Saturday, November 14, 2009

Somebody Stuck A Fork In Pasadena

It was a big event for Pasadena. So big that it generated three distinctly different articles in the Pasadena Star News. An 18 foot high shining silver fork suddenly appeared one night, stuck right in the middle of the median on a busy city thoroughfare. And the people who put it there didn't even ask the city if they could do it.

Now it takes something very special to generate that kind of ink in the San Gabriel Valley's most venerable daily. A fire, or maybe even a bear knocking over a garbage can in Duarte. But is their interpretation of this event true? For a growing minority, that answer is no. And I am here to represent that alternative viewpoint. Because while some might find the "Fork in the Road" angle to be amusing and comforting, "Somebody Stuck a Fork In Pasadena, It's Done" might also have been the creative intent. Art isn't always kind, you know.

The first of the three articles appeared on November 3rd, authored by Janette Williams. Announcing this event to the world, its tone is one of perplexity and bemusement. And it definitely falls on the "Fork in the Road" side of the equation.

Pasadena's Fork in the road is guerilla art installation - Right where Pasadena and St. John avenues divide, there is a fork in the road. It's about 18 feet tall and looks like stainless steel. The fork's appearance a few days ago, tines firmly stuck into a little Caltrans-owned median, was a bit of a mystery at first. "It's a guerilla installation," guessed Rochelle Branch, the city's cultural affairs manager, who oversees the public art program. "I don't know if it's through Caltrans, but it is clever." Caltrans Spokeswoman Maria Raptis, who said Caltrans leases the smallplot of land to the city, was equally baffled. "Sometimes we do put art up. We have context-sensitive art off some freeways," she said. "But I don't know about this."

Context-sensitive or not, this was hardly where the story ended. Larry Wilson was moved to weigh in on the matter, and did so November 7th. Now Larry has an interesting shtick. Surfer, art taster, a patron of local theater and music, he self-consciously curries a kind of hipster flair in both his writing and lifestyle. But at the same time the San Gabriel Valley's established business elite has never known a more dogged defender, and no matter what consequences their actions might cause to our local communities, Larry is always there for them. Think Jack Kerouac crossed with Ebenezer Scrooge. Leavened with just a pinch of Peter Tork.

And again we see the "Fork in the Road" canard being heavily pushed.

Larry Wilson: All journeys have a fork in the road: Don't talk about it - or not more than once. If you've got a notion for guerilla public art installation, the only way to make it more than a notion is to don those Caltrans vests, choose a real fork in the road - the weird intersection of Pasadena and St. John avenues down in never-to-be 710 Freeway land in the city's southwest - get out there in the dead of night and plant the 18-foot-high eating utensil in the ground ... I happen to hope it stays forever and a day, because I happen to like it. You could say that it's a one-note solo - once you get the visual pun, planted as it is where the streets fork, that's all there is to get - but so are the best Neil Young riffs. One note, so long as it's a good one.

Gratuitous countercultural references aside, obviously The Fork had taken on a certain importance for The Rose City. And on November 8th this near-frantic attempt to sell the "Fork in the Road" message reached new heights. You just can't help wondering why the need to push this message is so urgent for The Star News.

Citybeats: Fork in the road creates positive buzz for city - The giant 18-foot fork in the road - stuck tines-down at the fork in the road at St. John and Pasadena avenues - may have generated more positive buzz than any official piece of public art in the city.

But is this really the case? And was it the artist's original intent? This "Fork in the Road" thing? Because you do know that there is a growing dissatisfaction with the way things have been going in Pasadena these last few years. A realization that out-0f-control development has all but destroyed the once celebrated character of this venerable and world-renowned city.

Pasadena City Councilman Tony Tornek, in a guest PSN editorial regarding a new Pasadena General Plan that appeared on November 12th, spoke of this anger among the residents.

"How could the city approve all these new projects?" "What were they thinking?" ... I heard these questions repeatedly during my campaign for Pasadena City Council last spring. I heard complaints about traffic, new developments and poor design.

Having a day off from the salt mines, I decided to take a bike ride down Colorado Boulevard and see The Fork for myself. And one of the things that I couldn't help noticing is just how hugely overbuilt much of Pasadena has become. On Pasadena Avenue alone I counted three immense new condo complexes, each of them towering over the remnants of that area, blocking the sun and casting deep shadows upon what was once a pretty neighborhood. And believe me, nobody is more conscious of traffic than somebody riding a bike. While some maintain that high-density development is supposed to curb automobile usage, you could have fooled me. Cars in that neighborhood were backed up for blocks as people struggled to get their vehicles in and out of these Brobdingnagian structures.

And just to show you that I too can drop a gratuitous countercultural reference, the Little Old Lady from Pasadena would hardly recognize the place.

Now they say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that in the end all art interpretation is at best subjective. To me it seems obvious that the meaning of this "guerilla art" piece has precious little to do with roads, or context-sensitive correctness, or what good old guys Larry Wilson is buttering up this week. Rather the real message here is what has been done to this once proud and distinctive city.

