Posted in Poesy

Inspired by Miss Havisham

Miss Havisham’s love poem to Pasadena aroused ‘Curmudgeon Kel.’ So here’s my sardonic lament.

You’re a living doll, Pasadena, a Twilight Zone special
Bashed, bloodied but breathing
Learning to wear your skyward spikes
Condos of stucco and tile, offices of glass and steel
Your mix your uses like a Bond martini—shaken, not stirred
Developers’ pockets dream to bulge
Dear girl, they’re in your bloomers
Your Greene and Greene’s shadowed, your Julia Morgan widowed
Your Ernie Junior’s deported, your Beadles plum gone
Your Bullock’s tea room a sea of furniture
Made in China.
I raise my Budweiser-sponsored Dodgers glass
(from Hooters) to your vertical growth
That train has left the station, the station itself dwarfed
The big boys from Chicago now pass you by
Their whistles meant for some other girl

Posted in Around Town, Current Events

War Protest

Thanks to a shove in the right direction from Miss Havisham, I went to the war protest at the corner of Hill and Orange Grove here in Pasadena last night.

It seemed an odd location at first, but it’s a very busy intersection and hundreds of cars passed by, many honking their support. Plus, we were in the shade!

You can see Patrick Briggs’ Flickr photo set here.

I bumped into Betty Ann Janssen, formerly Executive Director of Women at Work. I also chatted with Maria Isenberg, a Northwest commissioner who recently opened her own pet-sitting business. You can reach her at mlisenberg(at)email(dot)com.

Quote for the day: “There are two kinds of artists left: those who endorse Pepsi and those who simply won’t. –Annie Lennox

Posted in Around Town

Pasadena’s Orange Grove Boulevard

After the Rose Parade makes its famous right turn from Orange Grove Boulevard onto Colorado, Orange Grove continues northward, and makes its own sweep to the right to become a major east-west route north of the 210 freeway.

I heard that the liquor stores on Orange Grove open early, so I went to check it out Sunday morning. The infamous Super Liquors didn’t open ’til 7:00, but sure enough, Andy’s Liquor was open at 6:21 am:


You can read what the Pasadena Public Health Department found on their last visit to Andy’s here.

OG Andy’s Customers

So it’s 6:30 a.m. and I’m walking up and down Orange Grove observing the activity and feeling somewhat conspicuous. I wanted to take pictures of the people I saw: guys hanging out on the sidewalk, other guys on bikes going to work, other guys in white shirts and ties walking around with Bibles in their hands, one cocaine-thin woman with wild hair walking confidently down the sidewalk, another woman selling hot tamales across the street from Andy’s (I recommend the chicken). Business was brisk.

I asked ‘Ana’ (the tamale-seller, not her real name) if I could take her picture. She said okay so I did, but then didn’t hit the save button on my phone. I returned a few minutes later to ask again, but she said no. I realized that I didn’t want to post her picture anyway. As much as I think she has a right to sell tamales, there is a public health issue with people making food in their kitchens at home and selling it on the street. Yeah, I bought a tamale, but I would feel better if she were licensed.

I found micro-graffiti.

OG crossing graf

OG pole & sign graf

There are signs of development on this stretch of Orange Grove. Literally “signs.” This sign, at the site of Teddy Choi’s long-gone Arco station, says the project would be completed in 2006.
OG Gimeli

One loud windy night at that Arco station, my wallet was stolen from my car while I stood in line to pay, chatting to a friend I’d bumped into there. Since then, I lock my car when I’m filling up–100% of the time.

A new restaurant in the works—looks like the proprietors will fight an uphill battle against the graffiti-ists:

OG restaurant soon

I finished up my walk at the corner of Orange Grove and Fair Oaks with a little Magic:

OG Magic

Posted in Around Town, Cool Stuff

Bloggers United

Thanks to Jill, local bloggers had a meet-up yesterday. Here’s a photo of us taken by Debbi, who has just launched a new blog called Altadena Above It All:

Bloggers United ‘07

Development and change were frequent topics of conversation. The Rialto just closed and the Pacific Hastings last day is today. Both places fell in the crack between the theatres at Paseo Colorado and Netflix. One hopes the closing of the Hastings will not lead to the demise of Robin’s restaurant next door (the man himself brought ribs to our meet-up–thanks, Robin!).

It’s great to be able to meet the people behind the blogs you read, especially if you’ve blogged about the same thing as someone else. Susan (here) and Larry Wilson (here) both posted recently about the fabulous Linda Urban, former marketing director at Vroman’s and prime mover behind a writer’s workshop series at the store.  Sadly, the series evaporated when Linda moved away.   Some things were so good that you keep on missing them, even though they’ve been gone a long time.  I still miss Fedco.

