Posted in Around Town, Travel

La Pintoresca Library

La Pintoresca Library, Pasadena, CA

La Pintoresca Library, Pasadena, CA

I am a big fan of “La Pint” as library insiders call it. I went there today to return an audio version of On the Road (by Jack Kerouac) that The Scout listened to while on some long drives recently. (He highly recommends it, btw. He loved the work of reader Will Patton.)

When I asked to be pointed to the travel books section, librarian Diane Walker perked right up and escorted me over to the shelves. You see, La Pintoresca library won the Grand Prize in the Frommer’s 2007 library display contest. A nationwide contest, folks! And what they won is a passel of Frommer’s 2008 travel guides!!! You can see photos of their winning display here.

This is not just a one-off for the marvelous team at La Pint. They previously won a For Dummies library display contest (photos here).

So congratulations to them! I told them that I was going to blog about their victories, and they encouraged me to remind everyone that…

Women at Work has a new satellite office at La Pintoresca. “At La Pintoresca Branch Library in Pasadena, Women at Work provides free assistance with career counseling, resume writing, interview skills, job applications, and other creer-related suppport on Tuesdays from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Sign up for a 45-minute counseling session by calling the library during regular hours at 626-744-7268.

La Pintoresca Branch Library
1355 N. Raymond Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91103

Why was I asking for travel guides? Because thanks to the generosity of one of my dad’s friends, I am traveling with my dad to England next week. Yes, indeed. I’m excited beyond words. I’m too excited to blog about it! Must prepare for trip!

Posted in Around Town

Pasadena’s District 1 Meeting – Update

UPDATE 30 April 2008: Hop on over to Pasadena’s Political Underbelly for more on this. It’s unfortunate that the District 1 Community Meeting and the Northwest Commission Meeting are at the same exact time. Especially since the Northwest Commission meeting is soliciting community input (April 9, 6:30 pm, Jackie Robinson Center).

Re: the District 1 Meeting on May 8, 2008. I stand corrected—it is in Pasadena. It doesn’t even depend upon what you think “is” is. It is in Pasadena, because a piece of the north side of West Altadena Drive is technically in Pasadena. I’ve copied this straight from the comments on the previous post. City councilmember Jacque Robinson says:

Hi Kelly,

Sorry to see you won’t be making the meeting. In any event, just wanted to let you and your readers know that District 1, in fact, includes Altadena addresses and residents who are lucky enough to be able to vote in both Pasadena AND Altadena. District 1 runs along Arroyo straight through Windsor (where the Vista Laguna’s and Florecita’s run as well as about 1/2 of Altadena Dr.) Odyssey is actually in the District. As a general rule, anyone can go to and click on “District look up by address” on the right hand side and it will give you not only your City District, but Congress, Assembly, and all the other elected officials you’d like to contact for your address.

As a general practice, I am making it a practice to move the meetings around the District so everyone has an opportunity to participate, including my Altadena constituents.


So I did go to and

The address you entered:

Was not found. If it is a valid address, Please call the Los Angeles Registrar Recorder’s office at: (562)466-1323.

So I did. I’m on hold.

*Later* Pissed off talked to a couple of people there, and no luck. They couldn’t find 725 W. Altadena Drive in their system. Note to self: Do not move to 725 W. Altadena Drive. You won’t be able to vote.

Still, Jacque is correct. I’ve seen this map (click on the tab “About District 1”). Here’s the map that shows District 1 reaching into Altadena (north side of Altadena drive).

Re: the “move the meetings around the District” idea: IMHO, it’s better to pick a regular meeting place and time. If you are trying to build community, keep the conversation flowing, be accessible, etc. it is much better to say something like “first Wednesday of the month at the Jackie Robinson Center.” It’s easier for people to remember. If the meeting is going to move around, then a lot of work has to be done to get the message out. It’s do-able, but it’s more work on the part of the meeting planners.

