Thursday, December 24, 2009

Keep the Chief

I happened to pick up the South Pasadena Review yesterday and saw an article from last week about the City Council of South Pasadena wanting to have Police Chief Dan Watson reapply and compete for his own job. Dan Watson is a good man and a good police chief. In yesterday's issue of the Review, one person who spoke at the last City Council meeting stated that because there appear to be no performance issues with the Chief, it leads one to believe that there are other, self-serving reasons why some on the City Council apparently want to replace him. As many others do, I think this is outrageous.

Why would a City Council replace an experienced Chief with no performance issues, with someone else? Sounds very suspicious to me. What effect will this have on the morale of the South Pasadena Police Department and other city departments?

If you are a South Pasadena resident, please raise your voice in support of the Chief by emailing the city manager and city clerk, spreading the word, and attending the next City Council meeting on January 6. We need to make it clear that this is wrong and that if Chief Watson is removed from his job, those responsible will pay with their City Council seats when they come up for reelection.

Christmas Breakfast - Reprise

[I posted this last Christmas Eve, and decided to post it again for those of you who, like me, have short memories or just didn't see it the first time. The rest of you will just have to enjoy it again, like an old friend.]
Christmas morning can be a challenging time for a single Jewish guy who wants to go someplace for breakfast. Every year I get in my car and drive up to Pasadena, and I always seem to find at least one place that's open. One year, the bakery next to Mi Piaci on Colorado was open. Another year, it was Robin's. But it seems to vary from year to year, and I can't seem to count on any place to be open year after year.

Several years ago, as I made my way into Old Town on Christmas morning, I noticed that Ruby's Diner ( at the corner of Green and Fair Oaks was open. Ruby's is a '50s-style diner that had great food and waiters and waitresses dressed in 50s style outfits. Sometimes my swing-dancing friends and I would go there in the evening after a dance at PBDA ( and dance to the 50s music in the aisles between the tables. I was really happy that Ruby's was open that Christmas morning.

Upon arriving, I realized that I needed to buy an LA Times to read as I ate, but decided I'd wait until after I ordered my meal. As I entered, a young woman greeted me and asked me if I was there for breakfast. I thought this was a rather odd question. It was around 8:00 am, so what else would I be doing walking into a restaurant? I noticed that the waiters and waitresses were not wearing their usual Ruby's outfits. Instead they were wearing blue jeans and flannel shirts. I thought, "That's funny, but it is Christmas, and maybe they just thought they'd let them wear regular clothes."

I was taken to a booth, and I sat down waiting for someone to bring me coffee and a menu and take my order. As I waited, I noticed that instead of the usual salt and pepper shakers on the table there were those little paper envelopes. I also noticed that the utensils were plastic. I thought, "Well, it's Christmas, I guess they didn't want to bring in a full crew of dishwashers and others."

I thought it was odd that it was taking so long for them to come and take my order when suddenly two young waitresses appeared at my table. One had a pot of coffee and the other had a rectangular styrofoam plate containing scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, and toast, which she began to place in front of me. "What's this?" I asked. "It's breakfast," one of them said. "But I didn't order this," I said.

Just then a light went on in my head. "Is this a free breakfast for the homeless I asked?" "Yes," she said. "Oh," I said, "I can't eat this. I didn't realize." She said, "Don't worry about it. We have enough food to feed 500 people and only 50 have shown up. We're just going to have to throw it out." So I began to eat my free Christmas breakfast. I began looking around at the other diners. I saw a few homeless-looking people, and a few large tables of what appeared to be special needs patients. I felt so guilty, I didn't have the nerve to get up and buy a newspaper.

After I was done, I went over and offered to pay for my food or to make a donation. The waitress said, "There's no way you can. We don't have registers working, and all the food's been donated and paid for. We're just going to have to send all the leftovers to the park where they're serving lunch, but there will be way too much food."

So that's the story of my embarrassing Christmas breakfast at Ruby's.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Cards

My friend Karin over at Altadena Hiker did a piece on Holiday Cards today. Like her, I don't often send out Holiday Cards, but there was one time I did. The year was 1994. O.J. Simpson had been tried for murder. During the trial, Judge Lance Ito had ordered prospective jurors not to look at, or listen to, or say anything related to O.J. Simpson. So I created a Halloween costume, a juror, who could neither see, hear, nor speak. I even went to the courthouse on Halloween and it made some of the papers. That year I did my one and only Holiday Card.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Six Degrees of Garage Sale

Dottie's and Bob's Daughter
Dottie and Bob's Wedding Gift Table 1949
Mister Earl c. 1959
Sister Earl c. 1959

Today I was in Orange County visiting my mom, who has been having some health issues. I spent the day running back and forth between her apartment in a senior community and the assisted-living facility where she is at the moment. On one of these trips I noticed a very professional-looking sign saying that there was a garage sale in a nearby neighborhood. It was a Friday afternoon and I figured a sale with such a professional-looking sign would probably be pretty good.

