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Patsy Cline Listening Party at Vromans Hasting Ranch

July 15, 2015 in Entertainment, Music, News, People, San Gabriel Valley

Always - Patsy Cline listening party poster, click to embiggen

Always – Patsy Cline listening party poster, click to embiggen

This is going to be an awesomely fun evening.  Sierra Madre Playhouse and Vroman’s Books in Hasting Ranch have teamed up to bring the cast and crew from their soon to open “Always…Patsy Cline” production down the hill for a listening party.  Listen to such classics as Crazy, Walking After Midnight, and I Fall To Pieces.

Learn about the singing techniques Patsy used to evoke the heartbreak and longing that have made her songs country and pop classics. Presented in tandem with the production of Always… Patsy Cline at The Sierra Madre Playhouse, playing July 31 – September 12, 2015.

I know this shopping center well.  Parking is always tight and you can idle forever waiting for a spot to open.  I’d suggest if you are mass transit enabled take the Gold Line to the Sierra Madre Station and walk the 4 blocks east to Vroman’s or grab an ARTS shuttle or Foothill Transit 187 “murder bus” to the center.  Much easier and less stressful than dealing with tight parking.

Deets: The Patsy Cline Listening Party will take place at Vroman’s Hastings Ranch store at 3729 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107 on Friday, July 17, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. Free event. MAP HERE.

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Calling all Chalk Artists…contest with prize money

May 14, 2015 in Art, Contests, Entertainment, News, South Bay

Chalk Art Promo...click to embiggen

Chalk Art Promo…click to embiggen Photo credit: V. Bugatti

Monrovia Association of Fine Arts (MAFA) is adding a Chalk Art Festival to its already established Celebrate the Arts.  The show will be held September 26 and 27 with the Chalk Art produced and judged on the 26th.  Celebrate the Arts is excited about this, its 52nd annual event in Library Park in historic Old Town Monrovia.

Prizes, yes there will be prizes that are funded by your nominal entry fee and by generous sponsors in the area.

  • $500 First Place Advantage Ford Lincoln (Just announced)
  • $250 Second Place Monrovia Merchants
  • $100 Third Place Brian Huffman Photography
  • All Prize winners will also receive an 8X10 photograph of their work by Brian Huffman Photography

If you’d like to join please write me direct [email protected] and I’ll send you an application with the full details.  Unlike some other festivals we like to think of ours as the friendlier, more fun Chalk Art Festival in the SGV.  Yes, there are some requirements.  Entry fee of $25 but that also makes you a member of MAFA. Subject matter is wide open, but because the Celebrate the Arts is a community family oriented venture so you can’t include pornographic or erotic themes and content.  You need to apply early as space is limited and spaces are assigned on a first come, first served basis.  As Celebrate the Arts is MAFA’s big fund raiser for the year we ask that you create a small piece of art on a  12″X12″ canvas to be included in our silent auction.

Disclosure…I’m a Board Member and Jury Chairman for the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts.  I donate way too much time according to my wife as I firmly believe in their mission statement: “Enhance the lives of those within our community through interaction with the arts. Increase the opportunities of our children through art education.”.  And do “like” us on Facebook.

Edit 1:57 PM our First Prize sponsor has been signed on and announced.

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The Odd Couple is a rip roaring good time at Sierra Madre Playhouse

May 9, 2015 in Entertainment, News, People, San Gabriel Valley, Theatre/Stage

The cast...cick to embiggen

The cast…cick to embiggen

Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” opened at the Sierra Madre Playhouse and it was a riotous good time.  The play we know, but Alan Brooks and Artistic Director Christian Lebano twisted it up a notch and made this so much more than the bare words on the script.  I can’t find a fault in the production, and neither could the audience that laughed pretty much non-stop during this examination of interpersonal relationships among friends and differing personalities.

Where to start, by now we all know the story.  Oscar Madison’s wife and kids leave him and move away leaving him to grunge up an 8 room apartment.  Shortly thereafter Felix Unger’s wife boots him and he shows up on Oscar’s doorstep with no place to live.  Jack Sundmacher as Oscar and Brad David Reed as Felix have terrific chemistry and brought their characters to life.  Even in Oscar’s most curmudgeonly moments you felt connected to him and understood him.  Felix is just a nutball basket case and he too wound up capturing your heart.  His sinus-clearing-ear-unplugging bit was hysterical.

