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Friday, April 21, 2017

Looking for Something to Do? Free Events April 22 to 28

Here are events scheduled Saturday, April 22, to Friday, April 28.

All events are free, so take a look -- and don't you dare say there's nothing to do in Pasadena!

Enjoy free food, interactive games, class demonstrations and much more at the Jump Into Summer fair Saturday, April 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Victory Park where you'll learn about fun, free and low-cost activities and programs planned this summer by the City of Pasadena for children, teens and families. 

Pasadena Walking Tours and Thirty Days for the Earth present a botanical exploration of our city during two guided walks this weekend to explore many of the flowers, plants and trees that help define our city as well as stories about the people who helped shape our landscape and lived their lives within it. On Saturday, April 22, from 2 to 4 p.m. the first tour will begin and end at Throop Unitarian Universalist Church; on Sunday, April 23, from 4 to 6 p.m. the second tour will begin and end at Arlington Garden.

See more than 140 of the finest vintage and modern Ferraris spanning three blocks on Colorado Boulevard between Raymond and Pasadena avenues in Old Pasadena during Concorso Ferrari Sunday, April 23, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

The Caltech Symphony will perform works by Mozart, Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven and Strauss Sunday, April 23, at 3:30 p.m. in Ramo Auditorium at Caltech's Baxter Hall (#77 on this map). 

Children ages 2 to 5, accompanied by caregivers, will trace their face silhouettes into portraits and use colorful crayons and markers to depict thoughts and feelings, then have the books "All About Faces" and "Dragons Love Tacos' read to them Wednesday, April 26, from 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. at the Pasadena Museum of California Art.

The Esslinger-Wass Duo will perform classical works for flute and piano Wednesday, April 26, from 12:10 to 12:40 p.m. for the popular Music at Noon recital series at Pasadena Presbyterian Church.

"Sense and Sensibility" (1995, PG) starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet will be shown Wednesday, April 26, at 1 p.m. in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Central Library. Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters move into a cottage after being left destitute after Mr. Dashwood's death, while the sensible eldest daughter tries to keep things running smoothly in spite of her free-spirited sister's efforts to the contrary. Based on the novel by Jane Austen.

The award-winning Fuoco String Quartet will perform works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Shostakovich Wednesday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m. in Barrett Hall at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music. While the concert is free, tickets are required.

In celebration of National Poetry Month, Pasadena Rose Poets Marcia Arrieta, Teresa Mei Chuc, Mel Donalson, Hazel Harrison and Gerda Govine will read poems from local pioneers of poetry Thursday, April 27, at 7 p.m. in Studio on 4th at Central Library.

Photo credits: City of Pasadena, Karen Winters, Ferrari Beverly Hills, Caltech, This Lovely Home, Esslinger-Wass Duo, Columbia Pictures Corporation, Pasadena Conservatory of Music, Free Library of Philadelphia.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

This Anniversary Gets Me All Chalked Up

How can it be that the very first Pasadena Chalk Festival, produced by the Light Bringer Project, will soon have its 25th anniversary?

The anniversary is commemorated with an exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of History that will run through Aug. 13. More about that in a minute.
In the beginning, the two-day annual event was called Chalk It Up and was in Centennial Square in front of Pasadena City Hall.

The name changed over time:

Chalk It Up
Chalk on the Walk
Absolut Chalk
Pasadena Chalk Festival.

The Pasadena Chalk Festival even made it to the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010 when it broke the record -- with a Guinness official keeping track onsite -- for the world's "Largest Display of Chalk Pavement Art," a record that holds to this day.

You'll find a more in-depth history here.

Since 2004 it has been staged at Paseo Colorado, where it meanders along the upper and lower levels every Fathers Day weekend. There typically are 600 muralists who use more than 25,000 pieces of chalk and attract more than 100,000 visitors over the course of two days.

I went to a community reception Sunday, April 9, for the Pasadena Museum of History exhibition "Art in the Street: 25 Years of the Pasadena Chalk Festival."

It features photos of chalk art through the years, TV and print news coverage, a typical chalk muralist's space at the festival, all kinds of memorabilia and much more, including a couple of interactive opportunities.

