Lyla at 70

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Last Sunday 100 or so of Lyla White’s nearest and dearest celebrated her birthday at a big backyard party at the home of Ann and Robert Hamilton.

The former executive director of the Pasadena Playhouse has friends in high and low places, and they all came out to roast and toast. All Saints Rector Emeritus George Regas recalled the years he and Lyla were known as the biggest seekers of philanthropic bucks in town. And her son Mike White, to the right in the photo above, the hugely (and deservedly so) successful television and movie writer and director — “Chuck and Buck,” “School of Rock,” “Orange County,” “Nacho Libre” — cracked up the crowd with a Lyla anecdote:

His mom was traveling overseas and walking through a hotel lobby when she spied a woman who looked uncannily familiar. “Hey, you’re wearing my jacket!” Lyla said as she went up and accosted the stranger.

“Mother was looking into a mirror,” Mike said.

Happy birthday, Lyla!

The Martinez mural at Scripps

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Scripps College commissioned Alfredo Ramos Martinez in 1946 to create a mural in its extraordinarily contemplative Margaret Fowler Garden called “The Flower Vendors,” his most ambitious project.

Martinez, not as well known today as his contemporaries Orozco, Rivera and Siqueiros, was considered by some “The Father of the Mexican Muralists.”

From the Scripps website: “He sketched in the entire composition on the plaster wall, which is over 100 feet long, and then began work on several panels. Unexpectedly, he became ill and died on November 8, 1946 at the age of 72.”

There are still some beautiful panels, and even the sketched-in ones are fine. I mean, this reproduces rather well, considering it was taken with my phone camera.

Now I have to go find the Orozco at Pomona College, which the art writer Rita Pomade has this amazing thing to say about: “In the late 1920s, he painted a fresco mural at Pomona College in Claremont, California. Today it’s considered on a par with Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in Rome. In my opinion, Orozco was the best of the three great muralists, and one of the best painters of all time.”

Trespassing collies on the Millard Canyon trail

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Trying, to no avail, to keep legitimate hikers from using the Millard Canyon trail, though this was taken more than a mile downstream from the La Vina area, where a small cabal on the homeowners association recently lost an expensive effort to close off the public from the age-old trail.

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That’s one border collie — I believe my Charlie, though they’re hard to tell apart with their similar markings — staring up at the camera from the verdant canyon floor, and another white-tipped tail disappearing from the frame in the lower right.

Rachel and Rachael celebrate Jackie Robinson

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Rachel Robinson, widow of Jackie, and Rachael Worby, music director of the Pasadena Pops, met up at the annual Jackie Robinson Foundation awards dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan honoring their mutual friend the opera great Jessye Norman.

Rachael reports: “ms. robinson loves classical music, spends all her time in concert halls and was moved by the notion of our annual music under the stars concerts on the steps of city hall in front of the sculptured heads of her beloved husband and his brother, mack.”

Thursday is Major League Baseball’s Jackie Robinson Day. Wear your No. 42 with style.

Fish heads, fish heads, Measure CC and fish heads …

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This flier arrived in (some — mine, at least) PUSD-area voter mailboxes on Saturday as part of the No on Measure CC campaign. If you don’t remember the novelty song “Fish Heads” by Barnes and Barnes I reference in the headline here, a great Dr. Demento favorite 30 years ago, perhaps you ought to watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKDtUzRIG6I

And now that you’re back, jeez, is that there red snapper giving voters the hairy eyeball, or what? The gelatinous, long-dead eyeball, that is. Have you ever seen anything grosser in an election mailer? Seeing as how the main anti-CC voice in the district, Ross Selvidge, is a bigtime fly fisher, Rocky Mountain subspecies, he’s certainly seen a lot of fish heads and dead eyes. So maybe he’s not so shockable …

The CC battling today, Monday, some three weeks before the election, went on in the form of semi-mass e-mail battles between Geoff Baum, the PCC board member, who it turns out voted against the PCC trustees’ endorsement of the parcel tax to help fund the schools, and CC supporters.

Geoff is one of the rare members of ACT, the local progressive political organization, who is not a Democrat — he’s an old-fashioned, Connecticut-style moderate Republican, the most endangered species in California (or American, I suppose) politics.

So he’s liberal on social issues, proudly tightfisted on some spending issues.

ACT’s Ralph McKnight commented on a widely distributed ACT e-mail aimed at getting out members for a phone bank for the tax measure that Geoff had voted against endorsing CC, and the battle was drawn.

Some of his usual allies in the political and artistic establishment — “Do you have any
idea about what its failure would mean to our 20,000 students?” asks Maureen Carlson –are outraged.

Here’s Geoff in a “Hello friends” e-mail:

“I am a little surprised by the tone of the responses and threats of
political punishment being leveled simply for my decision not to be a public
supporter of Measure CC. … The zeal of those who support Measure CC is admirable, but let’s not fall into the patterns that have poisoned much of the dialogue in our national political scene where opponents use inflamed rhetoric to demonize those
who do not fall into line with their prescribed political perspectives.”

Geoff says that when Ross, his friend and neighbor, asked him to sign the ballot arguments against CC, he declined, not wanting to get involved in the public campaign one way or the other. So far, few big names or organizations have joined the No side. The only one I know of is the full Chamber of Commerce board, after its Executive Board reportedly voted to support it.

I’m voting for CC. Our editorial board endorsed CC, by no means entirely happily, given already high taxes and the lousy economy. But with cuts from the state so severe, we saw no alternative.

Sophia Coppola meets Showcase House

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* sorry for tech difficulties with pic on some screens: working on that:

When I mentioned the other day that the aesthetic of the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts that I got a preview of was Sophia Coppola meets Marie Antoinette, this is what I meant — like those parts in the young director’s fashion-crazy bio-pic about the queen that showed the 19th-century ladies in colorful Converse high-tops.

This painting and chandelier are in a short hallway in the Cravens House on Madeleine Drive, the longtime headquarters of the Red Cross. The house was designed by San Francisco architect Lewis Hobart and completed in 1930 for the John Cravens family; Mrs. Cravens was born Mildred Myers in St. Louis, heiress to one part of the Liggett & Myers tobacco fortune and thus blessed with stacks of cash.

It’s a beautiful house and will be an even cooler Red Cross HQ when the Showcase folks have departed late next month.

Big spenders for Arcadia City Council

Raising and spending has become an issue in the Arcadia City Council race, with some candidates going for the big bucks — mostly in the form of personal loans to the campaign or loans from wealthy family members — and some holding it down.

At a recent forum, there was talk of putting spending limits on a future local ballot.

Here is the raising and spending through March 27. The candidates are listed in alphabetical order of last name:

Peter Amundsen

Contributions Received $41,783

Expenditures Made 46,796

Paul Cheng

Contributions Received $101,356

Expenditures Made 107,087

Bob Harbicht

Contributions Received $12,034

Expenditures Made 10,991

Jason Lee

Contributions Received $28,423

Expenditures Made 36,850

Mickey Segal

Contributions Received $18,475

Expenditures Made 17,562

Sho Tay

Contributions Received $29,410

Expenditures Made 30,698