Posted in Around Town

Not Your Momma’s Northwest Pasadena 2

In my Northwest neighborhood, when you want to get rid of a large (but still useable) item, you put it out on the parkway – that area between the sidewalk and the street. Yeah, it may be a little tacky, but useable items disappear overnight.

Earlier this year, I got rid of two wooden lawn chairs using this very method. They needed a good cleaning, but they weren’t broken. They were gone the next morning.

Last week, I put out the base for a full size bed. Not a box springs, just a wooden box covered in thin polyester. It was not stained; it was not broken. You wouldn’t want to sleep on it, but you could put a mattress on top of it in lieu of the mattress-on-the-floor routine.

The next morning, it was still there. Panic. I says to meself: Even if I can get this thing in the car, where am I going to take it? I gave it one more night. Still there.

I wised up and put it on Craigslist under the “free” category. Early the next morning, I heard a truck roll up. I grabbed the camera…

truck takes bed base


Then I got this in the mail:

nymnw notice of violation

Yep, I got written up by code enforcement. Once they see something planted on your parkway that is not going to grow there, they give you a week to get rid of it.

The photo above shows my 2nd notice. Code enforcement sent the first notice via registered mail, return receipt requested, at a cost of $5.41. I had to go to the post office to pick it up, so I actually got the 2nd notice first.

On one hand, it’s nice that code enforcement are doing their job, because trash dumping has been a problem on some Northwest streets—and not just neighbors trying to get rid of stuff. I’m talking about trucks driving in from elsewhere to make a deposit and then scurry away (back to Altadena some say, but I don’t want to enflame that old internecine strife).

On the other hand, this is one more clue that low-income people have had to move out of Pasadena. I have no doubt that five years ago it would have disappeared overnight. Ten years ago, I could have knocked on the door of my neighbors and offered it to them. But those neighbors are gone now.

Now my neighbors drive late model vehicles and have planted their parkways with drought-resistant ground cover. Good for them.


Section 8 in Pasadena update: The last open enrollment period was October 1, 2002 – July 15, 2004. The last of those applicants are now receiving housing.

Posted in Cool Stuff

WBTD Comments on WCGB

Time to blog on a comment. I first blogged about the car we called The Bucket here. Then some thugs set it on fire. Will Tuladhar-Douglas read the original Bucket post, and the story of its demise Urban Nightmare: The Bucket Gets Torched. He sent a comment:


You’ll think this daft, but I drove that car too. Alice, its original owner, was my mother, and I remember that car around Berkeley before it (and M) moved back to Pasadena, after which she upshifted to a Volvo estate that could carry more trees, dogs and activists. It has lived a long a good life, and though this is an ignoble end, it has become a metaphor in its own right…Good health and good spirits to all those the car has known.


Is that amazing, or what? Turns out that Will’s little girl was asking to see pictures of her grandmother, Alice Frost Kennedy (scroll down), so he googled her and found my blog.

Will is quite an impressive fellow. From AsiaMedia:

Dr. Will Tuladhar-Douglas is a History and Religious Studies Lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He received his PhD at Oxford and was a Boden Fellow in Sanskrit. Tuladhar-Douglas has published several articles about the history and religions of Nepal and is the author of the book, Remaking Buddhism for Medieval Nepal. He is also the Review Editor for ‘H-Bhuddism,’ The Buddhist Scholars Information Network, an academic exchange listserve.

In addition, he is the director of the Scottish Centre for Himalayan Research. Ah, here’s a better link for SCHR and you can see their cool logo. You can read about the centuries long relationship between the Scots and the Himalayas here.  Scroll down on that last link for a complete biography of the accomplished Tuladhar-Douglas.

More googling led me to this article about the history of Nepal written by WBTD, as well as this article about how the SCHR has joined up with the Icimod–the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development.

So I had to e-mail Will about something very cool that I can take no credit for — back when I worked for The Flintridge Foundation, one of the grants went to the University of Washington to provide financial support for Lhakpa Norbu Sherpa (scroll down for his bio), the first person from the Sherpa community to earn a PhD.

