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Altadena Is No Sierra Madre

And that might be a good thing.

Recently, a reader took exception to one of my Patch columns. Oh, why be so modest--she takes exception to almost everything I write, but prefers to send her comments to me, personally and offline.

“Shut up already," she wrote. “Enough complaining about Altadena. I like the town, just the way it is.”

Really?  Well, what about the new second-hand store?

“I found a dress.”

Rite-Aid?

“I get a discount.”

Store-front churches?

"What's wrong with religion? The thing is, Karin, I moved to Altadena because it is Altadena. It’s funky, and not an imitation of any other place. You don’t want us to be,” and here she sneered, “another Sierra Madre, do you?”

Well, no, of course not.  Just … maybe. Sort of, a little bit.

“Because if you really like Sierra Madre so much, why stay here?”

She has a point. If downtown Altadena (wherever that may be) looked like Sierra Madre, given time, I might suffer from an overdose of quaintness, develop a cobblestone hangover.  I admire Sierra Madre, but in a guarded way.  I find the town’s wholesome and innocent image a little on the insistent side. As in, the city doth protest too much, methinks.

Besides, I wouldn’t want Altadena to go from one extreme to another. Lose our obsession with cashing a check every 50 feet and develop a fascination with hair instead. Not to be indelicate, but Sierra Madre is way too preoccupied with hair and where it’s grown. How else to explain all those salons, one or more on every block, and their  formidable menu of exfoliation techniques--shave, pluck, pulse, laser, electrolysis, bleach, thread, wax, sugar wax, chemicals.  Pick your poison.

On our side of the tracks, we’re also weird, but weird in an astrophysicist or artistic sort of way. I consider former residents Feynman and Zorthian to be our bookends, and most of us fall somewhere in the middle.

We differ from Sierra Madre in other ways, too. For example, we’re not aggressively pleasant, we don’t go in much for group hugs. In Altadena, we prefer to maintain our independence and lead our separate lives. When we do get together, as citizens, it’s often just for some recreational argument.  

And it seems we’ll argue about almost anything.  Maybe that’s why things never get done around here, never change. We argue for improvements, but can’t agree on where, why, or when to change, or how do it, or who screwed up last time we tried.

And so we soldier on, carrying our reputation proudly as the go-to place where everyone is welcome to cash a check, wash a car, buy a pre-owned shirt, or praise the lord. Not that any one of those items is a problem, it’s just such a limited selection.

No, I don't want to be a copy of Sierra Madre, even a first-rate copy. I’m just wondering if we’ll ever agree on some way out of a second-rate Altadena.

Richard February 11, 2012 at 08:37 PM
I HAVE TO AGREE WITH MRS FINCH i've known seiko and her father and Kimmy her sister and her other sister lulu there are very famly oriented and very nice and respectable. i would always bring my cleaning here
Nico March 19, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Surprised that Patch is not covering this upcoming meeting...anyone concerned about Altadena's lack of services planning on attending? This article appears on the Altadena Blog. http://www.altadenablog.com/ Saturday, March 17, 2012 County to start "visioning process" to update Altadena community standards by Timothy Rutt
Steve Lamb March 19, 2012 at 07:51 PM
?????????
Dan Abendschein March 19, 2012 at 07:53 PM
@Nico - Looks like we will have some more information about that community standards process and what the public input sessions will be like at Tuesday's Town Council meeting. I mentioned it today in an article previewing the meeting and I will have a full article about that upcoming process on Wednesday. http://altadena.patch.com/articles/town-council-preview-farmers-market-flag-update-community-standards
ed meyers March 19, 2012 at 11:29 PM
All, The mtgs are on 4/4, 4/25 & 6/6 at Loma Alta Park Gym 7-9p. This is a GREAT opportunity for residents & business voices to be heard. More info to come.

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