A tree grows in Baldwin Park (well, sort of)

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The above images were sent to me by an anonymous reader who lives in Baldwin Park. His querry was a simple one. He wrote: “Why can’t a tree look like a tree in Baldwin Park? Trees are beautiful — give shade and improve the air we breathe — but not in Baldwin Park. Why, oh why?”

Now, I know some cities purposefully sculpt parkway trees. They think it looks neat or unique, I’m not sure. Glendora comes to mind. They are fans of the lolipop trees on Glendora Avenue between Foothill and Bennet. Many say they look great when adorned with Christmas lights. There’s also the trees of St. Alban’s in San Marino. But this display in Baldwin Park lacks imagination.

Some say the trees are strangling. Or have been barbered to the extreme.
Funny how trees can be so important to residents.

One is near the redevelopment zone. There is no redevelopment plan that will add trees, as far as I know.

Cyber generational divide

I come home from work to find
my kitchen and office turned into a video production studio.

My son, Andy, 16, is directing his classmates in a modern
retelling of Edgar Allen Poes The Tell-Tale Heart. In this
version, two teens share a pizza and one of them develops a large
zit. Its so disgusting that the other decides hell have to kill
him, just to put both of them out of their misery.

Dad, we have any Playdough? asks Andy, which the next day is found
and used to make the orange protuberance affixed to his classmates

Credit goes to their high school AP English teacher for injecting
creativity and varying media into homework assignments.

As a part-time professor myself to college media students, I like to
mix up message as well. Its always a surprise to see how students
react to outside-the-box assignments done in video, on a Web site or
blog, instead of on paper.

First, dont always believe the stereotype. In fact, toss the
stereotypes that say all young people know new media real well and
are experts in virtual realities.

Many of my college students, who are 20-22 years old, were not that
tech savvy. Some didnt know how to make a video, how to download it
into a computer, how to edit that raw footage and add music, sound
effects or text lines.

Yet, it seems to me that Andys generation, Generation Next, those
14-18 years old, know all media. They can write,
text message, manipulate videos and still write an essay. This
generation is growing up on video on cell phones, on web sites such
as YouTube, which allows them to express themselves in even the most
rudimentary video and post it for everyone to view. The ease at which
this is possible is the breakthrough.

When I was growing up, my father bought me a Bell & Howell Super 8
movie camera through a mail-order catalog. I was in charge of making
movies, getting them developed, and showing them to the family on
Sunday nights.

Ill spare you the boring details. Suffice to say, I spent weeks
putting a trip to the Delaware Water Gap/Cape Cod to music, using a
portable tape recorder with a wired remote control pause/play button
trying to capture just the right segment of Elton Johns Dont Let
the Sun Go Down On Me. Needless to say, it was not fine technology.

Today, Generation Next possesses synchronized video and audio
technology at their fingertips, with laptop computers, video cameras
and software that make making videos as easy as snapping Kodak
moments. Its not that they are more creative than those from my
generation whove given us Woody Allen and Steven Spielberg, just to
name a few of the best movie makers in Hollywood. Its that more of
them are more familiar with these tools.

Another boy, Ill call him Frankie, has Andys desktop computer on
and tuned to YouTube, and is sitting with one hand on the mouse and
the other working his Macbook laptop. His iPhone was next to him.
Wires are coming out of his ears.

I offer, in a pompous professorial tone: You hear about the new Mac
laptop. It weighs only 3 pounds …

Yeah, check out the video, and he types a few words onto the
desktop and pulls up the ad appearing on YouTube for the MacBook Air.

It fits inside a manila envelope, interjected Andys other friend,
who had been updating his MySpace page on the other computer in the
room. My older son likes to play Dance Dance Revolution on my
laptop, also in the home office.

Frankie went on to list the specifications of the new Apple MacBook
Air, down to such detail that he lost me a few hundred megabytes ago.

Sixteen-year-olds 3, forty-something media professional, 0.

