Friday, November 28, 2008

Be Yourself

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Friend, Swami

A Thanksgiving Story -- For nearly two years, I visited Venice Beach every Saturday. I picked up my friend from Zimbabwe in L.A., as well as two Starbucks coffees. Along the famous Venice boardwalk, we gave people bagels donated from Noah's Bagels and offered to tell people all about God, but only who were interested. At first, many pushed us away and/or told us off; one man even spit on me. Over time, they began to learn that I was not forcing "religion" on them, instead, we offered them an alternative to their way of living--it was their choice. My job was to be an ambassador.

During this time, I made lots of friends, most of which were of religions other than my own. We respected each other and in turn, I ended up learning a lot about their beliefs.

Swami (as he liked to be called), became a friend and ally. Swami and I looked out for each other. We shared each others meals, stories and spent hours talking about life, values and ideas. Eventually, Swami left Los Angeles for India to be with his family.

The gentleman who spit on me later allowed me to take his portrait. I returned the next week with a 5 x 7 of himself. With a tear in his eye, he smiled and explained, "No one has taken my picture since I was a boy." We too became friends.

I have a lot to be thankful for on this day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ensenada: The Gringo Getaway

During the the past few days, I've put over 600 miles on my poor car. Three days in the mountains (Lake Arrowhead) with friends, then immediately down south to Mexico for business. At least the accommodations are decent. The morning view of the Hotel Coral & Marina was nice too.

The drive through Tijuana is tough: my customers warn me of the crime and suggest I get in and out as fast as possible. However, once on Highway 1 heading south, the beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean distracts from the pockets of poverty that lines the toll road.

The shipping port town of Ensenada is about two hours south of San Diego, CA--about 4-1/2 hours south of Los Angeles.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bart's Moment of Disappointment

"Bart" is not his real name, but that's what I called him. As I walked past the gate, he stuck his head through the bars, snorting and grunting. Bart accepted all the attention I had to give.

After a minute or two of a good ear rub and words of encouragement to the imprisoned bull dog, I took this parting shot. Words could not describe the disillusionment on his face.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Window Washing

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Walking in LA

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fire Wood

Who else is ready for cool weather and a warm fire?

Monday, November 17, 2008

St. Luke's Awaiting

St. Luke's Hospital used to be an East Pasadena icon. Its familiar copper-top dome and, now removed cross, once rose high above most other buildings. Doctors, visitors and patients all enjoyed a magnificent view from the 7-story building, both of the San Gabriel Mountains above and Eaton Canyon below.

Today, the designated Historical Landmark is just another hidden treasure, currently locked up, waiting to be rediscovered and appreciated by the community.

Built in 1933, the Art Deco structure provided a much needed service to the growing population of Pasadena. But after nearly 70 years of service, the failing medical center sold to Caltech in July of 2003. Caltech planned to use the property as a stand-alone, large-scale research program facility.

Last year, however, Caltech sold the 13.4-acre property to a Beverly Hills developer. Their plans are still vague but a spokesperson for the developer claims they are advocating for an “urgent care facility, open space, historic preservation and a use consistent with the neighborhood at the site.”

One of the reasons this hospital is important to me it that it was in those interior walls that I first felt the slap of a hand, took a breath and saw light.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Six Flags Over the 101

Anyone know what building this is? I took this photo through my sunroof while northbound on the 101, downtown Los Angeles.

All I know is I'd like to ride it, or walk it, or... I'm not sure.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Street Symbols

Parking lot lines and an Orthodox Catholic Church cross. Nothing symbolic other than they both resemble the other.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Meet my folk's dog, "Chip."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Focus on LA

Once again, high pressure and the Santa Ana Winds made for another beautiful day in LA. This shot of downtown Los Angeles was taken from atop Signal Hill. If you look closely, the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory are barely visible on the hill, just left of the skyscrapers. Click on the picture for a larger image.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Frank Llyod Wright Meets Barney & Friends

Some structures catch your eye and pull you in. Like a moth drawn to light, the Oxley Building in South Pasadena is one of those. The sanguine colors work, as well as the simple fixtures and minimalist, zen-like mind-set. For some reason the Oxley Building compliments the surrounding, more traditional architecture of South Pas. It's also built in the shadow of the great Rialto Theater, like a wise grandfather looking over his eccentric granddaughter.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rialto Theater

South Pasadena -- Click on the image (left) and appreciate the detail of this venerable theater.

From what I've read, the Moorish style Rialto will be spared and given another chance of life. I've seen dozens of films there and always marveled at not only the exterior of the 1925 structure but the interior. As you walk in, your eyes are drawn up to the intricately stenciled ceiling and plaster ornaments.

Seconds before the film began, the house lights dimmed and the red glow of the gargoyle above the screen would pierce your soul, just as the seat springs did your back side. That didn't matter because you knew walking in that the Rialto was a treasure, a working antique; one that must be preserved. And it looks like it will be.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Espresso Bar

Following Petrea's (Pasadenadailyphoto) theme of Coffee Houses in the Pasadena area, I though I would post one of the best java joints from the past, The Espresso Bar.

The "E-Bar" is gone now and is currently occupied by a high-rent store. At the time (late 70s and early 80s) there was virtually no parking. One usually parked along Raymond Ave, which in those days was pretty risky. You entered through a dimly-lit alley, turned right at the railroad tracks and through a patio, past the tarot card reader to the front door.

Inside, an eclectic display of furniture, paintings and artifacts littered the room. A real wood-burning fireplace kept patrons warm as they lounged in thriftshop quality easy chairs.

When "Sam" wasn't playing the out-of-tuned upright piano, an antique jukebox spun 45s in the corner. The coffee and the espresso was fantastic. In fact, the old building reeked of premium coffee grinds. Each week--I think Thursdays--they had "Espresso Yourself Night," which was basically an open mic for musicians, poets and story tellers.

Ok, I just found a tribute website (click here) for more on the Espresso Bar.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Inspiration Point

Playful couple, enjoying the afternoon overlooking Long Beach and LA Harbors.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Wigwam Motel

Roadside respite along Route 66 in San Bernardino. A great surprise to see the Wigwam Motel is still running since 1949.

More on the Wigwam at

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Can't Park Here

El Monte Airport (just south of Pasadena) -- I remember when parking over night was not so strict. In collage, my buddies and I used to drive my 1972 VW van all over California and neighboring states. We parked over night at grocery stores, department stores, city streets and even on Highway 1 along the Central Coast. Although we anticipated the 6am knock on window from police, we usually got away with a stern warning.

The Cessna doesn't have much to do with this story but the sign reminds me of the freedoms we used to enjoy on the open road way back when.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Slow photo day, so I thought I would add the pipes. The colors seem to tickle the rods and cones.

Saturday, November 1, 2008