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A Walk in the Woods Premieres at Sierra Madre Playhouse

January 24, 2015 in Entertainment, People, San Gabriel Valley, Theatre/Stage

No spoilers. But its a grand performance by all concerned

Mamcy Youngblut and John Prosky star in Sierra Madre Playhouse's production of "A Walk in the Woods"

Nancy Youngblut and John Prosky star in Sierra Madre Playhouse’s production of “A Walk in the Woods”

Last night was the opening of Sierra Madre Playhouse’s performance of “A Walk in the Woods”.  It opened to a sold out house.  Its an entertaining, often poignant look at the world of diplomatic negotiators during the Reagan Era arms talks and their interchange on what makes us the same and different at the same time.  This play by Lee Blessing is directed by Geoffry Wade.

The four scenes take place during the four seasons in an American election year in a secluded forest in Switzerland.  The jaded and cynical Soviet negotiator  Andrey Botvinnik is portrayed by John Prosky.  Andrey has survived several U.S. Negotiators and capably guides his newst adversary through the mine field of arms negotiation.  He does this through humor and utter avoidance of the task at hand.  The new American negotiator that he must work with is Joan Honeyman played by Nancy Youngblut.  Joan is the spunky, starry eyed new kid on the block with ideals she can work out a deal to end the arms race that both sides can live with.  Andrey foils her at every step often leaving Joan aggravated and flabberghasted.  And the audience roaring with laughter.

Interlaced in this is the big politics of each nations history as a world power and fear of a past repeated.  All good stuff, hard to believe one can laugh condsidering the  task at hand and the issues they face.  Its also a very enlightening look at the process. You walked away wondering how it all went down and how anything was ever accomplished.  Or was it?  I highly recommend “A Walk in the Woods” if you are looking for a fun and enlightening theater experience.  These two actors carried you through the process of negotiations and becoming friends that respect each other very well.

This play is the 4th in the 2014-2015 Season that explores the American experience as told by American playrights.  This play and those to come are what will continue Sierra Madre Playhouse’s transformation into a Regional Destination Theatre.

You can order your tickets HERE.

Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre CA 91024  Phone: 626-355-4318

Photo by Gina Long, courtesy Sierra Madre Playhouse and used with Permission.

 

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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

Hiking Fish Canyon

January 1, 2015 in environment, LA, San Gabriel Valley

2014dec05-9524The water flowing after the first rains of the season in Fish Canyon.Fish Canyon is open, and the waterfalls are flowing.
I want to write that first line in all BOLD CAPS.
Because that hasn’t been said in 30 years.

Fish Canyon, in the San Gabriel Mountains above Azusa and Duarte, used to be humming with people. Cabins were scattered along the trail and hikers posed next to the stunning triple waterfalls.

But the cabins were destroyed in one of the many fires that flash along the mountains, and then the mining company who owns the canyon, closed the entrance to the public.

But in a deal with the city of Duarte, in June of 2014 the Vulcan Materials Company opened access to the valley for the first time since it was closed in the mid-1980’s. I went on this hike in June when it first opened, and it was hot and dry, the only water standing lonely in sad dirty little pools. At the peak of the hike, where the waterfall should be, was just a towering cliff face standing bleak and empty of water in the summer sun.
But now the rains have come and the valley has come alive with the sounds and sights of tumbling, churning, splashing and falling water.

The trail up on the hillside of Fish Canyon in June of 2014.Remnants of the first rains of the season in Fish Canyon.In the summer, when everything was hot and dry, this canyon did not feel so special, but now with the falling water, it’s easy to see why it was once a haven.

It is a wonderful little river valley, with standing oaks, sticky cactus, a gurgling stream and the occasional birdcall.

But the real treat is the waterfall. It falls in three sections…. Read the rest of this entry →

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You know…its just not New Years Day until the B2 bomber flies over

January 1, 2015 in Entertainment, Events, News, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal

B2 Bomber banking over my house.  Click to embiggen

B2 Bomber banking over my house. Click to embiggen

I know, its silly.  Ring in the New Year at midnight, but in my little corner of L.A it isn’t New Years Day until 8:02AM when the B2 bomber banks over my house for its second swipe at the Rose Parade.  Pretty nifty stuff.

More pics by me in my flickr set just in case our trusty old server doesn’t want to take my upload.

Happy New Year L.A.

