Shameless Birthday Post

Look who is growing up ENTIRELY TOO FAST!

Because today is Little Bit's 7th birthday, she told me to tell all of you that everybody gets seven wishes.

"Just be sure to use the wishes wisely, Mommy. I'm serious. And no using a wish to wish for even more wishes because that's just rude."


Now, go out and have some cake!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Most Fabulous Lawn in the Entire World

I don't know who lives here, but every spring when this shocking lawn starts blooming I imagine the owner must be someone like RuPaul or Angelyne or, heck, maybe even Strawberry Shortcake.

One thing is certain: they're in the pink. Literally!

I love it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I've seen this car cruising in South Pas before, but never had a camera handy to get a shot of it. I got lucky the other day and noticed it on Huntington when I was headed toward the Santa Anita Mall in Arcadia. Who me? Obsessed with vintage cars? Nah. I like to think of it like birdwatching. (Only cooler.)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Magic Hour (Continued)

Are you sick of palm trees yet? Sick of golden pink skies?

Too bad! With the incredible sunset light of late, I just can't help myself.

For those of you paying attention, yes, I completely spaced out about this month's City Daily Photo Theme Day. (Don't blame me, I'm dazed from staring into the setting sun!) This month's theme is Bakeries. If I'd been paying attention, I would have highlighted South Pasadena's delightful Heirloom Bakery (Wait a minute, I've done that already...) You can still get your vicarious sugar rush by checking out my fellow City Daily bloggers for shots of yummy treats from around the world.