I switched gears, offering fatherly advice. It would be a wise
investment to buy a laptop for college, I said.

No, duh! they were probably thinking.

Yet, only about one-eighth of the 22-year-olds in my fall class on
opinion writing at Cal State Fullerton came to class with laptops.
Carrying personal computers is not de rigeur with that
generation, but the pressure from the Apples and Microsofts are
changing that. And they hear the pitter-patter of keyboard strokes
and thumbs text messaging across expanded cell phones and are looking
over their shoulders.

The generations the 14-18 year-olds, the 22-30 year-olds, the 30-40
age group, and on up are uneven on their computer/video expertise.
But like storm fronts, these groups are converging. If you add in
lower-income students who may not have as much access to this
technology, it is an uneven playing field for educators and the
workplace to navigate.

Grassroots campaigners see first victory

TEAM Coordinator for CD 32 Obama 08 said it best: Recruiting
campaign volunteers among the cities of the San Gabriel Valley is a
bit more challenging because the people are not as politically active
as folks in Pasadena or Los Angeles.

You can find Robin Boone and her all-volunteer team in some
pretty unusual places: the green card shack behind the old Monrovia
Library (where it all started in June); the Monrovia and Covina
street fairs on Friday nights, and a place I never heard of called

To each, Boone packs up a table, a red cloth she sewed herself,
Barack Obama For President literature printed in English and Spanish,
some Obama glossies, bumper stickers and pencils and tucks it all in
a roll-away bin. We call it Obama in a box, said a commentor on
their blog.

All their hard work began to pay off Thursday when Obama pulled one
of the biggest upsets in American political history winning the
Iowa Caucus and beating the Clinton Machine to boot.
The official results: Obama, 38 percent; Edwards, 30 percent;
Clinton, 29 percent.

Im ecstatic, said a hoarse Boone during an interview from her car
phone Friday afternoon. I had been predicting it would be Obama,
Edwards, then Hillary. And Im predicting the same thing for New
Hampshire (Tuesday).

Of course, Boones team is responsible for canvassing and phoning
potential voters in CD 32 Congressional District 32 which is
represented by Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte and stretches from East
Los Angeles through the heart of the San Gabriel Valley out to Azusa
and Duarte.

Boone, a legal assistant from Duarte, teamed up with another Obama
supporter, Covinan Ralph Walker, better known for his work as host of
a Monrovia cable talk show (KGEM-TV) at Monrovias Family Festival
every Friday night until recently when it closed for the winter.
Walker and company also hit the Covina fair on Friday nights.
At both, it was where home town carnival met grassroots presidential
campaign. How much more American can you get? Iowa has nothing on us
here in the SGV. The Obama 08 group used to advertise their table in
Monrovia as next to the petting zoo.

While Californias primary results are still to come, Obamas
supporters (who are understandably pumped up after his Iowa victory)
say the tabling has worked magic.

Weve had some interesting conversations at that table. Weve even
had Republican stopping by and saying they liked Obama, Boone said.
Walker said it was Obamas message of change and his political
backbone that convinces voters. Obamas message is inclusion for
everybody, together. He doesnt say we need to do this, he says we
need to do this as Americans.

Most of the young people that stop by were not eligible to vote when
Bill Clinton was president and Hillary was first lady. Hence, they
are not taken in by the Clinton machine.

Walker, known for his creative use of the analogy (he once called
Hillary the Manchurian Candidate) likened Sen. Obama to an NFL
team: He is the team nobody really wants to face.
After the Iowa victory Thursday night, Walker said my phone was
jumping off the hook from supporters calling in to celebrate.
Everybody loves a winner, he said.

Of course, Obama still has a long way to go before the Super Bowl,
the general election. Boone said the group will pack up their Obama
box and take it to their next stop, a senior living complex in
Baldwin Park.

From the campaign perspective, they are expecting to move it into
high gear, said team member Lance Mungia, a filmmaker from Monrovia.
One victory at a time.

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