1st Timer?  WELCOME!  1st, click on the “About” tab in the upper right corner for a very brief “who & what” this is all about.   Start reading every writing, in chronological order forward.  ;)  Or, you can simply read from a tiny sample of previous writings which can only give a taste of the Cafe Pasadena.  Unfortunately, it’s far from a representative sample:

Pasadena Community Organizer. Me?    Rose Bowl Update! 

Pasadena: Then & Now    Still The One   A Pasadena Thanksgiving  

Greetings from The Athenaeum   MO-CHICA Peruvian Restaurant 

Rose Parade: Final Appeals!   State of The City 2012    Ansel Adams: L.A. Photographer

The Rainbow City    Customer Disservice   All About The Watchmaker (History) 

Lady of Leisure Drive    Tournament of Roses Royal Court

2nd: If you’ve been here before but it’s been a while:  Welcome Back, Stranger!  Never left feedback, or just “LIKED” some articles?? Then it’s about time you left a comment or tell us what it is you “LIKE”, or DISLiked!   All others:  where you been?, que paso?'; what happened:  did you give up blogging?,  or throw out your computer?, etc, et al.  Frankly, I have less time nowadays to blog, and read/comment on other blogs. Therefore, those who read & comment on my blog at least semi-regularly will receive my mutual respect via my reading & commenting on your blog. There are just too many blogs out there for me to read/comment on the others.

Thanks for coming, reading, and giving us a piece of your mind. Welcome to the Cafe Pasadena.

Nick Ut: Photographers Photographer

I last wrote on this website at the end of last year. It’s now 2014.  So, before this new year gets too old lemme be one of the 1st to wish y’all a  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

New years should bring new articles/topics to write about, you’d think. The catalyst for my new article comes from 1)the cover story of the current LA Weekly (LAW), and, 2)I’ve actually met with the subject of the LAW article.


per LA Weekly


Y’all likely remember this famous/infamous photo taken in 1972 during the Vietnam War, (with “Napalm Girl”  Kim Phuc posing now as an adult in the foreground):


The now famous photographer was Nick Ut of the Associated Press.  Nick, a Vietnamese, was looking for that one shot which would “end the war”, or as the LAW article called it, “the shot of a lifetime”!   The following year the war would be officially over, and, that shot has followed the life of photographer Ut since.

His shot of the young girl running in pain, naked, out of a napalm bombing won him the Pulitzer Prize for photojournalism. He was only 22.

Ut was in his 60s when I finally learned who took the photograph, thanks to a mutual friend & news reporter.  Later, I would notice him a couple of times when I was out & about. Yet I was aware of the sometimes burden of fame & people always wanting some of his time so I’d avoided introducing myself besides just saying, “Hi.”

That changed when I was at a Tournament of Roses (PTOR) event to announce the 2015 Grand Marshall (GM). Until last year I never attended this particular PTOR event despite my “white-suiter” friends making mention of it to me.  I’ll write about that 2014 GM event, sooner or later, since I may have had a small part to play in the naming of Vin Scully as GM, haha!

So, here I am at the 2015 GM introduction, and I notice a few people who I usually don’t notice at PTOR events: Pasadena’s Mayor, Police Chief & Fire Chief.  And, Nick Ut, who I’ve never seen before at a PTOR event:




I try to avoid getting in the way of professional photographers trying to do their job among amateurs & paparazzi fighting them for position, unlike some “Iphone shutterbugs.”  My photo above captures four pros, including Ut, doing their job capturing the 2015 GM the late, great Louis Zamperini.  I’ve been lucky to meet & speak “shop” with these pros.  Nick Ut is one. Next time I’ll talk about another – sooner or later…


Afterwards, I was getting refreshed by getting my monies worth of PTOR hospitality via downing as much catered food & drink as fast I could, short of a Dog Haus or Nathan’s hot dog eating contest.  I noticed Nick Ut at my shoulder next to me with the same idea.  So I said something like, “You probably don’t remember me but we exchanged “Hello’s” at some other event.”  Before another word could be said, some official chimed in to say something like, “You know that’s Nick Ut. He’s a famous photographer.  He took that famous shot of that little girl napalmed in the Vietnam War and won a Pulitzer Prize for it!”

