The 7th LitFest Pasadena is being held this weekend in the Playhouse District. One of the most provocatively titled events on the schedule was “Politicians That Read: The Books that Motivate”. Obviously, with a title like that Trump was not invited to join the panel which included Congressman Adam Schiff, Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek, Assemblywoman Laura Friedman and, as a last minute addition, Congresswoman Judy Chu. There were, however, quite a few Trump jokes!
Schiff revealed that he was inspired to go to law school after reading “To Kill a Mockingbird”. His young dreams were to be another Atticus Finch. He also mentioned that he reads biographies and science fiction. No books about impeachment, he added.
State Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, who represents Glendale, confessed to a love of science fiction. She especially recommended the works of China Mieville.
Mayor Tornek brought a rucksack filled with books and his own brand of humor about reading them. He categorized them as books he would never read, books other people thought he should read, books he reads for professional reasons, and–lastly–books he has read for pleasure. He told the audience at Vroman’s bookstore that he was taking the books in the rucksack to the donation box at the Pasadena Public Library after this event.
Congresswoman Judy Chu talked mostly about politics and discrimination. If I remember correctly she mentioned “Farewell to Manzanar”, the book about the Japanese-American internment camp during WWII. She said she puts all her books on a Kindle so she can carry them with her wherever she goes.
Now for all you booklovers out there, especially those who spend time thinking about the future of the world, I recommend “A Sea of Rust” by C, Robert Cargill. He writes of the world where humans no longer exist and robots are discovering unpleasant truths. Great book!
The Glendale Quilt Guild‘s annual convention was this last weekend, September 22 and 23, at the Pasadena Civic Center. This year there were over 300 quilts exhibited, but I am only going to show you a few–including a 3-D quilt by Luke Haynes which I have never seen before.
I’ve heard it said that there are more people who call themselves “Armenians” in Glendale, than in the country of Armenia. While that is actually not accurate (Armenia’s population is 3 million. Glendale about 200,000) it is true that people of Armenian ancestry are a dominant force in the city.
In honor of those who died in the Armenian genocide in 1915, a memorial has been erected in the Central Paseo Park in Glendale. Here are a few photos of it.
For decades the Glendale Galleria has been an archetypal mall in Southern California: two stories, seemingly gazillions of shops, anchored by Macy’s, Sears and Nordstrom. Then about a decade ago–with initial mixed reactions from the good citizens of Glendale–developer Rick Caruso built the Americana just across the street.
Some people predicted the death of the Galleria. That didn’t happen. While many shopping malls around the U.S. have been abandoned in the last few years, both the Americana and Galleria thrive.
The Americana is not just another mall. It is an artificial and very upscale village square with expensive apartments and condos above it. And, it has become a hang-out center for people of all ages, especially teenagers and old folks. Even Nordstrom moved out of the Galleria and into Americana. (Sears closed, but Target took its place.) So I decided to go see what was happening for the holiday season at the Americana.
Thanks to 1 or 2 million dollars of taxpayers’ money Frank Gerhy’s gang of experts working for the River L.A group earlier this year produced what they called an ‘Index’ of the Los Angeles River. It certainly looked like basic marketing research for real estate developers to me. (I spent over 30 years working in advertising and marketing so this isn’t an offhand observation.) And I am still shocked by the fact that Mayor Garcetti simply handed over millions of dollars from the federal government to a private ‘charity’, now named River LA, whose staff is full of people with real estate connections. River LA, by the way, is not the Friends of the Los Angeles River (FoLAR), a grassroots group that espouses restoration of the river habitat. But I digress…
Over the weekend at the kayak race on the river I fell into a conversation with Alexandro of the Frogtown Residents and Owners Group (FROG) who is angry about all the changes happening in Elysian Park, aka Frogtown, including that expenditure of public money in clear support of gentrification.
Frogtown, a tiny neighborhood, squeezed between the east end of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Los Angeles River, is filled with very small homes on very small lots with a few light industrial businesses beside the river. For decades it has been one of the neighborhoods where the working poor people of Los Angeles live. Alexandro had posted a series of signs opposing kayaking and fishing on the river near the starting point for the kayak race, but the goal of their group is larger than stopping kayakers from disrupting the habitat of birds on the Pacific Flyway. He told me they are getting together with other lower-income neighborhoods, like Boyle Heights and Highland Park, to oppose the city-wide gentrification that is forcing working class residents of those areas out of the city altogether.
The powers-that-be speak loudly about Los Angeles as a Great Diversified Community, a model for America in the 21st Century. But diversified how? If you are a rich Latino–you’re in. If you are a wealthy African American–you’re in, too. A rich Armenian, or well-to-do Ukrainian or affluent American, again you can be part of the Great Diversified Los Angeles. But if you are a poor Latino, or African American, or poor anything else…well, the actions of the L.A. City planners seem to say: find somewhere else to live.
So the gentrification has begun and I’ll let some photos speak about it.
It was billed as the Third Annual L.A. River Race, and maybe I was expecting too much. I wasn’t anticipating kayak races like those in the Olympics, but –c’mon, folks–what occurred wasn’t even a race. Just a series of people, one at a time, paddling a very short distance down the river in Frogtown. To liven things up, a couple of people wore silly costumes–bravo!
While it may have been fun for the participants, it was uninteresting for spectators. And, I suspect, simply a way for a kayak business owner to promote his tours, trips, safaris along this short distance on the river.
Have people begun to realize the big hype of photos that look like rapids in this very shallow river? Do prospective kayakers realize the water in the river at this point is outflow from a sewage treatment facility and is barely inches deep? Has the craze for L.A. River kayaking peaked?
More interesting was the long conversation I had with a man representing a homeowners association for Frogtown, Elysian Park’s nickname. He had attached posters to the fence about the harm the kayakers are causing to wildlife along the river. Tomorrow I will write more about him and the trend for neighborhood Homeowners Associations, like his and the one in Boyle Heights, to fight back against gentrification. You will even get a chance to see what gentrification looks like in Frogtown.