So. The District 1 meeting will be, in fact, in District 1. Will the Northwest Commission meeting be happening at the same time?

Posted in Around Town

Pasadena – District 1 Community Meeting

It’s an eerie Monday morning here in Pasadena. The car is covered with ash, and the sunlight filters weird yellow through the dense smoky clouds. For coverage on the Sierra Madre fire, try Sierra Madre 91024 and The FC Blog. See also Flickr photo set here via Yausser.

* _ * _ * _ *

It pains me to state the obvious, but sometimes the little things matter. Sometimes the things that seem little are actually more important than one would think.

The good news? Councilmember Jacque Robinson is hosting a District 1 Community Meeting on Thursday, May 8, 2008 at 6:30 p.m.

The bad news? The meeting is not being held in District 1. It’s not even being held in Pasadena. No, the meeting will be at Odyssey Charter School (Auditorium) at 725 W. Altadena Drive in Altadena.  This little section of Altadena Drive is technically in Pasadena.

(Click to embiggify.)

It seems that District 1 meetings should be held in District 1. That would encourage folks to participate. That would make the meeting easier to get to. That would engender a sense of place.

(Ow, ow, ow – I’m stating the obvious.)

We have plenty of suitable locations to hold a meeting – La Pintoresca Library, the Jackie Robinson Center, Washington School, John Muir H.S. We have several nonprofits with decent-sized meeting rooms. Were none of these options available?

Picking a central location in District 1 would be ideal. Picking ANY location in District 1 for a community meeting about city government should be de rigueur.

Getting to the May 9 meeting via public transportation is akin to getting to Dodger Stadium via public transportation. In other words, take your car or get a ride with someone else. Your big option is MTA Bus 267 which runs along Lincoln Avenue. All ya’ll who live far east of Lincoln—walk or take the ARTS bus over. Good luck getting home.

While I’m being nit-picky:
1. Is this meeting really being held at the same exact time as the Northwest Commission meeting?

2. Why isn’t this meeting listed on the community calendar?

3. The District 5 meeting got a mention at the City’s Public Affairs website. Why not this one? Oh heck, I’ll send Ann an e-mail myself.

4. The meeting isn’t listed here on the District 1 Announcements page either. (Click on “Announcements” tab.)

5. The meeting announcement gives no indication if transportation assistance is available, or if translation services will be available.

Oh yeah, I’m moaning and groaning. Too bad I won’t be there. But I have a good reason. More on that later.

Posted in Film, Issues

Movie Review: The Visitor

The Visitor – It was good. I recommend it. Really, I should be working right now and can’t possibly provide a decent movie review. Oh, alright, here’s a mini-synopsis: A widower-college professor attends a conference in New York City and finds a couple (Tarek and Zainab) living in his pied-a-terre. The couple thinks they have legitimately rented the apartment from “Ivan” but they’ve been swindled. Walter (the college professor) becomes involved in their lives more closely when Tarek is picked up by the police.

Walter is played by Richard Jenkins. He’s one of those guys that you’ve seen in MANY movies, but you don’t know his name. He does a terrific job in this picture.

Proud to be from DeKalb, Illinois.

The Tarek character is played by…

…hunka-hunka-burnin’-actor Haaz Sleiman.

But I digress. I like a movie that both tells a good story and points out some stuff that I don’t know. The Tarek character is a legitimate political refugee, but he ends up in an immigration detention center. I did know that the US has detention centers spread around the country, and I had heard that conditions there are more like Guantanamo than regular prison. But I didn’t know that at least one of them is “hidden in plain view” as a warehouse in Queens. Detainees are packed in and there is no recreation yard, just a room with the roof cut out. There is no excuse for mistreating people in detention. Ever.

