Rare Ansel Adams photos bought for $45 at Fresno garage sale

I don’t have any new perspective or rich commentary on the subject, but when I hear about this sort of thing it drives me crazy.

A man, doing his usual garage sale shopping, bought a box of pictures for $45. They turned out to be worth $200 million when experts agreed they were some lost photos taken by Ansel Adams.

I go to garage sales and I am ecstatic if I find a warn down piece of furniture I can maybe turn into something usable. But $200 million photos for $45. I would hate to be the guy that sold them, but luck isn’t for the foolish.

Oh! And there is a local connection, Ansel Adams taught in Pasadena and possibly stored the photos there, so says an expert in CNN’s story.

“Photography expert Patrick Alt, who helped confirm the authenticity of the negatives, suspects Adams carried them to use in a photography class he was teaching in Pasadena, California, in the early 1940s.”

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How much does patriotism…er…fireworks cost?


Working on a story about how the economy has affected cities’ ability to produce fireworks and Fourth of July celebration events.

In the process, I spoke with the president of fireworks company Pyro Spectacular, Jim Souza.

Jim said the average fireworks show starts at about $25,000 and goes up from there. At a place like the Rose Bowl’s Americafest in Pasadena, the cost can be as much as $200,000, Souza said.

(Souza said the Rose Bowl show is his favorite show to produce and his favorite firework is the Golden Eagle, which he described as being like a weeping willow that stretches nearly to the ground and lasts for about 12 seconds)

Pyro Spectacular does the fireworks for shows in Monterey Park, Whittier, Irwindale, Pomona, South Pasadena, Monrovia, and San Marino, among others, Souza said.

The average show has a 24 foot rent-a-truck full of a ton of hardware, several hundred pounds of fireworks, has mortars, launching equipment, and a crew of 8 to 12 people that work on one show all day.

Each show lasts about 20 minutes, with the exception of the larger shows, he said.

As for some cities, Pico Rivera is spending $25,000 on fireworks and Monterey Park is spending about $35,000 for weekend events.

More to come in tomorrow’s story.

Violent crime down in largest San Gabriel Valley cities


The amount of violent crime in the San Gabriel Valley’s three most populous cities dropped dramatically last year, reflecting a national trend, according to 2009 crime figures released Monday by FBI.

All three Valley cities of over 100,000 residents — El Monte, Pasadena and West Covina — saw a drop in both violent and property crimes with one exception. El Monte property crime saw an uptick from 2008 to 2009.

Highlights from each of the cities, according to the FBI and police chiefs:

  • West Covina brought back a crime analyst in 2008, which allowed the city to aggressively target certain areas and criminals, Police Chief Frank Wills said.
  • West Covina was also able to keep patrol officers on the streets, but had to cut its S.W.A.T. team to do so, Wills said.
  • Murders in West Covina jumped from three in 2008 to eight in 2009.
  • El Monte Police Chief Tom Armstrong said the drop in murders to three in 2009 from 12 in 2008 is proof that the spike was an aberration.
  • Pasadena had five murders in 2009 compared to three in 2008.

For more, read the story here.

Final note: We keep track of homicides in the San Gabriel Valley, as well as the FBI which relies on data provided by the law enforcement agencies. In some cases, we have a couple more murders than the FBI’s tally. Here are the totals from 2009, and what we have so far for this year. (The map pictured above shows all the 2009 murders across the San Gabriel Valley and Whittier areas.)

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