Performing with passion

Jess Casinelli builds up her career with covers

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Pasadena singer-songwriter Jess Casinelli is all about keeping things fresh. 

The Stamford, Connecticut, native recently wrapped up a set of covers with the 1968 hit by The Foundations, “Build Me Up Buttercup.” 

“When I was little, I had a Barbie cassette player,” Casinelli says. “My dad would play the cassettes with me at night so I would fall asleep. That was my favorite song on the cassette. 

“Once I started gigging around a couple years ago, I started covering it. I made it my own. A picture of my dad is the cover art. He’s playing guitar.”

“Build Me Up Buttercup” is the third in a three-part cover project that included “Panic” by The Smiths and “She” by Green Day. Original music is coming in the winter of 2022. 

“The three songs are very different and my versions sound nothing like the originals,” says Casinelli, who is joined by violinist Katie-Jacoby of The Who on “Panic.” 

“I definitely think that being a songwriter helps me cover songs and make them my own, rather than sounding like the artist’s originals.”

Casinelli’s father influenced her career choice, as he worked in A&R for Atlantic Records, Sony/Columbia and independent labels. When Casinelli was 10, he left the industry. 

“He’s the reason I thought music was a career that is achievable,” she says. “It was only until I grew up that I realized it’s much harder than it seems.”

At age 16, Casinelli gave guitar and piano another try and taught herself both instruments. She became “obsessed” with writing and practicing two years later. 

“I packed up and moved to Pasadena (in October 2015) to attend Los Angeles College of Music. LACM is where I met some of my lifelong friends and fellow musicians I am still seeing and working with today.

“I’m always looking for musicians to play with, too. I don’t feel I’m the best at the instruments. I use them to accompany my writing and my vocals.”

Casinelli says the most difficult part of living in California is being away from her family. 

“Pasadena is a nice place to live. Going from LA to Pasadena every day, it feels like something homey to come back to every day.”


Jess Casinelli

Instagram and Facebook: @yungweirdo.97

Other: linktr.ee/jesscasinelli

Local Hero

Pasadena designer Karen Steinberg fights homelessness with decor

By Luke Netzley

At a time when there are over 63,000 people experiencing homelessness across LA County, local heroes like Karen Steinberg are needed. 

Steinberg is a Pasadena-based interior designer and owner of Décor Revolution with a bachelor’s degree in design from Buffalo State and strong background in residential and textile design. 

After reading an online post from design blogger Emily Henderson asking interior designers in the LA area to help with free home makeovers for homeless families, Steinberg volunteered and used her talent for designing Accessory Dwelling Units.

Steinberg worked with a 28-year-old single mother and her two children who were forced to live out of their car after the mother had to close her jewelry and accessories business during the pandemic. 

When oppressive heat proved too dangerous to sleep in the car, the mother sought shelter in motels with her family while struggling to keep her children in school. Her savings were quickly depleting. 

She ended up reaching out to nonprofit Family Promise, which was able to provide her with an apartment, hygiene products, and home goods while she searched for a new job.

“She gets an apartment, but it’s empty. All she has is a mattress on the floor and a few items that were donated to her by a church, and that’s where we step in,” Steinberg says. “What we do is fundraise, design, and install everything in about three to four weeks. It’s a whirlwind.”

The project was a partnership between Steinberg’s Décor Revolution and community nonprofit Pen + Napkin, who fundraised for the project on their websites and through wish lists on Amazon and Target. They organized the delivery of the furniture to the apartment and completed the entire installation within a two-day window. 

While the tremendous task of furnishing and personalizing an entire apartment within such a short span of time was grueling, the result was well worth the effort.

“She was blown away when she walked in the door,” Steinberg describes about the mother’s reaction to her new home. “She kept saying, ‘I’m going to cry, I’m going to cry.’ She was just so thrilled.”

The design team installed new furniture throughout the apartment, including bunk beds for her children, and hung artwork, placed framed family photographs on the shelves, and designed the children’s room around their interests in Batman, dinosaurs and cats. 

The result demonstrated an intense precision and attention to detail on behalf of Steinberg and Pen + Napkin.

“The statistics show that an overwhelming percentage of people without furnished homes end up homeless again versus those who have furnished homes, so it shows you that putting time and love into your space makes a difference,” Steinberg explains. “That’s what we did and now it really feels like a home to her instead of just an apartment.”

The project was not only achieved through the hard work and dedication of Steinberg and Pen + Napkin, but also a much larger group of individuals, including Emily Henderson, Décor Revolution Design Assistant Kateryna Calderon, and photographer Cristopher Nolasco, and companies like Calico, Poly & Bark and Oh Joy! 

“It was amazing. So many people helped make this project possible,” Steinberg says. “Thank you so much to all the volunteers that worked to do the installation, we couldn’t have done it without them, and to all the people who gave online. The joy on this mom’s face when she saw her new home is due to all of their generosity. They made her dreams come true.”


Pen + Napkin

penandnapkin.org

info@penandnapkin.org

A Familiar Face

Marti Farley returns as president of the Pasadena Showcase House 

By Luke Netzley

Through combining her love for the musical arts with her passion for helping others, Pasadena’s Marti Farley has found her dream role as 2021/22 president for the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts.