I replied, “Yes, I know.  Congrats again, Mr. Ut!”   Then I asked Nick when was the last time he saw our mutual friend – the news reporter who made me aware of who he is – and he said, “Oh, I haven’t seen her in over a year…”  I was afraid that would be the reply. Anyway, our small talk ended, I think, with me asking him for a photo tip.

This is an all too brief and incomplete a way of introducing you to the thrilling LAW article on Nick Ut. A sort of condensed biography of the man who lives here in the San Gabriel Valley. Please grab the current issue of LAW out on newsstands now or read all about it at this link:  Nick Ut’s Shot of a Lifetime!  A must read!

Lemme know what you thought of the LAW article! And, if you ever see Nick Ut out shooting some event say, “Hello” & “Thanks!”



Gotta Go. Have a Happy 2014!

per LA Weeklya

Yesterday & Today: A Pasadena Christmas.


Merry Christmas my friends! I hope y’all have/will receive(d) the free gift of, and know the true reason for, the Christmas season: to commemorate & celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  Don’t be misled to think it’s another reason to shop until you drop, or go into debt, or reason to eat/drink, as much as we all love that. But it is a national holiday, and if you hate the materiality of holidays, as y’all celebrate and gather together, remember the real reason for our celebration.


Colorado Boulevard


A 1960-ish Pasadena Christmas. 


(I seem to recall the original source of the above was the Pasadena Star-News)


A December 25th 2012 Pasadena Christmas



A December 25th 2013 Pasadena Christmas




These photos were taken on the part of Colorado Boulevard located in the Pasadena Playhouse District just west of Lake Avenue.  Colorado boulevard is also known as the famous main drag for our Tournament of Roses Parade to welcome the New Year.  

Observations?  Besides the fact these were taken at different times of the day, just one is how obviously the Christmas spirit on the street appears to have suffered significantly in the past half-century.  The city seems less willing to show its Christmas spirit on its street as displayed by its ornaments.  One could also be led to believe that the use of mass transit in Pasadena (buses, train/rail) and bicycles has had a demonstrated effect on traffic! 


What are your observations – particularly if you were around when Target was called Robinson’s?


Gotta Be Productive!  Stay Thirsty My Friends & Merry Christmas

Univ of Colorado Blvd

With Family…

The annual family holiday of ThanksGiving has just come, and gone.  The holiday season is every month, all year long but ThanksGiving is one of the big ones.  Today, most Americans give thanks a back seat relative to using it as the day to bring the family together to share a meal (for 1 day at least) & watch football games. And now with some retailers opening on Thanksgiving, to get a headstart on Black Friday for buying & consuming even more material things!

Last weekend I got a headstart on some of those traditions – football, and coming together to share a meal with the  USC Alumni (and future alum’s) Association (USCAA) family.  The San Gabriel Valley (SGV) chapter to be exact. Ok, it’s an extended family but we’re like-minded people, the allies, wearers of the white-hats, from the same cardinal & gold blood, those who root for the home/family team!

Alumni associations do many things for their alums in exchange for their membership dues!  Holding football game watching parties where the family/alums meet to eat, drink, and root our team onto victory against the bad guys is only one thing USC AA does. The SGV chapter usually gathers at El Cholo, a spanish/mexican cafe here in Pasadena.  Listen, I don’t eat often at El Cholo, but when I do, it’s always with the SGV USC AA!

As in any family there are bumps in the road and last weekend didn’t go as planned for your poor Dog. I thought it would simply be a nite with family, food, fun, football, and then catch up on sleep deprivation.

Our game watch gatherings always bring in a good crowd, yet for some reason (no sleep?) I convinced myself that this would be less crowded than normal.  For one, we’re only playing Colorado!   The first change in my simple plan: upon arrival at kick-off this is the 1st scene I saw…IMG_8615

The Main Bar. This is just a snapshot of the Trojans in the bar! And believe me – just a tiny portion of the USC alumni in the SGV. The bar was SRO and the walking aisle was a bumper to bumper lane of traffic. 