So please, let's get this right. It needs to be called, "Somebody Stuck a Fork In Pasadena, It's Done." Now showing on a Caltrans median near you.

48 comments:

  1. What does Brobdingnagian mean? is it an Armenian name?
    How many syllables does it have? ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Main Entry: Brob·ding·nag·ian
    Pronunciation: \ˌbräb-diŋ-ˈna-gē-ən, -dig-ˈna-\
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: Brobdingnag, imaginary land of giants in Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift
    Date: 1728
    : marked by tremendous size

    — Brobdingnagian noun

    Neuroblast Films

    ReplyDelete
  3. I hope the artist who put this fork in (done Pasadena), will post on the Tattler!
    You have fans here!
    I hope we never have to contract you to put one up in Sierra Madre! Although, one up at One Carter would be appropriate for sure.

    Larry Wilson (Sierra Madre "stroller mom" lurker)
    You are a joke. LOL

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've seen those condos Sir Eric is talking about. They are very big. You can see them from the 210. The noise for those living there must be awful. I wonder if anybody is buying them, or they're empty like all the other bad development?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Where were the people of Pasadena when all this development
    was being planned? It seems to me that their complaining is a
    little late. Snooze you lose, as they say. More reason for us to
    make sure nothing like that ever happens here.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Now there's a non sequiter..

    ReplyDelete
  8. Sir Eric, you are so fun..

    It has to mean FORK YOU.

    Brogdingnagian giant developers ate the little old lady from Pasadena, because she fought them over eminent domain and was last seen riding a bike down colorado blvd. Witnesses afraid to come forward claim she was muttering critiques about Larry Wilson's latest story. They said she had come to the realization that the Sierra Madre Tattler was the only true intellectual offering left in the world and was so busy dodging traffic coming out of the half vacant condos, newly built and overpriced, she did not see the shadowing entity (a SCAG branch of brogdingnagian giant) who stepped out between two of the condos and tried to impale her on his fork. However, as a long time employee of the salt mines, she was a bit tough and stringy. The giant's fork was deflected, its tines imbedded at that very spot! Being an ikgartha giant, he dropped all pretext of manners and stuffed her into his mouth..All the while witnesses who will remain anonymous overhead her shouting something like fork you! fork you!.

    Save us brave sir eric..you are are only hope..

    ReplyDelete
  9. The ikgartha plant, is his name Iggy? Does he have raw power?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Eminent domain is a real threat to us all!
    Please read what happened to New London ,Conn.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2009/11/13/eminent

    A huge pharmacutical company took private land, after they paid off city officials, leveled the land, then abandoned it.
    Please read about this. It could happen here.
    Remember Bart Doyle commented to an El Monte paper that "eminent domain is a good thing and necessary".

    ReplyDelete
  11. Eminent Domain was definitely in the mix for the DSP.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Don't think it still isn't in the future plans.

    We must keep slow growthers in charge of Sierra Madre.

    Honest folks who can't be bought and sold.

    They will fight us hard, because there is big money in this for them, at the expense of our liberty.

    ReplyDelete
  13. that's the same fork that's in Joe's career

    ReplyDelete
  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Ed, I think he has a minature cousin name Hasan newly appointed to SCAG who was recently grilled and proved powerless at a SM council meeting? I saw it on neuroblasts you tube site, are you saying he was a transdimensional giant plant? Summoned by the warlocks and witches of SCAG, overseen by lord bart doyle, after the ritual sacrafice of titan?

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm sorry I think I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Pasadena was nice once upon a timeNovember 14, 2009 at 1:47 PM

    Anybody know how Ambassador West is doing?
    One of Greg Galletly's other projects, and Dorn Platz had their offices there - and according to the website, still do!
    http://www.dornplatz.com/

    ReplyDelete
  18. developers taste like chickenNovember 14, 2009 at 2:03 PM

    Hi Pasadena, You realize that dorn platz surrendered it's real estate license per the state of california real estate quite a while back. The partners of dorn platz aka as dorn and platz individually appeared to be dissolved and at the point of bankruptcy, the oregon locations are riddled with lawsuits and what started as dorn platz is not what the city is dealing with now. Is american west the group in Arizona?

    ReplyDelete
  19. How come Pasadena hasn't taken the fork down yet? Seems to me lawyers and insurance companies would have jumped all over this by now.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Does art reflect life, or life reflect art. The fork is wonderful, creative and very well thoughtout. Yes it is symbolic. Thanks to some people the arts count and can be well interpreted. 9:28 you are correct it does mean FORK YOU and needs to be taken to the top of Baldwin and in front of Joe and John's homes... and maybe the CC who voted the current mess. Once again, Sir Eric, your investigative reporting steals the day. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Maybe the Fork needs to be mounted on a trailer and taken on tour. There are many places that are completely done, and beg for the imagery of our beloved Fork being stuck into whatever turkey it is parked in front of. One Carter would be a logical choice for Sierra Madre.