Here are Light Bringer Project brass Tom Coston and Paddy Hurley (and yours truly) at the entrance to the exhibition. That's all chalk art you see in the entry archway (thanks to Laura Verlaque for the photo):

Kavita Sharma and Tom watching KTLA-TV coverage of the Pasadena Chalk Festival over the years.

A full house of visitors:

If you stand in the just the right spot and place your hands just so, ask someone to take your photo holding the rose that actually is on the floor and was created by a chalk artist especially for this exhibition.

Photographer extraordinaire Brian Biery shot most (if not all) of the photos that grace the walls of the gallery. He can always be found at the Pasadena Chalk Festival, often standing on a ladder to get the perfect overhead shots of the giant chalk murals. Some of whimsical. some are likenesses of celebrities, some are copies of masterpieces. I'll just show you three:

There are several display cases filled with memorabilia. Here is one:

My granddaughter Kimberly, who lives in San Diego County, volunteered two years in a row at the chalk festival when it was Absolut Chalk in front of City Hall. Her name is included on a special list of thank-yous for people who went above and beyond over the years. (That's Tom's finger pointing at her name.)

Come see the exhibition for yourself! What I've shown you here is just a very small sampling of what you'll find. 

The 2017 Pasadena Chalk Festival is scheduled Saturday and Sunday, June 17 and 18 (Fathers Day weekend) from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Looking for Something to Do? Free Events April 15 to 21

Here are events scheduled Saturday, April 15, to Friday, April 21.

All events are free, so take a look -- and don't you dare say there's nothing to do in Pasadena!

The British are coming! The British are coming! The Pasadena Croquet Club will host England's national croquet team Saturday, April 15, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Central Park where the Brits will play a series of exhibition games. Come watch them display their world-class skills! After Pasadena, they will compete against national teams from the U.S., Australia and New Zealand in the MacRobertson International Shield in Rancho Mirage. (What the Ryder Cup is to golf and the Davis Cup is to tennis, the MacRobertson International Shield is to croquet.)

Children 12 and younger will have an egg-cellent time when they hippity-hop to the third annual Pasadena Egg Bowl at the Rose Bowl Stadium Saturday, April 15, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring Pasadena's largest Easter egg hunt plus bunny ear contests, arts and crafts, face painting, puppet shows, live entertainment and much more. Don't forget to bring your basket! (A special Bunny Brunch is fee-based.)

The Caltech Chamber Singers will perform Saturday, April 15, at 7:30 p.m. in Dabney Lounge at Caltech's Dabney Hall (#40 on this map). Works will include English madrigals by Morley, Farmer and Bennet, selections from "Byrd Moss for Five Voices," quartets by Rossini, German part songs by Mendelssohn, Schumann and Brahms, and folk song arrangements and solos. 

An LA Opera community educator will take participants through Giacomo Puccini's dramatic and melodic opera "Tosca" Monday, April 17, at 1 p.m. in the Scott Pavilion at the Pasadena Senior Center. The beloved opera, a tale of love, lust, loyalty and political intrigue, is based on historic figures in 1800 when control of Rome was threatened by Napoleon's invading armies. You do not have to be a member of the Pasadena Senior Center to attend.

"Pride and Prejudice" (1940, NR) starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier will be shown Wednesday, April 19, at 1 p.m. in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Central Library.  It's the timeless, classic story of Lizzie Bennett, Mr. Darcy and early 19th century English manners and expectations. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett begin seeking out suitably wealthy husbands for their five daughters, including Lizzie, but pride, prejudice and misunderstandings lead to complications. The film is based on Jane Austen's beloved novel. 

Children, teens and families are invited to celebrate Earth Day Thursday, April 20, at 3:30 p.m. at Hill Avenue Branch Library with stories about the beauty of plants and animals, then create your vision of how Earth looks from space. Take home seeds to plant in your garden. All materials will be provided. 

The third Thursday (and first Friday) of every month is Free Admission Day at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. On Thursday, April 20, from 5 to 8 p.m., enjoy the current exhibitions and everything else the museum has to offer, including all-levels yoga in the midst of all that beautiful art! 