This is her second go-around with the leadership role since joining the all-volunteer, nonprofit organization 24 years ago.

Farley was born and raised in Houston, then moved to San Francisco in her early twenties before eventually settling in Los Angeles, where she raised her three children and still resides today with her husband, John. Farley joined the Showcase House in 1997 after retiring as the budget director for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

“I originally joined the organization because of its music programs, then I fell in love with the house and everything that’s involved with it,” Farley says.

“It’s just so exciting because you go through this learning process having different jobs at the Showcase House. And for this year in particular, it was really important to me to help lead us out of the pandemic and into the new normal.”

The Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts has been supporting local music and arts programs since 1948. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of its team of over 200 members, the organization has raised funds for music education, scholarships, concerts, music therapy, and other life-changing programs.

In addition to her work with the Showcase House, Farley has volunteered her time to Holy Family Services Adoption and Foster Care, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, and Five Acres, where she is a past president of the San Marino Auxiliary and has served on the board of directors. Her personal love for the arts, though, began when she started taking piano lessons at the age of 8, and she’s been passionate about music since. 

“It makes me feel very creative,” Farley says. “There are notes on a piece of papers and notations as to how you should play, and for the most part you try and follow that, but then your soul takes over. When you put your heart and soul into a piece, then it’s magical.”

The Showcase House for the Arts has nurtured the study and appreciation of music among young performers, like Farley when she was a child, through its annual music programs. Those include The Music Mobile, which has introduced orchestral instruments to more than 125,000 third-grade students; the Instrumental Competition, which has awarded more than $650,000 in monetary prizes to young musicians; and the Youth Concert, which has brought nearly 250,000 fourth graders to Walt Disney Concert Hall for performances presented by Los Angeles Philharmonic.

“The performers really get a lot of great input early on in their career,” Farley says.

It was this ability to foster creative talent and personal growth in young musicians that initially drew her to the organization, where she became the benefit chair for the Showcase House of Design in 2009 and president in 2011. Farley has not only been a crucial part of the incredible work that the Showcase House for the Arts continues to do each year but has also made lasting connections while working there. 

“I have made so many friends at the Showcase House, friendships that I’ve had now for 20 years,” she says. “That’s one of the great things about this group is that you end up making lifelong friends and attachments that stay with you.”

The Showcase House for the Arts will celebrate the return of the 2022 Showcase House of Design at Oaklawn Manor this April through late May with Farley at the helm. 

Golden tickets for the 2022 Showcase House of Design are on sale through pasadenashowcase.org.

The event is the organization’s flagship benefit and has helped them give more than $23 million to nonprofits to support the growth of the arts. It’s a mission that Farley has taken to heart since the day she joined.

“My hope for the future is that the organization will continue to grow, thrive, and be able to meet the needs of the diverse community that we live in so that we can provide music and art as equitably as possible.”

Slaying design

FIDM student inspired by mortal kombat

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

As a child growing up in Glendale, Arizona, Fabian Renteria sketched T-shirts and dresses. It was prophetic, as recently he introduced his first fashion collection in Los Angeles as part of the annual FIDM Debut Show.

Presented by the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, the event spotlights the work of FIDM students graduating from the advanced fashion design program Renteria was one of nine students selected for the prestigious show in 2021.

“It was very exciting and even more nerve wracking,” says Renteria, who graduated from Deer Valley High School in Arizona in 2014. 

The heavy vinyl line was inspired by Mortal Kombat, with a “futuristic warrior” look to it. The red in his collection represents the bloodshed.

“I honestly felt it would have been silly if it was Mortal Kombat and that’s it,” he says. “I was going deeper into what it means. For the actual story, these characters’ stories are entangled about what they’re fighting for.

One story in particular stood out, that of Kitana, the princess of her native land who never knew her true identity. As a child, her mother, Sindel, allegedly died by suicide. Kitana joined Raiden to find the truth and to make peace with all the realms. The collection represents her and her revenge wardrobe.

“I wanted to pull color from the undead warriors—black, white, gray and gold,” he says. 

“I decided to use red and the print was shattered glass, with chunky zippers to add a hardware aspect to it.”

The Texas-born Renteria is somewhat following in the footsteps of his artist father. 

“He would always be drawing, too,” he says. “One day, we were at a restaurant, and they had paper on the table with crayons. I asked my dad, ‘How do I draw a body?’ He definitely knew how.

“He showed me with a crayon. I drew a dress on her and that’s what sparked it for me. Oddly enough, we had a really old sewing machine on a shelf in the laundry room. I asked my mom about it. One day, I pulled it down. I tried to thread it and I got it to work.”

While he was in Glendale, he lived close to Walmart at 59th Avenue and Bell Road. Before it was a Supercenter, it boasted a large fabric section. 

“My first project was a vinyl cape,” he says. “It wasn’t good at all. I kept with it, and I would sew on the weekends after coming home from school. I fell in love with it, honestly. It was fun.”

He moved to Alhambra in 2018 to attend FIDM. Next year, Renteria is headed to Rome for a study abroad program. He will focus on fit and pattern making. It ends with another fashion show. 

“I get to do another collection,” he says. “I definitely want to start developing my brand more. I want to start selling my work on a website. I want to delve into the DIY more and start my own business.”