    But given the vast number of development disasters in Pasadena, we'd probably have to wait for months before it ever got here.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I know it is late, but there are two stories that broke tonight in the san gabriel valley tribune, I am afraid the golden fork you award needs to be put in front of el monte city hall, maybe the poor citizens can use it as a pitchfork to chase bombidilla, gondek, sedlik,trin and moseley out of town on an MTA bus, oh and lets not forget moy and his buddies that bought the fraudulent bonds on the back side.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Good call, 10:41. Here is a link to that article. Looks like the Mighty Titan is completely out of the picture now.
    El Monte takes over $1 billion transit village in wake of fraud investigation

    ReplyDelete
  24. Drove by the fork location last evening about 5:30 pm....the fork was gone. :(

    ReplyDelete
  25. Shocking news. A Tattler investigative team will be on the way shortly.

    Stay tuned.

    ReplyDelete
  26. This is an OUTRAGE!

    Tattlers should mobilize and picket Pasadena "authorities" who are responsible for this.

    Sure waiting for the story on this one, Sir Eric!

    ReplyDelete
  27. Greetings all,

    More shorts up from Nov 10th 2009

    Neuroblast Films

    ReplyDelete
  28. Tattler Field Force 4 *Action Report*November 15, 2009 at 11:21 AM

    We have arrived at the scene and we are pleased to report that the Fork that was stuck in Pasadena still stands ... I repeat, the Fork still stands!

    ReplyDelete
  29. How come a builder in town who tried to get on the canyon committee (not glenn) is going to the city and turning people in for supposed code violations

    ReplyDelete
  30. anon 11:37
    That's a very general statement. Who are you talking about, and what violations?

    Neuroblast Films

    ReplyDelete
  31. I suspect it's because he's a sour grapes crybaby. Why else would somebody go snitching to the city about his neighbors?

    ReplyDelete
  32. So who is the snitch?

    ReplyDelete
  33. Wow anon 11:44,
    That's a pretty bold statement, considering you begin with "I suspect". I would expect by this time in our collective logical evolution, we would be able to take people and their complex situations one by one and not paint all people with the same broad brush. Let us elevate this conversation with suggestions for the solutions to these problems. Let us be specific in our issues, and just as specific in our solutions. Please stop wasting time with name calling, and trivial nonsense.

    Neuroblast Films

    ReplyDelete
  34. Tim? Well, well. Hardly a surprise there.

    The Snitch of the Canyon.

    ReplyDelete
  35. OOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooo Tim.


    Here is a clip of Tim for Glenn Lambdin for canyon committee.

    http://www.youtube.com/neuroblastfilms#p/u/20/NVGE0eKb814

    You are correct he is not Glenn, just another Glenn Lambdin supporter. We can not be supprised at what they do. We must continue to inform the citizens of the actions of this group of individuals.

    Neuroblast Films

    ReplyDelete
  36. Neuroblast - awesome video you have up about Joe Mosca reporting on a SCAG meeting. Now all of a sudden he's going to the meetings? And issuing reports? He's starting to sound like Eddie Haskell more and more everyday.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Tim and Glenn are two heads on the same dog.

    ReplyDelete
  38. I never liked Eddie Haskell why did Wally hang with that creep?

    Neuroblast Films

    P.S. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hi Eric Maundry, thought I would take a break from trying to post some truth on the stories in SGV paper and being censored. Tatts are soo
    lucky..

    ReplyDelete
  40. Its a non conversation. The City does not identify and cite code and blight violations.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I Would Like To ReportNovember 15, 2009 at 3:54 PM

    You mean to say that when somebody runs to city hall to snitch on their neighbor, nobody listens? Aww, think of how sad it must make the poor widdle guy.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Anonymous :3:29 would you like to see the warning
    from code officer and building dept for a steak
    dinner i will show you

    ReplyDelete
  43. Its a prop/lure/pay-off, for the restaurant industry, a lucrative tax-base for Pasadena. And speaking of "prop", the thing can't even hold itself up (as a Claus Oldenburg piece would have done), its supported from the back by an ugly, metal back-rest.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Specifically, Timmy the Builder turned in a neighbor for parking an RV in his own driveway -- brings down the property value Timmy says; then he turned in the very same neighbor for substandard rentals the neighbor owns in the canyon. Now if you are the owner of rentals in Sierra Madre, better get those properties up to code because if the Canyon gets cited, so does all the rest of the Sierra Madre. And if you park your RV in your driveway anywhere in Sierra Madre, thank Timmy for the citation you'll be getting. Maybe he's only drumming up work for local contractors.

    And he's not done yet!

    ReplyDelete
  45. 11:58- your kidding, right? Talk about painting with a broad brush, you folks are the Picassos of that form of discourse...y'all!

    ReplyDelete