Ok, no problem. Most of the dining space at El Cholo is reserved for our game watching events – and besides, it’s the bar – so I’m sure there’s some empty seats elsewhere.  I visited the dining room overlooking Colorado Blvd and took a look…

IMG_8626 Also packed in.  Later, I would come back to this dining room to tell an alumna, “Heard the bad news? ucla won.”  She replied, “No they didn’t. They lost!”  I went back & forth with her trying to convince her I was right & she was wrong!  Fortunately I woke-up to tell her: “You’re right! I’m wrong.”  Blame it on the margarita I downed I told her.  (We were rooting for ucla to defeat the sun devils!  ucla was no help. What else is new.)


Next, I checked out the dining room on the other side of the bar… 


Again, beyond capacity. Busier than I anticipated alright. In fact, it was the biggest turnout of the 3 game watches  I’ve attended this season.


Nevertheless, seating would not be the main problem.  There was still one area with some seats available and 2 big wide screen TV’s: the Al Fresco outdoor dining area!

And it’s where I met the problem!  Q: Why were these Trojans watching a game with Baylor  playing?? A: Cuz these 2 TV’s literally not connected to the Pac 12 cable network!   Seats, but without our USC game on these same 2 TVs which have had our games before??  So much for my simple plan for the nite.

So the game was on – but not on our sets!  I was scrambling around to make sure the organizers and El Cholo knew the problem and reassuring the alums that a solution was coming.


Another thing that didn’t go according to my plans: I did not eat, besides settling for the chips/salsa of the alumni from South Pasadena at our table! However, I made sure to shoot some porn from my friends at the next table!  Food porn. It was that kind of a busy night for me.IMG_8632 


But I did have a nice drink to celebrate & toast our victory over Colorado last Saturday nite!





Oh yeah, we finally got the Al Fresco TV’s correctly connected to our game on the Pac12 channel… in the 2nd quarter. I watched most of the game here…



In addition to my main seat on the patio Al Fresco, I got around to view the game from each of our reserved areas I previously showed, even though it usually meant standing or sitting with a view, and, an angle…





Now it’s a new weekend, with new threats to the family. Tonite it’s those growlin’ animals the ucla bruins who feed off your trash-cans/dumpsters, the bad guys from across town.  They’ll again try to disrupt the peace & love of our family, especially with our injuries and manpower shortage. And once again we’ll have to rally behind Tommy Trojan & Traveler to protect all that is good & peaceful in the family. Time to spoil the bruin plan.


On days like Thanksgiving, if it doesn’t stress you out!, it’s good to eat at the family table, at least once a year.  But on days/weeks like the last it’s even better if you have another family, an extended family, that bleeds your own cardinal & gold.  Btw, the USC AA holds raffles at halftime.  No-Luck me actually had my name called & won something!  That wasn’t in my plans either – it was that kind of a nite.


Gotta fight off bruins tonite. Stay Thirsty My Friends, and, Fight On!


The 2014 Rose Queen is…

…not as easy for me to guess as 2013 Rose Queen of The Pasadena Tournament of Roses (PTOR).

The next time I write on this website we will all know who was selected as the 96th Queen of the 125th Tournament of Roses. Last year, as soon as I saw the Royal Court I said to myself, “she should be the one!”  “She” was Vanessa Natalie Manjarrez of Mayfield Senior School. 

The PTOR evidently agreed with me.  At the announcement of the 2014 Royal Court earlier this month, I mentioned to the 2013 Queen Mother how I just knew her daughter so stood out that she had to be the Queen.  Mom was touched to the point that, had I continued, I probably would have brought her to tears.



This year which lucky Princess will rise to be Queen is truly a guessing game, since no girl stands out even with my sharp canine eyes..  However, I sense this group is one of the more enthusiastic or energetic in recent years.  Nevertheless, I’m gonna try to pick out the Queen in this article, if only for the fun of it and to see if I have any magical powers of royal selection leftover from last year!

Second things, second:  I am acquainted with the parents of one Princess and I know at least two Princesses are a readers of this blog.  Beyond that, my knowledge of this Royal Court is limited solely to what I’ve read, such as the PTOR press release, and what I’ve personally seen of them, which is just above the level of zero.


Lettuce start. I’m simply going make a couple of observations on each candidate which I believe may or may not be in her favor to be chosen Queen. Again, this is strictly guessing made on very limited information.


