The Backstory 

ONCE AGAIN Vromans Bookstore  in Pasadena outdoes itself with an elaborate Banned Books Week display. This time each title is outfitted with a backstory  — about where and why the “notorious” volume made the list. I haven’t picked my title yet but as you can see there are many to choose from. 

Exercise your right and freedom to choose.


Lit Fest SGV-Style

SOME MOMENTS from last weekend’s  LitFest Pasadena. 


Our LA On Foot Panel — with writer Geoff Nicholson, urban planer James T. Rojas and moderated by documentary filmmaker, Steven Reich — was well attenended and the audience asked great questions,suggesting there are a lot more of us out there who want to explore the urban environment without the barrier (and at the speed of) a car.  

Nice notes from Geoff about our conversational wanderings here.

We strolled around the theater district for the day-long event, taking in the renovations and additions — public art and new buildings designed to look older. There was poetry read on the steps, quick  lines written on-demand on the sidewalk– and lots of conversation swirling. (And in the grid above you’ll see Janet Fitch & Lisa Freeman, David Kipen, chef Roy Choi, Greg Nichols (and a side view of Mr. Nicholson. And Ms. Karineh Mahdessian at the lovely typewriter)  

Thanks to Jervey Tervalon for working tirelessly and on a shoestring  to make this event shine. 

Sunday Drive: Remembering #42

JUST AS I finished snapping the photo,  a man standing at the threshold of his home just across the street began talking.


He spoke as if we had already been in conversation. In other words his statement sounded like a mid-sentence recitation ” . . . from China, from Mexico, from Europe. They come looking. Black people too.”


Such a quiet street, Pepper Street, a cul-de-sac that’s a hodgepodge of structures, some single-family residences still standing alongside multifamily-dwelings. I had come knowing that Jackie Robinson’s house no longer stood but I wanted to find the plaque — I had walked by it the first time. It’s set in the sidewalk — flush– like a headstone.

Looking down, I wondered why it took me so long to come here to size up what was left. As Sunday Drives go, this was a blink.

Pasadena has named parks and baseball fields, post offices after Robinson. (I just dropped off a package to a friend there last week in fact.) Just across from Pasadena City Hall there is striking piece of public art by Ralph Helmick, Stu Schecter and John Outterbridge of Robinson and his brother Matthew “Mack” Robinson. (see below).

But I have to say there was something even more humbling about that simple plaque on a sort of afterthought of a street. I paused  to talk a little more to the gentleman who had come out of his house so early on a Sunday morning to share what he has seen over the years. New structures, new people, even since he’d been there, long long after the Robinsons had left the scene.

The only constant were the people who come, and continue to. They pause and just stand before that easy-to-miss plaque in silence. Paying respects.

“Not any man could have done with he did.”




Gratuitous Jacaranda

IT’S SPRING here — finally — in the Northeast corner of the region. Spring in L.A. is something subtle: It’s a shift in the light and the air, the color of the sun. But the sight of the jacarandas and the albeit brief canopies of lavender color they create on busy thoroughfares give spring in L.A. a little power pop.

Even the artists are out with their easels — I’ll try to get a shot of that…but the cloudy days have changed the light some.




“En Plein Air” Along the Arroyo Seco

WE DRIVE over these bridges without thinking they are bridges — just connectors passing over the arroyo seco – the “dry river” that isn’t always — particularly this time of year.

Beneath the Suicide Bridge


After the rains, I’ve noted of late, when passing beneath the bridges, that from late-afternoon to near dusk, a couple of en plein air painters — women out in floppy hats with their box easels and paints beneath what the locals refer to as the “suicide bridge.”

Under the span, particularly early morning and late afternoon, the hidden life along the Arroyo begins to appear — not just the runners and the painters and fauna (and the legendary “ghosts” who loop the paths) — but older men with rucksacks and watch caps who are rising or settling in to camp for the night.

And that light … so beautiful. I wait until the very last glimmer of it slides off, below the horizon.


Beneath the Arroyo