As I mentioned in an earlier post the poker table, played by Richard Van Slyke, Joe Langer, Steve Bean and Vince Donvito had chemistry.  It was really as funny as watching a group of guys who’ve been been playing for years, not actors who just recently met.  Funny, caring, wise-cracking and FUNNY.  You couldn’t help but wish you were in their circle at the table playing poker as well.

Jane Lui (l) and Kari Lee (r) as the Pigeon Sisters, click to embiggen

Jane Lui (l) and Kari Lee (r) as the Pigeon Sisters, click to embiggen

The absolute bit of genius was switching up the roles of the “Pigeon Sisters”, the dating interest and neighbors of Oscar and Felix. Played by Kari Lee and Jane Lui was a piece of sheer casting genius.  The chemistry and infectious zest for living they brought to the stage really brought the play to life. Typically the two rolls are just simply cast to a couple of blonde bimbos and let the chips fall where they may, these two brought the characters of Gwendolyn and Ceciy to hyper animated life.  Between the two of them they capture Felix’s heart and convince him he’s going to be ok.  They even twist Oscar around to see Felix for the friend he is.  Quite a task and brilliantly played by Ms Lee and Ms Lui.

Don’t forget the contest for “my worst roommate” that runs until May 31.  Send the Playhouse your worst roommate story and if chosen you get dinner with this incredible cast!  ENTER HERE, or simply mail your story to [email protected]

The play runs through June 27,  Order tickets HERE.

DEETS: Sierra Madre Playhouse 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd. Sierra Madre CA 91024  MAP HERE  Box Office 626/355-4318

All pics by me.

 

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More on the AEA vote and Pro 99 Seat Theatre

March 26, 2015 in News, People, San Gabriel Valley, Social issues, Theatre/Stage

Ballots will be arriving in the hands of member actors of the Actors Equity Association.  Its important to keep 99 Seat Theatre alive in Los Angeles.  A “NO” vote will insure that the 99 Seat Agreement remains in place and is not changed.

Longtime KABC weatherman Dr. George Fischbeck passes away

March 25, 2015 in News, Obituaries, Television, Weather

bla-2015-03-25-dr-george-fullshotABC7 announced today that longtime KABC weatherman Dr. George Fischbeck died on this morning at the age of 92.

I remember watching Dr. George and his signature bow-tie on television until he retired from ABC and enjoyed his re-emergence KCBS in the mid-to-late 1990s.

For many Angelenos, Dr. George was more than just the weatherman. He taught us about jet streams, high and low pressures and millibars. When he was giving us his forecast for the highs and lows for the next day, he’d also remind us to be good citizens and take care of each other.

He was also an ambassador of good will both on and off the set. For years, he collected toys for children at Porterville State Hospital.

Years after he retired, he gave his support to ABC7’s Spark of Love Toy Drive.

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Sondheim’s “Putting it Together” opened this past weekend

March 19, 2015 in Entertainment, News, People, San Gabriel Valley, Theatre/Stage

Putting it Together Cast and Pianist...click to embiggen

Putting it Together Cast and Pianist…click to embiggen

I’m not a total rube as I at least knew who Sondheim was before this  past weekend’s opening of “Putting it Together” at the Sierra Madre Playhouse.  I couldn’t have told you what he wrote or even hum a few bars before then.  Now I can.  He’s a bright lively composer who’s lyrics are not only cunning but witty.  Many times the audience broke into laughter during Friday nights performance.

The all star cast is directed and choregraphed by Cate Caplin with Jake Anthony as the music director.  The cast consists of Kurt Andrew Hansen, Kristin Towers-Rowles, Chris Kerrigan, Rachel Hirshee and Mike Irizarry who use a series of 31  Sondheim songs to tell a story of love, marriage, and mistresses during the course of a 1 percenters cocktail party.  Yup, there’s a twist and the bitterness of the woman scorned comes across in a most comical way.

Of all the songs in the play, “Bang” was my favorite.  Didn’t involve guns, but rather was the exclamation point in the digression of young lovers and love making to bitter married folks having dutiful relations in the bedroom.  That’s as delicate as I can put it…but that song alone had us laughing out loud during the performance.  The actions of the cast added hysterical emphasis.