A Golden New Year Bake

Raspberry and Goldenberry Galette is invigorating

By Emily Chavez

Goldenberries, also called cape gooseberries, are packed with nutrients, such as vitamin C, niacin and fiber, just as much as they are packed with an invigorating, sunny color. 

To complement the bright orange of the gooseberries, red raspberries join the party on this creamy goat cheese and buttery pastry base. This simple pastry recipe creates a fuss-free galette dough that’s as unproblematic as I hope your 2022 will be. Composed as a bite, the flaky pastry, velvety goat cheese, sweet raspberries and tart goldenberries unite as a luxurious and balanced bake to enjoy after a meal or on its own. 

Raspberry and Goldenberry Galette

Active time: 15 minutes. 

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes. 

Yields 6 servings. 

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, grated

10 ounces cold goat cheese

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoon ice water

3 tablespoon maple syrup

1 1/2 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar 

4 ounces raspberries

8 ounces goldenberries

1 egg

1 tbsp water

1 tbsp sugar

Optional garnish: maple syrup and fresh mint

Instructions

Whisk together flour and salt until combined in a large bowl. Then stir in butter and 4 ounces of the goat cheese until crumbly. 

Stir in lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of ice water at a time until the dough starts to hold together. 

Turn out and shape dough into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

In a bowl, whisk together the remaining 6 ounces of goat cheese and maple syrup until smooth. Add brown sugar and whisk to incorporate throughout. Store in the refrigerator. 

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 10-inch by 10-inch square or a 12-inch circle if you prefer, about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer the baking sheet to assemble.

Spread maple goat cheese filling mixture onto the dough leaving a 2-inch gap from the border all the way around. 

Arrange raspberries and cape gooseberries on top. Fold edges of dough over.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon of water. Brush egg wash onto dough, and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake until the crust is golden, and bottom is browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool on the pan for 10 minutes. 

Garnish with maple syrup and mint. Best served warm or at room temperature.

Galco’s Soda Pop Stop: A local legend lives

John nese sells roughly 750 different soda varieties
By Frier McCollister

If there is one place that typifies Highland Park’s generationally diverse and eccentric nature, it just might be Galco’s Soda Pop Stop. 

The store has been a reliably quirky neighborhood fixture on York Boulevard since 1955. John Nese, 78, represents the second generation of ownership at that location. Galco’s Soda Pop Stop was founded in 1896 as an Italian grocery store. 

For those locals who are somehow unfamiliar with Galco’s, its shelves are crammed with bottles of obscure vintage sodas from around the world, as well as an impressively eclectic and refined selection of craft beers, wine and sake. There’s also a case of nostalgic candy brands and a small section of toys. The one-time deli case serves as a space to make its legendary Blockbuster sandwiches. Come to Galco’s for an Italian deli sub, a Green River soda, a Pez dispenser and a kite.

“It was always an Italian grocery,” says Nese at a shaded table in the store’s secluded back patio. 

“It was originally founded by a man by the name of Gallioti. He took in a partner, who then took my father in as a partner. I think it was ’43. (We’ve been) at this location since 1955. Before that, we were on Castellar and Ord, which was the center of Little Italy in Los Angeles. 

“Before that, we were on Alpine and North Broadway and before that, they were out on Pico and before that I don’t know.”

In 1955, the business was divided due to differences in opinion between Nese’s father and a partner. 

“When I was 8 or 9 years old, I asked my father if I could go to work with him,” Nese says. 

“He brought me to work with him every day, one summer vacation. I thought it was a pretty good deal. I got a Blockbuster (sandwich) to eat, and I got a Dad’s root beer to drink because we never had any sodas. You only had ice water and Kool-Aid. I thought it was a pretty good deal.”

Nese grew up in Pasadena and graduated from John Muir High School. Afterward, he enrolled in a six-month stint in the Army and then attended Pasadena City College before graduating from USC with a degree in history.

Upon graduation, Nese intended to return to the family’s store, despite his father’s advice to work for a larger corporate firm.  

“I came back to the store,” Nese says. “My father just looked at me with this nonplussed look on his face and he says, ‘You’re a damn fool. Go for the money because you’re not going to make any money here. You’re going to make a living and that’s going to be it.’ And I says, ‘Oh, OK.’” 

With his father, Nese operated Galco’s successfully as a neighborhood grocery store and deli. 

“We did pretty well up through the late ’90s,” he says. “The big chain stores bought the distribution channels of the little stores and closed them down. Regular groceries were costing more. In a five-year period, all the little grocery stores disappeared. I’m looking at this and I’m going, ‘What are we going to do?’ Most everybody got out of the business over a five-, seven-year period.”

Galco’s was in desperate need of a pivot. When craft beer took hold, Nese started stocking it. 

“I thought about it. Craft beers were a big deal, and everybody was buying it,” Nese says.

“If I do craft beers, you have to be 21. But if I do soda pops, too, if you have the money in your pocket and you can reach the counter, I have just doubled the size of our audience. 

“I told my father we were going to start featuring soda pops.”

His skeptical father promptly approached the store’s young clerk, Gail Coffin, and advised her to look for alternate employment. Suffice it to say, Coffin still works at Galco’s.

