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.
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.
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.
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.
AS I’VE been making my rounds, watching the little houses around here give themselves over to decorations, I’ve been hearing this line from “A Christmas Carol.”
I find myself drawn to the more modest houses and their simple declaration of the season — keeping Christmas in their “own way” …Here are a couple of my favorite ones. The one above with its own strand of lights draped low across the chimney. And even the Pumpkin House is done up — sans pumpkins this time:
This last one is almost impossible to make out, but the friend who sent me on this hike said: “When you go on the trail, look for Miles Davis.” I thought it was a metaphor (or euphemism — or some such). First thing he asked after I told him I’d tackled it: “Did you see Miles Davis?” I hadn’t: But when I went back, I finally discerned what he was referencing. There’s just a little bit of a faded eye left just above the graffiti’d tunnel. As he said: “I aways thought it was a strange place for a Miles Davis poster.”:
(you can barely see it, but look at the center of the frame … like reading hieroglyphs)