Putting it Together runs through March 28 at the Sierra Madre Playhouse.

Added bonus.  This weekend only 3/20-3/21.  On Web sales only.  Buy one seat, get the second seat free.  Makes for a very and cheap date night!  Order tickets HERE with the promo code BOGO.

Added bonus, if you are interested in Einstein is a Dummy that I reviewed recently, this Sunday, 3/22 Performance is also included in the buy one get one promotion on web sales only.  Order Tickets here with the promo code BOGO.

Deets: Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre 91024  MAP HERE

Photograph by John Dlugolecki Photography and used with permission.

A Bone Of Contention With Regards To The Long Dead L.A. Marathon Bike Tour

March 14, 2015 in Biking in LA, Events, News, Sports

laweaklyOne of the first places I turn to of late if I’m looking for anti-cycling news and views is the L.A. Weakly. More often than not, it seems they’ve adopted the less-enlightened view of the urban activity shed by the Los Angeles Times a few years ago. Which is why I was so surprised to see this positive article in this week’s issue on tomorrow morning’s Marathon bike ride, as it moves from guerrilla event toward a potential for full legitimacy.

Of course, that didn’t mean the feature wasn’t wrong on an historic point:

Article quote: “For years, the L.A. Marathon’s route was a loop. Before the footrace began, an official bike ride was held with corporate sponsorship and everything. But in 2009, the marathon route was changed to a straight shot from Dodger Stadium to the sea, and the bike ride was dropped for fear that thousands of cyclists wouldn’t be able to get their bikes home.”

If you want to drink that Koolaid as to the demise of the Bike Tour being on a loop route that couldn’t coexist with an A-B marathon route, go ahead. But in 2007 when the marathon introduced a point-to-point route that began in Universal City and ended downtown (and continued again in 2008) the Bike Tour’s approximately 10,000 bicyclists pedaled on a SEPARATE loop route that began and ended in the vicinity of Exposition Park. Imagine that. PS. I know this personally because in 2007 I actually did both events that fateful day.

So my advice is to put down that Dixie cup and understand that the marathon’s leadershit (NOT a typo) under owner Frank McCourt, didn’t kill the 15-year tradition of the Bike Tour because it was concerned the poor wittle cycwists wouldn’t be able to find their way home after cwossing the finish wine. Nah, they simply and unceremoniously dumped the popular Bike Tour component after 2009 — and did so under the blazingly false pretense of developing a corresponding “world class” cycling event to replace it. When they didn’t spend a fraction of a second creating that, Don “Roadblock” Ward, gawd bless him, stepped in all guerrilla-style and the Marathon Crash Race was born, now perhaps ironically to evolve into what may very well one day become a legitimate “world class” bicycling component on Marathon Day.

Bonus clip: My timelapse from 2009 and what would be mine and the last bike tour (I had pedaled in every previous one back to the event’s inception in 1995).

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Fast cars on a track..life gets interesting this weekend

March 11, 2015 in Driving, Entertainment, Events, News, San Gabriel Valley


Seriously, one of my favorite events is always involving cars on a closed circuit track where you can run ’em through an obstacle course. It gives you a better sense of what the car is about, how its built than the typical around the block test drive.  You’ll get your chance to do just that this weekend at the Ecoboost Challenge at the Santa Anita Park in Arcadia on Saturday 3/14.

Ford hosts the event and challenges the top competitors on the track.  Fusion vs Camry, Escape vs CRV, Prius V vs C-Max, and F150 vs Silverado.  You get to do them on a track and compare how they handle…or don’t.  How fast they accellerate and brake, steering nimbleness and all the stuff you normally don’t get to do.  With the hybrids the track is geared towards seeing who can get the best mpg….I won with 68.5 with a CMax Energi last year.

The ABSOLUTE best part of the entire day is the ST Performance Academy.   First year it was both a Focus ST and Fiesta ST, last year it was just a Fiesta ST on a timed, fast as you can go on a track, after a bit of coaching prior to your run.  Best of 3 laps is your time in the competition.  It if weren’t for a ringer last year I would have placed 2nd on the course, but I’ll take a respectable third when its only a few tenths behind #2.