We had a great time, and I’m looking forward to the next one!

Gettin’ on the link love:

Who was there – via Ed

Jill’s lovely photos are here

It was great to have a rep from La Canada (home to both our current and previous state assembly representatives).

Aaron’s take on the experience. K-Todd’s take at Under the Dome.

It was so nice to meet everyone, especially those from blogs I frequent: Rattling the Kettle, and Tableau Vivante.

Posted in Let's Get Visual, Self Care


Well, it’s late August, and my legs still aren’t tan. I haven’t been trying, so no wonder. The arms get tan on their own while the legs remain pasty. For the most part, my legs are not on public display. I know I’m the kind of white that blinds in bright sunshine. I keep my offending limbs under wraps much of the time.


The other day while watering my front yard wearing a droopy pair of shorts that expose me from the knee down, my next-door neighbor Steve pointed out that “my legs should be tan.”

Steve is an older (but not old) gentleman who says, “Hello, beautiful!” everytime he sees me. He’s a chatty, friendly neighbor who says if he ever sees anyone breaking in our house, he’s got a shotgun and he’ll use it. He’s given us camera equipment that he was no longer using, and a few weeks ago brought over a hunk of beef for us to barbeque. Once in a while, Steve will say something slightly bawdy, like “When I see you, I think twins, because I wish you had one.” I think he even asked me about my mother’s sex life the other day–I’m not sure. I instantly repressed it.

One can’t choose relatives or next-door neighbors, so one must learn to drop the hot potatoes when they are thrown. But Steve’s comment about my legs really irked me in that classic “men blurting out opinions about women inappropriately” kind of way. First of all, I was hand-watering the yard, and long pants are not the appropriate attire for that activity. Can’t I look schlumpy and white in my own front yard during a 20-minute babying-the-dead-grass session before scurrying back in the house to protect the public from my bleached-out gams?

Do I EVER tell Steve to put a shirt on when he wanders around shirtless in his front yard? No. Perhaps I should. Perhaps I should just bust right out and say, “Steve, I don’t want to see your nipples ever again. Please put them away.”


All this brings to mind what women endure every day. Looks, stares, eyeballing, whistles, comments, whispers, statements, yells. Have you, woman reader, ever crossed the street to avoid a construction site? Have you dreaded walking into a bar? Crossed your arms as eyes kept drifting downward? No wonder Hilary’s cleavage was national news.

Here is where I am supposed to say something wry and witty and feminist (insert your own comment here, or better, comment on this post!). All I can summon is that Steve is a good old boy, and he will continue to say good old boy (inappropriate) things. I will learn how to think on my feet, offer my objections to his comments without petulance. And my white legs will continue to make unscheduled appearances in the front yard. They really glow at twilight.


Posted in Cool Stuff, Let's Get Visual

Schiff Staff (& Interns)

A month ago, it dawned on me that I should get in contact with Adam Schiff’s office because I was going to be in Washington, D.C. Adam is my congressional representative and yes, he’s married to Eve. Adam is a Blue Dog Democrat.

Aaron Baird, Staff Assistant, wrote me back with the list of things for which one needs a congressional reservation: the White House (best to reserve months in advance), the Capitol, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (though you can stand in line at 8:00 am), the State Department (tour features notable works of art), and the Kennedy Center (the congressional tour lets you see the Presidential boxes and VIP lounges).

Aaron is a PUSD graduate (Marshall High School) who went on to UCLA. Here’s Aaron, hard at work.

Aaron Baird low res

Last minute, I was able to get in for a tour of the White House. But Aaron had said that the Capitol was more interesting, and he was right. Natalie Knight and Siobhan Bynum were our trusty guides. They did an excellent job.

Natalie (left) and Siobhan (right):
N & S in office

I met another intern in Adam’s office too, but the scrap of paper on which I wrote her name has disappeared. But here’s Natalie, another nice intern (Christine?), and Siobhan.


Back when CHAP was trying to get its Federally Qualified Health Center status, Adam’s staff were very helpful. So I sat at Adam’s desk and wrote him a note to thank him again.

I have great respect for Adam, and I think he’s doing a good job.

PS I have tried to get my image size under control. These are still a bit on the large size, eh? I can’t take the time to fix them now…

Posted in Around Town, Current Events, Uncategorized

Ebony Huel

I was out late Friday night, and on the way home was diverted from my usual route because Lincoln Avenue was closed (steps around the corner from where this mess used to be). There were lots of police, and I knew something was wrong, really wrong.

