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Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Brilliant Light Has Gone Out

This is the last photo I ever took of Jay Blackshaw. It was just a couple of days after her birthday in 2015, and a group of former Pasadena City Council field representatives and I honored her with a luncheon party at the Silverado/Huntington Memory Care home in Alhambra. There was still a slight hint of a sparkle in her eyes two years ago. Once that sparkle was no longer there, I stopped taking pictures. 

Our dear Jay passed away yesterday. She will always be remembered for her vibrant spirit, sense of humor, boundless energy, community volunteerism, love of music, love of family and friends and, of course, for her work as the field representative for Jess Hughston, Bill Paparian and Steve Haderlein.

A few years ago she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The toll it took was so cruel, and yet her innate spirit continued to shine through for quite a long time.

I feel so privileged to have known Jay for so many years -- since 1991. We were long-time L.A. Opera buddies, went to movies and plays together, laughed, cried, sang in Italian and worked together on so many projects.

Here she is in better days with her late husband Bill Blackshaw. (Many thanks to Jay's family for the photo.)
In more recent years, since about 2010 or so after she began to require special care, those former field reps* and I went together for occasional visits with Jay, first at Villa Gardens and then at Silverado/Huntington. She didn't know us anymore, but every time she asked, we reintroduced ourselves over and over and over again. She would immediately forget what she had just learned, so she would ask the same questions repeatedly. And she was so pleased to meet us every time. 

It could have been very easy to get frustrated over this, but we realized that each and every time she asked the same question, for her it was the very first time. And really, it's no bother to repeat the same answer over and over again when it's someone you have such a close connection with. We all had a deep and abiding love and respect for Jay, and that eased us through each visit.

Someone asked me once why our group continued to visit Jay if she didn't know us anymore. It's because we needed to see her, and it was the right thing to do. 

Somewhere in the recesses of her long-gone memory, the music she loved so much was hidden away and just needed a little nudge. All I had to do was begin singing the first bar or two of the sweet little Italian song "La Spagnola" (pronounced La Spon-yo-la) and she would brighten up and sing right along. But the last time I saw Jay, "La Spagnola" did not find its way out. Because it was no longer there. The look of confusion and agitation on her face spoke volumes about the disease that led to her advanced decline, and it broke my heart. 

About 20 years ago, Tom Coston and I were invited to a dinner party at Jay's home. On our way there, we were inspired to write a little song to sing to her as a gesture of thanks at the end of the evening. We wrote the lyrics in the car on a scrap of paper, to the tune of the theme from "Candid Camera." Feel free to sing along!

When you least expect it, she's elected
She's the star today
Hey! Jay's our favorite field rep.

Well, she's the hostess with the mostest
It's our lucky day
Hey! Jay's our favorite field rep.

It's fun to listen to Jay
What's the topic for today?
It's fun to sing with Jay
In that oh-so-Verdi way.

When she cooks Italian, [I pointed to Tom] he's a stallion 
Pasta al dente
Hey! Jay's our favorite field rep.

I'll close with a final memory, something Jay and I laughed about so many times over the years. She loved telling this story:

It was well after hours at Pasadena City Hall some time in the 1990s, and we were both working late. Jay came up to the Public Affairs Office on the third floor to talk to me about some project or another. As so often was the case, we eventually started talking about opera. Then we broke into a really bad rendition of the "Un dì, felice, eterea" duet from Verdi's "La Traviata," with a lot of la-la-la-ing when we couldn't remember some of those lyrics in Italian. We were having so much fun with it and cracking each other up. And besides, nobody else was there to hear it. We finished the duet and were caught completely off guard by thunderous applause! Well, OK, fine, so it wasn't exactly thunderous. But a janitor and a security ranger were standing outside my office door, clapping, having been drawn in by our singing in an otherwise empty, quiet building. Since they weren't seated, we considered it a standing ovation! We bowed to our little audience and thanked them for coming. 

Viewing will be Friday, June 30, from 5 to 9 p.m. at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, the funeral is scheduled Saturday, July 1, at 11:30 a.m. at All Saints Church followed by a reception, and burial will be at 3 p.m. that day at Forest Lawn.