You can particpate simply by registering and bringing your Driver’s license to the track at your appointed time.  REGISTER HERE.

I’ll be there 3/13 on a press pass and drop spoilers before you get to the course yourself.  If you do the ST Performance Academy, and like, who WOULDN’T, post your time and we’ll see who amongst us at the best.

Deets: Ecoboost Challenge Saturday March 14/2015 Santa Anita Park, Arcadia CA MAP HERE

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Hold’n Hands, Help’n Hearts to be featured on KNBC Sunday Night

March 7, 2015 in Blogging (in) LA, News, People, San Gabriel Valley, Social issues

Holdn' Hands, Helpn' Hearts flyer

Holdn’ Hands, Helpn’ Hearts flyer

Lisa Barrios, owner of Monrovia’s Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery has been doing this program for several years now.  Holdn’ Hands, Helpin’ Hearts is simply getting the hand print of a child or other loved one with cancer in clay and producing a legacy keepsake for the family.  It started with a special request several years ago from a little boy at the City of Hope with terminal cancer.  Lisa did it, no charge to the family so they would have one last keepsake from their little boy before he passed.

Lisa does this out of the goodness of her heart.  She has done imprints of little ones in morturaries for families who lost a child and she couldn’t get to them fast enough as she wants them to have that one last keepsake of their little hand.  She’s always done it free of charge.  She’s done it countless times.

KNBC’s Angie Crouch heard of the program and interviewed Lisa and some of the families she has helped.  The segment will air Sunday night on KNBC channel 4 on the “Life Connected” show that airs Sunday 3/8 at 11PM.  IT will repeat Monday 3/9 at Noon during the afternoon news.  The story promises to be heart wrenching and enlightening.

If you would like to donate to the program you may do so through the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts that has long been a supporter of the program.  Make your check payable to the Monrovia Assocation of Fine Arts and send it to us at 418 S Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia CA 91016

As a disclaimer, I’m a board member of the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts, and I can assure you the money’s donated go directly to keeping this program going.

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Save L.A’s 99 Seat theatres

February 27, 2015 in Entertainment, News, Social issues, Theatre/Stage

99orgIts a complex issue that doesn’t need to be.  There’s an agreement with the 99 Seat Theatres and the Actors Equity Association that exempts smaller non-profit theatres from paying a union scale in exchange for allowing actors to hone their craft, make “art” if you will.  Its been in force for ages, it what allows dozens of small theatres spread about Los Angeles to operate.  Without it they would wither and actors more interested in the art and developing their talent will be shut out.

Step in I Love 99.org to put forth all the facts and explain why its important and what you can do to preserve the agreement with Actors Equity.  Within their website are many links to tools to help your voice be heard if you wish to keep 99 Seat Theatre alive in Los Angeles.

Of course I have an emotional interest in keeping 99 Seat Theatre alive in Los Angeles. It goes beyond keeping my friends busy, its about keeping art alive in the city.  The loss of the 99 Seat Theatre would be devastating to them as well as the businesses around the theatres that depend on the traffic they generate.  I’ve taken my love of small theatre to the next level and am working on the board of directors with Sierra Madre Playhouse to help them grow and evolve in the community.  I don’t take this potential loss lightly.

Please support this cause in any way you can.  Tweet your support and use the hashtags #ILove99, #Pro99 . #LAThtr

 

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Hahamonga and the San Gabriels, discussion tonight

February 19, 2015 in Entertainment, environment, News, San Gabriel Valley, Social issues

Flyer - click to embiggen

Flyer – click to embiggen

I wish I had more information for you, but I just got notice and no press release with a lot of details.  Altadena Heritage is putting on the discussion with 3 speakers on the importantance of Hahamonga and the Arroyo Seco river system that brings rain water from the San Gabriesl to the ocean.  The speakers are:

  • Dave Douglas, PhD, Geologist and Dean of PCC School of Science and Mathematics
  • Tim Brick, Director of the Arroyo Seco Foundation
  • Josephine Axt, Army Corp of Engineers, Planning Division

If interested please RSVP to [email protected]

Deets: February 19,2015 7-9PM Alta Dena Community Center, 730 E Altadena Drive, Altadena CA 91001  MAP HERE

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Radio/TV Personality Gary Owens passed away today.