I bet they already know each other. This makes me think they do.

* – * -*

In honor of William Blake‘s 250th birthday today, a quote:

Imagination is the real and eternal world of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow.” (via The Writers’ Almanac)

Let’s make that a shout-out to Miss Havisham and her poetic stylings (there may be sound with that 2nd link).

* – * -*
A coupla links:

Did you read Steve Lopez’s piece bureaucratic horror story in today’s LA Times about the Glendale couple? (via LA Observed)

Also via LA Observed:

How badly does the school district violate the state requirement for daily physical education for most kids? At South Gate High School, 1,600 students took the state Fitness test and not one passed. Forty LAUSD schools could not report a single physically fit student.

Posted in Not Your Momma's NW Pasadena

Not Your Momma’s Northwest Pasadena 1

I’m getting into this series idea. My next occasional series is going to be called “Not Your Momma’s Northwest Pasadena.” We locals know the Northwest has changed over the past couple of decades. I’ve got a couple of examples on tap…here’s one for today. Here’s one you’d never have seen back in the day.

ICME (It Caught My Eye) – As seen while driving up my street in my gonna-die-soon Subaru:

No Xmas Lights

Dour or respectable (or both)?

Posted in Issues

Great Ideas 3

It is time to get rid of the electoral college. Let’s ban the electoral college (here’s a new group).

Imagine my disappointment. I’m in elementary school. The Cold War is raging, icily. I’m on the side of the good guys, the side of democracy. Democracy = when you cast your vote it counts. One person gets one vote and it’s *fair* that way, isn’t it?

Yes, BUT…We have the electoral college. The same guy who spouted one of my favorite great ideas (separation of church and state) apparently also was not a fan of the electoral college: (courtesy of History House, quote below grabbed from here)

I have ever considered the constitutional mode of election ultimately by the Legislature voting by States as the most dangerous blot in our Constitution, and one which some unlucky chance will some day hit and give us a pope and antipope. – Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to George Hay, 1823.

Thomas Jefferson was talking about the Electoral College system. Jefferson was uniquely suited to despise the system, having already been stuck in an electoral tie in the 1800 election with Aaron Burr. As the electors couldn’t decide who was going to be the next president, the House had to decide the election, and it was so partisan that it held thirty-six runoffs (Jefferson eventually won). Back then, the second-place winner of the Presidential election contest became Vice-President, and so Jefferson was stuck with Burr for his first term. The two men hated each other.

Remember the popular vote in 2000?

Bush 50,456,002 (47.87%)
Gore 50,999,897 (48.38%)

I’m not dwelling in the past. I’m thinking about the future.

– – – – –

Previously in this series:

Great Ideas 1

Great Ideas 2 

Posted in Cool Stuff

My Funny Valentine

Sadly, the Scout and I are not together this Thanksgiving Day. We are both tending to our respective parents. Noble enough, but I miss him. Besides, he’s a better cook than I am.

My dad is doing well, by the way. He’s home. Results of surgery next week.

Every once in a while, I’ll fall in love with a song. Actually, it’s more like a period of intense infatuation, during which I play the song countless times and memorize the words (if there are words). Back in 2001, right after 9-11, I went through a phase with The Whole World by Outkast. Come to think of it, I’m going to send that one as a shout out to AP.

My music crushes are whimsical and irrational. To wit:

→Kylie Minogue’s Love at First Sight

→A song about Jim Morrison, simply called Morrison by CPR (the C is David Crosby).

→Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, 2nd movement.

Ne-Yo‘s song entitled “So Sick of Love Songs

→Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, here conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, in a performance by the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra at the Proms – particularly the bit that starts at minute 7:40 and continues to the end of this clip. Lucky us, Dudamel is coming to the LA Philharmonic. Part 2 is here. I love the bit that starts at minute 2:12. Here’s part three. Very fun to see youth perform this work.

My friend Linden sang “My Funny Valentine” the other day and it grabbed me. REALLY grabbed me. So today, for all of our listening pleasure, but especially dedicated to The Scout, I offer up “My Funny Valentine” (courtesy of YouTube).