I offer much love, best wishes, and copious condolences to Jay's children and grandchildren. May they find the peace that passes understanding.

Fare thee well, dear Jaysie. This one's for you:

* Rita Elshout, Betty Ho, Dolores Hickambottom, Nancy Esbenshade, Rita Moreno, Suzanne Berberian, Maria Baber Smith...I think I'm leaving somebody out. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Looking for Something to Do? Free Events June 24 to 30

Here are events scheduled Saturday, June 24, to Friday, June 30.

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

A plaque unveiling, musical tribute and ceremony to rename the La Loma Bridge the John K. Van de Kamp Bridge Saturday, June 24, will begin at 9 a.m. on the Arroyo Boulevard side, followed by a walk across the bridge to a special reception before it is reopened to through traffic.

Guest speakers and readers will share memories about local author Octavia Butler and read from her works Saturday, June 24, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Central Library. Come for the entire event or drop in for as long as you like. The full schedule is on pages 1 and 2 of the Pasadena Public Library Summer Newsletter. Butler (1947-2006), who wrote the novel "Kindred" chosen for Pasadena's 2006 One City, One Story community reading celebration, broke new ground as a woman and an African American in the realm of science fiction, was the recipient of the Hugo Award and Nebula Award in 1995 and was the first science fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship.

The Pasadena Summer Youth Chamber Orchestra will perform their annual Young Artists Concert Saturday, June 24, at 7:30 p.m. at Pasadena Presbyterian Church featuring works by Rossini, Bruch, Saint-Saens, Mendelssohn and Mozart.

The Pasadena Master Chorale will perform "Listening to the Future," an original work by student composers, Sunday, June 25, at 7 p.m. at the Neighborhood Church, While the concert is free, tickets are required.

"Living Proof" (2008, NR) starring Harry Connick Jr, and Tammy Blanchard will be shown Wednesday, June 28, at 1 p.m. in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Central Library. Dr. Dennis Slamon devotes his life's work to finding a cure for breast cancer. The film is based on true events. 

The opening reception for "Eclipse" in the Williamson Gallery at Art Center College of Design's hillside campus is Thursday, June 29, from 7 to 9 p.m. In celebration of the total solar eclipse that will take place Aug. 21, the exhibit, which will run from June 30 to Sept. 10, will feature contemporary art as well as astronomical and historical artifacts and NASA projections. 

Children are invited to watch the Disney film "Moana" (2016, PG), join in a sing-along and design a Moana image Thursday, June 29, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Hastings Branch Library.

The Levitt Pavilion summer series kicks off with the Bob Baker Marionettes Thursday, June 29, at 7 p.m. at Memorial Park. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and a picnic or purchase dinner at the park. A pre-concert festival will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Photo credits: Paulick Report, Nan Fuller, Pasadena Summer Youth Chamber Orchestra, Pasadena Master Chorale, Storyline Entertainment, Art Center College of Design, Walt Disney Pictures, Bob Baker Marionettes.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Looking for Something to Do? Free Events June 17 to 23

Here are events scheduled Saturday, June 17, to Friday, June 23.

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

Can you believe this weekend is the 25th anniversary of the Pasadena Chalk Festival? Join the celebration Saturday and Sunday, June 17 and 18, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Paseo Colorado, where 600 of the most renowned artists in the U.S. will create masterpieces using chalk as their medium and pavement as their canvas. Stop by both days so you can see the artworks evolve.

The Juneteenth Festival Saturday, June 17, from noon to 4:30 p.m. at Jackie Robinson Center will celebrate JRC's 43 years of service to the community and feature the history of Juneteenth, live entertainment, plenty of family-friendly activities, food and more. Juneteenth commemorates the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865, two and a half years after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.

The opening reception for Arquivovivo (Living Archive) Pasadena, curated by Brazilian American artist Bia Gayotto, is Saturday, June 17, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Armory Center for the Arts. Through a social media campaign, Pasadenans were asked to describe their relationships with Pasadena locations, from the Arroyo Seco to the Carnegie Observatories, answer the question "What does Pasadena mean to you?" and submit related imagery. You'll view the works and meet Gayotto and the participants.