February 13, 2015 in Obituaries, People

Long time Los Angeles resident Gary Owens of radio and TV Fame passed away today.  He was the voice of KFI for years but is known nationally as the enthusiastic announcer and newcaster on Laugh In a TV sieries in the late 60s and early 70s. RIP Funny man, thanks for the laughs.

Look forward to  your next ‘cast from “Beautiful Downtown Heaven”.

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Final effort for the “No Big Dig” to save Hahamonga

January 28, 2015 in environment, News, San Gabriel Valley, Social issues

Time is limited and the citizens in Pasadena aligned against the counties plan to rape, scrape and gut the Hahahmonga watershed need your help.  All efforts to bring reason and preserve the area have fallen on deaf ears.

Their “Hail Mary” plan is to resort to litigation and they need our help.  They have a crowd sourced fund raiser going on indiegogo to raise the funds to litigate and bring a stop to the Counties plan.  Please donate today.  They’ve got 9 days left to raise the funds.

How Are You Gonna Rock When We Roll?

January 18, 2015 in Earthquakes, Events, News, Science

Last night on the anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake, I watched CalTech Seismologist Lucy Jones tell reporters assembled at a press conference that for most angelenos it was a small one. Ha! How I wish I had been one of most angelenos. But I wasn’t. Not by a long shot.

The fires down below

The fires down below: This is a crappy snap I made the morning of January 17, 1994, from a pull out on Mulholland looking down into a San Fernando Valley that was almost entirely filled with smoke and dust.

There were two times in my life when I thought my ticket had been punched: that morning 21 years ago holding onto a door jam for dear life while it seemed the world was shaking apart, and a traffic collision I had six months later — which ironically wouldn’t have occurred if it weren’t for quake-related repairs forcing me to relocate temporarily to Van Nuys where I was on my motorcycle when that collision happened… but that’s another story.

In fairness, Jones wasn’t belittling or minimalizing what took place. She was basing that statement on the length of the fault that generated that temblor — 10 miles — in comparison to the San Andreas fault, 200 miles or more of which could rupture — correction WILL rupture. When that event happens it won’t be discussed 21 years later from a perspective of relative percentages impacted. Those of us that survive that eventual catastrophe will ALL be thrust into an exquisite chaos.

The plain truth is that with this certainty, most of us are still woefully unprepared. Maybe we’re gambling that we’ll dodge such a cataclysm in our lifetime, or maybe were deluded into thinking there’s really nothing that can be done and to just roll with what comes when the land rocks. It’s probably a lame metaphor, but that’s a bit like not being able to stop from hopping into a taxi that we know is going to crash, yet refusing to fasten our seatbelt on our way to that potential doom.

Instead put the “do” in doom. Google “earthquake preparedness.” Here, I’ll do it for you: earthquake preparedness. You don’t have to go full doomsday survivalist, but you need to do something/anything. Stockpile supplies and develop a plan that will make the ensuing nightmare a little less nightmarish. Having something as trivial as a few gallons of water, some nutrition bars, spare batteries, flashlights, a transistor radio and first aid supplies will seem like gold when the time comes to need them.

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Preserving Los Angeles history one building at a time

January 9, 2015 in environment, History, LA, Law, News, People, San Gabriel Valley, Social issues, Vintage

Broadway Arcade in DTLA, click to embiggen

Broadway Arcade in DTLA, click to embiggen

The good folks at Esotouric Bus Tour Adventures, Kim Cooper and Richard Schave do a lot more than give really nifty tours of the city.  They are historians with a major heart on for the city.  In the best way of course.

This weeks newsletter outlined the winners and losers in their efforts to help preserve the cities architectural history.  It outlines 25 things this year, good bad and ugly, that happened in terms of historic preservation.

The most exciting bit was the passing of city ordinance 13-1104 requiring public notification when any building more than 45 years is to be demolished.   Why does this matter?  It will give preservation groups around the city the chance to speak up and stop the destruction of those building with a history or architectural significane from being trashed in the name of progress and a new high density mixed use project.  Not all buildings need to be preserved that are that old, but many should as it is part of the texture and character of the city that shouldn’t be trashed for a new parking lot or apartment jungle.

Pic by me of the Broadway Arcade while on an iphone safari.  Click to embiggen