Saturday, May 22, 2010

Deja View

I know. You're thinking I posted this photo the other day. I don't blame you.

Look again. Since I took last Sunday's photo on May 1st, the Crown City Loan And Jewelry "Money To Loan" signs have been removed on both the Colorado Blvd. and Raymond Avenue sides of the building. According to one commenter on that post, that signage has been up since the 1970's.

The older lettering--"For Values," above, and I'm not sure what, below--has suffered in the intervening years. So has the black grid, which I'm going to guess was once clear glass.
I suppose I would have noticed this eventually, but what drew me to Old Town this time was Terry Griest, PDP's Bay Area designer friend, who was in Pasadena for a short family visit. She saw the changes and emailed me, so I ran over to get a shot. This time I actually stopped into the pawn shop. I had never been there before. Nice girls don't go to pawn shops, or something like that.

Well. This is Pasadena after all. Our pawn shop is not your creepy, greasy TV kind of pawn shop but rather a bit upscale. Sunlight streams in through big windows, gleaming on all sorts of cool stuff including jewelry, guitars, rare coins, power tools and three beautiful, antique cash registers. I asked the woman behind the counter about the changes to the facade and she said the plan is to remodel the building to its original appearance. When I told her I thought that was pretty cool, she said she thought so, too. She was excited about it.

I haven't read anything about this in the Pasadena Star-News or on the Pasadena Heritage website. But restoration of one of Pasadena's oldest Greene and Greene buildings, and, according to this 2006 article by Janette Williams, the only commercial building the favorite sons ever designed, is worth getting excited about.

Update 5/26/10:
I heard from Robert Montano, the Project Manager at Pasadena's
Economic Development Division. He says:

"As background to your post, the Owners, helped by a façade grant from the City of Pasadena’s Redevelopment Department are embarking on a façade restoration of the Kinney Building – the only Greene and Greene commercial building. The “Black Grid” is actually a panel of purple glass tiles frequently used in transom windows as can be seen at 55 E Colorado (above the future Intelligentsia and existing Foot Locker), just around the corner.

No one was certain as to the condition of the building when we started out, so needless to say, we are pretty happy to find so much original character in place. We have a long way to go until completion, but are very excited about starting down the path."

I know there's an online photo of 44 E. Colorado, but I couldn't find it today. But this post about Pop Champagne Bar from Fightin' Mad Mary shows the same kind of transom windows, just around the corner from the Pawn Shop.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jonesing for a Good Read

I never seem to have my laptop with me when I stop by Jones Coffee Roasters on South Raymond Avenue, so I've never done a Quest-type review of the place. There's a small seating area in the cavernous space, the rest of which seems to be devoted to what the folks at Jones are devoted to doing: roasting great coffee.

My Coffee Shop Quest once had me looking for good places to sit with my laptop and get some work done, but lately I've been working at home. I can't tell you if Jones is a good spot for a laptop or not, but I'll tell you what: pick up a copy of Dianne Emley's new book, Love Kills, when it comes out next Tuesday, May 25th. Then take your book to Jones, buy a cup of coffee, have yourself a sit and enjoy an absorbing read. One of the scenes takes place right at Jones Roasters.

No, it's not the murder scene.

Yes, sweet, pretty Dianne Emley, who comments here on Zen Mondays and is also a blogger, writes sinister crime novels, often with scenes set in Pasadena's gritty underbelly (or lint-filled belly button, as it were).

Dianne will be at Vroman's the evening of May 25th to talk about and sign Love Kills, the fourth Nan Vining thriller. Stop by and say hi. If you buy a copy that evening and mention Pasadena Daily Photo while Dianne's signing your book, she'll send you a free copy of The Deepest Cut, the third book in the Nan Vining series, recently out in paperback.

As I said the other day, I love writers of all kinds. I especially love the wonderful writers I've met here in the San Gabriel Valley. Dianne Emley's been a friend to Pasadena Daily Photo since early on and she's always nice to my readers! Thanks, Dianne.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Going Vertical

The skylight and dangling bulbs above the stairway leading to Vertical Wine Bistro make for an intriguing entryway. Ever since the place opened I've wondered what it was like inside. I found out Tuesday night when I attended a get-together to celebrate the success of Hometown Pasadena, the go-to blog for what's happening here in town.

(Actually, Hometown Pasadena is hardly a blog. It's more of an online magazine. It's also a book. Actually, it's hardly a book. It's more of a Pasadena bible. Actually, it's several books. And publisher Colleen Dunn Bates, who oversees it all, is the nexus connecting people to things they love even if they don't know it yet.)

