Adam Schiff and Terry Tornek confess to their literary habits

Adam Schiff. Judy Chu at Pasadena
Politicians tell all about books that inspired them as young people, and books that motivate them now.
From left at the table: Judy  Chu, Adam Schiff, Terry Tornek, and Laura Friedman.

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!

Hundreds of colorful quilts in Pasadena including a 3-D quilt!

Glendale quilt con overview
Quilts of all shapes and sizes were on display at the Glendale Quilt Guild’s show.  The blue quilt to the left was one of the prizewinners.

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.

Luke Haynes 3-D quilt
Luke Haynes, a New York artist, was the featured exhibitor at this show. And this quilt was definitely a first. What appears to be a 3-D figure of Ben Franklin is an optical illusion created by a very elongated piece of fabric. Viewed properly the figure appears. I’ve seen 3-D art works at the Pasadena Chalk Festival, but never in a quilt.
Detail cat quilt border
The dozen large cats in the center of this quilt are surrounded by hundreds of tiny cats making up the border. Each one has a different expression on its face!
Cat quilt Glendale quilt con
A very clever cat quilt. I took a closer look and realized what made up the colorful border.


Detail dog quilt Glendale Quilt conv
A close-up look at the dog quilt. Patches alternated between fabric with dog photos and fabric with artistic renderings of dogs.
dog quilt Glendale Quilt convention
The quilt for dog lovers. Every strip of fabric has an image of a dog.
Quilt prizewinner Glendale Quilts
Another prizewinner at the Glendale Quilt show. Beautiful colors!

The Armenian genocide memorial in Glendale under cloudy skies

Armenian genocide monument in Glendale 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.

armenian woman childrenIn 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.

Old woman face armenian memorial
Faces of survivors. I was particularly struck by the old woman’s face in the middle.
Four faces of Armenia
The faces of people who survived the genocide and told of what happened. The man walking on the right side of the memorial, paced around it for the entire time I spent taking photos. He gives a sense of the scale of these art works.
Armenian family 1917
The photo of lost ancestors during happier times in an Armenian town in Turkey.

CicLAvia in Glendale under cloudy skies

Central Ave Glendale CicLAvia
Downtown Los Angeles viewed from Central Avenue in Glendale during CicLAvia in June 2017.  DTLA appears closer than it actually is. 

The latest version of CicLAvia, the open road bicycling event for everyone, seemed less crowded than previous ones. Maybe some people went to the ResistMarch in West Hollywood.

Mom and daughter CicLAvia
A cute little device for bringing a toddler along to the CicLAvia!

Or perhaps they were going to the Dodgers game near downtown. Or maybe it was an illusion created by the overcast skies.

I ended up spending more time photographing an artwork memorializing the Armenian genocide in a Glendale park than taking pictures at the CicLAvia.  I’ll post photos of the Armenian memorial tomorrow.

Two women CicLAvia Glendale (
Two women on the nearly empty Central Avenue in Glendale. They were happy and enthusiastic.


A small town Christmas in an artificial village

snowmen americana glendale
A cluster of huge snowmen in the entry to the parking garage set the theme for the holiday season at the Americana.

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.

christmas shopping galleria
Shoppers in the Glendale Galleria, a very traditional mall.

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.

people at pool americana
Sitting beside the huge central reflecting pool are a typical group of southern Californians on a warm winter day. There were more moms pushing strollers than I have seen in a long time. Maybe the Millenials are having children after all.
gold plated statue americana
This gold-plated statue in the center of the Americana reflecting pool is a copy of one at a D-Day cemetery in France called ‘The Spirit of American Youth”. The tower in the back is the entry to the parking garage.
gingerbread man americana
A gingerbread man was the official ‘character’ of the Americana this year.
cupcake atm for sprinkles
Waiting for the cupcake ATM to dispense a cupcake at the Sprinkles cupcakery.
No separate food court at the Americana.  Dining al fresco outsoide of resaurants scattered throughout the mall is the rule.
No separate food court at the Americana. Dining al fresco outside of restaurants scattered throughout the mall is the rule.
waiting for santa
The line of people with their children waiting to talk to Santa. The skating snowman was one of several snowmen at the Americana.
brand avenue glendale
Brand Avenue was the “downtown” of Glendale since its founding over a century ago. The Americana essentially turns its back on this street.

The gentrification of the Los Angeles River is underway and it isn’t pretty!

FROG signage
Signs posted at the kayak races opposing kayaking and fishing on the river. The water in the river at this time of year is treated sewage, which many kayakers do not realize. I overheard a man talking with councilman Mitch O’Farrell. The man stated that the water was not safe for swimming but okay for kayaking.  What happens if river water splashes on you? Safe? Or not?

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…

marsh park los angeles
There is wide public support for turning the banks of the river into a 51 mile long park and greenbelt. This photo is of Marsh Park, adjacent to the newest gentrified area of the river and the bike trail.

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.

The Riverhouse development along the Los Angeles River bank. Boring architecture.
The Riverhouse development along the Los Angeles River bank. The boring architecture is so very similar to buildings being thrown up all over Los Angeles, not just along the river. This complex faces directly onto the bike trail along the river.
interior riverhouse condo
Would you pay over a half a million dollars for this 1100 sq. ft. 2 bedroom condo in Riverhouse? It is the lowest price unit in the complex. It is an ‘open space’ design, which saves the developer from building walls and revealing just how tiny the combination living-kitchen-dining room is.
poppy mural near Marsh Park
A charming mural near Marsh Park, but notice the razor wire at the top. Razor wire in very common along the walls lining the bike trail.
Los Angeles River in late summer
In late summer the islands in the river are lush and green and, at one time, according to Alexandro, were home to thousands of birds–but no longer, thanks to kayakers.
l.a. river in winter
In mid-winter after a rainstorm the Los Angeles River looks like this–not the green islands of summer.
park ranger for los angeles river
There already is a Park Ranger for the river geenway/bike trail. So is it really a park? Or a developers’ beltway?



The Great L.A. River Race in kayaks was not so great.

duck-billed boy red wig
This little boy showed up wearing a duck-bill and a man popped a red wig on his head.

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.

Anyway…here are some photos.

getting ready for the start
Kayaks lined up at the start of the so-called race.
and red wig is off and paddling
The man (not the boy) who wore the red wig was the first out of the block, paddling downstream.
kayaker number 2
Kayaker Number 2 is carried downstream about a half a mile by the current. The man in black with a video camera was from Channel 4 News, I think. In late summer the plants have grown high on the small islands.  In mid-winter most of the plant life will have been swept away by rain floods.
kayak paddlers waiting
A kayaking group waiting its turn for each member to float/paddle down a half-mile long stretch of the LA River. You can see the end point of the race just before the bridge downstream in this photo.


en of the la river race
The guardian at the end. The large flat rock juts almost all the way across the channel at this point. Is the yellow rope strung across the river meant to be grabbed in case someone overshoots?  Will the kayaker with the red boat plunge into the river if the ‘racer’ is swept beyond the yellow rope?
frogtown homeowners posters
Posters from a group opposing kayaking in the river because of the harm it does to wildlife–mainly to birds.