→→The awesome Chet Baker version – Tokyo, 1987. If this doesn’t stir your gravy, nothing well. I mean will. Nothing well or will. YouTube won’t let me post it here, but please check it out. It’s magical.

Here’s the straight-ahead, Matt Damon and Jude Law version from The Talented Mr. Ripley. Listen to this one first, then treat yourself to Chet.

My Funny Valentine (The Talented Mr. Ripley)

The Keith Jarrett trio has a beautiful instrumental version here.

Happy Thanksgiving, Valentine.

Posted in Issues

Great Ideas 2

Let’s free health care from the shackles of capitalism.

Bill Clinton, vintage 1993:

Millions of Americans are just a pink slip away from losing their health insurance, and one serious illness away from losing all their savings. Millions more are locked into the jobs they have now just because they or someone in their family has once been sick and they have what is called the preexisting condition. And on any given day, over 37 million Americans — most of them working people and their little children — have no health insurance at all. And in spite of all this, our medical bills are growing at over twice the rate of inflation, and the United States spends over a third more of its income on health care than any other nation on Earth.

I would also like to free democracy from the shackles of capitalism, but I’m not sure that’s possible. Money makes the world go round.

– * – * – * –

My dad is having a 2nd surgery today for bladder cancer. He’s been nonchalant about it – a way of coping, I suppose. He keeps calling it “The Big C” and acting like there is no link between smoking and bladder cancer.

Posted in Issues, Quotes

Great Ideas 1

I’m going to do a series this week (though I don’t exactly have it all planned out yet). This week, I’m going to celebrate great ideas. I may not post every day, and I’m not going to provide the perfect exposition of the idea, I’m just going to hold them up and say, “See this one? This is a really good one.”

Today’s great idea is the separation of church and state. I bring this one up because I get squirmy when politicians end their speeches with, “And God bless America.” They all do it, even the Democrats, which bugs me more than when Republicans do it.

Here’s an excerpt from the letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 (courtesy of this web site):

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.

As Sinclair Lewis said, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”

Posted in Around Town, Let's Get Visual

Colorado Blvd Bridge

Colorado Blvd Bridge

Photo by Tim Down

I post this in memory of the guy who recently jumped off and killed himself (about two weeks ago). I didn’t know him, someone told me about him.

He was having financial difficulties. He left a family behind.

As the holiday season approaches, my prayers go out to his family.

Posted in Around Town

Waste and Fraud: Business as usual in Pasadena

The crack reporting by K-Todd Ruiz in today’s Pasadena Star-News has got my inner curmudgeon riled up this morning. First, throwing away perfectly good furniture because it is “not up to contemporary standards in ergonomics” sounds like something the folks at Sharper Image would say. Oh, the city “tried for a while to give it away…” but now it’s going to the landfill. Sarah Reingewirtz’ photo in the print edition is priceless—a perfectly good red desk chair sailing through the air—headed for the Scholl Canyon landfill.

Imagine the scenario: The city moves out of city hall for the retrofit and puts everything in storage. Then it’s time to move back in—but can’t possibly move that horrible old furniture back into city hall’s palatial splendor. I mean, is there anything grosser than putting old furniture on new carpeting?

Besides that, what kind of long-term planning is behind buying a building for $4 million in the year 2000, using it for “storage and some office space,” then tearing it down seven years later?

Ruiz mentions in the article that the “site had been once identified as a desirable location for a new elementary school for the PUSD before declining enrollment led the district to close, not open, schools.”

I remember what a hot issue it was back then. Most of the kids who go to public school live in the Northwest area, but the elementary schools are spread all over town, so kids have to get bused out of their neighborhoods. My own kids made the 5 mile trek to Allendale Elementary (now closed) for years. When PUSD thought it might need more space, there was no question that a new elementary school had to be built in Northwest Pasadena.

That brought back memories of the elementary school that used to be at the corner of Lincoln Ave and Orange Grove Blvd. — which was torn down to build the post office.

