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Tonight, Aug. 18, 2007, was a glorious summer evening of poetry and the stylings of the every so lovely and unique Janet Klein in a small Altadena gathering of talent called “Folly Bowl.”

My pal Lizzie, a glorious landscaper and designer, brought me along to this special gathering, held near Rubio Canyon at one of the more astonishing homes of Altadena, complete with its own terraced amphitheatre. From the small stage, words sprang forth with joy, wicked glee, and depth from local writers and poets including J. Mark Beaver, who read several pieces including “What Jesus Owes Me” and “The Mystery Spot.” Claudia Handler read a few of her visually powerful and passionate pieces in Man’s and God’s humorous voices of disgust and regret. For example, God: “I shoulda quit with the insects…” They credited Laurel Ann Bogen, who was in the audience, for helping them develop as writers. Also on the bill was Michael C. Ford, Cynthia Carbone Ward, and S.A. Griffin. Emceeing the evening was Lizzie’s neighbor, D. Frank Culbertson, ie “Monty.”

I ran into a couple of writing pals including Altadena historian and town council member Michele Zack and her husband Mark, who serves on the Land Use Committee. And when Janet Klein, with only one of her usual Parlor Boys, John Reynolds, took the stage, the chanteuse had the picnicking crowd all to her own. She sang the tunes that are making her famous — naughty, fun ditties from the early 20th century, such as “If I Can’t Sell It, I’ll Keep Sitting On It,” Take Me Out For a Joyride, and a Jimmy Van Heusen song that Klein says got him expelled from high school in Syracuse, “My Canary Has Circles Under His Eyes.”

Reynolds’ grandmother was silent film star Zazu Pitts, and he says, “I look just like her if I dress up like a woman.” My, my. How does he know?

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