Haderlein makes a big splash


I was down at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center last Tuesday afternoon for the kick-off of the national diving championships when who should appear on the platform in jams-length trunks but … Pasadena Councilman Steve Haderlein. It was some kind of promotion for the whole deal in which the vice mayor was pitted against a young man who actually competes in diving. First Steve did a flip off a low board; then the kid did a flip. Nicely executed by both. Then the kid got up on the 3-meter board and did something very complicated for Steve to emulate. Instead he with good cheer simply performed this swan dive …

Glowing in the dark


Saturday night Santa Monica, in homage to the Nuite Blanche of Paris, put on its own all-night art party, Glow.

From dusk to dawn, on the palisades, on the beach, on the pier, there was indeed art — most of it lighted, some of it even glowing.

We went out from about midnight until about 2 in the morning — Julia, Phoebe and I, joined by Julia’s friend Aria and our French exchange student Lisa. Not coming back to Pasadena until 3 in the morning made for a rather later than usual Saturday night even for the teenage girls.

Did it work? That’s complicated. The huge turnout showed how hungry Southern Californians are for a shared art experience, a kind of Burning Man closer to home. I saw no crowd estimates, nor did I call the Santa Monica police for one — but there were likely 100,000 people there. Bumper to bumper on the 10 approaching PCH for a mile at 11:30 at night. At 1:30 in the morning, the Santa Monica Pier was so crowded over its entire length that you could barely walk. So as far as turnout goes, Glow rocked.

Lots of people, good — not enough art, bad. There was simply a dearth of stuff to look at. You wouldn’t know it from the online program — reading it, you would think there was art everywhere.

Certainly, there was art. Two things that worked were Primal Source, lights projected on fountain, above, an interactive piece by Usman Haque apparently influenced by passing conversations, and Pasadena artist Peter Tolkin’s Dunnage Ball, shown below, a really fun installation made of 30 dunnage bags — those big inflatable pillows used to stabilize cargo. They were great, and drew thousands of people onto the beach.

The grunion, which might have made an appearance, gave it a miss. Too many people on their sand.

Lessons learned, let’s Glow again, like we did last summer.

12703-bolsa glow lisa 002.jpg

Bill Provence’s electric roadster

You might remember reading in my column or in Melissa Pamer’s feature story about Pasadenan Bill Provence and his quest to build a street-legal, three-wheeled electric car to retail for less than $10,000. Here’s a view of the roadster in a recent Art Center grad’s rendering. Bill is in Michigan again, and e-mails that “the body is being sculpted as I write. Road testing is also taking place (so far, we have found that our estimated 40 mile range may be off …” — it may be a lot better!


Birdman of the Arroyo Seco

12380-pigeon man 002.jpg

This morning at the end of our run Charlie stopped short at the tailgate of a pickup truck on Parkview Avenue.

“That a bird dog?” August Culver asked.

“Not hardly — he’s a sheep dog,” I said. “Whatcha got back there?”

Pigeons is what he had — dozens of them. I made what must be the classic mistake of calling them carrier pigeons, the extinct species. August explained that they are racing pigeons, and that he brought them to the edge of the Arroyo for release, 40 miles due west of his house in Ontario. They would be home before he was, he said. We watched dozens zoom out of his hands, dip down over Brookside Golf Course and then head straight east down the line of the foothills — well, mostly. A few went a little bit north or south for a time.

“Sometimes they’ll just totally go the wrong way at first,” August said. “Especially if there is a female around.” One, in fact, flew no farther than the back of his truck, where he took up a roost. Most were brilliant in their focus on flying.

While some fellows in his sport are into serious wagering, August says his buddies in the American Racing Pigeon Union are just hobbyists who enjoy the sport of it.

These were young ones, less than a year old, raised by hand. When they get older and deeper into their training, they fly to a place he has up in Oregon. He says he knows their personalities sometimes before they’ve barely cracked their egg shells.

How many pigeons does he have? “Too many,” August says.

He also uses them to help ADHD kids calm down and focus by learning how to gently treat animals, he says.

How do they navigate? No one really knows, he says. But August’s theory, based on a federal study that showed pigeons can’t find their bearings when their ears are stuffed with wax, is that they have extraordinary hearing. They can hear, he believes, the winds in the mountains and the waves on the ocean, even from dozens of miles away. By triangulating the quality of those sounds, they find their way home.

Judith Ann Zoey Zitter

As I was not among those with the poise to stand up and eulogize the remarkable Judith Sunday at the simply unbelievably wrenching memorial to her life, attended by over 300 Pasadenans and others at a sad and yet celebratory block party in front of her and Neil’s Historic Highlands home, I was not able to tell any Judith stories:

Like the time decades ago when she and her family invited a bunch of us to go white-water rafting, my first time, on the Kern River. It’s rated 4+ on a 5 scale. My front-of-the-raft rowing partner, who I met that day: the indominitable Isaac Richard, in his pre-council mode. What a guy to paddle with. A Rose Princess — Portland Rose Parade, that is — was our guide. In two days, fully two people broke their legs when their boats turned over. It was rough fun. No half-measures for Judith, no mild recreations.

