Topping Todd on hat-tips to the Weekly …

I, too, dug the passionate and simply irreplaceable Andre Coleman’s column in today’s Pasadena Weekly, as Todd Ruiz blogs at Under the Dome. It hit the spot with a historical perspective on the most serious subject we face. But I’ll also point to the brilliant return of the funniest guy who ever wrote a newspaper column in the 125 years of Pasadena newspaper columns: Mr. Jim Laris! I knew I’d been missing my dose of Cigar Smoke; until I read today’s Weekly, I just didn’t know how much. Jimmy, we hardly knew ye: now that you’re back in print , would you please stay? Except, did you forget how to type the real F word, or what? Sincerely, a fan.

Taking it all off for peace

The local chapter of MoveOn.Org is calling for protesters to get naked — or is it nude? — at this evening’s anti-war rally at Orange Grove Boulevard and Hill Avenue. 6 p.m. Be there, looking your best.
I suppose there are some MoveOn-associated people one wouldn’t mind seeing sans culottes.
Actress Janeane Garofalo comes to mind.
Director Michael Moore doesn’t.
It doesn’t strike me as the best location. What’s wrong with, say, the highly peopled Fair Oaks and Colorado? Peace vigilers could use those crazy diagonal crosswalks.
But I’ll drive by the more boring intersection and honk for peace — avec as many culottes as I can muster.

Brookside, the choppers and the Las Flores fire

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Last week, I wrote an editorial for our papers praising the county for leasing a big Sky Crane helicopter to help during this year’s tinder-dry fire season.
Sunday about 2 p.m., from the western edge of the Arroyo Seco right outside my house, I watched that chopper’s pilot at work as it dipped its long hose into the pond on Brookside paralleling the sixth fairway on the No. 1 course and filled up its tank for big dousings of the Las Flores Canyon fire that raged right above my old house on Alpine Villa Drive near the Cobb Estate, where Lake Avenue dead-ends into Loma Alta Drive in Altadena. The big orange guy was joined by three smaller copters and they did an unbelievable job in quickly dousing a fire that could have devastated the foothills once again. A large crowd gathered along Parkview Avenue to watch the show. Golfers were determined to finish their rounds even with the commotion and downdraft, but after a bit the PPD sent a cruiser out onto the links and the officer called out over his loudspeaker: “The golf course is closed!” and everyone had to hit the clubhouse for a beer. Did they get refunds for those expensive weekend rounds? The course remained closed all afternoon though the fire was effectively out by 5 p.m. Hard to believe that it was just 12 acres in size. It had started to come over the canyon’s ridge toward west Altadena before the chopper pilots did their work.

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Our wayward press

Verbatim from a front-page story in the Aug. 23 San Marino Tribune by its editor, Mitch Lehman, quoting his boss, Publisher Clifton Smith, giving an address to the San Marino Rotary Club: “Smith told the crowd — which included his wife, Candace, and two of their three children — that the production of a newspaper which required a thousand me working seven days a week now can be accomplished with ‘two people spending six hours in front of a Mac.’ ”

Verbatim add from the same story, same fellow quoted: ” ‘This is the first time in history that technology has not been on the side on the side of the newspapers.’ ”

No typos in this last quote — just thunder: “‘For the life of me, I cannot understand the notion of having political advocacy groups in your reporting staff, but that’s now the norm,’ Smith thundered.”

Marquee moon

It was a bad week for the big screen in the West San Gabriel Valley.
First, the Rialto in South Pas goes dark for more or less good. Yes, there is still a hope that it will someday reopen as a movie theater when (historically sensitive) redevelopment of its Fair Oaks Avenue block occurs. But the Rialto’s various owners had threatened to close before, and never actually did. Then what medium-timers still call the Hastings in East Pas will also close: that huge screen, perfect for spy-pic blockbusters; that crazy layout, with no center aisle, but plenty of room between the rows for popcorn-holding walking.
Thank God for the very small-screen Academy on Colorado, what? In the age of video on demand, it’s the last vestige of a second-run, cheap-seats cinema around. So what if those seats are sometimes at an odd angle to their screen? And management has humor: Read top to bottom, the marquee announces “Lady Chatterley Knocked Up.”

Cheap lunch with the mayor, No. 2

West Covina Mayor Mike Touhey, batting No. 2 in my luncheon lineup, couldn’t cut a more different figure from lead-off hitter Mayor Owen Newcomer of Whittier.
He’s of a different generation — 45 rather than 59. He’s a truly big guy, shaved head, goatee — to continue this West Co-appropriate if otherwise rather ridiculous baseball metaphor, the kind you want batting cleanup. He dropped out of high school to be with his dad when the latter was fatally ill with lung cancer rather than go on to get Newcomer’s ‘SC Ph.D in poli sci. He’s a life member of the NRA and a moderate to conservative GOPer to the Whit mayor’s moderate to liberal Democratic leanings.
He’s also an incredibly savvy investor in residential real estate. After we met at Villa Tepeyac — with my boss, SGVN Executive Editor Steve O’Sullivan, along for the tostadas — Touhey told us how he began working at 15 at a drive-through dairy he later bought and operated. At just 17, going in with his brother, he had the $4,000 down
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Plenty of room for all in the Arroyo Seco

As a regular Arroyo Seco recreator who would never be able to ride a bicycle fast enough to keep up with the whooshing racing-bike peloton — and there’s your spelling, folks; I’ve seen it a half-dozen ways — I don’t have a dog in this fight. But I like the fact of world-class athletes finding Pasadena the best place to be in Southern California. And with the Tour de California coming here, and the commitment to being a bike-friendly city, I’m for not sending the wrong message, which is what an anti-peloton law would do. I’ve lived on the edge of the Arroyo most of the last 37 years, am down on its floor every day on foot, on a bike, in a car, am often around the riders, and simply don’t have a problem with them. There’s plenty of room for them and for the rest of us. If anything doesn’t belong there, it’s the cars. I’ll gladly take an alternate route. And now it looks as if there aren’t very many Rose Bowl-area peloton collisions after all

Straight outta Vroman’s

Most anyone from the San Gabriel Valley who has shopped in Vroman’s, our saving-grace bookstore, over the years will have felt the influence of the wonderful Linda Urban, its former marketing director. Linda, now decamped to Vermont with her family, organized all the nightly readings, the weekend writing workshops, the more-than-a-retailer atmosphere that continues to infuse the store with fun and learning.
Linda writes about those workshops: “Secretly, I took notes.”
And now she’s published her own first novel, “A Crooked Kind of Perfect,” aimed at the kids’ or YA segment but as I leaf through my copy quite clearly joyfully readable for adults as well.
It’s about a young keyboard-prodigy wannabe who wants a piano but ends up through her father’s oddness with a cheesy Perfectone D-60 organ instead. Zoe still has her dreams, and this is one, about a contest:
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