"Arsenic and Old Lace" (1944, NR) starring Cary Grant and Raymond Massey will be shown Friday, April 21, at 1 p.m. in the Scott Pavilion at the Pasadena Senior Center. In this quirky comedy, a man learns on his wedding day that his beloved maiden aunts are homicidal maniacs and that insanity runs in the family. You do not have to be a member of the Pasadena Senior Center to attend.

Photo credits: CBS, City of Pasadena, Caltech, Robert & Pearl Seymore Center, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Round the Rock, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Warner Bros.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Looking for Something to Do? Free Events April 8 to 14

Here are events scheduled Saturday, April 8, to Friday, April 14.

All events are free, so take a look -- and don't you dare say there's nothing to do in Pasadena!

Take a walking tour to see great examples of drought-tolerant gardens and landscaping Saturday, April 8, from 9 to 11 a.m. Meet in the parking lot at Washington Park. The tour will include homes in the park neighborhood as well as Bungalow Heaven and more.

The opening reception for two new exhibitions at the Pasadena Museum of History -- "Art in the Street: 25 Years of the Pasadena Chalk Festival" and "Getting There: Railroad Inspired Artistry" -- is open to the community Sunday, April 9, from 1 to 4 p.m. See the exhibitions for free and don't miss a discussion with the curators (from Light Bringer Project and Mount Lowe Preservation Society) at 2:30 p.m. 

Children and families will love Arty Loon's variety show with magic, juggling and silly fun Monday, April 10, at 1:30 p.m. at San Rafael Branch Library.

"Becoming Jane" (2007, PG) starring Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy will be shown Wednesday, April 12, at 1 p.m. in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Central Library. Years before her books made her famous, a young Jane Austen has a romance with a charming Irish rogue. 

Teens 14+ are invited to a screening of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" (2012, PG-13) starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson Wednesday, April 12, from 5 to 8 p.m. in Studio on 4th at Central Library. Two high school seniors take an introverted freshman under their wings and introduce him to the real world. Popcorn and pizza will be provided.

The Victorian age haunted post-war Britain in the physical remains of homelessness and poverty, the popularity of 19th century bric-a-brac and the aesthetics of British film noir. On Thursday, April 13, at 7 p.m. in Caltech's Dabney Lounge at Dabney Hall (#40 on this map), Dr. Linda Nead, professor of art history at the University of London, will draw on a wide range of art and culture during a discussion titled Dickens Noir: The Persistence of Victorianism in Post-War British Art and Culture.

"Jackie" (2016, R) starring Natalie Portman and Peter Sarsgaard will be shown Friday, April 14, at 1 p.m. in the Scott Pavilion at the Pasadena Senior Center. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children and define the legacy of President John F. Kennedy after his assassination. You do not have to be a member of the Pasadena Senior Center to attend.

Photo credits: Gloria Ing & Team, Brian Biery, Yoko Mazza, Arty Loon Show, HanWay Films, Summit Entertainment, Cineguild, Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Great War: A Centennial Milestone

One hundred years ago today, the U.S. entered World War I, which impacted my family (I'll get to that in a minute).

The Great War, as it was known then, began in Europe on July 28, 1914. Headlines in American newspapers roared with daily news of the fighting that began with an international diplomatic crisis: the murder in Sarajevo one month before of the Austro-Hungarian Empire's Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Bosnian Serb assassin against a backdrop of escalating tensions in the Balkans. Franz Ferdinand was the much reviled nephew of Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef and heir to the throne. 

Following the assassination, the resulting attempts at diplomacy were bungled to such an extent that the impacts of the incident escalated all over Europe. Battle lines were drawn between the central powers of Austro-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire and the allied powers of France, England and Russia. The Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia on July 28, Germany declared war on Russia on Aug. 1, Germany declared war on France on Aug. 3 and Britain declared war on Germany on Aug. 4. The world would never be the same.

Americans paid attention to the conflicts through newspapers, magazines and the relatively new medium of silent newsreels, but this was not our war.

On May 7, 1915, a German U-boat torpedoed the British ocean liner RMS Lusitania in the Atlantic Ocean off the southern Irish coast. Among the 1,100 passengers who perished, 128 were Americans.

But that was not the impetus for the U.S. inserting itself in a foreign war. More than two years would pass before that happened.

