Saturday, May 10, 2008

Three Graces

"Three Graces," by artist Peter Fink, perches atop the Trio Apartments at the corner of Colorado and El Molino Blvds. downtown. Fink created the piece specifically for this building, although he apparently designed another "Three Graces" for Birmingham, England. It's only fair, as the artist is British.

The Brits are accustomed to public art—at least Londoners are. Take a stroll around London and you're practically tripping over art, bumping into it at every turn: gorgeous architecture, well-tended parks, grand statues, innovative sculptures. Sure, American cities have great architecture and parks. But other public art is only beginning to become more common.

In Pasadena, art decorates the streets, yards and parks from CalTech to the Art Center College of Design. Pasadena Cultural Affairs has put together eight public art walking tours you can take in the downtown area. ("Three Graces" is on tour #5.) There's more art beyond downtown; here's a map of other sites.

Friday, May 9, 2008


I heard on the radio that Congressman Adam Schiff of the 29th U.S. District—that is, our Congressman—is responsible for a bill signed by President Bush yesterday. The "Rim of the Valley bill authorizes a study of adding 490,000 acres of public and private land along the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys to the 153,000-acre Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area," according to the Fresno Bee.

I got myself on Adam Schiff's mailing list. He sends emails with questionnaires, asking how I want him to vote on things. It takes about a second so I fill them out. Then I can see results on how other constituents responded (am I in the minority? the majority?). In the follow-up, he tells me how he voted.

I like the guy. He's accountable. And he usually votes the way I tell him to, so what's not to like?

In the radio interview, Representative Schiff said he's been working for years to get this bill passed. It'll be another two or three years before the study's finished, then it'll take more time before any of the lands studied will actually be added to the National Recreation Area. But he's willing to persist.

Thanks, Mr. Schiff. You keep it up and I'll keep voting for you. Heck, maybe I'll vote for you twice next time, just for good measure.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


We've been having gray days.

I looked up Seasonal Affective Disorder. I don't have it, but I can still complain. When the sun ceases to shine, the only symptom they list that I regularly exhibit is lethargy. A good hike would cure me, and a cool day is perfect for hiking.

Alas, not today. A person's gotta make a living. I suppose there are people in the world who get paid for hiking, but I'm not one of them.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Red Wedding

This picture is a stolen moment, pure and simple. You can even see the window frame of my car on the right. I had just enough time to snap it before the traffic moved.

Not everyone knew their picture was being taken. Not everyone wanted their picture taken. Not everyone who's smiling is smiling at my camera. The guy who's frowning is frowning at me.

I wonder about photos like this. You don't know when I took it so unless you recognize the people, you don't know whose wedding it is. We were all on the public street, therefore I was within my legal rights to take the photo. Was it fair of me to do so? Is it ethical of me to post it?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Inside the Cinema

I posted about Cinema 21 April 14th. Here's an additional photo I took that day, as I tried to see into the depths of the building with my camera.

Ancient ruins transport my imagination; I fantasize about the people who built, lived and worked in them thousands of years ago. When I look at a ruin like Cinema 21, which isn't ancient but merely old and tired, my imagination works in a different way. I don't think so much of those who once went there, but of what it would be like to fix it up if I could.

More photos here.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Craft Store Cowboy

Pasadena's Old Town is busy on Sundays. Stores and restaurants are packed. Traffic is thick. It's hard to find a parking space.

To me, this looks more like the Old West of yesteryear than the Old Town of today. The man in the wheelchair naps in the sun on Raymond Avenue outside of Stats, a crafts and floral supply store the size of a football field. I'll tell you more about Stats some other time. It's a marvelous store that deserves its own post. Right now, I'd rather wonder about the man.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Pretty Parasite

This orange, stringy stuff shows up all over Pasadena's wild places this time of year. It's a plant with a stretchy, rubbery texture. If you enlarge this photo you can see what it's doing: strangling its host plant.

The orange parasite is called Cuscuta, or "Dodder." My friend, the landscaper Leo Snider (who's very knowledgeable about southern California native plants), says Orange Dodder's favorite host is sumach. Sumac recovers from the parasite over the winter, according to Leo, and from what I can tell so do the other plants it invades. "One nice thing," says Leo, "is that Dodder usually localizes. That is to say, it hasn't taken over the world."

Just a few defenseless locals.