Chicano Batman will perform a mix of Brazilian Tropicalía, psychedelic soul and romantic pop Saturday, June 17, at 7:30 p.m. in the courtyard at One Colorado. KCRW DJ Anthony Valadez will open and close the evening, which ends at 10:30 p.m., spinning some of his favorite tunes.

In conjunction with the Pasadena Chalk Festival, the Pasadena Police Classic Car Show Sunday, June 18, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Green Street between Paseo Colorado and the Pasadena Civic Auditorium will feature dozens of classic vehicles, live music and more.

An intensive, one-week summer camp for advanced students at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music will conclude with a concert of chamber music Sunday, June 18, at 3 p.m. in the conservatory's Barrett Hall. The concert will repeat at 7 p.m.

"And the Band Played On" (1993, PG-13) starring Matthew Modine and Alan Alda will be shown Wednesday, June 21, at 1 p.m. in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Central Library. In 1981, as people begin to contract the mysterious AIDS virus, political infighting in the scientific community threatens to hamper early research and advances.

Join in the International Olympic Day celebration Wednesday, June 21, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in the Crawford Family Forum at Southern California Public Radio (KPCC). A complimentary reception with free refreshments will be followed by a conversation, moderated by Pasadena's own Olympic multiple gold medalist John Naber, with fellow Olympians John Moffet, Ron Skarin, Tai Babilonia and Peter Carruthers. While the event is free, registration is required.

Looking to add a furry friend to your family? The fourth annual Free Adoption Day at the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA is Thursday, June 22, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adoption fees will be waived for all available animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, pocket pets and reptiles.

Children will enjoy "Cinderella Builds Her Dream," a puppet/music show Thursday, June 22, at 4 p.m. at Hastings Branch Library that takes the fairy tale we all know and love, but with an all-dog cast and a do-it-yourself twist in which the kids will help Cinderella design and build her own way to her dream come true.

"Zootopia" (2016, PG) with the voice talents of Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman, will be shown Friday, June 23, at 7:30 p.m. at Victory Park. A rookie bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox team up to solve a mystery. 

Photo credits: Pasadena Chalk Festival, City of Pasadena, Armory Center for the Arts, Chicano Batman, Pasadena Conservatory of Music, HBO Pictures, International Olympics Committee, Twinkl, Walt Disney Pictures.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Looking for Something to Do? Free Events June 10 to 16

Here are events scheduled Saturday, June 10, to Friday, June 16.

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

Pasadena Walking Tours will lead a walk through the neighborhoods surrounding the Pasadena Museum of History Sunday, June 11, at 11 a.m. Meet at the Pasadena Museum of History, then depart for a guided tour (external only) of the Fenyes Mansion, The Gamble House and other Green & Green-designed homes, Frank Lloyd Wright's La Miniatura, the Colorado Street Bridge and then back to the museum just in time for Happy Birthday Pasadena!

Pasadena was incorporated as a city on June 19, 1886. The community is invited to the Pasadena Museum of History for Happy Birthday Pasadena: Chalk Up Another Year Sunday, June 11, from 1 to 4 p.m. with live entertainment, entry to gallery exhibitions and the Finnish Folk Art Museum, craft workshops, face painting, balloon artists, magicians, scrumptious birthday cake and much more. 

The Eternal Mozart concert Sunday, June 11, at 5 p.m. at Neighborhood Church will feature Sonata for Violin and Piano in B Flat Major, Trio for Violin, Violincello and Piano in B Flat Major and Divertimento for Violin, Viola and Violincello. A reception will follow the concert.

Members of the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra and Chorus will perform works by Mozart, Debussy, Villa-Lobos, Ginastera and Hindemith plus Renaissance-era madrigals during the Pittance Chamber Music Showcase Concert  Sunday, June 11, at 8 p.m. in Barrett Hall at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music. 

Children will enjoy! The Puppet Musical Monday, June 12, from 2 to 3 p.m. at San Rafael Branch Library. The musical follows the adventures of a boy and girl who create competing entries for the Build a Better World Science Fair where the top prize is a trip to Space Camp. 