“When I went for the change, I thought about it. ‘How can you lose? You’re going broke anyway. How do you lose? All you can do is win. You can’t do any worse,’” Nese recalls. 

He started with a small section of vintage sodas. “I had 200 to 250 sodas and I had a nice little compact section. When I got to 400, the question became, ‘Where are you getting them? Where are you finding them?’ I didn’t know they existed anymore.” 

Nese stocks about 750 varieties. 

In 2000, Nese’s daughter, Noelle, started to help with publicity. It marked a dramatic turning point for Galco’s. 

“She stopped by and says, ‘Dad, what you’re doing is really great but if people don’t know, it really doesn’t do any good.’

“She says, ‘I’m going to write Sunset Magazine a letter. I’m sending one to Huell Howser, also.’”

Howser is the late popular TV host of “Visiting with Huell Howser” on PBS. The show featured Galco’s later that year. Before the segment aired, Howser stopped by and warned Nese to fully stock his store.

“‘You’re going to be busier than you’ve ever been in your life,’” Nese recalled Howser saying.

“The shelves were stocked. I had extra inventory and (after the show aired) that night it was empty. Just like that. There were two lines and they went all the way to the back of the store. It took people about 45 minutes to get checked out. 

“Syndicated coverage in The Los Angeles Times followed. We were getting all these people from overseas. That story ran nine months, all over the country,” Nese says.

An escorted, personal tour from Nese is the best way to fully appreciate the store’s depth and breadth. 

“Mead is the first alcoholic beverage that man produced,” Nese says, pointing to an array of Danish meads in unique ceramic bottles, including Viking Blod, with an ABV of 19%. Louis de Sacy Grand Cru is $44.99.

Pinot di pinot brut from Italy is two for $15. “The original champagne of beer,” Belgian DeuS Brut de Flandres, is $39.99. Galco’s is the only source for the beer in Southern California. 

He also stocks the oldest beers brewed in Europe: Uerige Altbier from Dusseldorf ($7.99 a bottle) and Weltenburger Kloster, a dark lager from the oldest abbey brewery in Germany, at $16.99 for a six pack. 

Galco’s also has one of the largest and most diverse selections of sake in Southern California. 

“We have sake that no one else has,” Nese noted, pointing to a bottle of Kenbishi ($49.99) from the oldest sake brewery in Japan. He then showed off bottles of Yuzu Omoi, Taiten Shiragiku, and an unusual bottle of sparkling Sorah ($89).

On the lighter side, there is Swedish Kristian Royale strawberry apple soda (two for $10); Armenian Artfood fruit-infused spring water ($5.29); and Vichy Catalan Roman spring water.

These sophisticated international beverages share shelf space with a mind-boggling array of sodas from around the world. On the store’s website, they are grouped into more than 15 categories including brews & sarsaparillas (29 varieties); colas (25); root beers (58); ginger beers and ales (34) and cream sodas (49). The “Something Different” category is stocked with another 100 different brands.

Nese is stocking up for the holidays with Scandinavian Christmas soda and Austrian Samichlaus ale at $28.99 for a four pack. “It’s brewed one day a year on Dec. 6, Santa Claus’ birthday, and then aged for 10 months,” Nese noted. He also has cases up front of Fiasconaro Tradizionale Panettone ($23.99).

In addition to the dizzying array of craft beers and international sodas, Galco’s stocks a case of Old Tyme Candies, including: an impressive collection of Pez dispensers; Mallo Cups; Charleston Chews; Goo Goo Clusters; and candy and bubble gum cigarettes. In the back, guests can mix their own sodas from a selection of 100 syrup flavors. 

The “Retro Toy Corner” of vintage toys sits next to the candy case, all innovations suggested by Noelle.

The Blockbuster sandwiches were dubbed such after champion boxer, Rocky Marciano, sampled the store’s Italian sub and exclaimed, “Wow! This is a real blockbuster!” 

The original with meat and cheese only, features dry and cotta salami, mortadella, and ham with provolone and pickles, on an 8-inch roll for $6.99. The other Blockbusters include, the Italian combo; roast beef; pastrami; ham; turkey; three-cheese vegetarian; and tuna or chicken salad, all of which come with lettuce and tomatoes. They are available on an 8-inch roll ($7.99) or a full footlong ($12.99). The fresh sourdough rolls are supplied by Frisco Bread Company on Avenue 43.

Galco’s did not close during the pandemic lockdowns. “We stayed open. We kept everybody working,” he says.

“At the very beginning, there was a big dip (in sales). But it was interesting because there’s not a whole lot to do when you’re locked up. So, they’d come and buy sodas,” Nese says.

When asked if he had a message for the local community, Nese joked, “We need two lanes of traffic in both directions on York Boulevard.”  

Nese is the grandfather of two teenage twin boys. Is there any thought of retirement and succession for him at Galco’s? “I’ll go as long as I can. We’ve been here forever.”


Galco’s Soda Pop Stop

5702 York Boulevard, Los Angeles

323-255-7115, sodapopstop.com

The Giving Season

Animal lovers encouraged to support Pasadena Humane this Christmas
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

With Pasadena Humane, helping animals is not just about adoption. Animal lovers can contribute in other ways.

The holiday season is a great time to consider it, according to Dia DuVernet, Pasadena Humane’s president and chief executive officer.

