Talking bout an inauguration

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Toasting the 44th president

Some people I spoke to, or spoke to me, about the day when in our country, we transfer power. Well, technically it is only one-third power. But you know how powerful the president has gotten lately, says George Will in tomorrow’s newspaper. But I digress.

Ralph Walker, he of Covina, he of the cable talk show in Monrovia, celebrated two years of standing on Myrtle Avenue during the Friday Night Street Fair hawking Obama, phoned from the mall in D.C. He told our reporter Nathan McIntyre aside from feeling like “sardines in a can” everyone was quite joyous.

His phone message to me was something more philosophical. Quoting Obama, he said: “Dust yourself off Americans. Stand up! Stand tall again!” Get off your asses America,” that last part was his interpretation of the new president’s message.

He also told our reporter: “People were very relieved — like a burden had been lifted off their shoulders … But they know the wheel of change has to be turned by all of us, not just a few.”

Said Altadena historian and member of the Altadena Town Council, Michelle Zack:
“I don’t want anyone to feel like I felt during these past eight years (under George W. Bush) — totally disenfranchised. No one should feel that way today.”

She and I agreed that Democrats should not begin the revenge game or the “it’s our time game.” But instead, should work toward making others feel included in the political process.

Like why bash Rick Warren, when he has done a great deal in convincing otherwise complacent evangelicals to “help their lesser brothers and sisters” in Africa, etc. If Barack could gather the energy and volunteers from the traditional left and from the evangelical right, that would be a force of people working together to solve America’s problems.

Isn’t that the message Obama has been preaching?

President Barack Obama


I am such a serious person that I was touched by so much while watching the swearing in of President Barack Obama this morning, I had a hard time hearing some of it because of all the cheering and celebrating going on! But more power to these Obama supporters (see picture above) who toasted during the first minutes of his presidency and cheered “President Barack Obama!”
They sang “We shall Overcome” and shouted out their “Amens” during moments of President Obama’s inaugural address and even during the benediction by the Rev. Joseph Lowry.

I don’t get involved in campaigns. I have this in-born journalist face that says be neutral. And I have been. But I couldn’t help but be moved by Rick Warren, Aretha Franklin and others.

Then, when Obama took the podium, I was glad to see him speak with a large dose of reality. He spoke of the greed of American business who gave us the subprime mortage crisis and the collapse of Wall Street. And he also spoke of individual Americans’ responsibilities to “dust ourselves off” and stand up and become part of the solution.

Yet when he spoke of an America that wants to work, I couldn’t help but think of so many Americans I know who WANT to work but have been laid off, who want to give their children a better life or a college education but don’t have the funds to do so. The dichotomy is strong. And no, it isn’t going to be easy to reconcile the two.

So in all my seriousness, my worrying about the future of America and the future of California, the future of the San Gabriel Valley, I raise a glass to the new president and say: You go, guy!

‘Friday Night Lights’ best teen show


Tonight, season 3 of the Peter Berg show “Friday Night Lights” will premiere on NBC. Hands down it is the best drama on television. It is a very excellent family show. For a change, I’d like to see families in a small town coping with life than another violent crime drama. Don’t forget to watch.

Below is my take on teens, and of course, “Friday Night Lights” on NBC now.

Teens today-beyond the cliches
By Steve Scauzillo, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/10/2009 07:09:51 AM PST

Smart is not the adjective you think of when you think of how people think of teenagers.

“Teenagers don’t think, they act.” “Yeah, they have all those hormones raging!” What do you expect from a teenager?”

I heard all those cliched warnings before my boys reached 13 years of age. And really, I’m happy to report, Armageddon has not been unleashed in our household. On the contrary, the truth is nothing like those dire warnings told and told again more than seven years ago.

Not just the teenagers I call my own, Andy, 17 and Matt, 19, but those they call their friends have indeed been smart, polite, genetically wired to please, level-headed, inquisitive, respectful and fun to talk to. Not all the time, of course!

These are not your grandfather’s teenagers. Not the ones in which the folks who raised them would warn other families about.

Two reasons why teenagers of today are different than the ones of the 1960s and 1970s: The weakening of the drug culture and the growing up in an HIV/AIDS/post-9/11 world.