"Interrupted Melody" (1955, NR) starring Glenn Ford and Eleanor Parker will be shown Wednesday, June 14, at 1 p.m. in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Central Library. Acclaimed opera singer Marjorie Lawrence collapses during a rehearsal in South America, is diagnosed with polio, entertains troops during World War II and vows to make one last appearance at New York's Metropolitan Opera. Based on true events.

"The Lego Movie" (2014, PG) with the voices of Morgan Freeman and Will Ferrell will be shown Wednesday, June 14, at 3 p.m. at Hill Avenue Branch Library. An ordinary Lego construction worker joins a quest to stop an evil tyrant from gluing the Lego universe into eternal stoppage.

Teens are invited to Filmmaker 101 Wednesday, June 14, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Central Library's Teen Central where they'll learn about the process of filmmaking and get started on a short film. Call 626-744-4246 or email to sign up.

"Angels in America, Part Two: Perestroika," a play by Tony Kushner, will be read by resident actors at A Noise Within Wednesday, June 14, at 7 p.m. as part of the Words Within series. While admission is free, reservations are required.

"Gigi" (1958, NR) starring Leslie Caron, Louis Jourdan and Maurice Chevalier will be shown Friday, June 16, at 1 p.m. in the Scott Pavilion at the Pasadena Senior Center. Weary of the conventions of Parisian society, a rich playboy and a young courtesan in training enjoy a platonic friendship that may not stay that way for long. You do not have to be a member of the Pasadena Senior Center to attend.


The Pasadena Chalk Festival celebrates 25 years Saturday and Sunday, June 17 and 18, from 10 a.m to 7 p.m. at Paseo Colorado.

Photo credits: Pasadena Walking Tours, Ann Erdman, Of Note, Noteworthy Puppets, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Los Angeles Times, Warner Bros., Potomac Arts Academy, A Noise Within.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Looking for Something to Do? Free Events June 3 to 9

Here are events scheduled Saturday, June 3, to Friday, June 9.

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

Track and field competitions at Caltech are the most popular spectator sports every year during the Pasadena Senior Games. On Saturday, June 3, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. come watch remarkable athletes ages 50 to 90+ as they compete in javelin throw, pole vault, long jump, discus, shot put, high jump, runs, dashes and grandparent/grandchild relay, Caltech's South Field/Fox Stanton Track is just south of the baseball diamond behind the Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics on California Boulevard across the street from the main campus. Access to parking lots and underground parking is via South Wilson Avenue as well as the roadway adjacent to the east side of the Cahill Center.

Don't throw that out! Get it fixed at Pasadena Repair Cafe, a roving, all-purpose repair shop for the community. It will be at All Saints Church Saturday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. In the spirit of zero waste, bring appliances, clothing, toys, electronics, bicycles and jewelry for repair, plus dull tools and knives for sharpening.

Meet local artists Saturday and Sunday, June 3 and 4, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the Open Studios Tours. Experience an intimate view into the artists' lives and studios and how their creative ideas are conceived and developed, plus enjoy live entertainment and much more.

Reading by DesignPasadena Public Library's summer reading program, kicks off Saturday, June 3, with something for everyone: children, teens and adults. Register online, at Central Library or any branch library beginning that day. There will be a special kickoff from noon to 3 p.m. at Hastings Branch Library with Pasadena firefighters, the Santa Anita A's Auto Club, the L.A. Kings mascot Bailey, giant Jenga and checkers, face painting, library bingo and much more!  The summer reading program continues at all libraries through July 29.

KCRW will kick off its eighth season of Summer Nights at One Colorado Saturday, June 3, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. with a live concert by Chico Mann & Captain Planet with Afro-Latin rhythms and contemporary dancefloor beats. KCRW DJ Marion Hodges will open and close the evening with DJ sets of some of her favorite tracks.