The Pasadena Star News reports this morning that Ebony Huel, age 16, was fatally shot on Friday night.

From the article: (I have to put the text here because the PSN doesn’t maintain links.)

Police responded to a shots-fired call around 11 p.m. Friday and found the girl lying on a sidewalk in the 2000 block of Lincoln Avenue near Montana Street.

Pasadena police Detective Lt. John Dewar said the girl was not the intended victim. There was a party in a private building, he said, and the girl stepped outside just as a fight started.”Some guns came out and shots were fired,” Dewar said. “She was not the intended victim, but would have been in the way. That’s what we’re going with so far. But it’s preliminary. It was a private building, a business that had opened up in the evening,” he said. “It was a large gathering, couldn’t tell you how many. And we’re looking into the possibility of gang involvement.”

Alan Dyer, who owns Pasadena Rehearsal Studios next door to the business, said it has been the site of Friday and Saturday night parties for youths 18 and younger for the past 2 months. Dyer was in his office Friday night, but he said he didn’t hear any gunfire. “I was in my office and, through my video surveillance, I saw kids flying out the front door and back door, running,” he said.

“I came around, hear something about a gunshot, came outside and saw the girl lying on the ground over there.”

According to the lease, the business next door was a recording studio, he said, and also gave music lessons to students after school. “But what it turned into, the primary focus, was these Friday and Saturday night parties with fliers” he said. “Get ’em in for $5, $10 a head at the door. Pack ’em in, make their money and send them home at the end of the night.”

Police were constantly at the location, Dyer said, and would clear and close the overcrowded premises. It wasn’t a safe place for children, he said, even though he often saw parents drop children off at the location.

“I saw there was too many kids there, out of control, milling around, with cars squealing their tires,” he said. “One of my customers said they saw someone flash a gun out of a (car) window.” Dyer, who has been at the location almost three years, said two or three weeks ago another youth was shot while on his way to a party at the location.

Police have escalated gang- enforcement efforts following a surge of gang-related killings beginning early this year. There have been seven such shooting deaths in Pasadena during this period and another in Altadena. (City News Service contributed to this story

I drive past this part of Lincoln Avenue almost everyday, and I’ve seen these kids hanging out. What else is there to do in Pasadena if you are under 21 and don’t have a lot of money?

A few years back (around 2000), the City of Pasadena used CDBG funds to buy what is now called The CORAL Innovation Center in Northeast Pasadena. Using funds that are earmarked by the federal government to provide assistance for low-income areas, the city bought a piece of property across the street from Gerrish Swim and Tennis Club in Northeast Pasadena. Back then, it was widely recognized that there were no safe places for teenagers to hang out–this site was supposed to be that place. But just look how far this site is from where teenagers have actually been gathering this summer – LINK HERE. No wonder the programs that have evolved at CORAL don’t meet the original intent to provide a safe place for Northwest teens to socialize.

It’s not just CORAL. Coalition for a Non-Violent City, apparently suffering an identity crisis about whether it should actually run programs or be “coalition” (often a synonym for ‘another place for well-intentioned people to sit and talk’), is defunct. I wrote lots about it here (scroll down to “The Temptation to Start Something New). I recently learned from a former board member that the organization disbanded a few years ago.

Why is it that no local nonprofit has taken on creating a Youth Center? Because kids have weapons. Security would have to rival that of the TSA. Passing through a metal detector on the way to a social event–how ghetto is that? As the group War says, the World is a Ghetto (lyrics here).

I’d rather see a high security something operated by a nonprofit organization than an unlicensed, sleezy operation with no security. Who are these greaseballs offering “music lessons”?

My deepest condolences to Ebony’s family.

Posted in Let's Get Visual

Times Square 2

I have several posts in mind, but none of them have spent enough time in the oven yet. I’ll deliver them hot and tasty when they are ready. In the meantime, more on The Scout working in Times Square–one of the most difficult places to location scout.

Shoot and Pointilism in Times Square

The Scout thinks that Times Square looks better when there is just a little light left in the sky, as in the photo above.

Manual Dexterity

The Scout’s been using this particular Nikon for 30-ish years (Nikon F2 I believe).

Recruiting Station

The armed forces recruiting station in Times Square.


The Scout shoots film, so the big X factor is the printing job.  A bad printing job makes for a very Unhappy Scout.  When we’re home, the go-to lab is Green Street Photo Lab. So far, no other lab on the road comes close.


Here’s where all the equipment hangs out. Thank God the case has wheels.