“Consider fostering animals,” she says. “It’s the perfect time to get the animals out of the shelter and into a home for the holidays. We love for people to adopt animals. But around the holidays, make sure you have plenty of time at home to help a new animal or pet adjust.”

Gift givers who are uncomfortable surprising someone with an animal can do the next best thing: make an adoption appointment so the whole family can be involved in choosing a pet. 

“You could give animals as gifts for the holidays. Research that has been done says it tends to work well,” DuVernet says. “There were concerns at one point that animals given as gifts were often returned to the shelter. Now we see there’s no harm in giving an animal as a gift.”

Pasadena Humane is a donor-supported, nonprofit organization that provides animal care and services for homeless and owned animals in the Greater Los Angeles Area. 

For more than 117 years, it has promoted compassion and care for all animals through lifesaving programs and services to the community that support the human-animal bond and keep pets healthy and safe. In 2020, Pasadena Humane had a combined 91.5% live release rate for dogs, cats and critters and saved 100% of healthy and safe animals. 

With the supply chain issues this holiday season, some gifts may not be available for loved ones. DuVernet has an idea.

“You might not be able to buy the items you’re looking for,” she says. “Instead, give a donation to the shelter in honor of someone as a holiday gift. Get a nice card and notate a donation has been made in their honor. They could feel good about having helped a shelter.”

The shelter could use a little help with supplies as well. Patrons are invited to look at Pasadena Humane’s wishlist on Amazon and/or the pet supplies for sale at the shelter shop. Its greatest needs are towels, dry and wet cat food, dog and cat toys, dog and cat treats, cat litter, dog beds, and “miracle nipples” and kitten milk replacement. 

“You can order items for off our wish list on Amazon,” she said. “Even better, order items from our shelter shop which has lots of wonderful pet supplies. If you order them from our shelter shop, the items can go to the shelter animals and all the proceeds support the shelter, too.”

Since she came onboard with Pasadena Humane in June 2019, DuVernet has been impressed with the community’s support, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been open as an essential business since day one,” she said. “We have animal control officers in the community and taking care of the animals in our shelter.

“During the pandemic, a lot of families stepped up to foster animals in their homes. We had very generous support from our community. We also learned, with the animals, that it worked really well for them to be in foster homes until they were ready for adoption. Then they could move easiest into adoptive homes.”

Without visitors to the shelter, the animals thrived in the quiet, she added. 

“With less human traffic, they were able to sleep more,” she said. “That really helped to reduce stress and illness in the animals. 

“We were doing adoptions by appointment so we could personalize the adoption experience. We staggered the times, but we’re going to continue with that appointment-based adoption system.”

The Bloom is Back

Rose Parade inspires others to ‘Dream. Believe. Achieve.’
By Luke Netzley

The Tournament of Roses is America’s New Year’s Day celebration, drawing hundreds of thousands of people from around the world each year. After being canceled last year due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the world-renowned parade and football game return to Pasadena. 

“Every January 1, our community, our country, and the world gets to celebrate new beginnings, and this year we’re going to be celebrating healthy new beginnings,” says Dr. Robert B. Miller, president and chairman of the board for the 2022 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, 

“It is a signature piece of our culture and our community. This is an American tradition, and we feel strongly about our responsibility to bring that to the world every year.”

This will be the 133rd Rose Parade and the 108th Rose Bowl Game. Parade spectators can expect elaborate floral floats, every inch of which must be covered with flowers or any other natural materials, as well as equestrians displays and a variety of musical performances.  

In January 2020, the Rose Bowl Game saw a crowd of over 92,000 in the stadium alone while the parade was viewed by more than 40 million people domestically and another 15 to 25 million internationally. In January 2021, the parade was silenced. 

“Public health and safety as well as making wise financial decisions, not only for the association but for all those who we work with, were the two paramount focuses that we had,” Miller explains. “As we worked through that process, David Eads, our CEO, and I discussed the need to bring in well-known and well-experienced public health and safety experts to help us with these decisions.”

The decision to cancel the 2021 parade was informed by data points and guidance from a survey of over 100 LA County public health professionals as well as a Keck School of Medicine study that was commissioned by Miller and Eads. It was the first time that the event had been canceled since the outbreak of World War II in 1942. 

This year the association once again engaged the support of the Keck School and a host of public health professionals. The survey’s result determined that the event could go ahead given that it adheres to the local and state coronavirus guidelines.

“Primarily thanks to the vaccines and the great work of all the healthcare workers that got us through this, there was a sense that we would be out of the dark and into the light in a much more significant way in the spring of ’21, summer of ’21, and fall of ’21 leading into our parade,” Miller explains.

“All of our normal parade preparations have been altered in a very significant way to make certain that we do everything we can to adhere to the LA County and the city of Pasadena public health requirements, as well as recommendations to maintain as healthy a public space as possible for all of our events during that week. I’m proud to say that, through the incredible efforts of our staff, our volunteer leadership, and our volunteers, we are well on way of doing all of that.”

Miller had been a volunteer at the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association for 38 years before accepting his leadership position this year. Though his passion and commitment for the Tournament of Roses is tremendous, Miller insists that the mega-event is nowhere near a single-person endeavor.

