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.

Posted in Let's Get Visual

Autlan, Jalisco 3

Round 3. Some Most are quick-grab-the-camera fuzzy. Some were taken when it was almost dark and are hard to see. Let’s just call this the “Gringa’s impressions of Mexico” series.


On the way to La Expo. El Grullo, Jalisco.

El Gruello - little girls

El Grullo little boy

El Grullo camera shy

Kids in El Grullo.

Autlan - band practice

Band practice in Autlan.

the horn section

The horn section.

Autlan shop

A shop in Autlan.

Autlan woman walking

Autlan Mobil

Autlan street

Autlan shadow

El Grullo arty farty

Posted in Around Town

The Whole Foods Flagship

Hello, Pasadena! The ship has docked. I haven’t been yet—but I know I will go. And I will be both amazed and disgusted by this new Cathedral of Foodism. Amazed because of the beauty and variety and aroma of freshly roasted nuts. Disgusted because this screams “bigger divide between haves and have-nots” to me. Do they take WIC?

As far as I can tell, the only thing they don’t have is rooms for rent.

Here’s some linkage for you:

Eater LA: Liveblogging Whole Foods: Nothing Like a Glass of Wine Before Hitting Aisle 4

Eater LA: More Whole Foods Than We Can Handle

LAist: New 2-story Whole Foods in Pasadena: Wow

KCHblog: The new Whole Foods in Pasadena will blow your mind Christie’s got a photo of one of the chocolate fountains.

Eating LA: Whole Foods Pasadena: The next fern bar?

Rainy Days & Sundays: I’ve Died and Gone to Whole Foods

Tableau Vivante: Whole Foods behemoth careens into Pasadena (TV hasn’t been yet but gives good linkage.)

Curbed LA: Whole Foods in Pasadena. In Pictures. Photos from last summer when it was a foodgasm under construction.

Whole Foods site (Worth reading for their descriptions. Eco-chic apparel? Gimme a break.)

Bye bye, Wild Oats at California and Lake. Are you going to turn back into a Gelson’s (which is what you were before your new building)?  UPDATE: Nick has pointed out that I mean Jurgenson’s, not Gelson’s.  I didn’t shop there, but I used to have their big yummy-but-gloopy sandwiches once in a while.

Nah, I guess Gelson’s will keep hanging on over there at the Paseo. Are you going to be a Fresh and Easy? Whatever—just please don’t sit empty for long.

Posted in Let's Get Visual

Autlan, Jalisco 2

More of The Scout’s photos from Mexico. The Scout wants you to know that most of these photos were not printed as dark as he would have liked them. So if you laptop users tilt your screen back a little, you’ll get a better idea of what he was after.

curtain blowing

Imagine you’ve never been to California, and someone offers you a free trip. You buy a guide book and read all about San Francisco. You arrive in California and learn that you will be spending all your time in Bakersfield.

autlan brick wall & tree

That’s what the trip to Mexico was like for me. They said to The Scout, ‘We want you to go to Guadalajara.’ But they wanted chiles and agave, so that meant Autlan de Navarro. A nice enough town, and the birthplace of Carlos Santana.  But the guide book had engendered a hunger for the Orozco murals in Guadalajara. Orozco murals. Orozco murals.
Autlan red chile cu

As my brother has rightly pointed out, the camera always lies. Jalapenos are green–they turn red when they are off the plant and past their prime. I found this red chile on the ground and The Scout used it as a prop. When you see the commercial, you will see weathered hands picking red chiles. And you will laugh, because now you know that doesn’t happen in real life.

Autlan Casta Negra

This is the Casta Negra distillery (destiladora) in El Mentidero (just outside of Autlan on the road to El Grullo). We found this the old fashioned way–driving around and looking. Whatta find! El Grullo is the sister city of Kent, Washington.

Autlan Casta Negra barrels

The reposado at rest.

Now for some of my snaps:

Autlan scout destiladora

The Scout at work.

Autlan pinas

Agave waiting to be roasted.

Autlan destiladora horno

The roasting oven.

Autlan cut agave

We got to taste the roasted agave–a sweet, carmel-like coating covers the stringy, pulpy stuff. You scrape it off with your teeth.

Autlan destiladora plastic bottles

While we there, a guy and his family came in. Instead of buying one of the already-filled glass bottles, they filled up four plastic containers for the guy. Must be less expensive.

Autlan bottles of Casta Negra

Very affordable at only 70 pesos ($7 bucks) per bottle. Not available in the US–yet. They’re working on it.

Autlan seats

Outside the destiladora. Two puppies were licking my ankles when I took this. Ah, how I suffer for art.

Autlan - man in El Mentidero

Sunday afternoon in El Mentidero.