Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bookmarks: Literary Pasadena

Amid all the editing and proofreading I've been doing lately (I've practically memorized Camelot & Vine), a pleasant task came my way the other day. I was asked to proofread my contribution to a new book that's coming out in April called Literary Pasadena: The Fiction Edition.

You're going to want to get a copy of this book. It contains short stories by many of Pasadena's best authors, plus excerpts from upcoming works, and more. I'm honored to be a part of it.

Funny thing about my novel, Camelot & Vine. I've been working on it for so long I'm embarrassed to say. It's a good book, I think. I won't know 'til you read it, but it's mine, I love it, and it's a fun story.  If it were War & Peace I might be willing to tell you how long it took me to write it. I have slaved over the proofreading, tweaking where I dare, and sometimes wishing I could rewrite the whole damn thing.

Not so with my little short story in Literary Pasadena. I wrote it. I like it. Done.

Why is that? What's the difference?

The picture: parrots. They invaded our neighborhood last week. Enlarge the photo and see, they are all along the phone wires, all the way down the street. When I took this they were in every treetop, on every wire, flying everywhere. The noise they make is deafening.

I chose this picture because to me, the parrots are uniquely Pasadena. Literary Pasadena: The Fiction Edition, will be uniquely Pasadena, too.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Castle Catering and HUD

The Green Street wing of Castle Green contains a HUD housing facility on the upper floors, and businesses on the first floor. When you enter off Green and turn left, you see this.

The hallway ends at the corner of Green and Raymond, in a residents-only lobby. I got to see it but didn't take pictures, because it is private and I am nice. It's an updated lounge with comfy seating, a big-screen TV and large windows overlooking the Castle gardens. A covered opening in the south wall reminds you that it once opened to the hallway leading to the dining room of Castle Green. Next to that, a grand staircase leads upstairs. Had we stayed at the Hotel Green a hundred years ago, we might have come down those stairs to go to dinner in the ballroom, now known as the Romanesque Room, which is run by Castle Catering.

Ron Hobbs of Castle Catering gave me a tour of the first floor environs. In the photo below, which I took from the rear of the building (facing northeast toward the intersection of Green and Raymond), you can see the difference between the two wings. (HUD housing on your left, Castle Green condominiums on your right.)

A few more fun facts about Castle Catering:

Castle Catering offers sit-down service, buffets, station service or family style. Event hosts can bring in their own alcohol, while Castle Catering provides complete Bar Service. In favorable weather, lounge furniture is placed on the outside patio north of the building (Dayton Street side). Screens are set up to make the area private.

Despite the lovely old facility, about half of Castle Catering's business is off the premises at private homes, businesses or other event venues. They offer their own complete California Cuisine, plus Ron told me about their new concept in catering, which I think makes a lot of sense. It's called the "Restaurant Partners Program." 25 different restaurant partners provide a wide range of options, right there in the Romanesque Room. For a room so-named, perhaps you'd like Italian. Or maybe you want Dim Sum. Of course you may have it.

They've even had In 'n Out Burgers on their fancy china. I'll have my diet cola in a champagne flute, please.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Castle Catering

Meet Ron Hobbs, founder of Castle Catering at the Castle Green in Pasadena. Ron founded Castle Catering in 1984, after having already catered numerous events at Castle Green. He thought he knew the place pretty well by then.

What he didn't know at the time was that there was a huge kitchen in the Green Street wing that hadn't been used for a very, very long time.

Ron got himself a visit to the Green Street wing, where he found not only the 1200 sq. ft. kitchen you see behind him, but also a ballroom that was once the main dining room for the historic Hotel Green. The kitchen had not been used for decades, and the ballroom hadn't fared much better. A scene from the 1977 Liza Minelli/Robert DeNiro film, New York New York, had been shot there. When Hobbs first saw the room in 1984, the set was still standing.

But Ron believed in the place. He renovated both ballroom and kitchen, and named the ballroom the Romanesque Room. (I like the pictures on his website better than mine). The Romanesque Room seats 250 with the dance floor, even more without it.
the bar at the Romanesque Room

I have another picture or two, and more to tell you tomorrow. For now, something to think about: in 1984, the concept of Old Pasadena as a high-end shopping area was just that--a concept. It was a neighborhood folks didn't walk in at night. Making it better took a lot of people with chutzpah, or nerve, or even a bit of the crazies. 

Whatever it was, it worked.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Leash Laws

They just crossed the street from Pasadena into Altadena. I didn't notice if this big dog was on a leash, but I think so. After all, we do have laws, and a leash comes in handy for leading your dog across the street, regardless of his size.

Boz loves dogs like this. He wants very much to meet one and would gladly present himself if we allowed him to. Once again, the leash comes in handy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Permanent Sign

I love these old street signs, carved into the curb. You can find them in Pasadena's oldest neighborhoods, along the Arroyo and on the west side of town.

Busch Place was named for Adolphus Busch, who built the first Busch Gardens in Pasadena's Arroyo Seco. I wrote several posts about it after taking a special tour in 2010.

Our street was built in the 1920's but we don't have one. Have you seen them near you?