See The Rose Parade Floats Up Close And Personal

December 31, 2014 in Entertainment, Holidays, LA, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal

Orange_Grove_before_Rose_Parade_2009_(3161432082)Do you watch the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day? (That’s tomorrow, FYI.) Have you wondered what those floats look like up close but have no desire to spend the night in freezing temperatures? (It’s going to get into the mid-30s tonight, that is close enough to freezing for me.) You can! It’s become a custom to view the parked floats for a few days after the parade. This year you can view them tomorrow (Jan. 1), Friday and Saturday (Jan. 2-3). It will cost you $10 per person and the money goes to the Tournament of Roses Foundation. For that entry fee, you can walk all along the floats (but no touching, please) and even talk with white jacketed volunteers who will tell you more about them.

The floats are viewable:
January 1: 1:00 – 5:00PM
January 2: 9:00 – 5:00PM
January 3: 9:00 – 5:00PM

Senior citizens and disabled persons are welcome from 7:00 – 9:00am both days for less crowded viewing.

You can buy tickets online here or you can buy tickets on-site until 3pm each day.
UPDATE: You can only buy tickets online if you plan to pick them up by 5pm TODAY at the ticketing office (See link). Otherwise, you must buy them on site.

Also, there is a Park and Ride Shuttle ($3 for those 6 years old and above) to ease in the parking situation as street parking nearby is limited.

I plan on getting there early on Saturday in warm cozy clothes.

Happy New Year!

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12 Days of Giving : Sierra Madre Playhouse

December 23, 2014 in Blogging (in) LA, Entertainment, Holidays, News, People, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping, Social issues, Theatre/Stage

The playhouse at night, click to embiggen

The playhouse at night, click to embiggen

By now those who know me know I don’t just jump in half assed when I decide to support a non-profit.  They have to have a hook that gets my attention.  Sierra Madre Playhouse is just that and they need help…volunteers and donations if they are to grow to the next level.

In the last few years with the arrival of Managing Director and Estelle Campbell and Artistic Director Christian Lebano, they have brought a vision to change this once sleepy community theater into something else.  Its a very special place well on its way to being the regional destination theater they have envisioned.

There has been a lot of dialogue lately about the state of theater in Los Angeles. It is so often overlooked and under-appreciated, and there are constant wails over how theater is dying. But the magic of that combustion, the ephemeral now, is what I think will keep theater alive. If you haven’t experienced that, I invite you to see a show at the Playhouse. Once you feel that magic you will be seduced.” – Christian Lebano, Artistic Director

Like so many non-profits they are starved of man hours and money to carry out their mission to bring quality plays written by Americans about Americans.  This last year has seen them shake the joint up and brought in uniquely American plays like 6RMS RIV VU, 4,000 Miles and A Little House Christmas.  On tap next is “A Walk in the Woods” which continues the trend of stellar productions.  But they need helpif they are to carry out their plans.  If you got a few hours to donate, they’ll take it.  If you have some spare change to donate to the cause (Its tax deductible as they are a 503.c non-profit organization) they gladly accept that too.

You can easily pay via credit card through PayPal.  An even more painless way is bring the attached PDF Coupon to Ralphs when you go grocery shopping and they donate a percentage of your sale to Sierra Madre Playhouse.

Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre CA 91024

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12 Days of Giving : Monrovia Association of Fine Arts

December 19, 2014 in Art, Education, Events, Holidays, People, Photography, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Social issues

LogoThis is a group that I have devoted tons of energy and time to over the last 10 years.  Their mission statement sums it all up:
“Enhance the lives of those within our community through interaction with the arts. Increase the opportunities of our children through art education.”

Its something I completely believe in, live and breath it.  I got involved 10 years ago as a way to help promote my art, but after a few meetings I found its something that benefits the entire community in ways I never knew.

My kids were in the MUSD system and I was disappointed to learn that Art Education wasn’t part of the curriculum as a separate class at the elementary level.  Monrovia Association of Fine Arts, MAFA for short, was just getting ready to make its first donation to the schools the year I joined to help fund art educatoin at the elementary level.  Over the course of the next few years our cash donations totalled over $75.000.  But it didn’t stop there. Read the rest of this entry →

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12 Days of Giving : Foothill Unity Center

December 12, 2014 in Entertainment, Events, FEATURED, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping, Social issues

wrapped GiftThis is the first of several posts by us outlining charities and non-profit  causes near to our heart.  Its not always about monetary donations for these groups.  Tight on funds?  They welcome your time and talents to help them as a volunteer as well.  When its all said and done you feel closer and connected to your community when you help it out.  And isn’t giving of yourself all that matters this time of year regardless if its Christmas, Hanukkah or Pagan rituals?