Drugs colored a big part of the baby boomer’s teenaged years. Even if someone did not do drugs, they knew others who did. Also, there were almost continuous uprisings regarding the Vietnam War, civil rights and the sexual revolution. All this widened the gap between teenager and mom/dad.

Today, that gap has narrowed considerably. Drugs are not as prevalent and are more isolated. Teens are more cautious due to the
threat of HIV/AIDS and sexually-transmitted diseases, things that teens are drilled about in mandatory health classes. In general, the world is a scarier place leading teens to stay closer to home and take fewer risks.

This teenaged generation gets their driver licenses later, even well after they turn 18. And when they do, new “nanny state” laws prevent them from driving their friends for a whole year.

Since today’s teens are more likely to have parents that went to college, the idea of getting good grades in high school is more front and center. And let’s face it, getting A’s and B’s in high school is no longer enough to get into a UC or top-notch private school. It takes AP classes, high SAT scores and well-polished application essays that are gems of modern American nonfiction.

My boys have found other like-minded teens at the high school newspaper. It’s here where the boys and girls learn how to get along by working on a group project and expressing themselves in writing, photography and art/design.

Last week, a group of these former high school journalists were in my living room, all now attending one prestigious university or another: Northwestern, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine. For them, it was not about changing the world but more about finding a place to belong.

For me, it was at my community college in Long Island where this science geek got cool by writing music reviews and hanging out backstage with local rock bands. I enjoyed writing columns urging my peers to hang up their polyester disco pants and discover a “new wave” of rock artists such as Elvis Costello and Peter Gabriel.

A column on teenagers would not be complete without noting the common thread that keeps them going: the ability to write. Those who can write – in essays, in blogs, in articles – will cross that bridge into adulthood much easier.

I’m reminded of a scene from the best show on television about teenagers, “Friday Night Lights,” which returns to NBC this Friday at 9 p.m. (My wife, Karen, and our younger boy watched the third season this year on DirecTV’s Ch. 101.) One episode, which will soon air on NBC, featured Tyra, a pretty girl trying to become the first in her family to get into college, writing her application essay.

After several drafts, a friend urges her to drop the cliches and dip the pen into the ink of her heart. What comes out is amazing: an essay about how college won’t guarantee her the things she wants out of life, but will guarantee her a legitimate chance at getting them. A chance – at a change from growing up with a mother who drinks, no father, and a sister who is an exotic dancer.

The show is smart, touching and real. It has sparked several real-life conversations between me and my teenaged boys. It is a part of my learning about the teenagers of today. They are our hope for tomorrow, a hope badly needed to fix a world messed up by today’s adults.

Steve Scauzillo is the opinion pages editor.

Floating away

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Two residents pose in front of the West Covina Rose Parade float

With cities strapped for cash due to increasing payments to pensions and public safety employee retirement and medical benefits, not to mention the slow down in retail sales affecting tax revenues, will they be able to afford to pay for a float in the 2010 Rose Parade?

Even though much if not all of the cost is raised by the community, those funds are also in short supply. Corporations and foundations also are experiencing lowered donations, making it harder for them to donate to float costs.

How much good public relations does a city really get for a float?

Everyone loves a parade, especially the annual Tournament of Roses Parade. But with such bad economic times, when will it no longer be worth it for cities?

Still, it is hard to deny the pleasure thousands — yea, a million? — people get each year from watching the parade, the floats, the bands and the equestrian units. But more and more, the post-parade float viewing is becoming more popular as seen here from this photo taken on Jan. 1, 2009 at 2 p.m. of the float viewing entrance along Sierra Madre Boulevard in east Pasadena:

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More on parade float viewing..

Some people complained about the $7 admission charged by the Tournament of Roses to view the floats after the parade (both on Jan. 1 and on Jan. 2). Is it too steep? Many clearly did not think so. Or, at least it didn’t stop them from viewing the floats as they sit side-by-side on a street median near Pasadena High School.

For those of you who didn’t want to shell out the 7 bucks a piece, here’s a last chance glance at some of the floats that helped us usher in 2009:

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