Then in this morning’s news (via LA Observed):

Riot at Lancaster immigration center

Sheriff’s deputies used tear gas to put down a riot that broke out Tuesday afternoon and involved 400 or so detainees at the Mira Loma immigration detention center in Lancaster, today’s L.A. Daily Journal reports. From the story by Sandra Hernandez:

“We are still searching for injured,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Lt. Chris Walker. “We don’t know how many detainees were injured.” The riot broke out shortly after 1 p.m. “We are still investigating,” he said, adding it was unclear how the melee started. However, detainees who spoke with the Daily Journal said the riot broke out after a guard allegedly allowed some gang members into barracks.One person said several barracks were involved in the clash, and detainees were running for safety.

Here’s the link to the rest of the article.

Extra credit reading:

Immigration Detention Centers Under the Microscope

via Boing Boing in ’06 – Halliburton to Build Immigration Detention Centers in US

via World War 4 Report – Kids Sue Texas Immigration Center Over Abuse posted 4/11/2008

Posted in Issues

Earth Day

Your resident blatherer offers you this earth day tip:

Don’t fall for the cheesy bag giveaway that is happening today at Los Angeles area grocery stores. I bet you have an old canvas bag, or a duffel bag, or even a backpack hanging around already. Use one of those. They work just fine, and they are more sturdy than the cheesy bags anyway.

If you really need to buy a bag: I was going to recommend Lands’ End but I just had a chat with customer service and their canvas bags are made in China. I bet the cheesy bags are made there too. This grrl likes to buy American whenever she can.

Posted in Around Town

Pasadena Bloggers Meet Up

Under the benevolent shade of the camphor tree, the bloggers met up in Sunnyslope Park. Said camphor tree was also dropping bits of its flowers into my carefully-crafted spinach dip, adding a ‘special organic’ quality to the dish. I was too busy being a person to be a blogger, so I didn’t snap a single photo. I got caught up talking to the husband of Pasadena Daily Photo and Palm Axis, so wasn’t able to talk to Frazgo as much as I wanted.

It was a pleasure to meet The Real Zajac and Caltechgirl and Tim from altadenablog and Mickie, reigning Doo Dah queen who wore her tiara and who blogs here and hereWe love royalty of any kind here in the Crown City.  We admire public displays of tiaras.

I enjoyed seeing Doug and Kathy and Jill and Gavin.  Jill has been blogging about blended families here and about All Things Wonderful and Domestic here.  So if you’ve been missing her, and her wonderful photography at Eye Level Pasadena, check out those other two blogs.  Jill is really the Blog Mama of Pasadena.  It was she who first compiled a list of the bloggers and she who convened the first two picnics.  Her office hours were great for tech help and just general hanging out.  Jill brought a loaf of her sourdough bread to the picnic and you’dve sworn Nancy Silverton made it.

Photo courtesy of Petrea at Pasadena Daily Photo.

Hanging out with local bloggers is on my short list of Really Fun Things To Do. A special thanks to Miss Havisham for organizing the event.

Caltechgirl provided this list (I’ve added a couple):
Miss Havisham
Aaron Proctor
Palm Axis
The Real Zajac
Pasadena Daily Photo
Eye Level Pasadena
LA Times Pressmens 20 year club
Up 2 Date – Pasadena’s Real Estate Blog
Mickie’s Zoo
West Coast Grrlie Blather

Posted in Around Town, Cool Stuff

Blogger Meet-Up

You Are Invited! It’s the ultimate shout out: Bloggers, readers, residents of the San Gabriel Valley and Parts Beyond. Anonymous people, both those with with noms de blog (Centinel, Publius, Dormitas and commenter Howey) and those sans noms de blog (anonymous and all the other anonymous ones). Readers, commenters, lurkers. People who are embarrassed they even read these silly blog thingys. You. I’m talking to you. Yes, you.

Join the Gathering of People Who Try To Find Meaning in Life Via Blogging Who Aren’t Jewish Because It’s Passover, Silly.

When: This Saturday, 19 April 2008

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (I’m arriving noonish.)

Place: Sunnyslope Park, Pasadena (Google it yerself. I’m outta here.)