“This is the endeavor of our 935 volunteers, our great staff, and thousands of other people who bring the parade together,” Miller says.

“There are over 6 to 7,000 people in our parade every year, and behind those 6 to 7,000 people are thousands of others who work on our floats, who work with our bands, and who work with our equestrian units. It’s an amazing endeavor, an amazing tradition, and I could not be more blessed to be a part of it.”

The theme for this year’s parade, “Dream. Believe. Achieve,” was inspired by Miller’s background in education as a community college educator, administrator and consultant for 44 years before he retired as vice chancellor for finance and resource development for the Los Angeles Community College District, the largest community college district in the country.

“If you have a dream and you believe in your ability, you can achieve anything,” Miller explains. “Education is the single greatest determiner of social and economic mobility. It’s the great equalizer, and supporting the needs of underrepresented, first-generation, low-income students has become a very significant part of the community college mission.” 

The parade’s theme not only shines light upon the inspirational work that educators do around the nation to ensure that quality public education is accessible to all, but also celebrates the scientists, first responders, health care professionals, and essential workers who have worked to save lives and fight for a return to normalcy.

“Without the scientists who’ve developed the vaccines and the first responders, healthcare professionals, and essential workers who’ve gotten us through this time, we wouldn’t be having this conversation today and there certainly wouldn’t be a parade going down the street on January 1, 2022,” Miller says.

“Now that we are able to bring it back, we have the ultimate responsibility to bring it back as strongly and as positively as we have ever done in the past. And hopefully we’ll take it a notch or two above this year.”


The Rose Parade

WHEN: 8 a.m. Saturday, January 1

WHERE: Begins at the corner of Green Street and Orange Grove Boulevard. The parade travels north on Orange Grove at a 2.5-mile-per-hour pace and then turns east onto Colorado Boulevard. Near the end of the route, the parade turns north onto Sierra Madre Boulevard and concludes at Villa Street.

COST: Reserved tickets start at $60, depending on area

INFO: tournamentofroses.com

Living Her Dream

Nadia Chung crowned 2022 Rose Queen

By Annika Tomlin

La Cañada High School senior Nadia Chung dreamed of becoming the Rose Queen. 

For the next year, she’ll lead the Royal Court as she was selected the 2022 Rose Queen.

Chung was crowned as the 103rd Rose Queen along with fellow seniors Jeannine Briggs (John Marshall Fundamental High School), Abigail Griffith (Pasadena High School), Jaeda Walden (La Cañada High School), Swetha Somasundaram (Arcadia High School), Ava Feldman (South Pasadena High School) and McKenzie Street (Flintridge Sacred Heart) rounding out the court.

“It was always a big dream for me, especially growing up in Pasadena meeting all of the Royal Court when I was younger,” Chung says. 

Since she was 3, she looked up to the women, calling them role models. 

“This year’s theme particularly made me want to try out for this Royal Court because ‘Dream. Believe. Achieve.’ is honestly so encompassing of everything that I personally believe in and try to live by,” she says. 

“Everybody on the court is a real optimist and we are all people that are really positive. The message of this theme made me know that I wanted to try out.” 

Chung says she was impressed by the professionalism of the young women. 

“It didn’t feel like a competition,” she says. “As you went through each interview — at least for me — I loved getting to talk to each of the girls that I met.

“For instance, I was No. 39 and No. 37 was McKenzie Street, who is on the Royal Court, and No. 34 is Jaeda Walden. As we waited in line for all of our interviews, we got to know each other extremely well and I felt really connected to my city because I was surrounded by inspiring young ladies all around me when I was going through those interviews.”

Each interview lasted roughly 15 seconds. Contestants had to be quick on their feet to present a well thought out answer. Chung worked through the process by “determining what about me is really important to who I am.” 

“I think the hardest part was having the confidence initially and also trusting myself,” Chung says. She was surprised each time she advanced through the competition. 

“After my first round, I thought I was out,” Chung says with a laugh. “The second round, I thought I was out and then most definitely when we were lined up as the 29 finalists, I didn’t think my name was going to be called.

“I say, for many of us on the Royal Court, as much as it was surreal, we also took time to realize that everything that we have done and all the people who have supported us have led us up to this moment. That is not just chance or luck but rather intentional selection and that we are here for a reason.”

During the crowning ceremony, Chung was not initially aware she was Rose Queen until the announcer started saying her middle name. Her first reaction was shock, then happiness followed by “a lot of gratitude.”

“I do feel really grateful to have this opportunity to help represent Pasadena and spread that sort of joy and positivity,” Chung says. “But I also will say I felt happy because I know that the girls on the 2022 Royal Court are going to be my best friends for life.”

As the Rose Queen, Chung will immerse herself in the Tournament of Roses organization through volunteerism; develop public speaking and etiquette skills while boosting her self-confidence and receive a $7,500 scholarship.

“We actually have 100 events that we are going to (as the Royal Court) from the day after we were announced up until even after the Rose Parade,” Chung says.

The Royal Court has already attended engagements at Huntington Hospital and USC’s Cancer Center.

“I know that we are also going to be going to different elementary schools and talking about reading and literacy since our theme is about celebrating education,” Chung says. 

She is particularly looking forward to helping the Girl Scouts with its cookie kickoff. 

