Saturday, February 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Charles Shaughnessy

How could I have lived in Pasadena all this time and not noticed The White Hut? It's not white but it's teeny, with a lunch counter and a few stools in addition to the tables outside. When I stopped in yesterday the cook was taking a break and was happy to talk. She said the Hut's been at 26 S. Madison Avenue for about 30 years, and was on Green Street near Los Robles for over 15 years before that. The lot it sits on now was purchased about two and a half years ago and is currently up for sale. She doesn't know what will happen next or when, so you'd better go get your burger now. Or your eggs, sunny side up. And hurry—I hear the place gets crowded.

Outside, I met Alice from Texas (left) and Theresa from Colorado (right). They arrived separately in Pasadena yesterday morning, having each made a special trip to see Emmy Award-winning actor Charles Shaughnessy in the Pasadena Playhouse production of "Orson's Shadow." Major Shaughnessy fans. Yes, one could say that.

Alice and Theresa met on Charlie's Myspace page, but this was the first time they'd met in person. They had tickets to the play for both Friday and Saturday nights. I gave them a list of my favorite places in town to check out during the days. (No, I didn't send them to Chuck E. Cheese.)

I will get to bragging about the world-class Pasadena Playhouse soon. For now, there's something more pressing. See, Alice and Theresa know a lot about Charles Shaughnessy. From what they said, he sounds like a great guy. And today's his birthday.

There are at least two die-hard fans in his audience tonight. For such lovely people to travel all that way to see him—well, that's a hell of a nice present. Happy birthday, Charlie!

(click photo to enlarge)

Friday, February 8, 2008

It Was Something Special

"I've had a long love affair with that house."

I hope one of yesterday's commenters, Palm Axis, won't mind being quoted. Before October of 2005, all of Pasadena gazed lovingly at the place while crossing the bridge or walking in the Arroyo. Yesterday I showed you the gate house with its windows boarded up. Here's what was left of the mansion after the fire. Even this is gone now. Only remnants of stairways, railings and stone walls remain. Still, we gaze.

The architect of this departed beauty, Paul Revere Williams, was himself something special. Among the many treasures he left us are the Shrine Auditorium (for which he helped prepare drawings in his early career), the Beverly Hills Hotel and over 2,000 private homes, many designed for the movie stars of his day.

Williams, who was African American, is said to have "remarked upon the bitter irony of the fact that most of the homes he designed...were on parcels whose deeds included segregation covenants barring blacks from purchasing them." (Quoth Wikipedia.) To learn more about Williams, read this fascinating article by Jennifer Reese.

Alas, I did not take this photo. It was snapped by contributor Dave Thomson (note where it says "award winning photographer"). Dave also took the PDP January 23rd photo, Bad Stunt Weather. Dave lives in Sun Valley, but he just can't stay away from Pasadena. I live here, but I don't walk my dog in the Arroyo nearly as much as he does. More of Dave's interests here. And speaking of something special, many thanks for the great photo.

(click photo to enlarge)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Silk Floss Shadows

Meet chorisia speciosa, the silk floss tree. They grow all around here. I grew up in Illinois. (Maples. Elms.) Flora-wise, moving to California is like landing on another planet. I wouldn't have known what to call this if I hadn't decided to post this photo, which forced me to look it up.

I found a pair of silk floss trees outside a famous Pasadena property. When we first moved here we marveled at the huge Tudor mansion we saw lording it over the arroyo as we crossed the Colorado Street Bridge. A few weeks later we gaped at the ruins when the home was destroyed by fire. (Some of the links in this article are dead, but there's a good photo of the fire's aftermath.)

Not much is left there now. But the gate house, its windows boarded, still stands, shadowed by two giant silk floss trees.

(click photos to enlarge)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bragging Rights

Pictured here is the Millikan Library, named for Robert Andrews Millikan, an experimental physicist who joined the faculty of the California Institute of Technology in 1917, back when it was still called the Throop College of Technology. Millikan earned the 1923 Nobel Prize in physics "for his work on the elementary charge of electricity and on the photoelectric effect."

Before you start thinking Millikan was some kind of big deal, get this: more than one in 1,400 Caltech alumni have received the Nobel Prize. That's better than any other university, anywhere. Them's good odds. (Grammar's not a Caltech specialty.)

Other Caltech Nobel laureates include Linus Pauling (who received two Nobel Prizes: the Peace Prize and the Prize for Chemistry), William A. Fowler, Carl D. Anderson and Edward B. Lewis. Oh and a certain Albert Einstein was a visiting Caltech professor back in the day.

It's possible I could have a future Nobel laureate for a neighbor. Seriously. I already have a rocket scientist living across the street.

When I was in college, nerds were not cool. Times change.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Pasadena Votes

At election time, people often put a sign in their yard or window declaring who they're voting for (and who they want you to vote for). The people who live in this house just want you to vote.

A polling place can be a school, a church or even someone's garage. Late this morning we walked Boz to James Madison Elementary School to cast our votes on a few state measures, and in the presidential primary.

Today was the first time I remember having to stand in line and wait to vote. The poll workers said there had been a steady stream of voters all morning. As I waited, a young man came out smiling. I smiled back.

"My first time voting," he said.

"It feels good, doesn't it?" I said.

"Yeah. Feels good."

"It'll still feel this good twenty years from now," I promised him.

Monday, February 4, 2008


Pasadena is well-populated with somewhere around 150,000 souls. We have street lights, telephone wires, strip malls and all the cement you could ever want. We also have more access to nature than most city dwellers do. Not just parks (although there are many outstanding ones) but actual hiking in actual nature. That's one (just one) of the best things about the place.

Looking northwest from the northwest edge of town—so far northwest, in fact, that you have to cross through part of Altadena to get there—you can see across La CaƱada-Flintridge to the mountains of the Angeles National Forest.

"Everything north of town (once you cross Altadena) is the mountains of the Angeles National Forest," you say. Yeah, yeah, I know. I just wanted a picture free of cement, street lights and telephone wires.

(click photo to enlarge)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Big Doings

Last Tuesday I posted a photo of the entrance to City Hall and promised more pictures of that building. Today seems like a good day to post another.

It rained a lot last week (the yellow "caution" tape in the photo might be a warning about damp floors in the cloisters), but the day I visited City Hall was a bright day. In the interior courtyard, where the gardens have been newly planted, I caught this bride running after her groom. (As always, click on the photo for the best view). Was he running away from her, or would he be the first to arrive at their appointment?

Consider: high heels on wet sand.