I pulled up to the house and began to look around the driveway, which was filled with all sorts of knickknacks. There seemed to 5 senior citizens presiding over the sale: a husband and wife in their 80s, another couple in their 70s, and another male friend in his 70s. I noticed a framed chalk drawing of a young girl with big wide eyes and picked it up. "We have a drawing just like this," I said. "My sister and I had chalk drawings done one day when we were kids." "That's my daughter, " said the older lady. "She hates that drawing." "Ours were done in San Francisco, at Fisherman's Wharf, probably around 1960," I said. The lady nodded, "So was that." "You're kidding. San Francisco? Fisherman's Wharf?" "Yes, it was a young man who was doing kids' pictures." "I can't believe it," I said, "it must be the same guy. My mom has those drawings of me and my sister hanging in her apartment just down the street."

A few minutes later, the 80-something husband came out from the back of the garage with a watercolor painting of a woman probably in her 30s, who looked like a cross between Dale Evans and Della Street. "Who do you think this is?" he asked me. "It must be your wife," I said. "No, it's my girlfriend," he joked. "Are you selling that?' I asked. "No," said the wife, "I want him to throw it away." "Why don't you give it to your kids?" "They don't want it. I don't want it. What's past is past. I want it thrown away." "How about if I take it?" "No, I want it thrown away." At this point, one of the 70-something men was spiriting it away in the back of the garage, hoping to save it from the trash bin no doubt. A few moments later, the two 70s men called me over and said, "Look at this." It was photos of the older couple's wedding back in the 1940s. There was a photo of the table full of wedding gifts. Just a photo of 1940s appliances would have been worth having. There was some discussion between the older lady and these fellows about whether they should keep her wedding photos or throw them away. The men and the lady were in a struggle over whether her memories should go into the trash or be saved.

"I feel like I just walked into the middle of an I Love Lucy episode," I said. She buried her face in her hands, laughing uncontrollably for several minutes. "Touche!" she said. After a few more comments about the coincidence of the chalk drawings by the same street artist from 45 years ago, I said goodbye, but as I said it, I got an idea.

I went back to my mom's place to get her some shoes to wear at physical therapy and I took the chalk drawings of my sister and me off the wall. After I delivered the shoes to my mom and did a couple errands for her, I returned to the garage sale. I walked up the driveway, picked up the chalk drawing of her daughter, and brought her the three drawings. "Here they are." "Yes," she said, "It's the same eyes. It's definitely the same artist." We then began to talk about how she and her husband were finally selling their house and moving to a retirement home. I pointed to my mom's car, which is covered with scrapes and dings. "We're going to have to take her driving privileges away from her. It's getting too dangerous. Look at that car." "Yes," she said. I'm going to have to give up my license soon too." "It's going to be rough on my mom," I said, "She won't like it." "Tell her if she keeps driving and hurts someone it will probably be a child, and the pain of hurting a child will be unbearable and will kill her." We talked a little more, told each other our names. "You must be a very gentle man," she said, "Because you brought those drawings over." As I was leaving I saw a box with a ceramic figurine in it that said, "Bears from the Past." "What's in that box?" I asked. She opened it carefully and said, "It's a unicorn. Take it to your mother." And so I did. It's a magical unicorn with a missing horn.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Where there's fire, there's smoke

Yesterday the mountains and the flames were visible. Today the smoke has spread out so that you wouldn't even know the mountains are there.
La Canada from the Rose Bowl, with hawk.
The mountains behind the Rose Bowl have disappeared.

Morning sun over South Pasadena.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Corporate Giving

I don't know about you, but whenever I go to the supermarket, Vons or Pavillions, they always ask me to give to a charity, usually to fight some disease. "Would you like to make a small donation to ...?" they ask. "Would you like to round up your change to give to...?" I'd like to say, "Would you like give a small donation to the Mister Earl Foundation?" or "Can I round down my change so I can afford...?"

They often have a large bottle of soda in front of the checker with a note on it that says something like, "If our checker fails to ask you to donate to pancreatic cancer, you get this bottle of soda free." What they don't tell you is that the bottle of soda causes pancreatic and several other cancers.

They say that one of the best ways to combat prostate cancer is, well, to keep using the prostate as much as possible. The other day the checker at Vons asked, "Would you like to make a small donation to fight prostate cancer?" "I gave last night," I said.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Streets of San Francisco

Streets of San Francisco
The tip of Angel Island points the way

From Tiburon

Belvedere (17th highest income place in the US) seen from Tiburon
BelevedereHouse of the Skinny Folks

Monday, April 6, 2009

Kansas City

A little snow to greet me
The mighty Missouri from Quality Hill
The old Livestock Exchange (red in center) and Kemper Arena (white on left)
The town of Parkville, MOPark College in Parkville, MO
Apartment buildings on Brush Creek could easily front Central Park in NYA car that would be at home in Venice Beach
There is a price for walking in front of my camera without asking
Restored ceiling at Union Station
The farm at Lee's Summit

Saturday, February 28, 2009

What's In, Or Not In, a Logo?

New Claussen Pickle Lid
Old Claussen Pickle Lid
New Starbucks Logo

Old Starbucks Logo