Since 2000, schools have closed, and the city, which clearly bought the building to appease Northwest residents, will now tear down the building to expand Robinson Park.

Yes, Robinson Park is too small. It was too small back when my own kid played t-ball with West Pasadena Little League in the early 1990’s. So fine if it gets expanded.

I’m just suffering from a case of whiplash. How is it possible that we went from needing an elementary school (or the perception that we needed one) to closing five of them a few short years later?  The city plunked $4 million to solve a problem that wasn’t a problem.

Who *wasn’t* noticing the loss of Section 8 housing? Who wasn’t noticing rising rents and low-income people moving out of the city?

Posted in Issues, Let's Get Visual

The Death of the Land Cruiser

I used to drive a Toyota Land Cruiser. Color: “champagne.”

The Land Cruiser was purchased by my husband for his first wife. When they split, she couldn’t afford the payments, so he took the car. Then we became we. The ever-practical Scout did not want to drive a gas guzzler for work. So I ended up driving the car that my husband bought for his first wife.

1992 Land Cruiser

And just because I’m mentioning it now doesn’t mean that I never got over it. I did. Once I had driven it more miles than she had.

Yeah, it used to suck gas like a skid row alcoholic with a fresh paper bag. Yeah, after a certain point I couldn’t justify the size by saying that I had kids to haul around, because by that time my kids were driving themselves around. But I’m a sucker for a car that’s paid for. And once the Land Cruiser was paid for, I didn’t want to give it up.

Actually, I didn’t have to. My son totaled it.

It was a nice June day in 2004. My son had just graduated from LACHSA. He’d been hanging out at home, and decided he wanted to spend some graduation dough at Vroman’s. The Scout and I were on the way home from El Paso (he was working on a feature–Glory Road).

It’s scary when your big kid calls you and he is crying. But tears are appropriate when you’ve just escaped certain death and/or dismemberment. Thankfully, no one got hurt. He was on the freeway, the 210 eastbound just before the Mountain exit.* Someone cut him off. He swerved to avoid the car. He ended up on the side of the freeway, slamming the side of the car against the big wall that is there. The chassis became a rhombus.

The police came but didn’t write a report (I guess because no other cars were involved). I didn’t report the loss to my insurance company. I didn’t want the ding on my son’s record. Call it a graduation gift. We ate the loss. It was a 12-year old car, so it didn’t sting too much. (Well, it stung a little.)

Now I’m driving a Subaru with 207,700 miles on it. I’d like to get it to 250,000 or even 300,000–but I’m probably going to have to replace the transmission to do that. When it dies, I’m not sure I can justifying buying another car. I mean, I work at home, and one of my main clients is half a mile away, so I can walk. I don’t need a whole car just for me.

Ah, but I love cars and I love driving. I’m the grrl driving alone, singing loud and dancing in my seat. I wish cars weren’t so bad for the environment. I want one of those veggie oil cars. I also want this…

Honda Ridgeline

The lovely Honda Ridgeline. Read about this thing of beauty here.

Or maybe this Subaru Impreza WRX STI 2.0 described as “a brilliant piece of kit.”

Alas, the personal internal-combustion automobile is sooooo last century.

This week, my friend A. is borrowing my car because hers is in the shop with a bum master cylinder. So I’ve been taking the bus and the Gold Line. Not just around Pasadena–I’ve been to Hollywood. To Koreatown. If you want to spend more time reading and less time driving, the bus is great.** There’s a whole lot more to say about public transportation in Los Angeles, but that’s for a future post.

For now, ICME (It Caught My Eye) – This guy riding the bus—obviously on his way to work here.

Bentley cap


*For you locals, I mean the Mountain Street exit that takes you to the Rose Bowl, not the Mountain Avenue exit in Monrovia. So next time you happen to be driving on the 210 from La Canada or other points north into Pasadena, check out the wall on the right after the Mountain exit. You will see scrapes on the wall–remnants of many crashes.

**I’m reading Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl. Love it. Great recipes, too. Got it from the Pasadena Public Library.