* * * * *

Uh-oh. That was my hangover channeling my dad. In truth, we owe all to Miss Havisham. I just read the comments at her post, and there are three separate parts of Sunnyslope Park. The Real Zajac:

“Yes! Another fun meeting of Bloggers Anonymous!

Just so no one gets lost, there’s actually three separate parks crammed into this area: Eaton Sunnyslope, Gwinn, and Vina Vieja. Vina Vieja is the dog park to the south of Orange Grove and just to the east of the Eaton Canyon Wash. To the west of the wash are Gwinn Park (south side of Orange Grove) and Eaton Sunnyslope Park (north side of Orange Grove).

Which one are we going to be at?”

Not the dog park. It’s a potluck, and pooches will not be permitted to filch food. Based on Miss Havi’s description, we’ll be at Eaton Sunnyslope Park, on the north side of Orange Grove.

Posted in Around Town

Pasadena’s Costa Chicans

In case you missed it (I did; a friend told me about it) the Los Angeles Times last Sunday featured an article about Costa Chicans in southern California, and spotlighted an extended family living in Pasadena. The people of Costa Chica, an area south of Acapulco, have both Mexican and African heritage. In fact, (via

The early African presence in the Americas is normally associated with the slave trade in the United States, the Caribbean, Brazil, Central America, Colombia and Peru. Not generally taught in history textbooks is that Mexico was also a key port of entry for slave ships and consequently had a large African population.

In fact, during the colonial era, there were more Africans than Europeans in Mexico, according to Gonzalo Aguirre Beltrán’s pioneering 1946 book, “The Black Population in Mexico.” And he said they didn’t disappear, but in fact took part in forging the great racial mixture that is today Mexico.

“Because of race mixture, much of the African presence is no longer discernible except in a few places such as Veracruz and the Costa Chica in Guerrero and Oaxaca,” wrote Aguirre Beltrán.

The part of the Times’ article that brought tears to my eyes was the story of 20-year old Fortino Acevedo, who moved to Pasadena from a dangerous area near Mexico City “to escape the lure of drugs and violence.” Talk about your false advertising. Acevedo was shot in the face in Pasadena on August 27, 2006. According to the Times, Acevedo saw three men surround one guy, and he intervened. There was a fight, a shot, and hours later Acevedo was dead.

There are several interesting elements of this story. According to the article:

  • Acevedo had been drinking. This may (or may not, it’s not clear) have motivated him to step into a dangerous situation.
  • The Pasadena Weekly says he was found in the street just before 4:00 a.m. It should be safe to be on the street anywhere at any time, but we have not achieved that in Pasadena yet. If a bullet wants to find me at that time, it’ll have to come through the wall or window. Still, I am not a fan of the self-imposed curfew.
  • Acevedo was reportedly a “waiter at a country club in La Canada Flintridge.” Who’s hiring undocumented workers up there? (Based on the article’s POV, I assume he was.  He may have been documented.  The article is unclear.) I hear there are some previous employees at Annandale who are looking for jobs thanks to a social security crackdown at that moneyed-members-only Pasadena club.
  • Speaking generally about Costa Chicans, the article says “…many don’t have driver’s licenses…” Actually, some from immigrant families born here don’t have licenses either.

That last one bugs me. Car accidents are preventable. If we’re all operating on a basic set of driving rules, it’ll improve safety. The California DMV publishes the vehicle code in many languages.

Getting a driver’s license has been something of a rite of passage in our culture, ranging from the 12-year-old who starts driving on the farm to the 27-year-old who leaves New York City and finally learns to drive. The Scout was once broadsided by an uninsured, unlicensed driver. Not fun. That helped inspire me: I’ve helped a kid or two get a license by letting them use my fully-functioning vehicle with insurance.

Other links:

African Roots Stretch Deep Into Mexico (the article from Mexico Connect quoted above)

Africa’s Legacy in Mexico: Mexico’s Third Root (via Smithsonian)

Mexico in the Context of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (via Dialogo)