Or when she used her expertise as a former social worker, a career in which she had formal training in adoption, to advise Phoebe, concerned about some (in retrospect) technical issues we had during an adoption: “Don’t worry, sweetie — every single adoption has its own problems. It’ll work out fine.” And of course it did.

Judith, for many years now involved in health-care advocacy for Kaiser, but formerly a political animal, was the kind of person who makes politics look good. Everything was no more or less than a community issue, one that could be solved by knocking on doors and talking to people and making sense and thus bringing them into your cause.

Judith just made tons of sense for all of her 53 years. It is a devastatingly poorer world without her.

Here’s a link to some pictures of the service from Pasadena PIO Ann Erdman’s blog:



When we were down surfing last week my dear friend Elaine Ahmad and her loving partner Tomiko Stein were also in North County San Diego with their boys Diego and Teo — but not for a mere romp on the beach. They took advantage of the swell Supreme Court ruling and got married. That was the civil part, signing in as Spouse A and Spouse B. Real ceremony TK. Vaya con dios!

12106-july snapshots zorth elaine etc 004.jpg

The night before we left, at the Zorthian/Feynman/Davies opening at the Armory Center for the Arts in Old Pasadena, of course the nymphs were there:

12107-july snapshots zorth elaine etc 001.jpg

They were almost as racy as Jirayr’s drawings:

12108-july snapshots zorth elaine etc 003.jpg

That’s Toby Zorthian, back at the original ranch on a visit from the wilds of Alberta:

12110-july snapshots zorth elaine etc 002.jpg

IndyMac rock

Great financial minds think alike, what?

No, I don’t mean I’d broken the piggy bank and gone in on the Panhandle wind farms the same day Boone Pickens did this week.

I mean when today at 3 p.m. I mentioned to our advertising manager, Michael Moreno, that federal agents in the form of the FDIC were across the street shutting down IndyMac Bank, he slapped his hand on his desk.

“Dang — good thing I didn’t follow my instincts and buy stock when they slipped to 44 cents the other day.”

I’d seen that same price and thought the same thing. Half a buck a share for the bank that just 18 months ago Chairman and CEO Michael Perry of San Marino described as “one of the 10 largest thrifts in the country, with almost $30 billion in assets” — excellent deal, no?

That was the day Perry was donating $10,000 with a big mock check at a grip-and-grin for the San Marino Library Foundation — on top of the $100,000 it had already given the library’s construction capital campaign.

Those days are over. Friday his outfit, which rode the sub-prime boom until it became the crisis, became the biggest retail bank to fail in the mortgage debacle. In fact, analysts are saying it’s the biggest failure since the S&L crisis of the late 1980s.
It’s such a complicated failure that the government can’t actually let it go under entirely — tomorrow the North Lake Avenue tower will become headquarters for the new IndyMac Federal Bank for a time.

But it’s a massive failure nonetheless. The blame goes, in order, to: 1) The bank. Making hay by making loans to people who couldn’t possibly repay them was unconscionable, not to mention bad business in the long run. 2) Wall Street. Our nation’s financial geniuses encouraged the fraudulent lending by telling thrifts they’d create a complicated new kind of commercial paper in bundled mortgages — the more mortgages, the better. In so doing, they’ve tanked the markets for the rest of us. Some made out like bandits and are laughing on East Hampton lawns as they read the news from Pasadena. For the rest of us schmucks, that’s real money we’re losing in our 401(k)s, ya creeps. 3) Home buyers who took out the loans and went along with the prodding from mortgage peddlers to lie about their incomes and assets in order to move into the mini-manse in the sprawl.

Caveat emptor applies to us all. But the little guys still get the stiffest shaft. Because you can bet the ranch the big guys salted away enough scratch to see themselves through until the next scam comes along . . .

That Jesse Jackson genius

It’s small beer, journalism scandal-wise, this matter of the L.A. Times running that Photoshopped picture Thursday from the Eye Ranians depicting a fake-successful version of their dud missile launch.

Desperate for a shot that wasn’t a video screen capture, lots of other photo editors promoted the same pic, moved late in the day by Agence France Presse. In hindsight, it was a little too good to be true — the missiles all look the same, as do their angles of attack — but deadlines will force decisions on a Page 1 editor.

No, the scandal I mean is the failure to see the genius behind this apparent dis of Barrack Obama by Jesse Jackson — you know, the one in which Jackson whispered on “Fox & Friends,” supposedly thinking that he was off-mike, that he’d like to . . . er, emasculate the junior senator from Illinois for “talking down to black people.”

Now, I wouldn’t know “Fox & Friends” from “The Huntley-Brinkley Report.” I don’t watch the network, which you can’t trust farther than you can throw Roger Ailes. But I caught the clip on the Web, the aside to another guest about Jackson’s supposed anger at Obama for his recent speeches at black churches about the need for two-parent households.

A perfect ploy. Who’s the big ego moderate and conservative whites and African Americans love to hate?

Jesse is.

So what better way to gin up support among the undecided for the presumed Democratic nominee for president than having the Reverend J. lay into him?

It’s been too long a political season already. But moments like this make it all worthwhile.