Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Pleasure of the Sierra Madre



You go to New York for the show, Paris for the food, Pasadena for the Rose Parade, and Sierra Madre for the blow dry.

I’m not sure if I trust a city that has 12 times more hair salons than gas stations, but maybe I’m a tad jealous. You might call Sierra Madre our sister city – we live right next door. Of the two of us, Sierra Madre’s the college prom queen, and just a little too full of herself. We, on the other hand, have to repeat our last semester at Debbie Dootson Truck Driving school.

I’m only talking a comparison of downtowns here. The center of one is a cobblestone town square with a watchtower, and the center of the other is the Arco station. The major restaurant for one offers California Cuisine and high-end wine tasting; for the other, it’s the Bucket of Cluck, and that was closed by the Health Department.

But at least we in Altadena are not pathologically concerned about our bangs. To keep all the hair salons and spas of Sierra Madre afloat, the population of 11,000 needs a cut and a color every two weeks, and the babies better be getting electrolysis. If your embryo needs a facial, this is the place.

No, we in Altadena are a simple people. We have one salon for 45,000 people. Sometimes it takes years to get a bleach job and permanent wave.

40 comments:

  1. In the tradition of the hallowed art of blog commentary, I'll talk about myself, yet only obliquely:

    This smacks of the "sister" relationship of St. Paul/Minneapolis, the "Twin Cities" (sic).
    You may have heard of St. Paul in your high school social studies class-it is the capital of Minnesota! Remember? Probably not, which actually, is fine by me.

    As far as I'm concerned, Minneapolis can stay on its side of the river. Why, if it wasn't for the Lake St. bridge...uh, Marshall Ave., on the St. Paul side...

    Whenever you here mention of our region in any form of media, it is always in reference to Minneapolis (or as some might call it here, Sin City)

    Every fine amenity, the quality neighborhoods , fine dining, can be found in Mpls. We, on the other hand have the State Fairgrounds, Frogtown, and Porky's drive-in.

    Minneapolis night life rivals that of New York with its renowned theatres, nightclubs and the "Minneapolis sound".

    An old saying from the jazz era days still applies to St. Paul: "nothing more dead than St. Paul or Easter week."

    I'll leave it at that, KB, though note, that I feel your pain.

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  2. These *have* to be seen by a wider audience.

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  3. Would hairdressing be a viable substitute for the auto industry in Detroit?

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  4. I just spewed wine........again. THis may be my favorite one yet. "Which twin has the Toni?"
    V

    PS Bucket o Cluck! HARRRRRRR

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  5. You are a funny lady - did you know?

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  6. I met some guys outside Arco who were tasting wine.

    GG

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  7. There are two kinds of homo sapiens: those who are envious of Sierra Madre & those who Love it.

    I have found some of the most kind, caring, and understanding, people live in SM.

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  8. Funny, funny stuff.

    Sierra Madre has Cafe 322, which is one of the most active music venues around. I guess people get their hair done before they go to 322. Or maybe they let it hang down at 322 and then have to get it redone the next day.

    The only other thing I know about Sierra Madre is to be very careful when driving after 10:00 pm because the police have nothing to do but give tickets to out-of-towners.

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  9. who is this bandit rube? Minneapolis nightlife rivals that of NYC. Take it on the arches you loon!

    Karin, glad to finally see your place of business

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  10. I think Altadena boasts more Payday Loan places per capita than its Sister City. All the better to pay for those bobs and weaves.

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  11. I'm just dying to give you all a perm.

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  12. I think some should be hair saloons. They'd attract alot more clients. BTW, they're temporaries, not permanents.

    Thanks for another funny.

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  13. I hear Karin's is a clip joint.

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  14. KB, in a way, now that I think about it, you're running your own version of a beauty parlor here. You give us a new do to consider and then we go wherever it takes us, along the way we tell a little bit about ourselves, have side conversations, leave feeling better than when we first got here...

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  15. If you get a permanent wave I guess you only have to do it once. That can't be good business.

    Of course, I don't really understand the nuts and bolts of beauty parlours.

    The best name I ever saw on a beauty shop was Curl Up And Dye.

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  16. Sorry, Ken, shoulda had that in quotes-something their mayor said.
    He's runnin' for Governor-if he wins, we'll be, "the Monte Carlo of the North". Get my drift?

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  17. Paula, that's an excellent take on this blog.

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  18. Paula hun, these boys are going to have to wait for their bikini wax. I have some peroxide with your name on it.

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  19. It's in the name, babe! SIERRA vs. ALTA, I rest my case!
    ...and I too feel so much better after chuckling here...but I think I'll cut my own bangs and keep my hair straight.
    ...wine tasters of Arco...hee-hee

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  20. Karin, love your sense of humor. You are a great writer of expression and your photos aint half bad either... I will definitely be back if I can figure out how to bookmark this site! Hee.

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  21. Hair salons seem to go for silly names, don't they? There's one near Cambridge, England, called "Hair Force One." Can anyone better that?

