Oh, the kids are growing up before our very eyes! Here, a group of soon-to-be-second-graders cut up for my camera on a year end field trip to the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History. And to think, just a few years ago all those taxidermy animals would have elicited tears and nightmares from the little tykes.
"Don't be afraid," I foolishly told my group as we entered the hall of North American mammals. "These animals can't hurt you."
"They're just dead, Mrs. Allee," one of the boys reassured me. "It's not like they're zombies."
South Pasadena's small town oasis makes it easy to lose track of the fact we're located smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles' urban jungle. (Well, okay, not in the middle exactly. More like up around the northeast end.) Just minutes from downtown LA, South Pasadena conceivably could have been where J.J. Gittes could have settled down to "forget Chinatown."
There's just something about the old Baranger Studios building that captures my imagination. It's one thing to look at a building and envision a history right out of Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. It's quite another thing to find out the building really does have a whimsical past.
For me, the magic lingers here, even though the building now plays host to accountants and eye doctors. Not that there is anything un-magical about accountants and eye doctors. Hey, a good CPA at tax time can work real wonders, and it's pretty incredible to finally get the right glasses prescription...
But that's not quite the magic I think of when I look at this dramatic, mysterious place. I think Baranger Studios is filled with ghosts that dance to the twangy pings of mechanical music boxes. (Just keep your ears open the next time you walk past it at night if you don't believe me.)
Or maybe it's just an old building in need of a power wash. Are you in that tragic camp of people? Our world seems determined to rationalize the whimsy right out of all of us. From elementary school teachers to newscasters to self-righteous commenters on Patch, there are buzzkillers everywhere, even in our enchanted little town.
Let that B up there on Baranger Studios remind all of us to believe. In magic. In make-believe. in finding the pixilated in an increasingly HD world.
For details on Baranger Studios and its wondrous past, see my posts here and here.
If these colors don't make you feel like zoning out to a little psychedelic music then you are definitely not paying attention! I love happy, trippy accidents like this street shot of Mission Yoga. All together now ... ommmmmmmmm.
I don't know if anyone else will like this photograph, but it's always been a favorite of mine. Something about yin/yang, duality and that old favorite: one's shadow side. I love South Pasadena's sweet Norman Rockwell homes in every light, but I'm fascinated with how they assume entirely different personalities at night. By day they reflect such images of hope and promise -- and by night they make me think of the inevitable passing of time, of loss. We come and we go, but those homes still stand. It's lovely and awful all at once. (Maybe I should have titled this one Porch: Deconstructed.)
I haven't been able to capture a good photograph of this year's jacaranda explosion. Good thing I'm digging through my files this week! Here's a favorite from several years ago. I've always loved this dramatic diva of a tree. Read what I wrote about jacarandas here.
This shot combines several things I love about shooting pictures in South Pasadena. First of all, it's Kaldi. The historical building originally served as early South Pasadena's bank building but now offers a prime, central spot for satisfying a coffee jones while taking in a great view of the South Pasadena Public Library and Morrow Bay Fig tree. Second, it's one of those night shots that allows me to pretend I'm really a film noir cinematographer. Third, there's an old car. Even in this shot. See it?
Summer is almost here, and for me that means a perfect excuse to indulge in ice cream any day I feel like it! Sure, having a bikini-worthy body may be fun to show off at the pool -- but it's not nearly as much fun as diving headfirst into a Raymond Sundae. (Caramel sauce and chocolate syrup. Oh, the humanity!)
This shot always sums up what I love about Fair Oaks Pharmacy: lots of happy people having old fashioned fun at a soda counter. True classics just never go out of style.
I have always loved the night photography of Brassai. For years, I've prowled around trying to approximate the ethereal quality of those early 20th Century shots. Here, my skill is no where near on par with the master, but the vibe is similar for me: dreamlike, moody, embraced by darkness but focused on light.
I hope you'll forgive a few days of lazy blogging, but I need some time to clear my head. In this interim, I'll post some of my favorite shots. Here is a lucky one captured on Arroyo Drive, at sunset after a storm.
Nearby Pasadena has a City Hall worthy of inclusion in a list of great buildings of North America. Designers John Bakewell and Arthur Brown were greatly influenced by the early Renaissance style of 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio. It's obvious in the gorgeous Mediterranean Revival and Spanish Colonial details. Construction was completed on December 27, 1927 at a total cost of $1.3 million which probably equates to 800 bazillion gillion upteenbobillion of today's dollars.
(South Pasadena really got the fuzzy end of the lollipop when it comes to City Hall buildings. Ours looks like this.)
Okay, my noir friends ... this could be a setting for something spooky and nefarious. Put on your best Chandler fedora and tell me: if this shot were part of a scene in a movie, what would happen here?
In December of 2007, after many years on the west side of Los Angeles (and at least a third of those years spent stuck in traffic on Pico Boulevard) my family settled into a happy little house in South Pasadena. This daily blog covered almost 5 years as I put down roots in my new home town -- and almost 5 more as I settled in and became a South Pas old-timer. Here it is...my time capsule of South Pasadena.
You can always find the blog at its original address:
For 2 years I covered ethical fashion and breaking style rules at chiccontraire.com. Check out my blog archive for those who wear what they want, not what they're told. Timeless looks, ethical style, slow fashion, fashion history, curated picks and more. I really loved blogging here, and left the best, evergreen posts up!
Thank you Charlie's Coffee House for hosting my photo exhibit, South Pas: Observed. From October 2011 through January 2012 my pictures graced the walls of the best place in town to get a cup of coffee!
Read the nifty story on photo bloggers Petrea Burchard, Ben Wideman, Kat Likkel and little old me featured in the September, 2011 issue of Pasadena Magazine.