One of the charities that I help when I can is the Foothill Unity Center.  This group is headquartered here in Monrovia with a satellite office in Pasadena.  Year round they service the hungry, newly homeless, newly jobless or whatever other suddent tragedy that hits their home leaving them in need of help.  They need volunteers for several upcoming events, money to support their programs, food donations, clothing…whatever you can help them with. Visit their web site linked in here for more information on what you can do to help them.  After the jump you can learn more of their immediate needs. Read the rest of this entry →

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Paint n Play offers up Winter Art Camp for Holiday School Break

December 11, 2014 in Crafts, Entertainment, Events, People, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping

Paint n Play Winter Art Camp application, click to embiggen and print

Paint n Play Winter Art Camp application, click to embiggen and print

Winter Art Camp has got to be one of the best things going in the SGV if you have school age kids and you lose your usual day care during the Holidays.  I’ve witnessed the activities that Lisa Barrios and her crew at Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery here in Monrovia line up for the kids and its pretty amazing.  Tons of ceramic crafts for the kids to do every day with expert instruction by the staff at Paint n Play is included in the price of your childs time at Winter Art Camp.

All you need to do is pick out a week and its M,T, F they provide Art Camp for either Christmas Week or New Years week.  Monday and Tuesday be sure to pack your kids a sack lunch.  Friday no worries, its Pizza Party day.

Space is limited and you do need to apply early.  Click on this application to embiggen and print and bring it in to Lisa and gang at the store.

Deets.  Week one 12/22, 12/23 NS 12/26,week two 12/29, 12/30, 1/2.  418 S Myrtle Street, Monrovia CA 91016 626-256-4848

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I told you we had a Christmas Parade

December 6, 2014 in Entertainment, Holidays, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal

Well the city renamed it “Holiday Parade” but that doesn’t matter, Santa Claus brought up the rear, not kwanza claus.

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Christmas its a big deal in my corner of L.A

December 4, 2014 in Entertainment, Events, Holidays, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal

I will be the first to tell you I love my little corner of L.A.  Its big enough to get lost if you want to, but small enough to be able to keep tabs on all that is important.  Plus I can be anywhere in L.A or behind the Orange Curtain in about an hour.  But thats not the real news, tonight is the traditional…been doing it as long as I can remember…the Lighting of the Christmas Tree followed by the Annual Christmas Parade.

  • 6 PM Tree lighting in Libarary Park
  • 7 PM Christmas Parade, Myrtle Avenue starting at Chestnut and ending at Palm (Library Park)

Hot on the heels of that is the Annual touring of Santa Claus escorted by MPD and MFD through the city. It takes 5 nights to cover every nook, cranny and alley in town. This year it starts on the 15th and the last night is the 19th. Details here.

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A Little House Christmas opens at Sierra Madre Playhouse

November 29, 2014 in Entertainment, History, News, People, San Gabriel Valley, Theatre/Stage

The Ingalls family as played by Hanna Victoria Stock, Valerie Lohman, Pamela Daly and Eric Charles Jorgensen.  Click to embiggen

The Ingalls family as played by Hanna Victoria Stock, Valerie Lohman, Pamela Daly and Eric Charles Jorgensen. Click to embiggen

Breaking a decades long tradition and following Creative Director Christian Lebano vision of bringing American plays by American authors,  A Little House Christmas opened to applause last night in Sierra Madre.

A little backstory about the play.  We all know Laura Ingalls Wilder and her stores of growing up in the 1800;s in the big woods or out on the Prarie, It was even a TV show for many years which is how many of us learned of the books.  The play is based on the book and was adapted to stage by James DeVita.  The Little House Heritage House allows little deviation and creative license,  That didn’t stop Directro Emily Chase from working with music curator Lindsey Stand-Polyak and music director Rebecca Lord from getting permission from the trust to incorporate period apporpriate music into the play.  It works. It works really well.  The songs, many of them “new” to this century are a marvelous addition to this simple themed play and adds real depth to the story.  I loved it.