In January 1917, British intelligence intercepted a telegram, written in coded numbers, sent from Germany’s foreign secretary to the German ambassador in Mexico City. It conveyed specific instructions: Germany would finance a major attack on the U.S. by Mexican troops, and Mexican diplomats would serve as intermediaries to persuade Japan to join the German cause. In exchange, Germany would help Mexico reclaim Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.

Britain provided a decoded transcription of the telegram to U.S. intelligence officials who shared it with President Woodrow Wilson
America had a progressive policy of neutrality, and Wilson was not ready to reverse that approach.

On Feb. 3, 1917, German U-boats sank the American steamer Housatonic in the Atlantic Ocean near the south coast of England. By late March, U-boats had sunk four U.S. merchant vessels in the Atlantic Ocean near the British Isles, the North Sea and the coast of France. 

President Wilson could wait no longer. On April 2, 1917, he addressed a special session of Congress with his "The world must be made safe for democracy" speech. Three days later, Congress voted its approval for a declaration of war against Germany, and on April 6 President Wilson signed the joint resolution. Newspaper headlines across the nation that evening and the following morning were too large to ignore:

Young American men from sea to shining sea enlisted in the war effort at the rate of 10,000 troops a day. Many of them were deployed to France on the Western Front, where allied soldiers fought ferociously in the trenches. The allied troops needed all the help they could get against Germany at Cantigny, Belleau Wood, Château-Thierry and other battlefields. 

To instill patriotism in every red-blooded American and encourage men to register for the draft, the federal Committee on Public Information was established by presidential executive order to produce press releases, songs, newsreels, posters, pamphlets, you name it. It was a big propaganda machine of sorts, and it worked. The most famous song to come out of this effort was the iconic "Over There" written by George M. Cohan. It was on the lips of every person in the U.S. from 1917 to the end of the war. 

My beloved paternal grandfather, Jess Harper Easley, registered on June 5, 1917. He was 26 years old.

Once he was called to duty, he served in France on the Western Front for just over a year at Belleau Wood and Château-Thierry. He came home in one piece, thankfully. 

This photo of American troops at Hill 24 at Belleau Wood is in the National World War I Museum

When my grandfather returned to the U.S., Camp Mills on Long Island in New York was his temporary base for about a month. He communicated with his mother, my great-grandmother, via telegram.

I have added punctuation here.

Camp Mills NY 10:27 a.m. Dec. 4, 1918
Mrs. May Easley
Lebanon, Mo.

Got your wire this morning. Also money from Peter. The best I can find out is will be going home in one or two weeks. Make Beulah* stay. Am wiring Joe** and will bring him if I can expect to see some of New York.

J H Easley

World War I was one of the bloodiest wars in history. By the time it was over, there were 36.5 million military and civilian casualties: 16.5 million deaths and 20 million people injured. And it all started with the assassination of a second-rate, greatly rebuked despot in waiting. 

When will they ever learn?

Boundaries in Europe and names of countries changed dramatically after the war ended.

Do you know there is a World War I memorial right here in Pasadena? If you live here, you no doubt have passed it many times at the northeast corner of Colorado Boulevard and Orange Grove. I wrote a blog post about it when I was the Pasadena PIO and included a lot of photos.

I am grateful to my late father, David Edward Easley, for instilling in me a love of history. I have no doubt he developed his love of history thanks to his father, Jess Harper Easley. Like father, like son:

There are dozens of additional layers to the story of America's involvement in World War I. But hey, I'm writing a blog post here, not a textbook. 

You can get a crash course in all those layers in this nifty, informative video.

* My grandaunt Beulah Easley was visiting their hometown of Lebanon, Mo., from Redondo Beach, Calif., where she and her husband lived and owned a bakery. I blogged about the remarkable adventures of Beulah in her younger days in this post. (Rail rider! Harvey Girl! Independent spirit!)

** My granduncle Joseph (Joe) Easley had recently moved to New York City to make his way as a professional illustrator and cartoonist. It would not be long before his career would take off. He freelanced for Collier'sSaturday Evening Post and Railroad Magazine, as well as for some corporate clients, from 1918 to 1971. Most of that time he lived on Staten Island. There's a nice little piece about him here, one in a series of profiles about Staten Island artists.

Photo credits: Austrian National Library, New York Times, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, University of Missouri, Easley Family Archives, National World War I Museum, BBC.