“This is my 13th year (as a Girl Scout) and I’m currently finishing up my Gold Award, which is an initiative to help promote voter registration and voter preregistration within youth and to create more civic engagement,” Chung says. 

“I’ve had a lot of fun with my troop over the years and then these more individual projects have allowed me to find what my specific interests are and how I would like to help my community to become more engaged in politics and using their vote as a way to voice their opinions.”

Always learning

Chung takes part in a slew of extracurricular activities at La Cañada as she looks forward to graduating next year.

“At school, I am currently the president of speech and debate and mock trial,” Chung says.

“Those are some of my favorite activities because they gave me a voice and then amplified my voice to give me the confidence to actually learn about things outside of just my own perspective. When I am doing a speech, I get to have the opportunity to listen to other people and listen as much as I’m speaking and in that I have been able to get a lot better perspective of the people in our world and have more empathy.”

Chung said throughout high school she met “incredibly inspiring people” who continue to mentor her. Girls in higher grades helped her find success and she hopes to pay it forward.

“For college I actually just started my applications and I turned in a few now,” Chung says about her future plans. 

“It is a really interesting process to be going through. It is definitely not an easy one, but I think what is making me still want to go through this process and what is making me excited is that every application that I turn in I am one step closer to my aspirations in terms of career goals.”

Chung hopes to study political science and journalism with the hopes of becoming a civil rights attorney.

Embracing the Rose Queen

When asked what it meant to her to be Rose Queen, Chung said that “it’s hard to even put into words.”

“I think part of it is because the girls that I thought as the Royal Court when I was a little kid, in my mind they were untouchable, unachievable,” Chung says. “I never thought that I would be in that position of becoming that role model that they were to me and people that I looked up to on a daily basis who I knew were beacons of positivity, of happiness, of intelligence, of poise, of serving. 

“Being in that position now, I feel really honored and grateful but I also feel the responsibility because I want to be a good role model for all of those young kids and also be somebody that helps to uplift Pasadena and really foster and live the them that we are doing this year.”

Following the COVID-19 rollercoaster, Chung hopes the Royal Court’s community engagements will show the “the lack of connection that we had (during the pandemic) is not permanent.”

“I hope that it can remind us how important it is to be connected and that anybody really can pursue their dreams,” Chung says. “I think during COVID there were people who had to put their dreams on hold, and I know that coming out of it what we need is confidence and a lot of belief in one another in order to know that we still can pursue those dreams.”

As tradition, the Royal Court will attend the Rose Parade New Year’s Day and the Rose Bowl game. Chung says she will wear Tadashi Shoji at the events. 

“Our gowns were actually very generously given to us by Tadashi and so we are all going to be wearing the gowns that we were wearing for coronation day,” she says.

“That means that the court will be wearing the midnight blue gorgeous floor length gown and I’ll be wearing the white dress that I wore.”

With the appearances, Chung hopes the women’s bond shines through.

“I think it is really important to me and for others to know how much the girls and I have really formed a sisterhood and how important we are to each other and how much we love each other.”

Vroman’s Live

Bookstore boasts stellar lineup for November

By Arroyo Staff

The renowned bookstore Vroman’s is hosting more top-notch virtual programs throughout November. 

The “Vroman’s Live” events are held virtually through Crowdcast. Register through vromansbookstore.com.

All “Vroman’s Presents” events are ticketed and will be held in-person off-site and will have COVID-19 event safety guidelines that need to be followed attend. 

Anyone with questions is asked to contact email@
vromansbookstore.com.

Vroman’s presents

Blair Imani, in conversation with Andre Henry, discusses “Read This to Get Smarter: About Race, Class, Gender, Disability & More”

7 p.m. Monday, November 1

An approachable guide to being an informed, compassionate and socially conscious person today — from discussions of race, gender and sexual orientation to disability, class and beyond — from critically acclaimed historian, educator and author Blair Imani. Accessible to learners of all levels — from those just getting started on the journey to those already versed in social justice — “Read This to Get Smarter” covers a range of topics, including race, gender, class, disability, relationships, family, power dynamics, oppression and beyond. 

This ticketed event will take place at All Saints Church located at 132 N. Euclid Avenue, Pasadena. Ticket includes one entry plus one copy of “Read This to Get Smarter.”

Father Gregory Boyle discusses
“The Whole Language: The Power
of Extravagant Tenderness”

7 p.m. Thursday, November 4

Over the past 30 years, Gregory Boyle has transformed thousands of lives through his work as the founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest and most successful gang-intervention program in the world. In a community struggling to overcome systemic poverty and violence, “The Whole Language” shows how those at Homeboy Industries fight despair and remain generous, hopeful and tender. Boyle’s moving stories challenge our ideas about God and about people, providing a window into a world filled with fellowship, compassion and fewer barriers. 

This ticketed event will take place at All Saints Church located at 132 N. Euclid Avenue, Pasadena. Ticket includes one entry plus one copy of “The Whole Language.”

Christina Diaz Gonzalez, in
conversation with James Ponti,
discusses “Concealed”

6 p.m. Friday, November 5

Katrina doesn’t know any of the details about her past, but she does know that she and her parents are part of the Witness Protection Program. Whenever her parents say they have to move on and start over, she takes on a new identity — until their location leaks and her parents disappear. Forced to embark on a dangerous rescue mission, Katrina and her new friend Parker set out to save her parents — and find out the truth about her secret past and the people that want her family dead.