The play takes places in the 1870s on the prairie and spans the course of 1 week with a wicked storm that wreaks havoc on the Ingalls family Christmas.  I won’t give any spoilers on how Christmas was saved, you need to watch the play to see the execution of the play and the heart warming ending.  Suffice it to say, kindness to others previously brought about the happy ending for the Ingalls family.

The Ingalls family as portrayed by Hanna Victoria Stock, Valerie Lohman, Pamela Daly and Eric Charles Jorgensen doesn’t deviate from the books or TV Show.  Added bonus to this is that “Pa Ingalls” in real life can play the fiddle and whips it out at appropriate times in the story to add some real life to  this simple story line. Read the rest of this entry →

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Small Business Saturday support the home grown retailer

November 28, 2014 in San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday

Saturday November 29 is Small Business Saturday, the day the small retailer hopes will make their Holiday Season instead of the chain stores at the Mall. Its been going on a few years now, tomorrow is the day. Make it happen for the Home Grown Retailers that support the community they live in. Here is a run down of some of the things I know are going on in and around my corner of L.A.

First up my friend Lisa Barrios owner of the Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery in Old Town Monrovia is offering up 20% Saturday only for customers who come in and tell her you saw the post here.  The 20% off is on any Holiday Gift item, pottery or ceramics that you chose to do.  The Legacy Hand Prints she does are really special momentos you will treasure for a lifetime.  418 S Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia CA 91016.  They are on Facebook too…remember to tell them fraz sent you!

Hoopla! in Altadena is closed for the day getting ready for Small Business Saturday.  This is a wonderful store full of really unique, often locally sourced artists and writers, gifts.  Hoopla will be donating 15% of their proceeds Saturday to both Light Bringer Project and Room 13 associated with Pasadena’s John Muir High School.

Sierra Madre is rolling out the Red Carpet as a community and will be hosting a “SmART Walk” of local artists within established businesses in town.  Do stop by Sierra Madre Playhouse and get your tickets for the family to attend their production of  A Little House Christmas.  Added bonus is photographer Geoffrey Wade will be exhibiting a few of his backstage images. Read the rest of this entry →

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Little House Christmas comes to Sierra Madre Playhouse

November 17, 2014 in Entertainment, News, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Theatre/Stage

ALittleHouseChristmas
The Sierra Madre Playhouse is breaking tradition and bringing in a new play for the Holidays. “A Little House Christmas” premieres on Friday November 28, 2014 and I don’t want the play to get lost in the holiday busy shuffle.  Carve out some time and bring the fam to what promises to be another marvelous production by the Sierra Madre Playhouse.

The play as you might guess is based on the “Little House” books done by American author Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The book has been adapted for theatre by James DeVita.

The Sierra Madre Playhouse presentation of A Little House Christmas is directed by Emily Chase. Her cast includes (in alphabetical order) Jolie Adamson, Pamela Daly, Jeff Doba, Jim Harnagel, Eric Charles Jorgensen, Fletcher Kamal, Valerie Rose Lohman, Andrew Stock, Hannah Victoria Stock and Amy Tolsky. UCLA musicologist Lyndsey Strand-Polyak is the production’s consultant on music of the ear, which will include vibrant fiddle and guitar playing as well as lively dance.

All the details and ticket ordering can be found on the Sierra Madre Playhouse web site.

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Food Drives highlight the season

November 15, 2014 in News, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Social issues

fork in it
Thanksgiving this year is a bigger challenge than ever according to my friends at the Foothill Unity Center. They feed literally hundreds of families every month, but this Holiday will be their toughest for a variety of reasons. Last year they fed 1,000 families. I won’t dwell on the “why’s” but will give you some ways to help.

First up is the “Put The Fork in Hunger” food drive in Pasadena to benefit the food banks at the Foothill Unity Center.  This food drive is going on NOW and all the details are in the link to their FB Page.  In short bring your non-perishable food items to 200 Bellafontaine Plaza and they will get it to the Foothill Unity Center to include in their packages for needy families.

The Foothill Unity Center needs a ton of help, not just food, but toys for the Christmas party they will hold as well.  This takes thousands of volunteer hours to get ‘er done.  They hneed help sorting food, making family packages and distribution to the families itself.  Sign up to volunteer HERE.

For more info on how you can help the Foothill Unity Center visit their web or call them:MONROVIA: 626- 358-3486 | PASADENA: 626-358-3486

Of course there are worthy food drives all over the city…chime in on the comments with your favorite charity in need of help.