I was so busy connecting with Hometown Pasadena contributors Tuesday that I didn't take time to taste enough of the small-plate treats floating about. But what I had was fab, so I got to Googling and found mattatouille's review. It must be a good one because reading it made my mouth water. His photo gives you a good idea of the cozy-chic look of the bar.

I snapped the picture of the lights as I was leaving. Makes me want to go back already.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Foothill Fountain Yard and Garden Decor

When I drive by this funky "outdoor store" where the 210 freeway flies over Foothill Blvd. I wonder what they've got and if I want it. So John and I finally checked out Foothill Fountain Yard and Garden Decor to find out.

It was raining Monday--the perfect time to shop outdoors!--and owner Paul Moreno's shop was open. He had a lot of good stuff, some of it gently used, some not so gently. The prices were very reasonable and Paul will sand, rust-proof and paint your purchase almost cheaper than you can do it yourself. Since John and I aren't crafty types and we haven't made our millions (yet), we can't exactly get custom made furniture and we liked that price.

If you're not looking for furniture, they have the usual ceramic stuff like urns, fountains, etc. They also have the unusual, uh, whatever. I noticed a birdcage the size of a man, but don't expect that to be there tomorrow. That thing's gonna sell fast.

We didn't find exactly what we wanted, so after we left we stopped by a nearby popular home goods store to price a new set of inexpensive outdoor furniture. The stuff was made with all the integrity of a toothpick. It would have fallen apart after one season.

So we'll go back to Foothill Fountain. The store gets new old stuff all the time, and it's worth waiting for the right thing. The wrought iron furniture is so much nicer, and when we can have Paul sand and paint it in the color we choose, it's almost like having it custom made.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kay Mouradian

I love writers of all kinds. I love journalists, novelists, humorists, essayists and anyone who works hard to make the words meaningful when they put pen to paper or fingers to keys.

And Kay Mouradian is particularly easy to like, because she's Kay.

This photo of her with a fan at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is typical of her because it shows how intently she listens. Kay was signing her book, A Gift in the Sunlight, An Armenian Story, at the Abril Armenian Book Store booth. A Gift in the Sunlight is Kay's novel based on her mother's experiences in the Armenian Genocide.

I bought my copy, and after Kay signed it for me I stood back to watch as people approached. Some folks were tentative at first. They'd read the signs on the booth: "Remember the Armenian Genocide." Some weren't interested--it was a festival, after all, and controversy isn't festive. But some stopped to ask questions, share experiences or even disagree.

Kay listened. She heard. She answered. She's not interested in confrontation but in bringing the truth to light, and she's comfortable talking about the subject. A retired professor, she's created a presentation she gives (free) to libraries, schools and other organizations to teach them about this historical event that's finally being talked about after nearly a hundred years. If you contact her to speak to your group I know you'll like her. Not just because she's a writer, not just because she's a good listener, but because she's Kay.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Zen Monday: #96

Zen Monday is the day you experience the photo and give us your thoughts rather than me telling you what I think the photo's about. There's no right or wrong. It means what you think it means, or what you want it to mean.

I look for a photo worth contemplating or, failing that, something odd or silly. Unless I absolutely must say something I stay out of the comments box to avoid influencing the discussion because when I get in there everything goes down hill.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Crown City Jewel

Someone once told me the Pawn Shop at the corner of Colorado Blvd. and Raymond Avenue was one of the oldest buildings in town. But I hadn't known until I took the Pasadena Heritage Old Town Walking Tour that it was designed by our famous local brothers, Charles and Henry Greene.

Today's first photo was taken by Terry Griest, looking toward the building from the southeast. Terry has contributed several photos to the blog, all taken in Old Town in 1984 for a college report. Aren't we glad she saved them?

Built in the late 1800's, the Kinney-Kendall Building was at first the home of Metcalf's Pharmacy and Charles Gardner's Dry Goods. I don't know how long it's been a pawn shop, but the online reviews for Crown City Loan & Jewelry are positive, and I see "over 50 years experience."

My first photo was taken looking directly north, across Colorado Blvd.

Here's a closer look on the Raymond Avenue side of the building. I've messed with my photos a little, removing shadows so you can see the details.

I told Terry I think the difference between our photos is that it looks like the Kinney-Kendall building had received a new paint job in 1984 and it's still sporting that same paint job today.

Here's something cool: I found the plans for the building online.