Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gone By

I never saw a movie at the Pacific Theatre at Hastings Ranch. Always meant to, but didn't get around to it. Now the place is closed. I don't know how long this whale of a building has been empty—a year at least, maybe more.

I found these old reviews of the place on They give an idea of what the waning days must have been like at this particular branch of the Pacific Theatres empire. Sounds like an odd but interesting place. Even had a giant screen.

This is the top of the back stairway. I picture a hapless, minimum-wage teenager leaning against the rail on a summer night, a few years back. He's just taken out the trash and he's sneaking a cigarette. He stamps it out with his Converse All-Star high-top, kicks the butt away from the railing and slinks back inside.

Was that you? If you have a Pacific Theatre Hastings Ranch story, we'd love to hear it here in the comments section.

My first job was in a movie theatre. But don't get me started.

(Blogger is having issues today with certain blogs, including mine. If you're unable to comment, the only solution I can offer at the moment is to use a browser other than Internet Explorer or Safari. Blogger recommends Mozilla Firefox.)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Simple Things

Lately in America we've been fretting about our economy. It's scary when you're constantly looking at the big picture and that picture is blurry.

Sometimes I have to look at the smaller picture in order to focus. And in the smaller picture my friends and I can get still together on a warm, southern California afternoon and enjoy each others' company. A glass of bubbly, fancy cheese and fruit from local farms is all within reach.

I enjoyed the company of friends in this beautiful Altadena garden the other day. Our hostess provided the treats because she wanted to do so. But crackers and water would have been enough, and we were all keenly aware of that.

In frightening times its comforting to look around and see how much I have: my home, family, friends, enough to eat and a country where I can voice my opinions and vote. I remind myself that even now, even when things are frightening and it feels like we teeter on the brink of a terrifying abyss, that's only the hype of the hysterical who want us to buy or follow or fear. What's really true is that even when we live within our means we live like kings.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Future Geek

At the phone store, the phones are displayed in such a way that they're plugged into the wall and you can try out their features. This cherub methodically went along the row of phones and removed each from its perch. She pressed buttons, opened tiny portals that allowed her to peek inside, closed those portals and replaced each phone in its cradle. No one interfered with her. She examined each and every phone, moving down the row from left to right.

You might think a manager would have asked her to stop, but there was no reason to. She handled the merchandise with care.

I used to rehang clothes after I'd tried them on at a store and decided not to buy them. Now I know life's too short. That's different, though. I did that because I thought it was good manners. In other words, I thought it would please other people. This little girl was pleasing herself.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Curious Case

I've been a Pasadena resident for almost three years. Before that I lived in Van Nuys for two years and before that I lived in Altadena for a couple of years. (Nothing personal, but my stint in Van Nuys made me eager to get back over to this part of the world ASAP.) I have a total of five years' experience living in the Pasadena/Altadena area. It isn't much, in the grand scheme.

So I love hearing from someone like Case, who recently added comments to my April 14th post about the faded Cinema 21 movie palace on Washington Blvd. :

"I lived in a House right behind this theater back in the 70's," says Case. "The back door exits were in a Deep stairwell that us kids used to drop water balloons into from our yard. Sometime a frisbee or ball would go into the dimly lit well, and we would have to be brave to retrieve it, as we were sure it was Haunted !"

Here's a shot of that stairwell for you, Case.

"The inside of the Theatre was Art Deco," Case continues, "with lots of Gold Gilting on Purple Velvet. Paisleys were everywhere ! I hear my 1920's Bungalo homestead was torn down about 10 years ago. Anything go up in it's place ? There used to be an old septic tank in the backyard that made a Beautiful Lemmon tree put out football sized fruit. Or at least it seemed that way to a 10 year old !"

As a little bonus today I have one shot of the lot behind the building. The stairwell pictured above is directly beneath the fire escapes seen in the photo below. If Case could drop water balloons into the stairwell from his back yard, it looks like nothing's gone up to replace that 1920's bungalow. Seems a shame. Why tear something down only to leave a vacant lot?

Now I wonder: what's all that lumber lying around by the stairwell?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Free to Worship

You'll be happy to know the Brown Memorial AME Church is in a new building and is no longer operating here. It's tough to do church services without sunlight streaming through the windows.

I tooled around the church's website and learned a bit of history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. I suggest you read it but in case you don't, in a nutshell the AME Church was founded in 1787. It was, and still is, an African American Methodist Church. Of course it's not that simple.

The website is going to be nice but it's not finished yet. I hope they'll add information about the Pasadena parish. And I'm curious to know more about this building. I don't know if the church still owns it or not. It's been boarded up for many months now, and I wonder if the neighborhood will find a use for it. Right now it's a hulking thing just sitting on Orange Grove Blvd. near the corner of Fair Oaks, not too far from some pretty fancy real estate like the Gamble House and the Fenyes Mansion. With plenty of free parking!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Zen Monday: #17

On Zen Monday you experience the photo then tell me what it's about, rather than me telling you what to experience from viewing it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bad Year

You don't see the Goodyear Blimp hovering over town every day, but in Pasadena it's not unusual to see it every few weeks. If you don't have a great telephoto lens it's not easy to get a great shot of it so you might have to trust me.

Yesterday from what I understand, below the blimp UCLA was getting trounced by Arizona at the Rose Bowl Stadium. But frankly I'm unclear on that because I don't speak sportese.