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January 13, 1991|EDMUND NEWTON

On the second Sunday of every month, for eight hours or so, the open space around the Rose Bowl in Pasadena is turned into something akin to a Middle Eastern bazaar.

It's Southern California's largest flea market--"a paradise for antiques and collectibles," according to Dennis Dodson, operations manager for the event.

This has been going on 22 years now--a polyglot assemblage of oak armoires, lacquered end tables, antique Coca-Cola bottles, World War II neckties, matchbook collections, musical instruments, Tiffany lamps, brocaded drapery, stamps, Schwinn bicycles, autographed books, turn-of-the-century dresses and suits, plumbing fixtures, Nazi memorabilia, old comic books, china. You name it, you can probably find it at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.

"To some people it may look like a lot of junk that

came out of somebody's garage," Dodson said, "but if you're looking for, say, an old clarinet, it's like: 'My God! That's my life!' "

On the walkway around the stadium, you can even find standard swap meet fare, including T-shirts and jeans, tennis shoes and cosmetics, flatware and framed illustrations of flowers, to say nothing of the latest slice-and-dice miracle utensil.

The R. G. Canning Co., which runs the show, promises about 1,500 vendors for between 20,000 and 30,000 shoppers and browsers, including, if you're a sharp-eyed people-watcher, such recent attendees as Lisa Bonet, Kirstie Alley and Joel Grey.

The gates open today at 9 a.m. and close at 3 p.m., although the buying and selling continues until about 5. Admission is $5.

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