Whatever you do these next few days, make sure to pick up a copy of the Pasadena Weekly‘s 25th anniversary issue before it disappears. It’s a great read, full of local history, great people and amusing stories.
Particularly enjoyable is the summary of 25 years in Pasadena, one year at a time: the rebirth of Old Town, the first black Rose Queen, the Rocky Horror Picture Show’s tenure at the Rialto, the Sierra Madre earthquake, Pasadena changing its area code (twice), and a host of local achievements, scandals and stories. You can read the timeline here.
Equally enjoyable are the remembrances by staff of days past, some of whom went on to stellar careers — including Altadena’s Greg Critzer, author of Fat Land and Generation RX; Pulitzer-Prize winner Steve Coll, who went on to the Washington Post, is now a staff writer for the New Yorker; Larry Wilson, public editor of the Pasadena Star-News; William Lobdell, former Los Angeles Times editor and author of Losing My Religion; and Rick Cole, former mayor of Pasadena and now city manager of Ventura. You can read the remembrances here.
Here’s what Hometown Pasadena’s Mel Malmberg, one of the Weekly‘s founding editors, wrote in the commemorative issue:
Rick Cole and Steve Coll asked me to be the founding arts editor of Pasadena: The Weekly (as it was then called). Pasadena was on the brink of redevelopment and redefining itself; we would be on hand to complement, kibitz and offer constructive criticism.
We spent about two months preparing for the first issue, and then suddenly we were a full-fledged publication. We had a mission, a voice and all the clichés of a start-up – a newspaper and a soap opera in one fluorescent-lit office on North Lake Avenue. We were young, friends and frazzled, a revolving cast of characters at desks lined up in rows, where we wrote our deathless copy on typewriters and sent it to the hard-partying typesetters in the back. Reporters and ad people fought for space while the designer and publisher refereed; on Wednesday night it was all hands on deck as we glued down strips of copy and photos, cut out letters to cover up over typos and took the precious boards to the press in Glendale for the overnight miracle that was Thursday publication.
I lived about six blocks away and worked nearly non-stop for nine months. Not to complain: I had to attend arts events for the LA Olympics (Pina Bausch and peat moss at the Civic!) and eat at every restaurant in town (back in 1984, that was easy). I hired Steve Hochman, a fellow Oxy grad, to cover music; he later wrote for Rolling Stone. The lovely Erica Wayne contributes to the PW (as it is now called) to this day. Barb Lamprecht went on to write scholarly architectural books and to practice architecture. Sue Horton, SC journalism prof and LA Times editor, pops into my life from time to time. Larry Wilson moved from business to editorial and never looked back. I’ve lost track of some people, but my best friends – Greg Critser, Antoinette Mongelli, Pam Fisher – are all from the intense few months that I was there.
Amazing to think the little paper that thought it could has kept its rabble-rousing independent spirit for 25 years. We were all that age when it started.
— Mel Malmberg