Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Tattler Is Offering A 6 Pack Of Modelo Especial To Anyone Who Can Identify The Whereabouts Of Centinel

Some of you might be aware of a blog called Foothill Cities and its controversial editor, a fellow who rather elegantly refers to himself as the Centinel of the San Gabriel Valley. That nobody knows his real name only adds to the mystery here. In its prime the FC Blog was an extraordinarily popular site with a vast cast of characters posting articles, plus a frighteningly large community of folks willing to leave comments. Foothill Cities covered the affairs of a number of cities located in the beautiful San Gabriel Valley, and each of these fine municipalities had folks willing to write about their very special place. Sierra Madre had 2 correspondents, myself and the now all but vanished publisher of the 91024: A View From The Canyon site, Niney

For a while the FC Blog was the place to go when you wanted to vent about local issues. And because of this it had become just about the most influential blog this side of Los Angeles. References and quotes from Foothill Cities could be found all over the Los Angeles blogosphere, and it looked like there was nowhere to go but up for Centinel.

But then bad things happened. First the FC Blog was hit by a vast invasion of destructive dirt cutouts who were there only to engage in abusive flame wars with some of the other habitues of the place. Centinel found this to be extremely stressful as he didn't have the time to do the kind of maintenance necessary to control the more offensive stuff. This led him to begin curbing some of the content of his writers in hopes of diminishing the hubbub. An unfortunate decision that led to bad feelings and a sense that the site was losing the freshness and spontaneity that made it so popular. A few of the more prominent contributors began to walk away.
Something that was of even more importance to Centinel was the declining reputation of the blog itself. His ambition had been to create a site that could hold its own with some of the big Los Angeles blogs such as LAist, L.A. Observed, and L.A. Streetsblog. But what he got for his troubles instead was a website known for being little more than a place for brutal and bizarre flame wars. The brand suffered a significant reputation decline.

And then one day the FC Blog disappeared, with no explanation given. Rumors swirled. One had it that Centinel had fled the state because, like his associate Aaron Proctor, the powers that be in Pasadena had grown sick of all the guff and had sicced their dogs on him. Others claimed that Centinel's obsessive need for secrecy had somehow been compromised, and rather than risking a career threatening exposure, he pulled the plug and went into seclusion. And others surmised that he'd merely grown sick of the abuse and just gave it all up. What nobody guessed was that the FC Blog shared its database with another blog, and that its less responsible partner crashed the site, in the process losing everything that had ever been posted on the site. Years of material were lost.

Several months ago Foothill Cities made what appeared to be an attempt at a comeback. After months in limbo a new look blog was unveiled, and Centinel seemed quite upbeat about the future of his site. Some of his old contributors signed back on, and things began to take shape again. But then something happened, and nobody seems to know what that was.

I was corresponding with Centinel at the end. I had informed him that I had started my own blog, and that I was looking for him to review it. This he agreed to do, and even set a date for the notice to appear. But it never posted. In time I e-mailed and asked him what happened. The answer that came back was short, cryptic, and kind of eerie. "Life happens," is all it said. And I've never heard from him since.

Today the FC Blog is a pale shadow of its old self. Only the Monrovia mainstays, Frazgo and Robert "C. J." Parry, remain. Probably because they're the only ones left with dashboard access. And if the affairs of that town aren't what gets you out of bed in the morning, then I'm afraid you won't want to spend much time there. The posts are now infrequent and decidedly parochial.

So we're offering a 6 pack of beer for news on the whereabouts of Centinel. If he isn't going to run his blog, that's his business. But at least we should all be filled in on how the story ended. 


  1. Sir Eric, shouldn't your mystery photo have a bald head?

  2. Nah, different dude. But since you've brought the subject up, have you noticed that there hasn't been a new "Out Of My Mind Lately" column from the Glennster since January 3rd? I mean you have an entire town here hanging on to the edge of their seats about the historical status of that old church he was so exercised about, and now he's left everyone wondering what's going on. You really have to wonder about the authenticity of his concern.

  3. I've met him in real life, but I'm not saying who he is.

    Last I heard, he got on a plane with Big Bopper and Buddy Holly.

    Too bad you can't ship beer in the mail.


    - AP

  4. Speaking of Robert C.J. Parry, he writes an interesting column on the foothill blog:
    Monrovia's Old Town buisness district is really struggling.
    See, this is why we had to stop over development in tiny Sierra Madre!