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  22. Yes, come back Ken. That will give me a chance to work on those sideburns.

    Bellis, you can always tell a first-rate salon from the second-rate. First rate has a Eurotrashy man's name, three syllables. Second-rate is called something like A Cut Above.

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  23. Sigh. You know, I always wanted bangs, but I have this enormous cowlick, actually about twelve of them, so I could never, ever have. Well, once I tried, but it took make product and blowdrying to sustain, and I still ended up looking a little like Hitler. Very scary.

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  24. Had I been drinking wine or coffee, I'd have spewed it many times on this one!!! Karin...you're wonderfully funny, in a poignant sort of way!!!! And I certainly can't top any of the ensuing comments!!!!

    All I can say is I've got my hair appt today in Montrose, a close second to Sierra Madre on salons per capita...and my niece just recently opened her own salon and has named it "Hair Candy"

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  25. Bucket of cluck! I went there once...

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  26. Strange how few times MIss J has visited Sierra Madre: once for din with the Mr. once to try to locate ItsIts ice cream bars for the Mr.

    Never for her hair.

    BTW, does Altadena Hiker do the Brown Trail & other over by JPL? Miss J took Jenkins this a.m. She was aghast at the change- silt, brush & trees washed down from the burn areas... The entire geography is different!

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  27. Can I make an appointment for next Friday on the Sierra Madre Blvd.

    I need a cut off to be ready for Sunday.

    About the sister city, we have roughly the matching here.

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  28. So, can I borrow your notes from last semester's Truck Driving School?

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  29. Yes MJ. Doesn't it look like the river is trying to find its old bed -- the dry one we've been using as a trail?

    As for the rest of us, I think we all want to see a picture of Margaret's politically incorrect bangs.

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  30. Someone has to discover you, KB, and I don't mean so that you can trim their nosehair. You're hilarious.

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  31. During my brief "Trucker Stage" spent hanging out at Nashville West (out on Garvey in El Monte) I looked into attending Debbie Dootson's Driving school. Another of life's failed dreams; along with the tattoo I never got and Mnt Whitney that I never climbed.

    true story

    wv Artaud

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  32. Shell just made me spray coffee all over this damn monitor!

    My mom gave me a Tonette once and it was a frizzy mess. I wore a ridiculous hat to church the next day so no one would see it. Oh they saw it alright. And snickered. Sniff, sniff, I'd repressed how that made me feel until today........wahhhhhhhh

    And Wayne, wouldn't understand. He's follicularly challenged. And YES, I made up that word.

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  33. As another person who has taken time to ruminate over the differences between Altadena and Sierra Madre, I came at it from a different angle (and a different film title) — though your observation about beauty parlors is very funny. (I count 3 or 4 “proper” shops here, though, and more operating sub rosa from homes.)

    I initially thought SM would be boring to write about compared to Altadena. So small, so homogeneous, so smug. I was wrong. The first glimmer of this came when a long-term resident counseled me: If you really want to understand our town, go see Blue Velvet. (!!!) Well, I had seen it, and because I have a low startle reflex, spent most of the movie covering my eyes or screaming.

    She'd been kidding, sort of. While the crime rate is marvelously low and I haven’t heard of a single severed ear being found there, I think she was referring to emotional violence. It is a perfect postcard of a place: cute downtown, more volunteers and pride of place than heaven, full of interesting, great and good people who would never live anyplace else — plus wonderful places to eat. (That’s what I’m most envious of.) Scratch the surface, though, and angry crimson welts rise, generally over the meaning of preservation, but any political issue will do. These completely crosshatch Sierra Madre’s modest 3 square miles of civic skin. Because residents love the place so passionately, they continually battle over how to preserve and protect it from change!

    Altadena’s shortcomings include a lack of a vibrant downtown, as well as a lack of civic engagement. This may be more positively interpreted as a libertarian, or ‘live free or die” spirit. Compared to the opposite extreme, though, I’m happy to retreat into my Altadena hobbit hole. I like knowing our unincorporated nine square miles are riddled with countless of these, and keep being surprised by the various worlds of their amazing occupants. When I need to eat, I just have to cook myself, cadge from a friend, or leave town.

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  34. Thanks for commenting, Michele. Your book on Altadena is rather the bible around here (I know people who have one copy for home and one for the car), and I'm sure your new one on Sierra Madre is finding similar popularity.

    As a fellow hobbit, I also love the independent spirit and beauty of Altadena. While our downtown has few bragging rights -- and that will continue to be an obsession of mine -- our hills, trails, and characters are second to none.

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  35. I enjoyed your comments about the personalities of the two towns, Michele. I like Sierra Madre, though it's a tad too far to be a daily trip for me. Altadena's downtown may not be gorgeous but it has potential. I get there regularly for some favorite businesses because of the service and the people--like Merit Cleaners and Webster's.

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  36. Reading Michelle's comment made me realize that I HAVE to own her books!

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  37. Yeah. You do. Maybe she'll do South Pas next!

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