But every new discovery reveals that Katrina’s entire life has been built around secrets covered up with lies and that her parents were actually the ones keeping the biggest secret of all. Katrina must now decide if learning the whole truth is worth the price of losing everything she has ever believed about herself and her family.

Editor Saraciea Fennell, with
contributors Mark Oshiro, Lilliam
Rivera and Ingrid Rojas
Contreras, discusses “Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed: 15 Voices from the Latinx Diaspora”

5 p.m. Monday, November 8

Edited by “The Bronx Is Reading” founder Saraciea J. Fennell and featuring an all-star cast of Latino contributors, “Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed” is a groundbreaking anthology that will spark dialogue and inspire hope.

In “Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed,” bestselling and award-winning authors, as well as up-and-coming voices, interrogate the different myths and stereotypes about the Latinx diaspora. These 15 original pieces delve into everything from ghost stories and superheroes to memories in the kitchen and travels around the world, to addiction and grief, to identity and anti-Blackness, to finding love and speaking your truth. 

Wil Haygood, in conversation with Peter Gethers, discusses “Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World”

6 p.m. Tuesday, November 9

This unprecedented history of Black cinema examines 100 years of Black movies — from “Gone with the Wind” to “Blaxploitation” films to “Black Panther” — using the struggles and triumphs of the artists, and the films themselves, as a prism to explore Black culture, civil rights, and racism in America.

Beginning in 1915 with D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation,” Wil Haygood gives an incisive, fascinating, little-known history, spanning more than a century, of Black artists in the film business, on-screen and behind the scenes. He makes clear the effects of changing social realities and events on the business of making movies and on what was represented on the screen: from Jim Crow and segregation to white flight and interracial relationships, from the assassination of Malcolm X to the O.J. Simpson trial, to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Patti Davis, in conversation with Max Boot, discusses “Floating in the Deep End: How Caregivers Can See Beyond Alzheimer’s”

6 p.m. Wednesday, November 10

When Patti Davis’ father, the 40th president of the United States, announced his Alzheimer’s diagnosis in an address to the American public in 1994, the world had not yet begun speaking about this cruel, mysterious disease. Yet overnight, Ronald Reagan and his immediate family became the face of Alzheimer’s, and Davis, once content to keep her family at arm’s length, quickly moved across the country to be present during “the journey that would take (him) into the sunset of (his) life.”

In “Floating in the Deep End,” Davis draws on a welter of experiences to provide a singular account of battling Alzheimer’s. 

She shares how her own fractured family came together. She offers tender moments in which her father, a fabled movie star whom she always longed to know better, revealed his true self — always kind, even when he couldn’t recognize his own daughter.

Jung Yun, in conversation with
Elizabeth McKenzie, discusses
“O Beautiful”

6 p.m. Thursday, November 18

Elinor Hanson, a 40-something former model, is struggling to reinvent herself as a freelance writer when her mentor from grad school offers her a chance to write for a prestigious magazine about the Bakken oil boom in North Dakota. Elinor grew up near the Bakken, raised by an overbearing father and a distant Korean mother who met and married when he was stationed overseas.

After decades away from home, Elinor returns to a landscape she hardly recognizes, overrun by tens of thousands of newcomers.

Elinor experiences a profound sense of alienation and grief. She rages at the unrelenting male gaze, the locals who still see her as a foreigner and the memories of her family’s estrangement after her mother decided to escape her unhappy marriage, leaving Elinor and her sister behind. The longer she pursues this potentially career-altering assignment, the more her past intertwines with the story she’s trying to tell, revealing disturbing new realities that will forever change her and the way she looks at the world.

Andrew Lawler discusses “Under
Jerusalem: The Buried History of
the World’s Most Contested City”

6 p.m. Monday, November 22

In 1863, a French senator arrived in Jerusalem hoping to unearth relics dating to biblical times. Digging deep underground, he discovered an ancient grave that, he claimed, belonged to an Old Testament queen. News of his find ricocheted around the world, evoking awe and envy alike, and inspiring others to explore Jerusalem’s storied past.

In the century and a half since the Frenchman broke ground, Jerusalem has drawn a global cast of fortune seekers and missionaries, archaeologists and zealots. Their efforts have had profound effects, not only on our understanding of Jerusalem’s history but on its hotly disputed present. The quest to retrieve ancient Jewish heritage has sparked bloody riots and thwarted international peace agreements. It has served as a cudgel, a way to stake a claim to the most contested city on the planet. Today, the earth below Jerusalem remains a battleground in the struggle to control the city above.

Dera White & Joe Bennett
present “I Will Not Die Alone

6 p.m. Tuesday, November 30”

Dera White’s “I Will Not Die Alone” is a hilarious, feel-good story about the end of the world. Featuring illustrations by Joe Bennett, it is a story full of realistic self-love affirmations for those who are just trying to get by, until we die.

It’s funny, it’s dark and there’s a lion wearing pants. If you only read one more book before the world ends, make it this one. “I Will Not Die Alone” is a sweet yet sad, heartwarming yet heartbreaking read.