  5. Aaron - Buddy Holly died 50 years ago this month, February of 1959. I don't see how he could have been involved here as you're saying.

  6. It ain't me. I hang out in the valley, dude.

  7. maybe centinel was just a dirt in disguise after all and ran a blog that was really a sting operation against whistleblowers and activists for truth and justice in city government the whole thing is very suspicious and casts a pall on bloggers in general in any case he is a coward

  8. Captain Bill BloodstoneFebruary 17, 2009 at 10:26 AM

    This is all nonsense. He's fighting Taliban bandits in the mountains of Kabab Vindaloo, Pakistan.

  9. It's not Aaron. He's living in
    Philadelphia. His bigeest problem now
    is dodging his parents who think he
    really ought to get a job.

  10. No way is he off fighting anywhere.
    Dirts don't fight.....except with developer's money.
    Hey, did anyone just see on Yahoo where the Gov is laying off thousands of government workers? It's started.

  11. Anonymous 10:34 AM: It does look like the
    Republicans are finally getting their way. 20,000 layoffs are rumored. They held the
    line on taxes and now the govt is about to shrink.

  12. No, they tried Keyes way, we tried Milton Friedman's way, both FAILED.
    Let the government SHRINK.
    The Japanese tried spending themselves out of a depression and failed.
    Again, Let the government shrink.

  13. No, sorry: Keynesian economics
    check out:
    (copy and paste link, google it)

  14. Gov. Schwartzenegger, like all the rest of the Gov's want BAILOUT MONEY.

  15. Sorry I can't help on this one.

  16. Hey archy, another scenario, maybe the dirts ran centinel off. They have a way of suppressing free speech don't forget. Old kentucky you are so smart I want to marry you!

  17. 'tis non other than.....Sir Robert C Parry, a former gadfly and real fly in Monrovia's oily waters

  18. How can I be of assistance, Sir? Perhaps you've word on the wherebouts of the elusive Centinel?

  19. We've been at the Laisee Fair since Reagan. The trouble with that is everybody got hosed except the super rich. And there ain't been no pie eating contest, neither.

  20. Has anyone looked on the post office wall? Maybe he will be at the library wine tasting.

  21. I was always under the impression that Centinel was a journalist or someone closely associated with the City of Pasadena. He/She seemed very intelligent and well informed about the goings on in Pasadena.

    I thought he/she may have been Todd Ruiz, the former political reporter for the Pasadena Star News. Or, he may have been one of the editors or journalists who work for/contribute to the Pasadena Weekly. If Centinel is not a journalist, than I am guessing he is a former City of Pasadena Councilmember, like Paul Little.

  22. Question for 3:44 - Would you have described Paul Little as being "Libertarian-ish"? A laissez faire leaning conservative? Not particulalry affectionate towards the PUSD? I'd discount Todd Ruiz because I don't believe him capable of being quite as earnest as Mr. C. The Pasadena Weekly is possible, but why the demand for secrecy?

  23. Maybe Centinel is the guy who is the editor of the PSN?
    That guy is a notorious friend of the dirts, totally. I heard he is a friend of Bart Doyle?

  24. Buddy Holly was a Sierra Madre resident circa 1947. He lived on Laurel and helped paint the Presp. church. He was my Father... Ive never told anyone until now...

  25. Hmmm....Buddy Holly was only 11 years old in 1947. He lived in Texas all his life.

  26. Centinel was aggravated by the dirts - my guess is they ran him off. The discourse was too uncontrollable.

  27. I agree with 7:22. But Centinel's error was that he let
    them get away with it for too long. At first all the posts
    were gratifying for him, it was traffic at a level he'd
    never seen there before. But then he realized what it
    was that he'd let grow on his site, and he became

  28. If Centinel was involved with the dirts....he may have made investments with them.
    Investments in downtown Sierra Madre development schemes.
    The dirts are bad luck to a good hunting dog.
    Couple that with the crashed stock market, Centinel is probably a homeless bum by now.

  29. Sierra Madre business ownerFebruary 18, 2009 at 9:21 AM

    My impression of Centinel was that his interests lay elsewhere than Sierra Madre, and that he found us overly dramatic - that was because he wasn't up here fighting for the existence of our unique town. Whatever else you can discover about him, I think it's clear he didn't live in Sierra Madre.

  30. We have a winner. I'll be making the announcemnt tomorrow. I can't believe who Centinel turned out to be.