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.