IMG_4581a The 2014 Royal Court (left to right): Jamie, Sarah, Ana, Katherine, Elyssia, Elizabeth, and Kayla


Jamie: She has been captain of her varsity school cheer team, V.P. of the Support Our Troops Club, and President of her school’s National Honor Society.  She loves France & French food.  She’s shown leadership qualities and shown willing to take responsibility. She seems very friendly, adorable, and a cute smile. I think we all would love to have a daughter like her in our families!  Yet, she appears to be the youngest as well.

Sarah: She teaches pre-school, plays musical instruments, and performs as a dancer, ballerina, and in theater.  She’s a college student – the only non-high schooler among this group. And the oldest at 19!   From this she’s shown leadership and responsibility, and an openness to be out in front of an audience.  I sense also a caring attitude and touch of elegance in her. Maybe this is partly why she seems to have a lot of friends and support. And, like me, loves to eat  Her age would also suggest she may be the most mature.

Ana: She may be, arguably, the Miss Photogenic of this bunch of cuties. Captain of her varsity equestrian team, cabinet member of the Girls Service League, on her school’s Ambassadors Council, and participates in the National Charity League. A Girl Scout who is working toward a Gold Award.  Here again, I see responsibility, leadership, and maturity. Still, in my experience rarely does a Miss Photogenic get the top crown in anything. 

Katherine: The tallest and, seems to me, The Most Likeable! Member of her school’s Pep team, and volunteers with Brother’ Helpers to help the poor in downtown Los Angeles. She seems funny, outgoing, yet modest and humble. She was one of two Princesses which seemed the most surprised and overjoyed to be named to the court!  I see a team player, caring & conscientious attitude.

Elyssia: She’s captain of her school’s debate & speech team, head anchor of its news team, treasurer of its Acts Club. She’s a volunteer with the American Cancer Society and the Let’s Hope organization.  Another girl who shows responsibility and leadership traits.  Yet, she appears to be the most reserved. Her smile is not as “big & toothy” as the others – indeed, until I looked at my own photos, I had not found a picture of her with a smile showing her teeth!  She has communication training yet I get the feeling she would prefer to work in the background.

Elizabeth: The yearbook editor, co-captain of her varsity song team, treasurer of the Pep team, a school tutor & teacher’s assistant. She volunteers at Elizabeth House!  Loves to lead & motivate her fellow students. I witnessed a funny, expressive, modest, & outgoing sides, and loves when others do well.  She was one of two Princesses which appeared the most surprised and happy to be named to the court!

Kayla: She was the first person named to the Royal Court. On her tennis team and also plays piano, with an eye for photography. Was an intern with the LA City Attorney’s office. Participated in California Youth Think Tank which helps youth to become future leaders.  She’s shown to be both a team player and someone who can “go it alone” in the sports she played.  She carries a quiet strength and maturity.


So, that was a very quick recap of some of their interests/achievements and the insights I’ve gathered from my very limited exposure to them.  So, what’s the verdict (or my wild guess!)? The Envelope please…

First, lemme say who I would “like” to be Queen: the girl who literally stands above all the others, the tallest, Katherine!  But I doubt she’ll be selected.

So, who I think should be chosen as the 96th Rose Queen? As I said, this is much more difficult than choosing Vanessa last year, so I can only narrow it down to two:  SARAH ELIZABETH HANSEN and ELIZABITH KATIE WOOLF!

Why? Just a hunch, really. Sarah, as the oldest, I can feel her maturity, beautiful heart, and I see a lot of support from family and friends..  Elizabeth, I feel her leadership, plus a motherly instinct to care for and want the best for others – like Princesses

After the naming of the Royal Court, I recall asking the new chair of the Queen & Court Committee, Alex Young, what would they next be looking for from these girls which would separate one to be Rose Queen. He told me, but of course, my good memory failed me again.  So, you’ll have to do with what I noticed and your own instincts.

Soon we will all know. I hope the reigning 2013 Rose Queen, beautiful Vanessa, is able to make the coronation, since she’s attending college on the east coast, to personally hand over “the baton”.

Well, that’s my guess. Who did you think would be Queen? I’m interested to know yours and why. Clik the link below to leave a comment with your guess. There must be at least one reader who got it right.


Gotta Run!! Stay Thirsty My Friends

Rose wet