Music Under the Stars in Centennial Square in front of Pasadena City Hall is the annual gift to the community from the Pasadena Symphony and Pops. This year's concert on Saturday, June 3, at 8 p.m. will feature music from Broadway, Hollywood and the Great American Songbook, with guest vocalists and the JPL Chorus. Come as early as 6 p.m. for a musical instrument petting zoo and other pre-concert family fun. Bring a lawn chair (or rent a chair for $3) and a picnic or purchase dinner at one of the food trucks that will be stationed there.

Violist Noelle Martinez will perform in recital Saturday, June 3, at 7 p.m. in Barrett Hall at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music with works composed by Schumann, J.S. Bach and J.C. Bach.

Swim meets during the Pasadena Senior Games are the second most popular spectator sports! On Sunday, June 4, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, come cheer on incredible swimmers ages 50 to 90+ as they compete for medals in freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly and individual medley. (Pictured above is Vivian Stancil, whom I featured in this blog post.)

"Outdoor Overtures" is the title of the PCC Lancer Concert Band spring concert Sunday, June 4, at 6 p.m. in the Jameson Amphitheater (adjacent to Building V on this map) featuring works by John Williams, Artie Shaw, Carter Pann, Alfred Reed, Frank Ticheli and several other composers.

The Pasadena City College Jazz Guitar Ensemble will perform works by Grant Green, Wes Montgomery and others Monday, June 5, at 7:30 p.m. in the Westerbeck Recital Hall at PCC's Center for the Arts (Building CA on this map).

The final Tuesday Musicale concert of the season Tuesday, June 6, at 12:30 p.m. in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Central Library will include a piano trio by Dvorak, a piano quartet by Mozart, opera arias sung by Marina Battifora and special violin solos.

The first Tuesday of every month is Free Family Night at Kidspace Children's Museum. On Tuesday, June 6, from 4 to 8 p.m. children will  celebrate gardening by planting flowers and herb seeds to take home, and meet some of the animals that help the Kidspace gardens grow. Don't miss a special performance at the Stone Hollow Amphitheater at 6 p.m.

Jeanne Sakata, whose award-winning play "Hold These Truths" is onstage at the Pasadena Playhouse through June 25, will share insights Wednesday, June 7, at 11 a.m. at the Pasadena Senior Center into the inspiring true story of Gordon Hirabayashi, the subject of the play, who took his fight against Japanese American internments during World War II all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. You do not have to be a member of the Pasadena Senior Center to attend.

"Choices of the Heart: The Margaret Sanger Story" (1994, NR) starring Dana Delany and Rod Steiger will be shown Wednesday, June 7, at 1 p.m. in the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at Central Library. Margaret Sanger publishes a booklet of birth control techniques in 1914 that flies in the face of a federal law prohibiting the dissemination of information about contraception, then becomes a pioneering crusader for women's reproductive rights and cofounds Planned Parenthood.

The first Friday (and third Thursday) of every month is Free Admission Day at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. On Friday, June 9, from noon to 5 p.m. enjoy the current exhibitions and everything else the museum has to offer.

"La La Land" (2016, PG-13) starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone will be shown Friday, June 9, at 1 p.m. in the Scott Pavilion at the Pasadena Senior Center. An aspiring actress and a dedicated jazz musician struggle to make it -- professionally and personally -- in Los Angeles. You do not have to be a member of the Pasadena Senior Center to attend.


Former NFL players Marcus Robertson and Chad Brown, who are John Muir High School alumni, will lead a youth football clinic Saturday, June 10, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for children ages 6 to 13 at the Rose Bowl Stadium with drills, skills lessons, challenge matches and obstacle courses. Register now because participation is limited to the first 250 applicants.

Everyone is invited to the Pasadena Museum of History for Happy Birthday Pasadena: Chalk Up Another Year Sunday, June 11, from 1 to 4 p.m. with live entertainment, free entry to gallery exhibitions, craft workshops, face painting, balloon artists, magicians, scrumptious birthday cake and much more.

Photo credits: Pasadena Senior Center, Repair Cafe Stuttgart, Azul Amarel, Pasadena Symphony and Pops, City of Pasadena, Pasadena Conservatory of Music, Kidspace Children's Museum, Pasadena Playhouse, MPI Media Group, Pasadena Museum of California Art, Imposter Pictures/Gilbert Films.